Frequently Asked Questions about Homeschooling
Many people have questions about the merits of homeschooling, but what can not be denied is that academically homeschoolers consistently out-perform children in state schools. The gap has so widened in the USA that universities are now offering scholarships specifically for homeschoolers because they want to attract the better students.
But what about socialisation?
Although it depends on the family, most homeschooled children are better socialised than public school children are. They are taught to relate across age-barriers, relating with older and younger siblings, and adults within the community. The public school child is forced into an unnatural set-up of having 35 children in one class, all of the same age (this is very unnatural - what working environment has 35 employees, all the same age in one small room?). This allows for negative peer pressure and a "pack" mentality to develop - the children against the teacher, against the authority figure, against authority in general.
Isn't homeschooling isolating your child from the world?
Hardly, your child will be exposed to the ways of the world and worldly ideas by simply turning on the television, opening a newspaper or simply going to the mall. However, by leaning a Biblical worldview, your child will learn to identify the worldview and underlying philosophy of the material presented and re-interpret from a Biblical perspective. Your child will be in the world (to make an impact for Christ and His Kingdom) but not of it (being fashioned after its superficial customs and philosophies).
What about exposing your child to the ways of the world?
Biblical Christian education is not putting your head in the sand and ignoring all other worldviews. The Biblical Worldview is able to stand-up to any worldview under the sun. True Biblical Christian education exposes your child to all other worldviews so that they may be understood fully and fairly. This results in a "double education" - your child will understand what he believes (the Biblical perspective) and why and what he does NOT believe (the humanistic perspective) and why.
Isn't homeschooling and Christian education retreating from the world?
This is a possible danger, but Biblical Christian education is never retreatist. What is unfair is sending an eight year old Christian child into the battlefield of ideas, as a missionary, to face an adult with 12 years of humanistic schooling and a four year degree from a humanistic university. This borders on cruelty and any expectations for the child not to become confused about what mommy and daddy taught him at home, or to make a difference for Christ is completely unrealistic. A better strategy, as demonstrated now historically in the USA, is that homeschoolers having a 12 year education in the Biblical Christian Worldview, before being sent into every area of life with vision, Godly character, and a firm understanding and grasp of the Biblical Worldview. This generation is beginning to impact on American culture. Optimistic commentators are suggesting a reformation in the USA. South Africa and Africa desperately need this.
What about sport, music, art and other important learning areas?
Most homeschooling providers encourage parents to enroll their children in a gymnastics, ballet, ice skating, or sports club of some sort. Some private and public schools (with a sympathetic principal) allow homeschoolers to join their sports programme even going as far as joining a "school house" for sports day. As for music and art - not all schools offer this subject anyway - private tuition for piano and other instruments is possible.
What about the time, finances and effort?
Yes, time, finances and effort are a reality. For the parent, homeschooling is full-time, because of this, it often keeps one parent out of a money-earning job. Homeschooling does require effort, but sacrifice makes for a powerful faith. Families can work around this by "cottage schooling" - homeschooling families get together to share the load and structure their time accordingly. Parents strong in one area can take both sets of families on a convenient day of the work, reducing time restraints and allowing the parent to work part-time or flexi-time. Grandparents are another alternative.
What about the more difficult academic subjects?
This is probably the greatest concern to parents considering homeschooling and it comes down to CONFIDENCE. No teacher knows your child better than you do. They average over 35 children in a class (and at high school they have about 7-8 different classes through the cycle/week) - this leaves about one minute - per child per lesson - of individual time. Parents have a greater interest in their child's education than a teacher or the Education Department and care a whole lot more. Most homeschooling curriculums are designed to encourage self-learning and are sufficiently structured to build your child's knowledge base so that by the time they reach the senior grades they have sufficient skills to work out and think through concepts for themselves. Most homeschooling bodies also provide support services to homeschoolers to help over any difficult patches, and with "cottage schooling" parents strong in certain subjects can always help out. You need not be alone.
Will my child's homeschool certificate be recognised at tertiary level?
While the focus of education should never be to go to university (it should be raise a child in the way he should go, i.e. as God has ordained, according to the calling upon his life), the proposed changes to the education laws will seek to clamp-down on this. Homeschooling is still legal in South Africa and growing daily. Most homeschoolers are writing two exams - the national one and an international one such as Cambridge O-levels. This is an added advantage in the context of globalisation.
So why homeschool (or send your child to a Biblical Christian School)?
There are many reasons that include:
|1.||Educating your children in the knowledge and fear of God is a Biblical mandate.|
|2.||Homeschooling holds the family together. With globalisation impacting on the family - homeschooling could be the way to go. Homeschooling helps bridge the generation gap.|
|3.||Homeschooling allows parents to shape their children rather than the negative peer pressure associated with public schools. This will help to fulfill a multi-generation vision. "A wise man leaves an inheritance to his children's children" (Prov. 13:22). This inheritance is material, spiritual, includes character and vision and destiny.|
|4.||Homeschooling will help protect your child's innocence. Don't be deceived, once organisations like loveLife have gotten hold of your children's greatest sex organ - their brain, it is difficult to go back. Once innocence is lost - it is lost!|
|5.||You will have greater peace of mind knowing your child is being raised in a godly way, with godly foundations that can carry them through the storms that life brings.|
|6.||Your child will have a superior education, have greater individual attention, and stand a greater chance in life. They will learn practical lifeskills like keeping budget, cooking and managing a home.|
|7.||Your child will be able to relate to people of all ages. This impacts in the classroom - younger siblings can be inspired by what older siblings are learning. Older ones can teach younger ones.|
|8.||You will have more flexibility; for example you can take your family holidays out of season, which will save money. This flexibility is extended to the curriculum allowing you the freedom to design exciting and relevant topics and projects.|
|9.||While you are teaching your child, you will learn at the same time. This is particularly exciting if you are following a Biblical Christian curriculum as most of us went to public schools and got a humanistic education.|
What about the parents who can't afford to homeschool or send their child to a Christian school?
Do not despair, many parents are in this situation. The most important thing is to care and that means being vigilant. Go through each evening what your child learnt at school that day (perhaps over supper) and discuss the lessons, help them think through the concepts and re-interpret from a Biblical perspective. Examine your child's textbooks, get an idea of the content. What is also highly recommended is to subsidize your child's education using Christian materials, for example - politics, Gary de Mar's series, "God and Government" is excellent, and there are also fantastic Christian books on history from a Christian perspective. The Safety Net Plan by Dr. Paul D. Lindstrom is an excellent help for parents with children in a public school. The options are endless.
A word of caution
Check out the homeschooling provider before using their curriculum. There is a movement in Christian Homeschooling today of excessive flexibility, so that one can allow the "Holy Spirit to lead". Although this added flexibility is an advantage of homeschooling, it can often be an excuse for laziness and sloppiness. The Biblical model is "precept upon precept, line upon line" (Is 28:10). This results in a more structured curriculum, with knowledge structures being layered with increasingly more advanced concepts that build upon one another. In educational terms this is known as "vertical knowledge structures" - these acknowledge the body of knowledge that has been up built up over history and the relevant authoritative sources (with it's foundation being the Bible). It is important that you seek an education provider that thinks in these terms.
For more information contact: Theocentric Christian Action (TCE) - www.homeschool-tce.co.za; or visit Christian Liberty Books website for homeschooling materials - www.christianlibertybooks.co.za (you can order online).