Friday, July 19, 2013

10 Reasons Not to Home School #4

Ten Reasons Not to Home School #4

“ You should Home School because YOU are the best person to teach your child.”

  If you have ever read a book on home education, or attended a conference, you have no doubt heard the phrase, ‘You are your child’s parent. You care about them more than anyone else, and you are THE best person in the world to teach them."
    I think that this philosophy in part is a reaction to the other side of the spectrum.
We all know parents who enroll their child in school and feel their job is done. – I know wonderful school teachers who talk with extreme frustration about students who have no support at home, and how helpless they feel to help those kids with the limited time they have in class. I actually had a young home school mom tell me ‘If I had my kids in school, - I would be mad if they came home with tons of home work and I had to teach them anyway… I mean, after all, - that is what they (teachers) are getting paid for!”   

    On the other side of the spectrum is a growing number of parents who seem to have decided that homeschooling, and parent provided education is not just a means to an end – but THE end. Period. I recently had this posted as a friend’s Facebook status:

 “Educating a child is a natural process. Homeschooling is nothing more than an extension of parenting.” Sue Maakstad….
 Wow. That is a heavy statement. Let’s look at this for just a second, shall we?
Educating a child is a natural process…. Hmmmmm. Natural sounds wholesome, - instinctive, and easy. 
  And to some very small extent, - it is. After all, children make it easy for us; they are born curious. They are born asking questions, and testing boundaries. And despite lack of any real adequate preparation for the reality of 100% responsibility of parenting, most of us manage to teach our children to eat with utensils, to use a toilet instead of a diaper, to dress themselves, tie their shoes,  and to learn basic colors, shapes, etc.
   However, - I’d like to point out that those of us who have succeeded to teach these skills came to parenting as pretty much professionals when it comes to using forks, toilets, zippers, etc.
Which points to the obvious.
You can’t teach what you don’t know.
This is just common sense.
      I do not know how to swim. I have spent very little time in the water in my life. However, - this is a skill I am determine my children will learn. I want to have absolute confidence in their skill and ability in the water. My husband is a strong swimmer, but we don’t spend enough time in the water as a family for him to accomplish much with our kids. This summer I enrolled both my children in swimming lessons. I have been impressed - I love the job their teachers have done.
   It isn’t something I like to admit, - that at 32, I don’t know how to swim. It is downright embarrassing. But faced with that reality, - I had three choices. I could flounder around fearfully in the shallow end of the pool with my kids with no clue what to do, and getting them no closer to swimming.  I could decided that swimming isn’t that big a deal, - and if I keep them from all water sources for their whole life, - they probably will not drown. OR I could decide that as a parent I am going to provide them with the ability to exceed my limitations, and make sure they receive the best swimming lessons I can.
   Admitting I can’t teach my kids does not make me a failure as a parent. It does not mean I just don’t have enough faith. (This is often either spoken or implied and used as a hammer against others questioning their ability to home school their children. I may address this more fully later)
     Recognizing my own limitations, and finding a way to succeed in spite of them, - isn’t THAT what we want for our children? Don’t each of us hope and pray our children exceed us? That we are able to give the benefits of our strengths, and to help them surpass our weaknesses?

     In the debate of education, - I believe it is crucial to recognize that our first, and primary role is that of a parent. We provide for, - protect, and nourish our children’s souls. We are responsible for their health and well being. We know them, - how they think, what they love, and how they struggle.
    You are NOT the source of all knowledge for your child. You are just a parent. I repeat. YOU ARE JUST A PARENT. (Imagine this in my very best Woody to Buzz voice- ‘YOU ARE A TOY!)
  You are no more responsible for personally teaching them every piece of information that enters their brain than you are to hand plant, organically grow, and then make from scratch every bite of food they eat.  Any parent who tries to do either will absolutely burn out. It is a job you were never intended to do. A weight you were never meant to carry.
    Healthy home schooling is not about control. Control of you, or your children.  It is not about forcing you to become the well spring of all knowledge and learning. It is a chance for you to select the best and most effective ways and means of education for your child possible. It is recognizing in what ways your child best learns, and how they thrive. It means knowing in what surroundings and from what instructors they will learn the most, and be free to progress.
    You may have one child who thrives in a class room and another who does not. You may have a child who need lots of social interaction and activities, and a child who craves solitude. You may have a child who benefits from starting at home, then moving to a class room or vice versa. No one will know that better than you.
    A healthy home school parent recognizes that their first and most important role is one of nurture and training, - their goal is to see their child develop and thrive as a person first, who is healthy and balanced and loves their life.  (Yes, probably more on this later)
     A parent’s job is also to ensure their child receives the best possible education, whether that is in a home setting, taught by a parent, - a paid tutor,  as part of a home school coop, taking courses online,  a standard class room, or some other arrangement that the parent knows will work best for their child. Get creative! We live in a day of almost infinite options.
    Homeschooling, like parenting, is not easy. It requires commitment and hard work, and determination through days that just don’t go well. It is far too easy to get an all or nothing attitude.
  Let us not forget the goal. We are not home schooling for the sake of homeschooling. We are not trying to prove that we as parents are always right, and always the best, and always enough.
We aren’t. At least I sure know I am not!

    I know only too well the enormous pressure that home school mom’s face. They feel the scrutiny from observers, they are tempted to compare themselves to the newest ‘model family’, - and deep inside, - they are constantly fighting their own doubts and insecurities, and questions as to whether they can really do it.
    You know what? That is the wrong question. The question isn’t ‘can you do it’ – but, - HOW are you going to do it? You are your child’s parent. You know them inside out. You know where they need to learn and grow, and be stretched, and their strengths. You also know yourself. Deep down you know the difference between ‘today was awful, but tomorrow is a new day’ and ‘I will NEVER understand algebra let alone be able to teach it’.
    So don’t. There is no shame in recognizing our personal limitations and working around them. But there is no excuse for our children being held back because we aren’t brave enough to face the truth.  
Failure is not the fact that I cannot teach my child to read. Failure is not allowing my child to read well because I cannot teach it.
  What was supposed to be another option, - just another tool in the arsenal parents have to help them give their child and themselves the best functioning educational process possible- has in so many cases become an unrealistic and crushing ideal that causes parents to question their abilities, their identity and their faith, and often short changes children capable of more than their parents even realize.
     So I began this post by sharing comments that are often used to reassure overwhelmed Mom’s (and Dad’s).  I know what it is like to feel overwhelmed. Let’s be honest, - if you have kids, you have felt overwhelmed. If you have even thought about homeschooling you’ve probably nearly hyperventilated.  If you have homeschooled at all, -at some point you have cried and said you couldn’t do it.
    If that is you, I am not going to pat you on the back and tell you to pray for more faith. I am not going to tell you that you are the best person for the job. I am not going to tell you that it’s ok if your child is really, really struggling. I am not going to tell you that the child you clash with is just helping build your character. I am not going to reassure you that fractions don’t really matter. I am going to tell you the truth.
   You ARE fully capable of giving your child the best education possible. It may mean hours helping your child with homework; reviewing where others have laid strong foundations. It may mean teaching your child at home. It may be anything in between.
  It definitely means being their biggest cheerleader. It definitely means a lot of hard work, sweat and tears. It definitely is worth it.
   What more can we dream, than for our children to stand on our shoulders?
   What more can we ask, then to see them fully explore their potential?
   What more can we offer, - than to show by example that our weaknesses do not have to define us, - personal limitations can be overcome, and finally, - the beauty of a world where we need and appreciate others who excel where we lack.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main…..”
John Donne

This is the fourth in a series of posts.

10 Reasons Not to Home School #1 "Because It's the RIGHT Thing to Do"

10 Reasons Not to Home School #2 "Because Your Protecting Your Kids"

10 Reasons Not to Home School #3  "To Give Them a 'Custom' Education"

10 Reasons Not to Home School#5 " To Be Part of Home School Culture"

10 Reasons Not to Home School #6 'To Avoid Sex Ed"

10 Reasons Not to Home School#7 'To Build Strong Family Relationships"

Linking up with


  1. Hmmm.........this is the first installment that I don't immediately agree fact I think I might disagree.....but my brain is buzzing.......too soon to tell. :)

  2. I would highly encourage you, yourself to get swim lessons! That would give your kids a great example that it's a worthwhile skill at any age.

    1. Thanks Jill, - I do plan to at some point - one huge benefit of being a homeschool graduate is that I LOVE learning and growing! This is definitely on the list, - but I sure didn't want to hold my kids back in the meantime! :)

    2. That was what I was thinking as I read this. I had never learned how to swim. My family spent 4 days a year near the water, so my parents (only 1 of whom could swim) were never inclined to teach me or have me taught. When I was 27 hubby was trying to teach our 6 year old to swim. It wasn't long before she realized that Mom was not swimming. She panicked, wrapped around hubby, and wouldn't come down. I had nearly drowned twice as a child so I was deathly afraid of the water, and I had zero confidence I could ever be taught to swim. I didn't even plan to try, honestly. So there I was, faced with my fear stifling my daughter. With a sigh and a prayer I turned to hubby and asked him to teach me to swim. I learned, through the grace of God and the determination He granted me. And my daughter? She learned to swim (somewhat at least) that very day, and was an excellent swimmer long before that summer was out. I'm still not great, but I get by.

      Would my daughter have been better served by my passing off that responsibility to a swim class? Or did she learn far more by watching me swallow my fear for the sake of my child, overcome right in front of her eyes, and learn even as an adult? I believe with the way we handled it she not only learned to swim that day but also learned a lot (most of it probably subconsciously) about faith, family, and love.

  3. Thought-provoking post.

    First of all, I'd like to say that we as moms ARE the best person for the job because we KNOW our children better than anyone else. We know how they learn, what motivates them, what discourages them, etc. We also love them and want to see them succeed!

    Secondly, Christian parents understand that our children do not belong to us. They belong to God. We must give an account for how we train and educate them. That is our responsibility or stewardship. That is not to say that we can't delegate their education to someone else -- whether in an institutional school or a private tutor. However, we cannot delegate the responsibility and the fact that we must answer to God.

    Thirdly, we are given the job of Shepherding our children! We are the shepherd, who gives her life for the sheep. According to John 10:11-14, the hireling doesn't care for the sheep and will flee when danger appears. Why should we give our precious lambs to the hireling to educate in the ways of the world??

    Furthermore, you have an inaccurate view of education. I am hearing you express the public school mentality of education that spoon feeds information into kids expecting them to learn it. As a parent, we should encourage a love of learning and encourage our kids to take responsibility for their own education! Thinking of this quote:

    "The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled." -Plutarch

    Sorry, didn't mean to write a blog post in the comments! The thoughts just kept coming! :) Hey, that's an idea -- I think I'm inspired to write my own blog post on this topic! Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    Elizabeth Ours of

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, I wasn't sure how I felt about this until I read your reply. It was very well-reasoned and I totally agree!

    2. Thanks for taking the time to comment Elizabeth. I don't expect everyone to agree with me but I am thrilled if I can spark honest thought on these topics. I encourage you to stay tuned, keep reading and getting inspired! Lol. I'll be glad to check in on yours too.

  4. I agree with your post. You cannot know everything and sometimes you have to go outside of the box. I don't know upper level math to teach it and I am hopelessly musically challenged so there's no way I can be their teacher if they want to play the piano or violin or anything else. I am not great at sports either.

    Part of being a good mother is knowing your limits and knowing that you love your children so much that you will anything to help ease serious struggles. It's okay to not homeschool. Homeschooling can be great, but it's not the best for all families and all children. While our educational system can improve a lot, we are blessed to live in a country that provides education to all children. Teachers do care about your child, at least the majority do. They may not love them the way you do, but they want your child to succeed. They aren't doing it for the money because the money's not that great and they know that going into the profession. Teachers work super hard to try to help your child understand what they're teaching and work well beyond an 8-hour day to try to make that happen.

    There's nothing wrong with homeschooling at all, but I dislike the comments bashing teachers as uncaring about your child. As someone who is working towards their education degree, that is untrue. You are entrusting your child to me during the day and my job goes beyond teaching them to read and long division, it's also my job to keep your child well and safe while in my care. I would die to protect your child and so would the majority of teachers out there.

    Don't let the comments get you down because I think it's a great, honest post.


    1. Thanks Marie, I appreciate the kind words! I know and respect some wonderful teachers!
      I really hope to help ease the negative tone that so often comes up in the home school/ private/ public school debate. I am thrilled to hear your passion and think it is wonderful that you are pursuing your degree, - you will make a fantastic teacher!
      thanks again for the encouragement!

  5. I concur wholeheartedly with the comment of busymomof 10.
    I was homeschooled K-12th and I now homeschool my two daughters (10 &6)

    Your view of education sounds like a simple transfer of knowledge, like Elizabth said 'the filling of a vessel'
    These blessings, are not a vessel to be filled, but a soul to be nurtured.
    I also believe, that education IS a parent's responsibility, I would not give this God given sphere of responsibility away to anybody else.
    Christian education must present all subjects as part of an integrated whole with the scriptures at the center, without this integration, the education will be nothing more than a dumping ground for unrelated facts. When God is acknowledged, all knowledge coheres.
    The reason I homeschool, is to instruct them through God's word and teach them to obey Biblical disciplines-it is my hope to raise children who love and fear the Lord.That will be my reward for this hard work called homeschooling. Humility before humanities, Compassion before chemistry, gentleness before Geography...
    Also-What you wrote, "you cannot teach what you do not know-this is just common sense"--I find this to be highly inaccurate and could potentially steer other moms away from thinking they can homeschool, because of their insecurities of what they "don't know"
    BUUUUUT-I dont know everything. I don't know all the laws of thermodynamics-BUUUUT there is nothing stopping me from finding out, and then teaching my children. Or talking to a friend who has an aerodynamics degree -to find out! This teaches my children to take that lack of knowing, and direct it to being a life long LEARNER. To LOVE learning. To seek out the answers to the questions they have.. To wrestle with hard problems until they have an answer!
    Michelangelo at the age of 87, responded to his life with this simple answer "I , am still learning"---We need to model this to our children, this side by side, daily discipleship and nurturing.. This hebrew style of education.
    We have been able to implement this education by using Classical Conversations, and Robin Sampson's book "what your child needs to know when, according to the Bible"

  6. This was a very interesting and thought-provoking post. I agree that as each child is unique, they do have different ways in which they learn best. I also agree that even though we are parents who have a responsibility to raise our children and guide them, we are not the only source of learning for them. Personally, I try to expose my children to different topics of interest that others can teach them, too. For the studies I am not great with, there are many options/resources available that will provide what my children need, knowledge-wise. I've been teaching my children at home since my son started Kindergarten. I believe my children have benefited greatly from it and that they have had many opportunities they wouldn't have had otherwise. I'm more determined than ever when, wherever we go, I am told that my children are well-behaved and people don't have to 'talk down' to them, that I've chosen to do the right thing. No, homeschooling isn't for everyone. But, I do believe it has been the right choice for us.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!! Sounds like you've found a great place of balance that works for your family! One of my goals in writing this posts was to share how I have found it incredibly freeing to think outside the box, delegate, and utilize resources available! It is wonderful to see our children thrive, isn't it! Kudos to you Momma!

  7. Wondering what happened to the other 6.....

    1. Thanks for asking Michele! They are coming!! Be sure to follow my blog so you don't miss out on the rest of the series - there are some great points coming soon! :)

  8. This was well done and I think applies to many different areas in life/schooling/parenting. We all need to know our limits and where things can be done differently. There are so many resources and options for learning... I never view home-schooling as an all or nothing adventure. My children are still 'home-schooled' even when I am not the person teaching every single thing.
    Blessings on the journey~

  9. This is definitely a different view than I hear most. I fully expect there to be things that I do not excel in that my I see beneficial for kids to be taught. (Just like swimming for you!) Sure sounds like an easy invitation for you to spend some quality time learning WITH your child! Take swimming lessons together! (Or for me, it would be take a music class together!)

  10. Thanks for posting. I do think, however, that we were intended to hand plant, and grow our food organically and the make stuff from scratch to feed our families. This is how people did it for many years before. See Caroline Ingalls and the pre-1900's. That being said, it is nice when we can accept help from modern technology. The processing of bread and the ease of getting our food now isn't the best thing for us, see obesity, a variety of allergies and laziness.

  11. But saying that we can't teach what we don't know... we should know a lot of this stuff. If we went through school and finished with a diploma, then we should be qualified to teach our children and shepherd them through their own schooling. If not, then it was pretty pointless for us to even get an education. It's not like teachers at public or private schools teach everything from scratch either. They use textbooks, answer keys, and online programs to teach as much as a homeschooling parent does.

    1. Laura, I am so glad you pointed this out. I agree that we SHOULD be solidly educated and ready to teach others. Unfortunately this is not the case for many Moms. There are many mom's who struggle with reading, math, or other basic subjects. When that is the case I think it is vital for a parent to recognize when to get additional support, and when to choose a better qualified teacher so that their children do not continue the cycle of poor education.