I didn’t start out as a homeschooler. In fact, home-educating wasn’t even on my radar. After my spouse went into Law Enforcement, we were sent to a small desert town with a failing school district. Although we had three years before school started, we decided we would take the homeschool plunge.
With three children close in age, one of whom has a disorder, homeschooling has been one of the most challenging undertakings in my life. Each year, as I planned our curriculum, I would sit down and write out my goals for the year and then settle down to the tedious task of laying out our daily schedule. Implementation was a greater challenge than planning! Each day demanded the discipline to hunker down and tackle the work.
That being said, this is not a clarion call to homeschool. I’ve seen plenty of failure in homeschooling, just as there is plenty of failure in the public school system. Sometimes parents and kids clash to the detriment of their relationship. Some parents don’t want to teach academics. Some kids resist doing the work altogether.
Not everyone should homeschool. Not everyone should put their kids in public or private school.
So what is the best education?
There isn’t a single educational model consistently producing a certain type of adult. Results are mixed. I’ve seen good kids come from bad homes and bad kids come from good homes. Your educational decision – whatever it is – should be made with heaps of humility and mountains of prayer.
The most insidious problem is the growing clique-ishness among Christian parents. Often, I read (or hear) homeschoolers or private-schoolers make a veiled reference to “those parents” who blindly send their children to “institutions of liberal indoctrination.” Public-schoolers make offhand comments about “those overly-protective” homeschool or private school parents.
This should give us pause.
Division—even on a superficial level—damages the church.
We are Christians first.
I love God, carry a nine millimeter, sell essential oils, enjoy the occasional Starbucks, cry during the national anthem, and make my own kombucha. I think homeschooling rocks, but I also believe there is value in public school, too.
On the flip side, I recognize that many of my fellow Christians aren’t into organic foods, think homeschooling is for the paranoid, and don’t support concealed-carry. It’s far too easy to divide into groups over these issues.
Let’s turn our focus instead toward supporting each other on the road to heaven.
What brings us together should not be our stance on schooling but our hope in Christ. Does our brethren see us as approachable or intimidating?
Do a little self-evaluation and see what can be done to bridge the gap.
If we are not careful with our words, the damage to our relationships may be irreparable. I may think a homeschool education is superior, but does it edify my friend that teaches public school if I say it aloud?
I may be teacher of the year in a great public school, but if I go around telling people how unsocialized homeschoolers are, what effect does that have on the homeschoolers in bible class? Those little ears hear more than you realize!
Have I alienated the homeschooling parents? Do public school parents feel as though I wear a badge of superiority?
Beware of fostering strife with careless words.
Your children have been entrusted to you. My children are entrusted to me.
The moment that child entered your life, you were given both a gift and a responsibility. Treasure your gift today while you still have it. Train them for the important while they still have you. If you want to look at what others have done or seek their advice, do it to gain knowledge, not pride.
It is not my place to criticize another parent’s educational choice. It is my responsibility to pray for their success in training godly children. Only God knows the valleys they are walking through today. Be a support. Offer help and encouragement. Practice the art of careful listening and pray for wisdom before you speak.
We need to help each other. Hear what the apostles wrote for our learning:
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Peter 3:8-9
I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
At the end of the day, what am I doing to help others?
Am demonstrating a tender heart and a humble mind?
Or, is my pride overshadowing my relationships in Christ?
Elihu Anderson is a surviving California native currently thriving in West Texas. When she isn’t writing for Elihu’s Corner, she is teaching, researching, walking, and book-worming with a cup of chai. Visit Elihu at elihuscorner.com