“Why do you homeschool?” Of all the questions I knew I would have to field when I embarked on this radical lifestyle, this was the one I dreaded most. I did not have strong negative feelings about leaving the school system as some families do. As far as I could tell the school system was not destroying my children morally, emotionally or academically. On the contrary, I had ambivalent feelings about whether I could do as well as the school system and I wondered if taking them out would deprive them.
I was first introduced to the concept of homeschooling about ten years ago by a book called Home Grown Kids by Ray and Dorothy Moore. It was a gold mine of practical advice on training and teaching children. It convinced me I did not need preschool. That was not so traumatic for me because I had not gone to preschool and still learned to stand in line, talk to other children, and I eventually learned to read. But homeschooling for the upper grades? I only knew people from fringe denominations that had attempted it. We were prepared as a family to do what it took to send our kids to a proper private school like our parents and grandparents had done, even if it meant mom going off to work and dad working two jobs.
Yet I was still intrigued with the concept and education in general, and continued to read and talk to people with experience. Instead of asking homeschoolers “Why?”, I found myself asking them: “What do you use?”, “How do you teach?”, “How do you organize your day?” At the time I was also taking education courses at Calvin College. Ironically, I was seeing that homeschooling was a solution to many of the problems teachers of classrooms face: learning problems, classroom discipline, poor textbooks, bureaucracy and teacher/pupil ratio. By this time more and more people from Reformed circles were beginning to homeschool for a variety of reasons.
I think financial pressure is one of the driving forces. I have to say in our defense, that homeschool parents as a rule are not those who live in new expensive homes and drive luxurious cars. These are people who have to decide between mom going to work outside the home or not, just to make the house payment and pay the heat bill. Others leave the traditional school setting because, quite frankly, they are frustrated by what is being taught or not being taught in the classroom. Others homeschool because they are intrigued with the idea of educating their own children and their children are all for it. Others leave the traditional school because they do not like the peer subculture. I realize that this is just the reason why some people think we should send our children to school—to allow children to socialize with their peers. But in fact, this very socialization has become a problem for the homes, schools, churches and society in general.
As for my family, I would say that all of the above played at least some part in our final decision to homeschool. But ultimately, the decision was not made ina negative or reactionary context. Rather, the Lord led us to this decision in a very positive manner. Basically, there was not anything to be lost and much to be gained by homeschooling. The curriculums available for horneschoolers are so numerous, it becomes mind-boggling sometimes. Now, even manufacturers are starting to take advantage of this grassroots movement and are trying to cash in. Churches and private schools are providing opportunities for homeschoolers to take classes such as languages and science once a week. There are so many problems we don’t have to face in order to support a private education. Socially, most of my children’s peers are homeschooled. Support groups are everywhere and so are homeschool activities. I’ll admit it is a lot of work, but if I were not homeschooling my own children, I would be out on the job teaching someone else’s children so I could pay for mine to be schooled. On a personal level, our family is not being fragmented to pieces to keep up with the expense and social demands formal schooling puts upon it. Above all, the survival of the family is the foundation of the survival of a society. The Lord has provided us with the opportunity to strengthen our family and to grow spiritually. I am not saying everyone should homeschool. I can say with confidence that this works for us and I have no regrets. Now when people ask “Why?”, I answer, “Why not?”