Posted by: chrisdavis | January 27, 2011

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children! – Part 6


A MOVEMENT WRONGLY NAMED; OR WHAT’S WRONG WITH HOMESCHOOLING, ANYWAY?

[This is Part 6 of the Article “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]

Do you call yourself a homeschooler? Is that what you say to explain why your children are home during the day?

Naming something identifies it. Gives it meaning. Defines it.

In almost 30 years interacting with homeschooling families, I have met very few secure homeschool moms. Very few. They were secure enough as moms. They were secure enough at home. They just weren’t secure enough as schoolers. They weren’t at rest in their homeschooling.

It is easy for a homeschooling mom to say (or think), “Who am I to believe myself capable of fully educating my child?”

What happens when homeschool parents are insecure in the “schooling” part of their “home-schooling”? If we can agree that insecurity is simply another word for fear, we could say that there are a lot of fearful homeschooling parents out there. What are they afraid of and why is this fear so detrimental to them and to their children?

Fear, and faith, are life’s two major drivers. We will do almost anything to make fear go away and bring ourselves to a place of rest.

Parents used to send their children to school with the secure feeling that their children were being taught by professionals trained to educate children. Most parents did not consider that they, themselves, could do a job which others had spent years being trained to do. We might have felt that we could raise our children in some areas, but we were not prepared to say we could educate them.

Then, one day, we became homeschoolers. Insecure homeschoolers, perhaps; but homeschoolers, nonetheless. However, since what we were doing was labeled “homeschooling,” we, in our insecurity, actually became home-SCHOOLERS rather than HOME-schoolers. The importance of our children becoming educated (isn’t that what children do during the day?) took on greater prominence than the importance of them being home during the day. [It hasn’t helped that there is no cultural memory of what having our children home really means to the family or to society.]

You may recall that, at the very beginning of this Article, I was having a conversation with my oldest son at which time I said to him, “And, your kids won’t be homeschooled, either”? During Seth’s years at home, his academic education was never the priority. In our home, we did have clearly defined priorities, but those priorities were first relationships; second, practical skills; and, lastly, academics. Seth grew up with a strong academic upbringing, but, again, academics were never priority. Seth is a skilled, very competent individual. He is also one of the happiest young men I know. And, he loves the Lord.

As I look back on Seth’s time at home, I have come to realize that he was never “homeschooled.” He simply spent his days in a most remarkable and unusual place: his own home.

When our children were young we would take them with us to the store during the day—while other kids were in school. The check-out lady would invariably ask, “You boys aren’t in school today?”

Since the boys knew we were homeschoolers, they would respond, “No, ma’am, we’re homeschooled.”

If I had known what I know now—back in the early 1980’s, when we began to homeschool—I would not have called ourselves “homeschoolers”.

Naming something identifies it. Gives it meaning. Defines it. I never wanted to be a home-SCHOOLER, because I didn’t want the SCHOOLER part of that word to take on the fear-producing meaning it has taken on for most homeschooling parents.

If you are homeschooling and your emphasis is on the school part of that word, I would guess that you carry an ongoing feeling of insecurity.

I suggest you change your emphasis. In the next installment, I will give some examples of how to discover your true emphasis. I will also make some suggestions as to what your emphasis should be.

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Responses

  1. Your words: “Seth is a skilled, very competent individual. He is also one of the happiest young men I know. And, he loves the Lord.”…..I dream to say the same of my sons one day. Thank you for sharing your experience for us who are just beginning the journey.

    • Linda, I’m sure you will be able to say that. Just make sure you pay attention to what the Lord has done IN each child and give your sons plenty of time for their giftings to mature.

  2. This has been the best series of articles! Thank you! I just have one question: Have you come up with something better to call it?

  3. Once again….Bravo, bravo, Chris. You continue to be such a blessing and encouragement to me and Jay. We love you man…

    • I miss you guys, too. Things are beginning to “pop” for me but I can’t disclose much yet. You will be among the first to know…

      • I have been toying with sharing something that happened a few years ago when several of us “old timers” were vendors at the Orlando Bookfair. We all got together several times to eat, share our adventures during the early stages of homeschooling, and discuss how the “movement” had changed. During one of these times we hit upon the idea of changing the movement’s name from “homeschooling” to—-whatever.

        As I recall, we tried for several hours, coming up with lots of titles, some seeming to have merit, others making us laugh so hard we nearly fell out of our seats. It was a great time. But, in the end, we realized that the term “homeschooling” had gained such a cultural hold, it was probably impossible to change it. Too bad…Most people are stuck home-SCHOOLING; but a few, like yourselves, will always HOME-school (I wish I could make the font on the word “school” so tiny as to be virtually invisible by contrast!).

  4. I have never been one to homeschool my kids. My goodness, it’s not even a real word. I have heard some refer to it as home education which is better but I never thought of myself as schooling my kids at home. They schooled themselves while I provided a freedom and materials to do so. When one child did not read until 12, I never panicked. She did read finally and graduated from college in 2009. When my 9 year old son broke his pencils and tore up his lessons, I walked away and let him be for awhile. He calmed himself down and finished the map we were doing beautifully. He is now a professional photographer who has had people fly him to both coasts to shoot their weddings. And he is only 18.
    I spend a lot of time with young homeschooling moms calming them down, urging them not to give up but also not to be so tough on themselves. The pressure is unbelievable for these moms who have never seen success so they are deathly afraid of missing some crucial learning point. They then drive their kids crazy with 9-5 lesson plans every day. I tell them my war stories, my horror stories and then my success stories. The battle is the Lord’s not ours. He gets the victory and the glory.

    • Tammy. How do we get this word out to all the homeschooling moms in the world?

    • I read this and feel at ease. I started teaching our daughter at home last year. She is 6 and I will be doing it again this year. I want her to get and education and learn but some people don’t understand that.
      I hear all the time she is missing out on school and friends and what they do there. How do I explain to them (our own family) she’s 6 and school is about learning not social activities. Yes I do want her to have friends and be active but there are other ways to do that too.

      • Carrie: Our extended family were the biggest critics of our decision to homeschool. But, after all, they were all educators and didn’t have any other worldview than the public school (some had good memories of their own schooling). So, we understood and thanked them for their concerns and input, but also told them we had made our decision. It actually took years, but they eventually confessed to the wisdom of what we had done. Our children were exposed to much more socialization than their public schooled counterparts because our kids had more *time* to do more interesting things than did the public schooled kids who were busy doing homework at night and on weekends. It may take time, but do what you believe God has told you and it will work out.

  5. I like your thoughts and information. My daughter’s school held meetings last week with the parents. They told us that the way they teach may be hurting the future of our children. They are asking for parent input on re-shaping the education system. They told us they are failing our kids. They told us that they can’t help this generation, but can help the next. I wanted to take my kids and run! Where? My only choice – teach my kids at home. I’m afraid I will fail and my kids will be left behind. However, I am also afraid of the damage the public school has done, and will continue to do, if I don’t do anything. My 2nd grade child needs large amounts of physical activity, love, and devotion every day. I can’t provide her with these things when she is gone all day. I think that these things should be first in her life and then education. The school can’t provide this and it’s impacting everything that makes her happy. I have many friends that teach at home. Their children are so nice and their homes are calm and peaceful. I vowed never to be one of them. (Out of fear! Taking the easy road by dropping them off at school! Doing what’s expected! Ignorant!) I ask myself now, why not! It’s funny how God it telling me YES I CAN! Yet I can feel myself resisting. I have already worked for 18 years in at least 12 different jobs and I am 34 years old. With each job came more money and status. The hardest thing I did was give up my job to stay home and take care of my kids. I would ask myself daily why it felt so wrong to be a stay-at-home mom. It took me 6 months to come to terms with myself and start enjoying my family instead of feeding the monster inside me that needed success and a paycheck to feel worthy of calling myself a good mom. I am looking forward to your next post. Thank you for doing this!

    • Wendy. This is an amazing story! Would you mind if I shared this? I have been wondering when schools would finally admit that they are hurting many of the children under their care. It’s a new day and I am proud of you for taking back the responsibility of raising your own children. God bless you!

      • You can share this story. Our school district has always been considered one of the best. I’m an involved parent and volunteer for many things. Our school district is in the process of holding mini-summits at each of the schools to gather information and ideas to help prepare our children for the 21st century. The goal is to think about what skills our children will need to be successful workers and citizens. Parents work in small groups to generate answers to four questions.

        1) What do we value about our school today?

        2) What do we think our children will need to be successful in the future?

        3) What does the school need to do in order to prepare our children for tomorrow?

        4) What do our schools need to offer as a regional asset?

        The questions were great! I was prepared with thoughts and ideas. The problem started when they showed a short video from Ken Robinson on 21st Century Learning. (T.E.D – someone at the meeting said it was called) The video was about 15 minutes. He had my attention after the first 30 seconds. He spoke all about assembly line/boxed education and why it fails our children. If they wanted to shock us into thinking about real change it worked for me! I could really relate to what he was saying. It shocked me because I felt this way about my own education and could see my children going down the same path. The school wants to make real changes and they admit that things just are not working that great. I am thankful that they are trying. However, the solutions we offered that night seem silly now. This will be America’s biggest challenge. Many children go to school these days to get it over with so they can do something fun after school.

  6. Chris, I have really enjoyed your article and I have to admit I was one of those mom’s who would come running up in a panic and start asking you a million questions. You would always so kindly reassure me that I was doing fine and keep up the good work. As I look back now I didnt realize I was doing the perfect thing for all of my kids and I didnt even know it. lol I now look back and know why my kids are “different” and not only can I see it but everybody else can too. If only I could go around to all these homeschooling conventions and try to speak to the many anxious parents that its not as difficult as we have made it to stay at home with our kids. What an honor to see all my kids excelling in the things they love to do. We all know that the public education system is hurting our children but I now see signs of homeschooled parents hurting their children. Let me know if you can come up with any good ideas on how to spread the word. I know now that some of us old timers have seen the good and bad results maybe we can help the newbies by just giving them our testimony. I know I had a very late reader and was so upset that he wasnt reading and would beat myself up for days on what I was doing wrong. I remember like it was yesterday that somebody told me to quit stressing over it and he would eventually read and by the time he was 18 he would be able to read just as good as everybody else. They were right…….at the age of 18 all 3 of my kids were prolifient in all there core classes. I had 2 to go into public school in the 9th grade because both were sports oriented and could not play sports with the public school system. These 2 kids were never behind or were not lacking in anything. They had a harder time dealing with fitting into the “box”. They also realized how many kids were lacking in basic life skills…….banking, grocery shopping, car maitenance giving your time to others and a genuine compassion and love for everybody. The last thing I would like to to address is the militant 9-5 homeschooler who lives in fear of hurting and ruining their children. Please take the advise of the many oldtimers that have been around the block…… stop fretting over your children. Let them be kids, love them and have fun with them and teach them to find what they are passionate about and help them to achieve the things they want to do. Thank you Chris for everything you have taught me and the many long conversations at the homechooling conventions.

    • Sarah. All I can say is to take every chance to “spread the word”. Your experiences plus what others see in your children will help many. Everyone tends to move toward organization and institutionalization. It’s just in us to do. We must help others to understand that raising children cannot be made efficient.

  7. Ken Robinson has rocked the educational establishment with his clear expression of how institutional education fails individuals. He is funny and articulate and understands the problem. The trouble is he does not have real answers. The 3 things that drive institutional education are budgets (read: a finite amount of money), competition with students of other schools/nations (read: test scores), and what schools are tasked with accomplishing (most of which is the family’s responsibility). Schools are driven by the need for efficiency which means the individual student loses, even if he has good test scores. How can someone lose with good scores? Because what the child was created to do in this life is never given room to be expressed. There is no time nor money to allow for this.

  8. You said, “Many children go to school these days to get it over with so they can do something fun after school.”

    As I substitute teach in the local public schools, I watch the kids simply wait for school to be over so they can do something that is meaningful for themselves.

  9. I love your articles Chris, thanks!

  10. It is so easy to slip into the schooling mentality as a HOME schooler, but you are so right…our children need so much more than a boxed schooling that is rooted in public education to get “religion” out of their lives. What is the most important part of life? Having a close personal relationship with The Lord Jesus, our Creator who loves us more than we could ever imagine and living for Him out of gratefulness for all that He has done to save us. Thank you for these great articles that are such an encouragement to a mostly “newbie” (6 years) surrounded by family that private school and public school. I am most grateful!

    • Yes, indeed! Thanks for your kind words and keep responding…


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