Families who teach at home – the diversity

I have read many articles addressing various ways to identify home schooling mothers or home schooling families in general. Many are rather successful attempts at humor and encouragement, noting similarities shared among families. A comment in one of them (by a mother who felt out of place in slacks in “a sea of denim jumpers”) brought to mind a few things that may be helpful to address in a more serious fashion.

Home educators are united in that they often share a strong conviction that they can give their children a superior education: academically and morally. Most Christians who teach at home are diligently trying to follow God’s ways rather than man’s ways. Their strong convictions result in many similarities among families: careful attention to child training, modest dress, censorship of profane and vulgar materials, and diligent attention to God’s word.

Home educators have so much in common that some are surprised to find they have plenty of differences. As a whole, homeschoolers are a very diverse group. Do not be deceived, many families hold strong views on various issues which can easily become objects of contention if care is not exercised! Consider the plethora of options in home education: teaching methods, teaching materials, college preparatory, apprenticeship, “school at home” versus “lifestyle of learning.” When disagreements arise regarding academics, many agree to disagree with no personal judgments involved. Among Christians, the “my way or the highway” approach is not commonly used regarding academics.

However, consider just a few of the non-academic issues families share differing convictions on: apparel (thrift store only shopping, name brand clothing, fashionable clothing, make-up, jewelry, hairstyle); extracurricular activities (competitive sports, martial arts, involvements with public schools); food choices (organic-only, avoiding processed foods, avoiding fast food or eating out in general); appropriate entertainment (use of libraries, televisions, video games, malls, theaters); miscellaneous (home birthing, homesteading, family size, type of acceptable employment). These things hold great importance to those who believe and practice them, and are very often matters of discussion amongst families. There are so many varying opinions one could write an entire book on the diverse beliefs of home educating families. Often they become matters of heated discussions due to the deeply held feelings of those involved. 

Strong convictions are wonderful! The Lord will spew the lukewarm and apathetic from His mouth, this should move people off the fence quicker than barbed wire! Yet, we need to be careful to avoid making our personal convictions matters of the faith once delivered. Let us encourage one another in sound doctrine as we are commanded to do, but let us respect others’ liberty in areas not addressed in God’s word. We should always pull our brethren from the fires of sin; this is love in its truest form, and in no way should we tolerate sin. However, we should respect the various choices families make, even when they differ from our own.

Consider this true illustration: A child spoke to his father at a restaurant, “Daddy I can tell that family doesn’t love Jesus!” Puzzled, the father asked, “How can you tell son?” The little boy responded, “They are eating white bread!” This illustration shows just how careful we need to be about binding where God does not bind!

Category: Musings
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