I was homeschooled in a time when homeschoolers were almost 100% conservative Christians who operated under the conviction that their children should not be raised in a government run school system. Our journey began in 1983. We were the weirdos and there was little support from friends, family, or church. We stayed home during school hours to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. And since we were home all day, we talked, worked together, played together, and built strong bonds. Modern homeschooling looks very different.
I’m not knocking it; the opportunities available to homeschoolers are astounding. But to those who have recently joined the movement I want to say that you are operating in a very different kind of homeschool world than the old-timey ones, and I have seen some detriments.
I’m a very big believer that homeschooling should be taking place at home. That’s probably because I’m an introverted homebody, and I’m a little biased. But I’ve seen the benefits. I think the tendency to sign up for multiple classes and activities or spend 6 hours in online school stems from the belief that our children won’t get enough ___________________. Enough socialization, enough science, enough credits, enough fun, enough whatever.
But after all these years of homeschooling, I have witnessed outcomes that sadden me.
And here is where we get to the point:
My heart breaks when I see the homeschool graduates of conservative Christian families embrace secular lifestyles and worldviews that their parents do not subscribe to. It’s not just the lifestyle; there appears to be a lack of basic education in fundamentals. Oh, they finished all their math books, they have impeccable grammar and writing skills, and they even go to college and pursue impressive degrees.
The fundamentals I’m referring to are Judeao-Christian values, Biblical principles, economic understanding, and a balanced view of history. These are the things that matter. These are, a majority of the time, the basic principles that led to homeschooling in the first place.
These young adults, instead of using critical thinking skills, rehash the trendy views of the moment. They are pro-LGBT, pro-Islam, anti-Christian, anti-anything-American, pro-socialism, and they lack a very basic knowledge of world history and American history. When I see these things, I think, “How did a Christian homeschool produce these kids?”
Since I am not in other homes, I cannot say how it happens, but I have some ideas based on many years of observations.
So how do you, who are in the homeschooling years right now, prevent this shift away from basic principles?
Know who is influencing your children. In a homeschool, it should be YOU, first and foremost. I mean, is this not WHY you chose to homeschool? There are many influences in children’s lives, and many of them are wonderful, but beware of those that aren’t.
The number one culprit today is the internet
Social Media is a big part of our world, and it can be both wonderful and terrible. It can also provide a passive education, or encourage passive rebellion. If your children are on any social media you should be right there with them. If they have Instagram, you should, too, and you should be friends with them. If they are on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Facebook — you should be, too, providing parental oversight.
Many well-meaning parents are super-informed about what their children watch and read, and yet they have not a clue about the vast amount of information being gleaned from social media. Favorite celebrities, mainstream media, and trendy sites all work overtime to push their social agendas. Are they talking to your kids more than you? You betcha. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, hop on over to any one of these sites, and search your favorite actor, or check the hashtag trends.
When you check out these sites, ask yourself: what economic and social worldviews are most prevalent? Those are what is influencing kids today.
“A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” ― George Washington
Another danger is the farming out of subjects
Homeschooling co-ops are all the rage in the 21st Century. They are fun, provide friendships, and expose children to activities they may not get at home. But as with any good thing, they can go overboard. The co-ops themselves are not a bad thing; it’s the increasing dependence that parents place on these “educational opportunities.” Some co-ops have become replacement schools, providing more instruction than the parents. In some communities, there is a different co-op to attend every day of the week, and many families attend them all.
So what’s the big deal?
Depending on these outside classes negates much of the original intent of homeschooling: the family home as the center of life, minimal peer pressure and dependence, and avoiding the public-school mindset. Families have inadvertently given over to someone else’s schedule, scope and sequence, and worldview. Many programs hire “certified” teachers and don’t welcome parents on the premises, and before you know it parents have given up their child’s education to someone else. Doesn’t this sound like the system we left?
We think because they are all “homeschool” families, that it is a perfectly safe environment. But is it right for your family? All homeschoolers are definitely not the same anymore. Do you know that the leaders and families involved share your spiritual beliefs and worldview?
Online school is not homeschooling
This is bound to offend a few readers, I know. But online school is not parent-led instruction; it mimics the public-school system. I think many parents choose it for the safety-net of accreditation, covering all the subjects, or looking official.
But what is missing is the instruction and discussion that just doesn’t happen when a child is instructed by a screen for hours per day. Even a “Christian” online curriculum does not replace an involved parent sharing their heart, their beliefs, their excitement, or their experiences.
Children are most impacted when they see, feel, hear, and share with their parents. Memories are cemented by real life, not by textbooks or classes. The difference between online education and parent-led home education are like night and day. No computer screen can match the impact of face-to-face discussions, side-by-side instruction, or hands-on learning.
You don’t have to stand over your children for 5 hours to accomplish this, but replacing the computer with real books, real people, and real life is a huge step.
Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s great
The number one trend I see in new homeschoolers today is their search for a “free curriculum.” Hey, don’t get me wrong: I have been where I needed free and cheap. And I’m not saying free is bad.
While I certainly understand the desire to begin homeschooling without spending a fortune, jumping on something just because it’s free is not the best way to choose homeschooling resources. There are two major problems with free curriculum: 1) they are online all-day school [see above], and 2) they may be government school at home [think K-12], with strings attached.
I have definitely been in a situation where I couldn’t spend money on curriculum. I understand. So, what’s a desperate parent to do?
Choose quality over quantity. Choose a few good resources over a plethora of free stuff. Consider why you are homeschooling, and figure out how to get there. Here’s how we determine what our homeschool looks like.
There are numerous free options that are great. Peruse them. But please don’t just sign up for the first one you hear of. As Christian parents, it is very important that the materials we choose must align with our biblical principles. Avoid sites with secular ideologies. Avoid sites that promote Common Core Standards. Seek out quality materials that will save you money.
21st Century Christian homeschoolers have a lot to consider. It’s important to guard your family and your home carefully against outside influences, and it’s harder than ever to do so, especially when the homeschool community isn’t what it used to be. Parents, go back to the basics. Get your parenting instruction from the Bible – the book Proverbs is the how-to manual! – and don’t let the evolution of education detract from your goals as a parent.
See this article on how Khan Academy quietly slips in the LGBT agenda.
“School Choice” is a Carrot
Many states are dangling the enticing carrot of ESAs and “school choice” under the promise of helping to pay for curriculum and extracurriculars. There is so much to this topic that I have devoted an entire page to it. My page deals specifically with Texas, but no matter where you live, I encourage you to examine the details closely to ensure parental control.
So, here’s my encouragement
In this age of modern homeschooling, there are several things you can do to center your focus on what’s important. Study your curriculum together. Talk about the math concepts. Talk about scientific discoveries, and match them with what the Bible says. Explore the map together. When your high schooler learns about government, talk about the world today. When they learn history, have discussions about the events that led to turning points in history. If your kids ask questions you can’t answer, go search for the answers together. Talk about your faith in God, your values, your economic leaning, your worldview.
Be the biggest influence in your children’s lives, and you will change the world. If I remember correctly, that was the original goal of homeschooling.
If you’ve read this far, you might also like:
The best book on this type of home education method is Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay and Sally Clarkson. Actually, anything by Sally Clarkson is gold.
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. She is a member of the Texas Home Educators Board of Directors, writes at NickiTruesdell.com, and runs the Knowledge Keepers online bookstore. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.