by Kristin Murdock
Every new school year, you ask yourself the same question: “Why ARE we homeschooling?” Several times a year the question haunts you again (usually when your child experiences a meltdown over uncompleted schoolwork). Then you encounter well-meaning friends, concerned relatives, or even rude strangers who question your motives for homeschooling.
From wherever their source, these darts of doubt are not new to you and not new to homeschoolers. I remember those doubts well: not only did I homeschool my sons, I was also the administrator of a large homeschooling private school for more than twenty years. Every year I needed to encourage both the new and the veteran homeschool parents to “press on.”
Why do we homeschool? The simple answer is God. Primarily, and for His reasons alone, God told you to homeschool. He may not have told you to homeschool all of your children, but because you are reading this I can assume that He told you to homeschool at least one. In this matter and with this child, intimacy with God is being developed. You are demonstrating how to have a “working relationship” with the Holy Spirit, and creating an understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and model for our lives.
Starting the Day
I understand that in your day-to-day school life, you rarely feel like you are doing ANY of that. But let me show you how you DO accomplish this almost every school day. Each morning, you do not start your school with attendance. You do not start your day with the “Oath to the California Child” (this is an autocratic oath a public school child might be required to recite to raise their self-esteem). You and your children start the day with a prayer and perhaps some Bible reading. This daily ritual not only pours God’s word into their hearts in ways that we cannot understand, but it gives them order and reflects your devotion. This one thing is constant to your child: Mommy and Daddy pray and read the Bible.
What is homeschooling, and why are we teaching our children? Some people believe that homeschooling is non-schooling. That idea just makes me smile. Those folks cannot understand just how difficult homeschooling is. We are very aware that education builds knowledge in our children to live in this world, but a Christian home education gives them wisdom to survive this world.
Recipe for Success?
It can be very easy for us to make the mistake of modeling our school life and our school-goals after secular schools. Most of us went to secular schools ourselves, and that is all we know. The goal in today’s public education system is for children to grow older, get a job, make money, be a success, and be happy . . . to feel good about themselves. More education equals more money and more happiness. Unfortunately it isn’t this simple, and often kids will go through high school, college, and graduate school without a clue to what they want “to do.” This sense of bewilderment also leads to a sense of failure. Such an education is not even close to being a “recipe for success.”
God’s plan for our education is very different. It isn’t that He doesn’t want us to learn to add apples and oranges or read about peacocks, but His plan is bigger. He wants us to discover more of Him, to be whole in Him and to find peace. He also wants us to learn character qualities through our studies . . . like, “Keep trying no matter what comes up in life. Just keep trying.”
How does our school at home do that? Specifically, God directs you (the parents) on what each child needs to develop while learning. “For God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Cor. 9:8).
How does our study of every subject area also increase our understanding of God and His will?
Reading: This is our basis for all learning. It is the best way to have our personal understanding of God: reading His Word. By learning to read, we learn to discern.
Writing: This is a missionary task: a way to communicate God’s love through encouragement, and more importantly, a way to share the Gospel.
Math: Math demonstrates God’s order in action. Everything God made is mathematical, and the preciseness of that order is both astounding and comforting. We learn how to function in this world and how to be good stewards.
History: By learning history, we can prove out God’s plan and purpose for mankind. We see the pieces fit together through His Hand as well as civilizations fall apart through man’s disobedience.
Science: This subject, like no other, shows us the wonder of God’s universe. His immensity is shown in even the microbial details as well as the unknown reaches of outer space.
Music: This is a gift more than a subject. It is a beautiful way that we can praise our Lord and appreciate the music of birds, frogs, and thunderous waves.
Art: I believe God gave us arts and crafts so that we can experience, in a very small way, what it is like to be a creator. We try to mimic, in some fashion, what God has already done. He allows us the freedom to echo Him.
Physical Education: This is an important subject that is not just about having fun and learning patience. This is about our physical health and understanding how to care for God’s personal gift to us.
In all of these subjects, we are free to teach our children about God’s hand in everything. Do not be sparse in your praise to God when you teach your children about those apples, oranges, or peacocks. God is in the details, and that is what we need to remind our children. He is not removed from us in the sky. He is sitting right next to them and watching as they write out their spelling list or count out their jumping jacks.
But remember, THEY are not the only ones He is watching. God is also watching you as you teach. He is giving you ideas, helping you laugh at the silly times, and reminding you to give yourself a break when you need one. This homeschooling adventure is not a plan to teach just your children. God has you in this because He also wants to teach YOU.
May God bless you always.
Kristi Murdock is a retired teacher and homeschooled her two sons through high school. She was the Administrator of Highland Preparatory School (PSP) on the Central Coast of California for 22 years, helping parents give more than 3,400 children the blessing of being homeschooled. Kristi and her husband Stan live in Merced, CA. They share between them, five children and seven grandchildren. She was a frequent proofreader for the California Parent Educator when it was in publication.
This article first appeared in the California Parent Educator, November/December 2015. Used with permission.
Join us July 13-15, 2017 at the Pasadena Convention Center for more homeschool encouragement, practical help, and resources.