Homeschooling Conviction
(some personal retrospection)

Dateline: 14 May 2013

Marlene and I went to our first homeschool meeting when she was pregnant with our first child. That was some 26 years ago. We didn't go out of curiosity, wondering if maybe we would or should educate our child at home. We went out of conviction, knowing full well that we never wanted our children to be exposed to or influenced by the anti-Christian, paganistic culture of government schooling.

Prior to the birth of that first child, Marlene worked full time as a secretary in a doctor's office. I worked for a local home remodeling contractor. I worked mighty hard, but Marlene actually made more money than me, though neither of us made a lot.

In addition to homeschooling our soon-to-come baby, we had a similar conviction that Marlene should leave her job for good, and be a full-time mother when the baby was born.

It was not a difficult decision for Marlene to leave work and focus on being a full-time mother, but it was a difficult reality. Our yearly income was cut to less than half. In addition to that, Marlene struggled with the significant "culture shift" that comes with leaving a busy full-time job to be a full-time mother. If you are a woman who has done this, you can probably relate.

But Marlene has never gone back to working a regular job, and, by the grace of God, we made it, though I can tell you it was not easy. Finances were always tight. 

There were times over those lean years when Marlene suggested that she could get a part-time job to make some money. But that never happened. I discouraged every thought of it. It was more important to me (and to Marlene) that our children (two more would be born) have a full-time mother.

Living in a state of perpetual financial difficulty and lack was not hard to bear, knowing that our sacrifice was part of fulfilling what we saw as a higher calling. A truer poverty in my mind would have been to see my wife working a regular job and our children without their mother at home for them. A truer poverty would have been to take the easier path and let my children be cared for each day by the Babylonian educational system. 

In the final analysis, conviction is a powerful force. People will endure tremendous hardships (far more than we had to deal with) to do something they are strongly convicted of—especially when it comes to their children.

In retrospect, Marlene and I have some regrets about some of the ways we homeschooled our children, but we haven't a single regret that we chose to homeschooled them. The biggest regret I have is that we sent our oldest son to two years of a "Christian school" and then to two years of public vocational school. But we learned from that— the two younger boys never experienced a single day of "Christian" or government schooling, thank God.

The lion's share of educating our boys fell on Marlene. She is the heroine in our homeschooling story. There is no doubt about that. Maybe someday my sons will truly understand the sacrifice and commitment their mother made in educating them at home. Maybe not. But she has my eternal gratitude for such selfless dedication to our children's education.

Mothers who take on the task of homeschooling their children, out of conviction, are remarkable people. It is a selfless act to commit to educating your children at home. It is contra-industrial. It is not easy. I have tremendous respect for homeschooling mothers.

As for me, I was 100% supportive but I was not the teacher Marlene was. I was more consumed with trying to make enough  money to keep the bills paid. Had I to do it again, I would do things a little differently. 

All of this is a roundabout way of introducing you to a documentary movie I recently bought, and watched, and really liked. It is called IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America

The movie sets out to answer the question.... Should Christians send their children to the government schools? 

The movie makes it abundantly clear that no right-thinking Christian should ever  submit their children to pagan indoctrination through the government school system. The film makes it's point in an entertaining way, but this is a very serious documentary.

Though my children are now beyond school age, I have younger Christian friends who are just starting to homeschool their children, or they are thinking about maybe homeschooling them. I bought the movie to lend to them. 

And, beyond that, I now have a grandson. He is a year old. 

Here's the trailer to "IndoctriNation"...

IndoctriNation Trailer from indoctrination on Vimeo.

People who are not Christians and read this may not fully understand the conviction that so many Christian parents have for homeschooling their children. That is understandable. And, no doubt, there are professing Christian parents who will disagree with my beliefs about homeschooling, asserting that lots of Christian children go to government schools and come out just fine. 

That is, I'm sure, true, just as it is true that many people survive airplane crashes.

My purpose with this essay is not to condemn or to be dogmatic. It isn't to start an argument. It is to give my testimony and my opinion. It is to encourage any Christian parents out there who are considering the home education of their children.

If you are a Christian who thinks government schools are a good place to send your children, I dare you to get the IndoctriNation video and watch it.


Matt B said...

Thank you for the documentary link. I will try to check that out. We are planning to homeschool our kids (4 and 2) but it is a daunting task to consider. There are often times we worry that we are best suited to teach them what they need and it gives us something to think and pray about.


Kay Lynne said...

I enjoyed your post. I too gave up my career(as an RN)when expecting the first of our 6 children.We decided to homeschool when our oldest was ready for the fourth grade.Not that I really wanted to at that point, but felt our son needed the one on one. We have now been homeschooling for 6 years and it has become a conviction as well. Next year I will have 5 students. While I have never felt "adequate" in and of myself to educate my children, God has definately been my help as well as a wonderfully supportive husband. Homeschooling has had many unexpected blessings for our family, and while it brings challenges and frustrations, I now would not trade that time with my children for anything.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this very important post.

Anonymous said...

I homeschooled my children, or tried to, anyway. Without my husbands support. He felt I should be working and paying daycare to take care of our children and let the school system do our jobs. My daughter graduated through homeschool, but I had to send my sons back to public school in high school (when my now ex-husband left) Worst possible time!! My (now 32yr old) daughter moved in with me last August and I lost my job in September. I have been home with my 4yr old granddaughter ever since. The atrocities of public schooling have taken their toll on my 11yr old granddaughter. My daughter finally said--That's it, she will be homeschooled! Since my daughter is now the only gainfully employed member of our household, I will be the teacher for both girls starting this coming school year. A little scary, at this age, but well worth it! Wish I could have had them both from the start.

ukageng said...

Could you elaborate a little more on the "Christian" school experience? I am on a committee which is investigating starting a Christian school at our church. I'd like to hear about your experiences and what made the school less than desirable.

TimfromOhio said...

Great post. I don't know if it was coincidence, or more likely, Providence, that I read this post this morning. I took a half day from work to be home while our two sons had their end of the homeschool year test. I thank the Lord every day for my wife who has been homeschooling our two sons (8 and 9) since the beginning - she planned for it while they were still in diapers. God has blessed us immensely through this endeavor and I encourage anyone reading Mr. Kimball's blog to go for it and homeschool their children! Husbands - take the reigns and lead your families - support your wives as much as you can and be an encouragement to them.

PS - off-topic, but I greatly enjoyed the orchard posts. We put in 8 fruit trees last year (everything but apples) and this year put in 9 apple trees. All semi-dwarf on M111 rootstock (best for our heavy, clay-rich soil). Look forward to comparing notes with you.

Herrick Kimball said...

Thank you everyone for your input here.

When we homeschooled our boys we had a lot of control over the other children that they associated with. This is especially the case when children are raised in a rural setting with no immediate neighbors, as was the case with us. We knew the parents and the family situations of other children.

But that is not the case when a parent sends a child into an institutional school setting. In our case, the Christian school was in an urban setting, which, I'm persuaded, was not a good thing at all. The curriculum was fine. The teachers were good folks (as far as we knew). But there was an contra-Christian, worldly peer influence that I was not pleased with.

It's my opinion that education is a good and necessary thing, and the best educational environment is the home. I don't believe "schooling," as it is understood in the modern context, is an appropriate form of education for Christian children.

But that's just me. Thanks for asking.

Herrick Kimball said...

I have heard of situations similar to yours. You have an opportunity to make a big difference int he life of your grandchildren, and I commend you for taking on the task. God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Here in the Netherlands we have reformed schools. Those are good schools for Christian children. Why are not out there in the U.S.? God bless. Margriet

Anonymous said...

Looks like a R.C. Sproul documentary. We chose to homeschool 6 years ago after reading "When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling" by R. C. Sproul Jr. As Confessional Lutheran's (WELS) we don't agree with much of his Reformed doctrine but this book really made the necessity of homeschooling clear. I would encourage any folks who are considering homeschooling to read this book.