Each year at this time, I think about why I homeschool my children. It helps me remember the benefits and blessings when I am prone to feel most like a failure. It was finding a link to a recent article on the ChildrensMD website by medical doctor Kathleen Berchelmann—sharing her list of eighteen reasons why she homeschools her children—that encouraged me to not only think about, but write down my own list.
In thinking about my reasons, I started with what was most important to me. I know I’m easily tempted to get sidetracked by some of the benefits that, while good, are not foundational. Putting thought into what’s most important to our family helps anchor us when life’s stormy winds start blowing us around. We all need that!
Besides the well-documented academic and social advantages, efficiency of our day, practical life skills learned and time to build character that homeschooling affords, here are some additional fundamental reasons why I have chosen and love homeschooling. I hope these resonate with you, or introduce some benefits you perhaps haven’t considered.
- God gives the primary responsibility and authority for instruction and nurture of children to parents. This is not insignificant. While parents can delegate that authority to others, they will always have the responsibility squarely on their shoulders. We should make a choice for our children’s education with this ever in the forefront of our minds.
- My relationship with my children grows deeper as we spend time together. The thing my children want most from me is just being with them. This was true before their daddy passed away and is even more true now. Homeschooling gives me more time with my children—time that deepens the bond of love between us.
- I am a mother before I am a teacher. My influence on my children in helping them discover who God has made them to be and how they fit into this world He has created is profoundly shaped by my role as mother as I nurture, protect, encourage, pray with, instruct and teach my children. What I do as a mom will leave a far more indelible mark on the hearts and minds of my children than all the academics I teach and oversee throughout their educational journey at home. This is what discipleship is all about, and homeschooling provides the best means for me to disciple my children.
- My children are not the only students in our home. That’s because we are all lifelong learners, and homeschooling is the perfect vehicle for both parents and children to learn together. At home, we can discover God’s creation and study the glories of His Word. We can search for beauty, goodness and truth wherever it can be found in our world. And we can continue to develop our interests, passions and God-given abilities for His glory. The children are learning, yes, but so am I.
- Caring for the needy of the world begins at home. We learn best to care for others by learning to care for one another in our own home. Teaching and modeling that each of us is made in God’s image is foundational to training our children to see themselves and others rightly. Showing your children God’s priority of love in His Word and demonstrating it with your life will plant seeds deep into your children’s hearts, seeds which God can grow into a desire to reflect Jesus to our world.
- I can encourage my children to be the persons God made them to be. Beyond their main academic studies, they can pursue the things for which they have a passion. They may pursue activities like extra learning opportunities, mentor-ships, part-time jobs, special trips, and missions work. My son, John, has pursued acting, my daughter, Charity, (almost eighteen) has been blogging since she was thirteen, and my daughter, Megan, took an entrepreneur workshop when she was fourteen. Now, at twenty-one, with a degree in business management, Meagan is a branch area manager for a large company.
- My children can work at their own appropriate pace. If one or more of my children struggles with math, for instance, the flexibility of the homeschooling lifestyle allows them to progress more slowly without feeling like a failure. Likewise, if they are exceptionally gifted in an area, they can race ahead in that subject, not being held back, and finish early. Either way, they are making progress and can feel good about that. Mastering the material at their own pace helps them to resist the temptation to compare. The goal is learning, whatever pace works best for each child.
- My children are able to gain a biblical worldview at home. Exposure to a biblical worldview will not happen in a government school and may not happen even in a Christian school! I want my children to know that God’s Word is authoritative and true, and it should shape how we think about our world and culture. How many children do you know who think it is perfectly fine to live a homosexual lifestyle or have an abortion? How many think our government has the right to tax a society to death? Some may believe these things because they weren’t taught the authority and content of God’s Word.
- Having our children at home day-to-day gives us an opportunity to model a godly marriage and the joys of being a parent. Not only do our children get to see a mom and dad who truly love each other and model (though imperfectly!) a Christ-like love, they also have a wonderful opportunity to see a mom and dad who joyfully embrace God’s call to be parents who desire to raise their children for God’s glory. For most of our children, marriage and parenthood will be their primary calling in life (besides following Christ). Being at home, seeing mom and dad love each other and love being a parent with God’s help gives our children a vision for a meaningful and God-glorifying future, no matter where our society is headed.
- The reality of the gospel is demonstrated in the everyday of life. I love sharing the goodness and greatness of our Creator God with my children; but even on days when, as a mom I feel like pulling my hair out, having my children at home gives me a tremendous opportunity to show the sufficiency of the gospel. God accepts me as I am through His Son. He has given me His Spirit to help me, but I still need Him every day. My strength always comes from Him, but His grace is always sufficient! How I live each day before my children—in the attitude of my heart, in the words of my mouth, in the choices I make—demonstrates how important, how true the gospel is to me. When they see me lean with trust and hope on a faithful God who securely holds me in His hands because of Christ’s sacrifice for me, they will know the gospel is real—and that’s the best lesson my children can ever learn.