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Is Homeschooling for Everyone?

By Gregg Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #1, 1993.

Why people ask, "Is homeschooling for everyone," and what you should answer
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Gregg Harris

Thought-provoking answers to this frequently-asked question
Our modern culture, even within the church, can accept just about anything as long as it’s only an “option.” Bungee jumping for Jesus? Good for you! Home schooling? Hey, whatever the Lord leads you to do is fine.

But the follow-up question is always, “Do you believe it’s for everyone?” Nervous eyes search your face for some clue as to what’s coming. If you begin to suggest that home schooling is best, you’ll be cut off. Home schooling is fine—for you. Just be quick to admit it’s only your personal choice.

The question behind “Should everybody home school?” is actually “Do I have to?” At a deeper level the question is, “Will God be angry if I don’t?” A “yes” at any level is a moral judgment. Eyes roll. Onlookers glance at one another with that, “Oh, give me a break!” look. Small wonder that even the most confident Christian home-schoolers are quick to say, “Of course, home schooling isn’t for everyone.”

But think about what this diplomatic answer is saying. It may be taken as code for, “Don’t worry, folks; I’m not a fanatic. I’m a reasonable person who has simply exercised my personal right to choose home schooling as one of many equally legitimate alternative educational options. Don’t think that just because I have chosen to teach my children at home that I am suggesting in any way that home education would be good for your children!” Is this really the message we intend to convey?

Some parents are looking for any way out of having to deal with their children. Don’t make it too easy on them by being so quick to say, “No, home schooling is not for everyone.” Home schooling may be for them.

I know that some circumstances render home schooling temporarily impractical. Failing health, financial crisis, and emotional instability are real obstacles. Christian schools may be needed temporarily. Even public schools may be the only option in some extreme circumstances. But bad circumstances eventually change, and the best available education will again be found at home. The question is, will we be honest enough to admit it?

When we choose what we know is not the best available for our children, whether for personal convenience or out of fear of what others might think, we have a real reason for feeling guilty. By this measure, a lot of parents today are guilty of negligence. Temporary exceptions to the rule don’t change the rule. Should everyone give their children the best available education? Yes. Is the home normally the best available? Yes. Then, to knowingly choose to do otherwise is sin.

The evidence is all on the side of home schooling. The public schools can’t be fixed. If you’re still not so sure about that, then read The Right Choice by Chris Klicka. But if you know it’s true, why not say so without compromise?

I’m not suggesting that we should be intentionally annoying. But most of us would do well to add godly courage to our consideration for other’s feelings. The issues at stake require boldness.

When people ask, “Do you believe everyone should home school?” be calm. Answer, “If you mean, ‘Do I believe that every home should be a place where children receive instruction from their parents?’ then the answer is yes. Can you think of any reason for it to be otherwise?” Put the ball back into their court. Don’t let them write you off as unrealistic, but don’t let them off the hook either. Think before you speak.

When people follow up with, “Well, surely you don’t expect everyone to take his children out of school?!” don’t retreat. Answer with yet another question.

“What do people do with their children when school is not in session? I believe their education should be part of the family routine. Home schooling is a lifestyle that makes room for education.”

In my experience, when parents attempt to do even a little bit of what they are capable of after school, on the weekends and during summer breaks, they soon come to realize that conventional schooling is a disruption of the best available education.

Some say, “Well, I would home school, but my church has a Christian school and I want to support its ministry.” Ask those parents if they would put their children in an orphanage if their church started one.

“Of course not!”

Orphanages, reform schools, Christian day schools, youth groups, and even Sunday schools fit into the same category. They are all institutions designed to make up for what is lacking in weak or broken families. By all means, support them for the sake of those who need them. Use them if you need them. But don’t use them if you have something better.

Granted, in the short term, we won’t keep as many friends with this approach. But by speaking the truth in love, thousands more families will eventually come around to seeing things more clearly. All it takes is another crisis in the local schools for things to sink in.

God’s word, we are told, falls as rain and snow. (See Isaiah 55:10-11.) On a warm heart, it falls as rain, and the results can be felt immediately. But on a cold heart, God’s word falls as snow. It piles up, but it doesn’t go away. When a thaw finally comes, all that snow melts. A change of heart can open a person up to truth that was once unacceptable. Most of us know this by our own experience.

So don’t back down. Nothing in God’s kingdom was ever accomplished until someone was willing to be called a “fanatic.” The apostles, prophets and reformers were not thin-skinned folk. To see revival they had to be willing to endure a riot. The same truths can result in either—or both! So be honest. Say, “Home schooling is for everyone!”

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