Sunday, January 1, 2012

Why We Homeschool

by Lori Hatcher

Thirty years ago when homeschooling first reappeared on the educational radar screen, it was limited primarily to families who appeared to be, shall I say, unusual. One family that achieved national recognition left their suburban lifestyle and moved to a goat farm in upstate New York to rear and educate their sons. The boys did quite well academically and ultimately secured full tuition scholarships to prestigious Ivy League colleges. The results were great, but what average family wants to go live on a goat farm for the purpose of educating their children?

Today, homeschooling has once again proven itself as a viable educational option. I say "once again," because for 200 years in this country homeschooling the only educational option. All of our founding fathers were quite well educated using the tutorial method. State-sanctioned "public education" did not come into full use until the late 1800's.

As the homeschooling mother of two teenaged girls, I am often asked the question, "So, why DO you homeschool?" While my answers are not the answers of all homeschooling families, I believe they capture the essence of why so many families choose to educate their children at home.

We homeschool because it gives us:

A rich family life-
The nature of homeschooling lends itself to activities that the whole family can do together. Instead of being age- and grade-segregated, all members of the family explore an area of science, history, culture, or the arts together. We've visited the places where the Civil War began and ended, watched loggerhead turtle babies released to the sea, toured the museums in Washington, D.C., and lay on our backs in the grass to track the stars in the summer sky. In addition to the educational lessons my children have learned, we have had the opportunity to build relationships with each other as we built family memories.

The chance for our children to pursue their interests- Because homeschooling is more time efficient, our children have more time to pursue their areas of interest once the academic portion of their school day is complete. One daughter is fascinated by the political process. The flexibility of the homeschool setting allowed her to travel to Florida in 2004 to campaign for former President George W. Bush in the I-40 corridor of Orlando with a group of 100 homeschooled students. Another daughter loves children and swimming. One day she hopes to be a physical therapist. Our homeschooling schedule allowed her to work with a USC grant project teaching autistic and mentally retarded children to feel comfortable in the water.

The freedom to be children-
When other children ask my girls if they have homework, they reply, "ALL our work is homework!" It is a funny way to comment on the fact that their homework is built into their school day. Because they have the benefit of someone working one-on-one with them in challenging subject areas, extra remedial work and practice is not necessary once they have completed their assignments. This allows them time to play outside with their friends, read for fun, daydream, and generally just be a kid.

The chance to disciple our children-
We have the freedom to open our school day with prayer and Bible reading, stop during the day to address an area of sin or disobedience, or deal with an area of character development using the principles found in God's Word. We take time in our school day to cook a meal for a sick friend, visit a neighbor in the hospital, and serve our church. We memorize Bible verses as a part of our school work, not in addition to it. I learned the Ten Commandments for the first time as I helped the girls learn them for AWANA. Now that they're teenagers, we work our way through devotionals that teach them how to keep themselves pure, be a witness to their friends, and impact the world for Christ. Our daughters see us living out our faith day in and day out because they are with us.

The chance to live life at a slower pace-

One friend shared with me that her family life was so busy that between school, homework, extracurricular activities, church activities, and the rarely shared family meal, that she didn't even have time to bathe her children during the week. Our lifestyle, while still busy, makes time for home-cooked meals with friends, sleeping in after a late night, and read-alouds after dinner.

A chance to be well socialized-

Because they have been taught in a learning environment that regularly reaches beyond a classroom, my children can communicate and interact well with people of all ages, not just their peers. They learned to talk with the elderly as we visited a nursing home every week for a year and a half. They learned to enjoy young children as they volunteered at summer camp and Vacation Bible School. They learned to relate well to adults as they worked alongside them and learned from them in various campaign events and ministry opportunities. Imagine my surprise to hear my daughter interact in an informed and articulate way with her Senator regarding a recent education bill he had introduced! The world is not age-segregated, so my children need to be able to relate to people of all ages and walks of life. Homeschooling has given them that opportunity.

I am the first to say that homeschooling, like any other educational alternative, is not for every family. It is right for mine, and it might be right for yours. I encourage you to evaluate your current situation, pray with your spouse, and ask God to show you what is best for your family. If you feel led to consider homeschooling, I encourage you to do some research. Check out some books from the library, talk to a homeschooling friend, do a web search on it. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all men liberally, without finding fault, and it shall be given to him." (James 1:5) NKJV God bless you as you seek His will for your family!

A 17-year veteran homeschooler of two daughters, Lori Hatcher shares life with her youth pastor husband David. She is the author of the book Joy in the Journey -- Words of Encouragement for Homeschooling Moms, available in early 2012 from Mardel.Com. Visit her blog, Be Not Weary at for more encouragement.