I've been prepared to defend our choice to home school our children ever since we decided we would home school our children. Our oldest is only 3 1/2 at this point, but the word is getting out to my very typical American family that we plan to deprive our children of a "normal" upbringing by educating them ourselves, in our home.
We've been asked many times when we will be sending our oldest to preschool. "She just really should be getting an opportunity to be around other kids." I guess her younger brother and sister don't count. Or her friends we meet up with for story time at the library, her cousins, the children at church, or her friends whose parents are close friends of ours. "She would have so much fun. She would love it." I guess as her mother, I'm not capable of providing fun and interesting activities for her. And even if I was, preschool would be even more fun. And we should always make big decisions based on what is more fun.
The most recent conversation I had on the topic began as a discussion regarding family size. I was being reminded (again) how expensive children are, and that they only get more expensive as they get older. I responded that I don't really buy into the "children are prohibitively expensive" line of thinking. This prompted the response of "what about shoes, clothes, sports and other activities?" I attempted to explain the apparently radical thought that these things are not what makes or breaks a childhood. After the first child or two, you will have much of what you will need for any subsequent children. Hand-me-downs are not the worst thing. And our children don't have to play every sport or participate in every activity available to them. Then I was told that "you don't want your kid to be the weird kid."
Tell me how that is not a byproduct of the public schooling system! That you would rather 1. Limit your family size and 2. Spend more than necessary or wanted, all for the sake of your children not being the weird kid. I casually remarked that I didn't expect them to encounter too much prejudice regarding style and fashion while being educated at home.
The conversation then steered into every stereotypical argument against homeschooling that you might expect. I wish I was eloquent enough to address each of them here, but I've seen them covered so well other places. I'll leave that to the pros. As I attempted to calmly and confidently defend our choice, I encountered an argument I did not expect at all. I was told that homeschooling probably can be really good for some people who are really organized and know what they're doing, but that I am just not one of those people.
You see, I start a lot of projects. But I don't always finish them. Start knitting a hat? Check. Start cleaning the pantry? Check. Start a new diet? Check. I'm still not wearing a hand knit hat while cooking a healthy dinner out of my expertly organized pantry. But I'm working on it! I'll be the first to admit that I don't always follow through with various plans and ideas that I have. I know my interests are varied, my time is limited and Oh yeah, I have three children age three and under. I do, however, believe that I am capable of handling my children's upbringing and education with a bit more consideration than a knitted hat.
I am aware of my shortcomings. Painfully aware. These are areas of my life that require attention and prayer. The bottom line is this: We are choosing to home school our children so that we can continue to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Eph 6:4 We believe it is our job as parents to give our children a solid biblical foundation and help them to develop a strong spirituality. In fact, that is our most important job. And the public schooling system will do us no favors in that regard. Most parents are lucky if the school doesn't undo whatever work they accomplish at home. If my husband and I believe that God has put it on our hearts to educate our children at home, will He not be faithful to guide us and equip us to that end? "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 2 Tim 3:16,17 God has made sure that we will be equipped for every good work.
Am I the ideal wife? Mother? Teacher? I am the ideal wife for my husband. And the ideal mother and teacher for my children. Otherwise, God would not have put me here, in this life, with these people, and with this conviction.