I was a reluctant homeschool parent.
Starting around the time my older son, Corban, turned four years old, my husband and I started discussing education options. At the time, we were not in a financial position that justified paying the high tuition at a local private Christian school. I was in favor of using the public elementary school right in our neighborhood. It’s considered an exemplary school and I’m acquainted with several of the teachers there, all of whom I know to be Christians. The campus is shiny and new, and less than a mile from our front door.
Jonathan, my husband, would not even entertain this idea. He told me horror stories of the untruths told by various (poorly educated and/or atheistic) teachers he had in public high school, and also of incidents of out-right discrimination against him by school administrators because he didn’t come from any of the well-to-do families with good social connections. I saw his point, and our dialogue continued…
Ultimately, I agreed to give homeschooling a try, to both honor Jonathan’s convictions on the matter and to protect my boys from the frightening hypotheticals that had taken shape in my mind. I was kicking and screaming on the inside and putting on a brave “I can do this, piece of cake” face on the outside. I bought curriculum. I braced myself. I began contemplating anxiety medication. Just kidding. Sort of.
Lo and behold, I came to embrace homeschooling. I realized what a great, Christ-centered education I could provide for my sons during these transition years while I’m in graduate school (we hope to use a classical Christian school in the future). We nailed down a manageable schedule and became adjusted to the homeschool lifestyle.
It should be understood that I have NOT turned into one of those homeschool parents that believes homeschooling is appropriate for every family, or that it is an unwritten requirement for Christian parenting; I understand that there are families with legitimate reasons for using public or private schools, and I know that any of these methods of education can produce well-grounded, intelligent, Christ-following children, provided the parents are pro-active. Another thing I have come to learn, is that ALL of these routes (homeschooling included) can fail in a very important respect: preparing children to face our secular, post-modern society once they’re out from under the protective wing of a loving Christian home. It isn’t that parents aren’t instilling wonderful biblical principles into their children, but rather that they’re oftentimes failing to teach the philosophical, scientific, historical, and theological reasons that give major support to those principles. This is likely because many parents don’t realize or appreciate the importance of doing so or how to access and impart the necessary knowledge.
As most of us know from experience, the average university campus can be quite an unfavorable environment for Christian students, and many young people are blindsided with a sudden and ongoing bombardment of contrary ideas and values from professors and fellow students alike. There is simply no question that your child’s faith will be challenged to some degree. How well they are equipped to respond to those challenges should be of utmost concern to every Christian parent. “Because the Bible says so,” is not an adequate response when the viability of Christianity is sneered upon and biblical authority is dismissed by peers and by adults in positions of authority. Having the knowledge to confidently maintain one’s own faith in the face of such opposition is the #1 goal, and becoming an even brighter light to the world is the fringe benefit. Remember, they’re the future leaders of our churches, schools, and even our country. Building their confidence in the truths of Christianity and fostering their ability to articulate their justification in the marketplace of competing ideas is one of the most important things we can do.
What can be done on a practical level, even if we aren’t yet (or no longer are) parents to high school age students? It would make a world of difference if churches across the nation instituted college preparation classes for high school seniors where many of the hard questions could be raised and answered in a comfortable, secure setting prior to the real-world experience awaiting these college-bound youths. I’m pleased to say that there is a new curriculum from Focus on the Family designed for this exact purpose, and it takes the hard work and intimidation out of the equation! Take a look at this promotional video:
You can find out more about the True U curriculum at www.trueu.org. It’s an engaging, DVD-based study that does a phenomenal job of preparing students for university culture. The first set of DVD’s is entitled Does God Exist? It contains ten 30-minute lessons and a booklet of discussion questions. It is my understanding that three more sets will be released successively. For Focus on the Family ordering information click here. Even if your home church doesn’t institute the program, it can certainly be done at home with your own family or a group of families. I’d love to hear comments from families and/or youth pastors who have already begun using True U!
Until next time,