Jack the 1st grader is on an all-out campaign to be homeschooled. His reasons, so far, are that school is too long, the math is not challenging enough, and recess only happens twice a day. This morning I reminded him that even though he would definitely get to play outside more often if he was at home with me all day, there would be no one with whom to play. He did not respond, either because he had moved on mentally to a new topic or my point was a valid one, I don’t know.
There are days I would love to homeschool my children. They are three of my favorite people, and I care about what they are learning and the influences on their little minds and hearts at school. It does not escape me that my children spend more time each week with their teachers and classmates than with their father and me. And I think (perhaps idealistically) that they could get more school work accomplished in less time if they were doing it at home, and not waiting on the rest of the class to finish up. I love the idea of us all tromping to the library or out in the woods together, researching whatever they are passionate about at the moment…though that would probably be winning American Idol, secret passageways in Super Mario Brothers, and how to make it to the NBA without practicing too much.
I wonder, however, about the isolating aspect of homeschool. I tried to homeschool our eldest child when she was in first grade, and the result was me banging my head against the wall of her bedroom when I could not convince her that I knew more about first grade math than she did. The boys, who were four and three at the time, just wandered around the house by themselves, making sure the toys were evenly distributed to every room and unoccupied toilet they could find. The whole scenario was not quite what I had envisioned when I was picking out curricula a few months back. Emma and I made it one semester, and we were both relieved when I dropped her off at the elementary school in January.
Before Emma went to school, I agonized over her schooling. Were the public school teachers really the Priests of Baal, as some have suggested? What would homeschool look like for us? Would we survive it?
When the Bible talks about children, there are very few mandates to parents. Sometimes we make up more because we want a formula for raising happy, successful, God-fearing children, but homeschooling + Catechism questions + long skirts does not always equal Christians advancing God’s kingdom. We are told to teach them about God and His law (Deut 4:9, 6:7, 11:19, among others), to correct and train them in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6, 22:15, 13:24, among others) and not to embitter or exasperate them (Eph 6:4, Col. 3:21). This training, teaching, correcting, and disciplining looks different from parent to parent, and that is because we are all different (one body, many parts). While we may not have a formula, we do have a mandate for child-rearing, and here is what it boils down to:
1. Guard against foolishness by consistent, loving discipline.
2. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and your neighbor as yourself.
3. Teach your children, at every opportunity, to do the same.
This is our job as parents, regardless of our schooling methodology.
PS. Will the 3rd grader just came and read this as I was proofreading it and wants to point out that he practices for the NBA a lot. He also asked me what he should do this afternoon since he did his chores and used his screen time this morning (school was on a two-hour delay), and I said, “Go read your Bible.”