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Wide White: Home school or public school?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Home school or public school?

My kids are 10 months old so this isn't really a pressing question. However, it's something we'll have to figure out at some point. (I'm intentionally leaving out private school for a number of reasons, costs included.)

I was home schooled while my wife is a product of Minnesota and Wisconsin public schools. (In a bit of a twist, I went to a public university while she went to a private Christian university.) We're both positive about our experiences and aren't resolved on what we'll do with our kids. We take sort of a "live life as it comes" approach. We try not to plan too far into the future knowing that circumstances often change.

Still, we've started giving it some thought. I recently read 2 posts from Tim Challies that has brought a new perspective to my thoughts on the subject. His posts were titled "Why I Do Not Homeschool (Part 1 & Part 2). I'm not always on board with Challies and don't agree with everything he says in these two articles. However, he does a good job of stating his case.

Challies prefaces his thoughts with this great piece:
There is one more thing I would like to say before I get too much further into this article. Homeschooling parents are easily offended (See? I offended you just by saying that!). Some may consider this a rash generalization, but in my experience it is true. Homeschoolers are often on the defensive, though certainly this is changing as homeschooling becomes a more widely accepted option in the church and in the wider culture. For many years homeschoolers have had to defend their choice in education and they have grown weary of defending against misunderstandings and strawman arguments. I am not going to argue that, if we homeschool, our children will end up having no social skills, we will have to move to the country to raise our own beef, I’ll have to throw away my deodorant and my wife will have to grow her hair past her waist and begin making all of our clothes. I hope not to fall into caricatures of homeschooling. Feel free to correct me if I do. There is much I admire about those who choose to homeschool. Honest. At the same time, please do not use caricatures to describe public schools as being always boring, filled with disinterested Wiccan teachers or serving as training grounds for automatons who are being trained only to work in factories.
From there, Challies launches into his 2-part explanation of where he stands.

Here are some excerpts that stood out to me.
Douglas Wilson differentiates between homeschoolers and what he called “Homers” in an article he wrote for Credenda Agenda. Homeschoolers, he says, are “people who have carefully considered all the options available to them in the education of their children, have prayerfully weighed them, and have decided to provide their children with an education at home.” Homers are extremists who “have a completely different attitude toward the process of homeschooling. No longer an instrument or means of educating their children, homeschooling has become, in their hands, a very modern manifestation of home as ideology. In this thinking, home is a defining principle to which everything else must conform. Even the church is brought into the service of the home. Father is no longer a father; he is a prophet, priest and king. Any home is capable of doing anything that is worth doing. A radical home-centeredness takes over, insisting that the home can not only replace the school, but also the church and the civil magistrate, not to mention Safeway and General Motors.”

I am not sure the distinction between these two groups is always perfectly clear, but do think Wilson makes a distinction worth noting. What makes both groups similar, though, is that the decision to homeschool cannot be removed from other beliefs and ideologies. At the risk of belaboring the point, let me state this once more: homeschooling is rarely a decision that is completely independent of other beliefs. The beliefs that impact educational choice are, in my experience, related to the understanding of how we, as Christians, are to relate to the people and to the culture around us. It is related to how we are to be in the world but not of the world.
Trusting that my children will grow up to be believers, I am convicted that it is my duty as a parent, and as a Christian parent, to prepare my children to fulfill that calling in their lives. I believe they can best heed this call by being in the culture in which God has seen fit to place them. I want them to be with kids who are not Christians, to be friends with them and to love them, to learn what separates them from their friends, and to begin to understand how their convictions make them different from others.
I find it difficult and painful to imagine a public school system devoid of Christians. Imagine, if you will, that every Christian pulls their children from the public schools. There will be no more Christian clubs in junior high schools; there will be no more prayer meetings or Bible studies at high schools; there will be no witnessing, no conversions. Christians will have removed the best indigenous missionaries from their natural mission field.
We genuinely love the people around us and want to know them, both so we can relate to them as friends and so we can, with God’s help, witness to them of His love and grace. Our children build bridges to the neighborhood. In sending our children to public school, we are building these bridges with our neighbors as our children are building friendships with their children. We are building friendships on the basis of our kids’ friendships. This is not to say, of course, that we only relate to our neighbors because we hope to convert them. We relate to them because we genuinely love them, care for them, and seek to know them both for what they can offer us and what we can offer them. We seek to love our neighbors as ourselves. We have credibility as neighbors and as members of this community by having our children attend the same schools as the other children. This weekend we are having a neighborhood-wide event in our home and every family who has accepted our invitation is a family whose children go to school with our children.
My wife and I feel called to reach out to the people in our neighborhood and our community. We simply do not feel we could honor God in this way and be as effective in doing it if we kept our children home. We would lose credibility, we would lose friendships, and we would lose access to the hearts of both children and their parents.
[W]e do not avoid worldliness by secluding ourselves from the world. The key to escaping worldliness is not to avoid the world, but to avoid acting like the world and thinking like the world. To do this we do not escape the world, but allow ourselves to apprehend the allure of the world so it might lose its glow.
To think that we can keep our children from being worldly by sheltering them from the world is false. Sooner or later children will want to see what the world has to offer.
I believe it is easier for children to avoid worldliness when they are exposed to the world. This may sound strange, so allow me to explain. I want my children to see what the world has to offer before they are old enough to explore it on their own, without parental guidance. I want my children to see and experience families where God is not at the center.
I am not afraid of the world and what it may do to my children. There is nothing the world can offer that is greater or stronger than God’s grace. I am sure that my children, at one time or another, will encounter teachings that run contrary to our convictions. They will learn about evolution and will hear that all religions are the same. I know that this is coming and am already working with them to know how to think about these things and to know how to respond.
I can't say this has made me automatically decide to send my kids to public school, partly because I'm not sure that all of my reasons for making that decision are the same as Challies'. Still, I think Challies provides some great insight that the Christian community is missing when we talk about this subject.

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Anonymous Bill Roehl declared,

I fully respect a family's ability and subsequent choice to school their children in their own homes. In fact in some extreme cases I recommend it. However, by working in higher ed both as a front line staff member and as a support staff working with educational research data and supporting faculty and other staff I have to admit I find the vast majority of homeschooled individuals totally unprepared for post-secondary education. 

There are some things to note here: 

1. I am not talking about grades. These students generally perform extremely well in their coursework although according to extensive research done by a local professor (who is a homeschooled advocate) the superior performance generally peaks in the second year and normalizes thereafter which gets them over the major hurdle of college but doesn't necessarily provide the educational advantages the homeschool crowd likes to tout. 

2. This comes from research at a public non-profit community and technical college known as a center for homeschoolers and a for-profit institution known for extending access to all student populations. My opinions are also shaped by readings and research done by others. Take it cum grano salis. 

While these students are extremely bright for the most part they generally lack the social skills to properly act around others. The parents of these students lack understanding of the law and take great offense to the simple fact that they are no longer the primary contact point for their child's education. They bring the term "helicopter" parent to a whole new level going so far as to take all the same classes as their child to ensure that the material is appropriate and that they themselves are able to continue the education in the home. In other words they just cannot let go and as such fail to properly prepare their child for anything but academics. The college experience is so much more than just an opportunity for a degree on a piece of paper. 

Homeschool parents are not unnecessarily being defensive as in most cases they fit the stereotype at the expense of their children. However I fully admit that in some cases appropriately educated and adjusted homeschoolers go through their lives undetected simply because they make no mention verbally or otherwise, aside from their class rank of 1 of 1, of their educational background. 

Remember: homeshool your kids but be aware of the many pitfalls which go along with it. This includes properly preparing your kids not only educationally and in some social way but also that they should be able to act on their own without direct intervention from the parents. Many realize the importance of the first two but have a hard time letting go enough to allow the third. Your child is an adult in college please remember to let them act like it. 

12/16/2010 7:14 AM  
Blogger James A. N. Stauffer declared,

I think it is interesting that he claims that many homeschoolers are reactionary to how people see them (easily offended) but one of his reasons for public school is how people will see him. :-)
I went to public school from K through college but I homeschool because I can customize the education to the child much more. In fact, yesterday I taught them to play Minesweeper so they could learn the importance of logic and patterns. Public school is forced to do "one size fits all." How effective would it be if you had to go to a certain church, grocery store, hardware store, etc because of where you live? That just wouldn't work very well.

12/16/2010 7:36 AM  
Anonymous Chet declared,

I think those are excellent points that I have never completely thought about. Priscilla and I don't have any kids and don't know what God's plan is for us obviously, but we have talked about it and don't really have a clue about what we are going to do. I like not knowing though, and I really liked the points that Challies made...

The only point not addressed extensively in this post, which isn't a major point, but is a point nonetheless... From a personal standpoint, I feel like we learned more from homeschooling than we did in school. Not saying that school hasn't enabled me to become smarter - it has. But being able to extensively study different areas of interest, such as geography in your case, or math in my case, I feel like was a great blessing, and difficult to come by in public school.

I have been a part of public schooling, and it is a system. That is not necessarily a bad thing - it is what it is. The point is that you study at the pace of the rest of the kids, whether you have different interests or abilities that should be more extensively worked.

I know that public schooling allows you to become a more rounded individual, but I feel like in some ways we need some more focused people. I hope you understand what I'm getting at.

This is a great post. Thanks for the insight.

12/16/2010 8:54 AM  
Blogger watchman declared,

The success of a homeschool education primarily influenced by two factors:

1. Ability of the parent/teacher
2. Ability of the child/student

For these reasons, my kids will definitely be going to a public school. I don't trust my own abilities, and my kids would make very satisfactory automatons.


12/16/2010 8:59 AM  
Blogger Homeschool Family declared,

First of all, I love that Half Dome pic. Great composition with the clouds.

This post intrigued me. People always ask “why do you homeschool?” And I always think... “why do you government school?” This is the first time I’ve heard someone give a reason. Thanks. It think you’ve done a good job. I’d like to share my experience and ask for your feedback on some thoughts. I’m not a guy with all the answers and I often feel like I’m figuring things out as I go. I wish there were more balanced perspectives like yours to feed the brain.

I could not post my full response here, so I created my own blog posting.

12/16/2010 11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous declared,

I have to be the person that asks...what are your thoughts on private schools? Charter schools?

Completely agree with Corey's comment - which is why home-schooling is not happening with our girls. And we did try it for 2 months. Lesson learned!

A. Katie

12/16/2010 12:19 PM  
Blogger sarahepm declared,

I read both parts of Challies' article and found it really good. We plan to send our kids to private school for their younger years. If at any time they would like to pursue a different avenue of education it is open for discussion. I am a product of all 3 methods of education and I am a better person for it. I went to private Christian school for my elementary years and was bullied there worse than I ever was anywhere else. I was homeschooled for middle school, and am still extremely grateful that I missed out on all the drama that often accompanies middle school. I went to public school for high school and am so thankful for the opportunities I had there, and for the chance to get out in the world. (Also went to private Bible college, if that's worth anything.) Oh, it is worth noting that I didn't have any social problems after being homeschooled.

12/16/2010 12:29 PM  
Blogger Richele declared,

I'm a homeschooling mom to four children. I fully support a parent's decision to homeschool or send their child to public or private school. I see no reason for there to be a great divide among parents who homeschool and those who do not. We all love our kids and want to provide the best for them.

I also want to respond to Bill Roehl, even though he may never see this (lol): I thank you for your comments and welcome them. I have seen first hand how homeschooling parents make mistakes which lead to their children having difficulty in post-secondary education. I will also say that there are ways NOT to fall into those pitfalls as you also point out.

In my homeschool, I do not shelter my kids from the world or other children. My kids are very involved in the world around them...and yes this even extends to outside of church. My two older kids honor the Lord and witness to unsaved kids. I honestly feel that I benefited them greatly by homeschooling. It allowed me the time to infuse them with the love of Christ while giving them a better education than the schools in my area which are struggling. I have a son who scores in the gifted range, plays baseball and is socially developed. My kids are discerning and are often told "you don't act like homeschooled kids." lol.

Homeschooling is a choice like any other. If done right it can be a great joy if done poorly it can be devastating. The choice should be made with great care and the Lord's guidance. Just as the decision of sending your child to school should be.

I will say that homeschooled parents get a great amount of slack. Random strangers think they can question my choice. I have never gone up to a mom in the store and said, "Gee, why don't you homeschool your kid. How can you send them to that school which is failing academically." I have been questioned on my choice by random people to my kids' doc, to relatives. Funny how none would question me for sending them to school. I find it all laughable. I do not get offended no worries.

Another reason homeschoolers get offended easily is that the education of their children is their life. I put all of me into my kids' education. When you insult my choice it feels you are insulting me. I have matured greatly over the years and no longer see it that way. Homeschooling is a beautiful sacrifice of love and very personal.

Me? I think we should respect each others position on education. I also think we should support one another as parents. This is not a's a choice.

12/16/2010 2:42 PM  
Blogger Alasandra declared,

I don't think homeschoolers are easily offended. I do think we get tired of being lumped together as if we are all identical. Homeschool families are just as diverse as public school families. There are Wiccan, Pagan, Atheist and Christian Homeschoolers. There are rich, middle class and poor homeschoolers. There are White, Black, Hispanic, Indian, and Native American homeschoolers. Also our reasons for homeschooling are as varied as we are.

12/16/2010 3:06 PM  
Blogger watchman declared,

I don't know.

It seems like there are three categories of reasoning behind homeschooling:

1. Education Quality
2. Homer Mentality (see Doug Wilson in Joey's post)
3. Political/Religious Concerns

2 and 3 are a bit too wacky(?) - um, err... I mean, 'deep' for my publicly educated brain to comprehend. So, I'll only comment on number 1.

Could I possibly educate my children at home in a way that is superior to what they would get in school? Maybe. I know some really brilliant and creative people who were homeschooled. But, would it be SO much better than a public education that it justifies the effort and sacrificing other things?

That I am not sure of.

Many home school apologists seem to think that publicly educated pupils end up being lobotomized drones. I honestly have not seen that sort of difference.

There are really stupid homeschoolers out there.

There are really stupid public schoolers out there.

There are really brilliant home schoolers out there.

There are really brilliant public schoolers out there.

I don't think one philosophical size fits all in this debate.

12/16/2010 3:27 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Bill, thanks for your input. I didn't see much of what you've seen but I know it exists and I have seen it to varying degrees. It's those experiences that turn off people to anything that resembles home school, which is sad since the examples of students struggling in the public school system aren't given equal criticism. I think the reason is the public school is institutional, so the blame isn't personal. Home school, on the other hand, is very personal since it's a parent making the mistake rather than an institution (or an individual within an institution).

12/16/2010 10:51 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

James, I agree on the tailored education. That's one of the biggest benefits I got, particularly in math. I hated the subject but wound up scoring highest in math on ever standardized test I took - ACT, SAT, and a couple of standardized tests I took in college. But not every parent is suited for delivering that education. Plus, one thing I find somewhat ironic is that home schoolers vigorously defend the tailored education, yet many of the same people assemble in groups of 100, 1,000, or more every Sunday morning for religious and spiritual education.

12/16/2010 10:51 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Chet, I agree, your points about being able to focus more on geography or math goes back to James' point about a tailored education. It's just not feasible in public (or, in most cases, private) school. Your point about well-rounded versus focused individuals is interesting. I think other countries are quicker to allow kids to focus, as there are instances where kids are pursuing more specific post-secondary education course work while our kids are still completing high school and then a couple of years of general education in college.

12/16/2010 10:52 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Watchman, spot on. The ability of the parent is critical. My mom was (and is) a very, very able teacher.

12/16/2010 10:52 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Homeschool Family, I read through your blog posts and it seems clear that you're afraid of the negative effect that public school will have on your kids. I'm not sure how to respond to that other than referring you to Challies' articles. I also think it's important to consider and address whether or not you and your wife are able to teach your children in all subjects and if you're not, address how they will learn those subjects. For example, it's important to me that my children have an English teacher that can actually spell and knows grammar. Their math teacher should be proficient in math. Not only that, but their teacher - parent or not - should be able to teach those things. Too many parents to don't know how to teach are home schooling because of their fear of the negative effects of their kids' socialization with "the world." However, in many cases these same parents don't know how to teach or don't understand the subject matter they're teaching. Additionally, I find the fear of the world issue a bit odd since the fact is that at some point their children will be faced with the outside world of non-Christians. They'll either face that while still living at home or once they've left home. I'd rather my child face that while they're in my home and we can talk about it and they still look up to me enough to want to talk about it.

One other note...public schools are so different from one district, school, and state to the next that it's really tough to just apply blanket statements to them. One school may be seemingly anti- or non-Christian while another is fighting to open their football games with a Christian prayer. Because of that, I don't really consider the "anti-Christian" argument when thinking about public vs. private vs. home school. The "anti-Christian" piece of things really boils down to the individual school, since someone's home school could be equally "anti-Christian."

I also couldn't help but laugh at this quote from your post: "By the way, notice that “Transgendered” is a legitimate word, but “homeshcool” still gets a red underline in spell check. Scary, eh?" Yeah, I'd red underline that in spell check too. :) Actually, in all seriousness, it doesn't surprise me that spell check doesn't include "homeschool." We don't say "privateschool" or "publicschool," but for some reason most people - home schoolers included - have merged "home" and "school." I don't really understand why that is.

12/16/2010 10:52 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Katie, on private school...I left it out for a few reasons. First, Challies' article didn't address it and the post was based on my thoughts from his article. Second, within the Christian community that I'm around, private school isn't really a factor. People either home school or do public school. Third, the cost is prohibitive for most people, including us if our kids were school-aged today.

Having said that, my thoughts are similar to the others. Not all public schools or school districts are created equal. For the parent that can't home school, doesn't like their public school options, and can afford it and find a good private school, I don't have a problem with that option. Probably my biggest concern with private school is that my kids would be less exposed to those of different socioeconomic levels since private schools tend to be very isolated to those with higher income levels, but that's probably a discussion that deserves a separate post. I have no issue with charter schools either and conceptually they sound great, but I really haven't investigated them too much. I think I will though in the next few years as it's definitely something I would consider.

12/16/2010 10:54 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Richelle, you make some good points about how personal home school is for the moms who actually do put their hearts into it and are still questioned. It does seem to be more and more accepted so I imagine that's getting better.

12/16/2010 10:54 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Alasandra, no, not all home schoolers are easily offended. I'm guessing Challies made that comment partly from personal experience and partly tongue-in-cheek. I will say that home schoolers I know are often very sensitive about it though.

12/16/2010 10:54 PM  
Blogger Homeschool Family declared,


I can't believe you read that whole post. Thanks. I had been wanting to write a lot of those thoughts down for a while, and I had a couple hours to kill at Starbucks this morning.

I find it interesting that considering everything I wrote, it seems you were most impressed by a perceived “fear”. While I think the kinds of things that go on in the schools nowadays are frightening, I am not actually afraid. I have no doubt my kids would thrive there and that I could guide them through the minefield. But since I'm able to homeschool – which has so many huge benefits (for my family), I choose to homeschool.

In the same paragraph, you continue on the fear theme and say “Additionally, I find the fear of the world issue a bit odd since the fact is that at some point their children will be faced with the outside world of non-Christians.” My children are faced with the world every day. We are heavily involved in community – especially sports. We go to movies, the beach, field trips... and we travel a lot. They hear and see it all. Well, not as much as the kids riding a school bus. They also go to church - and I can tell you that most kids that go to church are just as worldly as non-churched kids.

Anyone who believes homeschooled kids are not exposed to non-Christians (or the real world), is just ignorant. It's impossible to hide from the world. But since we're on the topic, I live in the real world, and it's rare that I have to deal with anyone that does drugs, gets wasted on alcohol, or uses foul language in conversation. I don't know any gay people, except those nice guys down the street that I waive to when I drive by. And last time I used public transportation, I didn't see anyone having oral sex. So, I'm not too sure how big a role traditional school plays in preparing kids for “the real world”.

As for the education part, I'm a product of government education, so I am aware of my limitations. I know – snippy! My oldest goes to an algebra tutor twice a week and is excelling. The kids are doing great, and what I don't know (or remember), I often learn with them. That part of homeschooling is actually fun and always interesting.

Regarding the schools being anti-Christian, I recognize that some schools may not be so naziistic. That's not a word by the way... but it should be. :-) I was specifically referring to the schools in my area.

About the word “homeschool”. Perhaps I should have explained my humor better. You're right... people don't say privateschool, or publicschool. The words refer to a place, or an institution. The word homeschool often refers to “a way of life”. Nobody identifies themselves as a “privateschooler”. But they they do identify themselves as a “homeschooler”. That's my two cents, anyway.

Lastly, I still have a question for you. Knowing about all the immorality and rebelliousness, and the attitudes and behaviors your kids will come home with every day, do you feel like your kids and your family, and their relationship with Christ, will be better off if they go to a traditional school?

I know it sounds like a leading question, but it's not. Growing up, I was exposed to all of the same immorality, and I am who I am today, because of it. So, I can accept that you may indeed feel that way.

Did I already say “lastly”?

It's one thing to imagine your child sharing the love of Jesus with all those sweet young children. But that's about as realistic as thinking homeschoolers aren't socialized. I would like to know if all the sex, drugs, foul language, disrespect, porn, and all the other things your kids will be exposed to, is something where you simply hope for the best and expect the worst. Do you think kids should be exposed to these things as a way to prepare them for the “real world”?

Thank you kindly. I know I my posts are too long.

12/17/2010 3:25 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

I noted the fear because I sensed it as I read through everything else and then you specifically talked about it at the end. It seemed to be the natural conclusion based on everything else you were saying. I could be wrong, but that was my sense.

You said, "bad behaviors and attitudes are caught - not taught." With that mindset, I can certainly understand fear of what may be caught. Personally, I don't think I subscribe to that way of thinking. My kids are only 10 months old so maybe I'll change my mind as they develop. But as a Christian who believes everyone is born with a sinful nature, I think bad behaviors and attitudes are pretty ingrained in us. Sure, behaviors can be adapted from what we see around us, but that can be good or bad. Additionally, surrounding ourselves with only good behavior does little to ensure bad behavior won't exist. I've seen a home schooled kid who was very sheltered wind up an agnostic leading a punk rock band as well as opposite examples. And I don't present that as an exception to the rule. I really find no difference between the rebelliousness of adults who grew up in Christian families in either system.

We can worry about outside circumstances like the "underwear parties" you mentioned your niece being invited to, but I believe that has very little to do with whether or not your niece is a Christian.

12/17/2010 1:52 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

You talk about your kids being faced with the world of non-Christians. I was faced with that world too, but it's all under the watchful eye of the parent. There's nothing wrong with this, it's just a fact. They just aren't faced with the outside world in the same way that public school kids are. I'm not arguing that that's better or worse, it's just a fact. My parents took us on numerous road trips too. But I was still sheltered from a lot of what went on "in the world." Again, I have no problem with the sheltering in and of itself. It's not a problem that I was a few years older than other kids when I first heard the "F" word. It just means that what most kids may have developed in high school I probably didn't develop to the same extent until college.

So no, I'm not "ignorant" in saying that home school Christian kids don't face the same exposure to non-Christians as they would in public school. Walking through Target or going to church with non-Christians hardly counts as those are relatively controlled environments. Letting them have sleepovers at non-Christians' homes or letting them spend a few hours a day with a non-Christian kid unsupervised by their parents would be closer to the same exposure. Again, I'm not saying that a parent should do those things and each parent raises their kid as they see fit, I'm just making the point that there's normally a big difference in the exposure they have if they're educated at home.

And the reason you don't deal with people who do drugs or are alcoholics or use foul language or are gay is because you choose to remove yourself from interactions with those people or you live in a rural place where that doesn't exist. It doesn't mean you don't live in the real world, it just means you live in a world that most others don't. I take public transportation every day and I do hear high school kids sitting next to me on the bus talk about doing drugs. Every once in a while I see a couple sitting way too close for comfort and way too involved with each other in the back corner of the bus. I have friends and relatives who drink, get drunk, or are even alcoholics. I have friends and coworkers who use foul language. I certainly wouldn't suggest that public school would have made me more prepared for these situations than home school. But the fact is there's an enormous segment of our population who is living this way. We can separate ourselves from them or be friends with them and engage with them. It's not an "us vs. them." I think Christ loves them and wants us to love them, and loving them means living and being with them, not secluding ourselves from them. But I suppose this is a bit of a tangent.

12/17/2010 1:52 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

No need to explain "homeschool," I get it, most people use it, I was really just chuckling at the fact that you noted how the word was underlined but when you typed out the word, you misspelled it. That was all. :)

You asked whether my kids, my family, and their relationship with Christ be better off if they're in public school? The short answer is I don't know. My kids are 10 months old. It will be a while before I know much about their personalities, learning styles, hearts, etc. My short answer is that I don't think they'll be any worse off and I'm inclined to think they could potentially be better off. I say this because I think there's tremendous value in the relationships we have with people outside of our immediate families and outside of our way of thinking. If what goes on in non-Christians' lives proves itself to be fruitless and my child loves Christ, they will be drawn closer to him. If they have no heart for Christ, I don't think keeping them at home will change that.

I don't really look at public school as an evangelistic opportunity for my child. If my child decides they love Jesus and want to tell their classmates about him, I have no problem with that. I would expect that they'll likewise have other kids telling them about Mohammed, so that could get interesting. :)

I really don't look at the public school experience as a means of preparing my kids for the "real world," as you say. I look at it as being a means of instructional education and a way to engage with their neighbors, among other things. Those objectives certainly aren't exclusively achievable through public education, but they are usually inevitable with public education.

As far as the "sex, drugs, foul language, disrespect, porn, and all the other things" you say my kids will be exposed to in public school, again, all of this is so conditional on where you are and what school they're in and how involved the parents are and numerous other factors. I'm not ignoring those factors, but I'm not using them as blanket factors that prevent me from considering public school.

12/17/2010 1:52 PM  
Blogger watchman declared,

Sometimes I wonder if we spend too much time focused on raising children instead of raising adults.

Sex, drugs, and filth of all flavors will eventually be presented to our children. It is unavoidable. My hope is that those things are presented to my kids while they are in a relatively safe proximity to me, so that we can properly deal with it.

Sheltering children from such things does not help them become responsible adults, who have to face debauchery in a mature manner.

12/18/2010 8:48 AM  
Blogger Henry Cate declared,

One of the things I've noticed is that many people who challenge homeschooling is that they'll acknowledge that homeschooling is a good option, but that say they could never do all the work.

This isn't true for every parent, but it seems like some are saying "Yes, I know homeshcooling would be better for my children, but I'm unwilling to make the sacrifice."

12/18/2010 10:29 AM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Henry, the fact that home school is a good option doesn't make it the best option for everyone. If someone truly believes it would be better for their children, they should go that route. However, "better for their children" includes "better for the entire household." I've seen home school parents completely lose themselves in the madness that can ensue for home school parents. It takes a certain type of person to be able to do it. One former home school family I know finally put their kids in public school and things definitely changed for the better for them. For some, the experience is just the opposite - things get better when they bring their kids home.

Again, I was a product of home school and may home school my own children. I have no problem with it. However, it's just not for everyone. It's pretty demeaning towards those who choose public school when home school parents accuse them of using excuses to avoid it, as if it's an option all responsible parents would at least try. What those parents are usually saying is, "Trust me, this is better, try it for yourself and you'll see, and if you don't try it, it's because you just haven't arrived like we have."

12/19/2010 12:56 AM  
Blogger Homeschool Family declared,


You seem like a well balanced, reasonable guy. I've enjoyed the dialogue. Since your last response to me, I've taken some time to consider some of what you said and wish to reply. It seems like our conversation is less about homeschooling now, and has taken some tangents into raising children.

Firstly, I think the word “fear” is the wrong word to describe my concerns with traditional school. I just recognize that kids are exposed to things that I don't think “kids” should be exposed to. I have a problem understanding why a mom and dad would purposefully send their kids into that kind of environment. And it's not because I'm afraid my kids would become “like them”. I just want my kids to enjoy the innocence of childhood - that (I think) children should be able to experience.

Wanting to be as honest (with myself) as possible, I've been thinking a lot about why I like homeschooling, and why I don't like traditional school. I have a lot of great reasons for and against, but if I'm totally honest... here's the real reason. I think there's a lot of bad parents out there, and I don't want my kids to be infected by the stuff their kids are infected by. I know... sounds harsh, but I'm pretty sure it's about as honest as I get. I just think most parents don't have the tools, or the discipline, or the time to raise their kids well, today. And when I say most, I don't mean many... I mean most.

Reading some of these posts has been an eye opener for me. I'm realizing that people don't see the world the same way I do. Which makes me think they're either naive, apathetic, or they were fortunate enough to have had a much better childhood than I did. -CONTINUED-

12/22/2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger Homeschool Family declared,

My mother let me play unsupervised. At 8 years old, my best friend who was 9 years old, showed me his dads porn stash and then convinced me to go into the hills and run around naked with him. He wanted to have anal intercourse with me – to show me what grown ups do. I didn't do it, but only because I thought it would tickle. As an adult, I realized that boy was most likely being sexually abused and that was his way of telling someone. I never told anyone.

When I was 9 years old, I found a stash of porn at a neighboring construction site. What did I do with my secret? Shared it with the other neighbor kids. Misery loves company.

When I was 11, I was allowed to spend the night at my “non-Christian” friends homes. That included the live-in boyfriends, and I got to hear them having sex in the next room over. Yep, 11 years old. I was just a guest though... the kids had to listen to it all the time.

At 12 years old, I remember hanging out at a neighbors house, when he showed me my the first lesbian sex video. Yep, saw two women having close up oral sex with each other. I'm 40, but still have that image in my mind. He said his mom and dad watch it all the time. He was 15 and smoked and cussed a lot too.

That same year, another 12 year old neighbor boy showed me the book his dad used to teach him about sex. I didn't realize it then, but it was a full-on child pornography magazine showing children having sex with each other. Yep, 12 years old.

I could go on and on with experiences like these. I haven't even brought up the drugs or the alcohol. Both of which I was raised to never touch, but was at one point addicted (15 years old) and even stealing from my employer to maintain the habit. Nor have I mentioned all the girls that I robbed of their sexual purity. And trust me, all the parents thought of me as a nice Christian boy (naïve or apathetic?). So, when I think of these things, I consider how much more prevalent these experiences are today, and how they are even glamorized in the media they consume. I can't help but feel like it's about time parents start “sheltering” their kids.

With all my heart, I wish my parents loved me enough to give me a little shelter. I would like to think that my experience is the anomaly, and I desperately hope it is.

What I know for sure, is that my children have had incredible childhoods. They have parents that are totally involved and adore them. My kids love each other and play together, and I think those relationships will continue into their adult years. Something too, I wish I had with my siblings.

I think my kids will look back at their lives and really appreciate how much we loved them and how they were raised. Bottom line, I'm just trying to be the dad - I wish I had.

I know everybody's experience is based on conditional factors. If you're going to send your kids into a traditional school environment, I think you have what it takes to guide them through it. Just don't be naïve or apathetic. You're children will thank you.

12/22/2010 2:24 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

It's interesting to me that none of those experiences happened to you at school. That fact alone makes me question whether this has anything to do with public or home school or whether home school is simply an extension for you of your desire to protect your children from anything negative they may see outside of your home.

Parents must be involved but you just can't prevent everything from happening unless you completely isolate them to your own home, and even then it's not foolproof. Most of the children I've seen raised in isolation have long since rebelled.

I can't recite as many disturbing childhood experiences as you can, but I can tell you I had a friend shove his hand down my pants while playing "doctor" at around age 7 while sleeping over at his house. Our parents were upstairs. I know others who have had similar things happen with parents in the house. Some things will happen regardless of outside influences. It was weird, I knew it was weird, and it never affected me after that. My parents taught me about that and I knew it was wrong, case closed.

I hope I'm able to help guide my kids' friendships. I hope they choose good friends and that I know when to say "no" to bad friends and how to help them see that they're bad friends. I hope I know when to let go and let them learn for themselves and experience life outside of my watchful eye. But I don't think their method of education is as significant a factor as it's often made out to be. Living life trying to save my kids from their peers leaves me painting "everyone else" as bad people and serves to provide them with a self-righteousness that isn't healthy. As you noted with your own experience, there are plenty of churched, home school kids who are fully capable of showing them porn if they want to. I certainly don't want them getting involved in those things but I'm under no illusion that sending them to public school automatically subjects them to it.

"What I know for sure, is that my children have had incredible childhoods." That's a very, very bold statement. With all due respect, I really think that's something for your children to decide. I've seen plenty of idealistic parents with perfect families and perfect kids end up with broken adults. I hope that doesn't happen in your case and have no reason to think it will. I simply can't say for sure that my children will have "incredible childhoods." That's for them to decide when the effects of their childhood in my home and under my parenting have been borne out into who they are as adults. I'll give them everything I can and trust that God will take care of them when I fail (because I will fail).

12/22/2010 3:58 PM  
Blogger Homeschool Family declared,


When you start using extreme words like "isolation", I think you may be speaking to a stereotype that I don't fit. And when you talk about "idealistic parents with perfect families, and broken adults"... again, it's like your pointing to some extreme scenario. I think most families with loving parents who do a good job, are going to end up with loving children who are better off for it.

I know someone who was raised in a very "religious" home (public school btw) where everything was "no" without discussing the "why". He had a very difficult time as an adult - when he had to make decisions on his own. So I get where you're coming from, but that's not my family picture, at all.

I found it odd that you think it's "bold" to state that my kids have an incredible childhood. I kinda get the impression you find it hard to believe that a great childhood is possible.

If there's one thing I feel sure about, it's that my kids have it really good. It warms my heart and puts a humble smile on my face and makes me feel like life is very good.

As for public school. You're right, the kids I mentioned were just the friends I made when I was at school. Almost all the terrible things I experienced with these kids were after school. Besides the fighting and the drugs at school, the influences I experienced at school almost every day of my life had no affect on me. :-|

Every family is different and brings their own experiences to the party. There's no one answer for everyone. When it's all said and done, the proofs in the pudding.

May God bless you in your family endeavors.

12/22/2010 6:06 PM  
Blogger Joey declared,

Perhaps I am describing a model that you don't fit, but it's not a far-fetched stereotype so much as it's reality for a number of home school families. The "perfect families turning out broken adults" scenario isn't an extreme scenario but is the norm in some circles.

For clarification, I don't find it difficult to believe a great childhood is possible at all. However, it seems to me that it's a bit premature for me to declare that "my children have a great childhood." It comes across as a bit presumptuous and prideful, like, "I've figured out how to make a kid have a great childhood!" I'm glad you feel confident that your kids have an "incredible childhood," but that comes across to me as a veiled way of saying, "I'm an awesome parent." Like I said, that's just something that I think is for my kids to decide. I just think it's pretty difficult to declare, "My kids have it great," when the effects of that childhood and parenting aren't really seen yet.

12/23/2010 12:28 AM  

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