Fall 2018 / by John and Amy Sloan
What would happen if you asked a dad and a mom the same series of questions about their homeschooling? Would their perspectives be similar or different? My husband and I decided to take on this challenge!
When did you first want to homeschool your children?
John: Since I was homeschooled, I considered homeschooling from the time I began thinking about becoming a parent. In my mind, it had the inside track over other educational alternatives.
Amy: I was homeschooled, and it was a great experience. I was taught to be filled with wonder, to delight in learning, and to take the time to pursue deep and rigorous studies. This experience was a heritage of truth and riches that I was excited to pass on to my future children. It was something John and I discussed even before we were married.
What were your reasons for wanting to homeschool?
John: Every person has a worldview, and every educator communicates to students from a particular worldview. Homeschooling provides the opportunity to pass down what I believe directly to my children. Jesus Christ is King over this world, and homeschooling gives parents the opportunity to teach their children how everything in this world derives its meaning and purpose from Him. The financial cost of a Christian private school was definitely prohibitive for our family, so this made homeschooling preferable over private schools.
Amy: So many reasons! My faith is certainly the foundation of our educational decisions, but I am also excited by the academic and educational freedom available to us as homeschoolers. Rather than teaching to a test, we can pursue true depth of knowledge, beauty, and culture. We can study at our own pace. We aren’t limited to textbooks and worksheets; we can relish all the beautiful words and big ideas of living books. We aren’t limited to a modern or cultural-centric view; we can seek to understand the ideas of those in the past and from different philosophical or cultural perspectives through reading their own words. Being able to pursue a relaxed Christian classical education, with a good bit of zany adventure thrown in, continues to delight me! As a mom of five from age three to thirteen, I am also insanely grateful that all of my children can have the time, shared experiences, and unique family culture that will, Lord willing, enable them to have treasured, deep, and lasting relationships with one another into adulthood.
How do you think homeschooling affects your day to day life?
John: The most important thing I do with our family every day is that we read the Bible together. I want nothing more than for my children to know God and to believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. I believe that for us to have a knowledge and understanding of this world, we must first know God Himself through Jesus Christ. This knowledge transforms how we live our lives every day, how we interact with one another, and how we pursue knowledge, wisdom, and truth. Outside of our family devotional time, my wife does most of the heavy lifting directly educating our children. But I take time to read books with our children, coach youth sports, and grade math homework. Often, I fall short in all of these pursuits, but this gives us the opportunity to look for mercy and grace in Christ Jesus.
Amy: From our morning time routine to evening family devotions, homeschooling life can easily consume every facet of my life. It has become important for me to regularly step away (either literally or figuratively) and enjoy my own creative and intellectual pursuits. Homeschooling will end one day. My relationships with my husband, my God, my church—and my personhood—will be there when the kids have left!
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have faced as part of our homeschooling journey?
John: Three large challenges come to mind. One is working to pursue my own career goals without having my career consume me and still making time to enjoy our family. The second challenge is fostering genuine love for one another among my children as they pursue their education. The third would be helping my wife maintain realistic goals and stay encouraged and hopeful, as she works in the trenches day to day educating our children.
Amy: It is a challenge not to allow idolatry to take over my heart: my children’s accomplishments, their obedience (or lack thereof), my desire for measurable success, self-pity, trying to take over for the Holy Spirit, etc. Also, facing the reality that I cannot be excellent at homeschooling, housekeeping, exercise—and all the other things—at the same time.
What have been some of your favorite parts of our homeschooling journey?
John: It’s hard to say! It has been a blessing to see my children grow in their love for God’s Word and their love for each other. Youth sports have always been lots of fun for me, and we have enjoyed field trips together—one to Valley Forge especially comes to mind as being special.
Amy: Field trips. Reading aloud. Poetry and Shakespeare memory. Seeing my kids make connections and grow in individuality and wisdom. Getting to connect everything we do and learn to the character of God that we might grow in humility and doxology.
What piece of advice would you give to a new homeschool mom?
John: Pray! Remember that God loves your children more than you do, and He is the One who is raising them up through your service.
Amy: Always choose relationship over getting things done. Find a way to incorporate things that are true, good, and beautiful into your daily routine. (A morning time routine has worked well in our family to accomplish this goal.)
What piece of advice would you give to a new homeschool dad?
John: Your most important role is to teach your children how to read and understand the Bible. No matter how busy your life and work may get, set time aside every day to read the Bible to your family. Teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Amy: Pray with and for your wife. Be patient when she freaks out. The gifts of time alone, chocolate, a thank you, and a loving hug are always appropriated!
If you could go back to your younger self and say one thing before we started homeschooling, what would you say?
John: I would tell myself to rely more humbly on the Holy Spirit and the grace of God rather than on my abilities and strength. The irony is that this was learned through the years of studying God’s Word while undergoing the crucible of family life, church life, and career pursuits.
Amy: Repent of your pride and your self-sufficiency. Look to Jesus. Be patient with your children. Their emotional and social maturity is going to develop asynchronously with their academic gifts, and you can so easily wound their heart and damage your relationship. This is going to be a lot harder than you realize, and a lot more wonderful than you imagine. High-five; by God’s grace, you’ve got this.