Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Educating Decisions (and Consequences)

Doing what is right is often not what is popular. It has especially hit home for me since this will be our first "official" year of homeschooling. I have not had anyone make any conspicuously negative comments but "going" to school is so ingrained in our culture it is impossible not to feel the (often unintended) little barbs. We were at the doctor the other day and Josie proudly announced that she was homeschooled. Later in the conversation the doctor made a point to say that I didn't need to worry about any immunizations until "she goes to school next year". As if it was a complete given that I would be sending her to school. It is also really hard to read everyone's Facebook status updates saying that they are looking forward to all the free time they will have once their children are back in school, how summer was too short, and what they are doing in preparation. It makes one feel a little left out.

Please DO NOT think that this is a post on how everyone should homeschool! That is a personal decision-one that requires a lot of prayer and discussion in your family. However, I know that is God's will for MY family. I didn't necessarily want it to be. I didn't give any of it too much thought. But, a multitude of factors, not limited to: hating being separated from my children for any length of time, strong desire to limit the outside (negative, unspiritual) influences to the best of my ability, and ensuring (because I can't afford private school!) that they received a Christ-centered education. Also, I am a little bit of a control freak and I like to be in charge! Just being real here....

But it still doesn't make it easy, or alleviate the feelings that I am being evaluated. If something goes wrong, it all falls on me. There is no teacher or board to blame. I feel like I am swimming upstream- people ask Josie when she will get to "go" to school. Even my four year-old knows that doing her work at the kitchen table is not the same as "real" school. Just because you are firmly committed to something doesn't always make it easy. My kids don't need a lunch box or a backpack-and sometimes that makes me feel like a bad mom. No mother wants their child to feel left out, but homeschooling does exactly that. I know, because I was homeschooled. I longed to be part of the "in-crowd" of public and Christian schooled students. I constantly worried that I was not as smart as a traditionally educated kid. I missed out on so many things (that while they have nothing to do with actual education, are a huge part of the school experience) like prom and football games and eating in a cafeteria.

As an adult, I still sometimes deal with that insecurity. And I get a little jealous of the moms who can blithely send their children to school for 6+ hours a day. What in the world would I do with all that free time? Have the cleanest house ever? Moms who don't have to worry that they are ruining their children to learning forever, who don't have to ponder whether or not they are making their children social/educational disasters. No, I do not take the commitment to homeschool lightly.

But in the end, I can't get around what God has asked me to do. I don't know why, I wish that I had been released to turn this responsibility over to someone else-someone more confident and competent than I will ever be. Like a trained professional... However, I take great comfort in the fact that, just in my family alone, I have so many people who support my decision. That I have great friends who don't judge my choice. That my mom, my aunt, my sister, can all give advice and encouragement when I feel like the only freak who has ever decided to bizarrely sequester her children in her home...

And I will just have to learn to deal with the comments. I suppose it is, in a way, like my decision to not include Santa in our holiday celebrations. I just have to politely explain my choice-what your family does with St. Nick is between you and God. Don't ever think that I function under the delusion that I am better than you. I am muddling along on this journey only by the grace of God. Sometimes it does frustrate me that it isn't acceptable for me to be more proud of this choice-people seem to think that is my way of trying to make them feel guilty. I will challenge you-if you do feel guilty (about this, or anything else that comes along) then could that possibly be the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart? If it isn't because you need to change something, then let it go. That is really what I need to do-there is no condemnation in Christ. I need to just rely on Him for the strength and affirmation that I crave. "This world has nothing for me...". Opinions are just that, they are not fact and they cannot determine who I am in Christ. He alone can give me the strength to do His will, and they are not really my children anyway, right?


  1. I have found that when people inquire about home schooling, they have nothing left to say when I tell them that God has called me to provide my child with a Godly education and they cannot get that in public school, and we can't afford private school. What really IS there left to say?

    Fortunately no one has been overtly rude, but there have been the backhanded comments now and then!

    As far as a backpack and lunch box, we use those for co-op, so it does give the kids a feeling of going to school. I also try not to call public education 'real' school, because my kids are really in school, it's just different than other students!

    It's not always easy to do what God calls us to do, but He does give us strength through His Word and through others' encouragement.

    I loved your post. It really sums up what many of us who homeschool feel. It's a tiring, thankless, payless job, but in the end the rewards are great and we will stand before the Lord and know we obeyed His call.

    Love to you as you begin your school year!

  2. There are SO many things when it comes to our family & our faith that make us outsiders. In a way aren't we called to *be* outsiders? To be in the world but not of the world is a huge challenge. Is homeschooling for everyone, Christian or not? Of course not. You're smart to acknowledge that fact. We've had a lot of conversations about schooling with our kids. I went to public & private schools & was home schooled so I had every experience. Jon went strictly to public school. We've made our decision based on what we believe is best for our family, just like you and Joel did. When a couple talks, thinks & prays over the decision they have every right to speak confidently about their choice. I think many people who may speak ill, persay, of home schooling are often those who are ignorant of what it means & some of the experiences that are available to them which some "normal" school going kids perhaps couldn't have.

    I have no idea what type of things you have available in your area as far as home school groups the kids can take part in over the years. Those activities may be a great time for them to take part in the "backpack & lunch box" portion of school *plus* they'll use them so little they'll last even longer than they normally would ;) Heck maybe as they get older they'll want to pack their books and things up in their bags at home, who knows. You're smart enough to listen to your kids & allow them to guide some of this path as well. I wish you luck & I look forward to some stories on here because no doubt you'll have some good ones ;)

  3. Hey Clare,
    Umm, I'm homeschooled I never feel left out or like I'm not as smart as the people who attend public/private schools. My test scores attest to that fact. I am in the 90th percentile of kids my age. So I never worry that I'm not as smart. When kids rib me about being homeschooled I refuse to take the stuff they feel the upmost need to dish out. They only dish it, becuase it makes them feel more secure. I promise kids (and probably adults too) know deep down that homeschoolers are in most ways better educated that public schoolers, that freaks them out. I am extremely glad I'm not public schooled, I don't know if I could handle some of the stuff my un-homeschooled friends have to take every day at school. The earth began millions of years ago, blah, blah, blah. My life is enhanced by the fact that I never have to study or hear that crud if I don't feel like it. I think Josie and Carson will be made all the better for having been homeschooled. I think you'll do great, your kids will be brillant, and God will make sure your every need is taken care of. So no worries, it'll be great.

  4. Can I just say a big "Amen!". Thank you for writing this just for me;) You know I have been struggling, yet I keep coming back to this is what I have been called to for this season. Thanks for the reminder that we need to be less stressed over the "normal" and more worried about the eternal.
    P.S. Can I have a little big sister smugness over the fact that I did both homeschooling and NO St. Nick first? Just checking sometimes I need to think you still look up to me, even if you don't need me;)

  5. Clare,

    I went to a private school, and I can tell you from personal experence that just because it was a "private" school, does not mean that there weren't negative and unspiritual influences. Don't get me wrong, I loved my school, but there were the same problems as you would have at a public school, just not as many.
    I love the fact that you are homeschooling your kids, I think it is great! It's something I don't think I could do. I hope everything goes well!

  6. Great post & very honest. You will do amazing things for your kids at home!!!! :0)



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