By Rachael Varblow
I’ll readily admit that public school kids find my kids a bit unusual, and yes, dorky. They are already small for their ages and fairly sheltered. None of them would recognize a picture of Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, or Miley Cyrus. Their idea of good music is Matt Redman, Beethoven, Les Miserables, or Veggie Tales. They rarely brush their hair without being told and think it’s fine to spend your day in pajamas.
I never gave homeschooling a second thought until our first child was born. After that, we prayed about homeschooling for years until one day, at exactly the same moment, God told my husband Matt and me that this was what He had for us.
Beginning was hard. When that school bus went off and my son wasn’t on it, I almost had a panic attack. What had we done? The first week went so badly that we almost put the kids back in school, but I’m stubborn and decided to give it a month. Ten years later, we’re still at it.
When that school bus went off and my son wasn’t on it, I almost had a panic attack.
For us the decision to homeschool was less about education and more about God. Of course, we do all the regular school work, and the kids are all excelling in some areas and struggling in others, but the educational value of homeschooling wasn’t our main concern.
We wanted more time with our kids. We wanted the most important relationships and influences in their lives to be from the family. We wanted to be able to share our faith with them through day-to-day living. How has this played out in our family?
We wanted to be able to share our faith with them through day-to-day living.
Well, my older kids have more scripture memorized than any other kids I’ve known. (This is probably due to the fact that we live in the middle of nowhere and do scripture and poetry memory while we drive.) The unexpected benefit is that I’ve memorized it all right along with them.
They know their Bible. (Some of which I’d rather they not know, like the stories of Judah and Tamar, Lot and his daughters, or Jael and Sisera, but those stories often lead to great conversations.)
When they are living away from me someday I want my kids to start their days with prayer and make personal prayer time a priority. So, I try to get them into the habit now. We start each day with family prayer, worship, and Bible time, then split up for personal prayer times and writing in our prayer journals.
When they are living away from me someday I want my kids to start their days with prayer and make personal prayer time a priority.
My kids see the need in the world and know that God put them there to meet that need. A few months after our foster babies left last year, we sat the kids down and asked if, having experienced this heartbreak, they thought we should continue. My then-twelve- year-said, “The answer is simple: there are still kids who need us.” His brothers nodded their agreement.
Now that they are older they choose to seek God on their own. Two of my boys regularly do devotions together. They talk about their experiences with God speaking to them. They choose one summer camp over another because “this camp is full of God’s presence.” I keep finding new Bible verses taped up around the house, put there by my fourteen-year-old.
For us the decision to homeschool was less about education and more about God.
On the flip side, I get so frustrated sometimes that, knowing Jesus, they still mess up. They fight and bicker. They do dumb things. They do selfish things. They have bad attitudes and make bad choices. Kind of like the rest of us, I guess, trying to follow God, stumbling quite regularly, yet getting back up and following some more.
On the flip side, I get so frustrated sometimes that, knowing Jesus, they still mess up.
For me, the chance to teach my kids about God is the biggest benefit to homeschooling, but I also like the chance to direct my kids’ education. Instead of reading books like The Hunger Games and Kindred for high school literature, I can have my kids read The Cross and the Switchblade and David Copperfield. I can choose courses and curriculum to fit their personalities.
Being the one in charge of my children’s education is terrifying at times. I fear that I am missing important things they should be learning. I worry that they don’t have enough friends or that they will be social misfits forever. I wonder if they’ll have trouble getting into college.
Then one will score in the 98th percentile on a standardized test and I stop worrying.
Being the one in charge of my children’s education is terrifying at times.
There are days when I feel that the only thing I am teaching them is how to apologize, days when I long to drop them at the nearest school or–better yet –boarding school, and drive away, days when I wish that my life weren’t so defined by my kids’ education, but then I think, who else would I want to spend every day with?
What cause is more important than raising my kids for the kingdom? I want to be able to stand before God and know that I did everything in my power to raise my kids to know Him.
What cause is more important than raising my kids for the kingdom?
Those who urge others to homeschool often cite the much higher test scores that homeschoolers achieve. They rave about the lifestyle of learning, the joy of seeing your child read their first word, the convenience of an open schedule. They claim that your children will all be best friends and have hours of free time each day to just be kids.
I will be the first to tell you that not all these things are true for every homeschooler. Homeschooling is what you make it, and it isn’t the right choice for every family. Homeschooling is not so much a school method. It’s a way of life, an identity even. I never dreamed I would be a homeschooling mom, but I wouldn’t trade these years with my kids for anything.