Advantages of Homeschooling for Christian Families

Homeschooling is increasingly becoming more popular as a choice of education for many families. Instead of being forced to choose between public and private schools, some parents choose to go one step further and home school their kids, albeit for many different reasons.

Christian parenting experts tend to advocate homeschooling as a way to protect children from negative influences of their peers. The sad thing is, these parents wind up operating in a spirit of fear against the public school system. This is definitely not the way the Lord designed His children to act; we do not have a spirit of bondage to fear, but He has given us the spirit of sonship, which enables us to call Him “Abba, Father” (Romans 8). When we understand how we belong to Him, and that all His desires for us and our family are good, we can be confident of having Him wherever we, as well as our children, go.

So if we aren’t looking at this safety net from negative influences as a reason to homeschool, what could be the benefits of homeschooling for Christian parents and their children?

1. Reduced financial costs – Many Christian families turn towards home school because of budgetary constraints. When you homeschool your child, it will definitely cost you much less in terms of finances compared to private and even public school. For Christian families who embrace a voluntary fasted lifestyle so as to turn their finances into kingdom pursuits, these lower costs translate into a great relief from budgetary issues.

2. Lessons can be adapted to suit the child’s learning style – Surely, one serious benefit of home schooling is that a child is not forced to learn based on a fixed curriculum that has been set without considering his specific learning style or personality. Of course, this does not mean that you do not purchase, perhaps, a set of Christian homeschool curriculum; instead, it means that you have the freedom to adapt the curriculum to match your child’s learning style. For example, when a child enjoys music, he can easily learn more things when they are set to music, and you can also teach him how to play instruments, while another child who enjoys sports can learn more through active participation.

3. It’s highly flexible in terms of venue and time. When you homeschool your child, his learning is not limited to the classroom nor to the fixed hours of schooldays. For example, a child can go with mom and dad on out-of-town trips, helping friends or loved ones, or doing any other activity that he may not be part of had he been in regular school. This is a child who gets to experience the world with the guidance of his parents, who have Jesus living in them. In the same vein, online homeschooling enables kids to continue their education even with parents who bring them on much travel throughout the year.

4. Impartation – This is by far the most important benefit of homeschooling, as Christian parents are concerned not just about education, but of manifesting the heart of Jesus to their children. As you spend long hours with your children, you get more chances of expressing His love in the real day-to-day tasks, and these seeds will surely soon bear fruit. It is in the hour-by-hour togetherness that you are challenged to exhibit grace-based parenting, wooing them into who Jesus is.

These are the most important benefits of homeschooling for the Christian family. For every family, there may be other homeschooling pros and cons that may be recognized, but once these important foundations are in place, you will have the strength to face the challenges of homeschooling!

Types of Homeschooling Families

In my seven years of homeschooling I’ve found that there are usually three types of homeschooling families, each with different goals and desires for their children. Many homeschooling families will find themselves in one of these niches. These niches are not a bad thing, necessarily, but some of them, in my opinion, can be taken to an extreme.

When researching homeschooling I found there are a lot of different names for different styles of homeschooling. You have “school at home”, a strict type of schooling with a full curriculum, laid out lesson plans, desks and maybe even a chalk board or white board. School starts at 8:30 a.m. on the dot with scheduled breaks, lunch and even a recess. I’ve even heard of some moms who have their children call them “Mrs. Jones” or whatever when they are homeschooling in this method.

You also have a relaxed homeschooler. This homeschooler follows a curriculum but it’s usually loosely structured. Lessons take place on the couch, at the kitchen table, in the family car or wherever else may be convenient. Sometimes the lesson is tossed for the day and they end up watching movies as a family or going on a spur of the moment field trip. Lessons start whenever the family feels like starting and may end well into the night.

Then there are unschoolers. These are families who use no curriculum and at times seem to have no rules at all for their children. If they live in a state that requires a portfolio or testing, they may break down every now and again and produce some work, but they primarily just go with the flow. Parents have material readily available for the kids to play with or read and believe that they are there to be a resource for the child. Some unschoolers are more strict than others, sometimes even more so than the “school at home” parents. These types of unschoolers are called “radical unschoolers”.

I consider myself a relaxed homeschooler. I love the idea of unschooling, but I fear it as well. I fear that if we unschool that our son would spend all day playing games and watching TV. I fear that he won’t learn to spell or read well or write anything, much less learn enough math to get into college. I fear that he will be selfish and rude and care only about himself. I have reasons to feel this way and any newbie homeschooler should be prepared if she dips her toe into the unschooling waters.

When my husband and I first started discussing homeschooling I researched and tried to learn everything I could. That was how I heard about unschooling. I thought it sounded great and I wanted to know more. I found a very well known site on unschooling and joined their email list. This site and list featured a predominant unschooling figure that is well-known as a speaker at various homeschooling events.

I found the people on this site – including this well-known speaker – and the email list mostly rude and arrogant. They apparently allowed their kids to stay up at all hours, play games all day, and, in my opinion,
pretty much allowed their children to do whatever they wanted. Any mention of any types of rules handed down by the parent – bedtimes, mealtimes, etc. – seemed to be out the window. At the time I was on this list I was still working outside the home, so we all had bedtimes. Anytime I mentioned bedtime I was told I “wasn’t an unschooler” and pretty much that any type of rules from me or his father was hurting him. Even though the parents didn’t seem to advocate any “rules”, it seemed these radical unschoolers had a lot of them. One particular discussion was about swimming lessons. Were they too restrictive? Did they count as “curriculum”? Should children not participate?

I was only on that list 2 weeks. I knew I still wanted to homeschool, but I swore I would never unschool because I didn’t want my child to be selfish and mean like the parents on that list. I also chose to stay off lists that proclaimed “Do it MY way or it isn’t right.”

It’s been over 7 years now since I was a part of that email list and since then I’ve met more unschoolers.
I know now that not all unschoolers are so “radical” and that unschooled children can be sweet and kind and unselfish. I also discovered it doesn’t matter what curriculum you use or don’t use. Everyone needs to do what is right for their family.

However much I’ve learned about unschooling, though, I still have a fear of actually going through with it.
Maybe if I’d been able to homeschool my son from the beginning instead of starting in third grade then maybe my feelings would be different.

Unschooling can be a positive thing, especially starting with a young child. I still believe that a home should have basic rules, however, just because everyone has to live there together. Those rules may be simple, such as bedtimes and mealtimes and chores and maybe there is an agreement that during certain times of the day the TV, computer and video games are turned off unless you are doing something educational. Within that framework I believe a child could find something to occupy their time – reading a book, creating a project or even playing with a sibling. All of those things can be a positive unschooling experience.

Even though homeschoolers do try to put themselves in a “category”, homeschooling is actually so varied and different for everyone that there can be no set of rules that pertains to us all. As homeschooling parents, we need to look at how our children learn best. There is no one curriculum for all. No one can teach their child everything and everything will not be learned during the typical schooling years. Learning should be for a lifetime and education means that you are able to find out what you need to know when you need to know it. A quote from Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill states:

An educated man is one who has so developed the faculties of his mind that he may acquire anything he wants, or its equivalent, without violating the rights of others.

I think this should be the goal of all education, not just homeschooling.

Free Homeschooling Options

Budget conscious parents often seek after free homeschooling resources. Parents join online and community homeschooling groups to learn methods of locating, making, and trading resources to decrease the cost of homeschooling. Those seeking free resources can also find support from homeschooling bloggers and websites who understand the basic need to control costs in order to afford homeschooling.

One group of homeschoolers who have worked hard at helping parents understand how to reduce and control costs of homeschooling are unschoolers. Unschoolers have advocated child led learning and teaching from the child’s natural environment. This naturally reduces the cost of education. Those who explore the techniques of unschooling can find ways to incorporate new ideas for educational opportunities even if one decides not to adopt all of the philosophy.

The local library provides more resources than many people realize. The most obvious resources are of course books, DVD’s, and audio books. Some libraries offer specific curriculum materials in a variety of formats that parents and teachers can borrow. It is important to ask as often times only teachers are aware of the resources. Interlibrary loan can expand the resources available to homeschooling parents. Parents should ask about museum and other passes. Many offer free passes to visit historical or science exhibits. These visits can provide children with alternate learning methods to add to homeschooling units. Some of these places also offer free learning activities online. Parents should research their resources as well.

The Internet provides a variety of free homeschooling options for parents. Some school districts are providing free online charter schools to parents who want to enroll online. This option provides parents with free curriculum, but does tie parents to a public school curriculum. However, parents seeking free resources can find a wide range of subject and age level materials available online. Homeschooling blogs and websites provide parents with access to resources to use online or to print out and use with lessons. Parents can also get informed about local areas that offer educational opportunities.