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Is Home-Schooling A Better Option?

     My Friend Debbie (yes, the Debbie from the website) mentioned that some of our readers have requested information on home-schooling. While that kind of information is usually best to publish in a Spring issue, as I write my article for the November issue of My Friend Debbie.com, I cannot stop thinking of the possible effect the outcome of the upcoming elections could have on home-schooling in America. (For our international readers, there are November elections for several congressional seats that are critical to the direction of our government in the future).  

     The purpose of this article is NOT to discuss politics or the elections but the circumstances do cause one to consider an option to home-school.  If you are “on-the fence” and wrestling with the possibility of home-schooling next year, this article will give you some additional information as you think through your decision.  I am writing this as a rookie home-school mom of only three years, so it is not that long ago that my husband and I made this decision ourselves.

     People decide to home-school for many different reasons. First, ask yourself, “Why am I considering home-schooling?” I have found the REASON people home-school determines their success and how long they will or can continue to home-school. To help you along in your thinking process, we’ll look at some common reasons that families decide to home-school and find it to be the right decision for their children.

Public versus Private

     Perhaps you find yourself in the same camp as we did. We researched public school versus private school. We looked at the curriculums of both and were sold on private schools. The biggest differences we found were in the approaches to learning. For example, the private schools we looked at utilized approaches that emphasized critical thinking skills and teaching a child HOW to learn and think. We did not see this emphasis in the public schools available in our area. We also saw much more emphasis on phonics and writing in the private school curriculums. After all this research, we began to prefer certain material, approaches, curriculum, and topics. We also wanted our children to be educated from a Christian worldview, so a private Christian-school was necessary for us. However, we couldn’t find everything we wanted in a single school. This was one of the factors influencing our decision.

     Another factor was (obviously) the lack of a Christian world-view in public schools. You may be wondering why that matters if you do a thorough job of teaching your child about God and His Word at home. Some of you reading this article may strictly adhere to the separation of Church and state. Have you considered that public schools teach elementary children sex education? My niece, who is in fifth grade in the state of Pennsylvania, learned in her health and sciences class what a condom is and why a condom is necessary. I asked her if in that class her teacher also taught about abstinence. She said, “no.”

     This summer, a school in the state of Montana recently adopted a new sex education curriculum for students in Kindergarten through 12th grade. First graders learn about same sex relationships and fifth graders learn about different ways to have intercourse – yes, fifth graders. Check out what your children are being taught through your public school’s sex education programs.

     The way science is taught in public schools also disturbed us.  Creation science cannot be taught in public schools. Instead you will find Evolutionary theory and the Big Bang theory in most textbooks (bravo to the state of Texas, where the Texas Textbook Committee has allowed the adequacies and inadequacies of evolutionary theory to be discussed among high school students). We want our children to know about these theories, but why not teach creationism as well? We wanted them to learn about archeology and the discrepancy in radiocarbon dating, which has long supported the Big Bang theory. We wanted them to learn how to think critically about the flaws in these theories and then apply God’s Word. What happens when these theories are consistently presented as verifiable truth and the Bible as unsupportable?   

     We quickly came to the conclusion if the government, instead of parents, has control over what goes into the minds of America’s children, each succeeding generation will decline spiritually, morally and academically. Whereas if parents and private schools (church and Christian-based) chosen by parents have freedom to teach their children without government involvement, the moral decline that is now obvious in our country can be turned around. For us, public school seemed atheistic. Private school (Christian-based) or home-schooling were the only options for us. So why did we choose to home-school?  

Resources and Discipleship

     Fortunately, we had the resources to home school. We decided that we were able to go from a double-income family to a single-income family. This allowed me to stay at home and focus on teaching the children full-time. Home-schooling is a full time job.

     Although the private schools we considered were excellent, I was always aware of the student-teacher ratio. At home, I am able to provide the equivalent of a private tutor. While we are still home-schooling in pre-school and elementary school, this is a critical element for us. At this stage, children are learning basic skills such as printing, cursive writing, and reading. I am there to coach them through how to form their letters as they print, the direction of their writing strokes, helping them sound out words phonetically by pointing as they read.

     For math skills, we chose a curriculum that uses the same method as Japanese students learn. This curriculum emphasizes non-counting strategies for computation and instead teaches children to see quantities in groups of fives and tens.  Home-schooling gave us the freedom to make this choice. We felt (for our second-grader’s learning style) that this was a more effective way to learn than the traditional workbook-based methods. Again, because this is one-on-one, focused time, learning occurs at a faster pace than I believe she would learn in a classroom.

     If you have older children that do not need this type of interaction, you may want to consider on-line curriculums that fit your worldview and your child’s learning style.  This approach could enable you to focus on discussing what they learned, build their critical thinking skills, help them develop positive character traits, and build them up spiritually. God can certainly work in any type of education but there is no question that discipleship is more difficult when the children are away 8-10 hours a day.

Time for Developing Their Interests and Talents

     One of the benefits of home-schooling is the freedom it allows for your children to pursue what they are REALLY interested in. For example, this year our second grader is really interested in science. Her curiosity has peaked about blood, skin, internal organs, and how the body works. We are planning to buy her a high quality microscope for Christmas with a slide kit and teach her how to make slides with blood, skin, etc.  We can deviate from our science curriculum to pursue something she is interested in now. This flexibility is a big plus!

     She also loves to dance and enjoys music. These are areas my husband and I are not qualified to teach! Since we aren’t bound to a strict school day schedule 5-days a week, there is time for dance classes and piano lessons without wearing all of us out with the hustle and bustle. We aren’t running here and there after school, missing family dinners and eating on the run, and then rushing home to go to bed for school the next day.

     If your child has a particular talent such as sports or gymnastics, you may want to home-school and allow them extra time to invest in practice. Who knows, you may have a pro-athlete or Olympian in your family. Home-schooling allows a schedule that can accommodate a lifestyle requiring such discipline.

Reasons Not to Home-School

     I have also known and seen people fail because they chose to home-school for the wrong reasons. This is probably why we were so skeptical of home-schooling at first. We were convinced that we would send our children to private Christian schools and that this was the best option for our family.  As it turns out, we were prejudiced by the bad examples we had seen and were just uninformed.

     I won’t go into the bad examples we have all heard of such as abuse, laziness, etc. There will always be people that are evil and choose to home-school to the detriment of their children. I would like to give you some reasons people often aren’t aware of that influence them to home-school for the wrong reasons. Perhaps this will help you to see if one of these is pricking your conscience before you make a decision.


     Many people choose to home-school because of fear. Fear that something will happen to their child at school, or fear that their child will become a rebel, or turn away from God. Home-schooling will not keep your child, God will. If you choose to home-school out of fear, your child will feel isolated and you will end up home-schooling in a vacuum. They will sense your lack of faith, you will lose credibility (at least spiritually), and they may confirm your biggest fears and jump ship when they get the chance.

The “Right Thing” to Do

     Sometimes people find themselves in a church or a community where the acceptable norm is home-schooling. This was the case with us. We had to constantly check ourselves and make sure we weren’t being influenced by what other families (that were dear friends of ours) were doing. Just because some families were successful at home-schooling, didn’t mean that we would be. We had to KNOW it was the right choice for us.

     We have since moved to another state and have no support system around us. We are the weirdo’s in the neighborhood that home-school. If we had not made the choice for the RIGHT reasons, we would have stopped two years ago. You cannot home-school because your friends do or because you have a great support system around you. You must decide based on each child, their needs (not wants), and what God is calling you to do for them. Support systems can fail, friends move, and children can be fickle.  

A Child’s Bad Experience in School

     Often a child that has been in public or private school will ask to be home-schooled for the wrong reasons. Parents acquiesce to their request because they feel sorry for what their child has experienced or because they feel it is their duty to meet this need. It is our God-given job as parents to protect our children. Absolutely remove your child if there is abuse! But get Godly counsel before making this kind of a lifestyle change to home-school. If your child’s reason for leaving school is a break-up from a girl-friend or boyfriend, a humiliating situation with friends, or problems with a teacher, help them confront and deal with the problem (if possible) before leaving school instead of running from it.  

     I have seen families that begin home-schooling in these crisis management situations. They withdraw their child from school, enroll the child in an on-line home-school curriculum, and the parents never make the shift. Instead the parents must continue working full-time (usually for financial reasons) leaving their pre-teen or teenage child at home working on-line. Although the parents are doing what seems to be the best thing, which is solving the immediate problem, this is a set-up for home-school failure.   

The Bottom Line

     From our experience, we were motivated by our moral values and faith in God. We had a deep conviction of our need to home-school, had the resources to do so, and are able to provide more opportunities for our children by doing it. Does this mean we will never consider private Christian school? No. We keep that option open. For now, home-schooling is what is best for our family and what we believe God has called us to for this season.

     We sometimes worry that we won’t do a good job. You will too. That is normal. If you think you know it all, you are sure to miss something! I have come to the conclusion that I am also being taught by God on this journey. When I am weak, He is strong. For now, I have purposed to enjoy the ride.

Copyright © 2008-2015 Dorena DellaVecchio, Ph.D.

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