By Lori Hatcher
Contributing Writer and Homeschool Mom
Remember the day you brought your first child home from the hospital? I do.
My husband and I were so excited about bringing our daughter home that although we strapped her snugly into her brand new car seat, we forgot we were also supposed to strap the car seat into the car. When we arrived home after a ten-mile drive on the interstate and realized what we had done, we were horrified. I remember gazing into her sweet and trusting face and wondering, “How are we ever going to safely parent this child into adulthood?”
This mix of excitement and fear is not unlike the feelings many parents experience when they consider homeschooling as an educational option for their children. Conscientious parents realize that the choice of how to educate their children is paramount. They understand this decision not only sets the course for their child’s academic future, it also determines the direction their entire family will channel its time, energy, and resources.
Within the last thirty years, homeschooling has gone from a fringe movement with questionable credibility to a viable, successful educational option. Homeschooling students have consistently out-performed their public and private school counterparts on standardized tests. They have been admitted to and received full-tuition scholarships from elite Ivy League schools. They have matriculated successfully from the homeschool environment to the college and work world, and they have successfully taken their places in society as professionals, ministers, missionaries, stay-at-home moms, and educators.
Why then, does the decision to homeschool invoke such fear and anxiety in the hearts of otherwise confident and capable parents?
Because it matters so much.
When we choose to homeschool our children, we realize that if we fail, there will be no one to blame but ourselves. We can’t blame the teacher. We can’t blame the school. We can’t blame the district in which we live. We’re it.
This reality can become such a heavy weight of responsibility that homeschooling or potential homeschooling parents are often paralyzed by it. And this fear is not limited to newbies. There were times during our 17-year homeschooling journey when I wondered if I was single-handedly sabotaging my child’s entire academic future.
And so the question remains: Can you do this?
But you can’t do it alone.
While pioneer homeschoolers managed to educate their children on lonely farms in obscure places using bootleg curriculum harvested from public school trash bins, today’s homeschoolers enjoy a richer educational climate than ever before. We can successfully homeschool our children because of the three C’s – Calling, Community, and Curriculum.
Many couples begin homeschooling simply because it seems the best educational option for their children. They may have had a bad experience with a public school, can’t afford a private one, or live in an area with few other options. Maybe they know someone who homeschools or feels pressure from others at church to “try it.” It’s no surprise then, at the first sign of difficulty, they entertain thoughts of quitting.
While none of the above reasons are bad ones, they lack the element of God’s Will for the education of your children. There are times when homeschooling is joyous, satisfying, and successful. There are other times when it is challenging, frustrating, and seems to be failing. If we don’t have a clear calling from God to homeschool, we will not have anything to fall back on when times get tough.
My husband and I were led to homeschool so we could help our daughters more fully develop their gifts. We wanted them to have the flexibility to explore opportunities linked to their unique giftedness without being locked into a school day or calendar. The chance for focused, one-on-one instruction specifically tailored to their needs and abilities was very appealing. We also chose homeschooling so that we, their parents, could make the final decisions concerning what they learned.
Because God led us, we were able to homeschool with confidence. While any major decision requires you to step out in faith, if you take time to seek God’s Will through prayer, Bible reading, and the godly counsel of others, you too will have a strong basis for homeschooling.Your calling will be an anchor when the winds of circumstance blow against your commitment and cause you to want to quit.