These are questions from the original Christian Faith and Homeschooling blog:
1. We are called to share the Gospel with non-believers, but if children do not have interactions with non-believers how will they ever learn to do this? Will they be ready to go “out on their own” and how will they survive having always been sheltered from the real world? It’s a common misconception that home schooled children have no interaction with the rest of the world and in addition are sheltered from it. Not only is this most often not true, it is often true that home schooled children have more diverse and productive interaction with the rest of the world. Consider this-children in the typical public or private school classroom spend 7-8 hours a day interacting with mostly students their own age in a building that more than likely has a sub-culture of its own, here is not much interaction across age groups or with people outside of that school building. Most of their interaction with adults is limited to those who work in that building. Parents who home school their children have the amazing ability to not only create an academic oasis of their own within the walls of their house but they also have the incredible opportunity to allow their children to experience the world outside of their home in a way that children who are in a school building 5 days a week 9 months out of the year do not. When you home educate your children you can take them to see, touch, and experience the world instead of reading about it in a text book or watching a PowerPoint presentation about it in a classroom with a teacher and 29 other students. That also means you have an opportunity for more interaction with diverse people in the “real” world. From field trips to co-op groups to road trips to extracurricular activities, home schooled students will make relationships with non-believers and experience the world of non-believers in a way that traditionally educated students will not until they graduate and are “on their own”. How awesome to be there as a parent guiding your child, disciplining them, and being there with them when they experience interactions with non-believers. What a teaching moment to be out in the world with your children when they see something or have an interaction with someone that challenges their own faith. Another thing to consider is peer interaction… When students are educated in the home way, they learn how to interact and relate to people of diverse ages. A student who is educated at home most often has siblings of varying ages who are there as well. They learn how to coexist and work together and at times, teach each other. All three of these skills are essential skills that not only college admission counselors seek but employer’s desire as well. Home schooled children are often a part of some type of home school group-whether it is a co-op or theater group or something of the like. This means they will be working and learning side by side with children of all ages. These interactions develop character in students that is a well-marked difference between home schooled children and the typical traditionally educated child.
2. As a mom it is tough to balance everything, how do you get it all done? Yes. It always is. Home schooling is a sacrifice. It comes down, I believe, a few important “P”s – letting go of “perfectionism”, getting your “priorities” straight and “prayer”. Not to oversimplify things but I believe these three things to be most important. Starting with prayer-we all know how essential this is to our spiritual lives but we sometimes forget how essential it is and can be to our physical lives. Not only starting the day with prayer but sprinkling it with prayer all the way through is essential to me having a “good” day. Now let me address that definition of “good” day! Perfectionism-in all its forms-has to be let go of. You have to learn how to let go of certain expectations, those you put on yourself and those we sometimes carry from what the world says. Only our heavenly Father above is perfect and His ways are perfect. He has called us to be perfect you may remind me. Yes that is true-perfect as He is perfect which is in love. That brings me to priorities. It is imperative to have your priorities straight in order to achieve balance in all of this. I often say my most important task is to get my kids into heaven not Harvard. Loving them as God does and teaching them to love others the same way is high up on that priority list. I can have them doing calculus by 10 years old but if I haven’t imparted the Faith to them and taught them to love God and neighbor then its all for naught. Home schooling is not just a journey for the children but for the family. I believe that as I am taking my children by the hand and leading them down this path, the Lord is taking me by the hand and transforming me as well. I can well attest to the fact that He is doing things in and through me through this journey that would not happen if I entrusted my children to someone else’s care every day of the work week. It is hard but so was the path to the cross. But the victory was truly victorious!
3. Why not send your child to a private Christian school instead of public school? Sending my children to private Christian school would still not accomplish all of the goals we have for them. My husband and I want to be the primary educators of the Faith for our children. We want them to have a individualized education. We want them to have particular educational experiences in and out of the classroom that they will never get in a school environment with class rooms full of students and all of the challenges for teachers and administrators that go with running a school.
4. How do you teach your child when they are ready for advanced subjects like Calculus or advanced Spanish? Do they miss out on these subjects all together? There are various ways to accomplish this. Many home educators choose home school co-ops. These are college like situations where you take your student for specific classes that you do not feel like they can do at the house with your help. They are taught by teachers (these can be employed certified teachers from a community college for example or parents who are educated in these areas and work in those fields). Some parents choose online classes for these types of subjects. Some parents choose curriculum that comes with DVD and computer programs and learn alongside their student seeking out private tutoring in those areas for their child when needed. Another option is to take such courses through community colleges which often offer home school classes.
5. Isn’t it a better lesson to teach our children there will always be those that do not believe and we must stand firm in our faith? That lesson can just as well be taught while the child is in the home. In our culture we are so quick to get our kids out from under our wing and push them to fly. We are terrified that little Johnny will never become independent and that little Sally will never make friends. What if instead we kept the children under our wing for a bit longer, taught them how to be firm in their faith so that when they do experience trials and tribulations they have the confidence and belief to stand firm. Yes there will always be those that do not believe, but how much of that do I want to expose my five year old to? Once my child is no longer under my wing, he will have plenty of years to stand firm against the naysayers. There will be plenty of time for him to be tested and tried. I want to make sure he’s trained up well.
6. How do you homeschool when you have multiple children in different stages of learning? For example a 9mo old, 4 year old, and 7 year old? You must develop a schedule that works best for you. You also must change the way you see “school”. If you do this, it will free you and your children from a lot of stress. School does not have to look like what it looks like in the public school down the road. Remember, the system is the way it is because of a few reasons – it must educate mass number of children, it must keep them there while their parents work, and it seeks to produce good employees for the business world. How many of those listed reasons are your reasons for educating your children. I have an almost 6 year old, a 4 1/2 year old and twins who are almost 3. “School” is officially on our schedule for 3 days a week. But we try to stay in an active mode of learning. That means learning sometimes happens on the weekends or weeknights when we don’t actually have “school”. We normally do school in the mornings and it comes in spurts. With those ages I cannot expect to keep them at the table for more than 30 minutes and shouldn’t expect that from them. Boys at this age learn best from using their whole bodies and exploring inside and outside. I use a Kindergarten and PreK curriculum but add to it as needed. It is my road map but we take our own rest stops and often go off the beaten path, and they learn a lot that way! Sometimes I do additional learning activities with the two older boys when they little guys are napping. Most days we all learn together all of the time. I modify activities based off of age. I know some families who get help with the younger children from a family member or neighbor while they work exclusively with the older children on the more demanding lessons. The beauty is you can work it how you can work it. We recently went on a 7 day cruise with our extended family in October. I used the weeks leading up to it to teach the boys about the cultures of the 3 countries we were going to visit. We also learned about sea life. I integrated this theme into our math and literacy activities. What a learning experience it was for them! Even my 2 year old twins knew the Jamaican flag when they saw it because they had made one themselves. Everyone at every stage can learn something; you just have to modify it.
7. Do homeschool children miss out on school sports? There are many opportunities for sports. There are home school sport groups. In our area I know of sports for home schooled children going up to Varsity level. In addition to those groups you can play through city leagues. Also, club teams are just as much as an option for a home schooled child as a public school child. And for many sports, club is the most successful way to get noticed for college recruiting. Home schooled children also have the chance to participate in sports they might not be able to do if they were enrolled in school. Sports like horseback riding, martial arts, ice skating, gymnastics, fencing are often not offered in public school. When you home school, you can seek these things out on your own, exposing your children to much more.
8. Isn’t homeschool curriculum very expensive? Just like anything else there is a range of potential expense. There are free curriculum programs and there are those that can cost you hundreds of dollars a year if you purchase the whole program and receive help like grading, transcript recording and academic counseling.
9. Are there support groups, websites or local groups for support with homeschooling? There are many websites and local groups that support home schooling. One good place to start, besides a simple Google search, is your local public library. The library often has many home school resources because home school parents typically use the library systems for many resources and at times, classes. Three good websites I recommend are:
hslda.org – Homeschool Legal Defense Association – They have a plethora of information related to homeschooling
homeschool.com – This site is an online community which in addition to many curriculum recommendations also has a search engine for finding local support groups.
cathyduffyreviews.com – This is a popular curriculum review site for homeschoolers
homeschoolcentral.com– Homeschool Central with a list of resources
Guest post submitted by Monica – I am wife to an amazing man and my high school sweetheart and mother to our four beautiful boys. I home school our boys while also working part time as a high school counselor. I’m a born-again Catholic who is very involved in my church and always excited and passionate to talk about my faith.