by Rebecca Kocsis
The September following my first child’s fifth birthday, I obediently enrolled her in kindergarten at the neighborhood public school. That’s what all good parents did. Public school was the “American way.” At the time, we were a very young family and very young in the Lord. We were just learning the ways of God, and we were woefully ignorant of the ways of public schools. We thought it was the law that at age five, children went to school. Since we were law-abiding citizens, we obeyed.
Our church had a Christian school and we looked into it. As my husband and I were totally committed to me staying home with the kids, that was not an option. I would have had to put the younger two in daycare while I worked to pay for tuition. It would have been counterproductive to our goals. After all, how bad could kindergarten be?
Kindergarten did not prove to be that detrimental to our daughter’s spiritual health, so when the next year arrived, we sent our little boy to school too. Then, the scenery began to change. Little did I know that all five-year-old boys are not necessarily ready to learn to read. Yet, they are expected to. Little did I know the amount of pressure my sweet little first grader would be put under to excel. If she did not, she could very well be subjected to open ridicule by her teacher and her peers. As a perfectionist, she already put an undue amount of pressure on herself. And it became apparent that they were learning more than reading, writing, and arithmetic. I was not happy with the way this second year was unfolding.
By May, it was obvious that it was time to reevaluate. Looking closely at the situation, had private school been an option for our family, it still would not have solved our problems. Though the secular humanist curriculum that was being implemented was a big part of the issue, peers were another big part. I also could not help but realize that classroom style learning was one-size-fits-all and it did not fit my children’s temperaments.
So here I was with this dilemma – school was required by law, but school seemed to be detrimental to my children’s well-being. How could I continue to knowingly subject them to a situation that was not as innocuous as I had once believed? These were my children. It was my responsibility to protect them.
As I prayed over the summer, the Lord began to teach me a principle that is foundational to the Christian private homeschool movement. He showed me that, yes, these were my children, but only because He gave them to me. They were His first. He entrusted them to me to train “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” While I thought I was being an obedient citizen by putting my children in public school, I was actually delegating my God-given responsibility to an institution that was and still is antagonistic to Him. In so doing, I was actually causing them to stumble. I was floored.
I was looking to the government to do for our children what God had, in fact, told me to do. In obeying the law of the land, I was actually disobeying the Lord. Now, public school was no longer an option. But the kids had to “go to school”, right? Not right.
The Bible says parents are to train their children. It says nothing about sending them elsewhere for that training. That left me with one little known option called homeschooling – parents teaching their own children at home. I had read about it once in a “hippie magazine” along with organic gardening, breastfeeding, and solar energy.
Now revisiting the topic from a biblical perspective, it all made so much sense. Children belong to God. They are a gift from Him. He gives parents the responsibility to direct their upbringing; not the government. The thought was revolutionary. You don’t have to send your kids to school. Parents can, in obedience to God, in an exercise of their freedom of religion, teach their own children. When we took the responsibility for our children’s upbringing, it changed our lives.
Homeschooling has been such a joy. But there were years when it was tough. We homeschooled through many a turbulent time: miscarriage, health issues, caring for elderly loved ones, the deaths of our parents, marital problems, serious financial issues, and learning disabilities. There were times when well-meaning relatives said things like, “Why don’t you put the kids in school and get a job?” When paying through hand over fist for learning therapists, someone would point out, “Public school kids get that for free.” (As if the money grew on trees, rather than from our taxes!)
Part of the problem with our society is that we look to the government to meet our needs. If we have a problem, the government should solve it. They should make a new law. They should increase funding. It should be no surprise that we think this way; it’s how we were raised. Even if you were born into a Christian home, you were most likely sent to public school where you were taught that the state is looking out for your best interests and that the government, not God, is in charge.
When God showed us we were to take responsibility for our children’s upbringing and education, He also promised to take care of us. He has always provided. We didn’t have the latest and greatest, but we had what we needed. Sometimes we didn’t have what we thought we needed, but we got by. We ate beans. We stayed home. We sometimes had no car to go anywhere. I remember taking a bus to visit my mom in the hospital. Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a car to homeschool. Fast food meals were few and far between and always cause for great celebration. We always had a roof over our head, though there was a time when we didn’t know where that roof was going to be or how we were going to pay for it. But God did. Did you know that one can homeschool just fine with a decent math book and a library card?
Over the years, I learned that I didn’t have to have a lot of money. I DID have to trust and obey the One who calls me His own. I know there are many reading this who are struggling with serious financial issues. Public school or public school funds can be pretty tempting. Submitting your children to a godless institution is not the answer. God knows what’s best for you. Though times may be tough, He is still in charge. He entrusted those kids to you, and it’s a sacred trust. He who calls you is faithful. Don’t give up. Standing at the end of my homeschool journey, I can look back and say that I have never been sorry that I trusted in Him. Dear brother or sister, you can trust Him, too.