People Always Assume Our Big Family Homeschools: 5 Q's to Consider When Making the Schooling Choice

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We sat down at our weathered farm table together. I fiddled with the salt shaker. He leaned back into one of the mismatched chairs with his hands behind his head.

My husband and I were about to have one of those trajectory talks. You know, the kind that years later you look back on and recognize the significance.

Our oldest, a round-faced, smiley kid, was at the end of his two-year preschool career. At three, we had hesitantly sent him off to an international preschool on the other side of our city, where he rubbed itty-bitty shoulders with kids from different continents. We actually loved it more than he did.

The following year we found ourselves back in the US and sent him off to a small preschool named after nursery rhymes and located in a local church. I remember swaying mightily down the school sidewalk as I delivered my boy to class, wishing it were time to deliver the two babes rocking in my hilariously large belly.

My husband and I had been intentional about those preschool years, now it was time to be intentional about the real school years.

The options we laid on the jelly-smeared table that day were the typical ones:
Private Christian school
Home school
Public school

We are a thorough people and there may or may not have been a pro/con list involved.

My entire school life was spent at small Christian schools and my husband’s was a blend of the same plus homeschooling. Our own experiences did not seal the deal for us on that day; we were wide open to all of the options.

What did we want for our family?
Of all the good things we wanted, what did we want the most?
What plans and passions had God put strategically in our hearts?
What schooling option would help us get there?

We looked around our dining room. Homeschooling? With five small kids? What would that look like? Would I last one whole day or one whole week?

We thought about the local private schools. We considered sizes and formats and tuition. Could that be a good option for our family?

As we considered the public schools and imagined the halls and the lunch time chaos, we felt a little fear. What were the kids there like? What kind of influence would they have on our own kids? Feelings of unrest crept up our minds. It would be easier to send our kids to public school if it were full of good influencers. Where were all the Jesus-kids?

And then it hit us and we knew: that was us!
Those Jesus-kids were our kids.

That smiley preschooler is headed into his senior year of high school and all six of his siblings have followed him into our local public schools. Our prayer is that they would take the best news of Jesus’ presence into their halls and cafeterias and stinky locker rooms.

This is not a post to convince you to send your kids to public school (although they could use more confident and kind kids). I recognize that all families have their own unique situations and values. This post is meant to inspire your family to make a fear-free decision and give you a few questions to consider as you do so.

Many a parent has said these words to me “We take it one year at a time.” Aren’t they so smart?

So if you are discussing your schooling options for the first time or revisiting them for the tenth, here are a few questions that might help you in your decision-making process.

1. What do we already believe God is asking our family to do, apart from schooling?

For some of us, this question quickly takes an option or two off of the table. Perhaps your family calling is just a rumbling in the back of your head and bringing it to the front and examining your schooling choice in light of it can bring fresh wisdom.

Do you feel the deep desire to get to know your neighbors better? Care for your out-of-town parents? Invest in your own personal health? Travel? Prioritize your marriage? Which option makes the most sense in light of other things you are also called to do?

2. What do we want the most for our family?

We all have a stack of values for our kids. Take a minute or two, or a day or two, and jot down all the ideals that come to mind. Include your spouse in the process.

Personal responsibility, honesty, leadership, sibling bonds, cultural appreciation. Flexibility, independence, diversity.

Usually, our values are many and we may find they seem to conflict with each other in this decision making. But not all values are created equal. Go through your list and circle the two or three that are the most important to you.

Sometimes seeing a few words highlighted on the page can bring us clarity about big decisions.

3. What option is fear telling us to avoid?

When you consider one or more of your options, do you feel a twinge of fear? Maybe you are worried that homeschooling would make your kids weird. Maybe you feel anxiety at the thought of third graders cussing. Maybe you are afraid based on your own personal experience and are allowing it to influence the decision for your family right now.

Let me remind us all loud and clear: FEAR IS A THEIF AND A LIAR. If you feel fear as you head into decision making, call it out, be honest about it. Ask God to show you the truth that fear is keeping you from seeing.

4. What is a good fit for each kid individually?

Just because it worked well for big brother and big sister doesn’t mean it’s a good fit for all of our kids. Could one of them benefit from more one-on-one teaching at home with a parent? Could the resources of public school serve one or more of our kids really well?

For a few of my friends, school days look different for their array of kids. One may attend a Christian school while the younger one homeschools for a few years. Or one of them is ready for public school while another needs the small community a private school offers. Our kids do not all need to have the exact same schooling experience.

5. What are the current gaps we see in our kids?

Our kids are not yet complete. At least in our house, ain’t nobody close to perfection. If we take a long peek at their character, their relationships, their souls and their education, what do we observe? Is there a schooling choice that could help teach those lessons and fill in those gaps? Even for a year or a short season?

I do want to be crystal clear on one thing as we have these school conversations:

We do not need to homeschool our kids to intentionally teach them about Jesus.

I have homeschooling friends who are freaking ah-mazing when it comes to instilling faith in their kids. They have large chunks of time to discuss all things God-related.

For that, I envy them.

But they aren’t the only ones teaching Jesus’ ways to their kids. It takes more intention and maybe more motivation to teach our kids the most important things *in the margins of our days,* but I am here to confidently say: It is very possible.

Parents, I know that this schooling decision is one of the more weighty ones we make for our families. But don’t let those knees knock or the fears talk smack in your ears.

We need wisdom, plain and simple. “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)

Ta-da! There we have it. God will give us the wisdom we need as we figure this out.

And guess what? If we don’t like the decision we make this year, there is always next year.

Here are the five questions, condensed all nicely for a screen shot.
You’re welcome.

1. What do we already believe God is asking our family to do?
2. What do we want the most for our family?
3. What option is fear telling us to avoid?
4. What is a good fit for each kid individually?
5. What are the current gaps we see in our kids?

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this.
    -The Mom who is Nervously Enrolling her Firstborn in Public School While She Homeschools Numbers Two and Three.

    • Good for you, finding what works for your family!

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