Traveling across the country, attending homeschool conventions, I have been privileged to meet and speak with moms in a variety of circumstances and backgrounds. Some homeschool because the area they live in does not offer good academic options. For others it’s the fear of bullying or the desire to instill a biblical worldview. Then there are those young moms who just love spending all day with their kids, watching them discover the joys of the big, wide world around them.
The Spirit of Homeschoolers
I love the kindred spirits found in the homeschooling community and, as most of my kids are now adults, I find myself longing to help younger moms. Typically, I’m hugging an overwhelmed mom who’s trying to do too much with toddlers while pregnant. Sometimes it’s the middle school mom who needs help brainstorming scheduling strategies to fit more subjects into a day.
This year, however, there were several conversations and attitudes that caused me concern. An overarching attitude of mediocrity seemed to be taking hold of moms and homeschool philosophies. The mindset of “que será será, what will be will be” is growing, and it doesn’t fit when you’re taking on the responsibility of your child’s education and future options.
As I talked to a mom whose daughter was preparing for her freshman year in high school, she asked for advice on high school courses. During the conversation, she flippantly added, “I’ve not taught history or science. I don’t see the need. It’s not like they are going to go to college. I didn’t and I don’t use that stuff in my day to day.”
Yes, I gasped, just as I hope you just did. This was extreme, but I observed varying degrees of this same problem in other homeschool families and, sadly, even in some keynote speakers.
I recall one speaker who told an audience of a thousand or more, “You don’t need to worry about planning, getting the book work done, or those sciences. When you’re raising your kids, the only thing they need is Jesus!”
I traveled back to my hotel room with sore feet and a heavy heart. I picked up my cell phone, checked Facebook, and discovered a video going viral with a 12-year-old girl who couldn’t do basic multiplication problems because her mother only taught the subject of Bible.
What is going on here?
No, it’s not a problem in all homeschool families, but it’s a growing problem in the community. Whether it’s a complacent attitude or religious pride covering up laziness or ignorance, the underlying problem seems to be a lack of understanding our job as parents and educators.
God has given us children, and that responsibility requires a comprehensive approach while raising them. When they are young, they can not care for themselves, so we make sure they are fed, diapered, cleaned, and have a place to sleep. As they begin to toddle, we introduce them to colors, shapes, letters, and sounds. We begin to talk of God and read Bible stories.
Then they begin to express a desire to know more, so we teach them phonics and math. We show them how to fold clothes and set the dinner table. We train them on hygiene and how to pick up their room.
We explore outside and talk of their grandparents and what life was like “in the old days.” We introduce them to history, science, art, music, and more. We begin watching our children so we can pick up signs and signals of how God has formed them and the personality He has given them. As interest is shown, we facilitate opportunities for them to explore.
Soon they are expressing a desire to do things on their own. We don’t hold them back; this is what God has created them for, to grow and go. We challenge them to learn on their own, but we stay close enough to help out. We train them to drive while giving them responsibilities that bear heavier consequences in order for them to understand how the real world works.
During the tween and teen years, we expose our children to all that is out in the world: the good, the bad, and the possibilities in life. We talk, oh how we talk to our kids! We learn what they like, how they think, and this helps us as parents steer them forward.
They may be ready to launch soon, but our job is far from done. Now, more than ever, we come alongside them, listen, give advice, watch, pray, and help them figure out what God has created them for.
Raising children and taking on the responsibility of their education is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for anyone who is beyond learning themselves. The mom who didn’t teach science or history allowed her own limits in life to become her children’s. The speaker who taught parents that they only need to teach Jesus hides behind religion as a means to justify her laziness in homeschooling. The mom who only taught Bible, unfortunately, wasn’t really teaching Bible at all, because that’s not how Jesus would have taught!
Refuse to let mediocrity, pride, or laziness define the education or the future of your children. Rather, dive in, stretch yourself beyond your limits, humbly acknowledge weaknesses, and be sure to become the facilitator of your child’s future. Your children deserve no less.