“Aren’t you worried you are going to screw up?”
That question, or one like it, is often asked of homeschoolers. Some parents find the responsibility of educating their own children so great and so intimidating that they can’t even contemplate it.
My answer to the question is “Yep! You bet I’m worried that I am going to blow it!”
But it’s not concerns over my children’s academics that keep me up at night. It’s that other awesome responsibility that I have. The one that God gave me the moment I became a mother. I’m a parent and that means that God has charged me to disciple my children and cultivate their souls. That’s the part that I’m worried I am going to blow.
And that’s why I homeschool.
My children were 6 and 4 when we began homeschooling almost 10 years ago. They attended preschool and kindergarten at a classical school where I taught. I felt good about the education they were receiving. But I didn’t feel so good about our frenzied lifestyle, so we returned home.
I confess it was a shock. I went from seeing my children very little—a rushed breakfast and an equally frantic dinner time, homework, bath and bed routine—and learning about them by reading notes from teachers to being with them all day long every day. And I discovered something: they were little sinners. They had character flaws and bad patterns of behavior that I had never seen. It was overwhelming, not to mention exhausting. I had to correct, and disciple, and instruct.
That’s when I realized that coming home was God’s gift to me. Being with my children in such an intimate and prolonged way allowed me to see into their hearts in a way that I never did when they were in school. Educating my children at home provided me with many—many—opportunities for discipleship and cultivation. Opportunities that I would have missed if my children had been with some other teacher all day long.
Now, I am not saying that it is impossible to disciple your children if you don’t homeschool. Not at all. But I do think that the task is more difficult. A parent will have to work harder to find those teachable moments. And no doubt some parents do.
But if I am honest, I don’t think I would have been one of those parents. I was clueless when my kids were in school. They brought home good report cards. Their teachers liked them and praised them. And, frankly, that was good enough for me. I am grateful that it wasn’t good enough for God. He yanked me out of my complacency and put my children’s spiritual needs right in front of my face. Even I couldn’t miss it.
So, for me—and people like me—homeschooling makes us better parents by providing daily opportunities for discipleship. Does that scare me? Absolutely! Do I feel the weight of this awesome responsibility? All the time! Can I alleviate this responsibility by sending my kids to school? No!
A formal education is only one part of a child’s discipleship. Whether or not I put my son on a school bus in the morning does not change my duty as a mother. One day I will have to stand before God and give account. I doubt that He will much interested in SAT scores. And, yeah, that scares me.