Since the onset of the pandemic, online learning and decreased activities have led to an increasing need for parents to take up the role of teachers. Some families have even chosen to homeschool their children. Not only can this lower the risk of contracting COVID at school, it can also prevent children from learning obstacles and losses due to the restrictions of the pandemic. Does homeschooling work? What are the pains and joys? May you be inspired by Stephane’s sharing. (Note: Stephane’s two sons have already graduated from college.)
When I first heard about homeschooling on the Focus on the Family radio program back in 1998, I held a very skeptical view of homeschooling as an alternate education choice. It would be too difficult, nearly impossible for me to homeschool my two boys, but God started to call me to take up this role of full-time teacher to my two kids. After three years of devoted prayers and numerous confirmations, I finally surrendered to His sovereign calling. Thus, in 2002, I embarked on this journey of faith, with God’s promises as my sole guidance.
In the homeschooling environment, close encounters were the norm. I became the prime model to my children. My thoughts and deeds were unintentionally yet constantly shaping their character and emotions. They knew whether we as parents walked the talk or just talked the walk. Many times, I had to humble myself, ask for their forgiveness for my imperfect walk, and point them to Jesus as the ultimate model.
Setting boundaries was one of the most important aspects in children’s spiritual character development, helping them discern right from wrong. Since their childhood, we never allowed our boys to access R-rated movies nor pornographic media, lest their minds be poisoned by inappropriate messages and images. I recall one incident when my then 15-year-old son got invited by his friends to watch a movie. As we dropped him off at the entrance of the theater and were about to leave, we saw him come running back to our car. “R-rated, Mom. I’d rather not watch.” At that instant, my heart overflowed with thanksgiving! He was able to discern between good and bad and took a stand against peer pressure. I truly understood why God gave us the instructions in Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “These commandments that [God] give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” God’s Word is full of promises and power, capable of helping children resist temptations and peer pressure. As I strive to anchor my children in God’s Word, they will not depart from it even as they grow old.
Apart from spiritual formation, homeschooling also helped our children learn practical life skills. Due to the one-to-one nature of instruction, my children could often finish academic subjects quickly in three to four hours. As a result, they could afford extra time exploring subjects that fascinated them. My older son, for instance, loved to play around with computers and would spend hours fine-tuning or troubleshooting. He also developed some interest in cooking and has surprised us with a few dishes. When he went to New York for college, daily meal preparations were not hard for him. Being able to explore their own potentials independently and self-study were obvious results of homeschooling.
Inquiring parents often came to me with the question of socialization, arguing that our family had been sheltering the children from the reality of traditional schools. However, our kids got to interact with different school-age children during the bi-weekly park meetings and group field trips as part of a local support group of many homeschooling families. These gatherings and other extracurricular activities greatly broadened our children’s social networks.
Psalm 127:1 declares that “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” God used my homeschooling journey as an invaluable lesson for me to trust in Him, broaden my spiritual vision, and help our whole family experience His faithfulness on a deeper level. Whatever my children turn out to be, it was all by God’s grace!
Original article published in Presence Family Magazine, May 2012, Issue 4
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