WWH = Why We Homeschool. This post is part of an on-going series looking into the myriad reasons we’ve decided to homeschool our children. Please read this disclaimer before continuing to read this post.
Before we even started thinking about having kids, we decided that I would stay home to raise them. Our thinking was that it was our responsibility as parents to bring up our children according to our principles, world view and standards. Sending them off to daycare at an early age would mean that they would spend the majority of their days learning these things from other people, many whose views, principles and standards we wouldn’t know anything about. Besides, we wanted the joy that goes with loving, feeding, caring, teaching and growing one’s child. When Kiera was suddenly a growing bean inside me, Craig and I had a bit of a startling reality to face. We couldn’t afford to raise a baby on just his salary. However, we were still convicted within our hearts that this was the best decision we could make. So, we continued to pray about it, despite there being no foreseeable solution. Being a white male in South Africa at that time (and still) makes getting jobs difficult. Craig had put out his CV the year before, for other reasons, and the job market proved to be dismal at best. But, we kept praying and trusting that if I was going to be able to stay at home, God would provide the way. Shortly before Kiera was born, Craig got a job offer out of the blue. It was a job that provided not only a salary that would allow me to stay home, albeit still on a tight budget, but it was also a job that brought Craig’s work closer to home, with better hours and even better challenges. God in his infinite grace certainly did provide. Ever since then, with each child we’ve had, God (and I am happy to attribute this to God, because there was no way we could’ve orchestrated it so mysteriously coincidently) has provided us with the finances needed at just the right time. (Hey, should I test this theory and keep having kids? We could be millionaires!)
When Kiera was around one, I was beginning to hear talk of play schools and having to enrol one’s child in good primary schools before the ink on their birth certificates dried if one even had a hope of getting them in. The norm seemed to be that all kids headed to play school around the age of 3. This idea just didn’t sit well with our reason for me being a “SAHM” (stay-at-home-mom). We want to be the ones filling our children’s heads with our values, standards and world views. When our child begins to spend four hours a day with other adults and children, they are bound to be exposed to and learn from other world views and standards. Sure, we expect that what we’re teaching at home would combat that. We hope that in discussion with our kids that we’d be able to diffuse some of the negative things that they are learning from their peers and/or teachers. Sometimes even these experiences will be positive in that they’ll allow our children to see how other people operate differently from us and yet we can still be friends… or these situations give the kids an opportunity to apply our family principles to what they’ve been faced with. However, we didn’t (and don’t) feel that these possible positives outweighed the potential negatives.
Kids learn a lot from their peers. In fact, the most influential teachers are one’s peers. I’m sure you’ve noticed how kids quickly pick up on other kids’ mannerisms, speech etc when they hang around each other a lot. These aren’t necessarily bad things, but they have the potential to be. Given that society is becoming more and more fragmented in terms of value systems; more families are suffering from dysfunction; abuse is more commonplace than not; and kids are oftentimes bringing themselves up, we decided that we’d rather give our children the protection of our home in which to learn how to relate to others; how to handle conflict; how to think through issues and problem-solve them well etc.
We could send our kids to a wonderful playschool, with teachers and kids who, despite our crazy culture, are like-minded, loving and encouraging. Our kids could “thrive” at a school like this, being happy, cheerful little children with lots of friends. That would be wonderful and if that is your experience, I am very glad for you (honestly! no irony in my tone!) – because some kids suffer from bullying, learning disabilities etc and are not happy at school. But, we’ve decided that because we’re the parents, we don’t want to outsource this part of the job. Thankfully, we can do it. Thankfully, it’s our decision to make and not our peers, parents or others. And thankfully, homeschooling is not so diametrically opposed to schooling that our children will lose out in terms of relating to their peers, learning in groups, having fun, enjoying sports and extramurals etc. In fact, the homeschooling community is such that we have access to this and much, much more.
So, our decision began, if you like, before our kids were even a twinkle in their daddy’s eye. We homeschool because WE are our kids’ parents and pretty much every other reason stems from this one too. Keep posted for those!