I have ten children, ages 1-16 1/2 at the time of this post. What a tremendous blessing. And responsibility. When I think that each of them is a person, a living soul who will either enjoy eternal life with our God throughout eternity or burn in hell, I am humbled. What a job. And one dare not fail.
A wise friend shared with me a quote recently that really sums up how I feel about parenting in today's world. Unfortunately, I can't quote verbatim, because I seem to have lost the e-mail. But it was something along these lines, since we live in a world that has largely rejected God, since so many are actively anti-Christian, we as parents need to gather our children to us and hold them close. Fill them with God's Word and hold them close.
That is really very much the reason we home school our children. There are many academic reasons a parent might decide to keep a child out of a traditional classroom, and of course those are part of the decision. Those reasons might be something like, I can tailor each child's learning to his or her level; I can give one on one time; there is flexibility for a child to pursue in depth, those things that capture his or her imagination; etc.
There are social reason to homeschool, such as children can participate in more non-school activities such as visiting the sick and elderly; starting their own home based business; learning the responsibility that comes with running a household; etc.
But the primary reason we decided to keep our kids home 12 years ago when Jeremy was 5, is that I couldn't figure out how I was to imbue this child with my values and beliefs when he was gone for several hours a day. Of course, in those days, kindergarten was still just couple of hours a day. But first grade was a full day. In the area in which we now live, the school bus comes at about 7:10 and does not drop the kids off in the evening until 4:30. Is a six year old child really filled up with all the Godly wisdom I can give him? Are those few hours in the evening enough to squeeze in the spiritual training necessary for salvation? I didn't feel that I would have enough time left with my children if they went to a traditional classroom school to accomplish this primary parental responsibility. "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Among homeschool moms the question sometimes arises when and under what circumstances we might feel the need to place a child in a traditional classroom. Some are most adamant about keeping their children home for the early years. Some parents are more concerned with the high school years with the increase in temptations and even physical danger. Some have academic concerns with high school aged kids and others feel they need a trained teacher to lay down the basics in the early years.
We each have been given different personalities and priorities and children with different needs. But for myself, I have always felt that if I could lay down a strong Christian foundation, I would not fear to let my children move to something different for their high school years. I don't think I fear the academic part of high school at home. I think we could handle that. But I have always responded, when asked, that we are homeschooling as long as it works; when it is no longer working, we will seek God's wisdom and see if there are other suitable options.
And that brings me to 2010. I now find myself with three children away from home for their school. Jeremy lives with his Grandparents and attends ECHO charter school. What a blessing! It is a great match for him. I hope Grandma and Grandpa survive.
Louisa and Matt are attending Red Lake County Central in Oklee. I am pleased with that decision also. I can't figure this one out, but there is some comfort in seeing them board the bus in the morning. I know they will encounter temptations and they will learn things that may be contrary to what they've been taught. But I am comfortable with their abilities to stand up to these things. I am also pleased that because of the homeschooling years we've spent together, we've developed a rapport that allows us to share the highs and lows of our days. We hear about the things that might be troubling them and we hear about the ways in which they've expressed their Christian faith and values throughout the day. We are still available to guide them in how they might best deal with the various encounters they have throughout the day. This also is a life skill that I wouldn't want them muddling through alone if they end up in a university dorm some day.
I pray daily that God increase the faith of my children and protect them from harm. Do I pray for an easy life for them? No. I was telling a couple of good friends the other day that when life is easy, it's too easy to forget about God. But I do pray for them that God be with them and strengthen them for the temptations He in His wisdom allows to come to them.
And I pray for my own parental wisdom to always make sound decisions for my children.