Friday, December 21, 2012

Who Can Homeschool?

I believe all parents do teach their children, some just do it full time and some don't even realize they are teaching at all. Your child is watching you, and learning how to handle life from your example, whether you want them to or not.

I believe God has instructed all parents to be responsible for their children's education. My God would not tell someone to do something without giving them the skills and resources needed to do it.

I know not everyone can homeschool. Single parents, for example, need to do something with their young children while they work. But even then, they can and should be involved in the educational choices in their child's life. This is where extended family and churches should step in to help. (Though I have heard of singles that have homeschooled. It is just much more difficult.)

Most actual teaching is done by the mothers. You could argue that this is the more Biblical model. 

The book of Titus says for older women to teach younger women to be keepers at home while in another scripture Paul says that if a man provides not for his own, especially his own household he is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith. 

To this I answer that it is also the command of God that Fathers (from the Greek word pater meaning either father or parent) provoke not your children to wrath but bring them up in the nurture (culture) and admonition (education) of the Lord. Legalistically speaking, both parents are supposed to do the teaching.

I actually believe that while it is generally easier for a woman to stay home (God made her to tolerate this life better than a man) and this may be the ideal, not all families are the same. Some situations require different arrangements. 

It is usually easier and financially better for Mom to be the one to stay home with the children. Some men do teach, though. I know of a couple of families where the father does all the teaching while the wife works. 

I also know of families where both parents work about the same number of hours so they split the teaching duties; Mom teaches Language arts, History and music, while Dad teaches math, Science and Bible, or Mom teaches Monday and Tuesday while Dad teaches Wednesday and Thursday with whoever is available taking Friday for example. 

In some families, the father just takes one or two subjects as his and mom teaches the rest. 

In my home, my husband is the Principle of our school. He sets the goals, provides over all guidance, and is my support (read that; shoulder to cry on and ear to bend. Oh, how many times I have agonized over a decision and he has found the answer in one clear piece of advice.) I take his goals and find a way to meet them that best uses my talents. 

I do the formal teaching, but he plans field trips on the weekends and conducts informal lessons and workshops. This works very well for us. We are all happy with it. 

Every family is different and must find their own combination that works for them. And as the children age, what works this year may very well not work at all next year; so stay flexible.

"Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;"
I believe that, next to a child's own parents, the greatest responsibility for their education lies with the grandparents. Thankfully, many grandparents take this seriously. Some do some or all of the teaching themselves. I think this is quite Biblical. If you fall in this category, then wherever I say parents in this book, just read it grandparents.

Others wholeheartedly support their children in their educational choices for their grandchildren. My own parents fall into this category. They have been a big help over the years aiding in my children's education whenever possible, whether through listening to my confused rantings as I tried to figure out the answer to a problem, letting me bounce philosophy and ideas off of them, enjoying curriculum shopping trips with me or taking over the music lessons when they saw I was too overwhelmed to do it right. 

Unfortunately, especially among homeschoolers, some grandparents are not so supportive. This is generally because they honestly love their grandchildren and want what is best for them. It is a scary thing to leave your grandchildren's future in the hands of amateurs instead of turning them over to the experts. 

Besides, they still remember the twelve inch, green spiked hair stage you went through not too long ago (relatively speaking). And you want to teach THEIR grandkids?

If you find yourself in this position, be as patient and pleasant as you can, explain your reasoning, and if necessary be prepared to change the subject any time education comes up, (I appreciate your concern, but this is what God has told us to do. How about some more bean dip?). 

If you can, sometimes it helps to let them help. Ask them too teach a course in their hobby or specialty, join you on field trips, or even wash your dishes for you occasionally, (odd as it sounds, I have heard of it working). 

Pray. God can and does change minds. 

I heard of one family where the grandmother hated the idea of homeschooling until a crisis caused her to need to care for her grandchildren, including schooling, exclusively for three weeks. Since then, she can't wait for the annual curriculum fair to go shopping with her daughter. A little experience went a long way.

The extended family (such as aunts, uncles, and cousins) and the church hold the next tier of responsibility. It is our job to make sure that the parents in our realm have the support they need to care for their children, physically, emotionally, spiritually and academically. 

We, as a church have failed if we have lots of fancy outreach programs, but the children in our own congregation can't read the Bible for themselves. This help could come in the form of: 
  • housing allowances, 
  • homeschooler daycare (for single parents while they work or go to the grocery store), 
  • church sponsored libraries, 
  • consultants, and tutors, 
  • support groups, 
  • in some states private independent study schools, 
  • curriculum scholarships, 
  • co-ops, 
  • low cost private schools, and any thing else you could imagine that would help families fulfill their calling to make sure their children are properly educated. In the case of single moms, this is fulfilling the command to care for the fatherless.
Legally, there is some way to homeschool in every state. Contact Home School Legal Defense to get the latest information on the laws in your state and information on local support groups. You could also call local churches or newspapers to find the support groups.