When others hear that we chose to switch from public school to homeschooling pre-COVID-19 (literally months before), I receive lots of questions.
First, please understand that what I share and how I share it is not meant to cause anyone to feel like they need to do what we do, but simply to encourage others who may be in a similar place.
We did not choose to homeschool because there was anything “wrong” with our public school experience. We weren’t turning away from anything “bad” or “problematic” in our public school. We loved our son’s kindergarten and first-grade teachers and his school administration.
We developed sweet friendships with other students and families while he was there. We look back on those years as filled with blessed memories in multiple ways. Academics was not a concern, either.
We did not choose to homeschool because I am a likely homeschooling mother. Others often tell me they could never homeschool. Although I don’t try to convince anyone to follow our path, I like to clarify that the homeschooling parent doesn’t fit a certain type. I formerly believed this myth, but I am proof that a very unlikely homeschool parent can be called by God to this journey.
Here are a few of the reasons I felt inadequate to homeschool:
I don’t naturally have a calm disposition. I can yell easily. I struggle with control and often express it in loud ways. I battle this daily. Because one of my children has a similar disposition, we butt heads often and don’t naturally have a peaceful relationship. We love each other fiercely, but our days are filled with apologies and reminders of our need for Jesus.
I don’t like crafts—at all. Anything that involves glue, glitter, cutting, painting, making a mess, etc., literally makes me cringe. I love when my kids’ aunt comes to visit and does these things with them because I just do not enjoy it.
I was not homeschooled, nor was my husband. No one in our family has been homeschooled. We have zero previous experience to pull from.
So, if nothing was “wrong” with our public school experience, and if I’m an unlikely homeschool parent, why did we make this decision to switch?
Rather than focusing on what was or was not happening at our son’s public school, our main motive for homeschooling stemmed from a desire to change something not happening at home.
We simply wanted more time to cultivate discipleship with our specific children during this specific season. Time. We felt like we wanted and needed more of it in order to change our family culture in ways we desired for it to change.
Why do we choose to value time so much?
As a family following God, we fully believe and place value on pursuing the passage that commands:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deuteronomy 6:5–9 ESV).
Do I believe you can live out this passage in Deuteronomy 6 and send your kids to a public school, a private school, or choose to homeschool your kids?
Yes, to all of those.
But when we began examining our specific children and our specific season, it was clear that we lacked something we needed to “teach them diligently” (Deuteronomy 6:7).
Sally Clarkson wrote in her book Awaking Wonder, “The direction you choose to walk determines the place you will arrive.” I began to realize the direction we were walking, and I simply was not okay with it. Here’s a glimpse into where we were a year ago:
• I dreaded weekends and holidays because I didn’t know how to spend the extra time with my family.
• I felt like we were choosing between love and discipline, with no time for both—and since I tend to err on the side of discipline, I could see the love waning between my children and me.
• I was too exhausted at the end of the day to read or do a devotional with them, and yet we weren’t really together that many hours each day.
• We had more “rough nights” (the only hours we were really together) than not, and it was so very hard.
We recognized these problems and fought to change it. For months we rearranged our schedule, removed various activities, and fought to shift our family culture.
I began to dread even our church small group meetings (something we value highly), I didn’t want my son going to church events, or being involved in sports because I was seeing the need for more time together as a family to root our children in our values and beliefs—to establish a foundation upon which to build.
But no matter how we fought to make changes, the truth remained that it just wasn’t enough for our family in this season. Something else clearly needed to change.
And that’s when God placed homeschooling on my heart—something I never thought I would do.
It seemed like such a drastic action-step—such a change to make! Surely God wouldn’t call us to do something like this, right? Surely we could figure out how to keep juggling our schedule to reach our family goals?
Homeschooling would mean a sacrificial marathon of a journey. Homeschooling surely required something I didn’t have. However, as we identified the path God asked us to walk in obedience, we moved forward hesitantly by having multiple conversations with our church community and seeking scripture and other biblical resources.
As we began to take steps by faith, the Lord started to show me this isn’t about me and my capabilities, disposition, temperament, skills, etc. This journey is about a God who equips, sanctifies, loves, shepherds, and desires to use messy little me in the lives of my children to shape their hearts toward him.
It’s not about our weaknesses, but his strength.
And the more we are placed in positions to remind ourselves and our children about our dependence on him and his finished work on the cross, the better off we will be.
Homeschooling or not, here’s what I know, regardless of your family culture, dynamics, or season: God guides us and directs our steps through his word and through his local church.
Be encouraged and confident in that today—wherever you are! Don’t be fearful of what he may be calling you to do—we can trust him.
And please be aware that sometimes if we have a healthy discontent with how things are going, if we are seeking God’s will among community, depending on him, and desiring to trust his plan for our lives—it may be that we need to move forward in faith to make what seems like radical changes.
I don’t know what that looks like for you. I’m definitely not saying homeschooling is the answer for everyone. But wherever you are, pray and ask for God’s guidance, and then be ready to move forward in faith, even if you don’t see every step ahead of time that you will walk.
It’s worth it, no matter how scary. His ways are good and gracious, and his path is definitely the best place to be.
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