Study after study demonstrates that statically speaking, children taught at home do better academically than children taught in classrooms. We know homeschool students excel academically, are well-adjusted socially and often have time and opportunity to pursue non-academic interests, developing natural gifts in areas such as music, sports, robotics and debate.
We homeschoolers assume homeschooling is the best choice for our children and few would argue. We know there is great sacrifice on the part of parents to make the homeschooling dream come true. We generally make ends meet on a single income. It’s not uncommon for mom to also work a part-time job and dad may even have a second part-time job. Being at home all day with children has its own rewards but lacks some of the benefits of a workplace community of peers and co-workers.
Your friends all assume you are somewhere between heroic and crazy to be homeschooling, but most will eventually (and perhaps begrudgingly) acknowledge your kids turned out just fine. In fact, more than a few friends and family will someday be willing to admit your kids turned out fantastic and homeschooling really did work beautifully for your family. But I want to suggest that in the end, the person who might benefit most from homeschooling may not be your child; it may be you.
But wait. You’re the one making the financial and career sacrifices. You’re the one spending endless days juggling parenting, homemaking, teaching and being a wife. You’re the one spending hours upon hours going over multiplication tables and consonant blends. How can you possibly be the primary beneficiary of homeschooling?
Let me begin by saying I’m convinced the decision to homeschool is the response to a divine invitation. I believe God invites us to go on a homeschooling journey that often defies logic, financial wisdom and popular culture. I believe the Lord invites us to go on a journey of faith—a walk of trust as we move into an enormous unknown and unknowable realm when we respond to the divine urge in our spirit.
And I believe God has invited you on this journey for your benefit every much as for the benefit of your children. He knows you and your husband just as well as he knows your child, and as the ultimate multi-tasker, God sees value for all of you. This isn’t being heroic for the children’s sake, as much as it’s being obedient for everyone’s sake. Your entire family was in the Lord’s heart when he invited you to homeschool.
There are issues in each of us that God has been working on for decades. Perhaps it’s our temper, our perfectionism, our procrastination, our poor self-image, our quick tongue, our pessimism, our critical spirit or our lack of willpower. But, for whatever reason, we’ve been unable (or unwilling) to take control of these behaviors and conquer them.
Through homeschooling, the Lord has created a tremendous opportunity for us to experience victory in every one of those areas. What we often won’t do because it’s the right thing to do, we’ll do because of love. Love is a tremendous motivator which can cause a 150 pound person to lift a 3000 pound car off a loved one who is trapped beneath. Love allows people with long-term addictions to break free for the sake of newly found love. And it often allows parents to experience victory over lifelong destructive behaviors for the sake of their children.
Spending seven days each week face to face with your children provides you with living witnesses to your behavior. You’ve seen the look of fear in their faces when you lost your temper—again. You’ve seen the look of disappointment in their faces when you didn’t get your act together and cancelled the field trip—again. You’ve seen the look of hurt in their faces when you lashed out with a critical spirit and harsh words when all they deserved was a gentle correction—again.
As parents, we’re human. We make mistakes. We will always make mistakes. Children don’t come with operating instructions. We’re learning on the fly and discovering our role in real time. We will never be perfect.
But I’m convinced homeschooling will make us not only better parents, better spouses and better men and women in our community, but it will also make us better individuals. Having a child hold a mirror up to your face every day is a tremendous incentive to finally do business with God about the stuff that has hindered you for too long.
God looked at you, your spouse and your children and concluded that homeschooling would be good—for each of you.
Embrace that truth this year and in the years ahead. Give thanks for the opportunities that homeschooling provides, not just academically or for your children’s avocations and hobbies, but give thanks for the growth that it has accelerated in your own life. Embrace the challenging areas of homeschooling knowing the Lord has a plan for your life as well as for your children’s lives.
The Lord has seen us with all of our faults and failings, and He has not only invited us to help shape the next generation, but in His mercy, He has given us undeniable evidence that we are daily growing up and being conformed to the likeness of his Son, in part, because of this wonderful opportunity called homeschooling.