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The “H-Word” (Part 1)

I have always liked the IDEA of homeschooling. I have good friends who homeschool. My own sister home-schools. I discipled some amazing college students who were homeschooled. But, if homeschooling was brought up anytime AFTER I started having kids, you would find me in cold sweats.

I could not wait for Kenneth to go to pre-school. You could make the case that Kenneth needed the socialization and structure that pre-school provided for him. But, really and truly, it was for my sanity. (Year three and I don’t get along very well.)

Fast forward a few years: Kenneth is in Kindergarten. We have him in public school. The public vs. private school conversation lasted about ten seconds. (Homeschooling didn’t even come up as an option!) With Chris in seminary, private school is just about impossible for us. But even if it was a possibility, I don’t think we would have looked into it, for a few reasons.

See, there is this thing called The Christian Bubble. This “the world is dirty, and it is going to ruin our pretty dresses” mentality. This bubble is a place where we fill our lives with church activities, and where our relationships are solely ones with others in this bubble. Anything outside of the bubble is a contaminant.

Years ago, I had a sweet church lady come up to me one day and ask me if Chris and I were looking to buy a house. She and her husband had their house up for sale and she told me that it was a great neighborhood, full of great Christian people. “I would just hate for the house to go to someone who was not a Christian.” I can’t remember what I said, but (by the grace of God) it wasn’t much. I was shocked. Shocked at this mindset that a non-Christian homeowner would make that neighborhood dirty, instead of seeing a great opportunity for the Lord to bring the mission field to their doorsteps.

As parents we can have a similar mindset with our children. A desire to keep them from “being defiled” that trumps any opportunities to show Jesus to a hurting world. I realize this is not a black and white issue, and that we must be careful that the world is not influencing us or our children towards sin, and  I do think we must take appropriate steps to protect our children from unnecessary harm. What I am referring to here is an overemphasis on the fear of non-believers messing things up, instead of being driven by a genuine concern for those same lost souls who desperately need a Savior.

Another big factor for us in choosing public school is that our kids are “PKs”, preacher’s kids. They are in church at least three times a week. We don’t want to facilitate this bubble effect in their lives. I want my kids to have non-believing friends. I don’t want to be so afraid of how the other kids are going to “stain” my kids that I try to keep them away from the filth. Maybe I’ll change my mind when Kenneth comes home saying the F-word, or has been bullied, but this is where we landed in our decision this past fall to put Kenneth in public school.

So, what does all this have to do with homeschooling?

Stay tuned for the rest of the story…

19 replies
  1. Christin
    Christin says:

    Oooh good topic. We home school and there are sooooo many reasons as to why. But in regards to what you are writing on today, I'll share our reasons in this particular respect. Respectfully of course. 🙂

    Children are very vulnerable and impressionable. Because they lack the capacity to make sound judgments and do not have the godly wisdom to make godly decisions, I find it a good idea to first train them in the home a LOT while allowing them to be around unsaved people a little. As children, their faith is still building and there are a million things out there that could easily sway that. Especially being away from home for such a large amount of time on a consistent basis. The negative far outweighs the positive, in my opinion.

    Does that mean I don't think Christian children should be exposed to non-Christians? Definitely not. Like you stated, I think that exposure gives them great opportunities. However, having them around that type of influence that regularly and for so long, in my opinion, can be very hard on a child. I don't find non-Christians to be "dirty" or "stained", I find sin that way. And we are all sinners. However, being constantly surrounded by sinners who don't care about their sin, and convincing our children (with or without words) of the same is a hard thing for our children to balance. They are not well grounded or mature enough to handle such situations, in my opinion. In small doses, yes. But not in that capacity.

    Again, this is just my opinion. 🙂 I look forward to your part 2.

    Reply
  2. Katie Orr
    Katie Orr says:

    I absolutely agree with you Christin! Thanks for sharing.

    We must be teaching our children at home (whether or not we homeschool or put our kids in Christian school). We must be the primary influence in our children's lives. I do think that this can happen, even if we don't homeschool (although I TOTALLY see the case for homeschooling allowing you to more easily be the primary influence on your children- it is less of a fight to do so). But what if you are unable to homeschool? Does that leave no hope for those who have no choice?

    I just don't want to be guilty of separatism, or make decisions out of fear (and I am NOT saying that all who homeschool are guilty of this!) I think the "Christian Bubble" mentality often ignores the God-factor in our children's lives. That He is ultimately their protector, regardless of where our children get their education. I think the bubble mentality falsely leads parents to believe that we can control our children's decisions. And once that bubble pops, if we have not trained our children, but only sheltered them, they are ill-equipped to walk with the Lord, in this world as an adult.

    I think we are on the same page, just wanted to clarify a bit!

    Thanks so much for your comment!

    Reply
  3. Christin
    Christin says:

    Oh absolutely not. There is always hope and homeschooling doesn't save anyone. Jesus saves. Admittedly the parents will have much more competition in keeping their children's hearts. Homeschooling families aren't exempt from losing their childrens hearts, either. They can lose them to other influences.

    But I do see it as a large risk and it's one I'd rather not take since I have the ability to make that choice. I still need to fully rely on God for many things…but how much more we would have to fight for our children in the schools so many hours a day.

    True, God is our protector and that of our children – but He has also given us wisdom and His Holy Spirit for guidance. As long as we are following Him, we will win every time. When God first spoke to me about homeschooling (when my first was only 3 years old), I was resistant. It wasn't long that He convinced me and I just had to rest in Him and trust Him.

    The problem with the public schools is that our children are getting more (or less) than an education. As a matter of fact, what do you remember from being in public school? What you learned in the subjects you were taught, or what the other children taught you by their actions or words, toward you or others? I remember the latter.

    Ha ha! It's so funny that as I sit here and type all this, I am a prime example of what God can do for a public school kid. Oh the irony!

    I guess I defeated my own "argument". LOL God can work through anything if we ask Him to. I grew up in a non-Christian home, and went to public schools, yet here I am. Whatever the reason, God asked us to home school. Maybe it's our children, maybe it's our school district (which is not great), maybe it's the times we're in. Things have changed a great deal since I was in school. But, either way, nothing is too big for God! The important thing is that we follow where He leads. 🙂 This was really a great eye opener for me. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Rhoda
    Rhoda says:

    The verse that made me decide to homeschool is from Proverbs: 'He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm'. In the UK I would estimate about 98% of the children in schools are unbelievers, and are therefore fools, by the language of Proverbs 🙂 And I don't want my children to suffer harm from being around bad influences all day. I also agree with Christin that they are very impressionable when young. From what I have seen, children from Christian families who go to public school here either are influenced to be more worldly, or they stick with what they have been taught but get bullied a lot (my personal experience).

    Having said that, I agree that circumstances don't always allow homeschooling or Christian school, God may lead some to do otherwise, and I do believe God can protect children. But I think as Christin said it is a bigger risk, and I think if that is what you do then you really need to invest a lot of extra prayer and training and teaching in your children. (continued in next comment!)

    Reply
  5. Rhoda
    Rhoda says:

    With the 'bubble' – I always think of the verse, 'I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.' It is good to be in a bubble as far as a lot of things go! With non-Christians there are ways of associating with them through outreach in the church, sports, inviting them to dinner etc. but I would try and avoid putting my children in the situation where non-Christians become their close friends, since we are so easily influenced, even as adults, by our friends. My son talks to our neighbour about Jesus over the fence! I think as a family we will be looking for ways to come into contact with non-Christians if we obey the Great Commission, but viewing it more as an outreach, and teaching our children that too.

    Reply
  6. Chelsey/InspiredMama
    Chelsey/InspiredMama says:

    Oh, Katie, this is exactly the topic in our household lately as my daughter will start kindergarten this year. At first, I was desperate to homeschool. I love the idea of homeschooling; learning about and exploring our world together, talking about God as we go about our daily life together. I still would love to do it, but ii came to the sad realization that I am not presently ready to take on such a responsibility. That was a tough pill to swallow for me, as I spent about a year researching and planning.

    So, of course, I leaned toward private school because I want my daughter to be surrounded by a like-minded environment while she learns and grows, to give her a strong foundation in Christ (which would also be taught at home and emphasized at school). That way when she is experiences relationships with "the real world" she is older, and hopefully has more wisdom in Christ to carry herself in a Godly way.

    But now, we are moving to a house just a 30 second walk from a public school (private school is 20 min drive both ways). How wonderful to be able to be involved in my community, to be able to get to know my neighbors. What will it say to them when we meet that we have chosen to drive almost two hours a day to ensure our child goes to a Christian school rather than walk two minutes a day and have our child go to school with their kids?

    I'm not sure I have the answer yet. My kids are also PKs so I worry about "over-churching" them too. The only thing I can do is pray and ask that God will reveal what is right for OUR family, as it is most certainly different for everyone.

    Thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
  7. Rusheika Island Mama
    Rusheika Island Mama says:

    can't wait to read part 2 ! I too am a home school Mom… my first born (grade 2 presently) went to public school for Kindergarten and then we felt the Lord leading us to homeschool… the decision wasn't because of any negativity with school in-fact he had a great year… he had a christian teacher (there is not separation of church and state here in Bermuda to the degree that it is for you all.) Having said that we were concerned about some of the things he was picking up at school and we were spending a lot of time explaining things that I felt he was not emotionally ready for. I would go back and forth between needing to be salt and light and protecting our kids from the worldly influences they are not emotionally ready to deal with. What I believe is that God has a plan for each of his children and that will look different for every family. What he has called each of us to do we better do whether it be homeschooling, public school or whatever other options there are. Where ever he has us (and our kids) he will give us the protection, wisdom, strength we need to overcome any challenges. He just wants our obedience! BTW I was public school educated and I always said I would never homeschool… NEVER say NEVER!! LOL!!!

    Reply
  8. Rhoda
    Rhoda says:

    I was in a hurry earlier and thought I should come back and say I also believe each family needs to be led by God in their decision, and that I definitely agree with you about the house in the neighbourhood illustration Katie! I also think we do need to guard ourselves in general about getting so caught up in Christian everything that we don't even see unbelievers and therefore aren't able to evangelise! I just prefer to do it other ways than by sending my kids to public school 🙂

    Reply
  9. Katie Orr
    Katie Orr says:

    "The only thing I can do is pray and ask that God will reveal what is right for OUR family, as it is most certainly different for everyone."
    Amen!

    Lord, please give Chelsey discernment to know your will for their family! Encourage Chelsey, to know that wherever you call them, that you are the one working in their children's hearts, and ultimately you are in control and their protector.

    Reply
  10. Katie Orr
    Katie Orr says:

    " I also think we do need to guard ourselves in general about getting so caught up in Christian everything that we don't even see unbelievers and therefore aren't able to evangelise! I just prefer to do it other ways than by sending my kids to public school "

    Yes! Haha. We definitely didn't send Kenneth to public school this year solely so that he could have evangelism opportunities (or rather that our family could), but it was a factor for us as we tried to reconcile all the pros/cons of our choices at the time.

    Reply
  11. Liz Winterburn
    Liz Winterburn says:

    Hi Katie, we originally sent my son to state school (UK equivalent of public school). We pulled him out during Year One ( I believe this is the same as first grade). I had no intention of homeschooling in fact I was adamant I could not do it – I was not the type of person who could do it. Eventually I prayed to the Lord that His will be done and it was :-)… here I am in our 4th year of HS. Praise God that He as enabled it to be a great success for our son and He has equipped me for the task.

    One of the many things I have learnt on our HS journey is that HS is not for everyone, just as public school is not for everyone. Where God has placed us & our children He will equip us for the task ahead for He is faithful. I totally agree with Rusheika "He wants our obedience." That is the most important thing obeying God. We all have opinions about this and that. I was going to give my opinions of the 'Christian Bubble' but the simple truth is His will be done. We are all ultimately accountable to God, so where He has placed us we must be and God willing be good witness to those around us.
    Sorry if this appears to be a bit disjointed I was trying not to ramble on too much – quite honestly I could talk the hind legs of a donkey. 🙂

    Reply
  12. Paula Ward Bachman
    Paula Ward Bachman says:

    Katie, I just wanted to share a personal experience with you about homeschooling. My husband and I adopted our 3 children. I never intended to homeschool. I never knew anyone who homeschooled and I wanted somequiet time while the kids were being taught as well as socializing. But when circumstances beyond our control took place in each one of our childrens lives and we could not get anything done about it…we pulled them and are homeschooling them. Our twin boys have always been in Special Education classes. They have a speech delay. Even though they are 9 years old their speech is that of a 3 year old. Their education was very limited. But now after enrolling them with a wonderful Christian cirriculum they are learning to read and write!!! I have to say this was the BEST decision we could have made. It's difficult. I have returned to college full time (on the weekends), and I am in the middle of my internship for this semester. It's very difficult. But I wouldn't change anything about the decision to homeschool our children. God will definitely show you what decision to make. Keep the blogs coming Katie!! I love them!!

    Reply
  13. Katie Orr
    Katie Orr says:

    Thank you for sharing, Paula! And thanks for reading, and the encouragement.

    Can't imagine homeschooling AND going to school! You must be one busy mama. Blessings on your studies!

    Reply

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