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    Why We Homeschool

    February 14, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    Ack. I am cringing at my own title. Talking about homeschooling can be such a sensitive issue. In my experience {which is admittedly tiny}, folks that choose not to homeschool often feel judged by the fact that we homeschool. And this is without discussing our reasons. I have just observed folks {close friends excepted} get defensive.

    And I think it might be because they have met a judgmental homeschooling family out there somewhere. Or maybe they heard that homeschoolers judge nonhomeschoolers. Or maybe they are struggling with the issue of homeschooling, and when we say we homeschool, that touches a sore spot with them.

    I say this when really what I want to say is that the purpose of this post is not to judge. It is to explain. Someone dared to ask, after all. And actually I was asked last week as well, by someone else. This post is really a cutting-and-pasting from an email to someone who asked.

    My desire for this post is that it {1} helps any readers understand why we do what we do and {2} inspires others to think through why they do what they do. This doesn’t mean we all have to come to the same conclusion. In fact, a lot of our decisions are based on how we define education, what we see as the primary purposes of education, and so on. And not everyone defines it the same way. If we differ at the definitions, we will probably differ in our conclusions, and I don’t really see that as a reason to break fellowship.

    And I think that was my longest disclaimer ever. He he he.

    Okay. So why do we homeschool? Why in the world do we do what we do? Why am I torturing myself right now, trying to read a child’s biography of General Custer aloud while doubled-over with nausea caused by Number Four?

    Well, there are a few reasons, and they all sort of go together:

    1. The Shema {Deuteronomy 6} This is where God explains that the Israelites are to teach their children about Him while they sit in their homes, while they walk by the way, when they lie down, and when they rise up. It is later explained that this will protect the Israelites from forgetting the LORD and what He has done for them. While we understand that this was something specific to the Israelites on the one hand, we also believe it is a basic principle to consider when we want to accomplish certain goals. Goals like not forgetting the LORD and passing down the legacy of faith through the generations. To us, this looks like a family lifestyle. We feel that homeschooling best allows for us to try and do this–pass our faith to our children by living alongside them and conversing with them. Even though every single subject and conversation isn’t theological, we are able to think about everything Christianly with them, something we couldn’t train their minds to do if we were separate from them, especially for the majority of the day.
    2. The Biblical Definition of Knowledge {Proverbs 1:7} The Bible says that knowledge begins with the fear of the LORD. In chapter 9 of Proverbs, I think it is said a little differently, something like the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One brings understanding. We believe that all education, because it deals with the soul, is inherently religious. And since the parents are directed in the Bible to be the primary source of religious training for the children, we are most comfortable with homeschooling.
    3. The Child is the Parent’s Responsibility This isn’t something I have a specific Bible verse for, just a general principle we see in Scripture. The parents, rather than the church or the school, are the ones held accountable by God for how the child is raised. The parents are to raise him, discipline him, instruct him, discover and nurture his bent, etc. Because of this, we choose to homeschool. We feel that it allows us a measure of control that is appropriate to the level of responsibility God has given to us. To some extent, I guess we would say that we think we are simply doing our job as we understand our job to be defined.

    There are many other benefits to homeschooling {keeping them safe, getting to know them better, having a flexible schedule, knowing that their teacher loves them, spending more time together as a family, doing ministry during the day, not having to worry about the food allergies, etc., etc.}. We choose to say that these are benefits we enjoy, but not the reason why we do things.

    By the way, this doesn’t mean that we think that children can only learn from their parents. We just choose for parents to be the primary source of instruction, especially the younger the child is. But we have friends and family with gifts and talents that we fully intend to tap into as our children grow {if they are willing to share}. We read books, and use them as our teachers. We are not opposed to hiring private tutors for specific subjects {music, science, whatever is necessary}. We just choose for our home {rather than an institution} to be the center of our educational project.

    Finally, might I add resources. There have been a couple books that helped us flesh out these reasons. The first was When You Rise Up by RC Sproul, Jr. I don’t agree with his entire ministry, but the book was very impactful. However, we weren’t impressed with the academic side. He seemed to minimize learning disabilities or illiteracy because the children were still “learning about the LORD,” and we thought those parents were doing their children a great disservice to not deal with those issues! So when we read the first two or three chapters of Teaching the Trivium by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, we were thrilled to find kindred spirits: folks that truly wanted a Christian education that was also rigorous academically! You might find these books interesting if you are wanting to explore more extensive thinking on why to homeschool.

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  • Reply Brandy February 15, 2008 at 2:56 am

    Nate, As always, feel free to email me concerning any sloppy thinking. 🙂

  • Reply Nate February 14, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Thanks for all the clarification on these issues. Lots of really good thoughts here! I also appreciate your humility in spelling out your view.

  • Reply Lydia February 14, 2008 at 10:20 pm

    A wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your philosophy behind education and more importantly, the heart behind homeschooling with parents raising children in the nurture and admonition of the LORD. Also, I take it you and your husband are 1st generation homeschooling parents. What impact did your own experience with government or private schooling have on your decision to take a different approach with your own children?

    As the eldest of 5 children from a homeschooling family I can say it is one of my top priorities in life (should God be pleased to grant me a husband and children someday) to train our children under our authority and for God’s glory. I had a bit of experience in the public schools during 2nd and 3rd grade. While it wasn’t the worst situation it was by far not the best. Looking back I am eternally grateful my parents made the tough decision to take us (me and a younger brother) back out of the local public school and home-school once again. Thus, I graduated from high school through home-schooling.

    I have appreciated your thoughts so much on this topic and I think you have shared them in a gracious and humble manner. That is just as important as the thoughts themselves.

  • Reply Si February 14, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Good post, my Valentine. You distilled our main reasons very concisely. I’d like to add one more consideration that weighed heavily on my heart in the beginning. It is not so much religious in nature as it is practical.

    We noticed early on that our son, E., was quite impressionable. He is an observer. He learns by watching. And he tends to internalize what he learns from others (though less now than years ago). With this context, we were concerned that in government-run schools, E. would adopt bad social habits and especially anti-authoritarian attitudes from other children.

    This would be bad in itself. What would be worse, however, is when his younger siblings adopt his bad habits and attitudes. By “corrupting” the eldest child, the younger children are more likely to reject godly character, in my opinion. That’s a risk I was unwilling to take.

    By homeschooling E., we were stopping this train before it left the station.

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