Thursday, January 24, 2008

Re-evaluating Homeschooling

So I've been thinking a lot lately about homeschooling. Don't get me wrong - I am a dyed-in-the-wool homeschooler. We've always homeschooled and have always planned to homeschool all the way through high school. But now circumstances of our lives are changing and I'm being forced to look at my reasons for homeschooling.

To quickly sum it up, we are moving overseas and my husband's employer has offered to pay for private school. Initially I completely dismissed it, but now I find myself questioning that decision. Is it really the right thing for me to not even consider something that might be an amazing opportunity for my children? I've got some thinkin' to do. Would you care to join me as I work through my reasons for homeschooling?

Reasons We Homeschool

  1. I believe that God has charged parents with the responsibility of their child's education. I believe that the father and mother are to be the primary teachers of their children and that children should view parents as a source of wisdom and blessing, not as irritations and fools as many children today seem to feel.
  2. I feel that many children today are not allowed to be children because of excessive time spent in school and subsequent homework. I firmly believe that children need time to explore and to play and daydream and create. In many areas, I know that children get home from school around 4 pm, go to various extracurricular activities, and spend several hours each night doing homework. Once you add in eating and bathing, when do they have to time just be kids? I really have no counterpoint to this. It's something I feel very strongly about.
  3. Homeschooled children can move at their own pace and follow their interests. If your child is a math genius they can whiz right through learning the times tables instead of spending weeks on it because the rest of the class needs more practice. Conversely, if you child is a struggler in some area, you can give them the time they need without feeling pressured to move forward because the rest of the class needs to move along. Also, if in your learning adventures something captures your child's imagination (as the Parthenon and mythology did recently for my son) you can allow them the freedom to delve deeper into it.
  4. Homeschooling allows me to shelter my children from some of the world. Yep, I admit. I shelter my children. That's my job as a parent. There is a trend today to allow children to grow up to fast, without also requiring the maturity needed to handle it. Generations ago people were "young adults" not "teenagers." Now we have an entire generation of kids who emulate rap stars and pop stars. Kids are having sex and engaging in drug and alcohol usage at younger and younger ages. Now, I'm not one to think that my children need to be oblivious about the world. Jesus tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. My kids watch tv and movies, listen to contemporary music, hang out with kids from all socio-economic levels and ethnicities, and have MySpace pages. But yet, we closely monitor all aspects of all of it so that we can train them and help them learn to discern what is beneficial and godly versus what will only drag them away from God and from living a godly life. The point of sheltering anything, be it children or tomato plants, is to allow it to grow strong and healthy before exposing it to the harshness of the world. We gradually allow the kids to have more and more exposure to the world, while offering guidance and wisdom. But eventually, we know, they will be off on their own and make their own decisions. Hopefully by then we will have given them a strong foundation to fall back on.
  5. We homeschool so that we can teach our children our values, not the values of some education committee in Washington, D.C. who has decided what my children should learn. I want to be the one who decides when and what my children learn about sex. For the record, they both know the whole story, but they've heard about it from the position that sex is God's gift and is to be reserved for marriage. I'm not a prude, but I don't want my kids learning about it from someone who has a completely different value system. I also want my children to know that evolution is not the fact that it is taught as in the schools. There are many flaws in the theory that cannot be explained. And yet evidence supporting the Bible is being found all the time. My kids know the theory of evolution and the origins of the world, but they also know the Biblical position. We look at all sides of an issue - not just the politically correct ones.

I guess those are the big issues for me. Some of them would not be such an issue at the school in Qatar. For instance, school is done for the day at 1:00. That's about what time we finish up here at home. That still allows for plenty of family time and homework time and time for extracurriculars. We would still have plenty of time to be the primary influence on our kids.

In addition, as Qatar is a Muslim country, the conduct of people in general is much more conservative and reserved. Clothing is modest (and no, we won't need to wear burkas!), sex outside of marriage is actually illegal (and will be punished by deportation) so nothing more than flirting goes on amongst teens, and drugs and alcohol are not an issue. Discipline and respect at the school is strictly enforced. So that covers another base.

Much as I would like to claim that my children are mental giants who have already completed trig and physics, they are average kids who learn at a normal pace. They like to read what THEY want to read, but complain when they have to read something for school. They hate doing math drills, don't like writing and, in general, are just normal kids who would rather being outside playing. So going too fast or too slow is not really an issue for my particular kids. And if they had something that really caught their interest, I'm sure they would manage to investigate and learn more about it if they really want to. Kids do it all the time.

That just leaves the "whose values do you teach" question. But I know that any good parent is going to be involved in their kids' schoolwork, whether they are homeschooled or otherwise. They will get involved and know what their kids are learning. If something comes up that is contrary to our values system, we can address it and study the issue at home.

I don't know what we will decide, to be honest. I'm torn. I am really heartbroken at the idea of giving up homeschooling, but know that this might be a chance for my kids to stretch and grown and learn. We are deep in prayer about it. I'd appreciate any comments that address the issues here or maybe some I've overlooked.

Thanks for sticking in and reading through this and for any opinions you have to offer.


Raquel said...

how funny that you posted this today, my husband and I are praying about bringing our kids home for schooling, they go to a great private school and we love it but we still feel that God is prompting us to hs. mainly I would just say pray about it and I am certain the Lord will show you what to do. I will be excited to see where God leads you

Mylinda said...

I agree with Raquel. I have always said that my official answer to the query, "How long will you homeschool?" has been, "My official answer is: I'm homeschooling this year." Why? Because even with my greatest, laid out plans, the Lord may have something totally unexpected up His sleeve and my circumstances change. I think each and every year, we need to reevaluate and seek the Lord and see if hs is still what He wants...and not just for the kids as a group, but for each, individual one. I think if you earnestly seek Him, He will direct you to where He wants them to be. He knows what His plans are for them and how to get them there, so we just have to follow and be obedient. It was very hard for me to send Savannah to school this year. Almost like she was moving away, but I knew beyond a doubt that it was "the" plan and if I went against it, I would only be hurting her, me, maybe the other children, and definitely not being obedient. There are so many seasons in our lives and sometimes we like a season so much we hate to see it go and thus, dig in our heels and hold on as long as we can. But, we just have to remember, after the pain of the change of seasons, there's always something just as good for us, even if we miss the old stuff. So, after all this long babbling, my advice is to earnestly seek the Lord and His will and be obedient and you KNOW it will work out and be for the best. :-)

ValleyGirl said...

That's a big decision, Lori. Once you've toured the school, talked with some teachers, and evaluated their curriculum, you'll have a much clearer comparison. But until then, pray. And rest in the knowledge that whatever you end up deciding can be used by Him. And that you can always change your mind.

melissa said...

You have a lot to consider, Lori. I think once you are there and get to see what it is all about, it will be easier for you to make a decision. Nothing is set in stone. You can always change your mind based on what works best for your family. BTW, I think you have listed great reasons for homeschooling.

My Ice Cream Diary said...

Of course, ultimately it is between you and the Lord. Having run this gamut before and knowing the heart wrenching thoughts going through your mind I just have to add the defining point that helped me to choose.

You are being given a wonderful opportunity. It sounds like it is an ideal situation. If you try it and it doesn't work you can always pull your kids home and they will still have had a learning experience (good or bad).

And remember that once a homeschooler, always a homeschooler. You have taught yourself and your children that learning doesn't just belong in a classroom, you've taught them that morals and values are worth fighting for (you've been fighting the societal rules), and you will continue to teach them all these and all your other values.

Good luck with your decision! (I've often thought someone should start a recovery program for homeschoolers who put their children into regular school) =)

Anonymous said...

I can really relate to being heartbroken at thinking about not homeschooling. I was so heartbroken when I sent my kids to school after homeschooling. And, to be honest, there are still times where I feel like I just want to take them out and go back to it. But, I know that it is the right thing for our family right now that they are in school. At this time, it would be for selfish reasons if I kept them home.

It sounds like you have such a terrific situation with the schooling there. How wonderful that they'd be done by 1PM! Also, I agree with "my ice cream diary's" post, you will always be a homeschooler at heart and will continue that lifestyle no matter what. I believe I have a very different perspective than I would have if I hadn't homeschooled. You know your kids and what is best for them. As Melissa posted, you can always change your mind. Nothing is set in stone.

Earnestly continue to pray about it, and God will direct you and your family. You could also have the kids pray about it. God may speak to their hearts, as well.


Jess said...

well, i knew what i wanted to comment but several people have already touched on it....!

you can try it. if it doesn't work well for your children to be in private school, you can stop. this really helped me when i put my son in private school this year (he's done by 12:15 but it felt like, and is, a big deal!!)....

i think i'm writing this for me, too, lori---

thanks for always being so honest...


Marsha said...

Has your husband been able to look and observe at the school yet? Is it predominately foreign children or will there be local, effluent Muslim children there as well? Do you feel your children have 1st hand faith, not living off of yours? Have you developed and/or discussed with them what a Biblical worldview is? Are they old enough to defend their faith?

Just more questions for you to ponder as you make this difficult decision. I'll be praying for you and check back later.

Missy said...

I think you'll just know! I think the peace of God will be with you. He is so faithful. Homeschooling is such a blessing, but going to school can also be a blessings.
I homeschool 1 of my 4 children. My older girls love school. They both are very athletic sp? and thrive doing sports.

You will make the right choice, because you love your children! Best of luck to you


Anya said...

Praying you will have God's heart and thoughts on the subject as you contemplate schooling for your sweet kids. You know, they're so immensely precious to Him, I reackon he'll make sure they thrive no matter what you choose! I've been reading your blog awhile now, and love it, BTW!

Crimson Wife said...

Many families I know have switched back and forth between homeschooling and traditional schooling at various times depending on the circumstances. Check out the school, see what you all think about it, and pray for God's guidance. I'm sure He'll help you come to the right decision :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, the day is done at 1pm! That is ideal.
Don't forget you will be going through the transition of new country, new home, new neighbors and friends. A school could help this along--expats tend to be pretty close knit.
You will make the right decision once you see and get the feel of the place. Good luck!---

Anonymous said...

Just a comment from someone living in Qatar...Most employers in the country pay for school tuition. My husband's pays the equivalent of tuition, in hs material so I can hs still because we did before we came here. Like you we were tempted with the thoughts of "great, private school" but after living here for two years and getting a feel for the realities of life, I am thankful that we stayed the course. I guess I just want to say to you that "all that glitters is not gold," to quote somebody! It will be a huge adjustment for you and the kids just living here...going out to school here might just be too much.The only thing I could think of first when I came was "Oh Dorothy, you are not in Kansas now!" hope that helps a little


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