by Isaac, Josiah & Hosea Geoffrey
“But I’m not a teacher!” “I don’t have an educational degree.” “Children need socialization!” Making major life changes isn’t easy, and oftentimes, simple misconceptions can keep us from even considering them. But although homeschooling—like most things worth doing—requires a certain level of dedication, it is accessible to everyone. There are abundant resources to help anyone become a successful homeschooling parent. We want to clear up some misunderstandings and tell you what homeschooling really is, so that you can see why we love it so much and how it could work in your life.
Many imagine homeschooling as creating a miniature school within your house, with a classroom, desks and the parent as the sole teacher. But homeschooling doesn’t have to be that way! It is not necessary for the parent to prepare daily lessons, give lectures, or become an expert in all the different subjects. Your child can receive an excellent education without all that. In fact, studies have shown that “homeschool students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ level of formal education or their family’s household income.”
Homeschooling is also not simply bringing a government curriculum home through online classes—some people do use this method, but it undermines many of the benefits of homeschooling. In addition, homeschooling does not mean your children are isolated from the world, unable to be socialized. On the contrary, homeschooling affords many opportunities for your children to interact not only with children of their own age, but children of all ages, and adults too. Many studies have shown that homeschoolers have fully developed social skills, with one finding that homeschoolers of all ages are roughly twice as socially mature as their conventionally-schooled peers.
So what is homeschooling, really? Put simply, it is parent-led, parent-involved education. It is a legitimate and excellent form of education, in which children “typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on standardized academic achievement tests.” Homeschooling gives parents the opportunity to be more aware of what their child is being exposed to in his curriculum, and to decide whether or not it is appropriate. Instead of letting your child “find himself” as he is influenced by friends and educators, you—as the one who knows what is best for your child—get to have the final say in what he learns. You are the authority, as well as a model and (even if you are not the “teacher”) coach and guide. You have the ability to come alongside your child as a trustworthy resource; you can learn together, laugh together, and strengthen the bond between you.
These opportunities are afforded through a wide variety of different homeschooling models, which allow adaptability to the needs of the parents and child. (State requirements do vary, but options still exist!) There are full computer-based private curricula complete with online teachers and tests; there are umbrella schools which assemble a curriculum for you, and are involved in testing and overseeing students’ progress. You can find complete curricula from publishers who provide materials for all the subjects, or you can take an eclectic approach and assemble your own curriculum from various sources. There is also “unschooling,” which focuses learning on the interests of each child, without much use of traditional curriculum. And all these methods can be supplemented by joining a co-op or support group with other parents, in which children from different households learn together. These range from teaching core subjects like math and science, to extracurricular activities like sports, drama or even just park time.
Homeschooling, though, is more than just a way of learning to us. It is a lifestyle which we have been living and loving for many years. We enjoy its relaxed atmosphere—we don’t feel smothered by school; rather, we are free to work casually, comfortably, and in whatever structure works best for us. The flexible nature of homeschooling also gives us more time in the day; we have less time “in school,” and no homework at night. This allows us to explore interests, be creative, and spend quality time with the family.
The homeschooling environment also supports our parents’ judgment in how we use the Internet, and in approving of peers who won’t be harmful to us—freeing us from endless teasing, bullying and other pressures. We are also thankful to not be exposed to bad influences before we are mature enough to handle them. In our home and community, we have a safe haven from the dangers of the world and its ways of thinking; we are secure among relatives and friends whom we know love God and care about us.
Homeschooling has given us a passion for learning. Our curiosity drives us to start discussions with each other on all sorts of topics, giving us a fresh and greater understanding. We love that homeschooling builds the skill of critical thinking. With our parents’ guidance, we learn to judge for ourselves if the ideas and viewpoints we hear are true, using basic logic and Biblical principles to build a solid, godly lifestyle. And because our curriculum teaches every subject through the lens of God’s Word, a truth-based, Biblical worldview is reaffirmed in us. This prepares us to stand strong when confronted by the lies and propaganda of the world.
But possibly the reason we love homeschooling the most is the character-building it uniquely offers. Since our parents have constant access to us, our entire lives are open for them to shape us through instruction and discipline. It is sometimes difficult, but we all profoundly appreciate and thank God for the natural opportunities our parents have to mold us into godly men, bolster our beliefs, and deepen our understanding of God’s Word. We treasure the spiritual conversations we spontaneously have with each other and our parents, always feeling energized and inspired in our desire to seek and know God more fully. Homeschooling has allowed us to build an extremely close-knit family with inseparable relationships. To us, “parent” means “life-model,” and “brother” means “best friend.”
There are plenty of reasons to homeschool, not the least of which are that it is safe, effective and highly flexible to fit your life and schedule. It is a major adjustment, but one wholly worth making—so seek God about it, talk to other homeschool parents, and get creative with how it could work for your family. But don’t put this off: homeschooling is life-changing, and your children—and grandchildren—will thank you.
What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below!