This post may contain referral links. Here’s my full disclosure policyAs a parent there are so many choices to be made - is my child sick enough to go to the doctor, what form of discipline should we use, should I cut their hair, is it worth fighting about if he doesn't want to eat his peas?
Whether the choices are seemingly simple like cutting hair or the bigger ones with life-long impact such as discipline or eating habits - they are important. We are responsible for our child and have the privilege and responsibility of make the wisest decisions we are able to make. Most parents acknowledge that we are not all-knowing and we seek the council of other parents, grandparents, doctors, books, and most importantly our heavenly Father through prayer & the Bible.
I wish more parents saw education as a choice as well! As with so many other choices, I don't think that there is a one-size-fits all solution! But I think that parents need to realize that it is a choice! Just because your child needs to go to school, your tax dollars pay for public schools, and the fact that most children go to public schools shouldn't in-and-of-itself equal your child going to public schools.
I think there are advantages of public schools.
- In theory, they are free. (I say in theory because many schools have a $200 per child registration fee, $100+activity fees, possibly $100bus fees, and the school supplies you buy to stock your child's classroom.)
- If you have a good school you should have teachers that excel in their discipline and can provide a depth of knowledge & excitement about their field.
- There are extracurricular activities such as band, yearbook, sports, wood working, and more that are hard to duplicate in private schools or homeschooling.
- It is a cross section of students of varied backgrounds, ethnicity, income levels, and religious affiliations. I think this can be a good thing: learning to work well with a variety of people, expanding your child's worldview
- An opportunity to be fishers of men. Because there is such a large cross-section your child will have non-christian friends to be salt & light to.
With that being said, there are also disadvantages. You have no control over the curriculum. You have no control over the liberal ideals that are taught as fact to your child (such as homosexuality, promiscuous behavior, any religion is okay, etc) You have limited control over who your child is hanging out with & the Bible clearly warns us about bad friends corrupting (“Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33).
Again, there are advantages.
- If you carefully choose a school you will find one that teaches your core values and weaves our faith into all the disciplines. Instead of being told dinosaurs lived 230 million years ago, your children will learn about creation & how the flood could have impacted dinosaurs.
- Your children should learn about God's word in Bible class, practice memorizing scripture, and be encouraged to obey God's word in every facet of their lives.
- Although they don't have as many extracurricular activities as a public school, they usually have a variety including: music, yearbook, languages, special workshops, and some may even have sports teams.
- As in public schools, you have teachers who have a depth in their field of interest/study and are excited to share it. (These schools can't usually pay as well are public schools so they don't always have the top of their field. But the teachers at these schools usually feel called there & are extraordinarily caring, compassionate, and committed individuals.)
Homeschooling can be a great option if you want control over what your children are learning, but can't afford a Christan school (or want the additional time to disciple & mold your own children).
- You get to pick everything your children will learn (as long as you are doing equivalent to the public school system. So if public schools are teaching math, science, reading, history, and physical education you must also cover the same disciplines.) I can pick curriculum, time spent, and method of teaching based on my individual student's learning style & abilities! There is no one-size-fits all here. If a parent doesn't feel comfortable teaching a topic there are video series, online academy's, coops, and even community college courses for high schoolers that can be tools. Although it is not a guarantee, most homeschool children are very bright kids who are independent learners.
- Even with multiple children in the family the 1:3 ratio I will have far exceeds the 1:20 or more of a traditional school. If my child achieves competency we can move on or dive deeper; it is flexible and adaptable.
- You get more time to disciple & mold your child. The Bible tells us, "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:6-7. How better to weave your faith into all aspects of life & learning than to be with them more of the day.
- There are lots of opportunities to be involved with other children: coops, gym times, learning groups, homeschool bands, ministry, and church programs. So don't let anyone talk you out of homeschooling because your children wont have socialization opportunities. After all, how many of you were told in school to stop talking, it's school time, you can talk/play AFTER school!
- Unique opportunities. Because you aren't tied to traditional school calendars and start/end times you can take advantage of some unique, educational, and beneficial activities. Your kids can volunteer at a soup kitchen, deliver meals with meals on wheels, watch kids for an event at church, take a college credit community class, go on additional fieldtrips (vacations too), intern or assist in a political campaign, intern/help at a hospital, and more.
- You get to be with your kids! I know this seems like an odd reason so let me explain. I LOVE my kids. We had kids because we wanted to be with them & disciple them. They are fun! I've always though it sure doesn't seem fair that a teacher gets the privilege of watching my child learn to read or make interesting discoveries. I WANT to spend time learning with my children. I want to guide them to learn & explore. I want to be with them: I know my time with them is precious and limited. If I do my job well, I will work myself out of a job!
As with anything in life there are pros & cons. They are drawbacks of homeschooling too. You are making a BIG time commitment. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't take time! You have to plan what they are going to learn, put lesson plans together, and actually teach your children. That's besides paying bills, cleaning your house, cooking meals, cleaning laundry, and all the other day-to-day stuff that still has to get done! I personally like planning & teaching my children, but it is still time consuming. Although not as expensive as a private school, you will still need to set aside money to purchase curriculum, manipulatives, maps, etc. The cost can be minimized by buying used and having a good public (free) library. Extracurriculars are still available, but they take more work or money. Most school systems still allow you access to all their resources, but it might take some work on your part. There are also homeschool groups that have bands, sports teams, wood-working or other classes, etc. You just have to do the work of finding them & making it happen. Missed relationship opportunities is another drawback. There are families in our neighborhood that I may never meet. They live far enough that we don't run into them by playing outside or taking walks, but close enough that they are still my neighbors. If I had kids in public schools the kids would meet & provide an opportunity to witness. Another possible drawback is each parents individual weaknesses. I for example am not a very good speller. So I have to work extra hard to make sure I don't pass on my weakness to my kids! I also never really liked Science growing up (although I am convinced that it had to do with the Science teachers I had), so I am going to make sure to emphasize Science, make it fun, & use additional teaching aids, resources, and coops to make make up for my weakness. So it doesn't have to be a weakness of your homeschool, but again you need to be intentional about finding your weaknesses & finding ways to supplement.
If you are still reading, here is my conclusion. There are pros and cons to whatever your choice is. The most important thing is you realize it is a choice you make. Pray about your decision, seek information on all the options, talk to people who are doing each of the options, seek wise council, and again pray about it some more. Remember this is YOUR CHOICE! You should know the limitations & weaknesses of each choice so you are willing, ready & able to supplement it: financially, with Biblical education, or coops/social opportunities.