What Homeschooling Parents Are Saying About Their Experience

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:15–16)

My family just returned home from thirteen days on the road. Rachael and I took our four youngest kids (aged twelve to eighteen) to the Christian Home Educators Association of California convention in Pasadena, followed by the Arizona Family Home Educators convention the next weekend in Phoenix. In between homeschool events, we did a little sightseeing at Yosemite and the Sequoia National Forest.

The trees in the forest and views in the valley were truly awe-inspiring. General Sherman, El Capitan, Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point were mind-blowing displays of God’s handiwork. The whole area was a perfect mix of beauty and poetry in nature.

Of course, our priority on this trip was to serve homeschooling families in Pasadena and Phoenix. Our time with parents at both locations was phenomenal. After talking with moms and dads at various stages of homeschooling, from first-timers to seasoned veterans, we kept hearing many of the same themes and concerns over and over.

Here’s what parents are saying about teaching at home these days.

  1. A Home School’s Chance of Survival is Largely Dependent on Dad

Most home schools that fail don’t have a dad who truly believes in the decision to teach the kids at home. It’s vital that the man of the house fully support the family home school if it’s going to survive, let alone thrive.

We heard this from both men and women. Some moms told stories of feeling so discouraged that they may need to quit. One mom told me that her husband had focused all the school’s energy on a single priority: academics. He said that if they were going to homeschool (against his will) then the family’s day would be filled with all manner of math, science, reading, writing, and history, including testing and more testing. This man may not realize what he is doing, but this approach will only lead to exhaustion, fatigue, frustration, rebellion, and a complete lack of joy in the school and family relationships.

Dads gave similar testimonies. Several men confessed that they had been the roadblock to their home school’s success. But they had come to realize that they needed to pick up the banner, show a little (home) school pride, and trust Mom’s teaching for the benefit of everyone in the family.

  1. Homeschooling Requires a Paradigm Shift

It’s very easy for a new homeschooling family to try bringing public school home. We, too, made this mistake during our first year. After all, it’s all Rachael and I knew. We all tend to rely on our past experience when undertaking a new endeavor.

Here’s a warning: Don’t do it.

Homeschooling is not the same as public (or private) school. Homeschooling is a lifestyle and requires a real paradigm shift. Paradigm shifts are not easy—they require a major change in thinking, behavior, attitude, and expectations.

For example, when we started homeschooling twenty years ago, we called the only three people we knew who taught their kids at home. Our first question was frank and to the point: What do we do Monday morning when we officially start homeschooling? Their answer came as a total surprise. They told us to just relax, sit down, and read to the kids. Okay, that sounds great, we replied politely, but what do we really do? No, seriously, they said, all you need to do to get started is to surround yourself with good books, snuggle with the kids, and read to them.

Now we find ourselves giving this same advice to parents who are nervous about their own first day of homeschooling. It sounds too easy, almost lazy, doesn’t it? The point is that homeschooling is education way outside of the box, and it takes time to get used to the freedom and flexibility this lifestyle allows.

  1. Homeschooling Is More About the Heart than the Head

Opponents of home education frequently ask, “What about academics?” This kind of thinking is about aiming for head knowledge at the expense of a student’s heart. In fact, many families start homeschooling because they want to provide their child with a better academic experience. They often then continue for completely different reasons, which often center on moral or religious instruction and learning within the positive social context of a family.

At the California conference, in particular, parents spoke of the very real concerns they have about sending their kids to public school. They simply couldn’t imagine subjecting their little ones to the many negative social influences and worldview messages now mandated by the public school system. Many of these parents were absolutely convinced that they must homeschool. And still, they needed a little extra encouragement either to give it a try or stick with it.

In many ways, the modern homeschool movement—now in its fourth decade of exponential growth—is about the hearts of parents turning to their children, and the hearts of children turning to their parents. This is Malachi 4:6 at work, as relationships are prioritized over academics.

  1. If There Was Ever a Time to Homeschool, It Is Now

Way back in the 1950s, top concerns among educators included chewing gum and tardiness. Today, the issues are so serious that even sex, drugs, and rock and roll seem passé.

The parents we met recently expressed anxiety and fear about the literal safety of their kids, building lockdowns, live and online bullying, and sexual harassment of six-year-old girls by six-year-old boys. Good grief, this fall, no parent can be a hundred percent sure their kid will be safe going to the restroom at school, given the policies now being put into place across the country!

Families need to read the writing on the wall and flock to homeschooling. I hope and pray that parents all across America will feel the heat of the boiling water and pull their kids out before they’re cooked in the proverbial stew.

Yes, homeschooling is scary at first. It’s a paradigm shift, and it’s a walk of faith. But you are not alone. There are millions of other families walking on this path less traveled. And God will give you everything you need to succeed. He will intercede on your behalf and produce tremendous fruit in your children.

You know you should homeschool. I’m here to tell you that you can do it.

Based on what parents are saying, it’s clear to me that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now!

Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!

Davis Signature

© 2016 Davis Carman


Davis Carman is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of four illustrated children’s books. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119, and In the Beginning is based on the creation account in Genesis. His latest, Psalms to Know Early, is now available.

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