Homeschooling is a very unique experience. All of a sudden, in that decision, especially once it becomes public, you are automatically placed in a group where one can feel a bit like an animal in the zoo. People constantly try to school their expression when they find out because of the normal stigmas of “weird children”, socialization, competency in teaching your children what “normal” children would otherwise get at school, or the look of pity as they ask, “Are you sure? I mean, that’s A LOT of time with your kids. What if you kill them?”
Lets be honest, even as a home school parent, I looked at homeschoolers like that before too! I never thought I would ever home school. I had those exact same concerns and questions. Until you make that choice to educate your own children and immerse yourself in what that routine looks like for you and your kids, it’s really hard to describe the feeling. I would liken it to a dare of cliff diving. You just take a deep breath, and jump.
Over the past five months, there have been many moments where the wins are tangible. You really learn to love it, or at the very least, see the huge benefits to your kids and your family structure…or I would hope so. There are also the days where the children have used up the last drop of grace you had in your bucket, you stare at your house and wonder if it counts as a natural disaster, and you try not to confess to your friends that you have seriously considered daytime drinking. I’m not sure about you, but in our house, there have been roller coaster days! One day, it amazing, productive, calm, happy, and you just can’t imagine doing life another way. Then the next, you’re barely holding your temper as your child is slouched in their chair like they just got the worst news of their life, but all you did was ask them to take out their pencil. You have an instant headache when they ask, “When is school DONE???”, and you are only 12 minutes into your home school day.
Whatever type of day it is, I find myself CONSTANTLY evaluating and then re-evaluating whether or not home school is still the right choice for our family. In one of my first blogs, I had stated that we had no problem with my son’s old school. It was great. Yet, out of a deep calling in our spirit and red flags of looking at a bigger picture of future character development, we made a last minute decision to pull him out and start that Fall. I sometimes forget this.
It was when a friend, in great love, said to me, “Don’t you think you’re doing them more harm by sheltering them from the real world?” that something didn’t sit right with me. I instantly did not agree with her question, that was really more of a statement. However, I couldn’t quite articulate what it was until I spent time in prayer about this.
I really felt the Lord say to me, “You’re not sheltering them. You’re equipping them.” In that moment, I started pouring over some verses that instantly resonated with me. First of all, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for EVERYTHING you do flows from it”. Here’s the thing, whether you believe in the Word of God or not, the fact is that whatever we spend most of our time in, our efforts, energy, our mind, etc., that is what we will manifest and operate in. It molds us. The choice to home school our children was a choice to be their primary influence, teacher, example, and provider. Jonathan and I take our role as parents with great care to be purposeful in the things we do and be intentional in the things we say to them, habits we create, activities we plan, and people we surround ourselves with. Ultimately, we will be held accountable for how we have stewarded their childhood and growing up years. We wanted to model for them the importance of guarding their hearts, that yes, everything they will do will flow from the heart.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. We live in an age where identity is challenged. We live in a culture where authority from the home is being stolen from by government and state. We live in a society where integrity, honor, respect, manners, kindness, patience, gentleness, and resilience are replaced by instant gratification, rebellion, disobedience, dishonesty, selfishness, and lust. Yet in this verse, there is hope. The Word says that we can be transformed by renewing our minds. This is not a one time event. This is a conscious choice to be in a habit of using self control and discipline to change how we think, and hold true to our values and convictions. Yet, how can we expect our children to do this if we are no longer in control of being their primary influence? When my husband and I factored in how much time we had with our children when they were in school, it was shocking. Between sleep, commuting, school, extra curriculars, it was safe to say that we were NOT their primary influence – friends, teachers, and coaches were. While I’m not saying that this is awful (you may have wonderful teachers and people that you trust your kids with 100%), for us, we just felt like we were advocating our responsibilities as parents.
When it comes to sheltering my kids, I have to say that I hope I never do. I think it’s a fine line between sheltering and protecting our kids. Here’s the difference. To shelter our children comes from a place of fear. To protect our children comes from a place of equipping them, guarding their hearts and minds from things they are not ready for RIGHT NOW, but teaching them to be ready for what is coming. There are topics that are being addressed in school right now that makes me sad that society has strayed so far from morality, that our children are living in the exposure of celebrated sin. That being said, I did not pull my children from school so that they never have to deal with it and will never know about those issues. Not at all. What I wanted was to be able to be the one that trains them, teaches them, and explains to them these sensitive issues and what we believe as a family and how we can love everyone regardless of a difference of opinion. I have no intention of keeping my children from relative issues we face in today’s culture. I will present and teach them when we feel that they are at an age where they understand and can maturely discern the topics being brought up.
I am a fool if I think I can keep my kids from things I think are immoral or unsavory. My goodness, the Word of God even says in John 16:33 “…In this world you will have trouble,” but the second portion of this verse which I want to make sure my kids understand first and foremost is, “But take heart! I have overcome the world!” I know that my children will encounter conflicts, awkward conversations, some hurt feelings, peer pressure, and scary decision-making circumstances. I’m not trying to prevent those things from happening. What I do want, and why we are homeschooling, is the opportunity to equip them. I want to train them up in the ways of the Lord that they may not depart from them. I don’t want to give up that right to a teacher or a coach…and especially not to the playground. I want to have many hours in the day to have conversations about feelings, choices, responsibility, ethics, and relationships…not just 30 minutes before bed or 20 minutes at mealtime. I want to be proactive with my children, not reactive. Homeschooling gives us this opportunity in spades.
I truly believe that if we equip our children and train them up BEFORE they find themselves in hard situations (which they absolutely will), then they are more likely to make the better choice. Not only this, but they will WANT to make the better choice and they will be CONFIDENT to make that choice. My children have regular play dates, they go to group activities where they meet new people, make new friends and interact with others in an uncontrolled environment. I am not able to mediate or see every conflict that they face (nor do I want to), but even in five short months, I have seen monumental growth in how my almost nine-year-old interacts with others, how he is more comfortable and confident in his own skin. I see him singing at church among his peers when even just months ago, he would never. I see him teaching his little brother the power of prayer and how God is his friend. I see him react in kindness and tolerance when his friends treat him poorly, when in the past, he would have gotten angry and resentful. These things are not just because I get to teach him more and model for him, it is because he is now in a safe environment where we are living life with him. He feels a greater measure of safety and confidence in knowing that his family are his primary people. We are his greatest cheering team. He knows that he can make mistakes here without “peer pressure”, people laughing, mocking, or judging him. He has the rest of his life to be put in those situations. But in these formative years, we want to invest in helping them navigate their way through their own emotions, thoughts, and dreams while instilling in them our family values, letting them know that they loved unconditionally.
So, if you send your kids to school, are you absent of these opportunities? No. Not at all. I believe that each family functions differently and that sending your children to school is not necessarily a bad thing at all! Truly, to each their own. No one way is better than another. I have just found that for our family, our dreams, our goals, and our lifestyle, homeschooling has been a phenomenal option. I would just challenge each one to make sure when it comes to training our children and raising them, that we never shy away from the “why?”…and if we have forgotten the “whys”, or see some gaps in the answer and how we are raising our children, that we take a step back and pray, seek wisdom, and change the way we are doing things. If it means to home school, or lessen extra curricular activities, or change some things up in the schedule, then awesome!
Remember that when we evaluate, to make sure our hearts for it are not rooted in fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. To home school my sons is to teach them that they can live this life from a place of victory. I am not sheltering them. I am equipping them. Parenting is the most exhausting role that one can have; yet, in the midst of the cold coffees, short bathroom breaks, and the forgotten keys in the fridge, may we never forget that we are raising warriors, leaders, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, and world changers. Bless you.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:10-12
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