Editor’s Note: I have asked two ladies to write about the educational method their family chose. I believe this is a Romans 14 issue where we need to learn how to offer grace and freedom to each other. I am convinced that unless we stay tethered to the gospel, these types of issues will rise up to cause schisms in the local church. We are Christians; our center is Jesus Christ. Disputes over personal choices have no place in the household of God. I would like our comments to be charitable, even if we disagree. Disagreement is fine, after all, our God did not create a monolithic people. However, charity must always rule our tongues. Today I welcome to Gospel Grace: Kendra Fletcher, a homeshcooling mom of eight. Kendra speaks at conferences and MOPS groups and runs the website Preschoolers and Peace, a gracious and resourceful blog for homeschooling families.
His capacious navy blue eyes pierced mine at the intersection of two busy San Francisco streets. Standing no higher than my hip, he set his jaw and tightened his toddler-sized fist around the stop sign. His little feet sunk and set into the concrete. He would not move no matter how I scolded or pleaded on the grounds that I was 9 months pregnant, and we still had three flights of stairs to climb.
Some personalities exhibit their front-sided strengths and back-sided weaknesses early on. If I’d not been so focused on the baby I was about to deliver, the looming storm clouds, or the dinner prep work that lay ahead before bedtime, I might have understood that afternoon on the busy street corner, was a harbinger. It was a precursor to the days and years that would follow as we parented our feisty firstborn son.
About the time he would have entered a pre-K program, I met several homeschoolers whom I liked very much. I heard the Holy Spirit whispering in my ear to consider this crazy thing called homeschooling, though admittedly I never really wanted to go there at all. But I undertook preschool at home. By the May of the year he would begin kindergarten, he was reading chapter books and the thought occurred to me that my stubborn-but-bright five-year-old would take over a classroom like a bull, eyes fixed on the matador in the form of a sweet, unsuspecting preschool teacher.
We prayerfully considered kindergarten. “We’ll definitely put him in 1st grade”, we stated assuredly, little realizing that by then we would develop an educational vision that outshone the academic options in our small city as well as a desire to disciple our own children at home.
Christian homeschooling in general was in full swing in the mid-90’s, back when we began this journey that would take our oldest son to high school graduation with seven siblings behind him. Now we homeschool a high school senior and sophomore (sons), an 8th grade daughter, two elementary school daughters, a kindergarten-age son, and a brain-injured four-year-old stuck in preschool because his stunted development (as the result of a deadly virus when he was just a newborn) has him Providentially there a mite longer than the rest.
Back in the 1990’s, Christian homeschoolers were often still homeschooling with the shades drawn, keeping their kids inside during public school hours so nothing looked amiss from the outside. Their ideological fists were drawn, ready to defend the hard-won right to educate their children at home. Parents lost custody of their children and faced jail sentences to do this thing just a decade before.
Somewhere in all that fervor, a movement began that communicated to those of us new to the idea of homeschooling that because of Deuteronomy 6:7, educating our children at home was not just a viable option, it was a mandate. Somehow, one could not possibly “. . . teach them diligently to your children, and [shall] talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise,” if they weren’t with us every second of every day.
We bought the propaganda then, but 16 years later we know that the passing of one’s faith, the wisdom of Scripture, and the hope of the gospel can indeed be accomplished while a child also attends school. Even if we don’t spend the better part of the day with them—even then. No one choice will make or break the success of our parenting; not a natural delivery, home-birth, hospital birth, co-sleeping, cribs, breast feeding or formula, homeschooling or not. Not even that.
The “success” of our parenting, of the discipling of our children, of our passing on the faith, lies in only one place: Jesus Christ.
Even in the most ideal of circumstances, with the best possible choices made there is failure and weakness and humanity and suffering, and only Jesus can redeem both the Godly home and the divided, wicked, Godless one. Some children raised in the former will walk away from God; some children raised in the latter will embrace Him with a robust faith that shocks the most pious of us.
Homeschooling isn’t the answer. Jesus is.
Kendra Fletcher is the mother of eight, ages 19 down to 4. While many things could define her life in terms of how she spends her days, she prefers to find her identity in Christ alone, knowing how quickly all the other descriptors can take her focus off the one who has Redeemed her soul. She loves to encourage other moms beginning their homeschool journeys with little ones underfoot. Her website and blog can be found at www.preschoolersandpeace.com, and her personal author blog can be found at www.kendrafletcher.com.