Today, my dear friend Moriah is sharing this space. I have known Moriah since high school, and watching her life blossom over the past 14 years has been amazing for me. Watching her parenting has been a huge inspiration to me as well. When she was deciding about home school vs. public school, I listened closely to her reasoning. I think she has a great perspective, and love that she is willing to share it here!
I had heard about homeschoolers while growing up. I automatically assumed that they all were socially awkward, from big, conservative families and had a wardrobe I would never be caught dead in. It wasn't until I was in my later teen years that I started to change my opinions on homeschoolers. And that change came in the form of my then boyfriend, now husband, Josh.
Josh was home schooled and loved the experience. He did the school work at his own pace - rather quickly compared to the boredom I was experiencing in my classes at a private Christian school. He took classes at the local community college, getting credit for high school and college, and he finished high school a semester early. He even had time in the afternoons for a part-time job, so he always had ample funds for our dates, saving for college and whatever else he wanted. I was pretty envious of the set up he had with home schooling. I enjoyed my time at my Christian school, but I could see the many benefits of being home schooled.
Fast forward ten years and Josh and I are considering schooling for our oldest daughter, Charis. We always said that if we decided to home school it would be based on these two things:
- The school system where we would be sending our children - this includes not only the education, but also the social/economical environment our children would be in
- The child's ability to do well in a public school environment - this includes whether the child can keep up or be challenged in the setting they are in, and also whether our child would cave to peer pressure and other influences that we do not encourage in our home
If either of these two factors changed over the course of our children's education we would readdress whether we should home school or not.
When the initial discussions started we lived in St. Charles, IL, a city well known for its excellent schools. We had no fear of Charis getting a sub-par education there. We also were good friends with the superintendent of the school district. He was one of the elders at our church. We respected his vision and knew that the school district Charis would go to would not be introducing ideas we did not support.
Our second consideration was Charis herself. She is a very typical first born: outgoing, social, analytical and very intelligent. She seemed to be a leader when she was with her friends, and being that she was only entering kindergarten, we did not think those unhealthy social influences would be manipulating her yet.
So we were prepared to send her to public school. However, the spring before Charis would start kindergarten, God decided to move our family to Charleston, IL, where Josh took a job as an Associate Pastor over worship and youth. We now had to reevaluate what schooling Charis would have in the fall. The school system was still good and Charis was still her outgoing self, insanely excited about starting school. So all seemed ready for public school. But we soon saw that by coming to this community we had new pressures for whether we should home school or not.
On one side, the Pastor and his wife had home schooled all six of their children. She loves home schooling, and it is her passion. There are a couple of other home schooled families in our small church also. They have never made me feel like I need to home school, but I sometimes felt inferior because I wasn't planning on home schooling Charis.
Now on the other side, Charleston is a college town, home of Eastern Illinois University. So that means we have many professors in our congregation. And not only professors, students that stayed in Charleston after they graduated and became teachers in the local public schools. Add to all of this that Charleston is a small, remote community. Everyone attends the football games on Friday nights. Everyone goes and sees the spring play. Everyone is very involved in the school system somehow - from being a librarian at the college, to a secretary at the middle school and even a principal at the junior high. We felt that if we decided to home school Charis we would miss out on building important relationships with others in the community that might even turn into opportunities to share our faith.
On a completely different plane, I was trying to wrap my mind around how I might home school Charis with her two younger sisters at home (Selah, age 3 and Trinity, age 1). When was I going to have the time, the focused time, to teach her all that she needed to learn in kindergarten? How was I supposed to give her the undivided attention she needed to learn how to read? I knew I would have very well-meaning and interested little ones crawling all over us, or fighting in another room.
With all of these factors swirling in our minds, Josh and I decided to send Charis to public school. She loves it and is learning a lot. I think it good also, but I do have my hesitations. There are definitely outside influences that I don't enjoy, and we have had many conversations with her already about how we do things differently in our home than her friends might. She seems to understand, and we believe she is believing and acting how we want her to.
But all of this we have to lay in God's hands. He is in control of all things, including our daughter's education and friendships. He wants us to be in the world, not of it (John 17:15). So for right now, I am not home schooling. But I have not ruled it out.