We are used to calling the expert. It’s what we do anytime something around us needs to be repaired. It might be when our car breaks down, our air-conditioner quits cooling, or when our back pain won’t seem to go away. If in doubt, we call in someone who knows what they’re doing. So why would we think differently when it comes to our own kids?
The other day I sat across the table at a coffee shop talking to a good friend about his kids. They currently attend a really good local private christian school. He knew my kids attend public school, so we began to discuss the differences.
He was lamenting because of the cost of tuition for the private schools. As more of his kids began school, the cost was becoming a true burden for his family. When I finally pressed in to understand why he was so opposed to public school, his honesty caught me off guard.
“I’m afraid,” he said. “We tried one day of public school and I didn’t like the way the other parents looked, so we pulled out our kids and put them in private school. We’ve been pleased with our experience so far.”
But what caused him to think differently was something his daughter recently told him: “Dad, if we move from private school to public school, who would teach us about God?”
Ouch. The question stung. It was in that moment that he realized he had outsourced his responsibility of teaching his kids about the grace of God to the private school teachers. Subconsciously, he took a back seat to the “expert” Bible teacher.
Now, this isn’t to say that every parent of private school kids has outsourced their responsibility. Nor does it mean that every homeschool or private school kid’s parent lives in fear. But in this one case, he was guilty as charged.
What if we had a different look at how we schooled our kids? What if we looked at it like a partnership as opposed to an absolute? School was never meant to be the sole method for teaching our kids anyway. Yes, it is useful in teaching Algebra and Chemistry, but there are so many lessons that can be taught at home and reinforced – or tested – at school.
I’ve had many people ask me why we’re so committed to public school. For us, we find there is something extremely valuable public schools offer: the world in small doses.
But we don’t rely solely on the schools for education either.
After meeting with three different Superintendents of school districts and twelve different school principals, their message became clear: families are becoming less and less involved in the lives of their children, and are becoming more and more dependent on teachers to teach their kids everything.
Sad, but true.
So I’m proposing a different strategy. How about we homeschool our public school kids. Here are a few different ways to do that…
1. Prepare their hearts to learn. Work with them well before they start school to teach them what it means to be honest, to obey, to take responsibility and to practice self-control. Your child’s teacher will be forever grateful you did.
2. Tutor them at home. We’ve always used homeschool curriculum at home, even though our kids go to public school. Each morning during the summer, our two oldest do three pages of work before they can play anything electronic. We use A Beka material. Even during the school year we find it helpful to give our kids additional work during slower seasons of the year. Our goal is not to try to get them ahead. Our goal is to reinforce these foundational elements of learning.
3. Tell Bible stories often. The best way to become familiar with what the Bible says is to read it to your kids. We’ve used The Jesus Storybook Bible for our youngest, The Picture Bible for our older kids, and The Gospel Project app for the videos that come in it. It’s not something we do every single day, but if we go a few days without doing something, our kids ask.
4. Speak identity into them. Don’t let your kids formulate an identity of their own after being at school for a few years. Speak it into them early and often, and let them carry it to school with them. Tell them you are proud of them, that you love them, that you see God using them in great ways in the future. Point out what they are good at, and help them become aware of their weaknesses.
Do you homeschool your public school kids? What are some other ways to be intentional with them?