As I mentioned on Tuesday, we didn’t set out to homeschool.
When my oldest son Caleb, turned 4, we put him in a 3-morning-a-week preschool, and when he turned 5, we sent him off to our neighborhood school for Kindergarten. So in March of his Kindergarten year, when we began to sense the Lord leading us to homeschool him for first grade, I felt really behind.
I knew nothing of various homeschooling methods, curriculum tbrands, or state requirements. But as I read and studied and learned, I stumbled into a wealth of resources that I’d never even known existed, things I wish I’d found sooner, even if we never homeschooled at all. I found stellar reading lists. I tips on instilling good habits in your children. I even found all kinds of materials for helping teach your kids about faith that I never would have found if I wasn’t looking specifically at homeschool resources.
I don’t know if the Lord will have us homeschool our children forever, but I think there are a handful of things that most homeschooling families do really well, things I hope we will carry with us no matter what our children’s educational future looks like.
1. They make their kids memorize Scripture
I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this for every Christian family. In fact, I couldn’t stop talking about it when I shared on my friend Chris’s podcast earlier this week. The word of God is a powerful tool and if we will do the work of learning it alongside our children, the Holy Spirit can use what’s tucked away in their hearts to bear fruit in them for the rest of their lives.
2. They surround their children with people of all ages.
One of the most common criticisms homeschooling families face is a concern that their children won’t be properly socialized if they aren’t surrounded by a classroom of their peers. But think about this for a second: during what other period of your life will your main social group consist of 30 people who are exactly your age?
Sure, some homeschool kids are awkward, but for the most part, I think kids benefit from learning to get along with adults, how to show respect to their elders, and how to entertain and engage children younger than them. Homeschooling families naturally have more of these opportunities than kids who are in a traditional school setting all day, but we can all work to give our kids lots of quality multi-generational relationships, and I believe that if we did, our churches would be a better reflection of the body of Christ we see in Scripture.
3. They take responsibility for their kids’ religious instruction
We talk about this a lot around here, but it isn’t solely the church’s responsibility to to raise up and train our children in following Jesus. In fact, Scripture is pretty clear that mandate falls to parents first. From what I’ve seen, homeschooling families take this mandate seriously and give a significant portion of their instruction time to religious and Bible instruction. But we can all teach our kids about what it means to follow Jesus if we make it a priority. We make time for all kinds of other extracurricular instruction, like piano, ballet, or baseball. If we have time to make sure our kids learn those things, we have time to make sure they learn from us what it means to be a Christian.
4. They are careful students of their children’s personalities
Every child is different. They have different personality types, different learning styles, and different love languages. There is an overwhelming multitude of curricular options on the market for homeschooling families, so when parents are making those choices, it’s a lot easier if they have an idea of what types of resources might work best with their own specific children. But these insights help with more than just choosing a math text.
Knowing your child’s strengths and weaknesses can help you know how to encourage them, how best to discipline them, and how to communicate to them in a way they’ll understand. This is something I’m definitely still growing in, but I can already see some of the practical benefits playing out in our family life, and I’m eager to understand my sons even better.
5. They are willing to be counter-cultural
Homeschooling is not always a popular choice, but families who choose it are willing to face criticism from strangers, peers, and sometimes even extended family for doing what they believe is right for their children. Following Jesus is likely to cause similar friction in our lives at some point. If we want to fully obey God’s commands, it will make us different, and sometimes people will criticize our choices. But we need to be willing to be disliked, even hated or persecuted if that’s what it takes to live like Jesus.