I read a blog recently urging Christian parents to abandon the public-school system since it’s basically abandoned any semblance of Christian values and morals. The blogger stated that children cannot be expected to stand firm in their family’s values with the onslaught of secularists’ views for six to seven hours of instruction daily for 12 years of schooling. The final straw for this blogger was the re-definition of gender. Modern day thinking is attempting to adjust truth to fit its desires, rather than adjusting desires to fit the truth. Truth is, biologically there are just two sexes—no more, no less. To teach something different is just wrong! This blogger said kids won’t be able to spell the difference between “their” and “there,” but they’ll be able to define what “Demi-gender” means. Yeah, I get the concerns, and I absolutely agree. Then why did I send my son back to a public middle school in the 8th grade?
It wasn’t an easy decision. We had tried a variety of educational choices, starting our son in public school for kindergarten to first grade, then sending him to a private Christian school. That became too cost prohibitive for us, and with fear and trembling, I agreed to give homeschooling a try. This was a huge sacrifice for me, but I had already sacrificed my career to stay at home with our kids, anyway. What’s a few more years? As a Christian, I know the Lord asks us to lay our lives down. Trust me, God has been helping me to put to death the “self” for a long while now. Homeschooling was the final kill.
Fifth, sixth and seventh grades I spent schooling my son at home. We found some excellent homeschooling curriculum, and joined homeschooling co-ops to help Josh connect with other kids his age. Every day, I struggled. Was Josh learning?Every day, I struggled. Was Josh learning? Click To Tweet Was I a “good enough” instructor? Was he keeping up with public school standards? Despite the doubts, I kept plugging along, following the daily planner of the school curriculum we were using.
After the first year, I began to relax a little. I learned that I can learn alongside my son, and that was okay. Because I wasn’t raised with a Christian education, using a school curriculum with a Christian worldview (Sonlight) was fascinating for me! I had NO idea how much Christendom contributed to world history (you don’t learn that in public school). History and English were my favorite subjects to teach Josh, but math? Not one bit! So, I found a math program online that taught Josh well, with tests and grading options online. That worked for us.
The co-ops were wonderful, too. We plugged into two groups. One was choir, drama and art classes that met weekly. The other was a speech and art class that also met once per week. So, two out of the five days of schooling, Josh was with other homeschooled kids, learning things in a group together. That was working great! Josh even landed the lead role in the musical that the kids were doing for his middle school drama class in 7th grade.
So, why did I stop homeschooling Josh? It wasn’t bad curriculum, or my lack of teaching experience. It was loneliness. Josh’s only sibling is an older sister who he is very close to, and she was moving out of the home to go off to college. (We also were moving to a smaller town for affordability, so being new to town, Josh would not know anyone.) The kids in homeschool enjoyed Josh, but seeing them just once per week wasn’t enough.
The hardest thing about homeschooling is that the friends your child makes live all over the place, usually miles and miles apart from each another. One of Josh’s closer friends lived 45 minutes from him! But that wasn’t going to stop me from trying. We’d arrange play dates, and I’d just drive, or we’d meet the friends at some mid-point. Still, that happened too infrequently. Most of the other homeschooled kids had multiple siblings at home, were involved in after school sports, and were just plain busy.
Josh’s isolation broke my heart. I prayed, and prayed just for one close friend for Josh, but that didn’t happen with the homeschooled kids. Josh’s loneliness was now being spent playing video games. We tried sports. He’s not an athlete. So, I prayed some more. Reluctantly, we began to consider returning Josh to public school. The smaller town we moved to was a bit more conservative, and had smaller class sizes. We met with the principal, and openly told him about our Christian values and our concerns. He reassured us that this school district was neutral, with few problems. We began to think this might be best for Josh, but I still wasn’t sure.
Josh, on the other hand, was ready to return. He was turning 14 years old, and wanted to make new friends in town. So, I figured we’d have him tested to make sure I hadn’t messed up his education too terribly. We took him into the school’s office, and he was tested for two days in the ‘Measures of Academic Process’ test, or MAPS. We had to wait a week for the test results to come back. That week, I spent fretting over how I may have ruined my son’s education, and I was hoping he’d at least be in the average category.
Well, you can imagine my shock when the test scores returned, and not only did Josh pass, but he excelled! He tested in the advanced level, and was placed in an advanced reader’s group, called “Future Problem Solvers.” What?!?! I was so thankful to God! Josh was smart, and I hadn’t blown it. Praise God! So, why ruin a good thing by sending him back to public education if he was doing so well? Again… loneliness.
Loneliness is a sad fact of our modern-day busy world. We keep our lives so jammed-packed with extra-curricular activities for our children, they don’t have time to simply hang out and pretend anymore. My son needed other kids daily, and homeschooling one child at home didn’t fill that need. If I had other children at home, that would have been different. But it was just Josh, me, the cat and the dog. My husband worked long hours, and tried to fill the gap a bit with Boy Scout activities, but that was also infrequent. When your child is extraverted, it is people give them energy and inspiration. Josh needed “people energy” from daily contact with other kids his own age.
So, this past year, Josh has been in middle school. He’s done well academically (4.0 GPA), and has made lots of new friends. None of these new friends are ‘as Christian’ as us, but they are not antagonistic towards his beliefs, either. We regularly have these new friends over to our house to hang out, and they seem like a decent bunch of boys.
I already am devising plans to create a Christian fellowship group with Josh and his friends to hang out here during the upcoming high school years. I am planning to meet with others who may be interested in participating. If I can make it work, this will be a small group of Josh’s friends learning self-respect, and maintaining traditional values during the high school years. We want this group to know there is a different way, a right way, to live by following Jesus, not the world’s crazy ideas of morphing truth to fit personal agendas. We pray we can be successful at this, with God’s help.
Regardless if this group works or not, prayer works! As parents, we pray every night with Josh, and regularly read the Bible (or some Christian book) to him. We know this is vital to keeping Josh covered spiritually.
Bottom line—every family has a different set of challenges they must fact. As Christians, we must pray for the wisdom to make the best decisions to meet those challenges. One thing we can never do is trust the system to take care of our son’s spiritual needs.One thing we can never do is trust the system to take care of our son’s spiritual needs. Click To Tweet It will not. Parents needs to be actively involved in training up their children with the hope of the gospel deeply embedded into their minds. In a world that is rapidly losing hope in the future, the gospel is light of the hope for all people.