How are Children Defined?
“What grades are your kids in?”
The question hangs in the air for what seems like a lifetime. Everything moves in slow motion as my mind struggles to find the answer. My lack of a quick answer seems to confirm every bad stereotype of homeschool families. As I flail about trying to answer this simplest of questions, I see disapproval bloom in people’s eyes. Most are already suspicious of homeschool. It is something not to be trusted somehow.
My delayed response confirms their doubts. They now suspect my children are secretly assembling electronics in a homeschool sweat shop. Visions of a suburban Lord of the Flies flash through their brains. While their peers are off preparing for corporate jobs of awesomeness, my poor homeschoolers are perpetually eating paste. Their father doesn’t even know what grade his poor benighted children are in.
Sweat forms on my brow as I feverishly try to extrapolate grades based on birthdates. Eventually, I admit defeat. I truthfully:
“I don’t know what grades my kids are in…and I really don’t care.”
There, the awful truth is out there. It is true. For most of the year, I usually can’t recall off the top of my head what grade my kids are doing at school. And aside from moments of existential crisis in the aisles of Walmart, I am ok with it. Really!
A Different Standard
We checked out of the public school system for a large number of reasons. One of the primary reasons, though, was to separate our kids from the expectations and teachings of the world. My wife and I love Jesus and will answer to the Lord for my stewardship of our children. That does not include a comparison with where the school system says my kids should be. What their peers are doing or not doing just does not interest me.
Jesus says they should be following Him not the local curriculum.
I am trying to raise a godly young man, not a stereotypical 12th grader. The result is that my children sometimes act “too young” for their age. They also often act “too old” for their age according to the world. The older guys take time and are happy to play little kids games with the younger children at home and at church. They still are allowed to act silly and uncool without condemnation. They also sit and talk with the adults about politics or current events. My daughter giggles with the toddlers and pulls her hair out debating politics with the rest of us.
Their path is always towards adulthood following Jesus and not towards being on grade level. So I judge their hearts, their spiritual development and their overall growth in life.
Not on Grade Level
The result is often my children don’t fit the expectations of the public school model. They are very different than what public school would mold them to be They are just so badly adjusted to their grade expectations. It is not something I regularly think about.
Despite my best intentions, I can’t explain this to my neighbor when I see them in the Home Depot aisle. He and I have an entirely different paradigm about school and its purposes. Should I go into it when he is obviously just making small talk? Would he understand? Do I risk offending him since he has kids the same age? All these questions are weighed in my mind as he stares in silence thinking I am insane or drinking and shopping. That is ok, though.
Homeschool is working just as planned – conforming my kids to the pattern Jesus set out for them and not the school system.
I love how it is turning out even if people look at me funny.