All in All... :Pros and Cons of Home Education, Part 1

Don't your wish there were a perfect educational system? Let's see, what would it be? Public schools? Homeschools? Private Christian schools? Maybe hybrid schools? Nope, nope, nope, and nope. Each one of these options comes with some kind of cost, and each offers its own advantages.

Over the years Tim and I have watched families use every one of these methods with good fruit. We've seen other families produce bad fruit from each of these schooling options. Why's that? Because parenting trumps schooling method. If your home is in order, you can successfully use various means to educate your children, but if not, things will be more troubled no matter how you delegate teaching jobs.

This is not to say the different methods are neutral and the pros and cons even out in the end. They don't. But each family, especially each father, must determine for his particular family how the factors will play out. Knowing the pluses and minuses of educational options can help us to make choices, and perhaps even more importantly, work to minimize the disadvantages associated with our schooling plan. Since I'm most intimately familiar with homeschooling, I'd like to write a series of short posts on the upside and the downside of homeschooling. Ideally, I'll post another in this series each week.

Please note – I'm not advocating homeschooling for every family. What is best for one family is not optimal for another. Our church has decided we will not divide over educational choice, to which I heartily concur!

I'll start off with the big guns, my number one pro and con.

Pro #1: Homeschooling provides extended time and opportunities for parents to disciple their children.

More than anything else, Tim and I long for our children to love the Lord with all their hearts, souls, minds and strength. Homeschooling allows us time to intimately know our children, their sins as well as their strengths, and to be there time and again to teach, train, and disciple them.

I first saw this in action when my oldest was a kindergartener. My normally laid-back, compliant son blew up over something during school. Initially I was frustrated, thinking this wouldn't have happened, or at least I wouldn't have known about it, if he were in school. But within seconds, I realized that because his bad attitude did happen under my eye, I had the privilege of helping him see his sin, deal with it, and move on.

Because we have a large family, the extended time we have together to disciple them is all the more valuable. Sometimes this happens formally such as when my daughters and I meet for our weekly "Girl Time," but even more often as we live, learn, and work together. The ordinary business of managing a home with many children is so consuming, that were they to attend school elsewhere, I am pretty sure we would not know them so well nor have the relationships we do. We love being able to teach our children to think biblically in whatever they are studying, whether it is as we discuss historical events or wrestle with literature together. From time to time Tim has been able to take each of our sons along with him to work, helping them grow to be men. We cannot imagine how we would find time to do this well if they were away the bulk of each day.

Con #1: Homeschooling requires endurance, commitment, and just plain hard work over a long period of time, often decades. 

One of our kids once said to Tim, "Dad, homeschooling isn't expensive, is it?"

To which he replied, "No. It just costs your mother's blood."

It's true. Teaching your children at home, while incredibly rewarding, is not the easiest path. Planning, researching curriculum and methods, and then overseeing the daily instruction, not to mention keeping up with the grading and record keeping, takes large amounts of time and energy. Sometimes it can feel overwhelming. Anyone who says otherwise is not giving you the straight story. But as in everything, the Lord will give grace and strength as each day requires. Oh yeah, that's why I named my blog "As thy Days."

Deut 33: 25b "...and as thy days, so shall thy strength be."

To be continued...


Lydia said…
Looking forward to these! My biggest struggle is keeping the energy and focus required to teach the academics from stealing all the energy and focus I need for the discipleship. I recently realized I was holding back from starting a girls group at our church because I was also committed to leading our homeschool coop next year. Not good. How do you nurture the energy for both, and keep the discipleship at the forefront while keeping the academics rigorous? Thank you, Anne, for putting YOUR precious time into this blog. :)
Anne said…
You always have such good questions, Lydia! It's never easy to balance time, and I am forever acutely aware of my failures and inadequacies.

I can get hung up on academics, too, and often do. But I think part of it involves continually reminding ourselves of our chief goal. Then as we discuss economics or physics or literature, we can be teaching our children to compare what they are reading with the Word of God and helping them understand themselves, the nature of God and man.

A few years ago I began having a weekly discipleship time with my daughters which has become a very sweet Girl Time. We basically have a book club and then talk about what is going on in their lives and pray for one another plus their absent older sisters. I wish I'd started doing this years earlier. With the younger boys I do sometimes read them boy specific books such as those by Bob Schulz, but as they grow, they come increasingly under Tim's care.

As far as balancing church and home (or homeschool) commitments, I've been mulling that topic for a year or so. Hopefully one day I'll finish the post I've started on "Loving Your Family AND Loving Your Church." I am now able to help teach girls in our mid-week programs, and it is a real joy. Bur for many years I just couldn't do this because of home duties. If that is the case for you now, it's OK. Life does come in seasons! It doesn't ever seem to really slow down, but things change and you may find that you are able to take on things at one point that you were not able to at an earlier one.
Lydia said…
Thank you! I would love to know the titles of some of the books you have used in your book club with the girls.
Grace Halsey said…
Ditto to Lydia's request! :)
Anne said…
OK, here are some of the books we've read:

Stepping Heavenward (Elizabeth Prentiss)
Girl Talk (Mahaney and Whitacre)
Till We Have Faces (Lewis)
The Wise Woman (MacDonald)
Cry the Beloved Country (Paton)
The Pilgrim's Regress (Lewis)
The Power of Words (DeMoss)
Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God (Piper)

That's all I can remember now. These aren't books we're reading for literature studies, but as a springboard for discussions. Some deal with issues esp. important for women, but not all. Our pace is very slow for my sake, so I assign segments I can get done the night before. ;)

I'll be putting together the list for next year, and I'd love to hear recommendations of books that have most affected you or ones that challenged you as a teen!

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