Friday, July 13, 2007

Homeschool Freedom By Ellen Davis of Elijah Co.

Freedom: Frightening and Unfamiliar Territory

by Ellyn Davis of Elijah Company

I want to let you in on THE big secret about home schooling. Home schooling is either the easiest thing you’ve ever done, or the hardest, depending on how stressful it is for you to trust God, trust yourself, and trust your kids and how comfortable you are with freedom of choice. Once, at a home school convention, a lady spoke to Chris and she hit the nail right on the head. She said, “You know why home schooling is so hard? It’s because of the FREEDOM we have.”

And underlying all the other reasons we might have chosen to home school, is the desire to have the FREEDOM to direct and nurture the course of our children’s lives and their education.

Freedom is scary. It makes us want boundaries, rules and regulations so we always know exactly what to do and exactly where our kids stand compared to everybody else’s kids.

It’s like being a Christian, isn’t it? As a Christian we can choose rules or a relationship. Being legalistic is easy, because we know what we have to do to be “acceptable” to God and we can gauge whether we are doing better or worse than we are “supposed” to do. But living out of a true relationship with God can be very hard because we’re not in charge of the standards any more. Only God’s opinion matters, and He tends to judge by the spirit of the law, not the letter.

Because it’s always easier to rely on external measurements in order to know if we are doing things “right,” home schooling parents tend to gradually drift toward some imitation of the public or private (let us say “institutional” ) school, just like a Christian will always tend to drift toward some form of legalism. We like the safety of having a system as well as the security of knowing where we stand at all times. Plus, it’s always easier to have someone else figure things out for us, whether that someone else is our pastor or a curriculum publisher.

So, what’s the point of this article? A gripe session? No. I want to commend all of you who are teaching your children at home. I want everyone who reads this article to know that I understand how scary and hard home schooling can be. First, it goes against every experience we have regarding what education is. Second, it opens us up to a lot of criticism from family and friends. Third, we feel insecure about our ability to pull it off and fourth, we are uncomfortable about using our children as “guinea pigs” while we figure out what we are doing.

Just to attempt home schooling requires a huge leap of faith. In fact, if we are unable to home school “in faith” we might as well send our children to the government (or Church) school.

But I also want you to know that it IS possible to home school in “freedom.” We haven’t done everything perfectly (by earthly standards), but home schooled for over 20 years with our three boys and God has blessed us beyond our wildest hopes. They may not know all the names and dates our minds were crammed full of in public school, but they are responsible, productive, on-fire for God, interesting people who love their families.

This doesn’t mean you can’t assign grade levels (we didn’t). This doesn’t mean you can’t have a plan (we did). What it means is that you recognize the whole manmade industry of institutional “schooling” for what it is: a lie.

John Gatto says (and we agree with him), “School was a lie from the beginning. It continues to be a lie.”

Don’t buy into the lie just because it’s harder not to. For some reason, God has placed in your heart a desire to home school your children. YOU find out why. YOU find out how. Be FREE to do what you find out.

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