Friday, February 10, 2012

Homeschooling: A Saul to Paul Conversion

I used to be a homeschool hater.

That's right....I used to talk smack about  "nerdy homeschoolers".

My husband and I were both educated in the public school system and had what I would consider the "All-American" school experience. When we got married and had kids, we never thought in a million-trillion- bazillion  years that we would teach our kids at home. EVER.

Education was important to us.  It was so important that we would do nearly anything for our kids to get into a great school district.  In fact, it took us two full years to find a house we could afford in the best school district in our part of the state.  It was so important to us that we purchased our house in a town that is 30 minutes away from our pastures and cattle. We were willing to make HUGE sacrifices because nothing but the best would do for our kids.

There were a few of my friends at church who were planning to teach their children at home, and I flat out told them they were CRAZY.

Our church got a new youth pastor, and he and his wife were both homeschooled themselves, and planned on teaching their own children the same way.

One evening I was traveling in a car with our youth pastor on the way to do a church visit and the subject of education came up.  We got into a discussion and he told me some nonsense about how wonderful it was for him to be homeschooled, and how he hopes to raise his kids the same way. Blah, blah, blah.  I looked him straight in the eyes and said the following words... and I quote:

"I will NEVER homeschool my kids."

Then I proceeded to tell him every un-educated and stupid myth about homeschooling that I had ever heard and never researched.  You know, I used the dreaded "S" word....Your kids will never be "socialized".

(At this very moment God must have been sitting on his throne, and unbeknownst to me, he was probably laughing his head off during our conversation! I imagine He was thinking, "Oh, Nell, you have NO IDEA about the plans I have for you. HaHaHaHa!!!!!")

Let me make one thing clear....EVERYONE knew of my ill feelings about homeschooling.

So time went on and our oldest child turned four. Even though I was a stay-at-home mom,  I enrolled him in a Christian preschool 3 afternoons a week so he could be properly "socialized". That's what all the moms did.  I dutifully baked cupcakes for his class and volunteered frequently.  My boy was a shining star in the classroom.  I worked with him on A,B,C's and 1,2,3's at home, and he excelled.

In the springtime, our local school district had a "Kindergarten Round-up" and I went to the school and enrolled him to start class the following fall.

I went home that night and felt a weird twinge of uncertainty about our decision to send him to school.  I dismissed it immediately.

Yet it kept happening, day in and day out.  I read article after article about the failing school system in our state. Education was a hot button topic during the elections at that time and I poured over newspaper and magazine commentaries about education reform and school choice, and where our nation ranked with regards to education when compared to other industrialized countries.

Simultaneously, I was reading my Bible and was struck with the sheer magnitude of my responsibility as a parent of three little souls.  I  firmly believed that one day I would have to stand before God and be held accountable for the way in which I raised my children. That's not something to be taken lightly. My husband and I deeply desired for them to have a thorough Christian education. One of the many verses that kept coming to mind was this one:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:5-9

The question that I was muddling over in my mind was, "Could we effectively live out Deuteronomy 6:5-9 if we were limited to only weekends and evenings after dinner and homework were done?" Could we, in fact, counter-balance the things our kids would be hearing in the world with Biblical truths when they were away from us for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week?

On the flip side, I knew that there were many wonderful, dedicated teachers in the public school system. There were also many bright and amazing kids. I also knew that my parents were able to teach me the Word of God before and after school, and I was able to remain strong in my faith. (I later learned that statistically I was in the minority but that's another story for another day.)

So for over a month, I silently played tug-of-war in my mind about what to do with all of this knowledge plus a hundred other things on both sides of the issue. It was a huge dichotomy! I wanted my kids to be"in" the world but not "of" it. I wanted them to have lots of friends but not to be overly influenced by their peers.  I wanted them to understand the dangers of drugs and alcohol, but I didn't want them to be exposed to them.

I prayed day and night.  I was desperately trying to find clarity on it all.  But in the tiny recesses of my heart, I kept having the gnawing feeling like we needed to homeschool our kids.

I pleaded with God! "Please Lord, show me how to navigate these uncharted waters of raising my children up in the knowledge of Your Word, and P.S....I still don't want to homeschool them."

A week later, I was still trying to ignore the thought of the dreaded "homeschooling" option but I couldn't get it out of my mind.  I decided to really throw God a curve ball.

Knowing my husband was a fellow foe of homeschooling, I prayed another desperate prayer to God. "Lord,  if this whole homeschooling thing is really what you want us to do then I want you to confirm it in my husband.  I'm not going to say a single word about it to him.  I'm not even going to utter the word "homeschooling" in this house.  As far as I'm concerned it's full speed ahead, destination public school, unless I miraculously hear him tell me that we should teach our kids at home.  It's got to come right from his lips! Amen."

Well, I knew that was never going to happen so I went about with my week as usual.

Then out of the blue one day, my husband approached me.

He said, "I know this is going to sound totally crazy, but......"



  1. You know, I like that you shared this much, we (hubby and I) used to think the same.... not being socialized, and yet here we are in the midst of planning homeschooling our children. We both come from public school teaching, and I know now as a parent how much I DON'T want them to go into a public school system. I'm just a bit skeptical about ME being a teacher, and I know I have to rely on the Lord each and every step of the way. He has put friends in our lives who have helped encourage us, and help us in our planning, and knowing just what it can be like, and how our children will enjoy it.

    Can't wait to hear more!

  2. I think it's so cool to read stories like this! I was home schooled and basically have a do or die mentality about it. Kind of the opposite of your situation! If my kids ever step foot in a public school it will have to be divine intervention. At the same time, I have to remind myself to be open to what GOD has for us. Man's ideals are really irrelevant to those who seek the will of God... Sometimes I wonder how I'm going to do it, but I know He'll make a way and create in me a teachers heart! Looking forward to the rest of your story!

  3. If I'da had kids I know they would have been home schooled. I've seen the results in my friends children!

  4. I'm a homeschool graduate, so like LeAnna, I go the other way. "There is no way I'll ever put my kids in public school." Isn't it funny how people are?
    With that said, I do realize that it has to be a calling from the Lord. Because I know how hard it was for Mama and Daddy, and I know that it won't be easy for us. It takes so much dedication and I worry a lot if I'm 'smart' enough to do it. It will be an adventure, no doubt about it! My hubby is a public schooler, and I'm so thankful he is supportive. He hated school so much, and he never hesitated about homeschooling. I do know he'd like for Q to be a part of sports.. but its not worth the sacrifice to not have them here with us. Plus we are so eat up with drugs and junk like that.
    God placed these kids with us, and we feel like we have to do the best we can to bring them up right!
    I'll also add, we didn't suffer from the socializing thing. (That word still makes me cringe) We were active in 4-H and youth group. My parents did as much as they could for us to be involved in different things. I think it also made us closer, (there are 4 of us) because we were not only siblings, but playmates and schoolmates.

    Ok.. sorry for the world's longest comment! :)

  5. Lynell, I am cracking up right now. So glad you came over to the dark side. :)