Why We Homeschool
Over the last 12 years or so, my wife and I have been questioned numerous times about why we homeschool our children. In some cases, it was from people genuinely interested in our reasoning, for others it was an opportunity to ridicule or find fault. Either way, we have always tried (though sometimes unsuccessfully) to answer the question gracefully and certainly without shoving our beliefs down others’ throats. So I thought I would take a moment to write down some of our thinking behind it.
While no doubt, this subject can be controversial and complicated, I will attempt to stray from speaking negatively about public schools. Meaning, I will try to keep it in the positive for homeschooling and leave it there; though establishing the framework will require a bit of foundation work. Overall, while we have probably said it in a variety of ways, the basic reason for why we homeschool is this: We attempt to raise our children, which includes how we handle their education, in a manner that is based on what we see as our responsibility as parents in God’s Word, as compared to what societal norms may tell us.
Before I get to specifics, let me just say that we have not always had a crystal-clear understanding of our role as parents. We still don’t and are learning every day. But God is kind and merciful and when we seek Truth, He is faithful to provide answers. Admittedly, we fail in a multitude of ways with our children, but by God’s grace He continues to restore and guide our paths. In the beginning, we probably would not have been able to clearly communicate our reasons behind homeschooling. We simply felt like it was what we were supposed to do, so we did. When we look back, it is simply amazing to see where God’s hand has intervened at times where we were headed in the wrong direction. Even now, we are constantly adjusting and molding our system to what works. So in no way do we claim to have always gotten it right or that we get it perfect now.
Ok, now to answer the “why?” more specifically. To do so, I have to go big picture, as in, what we see as the Biblical purpose of children – big picture. We believe that God blesses parents with children in order that they may disciple them. Meaning that our primary role as parents is to advocate for the perpetuation of faith in Christ. Everything else resides in this context – everything. We take this practically very serious.
Academic learning is a part of this for sure, but it does not exist in a vacuum outside of the fear and knowledge of the Lord. For starters, there is no Biblical model for parents sending their children away for a secular education outside of discipleship. (I am not saying that do so is a sin.) On the other hand, there is no specific proof text that says “thou shalt homeschool.” However, the overall thrust behind Biblical principles dealing with child rearing is in the context of discipleship. Here are just a few verses that have helped us:
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.
Deut. 6:5-7 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
Ephesians 6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Luke 6:40 A student is not above his teacher, but when he is fully trained, he will be like his teacher.
Malachi 2:13-15 And this second thing you do. You cover the Lord’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the Lord was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth.
And the really big one, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 for us to “make disciples of all nations,” surely is applicable to the first people we have been given authority over, namely, our children. How can my wife and I “make disciples” of our children if we hand over the controls for about half of their waking hours during the week for the first 17 or 18 years of their lives? And might I add, hand them over to institutions which by law, are required to teach them the opposite of what we believe?
Foundationally, this is critical because there are thousands of homeschooling families who do it for many other reasons which are not applicable for us. Whether it is the 3 R’s, world history, science, or creative writing, we judge that all learning should be built on the foundation of God’s purpose behind all things. To point our children time and time again to the glory of God’s grace is our goal. We understand that whether they ultimately accept our faith is out of our hands, but we also understand that God has ordained parents as a primary means of calling children to himself.
So what picture does the Bible paint regarding educating children? Like I said before, academic instruction by itself does not exist outside of faith training within Scripture. When we look for Biblical direction, what we see is largely through the lens of the Hebrew family model. And what is clear is that it would have been unacceptable for a Hebrew family to attempt to educate their kids separate from the reality of God in all things. This concept is not confined to the Old Testament. It carries through to the founding of the church and the instruction of Jesus and the apostle Paul.
As I close this post, I would simply offer that we need to look very closely at the relationships amongst Christian families today. Are we as a church being successful in passing our faith down, or are we finding too often that our children walk away when the opportunity arises?
“Our educational choice has to be based on the fact that God cannot and must not be ignored, usurped, or misrepresented in the process. Any educational system that denies the existence, preeminence, and primacy of God is in violation of this biblical principle [Prov. 1:7] and is detracting from, rather than contributing to the discipleship process.” Dr. Voddie Baucham