Keeper of His Home

by Chelsea McCafferty

Dealing with Typical “You’re Homeschooling?” Frustrations

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My husband and I are the first couple in our respective families to choose home education for our child. It is a decision we had come to long before we had our daughter, and one that we personally have felt convicted about ever since. Those of you who share the conviction understand how strong it can be, and yet those who look down on homeschooling can be quite passionate about their opinions on the matter as well. While we have been blessed to have families who support us (teasing and joking aside), I have had no shortage of jabs, insults, attacks, rude remarks and what I call “the look” from friends, strangers, acquaintances, etc.

I really had no idea how often it would happen until my daughter reached school age. We had done preschool at home and I have directed a homeschool choir for the past 6 years, so we were already well engrossed in the homeschooling community. Then my daughter turned five. Suddenly everywhere we went people began to ask her if she was in kindergarden. This is the question that does it. Here’s what often follows:

Acquaintance: “How old are you sweetie?”

Tabi: “Five”

Acquaintance: “And are you in kindergarden this year?”

Me: “Yes she is, although she’ll be starting first grade in about six weeks. We are home educators.”

Acquaintance: (*the look) “Oh, ok. And how is she going to be socialized?” or “Wow. You’re brave.” or “Well, I leave that to the professionals.” or “I’ve heard homeschooled students can’t get into colleges” or sometimes “Well I don’t think homeschooling is right. You don’t want your kid to grow up being different and weird do you?”

Yes! These comments are a dime a dozen. I hear these and many more constantly. Sometimes people hold their opinions and simply give “the look”, but I tell you, that look can be just as frustrating as the person who has to be reminded that not all socialization is beneficial or that colleges usually welcome homeschooled students because of their advanced study habits. It’s not easy to hear these comments or witness that “look” day after day. It’s not easy to be different. Yet, I’ve found that, while I don’t appreciate the response I get from people and wish that society as a whole were more open minded to accepting home education as a valid and fine educational choice, I have noticed that these anti-homeschooling remarks never sway my commitment to this path. I LOVE being a home educator and I know that it is the best choice for my family.

That being said, I want to share some tips on how to best deal with negative remarks towards homeschooling as a Christian and home educator:

1. Grace and Love. Remember that we are called to offer grace and love, even if we’re not getting it back. Smile. Be kind. Be gentle. Try not to let anger take over, but rather just be okay with it. Ask God to give you loving and kind words in your response.

2. Humility. Often our reaction to someone challenging our choices is pride. Homeschoolers can be very prideful about what we believe in and in a negative way. God never approves of a prideful spirit. We need to remember to put on humility and let that show in our response.

3. Facts. While speaking in love and humility, it’s okay to defend home education by sharing facts and information that the other person might not know. Try not to blast them with too much information, because that will come across as aggressive and we don’t want that. Just answer their points kindly and with information that makes sense.

4. Tolerance. This is a funny word that can be good or bad at times. While we want society to accept and respect home education, we also must be respectful and tolerant of those who have different opinions. The truth is, if people choose public school, it’s because they believe it is the best choice for their family. If we choose homeschool, it is because we believe it is the best choice. We don’t have to agree. What we do want to do is to respect one another and acknowledge that both they and us are simply doing what we think is best. I hate to see homeschoolers mocking and putting down public schooling just as much as I hate it when we are mocked. In this sense, we need to follow our convictions and respect one another.

5. Teach our kids to do the same. As often as we are confronted about home education, our kids will be confronted all the more. It is good for us to teach our children to be able to defend homeschooling in the same manner of love, humility, tolerance and with sound information like we should be doing. We don’t want to teach our kids to be prideful or judgmental, but rather to be confident, kind and loving when they are asked about their education.

I have one other bit of advice….choose your battles wisely! If I know that a certain person looks down on homeschooling and that a conversation about it is going to be pointless and frustrating, I may avoid the issue altogether. We don’t always have to be soldiers on guard to defend home education. We can choose peace over pointless conflict. It’s like the song says, “live and let live” right? haha

At the end of the day, these “looks” and remarks are going to keep happening and it probably gets worse as the kids get older. We have to try not to let it bother us and to remember that as Christians we are used to being different and standing apart. If we can reject the world to love and follow Christ, then surely, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can face challenge and even ridicule with grace and dignity, being good representatives of the homeschooling community.

God bless!

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Answering Critics of Home Education

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There will always be critics! There’s no way around it. People maintain a variety of opinions when it comes to whether or not homeschooling is a good choice. Some believe it’s a fine choice, but perhaps not the one for them. Others would say they doubt a child can get a well-rounded education at home. There are even some who think it’s downright neglect on the parents’ side. It’s important we are always ready to give a defense and explanation for our stance on homeschooling with confidence but also humility.

When it comes to answering the critics of home education, there are plenty of reasons I can give for our decision to educate our daughter at home. The challenge becomes being sensitive to the situation, knowing the motivations of the people you are talking to and being willing to tread carefully for the sake of not offending a friend. You see, what we have to remember is that most parents want to do the best thing for their child. A person who puts their child in public school usually sincerely believes it is what’s best for the child. Homeschoolers sincerely believe home education is what’s best for our children. The issue isn’t about who is a better parent or who cares more about the welfare of their children. We need to remember this when discussing our views with critics.

Causing division and strife over this topic is not necessary in most cases. If we need to argue and fight for homeschooling, the only time it’s truly beneficial is when we are defending our rights against the government who wants to take them away. When we are speaking to friends and family who simply aren’t on board with home education, don’t let it become an issue of anger and contentions. Here is a list of things to avoid saying and doing when in one of these conversations:

* Don’t be condescending. Share your opinions and views confidently but do not approach it arrogantly or with superiority.

* Don’t slam the public school system. You can share about the issues you have with public school without completely slamming it. Remember, that’s the school their kids may go to.

* Try to avoid getting easily offended. If a person shares that they don’t like homeschooling, don’t get super offended or emotional about it. Simply accept that it’s a different opinion and hold it together. Try not to take it personally.

* NEVER compare your children to other people’s children. It makes you come off as rude and self-righteous.

* Do not tell people that they should homeschool if they are “real” Christians. The Bible doesn’t say anything about home education versus public schooling. We believe that there are verses that encourage us to train up and educate our children, so it’s fine to believe that God wants you to homeschool, but never judge a person’s faith by whether or not they feel that same calling.

* Don’t go on and on with comments like, “homeschooled kids score so much higher on tests” and similar statements. You can share statistics if the need arises, but don’t bash people over the head with it. What they will hear behind your words is a subtext that says, “I think my kids are smarter than yours”. 

* Don’t roll your eyes or blow off their opinions. Allow others to share why they don’t like homeschooling and listen with respect. Don’t interrupt them or correct them in the middle of their sentences. Don’t tell them their opinions and feelings are wrong, but rather answer by sharing your own opinions and views. Arrogance is never appealing.

* Don’t allow anyone to make you feel you’ve made the wrong choice. This one was a bit different, but it’s important to remember that we home educate because we personally believe it’s what we are called to do. While it’s good to respect the opinions of others and walk in humility, don’t allow people or the enemy to put doubt in your mind. Revisit the reasons you have chosen to homeschool and pray when these thoughts arise.

How to Answer

Now that we have reviewed how to have a beneficial and mutually respectful conversation with someone who has differing views on home education, here are some quick answers that may be useful when the issue arises with a critic. The following are some of the most common objections they share:

1. Homeschooled kids are socially awkward.

There are some homeschooling kids that have a hard time socially. There are some public school kids that have a hard time. The social nature of the kids usually has more to do with the parents than how they are educated. Most homeschooling families today are involved with a multitude of extracurricular activities that involve social interactions with other kids, such as: sports, extra classes (sewing, cooking, building robots, etc.), music lessons/choir, debate clubs, 4H and other such clubs, community theater, and more. We also must remember that not all social interaction is positive. We want to prepare our children to a shining the light of Jesus to the world, but we don’t want to risk harming them by sending them out before they’re ready. Young children are more likely to be negatively influenced by bad social interaction than to be able to positively influence children who do not have the same moral compass/upbringing.

2. Homeschooled kids are not receiving proper education.

According to the National Education Centre, the percentage of American kids being homeschooled went up 18% between 2007 and 2012, so it appears to be a growing trend. The government considers it a valid choice in education, whether it be homeschooling entirely in the home or through charter school cooperations. The National Home Education Research Institute reports that children who are educated at home usually score 15 – 30% higher than public school students on standardized academic achievement tests. What’s great about homeschooling is that kids learn at their own pace so truly no one is left behind. If they aren’t grasping a concept, you can spend more time on it or approach it from a different angle. If they have understood something, you can move on. They don’t have to wait for others before continuing forward. It’s also good to remember that most homeschoolers use great curriculum and textbooks. There are so many resources available. Most homeschoolers are receiving a top-notch education.

3. Homeschooling limits their opportunities for college and career.

Actually, homeschooled students do very well in college. Homeschooled teens also score in the above average range on their SATs and ACTs, according to NHERI. Colleges and universities are usually anxious to recruit home educated students for this reason and because college students who were homeschooled tend to be more likely to graduate. Many universities now have special pages on their website for home educators who are applying for admission. They doors are wide open.

4. Homeschooled kids must be miserable.

Most homeschooled kids are actually quite happy and content, though that’s a pretty general statement. The truth is, a vast majority of homeschooled children say that they would homeschool their own children someday. Rarely will a child brought up in homeschooling ever respond that they wish they could go to public school. Now, children who are removed from public school and placed into home education may struggle more with missing some of the aspects of the public school setting. However, most make the transition smoothly. Generally speaking, homeschooled children are happy and love home education.

 5. Homeschooled kids are indoctrinated with Christian beliefs.

This is an interesting topic because the truth is that all children are being “indoctrinated” with some kind of views. Christians are teaching their children from birth that Jesus is the God of the Bible and the only way to salvation. Atheists are probably teaching their kids from birth that there is no God. Public schools are indoctrinating the kids too by teaching the theory and religion of evolution as fact, but neglecting to explain it is a theory and that there are other theories. So, as Christians, if my child is going to be indoctrinated with anything, I want it to be the things of God and His Word. However, we join most homeschoolers in saying we don’t plan to raise ignorant children. Most home educators teach their children all about evolution, except it is rightly called the “theory of evolution” and is taught as a differing view from the account of creation we have in the Bible. Many Christian kids in the public school setting are being taught old-earth evolution as if it were proven fact, which it is not and can never be. So many times the kids simply file the concepts away, never discuss them with their parents, and therefore even the most involved and careful parents are sometimes unaware of what their kids are being taught. Since students are told to trust and believe their teachers without question, they simply file it away as fact. This is something that Christian public schoolers always must be on their toes about.

There are plenty of other objections and answers to go through, but these are just a handful of quick responses that I usually give in the face of criticism. Just remember that with the same degree that we want our friends and family to accept our position on homeschooling, we need to be respectful regarding their choice to public school. Being arrogant, condescending and prideful about home education won’t help others to see our perspective. They will simply walk off offended. This can be a sensitive subject because we are dealing with our precious kiddos, so let’s respect one another and do what we feel is the right thing for our kids.

photo credit: pellethepoet via photopin cc

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My Calling Towards Home Education

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9

I always attended public school growing up, as did my husband in Scotland. The school I went to from 4th to 8th grade was a great school in a small town and I felt that I got a good education there. I went on to a public high school and then straight to a four-year university to be trained up in music education. My ultimate goal was to become a high school choir director and to teach in public school myself. You can imagine the surprise when I felt the Lord turning my heart towards homeschooling just after I married my husband.

I was living in Scotland with my hubby when I started to think about home education. We lived in a small town where I would encounter the kids walking to their schools each morning. They all wore uniforms, some of which included mini-skirts that I found to be appalling. The words I would often hear from their mouths were even more disheartening, and ones I wouldn’t want to mention here for fear of offending my readers. I wondered how I would worry if one day I were sending my own children off to these schools. Would these be the kids they befriended and learned from? Would they be mocked when their mother wouldn’t allow the mini-wear? What about the material being taught?

I recall talking to a young lady from our church. She attended a Catholic school, which is quite common over there. She said that one of her nun teachers had instructed the class during “religion” class that Jesus really didn’t do a miracle and physically multiple the loaves and fish to feed the five-thousand plus. She said, “The real miracle was that He got the people to share and that’s what the story was trying to tell.” Yikes! A nun telling kids in public Catholic school that Jesus’ miracles were not to be taken literally?

This all got me thinking and praying. I talked to my pastor’s wife, who had been home schooled herself growing up, and is one of the finest women I know. We talked about the things our children would be force-fed in public school. They would be taught the theory of evolution as if it were fact and dismiss any suggestion of creation or a Creator. They would be taught the old-age of the earth as fact without mention of other possibilities or holes in the theories. They would be given sex-education classes where current issues of birth control, homosexuality, masturbation, sexual identity and abortion would be explained by secular teachers instead of parents. These, and many more issues, kept running through my mind and heart. After much prayer, research and Holy Spirit tugging I found myself sold on the concept of home education and my husband confirmed that he too was on board.

I’m not sharing this because I think everyone needs to homeschool. Perhaps homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Not all women can stay at home to teach. Many have to work outside the home to make ends meet. Others feel that they aren’t equipped with the patience to homeschool and that’s okay. I’m not sharing my story as a means to judge or put down anyone who has chosen to use public education. I know many awesome Christian parents who have gone this route and who have great kids. I am simply sharing my calling towards home education, how God put it on my heart and why I believe it’s what He wants me personally to do.

Luke 6:40A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'”

Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks with the wise grows wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

These are some of the verses that encourage me in my decision to homeschool. Jesus said in Luke that a student becomes like the teacher. While I know many wonderful teachers out there and respect them thoroughly, I also know that I cannot ensure every teacher my daughter would sit under would be a Christian, and that is important to me. I want my daughter to be influenced by people under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Along the same lines I want to know that the children my daughter forms close friendships with are also being trained up in the Lord. I want to know they are being taught purity, good character and morality. While we are called to be lights to this world, I believe it is wise to wait until my daughter is older and firmly founded in the Word herself before exposing her to the world to shine.

We as parents as supposed to train up our children. We are also supposed to prioritize what are the most important things for them to learn. While my daughter will be fully educated in math, science, history, geography, literature, etc., a big part of her studies will also be in the Bible. I love that we can start each day with Bible and prayer time. She will learn about evolution and creation. She will learn about history…all the way back to the Garden of Eden. She will learn about how God made her female and what that means from her mother. She will also learn how to cook (hopefully better than me!) and clean and take care of a home. I get excited just thinking about it!

I have faced all of the stereotypes and stigmas attached to homeschoolers by those who have questioned our choice and all I can say is that I have found them to be in error. I have taught a homeschooling choir for over three years and have worked with over 45 homeschooling families. Getting to know these kids I have found them to be nothing at all as they are portrayed by those who don’t agree with homeschooling. They are delightful, bright, respectful, social and sweet kids who just shine. I adore them and their parents! In my time I have only met one family that was a little different, but the rest have been wonderful! Statistics also show that home educated children often graduate early from high school and do very well in college.

Again, I want to make it clear that I am not saying my way is the only way. I know there are great schools out there and wonderful teachers. I know that good, involved parents can and do keep up with what their kids are being taught and continue to train the kids after school hours in the things of the Lord. I am not judging others for going with public school. I am simply sharing my personal calling and why my husband and I have felt guided by the Lord into homeschooling our little ones. It is a challenge and a blessing, and I can’t wait to see what the future will hold as we continue down this path. God bless!

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