June 12, 2022
Under the shade of my backyard maple, a long-time friend (whom I will call Stacy) and I chatted while our children romped around the yard, splashed in the kiddie pool, and swung on the playground. The baby rolled and played contentedly on the quilt-covered ground under the shimmering spring maple leaves. Stacy and I indulged in homemade chocolate chip cookies while treasuring this rare opportunity for fellowship.
In the course of our conversation, Stacy asked me why I chose to homeschool my children. I was surprised by such a question and paused to ponder my answer. Stacy is already in the midst of homeschooling and farther along in her journey as a homeschool mom, and I was honored that she would ask “little me” such a question.
Homeschooling has become my mental framework and even my personal conviction, and I had forgotten that my friend probably remembered a different “Ashley” of days gone by. Stacy and I have literally known each other since we were babies, so she was somewhat surprised to find out that I was homeschooling instead of sending my children to a Christian school.
Stacy and I grew up in similar yet very different school environments though both of our parents had heartbeats for Christian education. My friend grew up in a ministry home, and homeschool was the only option for their beautiful yet remote location. Stacy received a top-notch education from her mother, a former highly-professional business woman turned pastor’s wife.
In my case, my parents moved cross-country to put my brothers and me in a Christian school, and before my dad even accepted a job, he ensured that a solid Christian school was available for us. My mother also taught at the school I grew up attending. Thus I grew up fully immersed in the exciting life of Christian school with all of its typical busyness, incredible extracurricular opportunities, and academic rigor.
After graduating from Christian high school, I stuck around for college and then stuck around even longer to get my Master’s Degree (in my heart I was just waiting for Mr. Right to come along, and he did). After I got married and moved to my new home, there were no Christian schools in the vicinity in which to teach, so I started a music studio and loved teaching my students who ranged from young children to adults.
In my heart I remember thinking, “I hope we move before we have children since there is no Christian school nearby!” Anyone who knew me in my grad school days would know that I somewhat looked down on homeschooling as second rate, and my children certainly would not be homeschooled! I viewed homeschooling as a last ditch effort before public school for those who did not have a Christian school available.
Fast forward a few years, and my husband and I did relocate to a large southern city with multiple well-known Christian schools within driving distance. So why in the world am I homeschooling my children now that my former wish came true?
Though I had spent years and years in the Christian school classroom as a student and then as a teacher, God had to school me in the course called, Real Life 101. Sometimes the Lord has to take us down paths to humble us and get us to see life from a different perspective, namely His perspective. Please know that I truly support Christian schools, and I whole-heartedly encourage other parents to put their children in a Christian school if homeschool is not an option.
Moving away from the growing metropolis of my childhood to a country setting changed my worldview. As I learned to lean on my new husband for support since my family was not nearby, our relationship grew and our hearts became one. I realized just how important family is. Also, living in the country taught me to value relationships not material stuff and the daily grind needed to acquire such stuff.
The process of choosing to homeschool over Christian school was a gradual one for me, and I cannot point back to a certain day in my life and say, “On this day I determined to homeschool my children.” But I will tell you that after bringing my first baby home from the hospital, I knew that I wanted to be the primary influencer in her little life, not someone else. I had no interest in sending my daughter to spend more time with someone else than with me, and even though the days are sometimes long at home, there is nothing I’d rather do than be with my children.
Children’s carefree laughter filled the May air as I gathered my thoughts to answer Stacy’s curiosity. I looked off into the distance (characteristic of me when answering a question) at my neighbor’s trees and shared my heart with Stacy about how God had changed my viewpoint on schooling and settled a desire in my heart to school my own children. I believe we both walked away from that conversation encouraged in our own pursuits of homeschooling.
In my next post, 8 Reasons to Homeschool, I plan to share the specific reasons that I shared with Stacy of why our family homeschools. Stacy’s curiosity about our family’s schooling choice certainly prompted my thinking and inspired me to write this blog post.
You may care deeply about homeschool because you are in the thick of it or you may be far removed from the throes of homeschool. Whatever your interaction with homeschooling is, I hope that you can sense the care and love behind most homeschoolers’ hearts. Sure, there are some homeschoolers out there who create a bad name for the rest of us, but most homeschooling families step out in faith and diligence to teach and train their children.
If you know a homeschooling family, I would encourage you to say an encouraging word to them! They could certainly use any encouragement to keep walking along the sometimes lonely road of homeschool.