My wife approached me in late 1980 after reading a book by Dr. Raymond Moore and asked what I thought about her teaching our eldest daughter at home instead of sending her to the Christian school attached to our church. My reaction was one that many have endured. I pelted her with questions and snide comments, but after awhile I agreed at least to read the book.
Reluctantly I agreed to try it for a year. Kindergarten was approaching and I did not want my daughter to fall behind, but peace in the home was worth it. What that Dr. Moore guy said made some sense even though it flew in the face of conventional wisdom. What I said went something like, “Okay, you can keep her home for one year but if you ruin our daughter I am really going to be upset!” As the year progressed, it became apparent that we had made the right decision. My daughter was not ruined and in fact was doing quite well.
The pressure from the church and school was turned up but by the time the threats of termination came, I was already fully on board with the program. At one point the Senior Pastor, School Administrator and School Principle made me sit in a chair and prayed for me that I would come to my senses and not go down this destructive path. No pressure there.
Shortly after this event, I was having lunch with the Senior Pastor who asked me a question. “What is going to happen if this decision costs you your job? It simply does not look good for the church administrator to not send his kids to our school.” My response was not what he expected. By this time in the process, I was convinced we had made the right decision. In addition, most of us who pioneered in home education simply do not push well. I told him, “I will find another job.” His face had a strange smirk on it, as we finished our meal together mostly in silence.
A few years later Dr. Dobson came out in favor of home education and the obvious difference between the behavior and attitude of my children compared to those in the classroom found us favor. I did not lose my job.
Over three decades later, I chuckle at my comments and attitude. We ended up keeping all three of our children home and the first time any of them went to a traditional school was at the college level. All of our school age grandchildren are being taught at home, and home education is now almost mainstream. Parents no longer have to pull the shades and live in fear of the social services breaking down their doors, but still, the question lingers – Is it worth it?
A parent will spend hundreds of hours with their children when they could be free to pursue other endeavors. That time could be spent in many ways so is investing it in your children really the best usage of it? All of the paper grading, endless reading together, searching for curriculum, questions, questions and more questions, is it worth it? Listening to multiplication tables, broken sentences, trying to decipher handwriting, and all of the academic clutter, is it worth it?
Our basement is full of papers, books, maps, and drawings all nicely stored in plastic containers. Our refrigerator is a haphazard mess of drawings and sticker-covered papers. My wife teaches two of our granddaughters every day of the week so just like when our children still lived at home, the house is often a mixture of pencil shavings, stuffed animals and messed up little desks. Is it worth it?
I now pastor my own church and it is full of home schooling families. When we began this church over nineteen years ago, I decided to office at home. Every now and then, I come out of my basement office and walk through the classroom, or living room as it is known in most houses. Stuffed animals are hanging on the furniture, papers of all sorts are here and there, and most of the time someone is trying to spell a word or work out a math problem.
My back yard looks more like a daycare than a typical grandparent’s house. Little plastic tables, a swing set, above ground pool, and toys everywhere. Almost every day one of my children and their children are at my home. When my oldest grandson arrives a bat and ball will soon appear and we must play. My granddaughters run around and delightful noise engulfs our little house. Laughter, smiles, hugs, and even messes all follow. Is it worth it? I cannot think of anything that is worth more
We had the joy of teaching our children to read, understand math, grapple with science, and learn how to be kind. Our goal was to invest in our children so they would be mature, godly and remain close relationally. The investment made has produced relationships that will last for as long as we live. Yes, there are problems because homeschooling families are not immune to difficulties, but I have no doubt my children will take care of us when we can no longer do so.
Our children still fuss with each other and even us sometimes, but that is what families do. There will come a time, and it is not that far off, that we will be in need of time and attention from those we invested in. I know it will be worth the investment we made. We all have a choice on how we spend our time. Invest wisely.
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