To Homeschool or Not to Homeschool? That is the question!

The story of one woman’s heart-searching journey that lead to a greater trust in the Lord whilst swimming upstream. 

About two years ago I met a lovely lady at church who told me that she home schooled her 5 children. I had heard about home schooling and knew a lovely couple who were homeschooling, but that was where my homeschooling knowledge ended. However, from the little that I knew, I was convinced that it was not for me. My reasoning was as follows:

  1. I did not like the idea of being the one responsible for my children’s education;
  2. I did not think I was well equipped for the task of educating my children given that:
    a) I am not the most patient person in the world;
    b) I love a neat and clean house;
    c) I am a very strict parent;
    d) I did not want to have my children at home with me for the whole day;
    e) I was not sure if I had the self discipline to be consistent in diligently teaching them every single day.
  3. I was concerned about their future in terms of gaining access to tertiary education institutions.
  4. What would people say — given that homeschooling is strange to most — especially in our African community?

HOW THE LORD HELPED ME DEBUNK THESE FEARS

1. The reason I did not like the idea of being the one solely responsible for my children’s education was because I was afraid of somehow messing up their futures.  This revealed an unhealthy reliance on the value of education and a distrust in the Lord’s sovereignty and providence. There is more to life than merely academic success. Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”

2. I did not think I was well equipped for the task of educating my children owing to some of my character traits:
a) I am not the most patient person in the world. After all, we all know how patient preschool teachers ought to be, given that they work with a bunch of unreasonable little people for a good 5 hours of their day. However, I was making the erroneous assumption that all preschool teachers are actually patient people and we know that that is not 100% true.  Moreover, at least I have the Holy Spirit to help me to learn patience. John 14:16 (ESV) 

“16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever…”

b) For my sanity, I love a neat and clean house. I knew that having my children at home would mean that chaos would reign 24/7 with toys scattered all over the house, muddy footprints everywhere and butchered flower beds. Then I reflected about what was really important to me. I asked myself, “If I were to look back on my life 50 years from now, what legacy did I want to leave behind?” Was it that I had made a difference in my children’s lives by playing an active role in their development and by educating them at home? Or was it that I had kept my house neat and clean? The answer was obvious. Proverbs 14:1 (ESV)
“1 The wisest of women builds

her house; but folly with her own hands tears it down.”

c) I am a very strict parent and I feared that I would make my children’s lives a nightmare if I were both parent and teacher 24/7. Once again, I was reminded of the fact that I have the Holy Spirit as my helper. He points me to Christ and shows me grace. In turn, I must learn to give my children grace. I am learning to be patient and to forgive them as I myself have been forgiven. 

d) I did not want to have my children at home with me for the whole day because that would mean less ‘me time’ (which I had grown accustomed to over the years when they were in pre-school).  This also goes back to the question of the legacy I want to leave behind for my children. Did I want to look back at my life and  see an epitaph that read, “Here lies Mulenga, who spent some great ‘me time’ with herself while her children were at school”? No, I wanted to be able to say that I ran the good fight of love for my family, being busy at home through loving my husband and my children. Titus 2:4-5 (ESV)
“4 and so train the young women to

love their husbands and children,

5 to be self-controlled, pure,

working at home, kind, and
submissive to their own

husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

e) I was uncertain that I had the self discipline to be consistent with teaching my children on a daily basis. After all, I had really enjoyed the peace of mind of having someone else worry about what they were taught. However, the fact remains that no one in the world will ever love our children as much as we do, and we have the Holy Spirit, our helper, to help us to be consistent for the task ahead. This uncertainty was an issue of a lack of trust in the Lord’s providence. Once again we are reminded of Proverbs 3:5-6 (ESV)

“5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
6 In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.”

3. I was concerned about their future in terms of gaining access to tertiary education institutions (homeschooled children have been known to have problems studying further after high school). After a bit of research I found several avenues one can take to acquire university entrance. Besides, I have at least 9 years to figure this out, and so much can change from a requirement point of view (hopefully in our favour). Ultimately, this was a question of complete trust in the Lord’s providence.

4. I also feared what people would say, given that homeschooling is a strange choice to most people and especially so in our African community.  I learnt that I cannot live my life to please men, and that we had to do what we believed the Lord was leading and guiding us to do for our family.

In conclusion, the question of whether to home school or not is a daunting one, especially when we consider that (for most of us) mainstream schools are all we know. Frankly, it is not always fun to go against the norm.  I am reminded of a poem I learned when I was in matric (grade 12). It is called “The Road not Taken” by Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.

1. The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;         5

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,         10

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.         15

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.         20

We have indeed walked down the road not taken, and for our family in this phase of our lives, homeschooling has been the best decision for us. Moreover, we are encouraged when we read in
Proverbs 29:25 (ESV) that

“25 The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.”

Amen

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