|(So our dogs will be smarter. ;-)|
I can still recall the first time I ever heard the word "homeschool". I was watching a special news report about a family who had taken their children out of the public school system in order to educate them at home. As I watched and listened, I thought,
"That is the strangest thing I have EVER heard, and that mom must be some kind of incredible woman with super-smarts and ultra-patience! Somebody should make an action figure of her!"
(Just kidding about that last part.)
A year or so later, we met a family who not only had more than two children
but also educated their children at home. My thought then was,
"Yeah. They would."
A couple of years after that, I began reading - somewhat "accidentally" - some real-life accounts of homeschooling families. I appreciated that these moms shared the good, bad, and ugly about their daily journey. This really made me start thinking that homeschooling might be an option worth considering.
We were "dirt poor" in those days, so private school wasn't something we could even consider as Caelyn, our oldest daughter, approached school age.
Eventually, I came across a statistic about the number of hours children spend in a classroom, compared to the number of ours the average family spends together.
I started to prep the battlefield, so to speak, with Craig, whose response was something like, "Yeah, that sounds like a really good option; but it's not for our family."
I quietly walked away and resolved not to hassle him about it (totally out-of-character for me).
Another year or so passed, and I brought up an idea that was entirely unrelated to the education of our children. Craig's seemingly random response to me was,
"I think you should, instead, focus on homeschooling Caelyn this year."
This was in June 1997. We were gearing up to travel to PA for a family visit just before relocating from Kentucky to Georgia, and I was rather pregnant with our fourth child. Having received a negative answer to my earlier request to homeschool, I had made absolutely no preparation, whatsoever.
"But he said to me,
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
The agreement that we made when we began homeschooling was that we'd take it one year at a time and consider putting the children into school later. After the first year, we decided to continue all the way through elementary, and possibly middle school, with a plan to send them to high school.
By the end of the second year, we were committed to the long haul, realizing that the teen years would be no time to relinquish the guidance and discipleship that our children desperately need from us as they begin making larger, farther-reaching decisions.
It was around that same time that we decided it would be important to put into writing our goal and purpose of taking on the responsibility of teaching our own children - a mission statement, if you will. I recently came across the notebook where we sketched out our idea:
"To encourage a love of learning in our children by creating within our home an environment conducive for educating the whole child: mind, body, & spirit; making godly instruction the cornerstone while following biblical doctrine, thus producing wise, disciplined, God-fearing youth of character with a Christ-centered world view."
Reading this again after so many years, it's clearer that we, as parents, can't "produce" any particular type of youth; but we are fully dependent upon the Lord to have His way in the production department as we strive to be obedient to the commands and principles written in His Word concerning the instruction of our children.
Farther down the notebook page, additional thoughts were jotted down:
"... fully armed and capable to transform the world for Christ, if it is His will..."
"... armed with the Truth and capable to ignite the match of the comfortable-in-Christ and sound the trumpet for the lost..."
In America, the grand (and astonishingly successful) marketing scheme of universities has decided for us exactly how we are to define education: getting a college degree. Period.
We hold that there is so much more to education than that, and even a cursory background search of most of our key early-American historic figures would show that education a few generations ago was much broader than what takes place while sequestered on a campus for four years.
Shoot! Most key historic figures of any period were educated far beyond any university campus!
But I digress.
If you can get your hands on a copy of Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary, you'll be surprised at how the definitions of many words have lost much of their luster in modern times. Take this one, for example:
EDUCATION, n. [L. educatio.] The bringing up, as of a child, instruction; formation of manners. Education comprehends all that series of instruction and discipline which is intended to enlighten the understanding, correct the temper, and form the manners and habits of youth, and fit them for usefulness in their future stations. To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable; and an immense responsibility rests on parents and guardians who neglect these duties.
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In case you're interested, Part 2 of "Why We Homeschool" should follow as soon as I get the time to organize my thoughts. Currently, we are enjoying some R&R at a weekend family retreat in a beautiful country setting, where my sweet husband is the speaker.