Why Homeschooling?

We’ve homeschooled for a while now (27 years this year) and it has defined a large part of our family life. Why homeschool? I always knew that if I ever had kids I would seek out an alternative to public education for them. I moved every 2 years as a child and being shy (which I was, no lie), this was painfully difficult. I was always the new kid, always the outsider and I missed vast amounts of information. Plus, school just wasn’t that interesting. Maybe it seemed that way because I spent so much time wondering what we were talking about (did I mention I missed out on a lot by moving?) I compensated by doing things I thought were interesting. I read. A lot. In high school I sang in choirs, played in bands, threw pottery, studied photography, played tennis, swam on teams, held jobs, and read thousands of words and hundreds of books. And worked. I learned a lot, but not necessarily in the traditional expected ways.

My family traveled a lot growing up and my Mom was always taking us camping and to factories and parks and points of interest on vacations. My dad was the best question asker on every docent-led walk. I remember sitting in the total pitch black of a cave as a child, listening to my Dad pepper the Guide with questions about bats, and guano. My Dad’s family could talk to anyone about anything and their inquisitiveness about people and places opened doors and opportunities to us to see, explore and understand in new ways. My Dad taught my sister and I both to read at young ages and books have been part of my life since. In many ways, my parents primed the pump for my own homeschooling adventure.

Humble Beginnings

My husband and I started homeschooling in southern California when our oldest was 5. At that time, you didn’t have to register your kids for school until they were 7 and we would have finished the part of grad school that required CA residency and moved somewhere else. Which is exactly what happened. The CA schools that we visited had issues. I won’t bore you with the details but they covered the gamut from academic to social. We figured we could handle phonics instruction, which we did (thanks to Sam Blumefeld and AlphaPhoncis!), and then reassess once we were re-settled.

Lifestyle Homeschooling

From there we spent a year in the Midwest, knowing that the military would move us again in a year. Which they did. We believed that homeschooling for the interim year would provide more consistency than enrolling and de-enrolling once we moved. We spent the year hanging out with friends from college, family and taking care of our very sick newborn. My husband’s military internship cooked his grits time and energy wise so we didn’t see him as much as we would have liked but we had a lot of fun going on field trips, reading books and being close to the people we loved.

After that we landed in southwest. Home of abysmal test scores and the drug corridor of the west. By the time we’d left the MIdewest, I joked that we were in a rut, which is why we continued to homeschool. Sadly, folks failed to laugh at my droll and dry wit, so I quit joking about it. The fact of the matter is that homeschooling had become a life-style for us. My husband and I are committed to education and sharing our faith with our kids and believed that a private educational model, specifically tutoring, delivered by invested, caring adults was the way to go. Homeschooling was the way that we could do this affordably.

It hasn’t been all joyful educational pursuit. We’ve birthed strong-willed kids, changed locations and social support a couple of times and had our share of challenges. Yet we continue to homeschool. Why?For us, it boils down to a couple of simple things.

Education. Our kids are getting a solid education. Is it perfect? No. Are there gaps? Yes. Is that normal. I think so. Do we continue to hone and improve what we do? Yes.
Faith. Our kids are committed to their faith and have years to refine, define and own it before the world and peers, and a whole host of other voices come along to batter and beat it into something almost Christan. Our kids leave our home with a solid understanding of the history of the church, the importance and personhood of Jesus and a glimpse at how imperfect people attempt to live a live of vibrant faith. Is it perfect? No. Do we fail? Yes. Is that normal. I know so.
Family. It’s a busy world. We’ve had hours to spend together, playing, reading, learning, building, re-modeling, cooking, gardening, arguing and laughing together. The good side of that is that everybody really knows each other. The downside of this is that everybody really knows each other. Is it perfect? No. Do we get on each others nerves. You betcha’.

The days are long, the years are short

We graduated our fourth homeschooler this spring; with one to go. It’s been a sweet season and the best job in the world. We have learned, laughed, traveled, wrestled, struggled, grown, prayed, cooked, celebrated together over these past many years. We have had our share of heartache, struggles and failures, as well as our share of laughs and wins.

Is homeschooling the way to ensure picture perfect academically trained kids? Is homeschooling the way to raise people of character? Is homeschooling the way to ensure that no troubles or heartaches will come your way? None of these are true. Homeschooling is an option, with no guaranteed outcomes. Your kids will struggle, they will not be perfect, they will fail; as will you. They may turn their back on everything you hold dear. But if God is calling you to homeschool, your job is not to figure that out. Your job is to be faithful to do what He is asking you to do. Outcomes are above your pay-grade.

Even with no guarantees, and after all these years, I am so grateful to have the opportunity to homeschool. It’s been a great joy and a blessed calling.

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Lisa Nehring has homeschooled for over 26 years, started and run class days, co-ops and academic programs, brought regional and national programs to her areas, and blogged and spoken on education for many years. She loves good words and great thoughts.

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