When I meet someone new and they learn we are homeschoolers, I get a variety of responses. Some simply stare at me, perhaps wondering why I’m not in standard homeschool uniform. “Where is her denim jumper?” they might think. Others respond with “Good for you!” and begin asking questions with genuine curiosity about how our family homeschools. Still others share with me all the reasons they could never homeschool. And then there are some who mutter “That’s nice” and look at my children with a mixture of pity and a disdain.
Homeschooling Times Are Changing
The responses I receive have a lot to do with widespread perceptions of homeschooling. Perhaps the diversity of responses reflects the fact that homeschooling is changing. It’s not what it once was. More and more people outside the church are choosing to homeschool. And no two homeschool situations look the same. In some families, two kids might be homeschooled while another two might be in a traditional school. In other families, children might participate in a homeschool hybrid program where they attend a school setting once or twice a week and are home the rest of the week. Some families use public school online education at home. In our family, my kids are homeschooled four days a week and attend public school one day a week.
Homeschooling is also growing in numbers. In 1999, more than 850,000 students were homeschooled in the United States. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Education reported an estimated 1.77 million students were homeschooled. In North Carolina, more children are homeschooled than attend private schools.
This time of year, as we begin to transition out of vacation mindset back into school mode, you may be considering homeschooling for the first time. And there are many good reasons to consider it. You get to choose the curriculum for your children. You’re able to teach every subject through a biblical worldview. You can take time to study things your children enjoy learning about, at their own pace and on their own level. Homeschool allows for greater flexibility in your schedule. Since it doesn’t take as long as a typical school day to complete lessons, there’s plenty of time for extracurricular activities, sports, clubs, additional classes, and hobbies. Homeschooling also provides more time for families to spend together. I could go on.
But there are also reasons not to homeschool. If the idea of homeschooling has been on your mind, here are three reasons you should not homeschool your children.
1. Because you are afraid.
Fear is a lousy motive for anything. Scripture is clear we are not to live a life of fear, whether it’s fear of people, circumstances, the future, or anything else. We shouldn’t homeschool because we fear something bad will happen to our children. Our children will have bad things happen to them whether we homeschool or not. We live in a fallen world where sickness, injury, crime, and other things occur around us all the time. The only fear that ought to motivate us to do anything is the fear of the Lord (Prov. 1:7).
2. Because you think it will save your child.
Homeschooling won’t ensure your salvation. The Holy Spirit is the one who awakens your child’s dead heart and gives a soft heart of flesh (Ezek. 36:23–24). So don’t pursue homeschooling because you think it will guarantee their salvation. It’s true that homeschooling affords you plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the things of God with your children, and that’s great. There’s time to dig deep into God’s Word, memorize it, and learn how to apply the gospel to all areas of learning and life. But homeschooling in and of itself will not save your child.
3. Because it’s what all your friends are doing.
In some Christian communities, homeschooling is popular. If everyone around you is homeschooling and you’re not, it can feel like you’re less of a Christian for not doing so. To homeschool because of some outside pressure is not a worthwhile reason. Additionally, your Christianity does not hang upon your method of schooling. Your salvation comes by faith in the work of Christ, and such faith is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). Someone is not a better Christian because they homeschool. Homeschooling is something you do because you believe it’s best for your family. It’s a decision made after much prayer, study, and research. It’s a decision made for God’s glory, not to please others, not to fit in, and certainly not to appear more “Christian.”
Research and Pray
As a parent who’s gone through the difficult decision-making process to homeschool, I know what a big decision and commitment it is. As homeschooling continues to grow and change, I imagine more families will consider it.
If you’re contemplating homeschooling your children, I encourage you to spend time in thorough research and prayer. I also encourage you to not base your decision on fear, your children’s salvation, or peer pressure.