It was my first time back at Bible study after two weeks away. I am still new to the church, so I picked a row and sat down next to a girl I’d never seen before. She glanced at me and smiled. “My name’s April, what’s yours?”
“Phylicia,” I answered. “I haven’t been here the last two weeks -”
“Oh, it’s ok, neither have I!” She answered cheerily. “So where do you work?”
We found out we both work for Liberty University, she in the Law School and myself in recruitment. “I’m the school group and homeschool recruiter.” I clarified.
“Homeschool recruiter? I am very interested – what exactly do you do?” I explained my job in more detail, until April said, “I am interested because I was homeschooled as well – 6th grade through high school.”
“Did you have a good experience?” I asked.
“Yes! I loved it.” She answered.
As we went to our respective study groups, a pretty woman touched my arm. “You were homeschooled?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“I just wanted to thank you and the other girl for what you were saying – I couldn’t help but overhear. It’s so encouraging to hear people talk positively about their homeschool experiences. I am homeschooling my three kids – age 7 and under. So it’s encouraging to me to hear that, especially on days when I think, “I’d really love to put you in school!”” She laughed and I thanked her for what she is doing in the lives of her children.
In my former job, I had the privilege of traveling the United States to talk to homeschool mothers like this. With homeschooling growing seven times faster than private or public education, there are many more women (and men) choosing to educate their children at home. And while the initial stigma attached to home education has fortunately waned, choosing to home educate requires great patience, sacrifice, and time.
Can a public schooled child turn out alright? Sure. Many of you, homeschooling mothers, went through public school systems yourselves.
And will homeschooling guarantee your child’s success and salvation? No. There are a few homeschooled children who struggle to adapt to the social surroundings of adulthood, and there are homeschooled children who reject Christ.
Homeschooling is neither a fruit of the Spirit nor a guarantor of your child’s spiritual destiny.
But as a homeschool graduate, one who has seen many sides of the homeschool ‘movement’ and who now works closely with home educating families of every background, I can testify that homeschooling was the foremost contributor to my workplace success, my personal confidence, and my biblical worldview.
Tired homeschool mother, let me offer some reassurance as a grown-up version of the child you are now raising: you are so much more than a ‘SAHM’ (stay at home mother). When people look at you cross-eyed in the grocery store, when your in-laws doubt your decisions, and when the socially-awkward homeschool minority makes you second-guess your decision, remind yourself of the following:
1. You are a discipler, equipper, and church planter.
Homeschooling is discipleship. The reason homeschooled students often possess high GPAs, strong self-motivation, excellent communicative skills (most of the time), and a strong set of personal values comes down to the amount of time devoted to each student. As a college admissions counselor I dealt with public, private and homeschool students on a regular basis. The students who had one-on-one, discipleship-based educations always came out on the top academically, socially, and spiritually.
This isn’t just about high grades and college scholarships. It’s not just about cranking out doctors, lawyers, pastors and politicians, though we SHOULD endeavor to influence society. You, homeschool mother, are a discipler in the truth. You are Paul to your young Timothys. You are the equipper: you give your children the tools to be successful at home, in relationships, and in life. And you are the church planter: sending out young missionaries to every field in every nation, bringing the truth of Christ to every vocation.
With soap suds up to your elbows and the laundry machine humming on load number 1,256, you might feel the furthest thing from Paul. But this homeschooling is your tentmaking, and each moment you spend on vowels with that squirmy boy is another stitch in the fabric of his being… the man of God he will become, thanks to you.
2. You are a revolutionary.
You, tired, homeschool mother, are a rebel. You might not be a fighter like me – the kind of woman who thrives in the front lines – and might be taken aback by that statement. But you are: you are a rebel. You are a revolutionary.
You are a woman who has rejected the standards of society, the ‘good enough’, the ‘they’ll be okay’, to do what is best for your family. You have accepted the sacrifices that go with this mission: late nights, grading papers while cooking dinner, studying subjects you never liked when YOU were in school, trying to teach boys to read and babies to use the bathroom – all while managing a home, loving a husband and wondering if, in fact, you are doing the right thing.
It would be easier to put them in school (and there are certainly women who do that, not to their detriment), and there are days you want to! But each day you want to cry in frustration or yell at the child by the dry erase board, I promise you: your investment will not return void. Revolutionary parents produce revolutionary children: young adults who think critically about life, not just next week’s party. Revolutionary parents produce children unaffected by popular opinion, evaluating their current sphere in light of history’s span and a biblical worldview. You might not see it now, but you are quietly, consistently equipping your children to enter the world as leaders.
3. You are a template.
This might be a little scary: I know it will be frightening for me someday, when my husband and I have children. But you are the template your children will use to build the model of Christian life, love, and marriage.
Their theology is built on not just how you teach God, but how you love Him.
Their view of relationships is built on the security and love they see in your marriage: how much you respect their father, and how much he loves and protects you.
Their view of life is built on the level of influence Christ has on every word and action they see you take.
The world provides disciplers and templates, too. They are the school teachers, the coaches, the daycare workers, the theater directors, the Sunday School teachers. Some of these are wonderful people; some of them are not. You have chosen not to take the risk of outsourced discipleship, instead choosing to teach your children at home. Therefore, you are the template of instruction in social, academic and spiritual success. Your priorities will become their priorities. Your role is not insignificant: it is pivotal.
4. You are the face of the future.
Perhaps you dread your high school reunion, when you get to hear about your classmates’ work successes, only to answer their inquiries with, “I’m a stay at home mom.” Our culture has made such an admission something to be ashamed of, when in reality it is a far higher calling than any other job a woman can hold.
Because it is parents who have the best vantage point from which to train successful employees, competent adults, and people of integrity. You have both the knowledge and authority to help your child become the best adult he can become, and while he may still stumble, fall flat, make mistakes and even turn his back for a while, if you have trained him in the way he should go, the promise will not return void.
I’ve been the rebellious child. Just ask my mother. I’ve been that child you wished you’d never had. I wouldn’t eat my soup, hated to do math, wore things I shouldn’t have and tested every nerve my mother had. I had a fighting spirit that made me a parent’s worst nightmare, now that I look back. But because my parents discipled me, patiently taught me, and brought me back to God’s purpose for life over and over again, my ‘fighting spirit’ is being submitted to God’s will, enabling me to tackle tough social issues that produce a lot of backlash.
I’m still in the sanctification process, trust me. But that process was begun as my parents intentionally trained me in the truth. They taught me to work – and got me my first job at age 12. They taught me to have integrity – and punished me when I lied. And now as a woman who has been working for 10 years in many different capacities, I can bring the truth in which I was trained to my vocation.
You, homeschool mother, are the face of the future, reflected in the countenances of your children.
5. You, and your husband, are the face of Christ to the children in your care.
Love is to choose the highest good for another person, even at the sacrifice of oneself. When you choose to homeschool, you choose to sacrifice your own time, energy and interests to train up your children in the way they should go (Proverbs 22:6). That verse is a promise, homeschool mother: train up a child in the Lord’s way, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
Homeschooling itself cannot save us, your children; but Christ-centered homeschooling produces adults who have Christ integrated into every part of their education. As you keep Christ at the center of your life, your marriage, and your school system, your children cannot help but see it. We learn that faith, work, and pleasure are not mutually exclusive, but all part of the same package. We learn to navigate life through the lens of God’s will, not wavering opinion and the influence of peers. And we leave the nest with a foundational knowledge of God’s Word, our purpose in this world, and the confidence to enter society as competent individuals.
I have met so many homeschool mothers who doubt their ability to truly accomplish what they have set out to do. Women – often the more insecure of the two sexes – easily struggle to accept their successes and see themselves for who they truly are: disciplers, fighters, example-setters, and the face of Christ for the next generation. The government may be able to school a greater quantity of children than you; but you school them with greater quality: a quality that is determined by you, your husband, and God’s Word, not the Common Core.
So to you, tired, homeschool mother: you’re worth more than you think. You’re accomplishing more than you see. And you’re making an impact that will last from generation to generation.
“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” (Deut. 6:6-7)