Written by Sandy Glenn
The pleas for Christian parents to pull their kids out of public schools are growing louder and more fervent every day. And, while many parents agree that the time for exodus has come for their family, some feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. They know they need to leave but they don’t know where to go!
If this sounds like you, I’ve got great news. You do have options! But here’s the catch. You’ll need to take more than just a passing glance at the alternatives. It’s all too easy to make quick, sweeping judgements such as “we can’t afford private school” or “I could never homeschool” without really giving those alternatives a fair chance.
About ten years ago, when God first put homeschooling on my heart and in my mind, I was armed with all kinds of excuses as to why it wouldn’t work. I’m not a teacher. I don’t remember calculus. We’re not homesteaders. I hate bugs; how will I teach about bugs? We can’t afford for me not to work; what about my career? How will my kids make friends? The list went on and on.
If I’d given more thoughtful consideration to my list of fear-based objections, I might’ve saved myself years of anxiety. But, over time, God has helped dismantle the stereotypes and misconceptions I once had about home education. As I’ve shed my preconceived notions about what school is “supposed” to look like, my family and I have discovered an amazing lifestyle of learning, togetherness, and blessing.
Sadly, many prospective homeschooling parents do what I did at first. They look into homeschooling briefly and, even if they think the method has some merit, they dismiss it because they feel it’s ineffective, lacking in opportunities, or just not practical.
In reality, it’s often just their mental picture of homeschooling that’s impractical. For example, if someone thinks homeschooling means recreating the entire public school experience in their home or teaching every subject for every grade for every child, then of course they’d feel that it’s an impossible feat. Or, if someone’s idea of homeschooling includes kids who never interact with anyone outside their immediate family, then naturally that person would be skeptical about it.
Thankfully, real homeschooling is nothing like those imagined scenarios. Not only is home education absolutely doable for the average family, it’s also exceedingly efficient and endlessly customizable. In fact, it’s the efficiency and flexibility of home education that makes it so successful for so many different families.
Maybe you feel that this past year of virtual schooling in your home proved that you could never homeschool successfully. Believe me, “pandemic-public-schooling-at-home” and “home education” are not the same thing! Though their kids may have been at home, the experience many public schooling families endured over the past school year is a far cry from the day-to-day experience of home educators who aren’t tied to public school curricula, schedules, or systems.
If you’re considering educating your kids at home but you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of it, take a deep breath (or ten). As I said in my new book Think About Homeschooling: What It Is, What It Isn’t, & Why It Works, homeschooling “is no less practically possible than any other career, educational method, or way of life. The simple fact that it’s less well understood in our culture just makes it seem that way. In actuality, the skill sets you use to adapt and succeed in other areas of life can be the same ones you use to homeschool successfully.”
In Think About Homeschooling, I tackle the five most common categories of misunderstanding surrounding home education as well as its main advantages. With a clearer picture of what homeschooling is and isn’t, parents are then equipped to truly consider homeschooling as a real possibility for their family. Whether or not you end up deciding to home educate, it’s critical that you are basing your decision on accurate information.
As stewards and guardians of the children God has placed in our care, it’s our privilege and responsibility to provide spiritual and academic training and instruction for them. Whether we send them to the public school down the street, the private school in the next town, or the homeschool co-op at our church, we make a choice to delegate some portion of their education to those institutions. It’s critically important that we’re mindful of the training that our kids are receiving in those settings. And it’s equally as important that we’re aware that we have a choice in the matter!
Christian parents, as you consider your schooling options for next year, please give careful and intentional thought to all of your choices. Do your best to research the specific alternative schooling opportunities available to you in your area (private schools, hybrid or co-schools, co-ops, homeschooling, etc.) and pray for clear direction from the Lord. If you feel convicted to find an alternative to public schooling, don’t let fear stand in your way!
For those of you curious or skeptical about home education, or if you’re new at it and need a confidence boost, my book Think About Homeschooling would be a great next step. You can buy it now in ebook or paperback format or find out more here.
Sandy Glenn, MAE, went from “Homeschooling? No way!” to “Homeschooling is awesome!” in just a few short years. After working in the architectural engineering industry for over eleven years, she left the workforce to stay home with her firstborn and she’s been home educating ever since! She and her husband live and learn with their three children in the Chicago suburbs. Sandy’s writing has been published in the Journal of Architectural Engineering and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, and she also provides practical help and encouragement to homeschooling parents on her blog: sensiblehomeschool.com.