Day 29: You Homeschool. Even if You Don’t.

31 days final big button

It’s easy to place our educational choice in a tidy box and put a label on it: Homeschool. Public School. Private School. Charter School. University Model School.

It’s also easy to place certain responsibilities within a box too. The school box provides formal education. The church box provides spiritual instruction. The club sport or school sport boxes provide athletics. The job box teaches them how to work.

But our real job as parents encompasses all of the above and it’s anything but a tidy box. Parenting is messy and fluid and the boxes collapse into mixed up pudding. {Terrible metaphor but you guys, it’s Day 29. Show me grace.}

Here’s what I’m trying to say. Education is life. Schooling is simply one slice of the pie.

The complaints and conflict and circumstances your kids bring home from school each day? They’re educational opportunities. Her refusal to do her math work day in and day out? It’s an educational opportunity too. The bad choice he made on social media? The conversations about God that are tinged with doubt? You guessed it. All of that is education because it’s opportunity for you to flesh our truth within the everyday life of your child.

In the book, Going Public, David and Kelli Pritchard {parents to eight kids} respond to the frequent question they’ve been asked over the years, Are you into that homeschooling thing?
We smile at the question. Then we reply enthusiastically, ‘Yes! We definitely homeschool our children…and starting at age five, we also send them to public school to get more information.’ 

We consider ourselves to be our children’s number-one educators, and we will never give up that responsibility or privilege — even though they spend 30 hours a week in somebody else’s classroom. We instruct our kids every day. We look for the teachable moments that intersect with what they are experiencing outside our home. We draw frames around their encounters and activities, showing how they fit within God’s greater perspective. 

I don’t share this to persuade you toward public school. Remember, this series proclaims grace and freedom, not one way over another way. I share that quote because I agree with its message. We’ve all been given the privilege and responsibility of homeschooling, regardless of where the formal education takes place. You are teaching them around the kitchen table, in the minivan, when you tuck them in at night, and when they get in a fight on the basketball court. This is modern-day Deuteronomy 6:6-7. 

And that’s not all. If you send your kids to school, you’ll help with homework. You may proofread a writing assignment that has to do with a sweatshop factory collapse in Burma. And then you may spend the next 30 minutes talking about all the ways we view labor and all the irresponsible culprits and how does this affect us as Americans. This is homeschool too.

Sometimes I struggle to believe this, but we, as parents, are still the greatest influence on our children. If we abandon them, we influence. And if we show up, we influence. How much more do we influence when we can move beyond simply showing up?

tab and nomi

I remember when this really hit home for me in the most everyday of circumstances. Last year my daughter and I had a 30 minute ride home in the van, just the two of us. She had just cheered for an away football game and it was at the end of a long day. I was weary. She was weary. Several unplanned inconveniences had presented themselves throughout the day. I was unhappy with a certain attitude being displayed.

And so we talked. Well, first we got a chocolate milkshake and then we talked. Amid the venting and the tears, we covered everything from issues of respect to issues of compassion to issues of time management. This too is homeschool and it far outweighs what they will ever learn in a lab or textbook.

Here’s the thing. It’s not really homeschool or public school or private school that defines us or our kids or determines their future. The homework, the character building, the teachable moments — I just referred to them as “homeschool” but even that’s not an accurate reduction.

This is simply parenting.

And even though parents have been doing this thing for many thousands of years, I am often reduced to tears when I consider the overwhelming responsibility. Yet God has always worked through families, even though we’re prone to both epic and everyday failure. His instructions and promises are for us and our children and for all the generations. He has chosen us, everyday moms and dads, the ones with baggage and cluelessness, to nurture courage and conviction in the next generation.

We don’t do it alone. He puts us in community and He puts us under his care. Most of all, He invites us to learn hard into Him for strength, wisdom, and perseverance.

Maybe you’re in a place of surety and stability with your family and your educational choices right now. Or maybe you’re the opposite of that. Wherever you might be on the map, I invite you to broaden your definition of education. Because when we do, we get less caught up in the particulars of how we school and more inspired to simply teach them in the sacred classroom of the everyday.

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How do you use the springboard of the everyday to teach your kids?

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here.

For other posts I’ve written on this topic, go here.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.

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Comments

  1. says

    Yes and amen, Marian! When moms come to me in their uncertainty of whether they can homeschool, I always assure them they have already been teaching their kids from the time they entered their family world. It is so much more than a classroom with books, desks, and chairs. It’s those everyday opportunities that provide some of the most teachable moments. I’ve really enjoyed your series this month. Thanks for writing!!

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