The Confident Homeschooler
Each Mentoring Monday I share my reflections on what I’ve been learning from my “paper mentors.” I am currently joining in a book discussion of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson). If you want to join in, visit our Facebook discussion group page.
Educating the WholeHearted Child: Chapter 2
Since our group will still be discussing Chapter 2, “The Christian Homeschool,” into next week, I may take two Mondays to write about some of what I’ve been thinking about as I read through it. This chapter is essentially an encouragement to parents who have chosen to educate their children at home, helping them to confidently address the common questions critics often raise about homeschooling.
At first I considered just skimming this chapter, because I face very little criticism or opposition regarding homeschooling. In my everyday life I am surrounded by other families who homeschool. At church, we probably know more people who educate their kids at home than send them to school. We spend time each week just hanging out with families from our homeschool support group. Even when we go to activities like library story time or gymnastics, there are lots of families in our area who homeschool. So I’ve never felt the pressure of making an “odd” choice.
One of the issues raised in this chapter was a concern about whether parents are “qualified” to teach their children. I have a teaching credential and a Master of Education degree. I get a lot of comments about, “Well, of course you’re more than capable of teaching your kids.” And although I know my paper qualifications are not really that relevant, I don’t really want to get into that with people who think such things are important. My background shields me from criticism so I usually just nod and smile.
However, as I considered this I realized that my confidence only goes so far. It usually starts to wobble when people ask, “How long do you plan to homeschool?” People tend to look rather shocked when I express an intention to educate my children all the way through high school. My insecurity starts to creep up as I wonder what they’re thinking. Are they surprised because, after all, my teaching credential is only for elementary school? Do they think I’m some sort of over-protective nut trying to keep my children in a bubble until they’re old enough to get married?
I realized that when it comes to homeschooling beyond the elementary years, I’m left just as exposed as every other homeschool parent. And so as I read through the Clarksons’ thoughtful responses to the questions that tend to come up, I realized that I am equally in need of a firm grasp on why homeschooling is the best choice for our family. I want to be just as confident about being qualified to educate my children through high school as I have been about preschool and the next few years.
“There is no biblical argument for putting your children under the shaping influence of other authorities during the most formative and impressionable years of their lives. American cultural norms notwithstanding, doing so runs counter to the biblical concept of the family… If family is God’s design for raising children, then a spiritually sensitive parent should not be surprised to feel conflict when faced with the choice to allow others to raise them for half or more of their childhood waking hours” (page 30).
God chose Eric and me to be the primary guiding influences in our children’s lives. We have been blessed with the responsibility of nurturing, discipling, and educating these precious souls with whom He has entrusted us. He will give us what we need to faithfully complete the task He has set before us.
“As a loving, committed parent, you are already certified by God to teach your children. You do not need the state to tell you whether or not you are qualified to train and instruct your children. You are” (page 38).
I’m looking forward to finishing this chapter, mulling over some of the ideas in it, and hearing what the others in our group have to say about it all.