There are many reasons why we have decided to homeschool our children. Even before my first daughter went to Kindergarten I really felt this was something that I had a heart to do. I sincerely feel that as parents God gives us abilities to provide for our children in ways that no one else can. I am not anti-public school. I am thankful that we live in a country where our children have access to an education. However, I disagree with many of the methods, philosophies, and beliefs common in public education. I believe it all comes down to how you define education. According to Webster's 1828 Dictionary education is defined as:
This is the definition that we accept. There is no institution we can find that most adequately fits this definition than the institution of the family. God in his infinite wisdom has already provided us with everything we need as parents to properly educate our children This responsibility is too heavy for me to leave in the hands of someone else.
Also, according to the definition:
To give children a good education in manners, arts and science, is important; to give them a religious education is indispensable.
Teaching every subject in light of God's perfect wisdom is essential. Providing a Christian education is the most important thing we can do to ensure our children will be prepared for the future. The Bible is not just another subject or something left for Sunday mornings or Vacation Bible School in the summer. It is the subject which is the springboard for everything else. It is vitally important to us that our children have a biblical world view. In addition, we believe it is of utmost importance that our children learn in an environment that is safe, secure, and nurtures the God given talents and gifts placed in them by the Almighty. This is best accomplished at home. It is our prayer that you find encouragement on this blog as you consider homeschooling or go throughout your homeschool day. It is something that you should continue to cover in much prayer asking Holy Spirit for his continual guidance. However, trust that God honors your decision and will always have your best interest and the best interest of your children in mind. If for some reason our homeschool journey has to ever end I still trust in Father God's love and provision for my children and family. We have committed to always no matter what make sure our children understand this journey is really all about him and we must prepare ourselves through our education to be used by him.
The Biggest Concern Other's Ask Us Concerning Homeschooling
I have to admit I was a little apprehensive when I told my friends and family we were going to Homeschool. At this point I was armed with a slew of homeschool books, articles, blog posts, statistics, you name it so I was pretty aware of how people would react to our decision. So it came to no surprise that the number one question others ask is "What about socialization?"
So here is how I normally answer this question. Some of my answer is based off of my own experience and some from things I have read or heard. Basically socialization is a non-issue when it comes to homeschooling. It is what you as the parent make it. I am very fortunate to live in an area with a huge homeschool community. There is literally almost something to do everyday of the week if I choose to do so. From homeschool co-ops, playdates, extracurricular activities, the list goes on and on. Really I often joke now that I am exhausted keeping up with the kids homeschool schedule. For older kids (at least in my community) there is homeschool prom, game nights, coffee shop hour, and on and on and on.
We have to realize socialization happens naturally in life. My children go with me pretty much everywhere. They are accustomed to interacting with people of all ages from the clerk at the store to the children at the park. Social interaction is so much more than interacting with people of your own age all day at school. There will be no other time in life where you will be lumped together all day with people your same age in one building for up to 8 hours. Also, you have to consider the quality of interaction that is taking place. Really I think the bigger question or concern should be the quality of education your child is receiving. As I will state time and time again. I am not anti-public school and I don't believe that all social interactions in the public school are bad, however to not entertain homeschooling solely based upon the "social" question I think is just plain wrong. There is so much information out there about how well socialized homeschool children are. If this is your primary concern I would encourage you to Google the subject to find out more information.
Homeschooling African American Children
I find it necessary to talk briefly about another profound reason why we decided to homeschool. As an African American I felt the school system was tremendously lacking in their representation and information of African American life, history, and culture. All to the detriment of our students. If I have one criticism that screams the loudest it is this. Also, this was and has been the hardest stumbling block on this journey. The institutions that we so courageously fought to be apart of I am now removing my children from. In addition, how would my child adjust to often being the only African American child at some homeschool functions. I am not naive to the world and know that the overtones of racism still exists in all communities. Even though we do not daily deal with as much hardship as my parents had to, the racism that exists today is often times more subtle and difficult for a child to ascertain. Was I setting her up to experience this in higher degrees? How would I instill in her a sense of who she?
Through this journey I am finding there is no better way to instill in a child who they are than to teach them their history. Why was God so adamant in the bible that the children of Israel not forget their past? It was because they would forget who they truly are and start following after false gods. I believe much of the problems we now face are simply because we have an identity crisis. Our heritage has been reduced to a multiple choice worksheet during February's Black History Month homework. This should not be. We have left the responsibility of instilling in our children who they are to an institution that fails miserably at their attempts to do so. Below is an excerpt from my favorite sermon from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. entitled "The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life." I believe this explains so eloquently how we need to teach our children to view themselves.
Now let’s turn for the moment to the length of life. I said that this is the dimension of life where we are concerned with developing our inner powers. (Yeah) In a sense this is the selfish dimension of life. There is such a thing as rational and healthy self-interest. (Yeah) A great Jewish rabbi, the late Joshua Leibman, wrote a book some years ago entitled Peace of Mind. And he has a chapter in that book entitled "Love Thyself Properly." And what he says in that chapter, in substance, is that before you can love other selves adequately, you’ve got to love your own self properly. (All right) You know, a lot of people don’t love themselves. (That’s right) And they go through life with deep and haunting emotional conflicts. So the length of life means that you must love yourself.
And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself. (All right) So many people are busy trying to be somebody else. (That’s right) God gave all of us something significant. And we must pray every day, asking God to help us to accept ourselves. (Yeah) That means everything. (Yeah) Too many Negroes are ashamed of themselves, ashamed of being black. (Yes, sir) A Negro got to rise up and say from the bottom of his soul, "I am somebody. (Yes) I have a rich, noble, and proud heritage. However exploited and however painful my history has been, I’m black, but I’m black and beautiful." (Yeah) This is what we’ve got to say. We’ve got to accept ourselves. (Yeah) And we must pray, "Lord, Help me to accept myself every day; help me to accept my tools." (Yeah)
My children's education is helping them to accept themselves as "fearfully and wonderfully made." From their beautiful kinky hair to their smooth brown skin. They are learning of those who made our society what it is today from the genius of George Washington Carver to the poetic mastery of Phyllis Wheatly. From the brave and unnoticed black fisherman in New England that helped finance the economy of our country to John Holden a slave in North Carolina that just so happens to be their great, great, great, great grandfather my children will know who they are. There is no institution that can do that for them better than right here at home.
I could really write a book about this subject and why we have decided to go down this road. It really boils down to your personal convictions and what you feel is best for your family. Whatever you decide don't let fear have a vote. Don't be fearful of homeschooling because you feel your child will be missing out or that you are inadequate. Don't be fearful to allow your child to go to public school because you feel they will be messed up in some way. Like with any major life decision pray! Let God guide you, get information, educate yourself, and just have faith and do it.