The Hillbilly Homeschool for Jesus finds itself at the end of another “school year”.
It’s not the end, really, just a transition to the summer portion of the school year, with a little less math and a lot more sunshine. Also, I don’t have to document attendance for a while. I may have time to blog! The coming year will be my firstborn’s last year of secondary education. We’re about to launch one, y’all! And it makes me all kinds of nervous.
Is this arrow straight and properly fletched? Did we aim well? Will it hit its target?
And what was its target? I’ve been doing this day in and day out for so long I can scarcely remember the beginning. I went looking through the archives of GAH 1.0 to try and recover what exactly I was thinking when I started this homeschooling thing. One thing that won’t surprise old-time readers of my blog is that I am not nearly as cocksure of everything as I was when I started out. I have a lot more wisdom now, but also a much better awareness of my limitations.
Did my reasons for homeschooling change? Nope. Thank God, we started out with a firm purpose. If anything, our motivations have become more fervent than ever. We’re at the end of one child’s upbringing, but there are seven more behind that one, and some have barely learned to hold a pencil yet. I have twelve more years of this to do. I’d better be sure of why I’m doing it.
I had all the usual educational and God-honoring reasons for homeschooling, but I also had the lifestyle reason:
All the pointless bustling about from place to place kept me from ever really knowing my family. And it kept them from knowing me. Most importantly, it kept me from knowing God. Church was just another place we had to hurry to get to. My parents were just the people who made me go there. God was just something you do when you aren’t doing something else.
I don’t want to live that way, and I really, really don’t want my kids to live that way. So that’s why we homeschool, in a nutshell: so we can take our time and get it right.
I see a lot of newer homeschoolers (and man, there are a lot of new homeschoolers now) making the mistake of trying to make homeschooling something they do anywhere but home. Lessons here, sports there, competitions everywhere. I’m not saying they’ll get a poor education this way, especially if they’re of the more extroverted kind. In fact, they may get a superior “education”. But there are non-academic needs that can go unfulfilled when we allow ourselves be driven by sports schedules and co-op obligations. But if I have any regrets at all–and I’m not sure I do–they are related to our lack of collaboration with other homeschoolers. The community is important.
If other families are motivated by the outside stuff, then they should do it with all gusto, and I don’t want anyone to take me to be saying otherwise. But I fear that in the mainstreaming of homeschooling, the “home” part is falling by the wayside. For many, the co-op way might be more fun. The sports may be an integral part of what your children need. Having eyes on your family by other, likeminded people, will certainly be more reassuring than doing it on your own. Do these things!
But don’t neglect the quiet of the home, parents. The fact that my children are able to feel safe, peaceful, unhurried, productive, and purposeful in our home, rather than only rushing around outside of it, looking to the outside world for approval and direction, will make them far more capable as adults of ordering their lives without too much regard for worldly expectations.
Too much time spent away from home, even when the whole family is together, will make your house a lifeless place you only go when there’s nothing important to do.
Don’t spend so much time running around that your children have no time to think, no time to wander aimlessly, no time to ask you those small, easy-to-skip-over questions, the answers to which build up to a whole world view. It is, after all, their hearts that you’re after. It takes time to nurture hearts, and that time needs to be quiet and private if you want them to grow well.
Another purpose that we had in homeschooling was, of course, to train our children in discerning the times and choosing the Godly path.
In, Naive, Unworldly Homeschoolers, I scoffed at the idea that my children wouldn’t know how to deal with the world:
The basis of the “real world” complaint seems to be that if a child doesn’t go to a public school, he won’t learn how to be pure in the face of the sin of others. Exposure to bullies, peer pressure, drugs, anti-Christian authority figures and curriculum, and any number of other spiritually unhealthy things that children must face every day in public schools are, in this argument, held up as necessary way stations on the road to maturity. And I admit, that line of reasoning sounds really compelling at first. After all, practice makes perfect! It’s right there in the Bible where it says…um…no.
I can’t find anything that points to the soundness of having your children exposed to wrongdoing from early on so that they can resist worldliness. While there is nothing there about the benefits of exposing children to “diverse” worldviews, there is much about the perils of casting stumbling blocks before the weak and malleable souls of children.
I still believe this, whole-heartedly. I’m watching my friends’ children, both homeschooled and public schooled, begin to grapple with the world as it has been presented to them. My heart aches when I compare one set of young adults to the other.
They all, whether public- or home-schooled, peer anxiously into the doorway of the adult world that they’re expected to enter and have no idea where they fit into it. They’re all going off to college and work, vulnerable and clueless, eager, the perfect mark for those who would take advantage of their naiveté. They all experience the same hopes and fears.
But I’ve noticed that only one set is able to smile at me with a whole-hearted smile. There’s a shadow behind the smiles of the other set.
One set has a clear idea of what will give them peace in life. The other set is burdened with knowledge of things that shouldn’t even be talked about by decent people. The homeschooled set isn’t ignorant of sin, or of the zeitgeist. I talk about what we see out there with my kids often, and they view it all through a Biblical lens. They know, at age-appropriate levels, about abortion, sexual sins, drugs, and anything else you care to throw at them. They have a very good understanding of the world, and they know who their Enemy is.
They’ll make mistakes when interacting with the world, absolutely, but I have no fear that they’ll come to view dysfunction as a perfectly unobjectionable “lifestyle”. If they turn from Christ to follow the world, it will not be because they were raised in ignorance of these things, but because they are actively rejecting the Truth. (Oh, pray for the children!)
One set of kids has been assaulted daily with the message that they should not only not reject sinful urges, but that they should embrace it as a vital part of their very identity. While their Christian parents have sincerely done as much as they could on nights and weekends to teach them correctly, their fragile souls have been torn in two by the Enemy, who has had every useful hour of every day to indoctrinate them in his twisted ways for the last 12 years. It has taken a toll, and I grieve for their loss of innocence.
I’m not speaking only of the massive push for sexual sin to be embraced. Gay pride is certainly the most brazen manifestation of Satanic pressure those kids are feeling, but it started much more subtly, long ago, with the idea that parents are just biological units meant to keep a child materially alive while the government (and the church, frankly) is in the best position to teach children everything they need to know. We have been taught for generations to “honor thy authorities”, instead of thy father and mother. When I was in school, there were some aspects of our lives that we just knew (because the schools deliberately planted this seed in our hearts) that mom and dad couldn’t be trusted to understand. It has only gotten worse in the last 20 years.
As much as I am talking about the sexual license and confusion, I’m even more talking about the “milder” sins of disobedience to and contempt for parents, alienation from family as a lesser social group. Without that cultural violation of the fifth commandment, none of these more demonic manifestations could have been allowed to grow.
Now these young adults enter a very dangerous world, and only one set of them realizes that their parents are their best allies. The other set enters it thinking that they are alone.
In another post, Homeschooled Kid Grows Up, I wrote this:
(G)ood parents don’t raise their children in fear of how those children will judge them in the future, but in the loving hope that they’re making the right decisions
And, I will admit that this is the one that keeps me up at night.
What if my children don’t appreciate what I’ve done here? I do not raise my children with an eye toward pleasing Man, even when that Man is my grown-up son. As I told my friend the other day, there are holes in my parenting, and in their formal education, that you could drive a truck through. I know that what I’ve done isn’t enough. It can never be enough. I hate to break this to you, if you’ve even had the stamina to keep reading a post this long, but you aren’t going to be able to do enough for your children, either.
We can all only make an honest effort, taking into account our limitations. God has to fill in the gaps.
I don’t really know how to end this thing. I just wanted to reminisce a little bit and consider what the next twelve years of homeschooling will look like for our family, and whether I want to change anything based on what I’m observing in my (gulp) young adult offspring. As we graduate this one, we’ll be beginning phonics with our youngest. We have a lot of years left to see how these things turn out, and I hope the younger set can benefit from whatever we’ve learned with the older ones. I begin this last year of education for this child with only one panicky thought:
What did I screw up, and is one year enough time to fix it?