Every year, millions of children are enrolled in public schools across America. Millions of others are sent to private schools of every size and type. And about two million others are kept at home to learn and grow under the guidance of some of the most dedicated parents in the land.
We’ve seen phenomenal, sustained growth in the homeschooling community. And yet, we’re still a small minority—an estimated 3–4 percent of the school-age population. With this being the case, we experience perhaps more than our share of questions, curiosity, and criticism. But that’s okay. Perhaps it’s a good thing we’re being noticed.
There may be a wide gulf between our friends and foes, but one point they often have in common is this: they believe you’re making a difference as a homeschooling parent.
Some people, of course, don’t like the difference. They think you’re ruining your kids and our country. Others love the difference and see enormous potential wrapped up in homeschooling. But no one—friend or foe—believes that what you’re doing is nothing more than a bland, inert educational experiment. They know that what you’re doing matters.
And you know what? I agree with them.
Allow me to share with you five reasons why what you’re doing matters.
Because of Our Families
Many people, I’m afraid, have a fundamental misunderstanding of what homeschooling is all about. To these people, homeschooling is primarily (or even solely) an educational choice. It’s essentially a question of how and where a child will be taught.
But I would suggest that homeschooling is really far more. We need to understand that every educational approach represents not simply a different physical location where your child can learn his or her math, science, and history, but a complete lifestyle.
If your child is enrolled in a school, the hours of academic instruction that take place there will not form the sum total of that school’s influence on the life of your child. In truth, much of your child’s life will revolve around the school’s schedule, its activities, and the relationships it creates and fosters. The sum total of these things will form a nearly comprehensive lifestyle for your student and your entire family.
The same is true of homeschooling. It’s a complete lifestyle. I would suggest that it’s a lifestyle built on the framework for the family that God Himself established all the way back in Genesis, where children are given by God to parents, and parents are expected to shape, mold, and instruct those children diligently in the ways of the Lord. Homeschooling creates a lifestyle that is centered around the family unit, and it keeps natural family bonds, roles, and relationships cohesive and intact.
Institutional schools, on the other hand, create a lifestyle that fragments the family, a lifestyle in which children are separated for hours every day from their parents and siblings and are given over to those whom God never called or directed to train and nurture them. The classroom supplants the home, the teacher replaces the parents, and peers fill the place of brothers and sisters.
In both scenarios, we haven’t simply chosen a different place for our children to be educated; we’ve chosen a lifestyle. If we believe that the family matters—that natural, God-given bonds, roles, and relationships are important—then we would do well to carefully consider what lifestyle we want to create.
Homeschooling matters because it takes us back to the framework for the family that God gave us.
Because Christian Education is Vital
The more I think about it, the more convinced I become that we’re never going to solve the crisis of young people walking away from the faith until we address the issue of input.
The world has two main pipelines it uses to pour its values and worldview into the lives of our kids: secular entertainment and secular education. These two pipelines extend into nearly every Christian home in America, and the overwhelming majority of what flows through them isn’t grounded and centered on God’s Word. In fact, it’s often contrary to a biblical worldview.
Most parents want their children to follow in their religious footsteps. Because of this, most of us would recognize it as unusual or counterproductive for Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist parents to enroll their children in a Christian school. If the parent desires their children to hold strongly to the family’s faith, wouldn’t it be more in keeping with the ultimate goal for them to give their children an education thoroughly rooted in their worldview, tradition, and beliefs? And if they did opt for the Christian school, wouldn’t we recognize it as illogical for those parents to be surprised or complain if their child became a Christian?
I once spoke with a mom who used to be a teacher at a small Christian school in the South. One of her students was the daughter of a Hindu mother. This Hindu mom was initially perplexed by her daughter’s repeated references to the Bible, wondering how a one-hour Bible class per day could spark such an interest. When her daughter’s teacher informed her that she tried to teach about the Bible all day long—not just during the regular Bible class—the light went on, and the mother went from perplexed to distressed. “How can I compete with that?” she exclaimed.
This Hindu mother was realizing what many Christian parents need to understand: input matters. The worldview of our children’s education matters.
If it would strike most of us as illogical for a Hindu parent to choose a Christian school and then be surprised when her child shows an interest in Christianity, why is it that so many Christian parents give their children a secular education and then are surprised when their children actually become secular? This may not be the inevitable outcome, but it’s certainly not an improbable or illogical one. When we pair dozens of hours of secular education with scores of hours of secular entertainment, we shouldn’t be surprised when the outcome matches the input.
This is one reason Christian education is important. If our goal is to raise children who understand a biblical worldview and are shaped more by God’s Word than the philosophies of the world, we should choose a process of education that is consistent with that goal.
Homeschooling matters because it allows you to give your children an education that is rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s Word.
Because People Need to Know There Are Alternatives
All across America, parents are frustrated—moms and dads are exasperated, confused, and upset by the way their children have been failed by the institutional school system. These parents need a living reminder that they have alternatives, that there is hope outside the classroom, that they can take on the responsibility of their children’s education and find success.
If you started homeschooling during the ’90s or later, you probably did so—at least in part—because you knew someone else who was already doing it. Perhaps it was a friend, a neighbor, or someone at church. Knowing that you weren’t alone gave you the courage to step out and embark on this road less traveled.
Has it ever occurred to you that you can now fill that role for someone else? You may not have attained the status of homeschool veteran. You may not have all the answers. But your very presence—the simple fact that you’re out there doing what God has called you to do—can be the very thing that gives another family the courage and hope to join you and give their kids a brighter future.
You’re not just homeschooling for your own family, your own children. You’re homeschooling for the sake of parents everywhere who need to know there’s a viable, successful alternative to the institutional schools that are failing so many of our children. The success you’re having isn’t just for the good of your own children—it’s for the good of the millions of others whose parents need to see to believe, who need the courage of knowing there are others, who need to know they’re not alone. You are homeschooling for them.
If the recent past is any guide to the future, we’ll see countless new families join our ranks in the coming years. Someone needs to be there to welcome them. Someone needs to answer their questions, reassure them on the hard days, go with them to their first convention, guide them through the curriculum maze, and just be there to cheer them on during the good times and encourage them during the bad.
This, by the way, is a huge reason for us to persevere and not give up halfway through the trip. Recently my mom shared a story with me from the early days of her own homeschooling journey: Another homeschooling mom she knew quit teaching her kids at home and enrolled them in school. As a new home educator, this was very unsettling for my mom. Why was this more experienced homeschooler giving up? And what did that mean about my mom’s chances to successfully teach my brother and me at home?
My mom’s experience raises an important question: If we quit, what message does that send to a watching world? That homeschooling doesn’t really work? It’s too hard? Not worth it?
Parents across this nation need to see that there are options, that they aren’t stuck in a system that isn’t working. You can be the light that helps guide them on their way to better destinations.
Homeschooling matters because too many families and children are being failed, and they need hope that something better exists.
Because the World Needs Our Kids
You don’t need me to tell you that our world isn’t in great shape. Breakdown and decay are all too common in many segments of our society. In the midst of a world engulfed by sin, we need a generation of young people to rise up ready and willing to make a difference.
Sadly, too many of today’s Christian youth are walking away from their faith once they reach young adulthood. In fact, according to one study by the Southern Baptist Convention, 88 percent walk away from church never to return.
It seems the next generation of Christ’s army is going AWOL just at the time they ought to be ready for battle.
We could discuss the reasons for this, but one thing should be abundantly clear: if we want to have a different result, we need to follow a different process. And that’s where homeschooling comes in. You have the opportunity to raise your children with a different set of values and convictions than the world around you. You have the opportunity to train your children’s minds and nurture their hearts, helping them think, act, and live as authentic Christians in a world desperately in need of light.
As the people of God, there ought to be a difference between us and others. Not because we’re better than anyone else, but because God calls us to a distinctive life—a life defined by a different starting point, different objectives, and different values. It’s only when we ourselves are different that we can make a difference.
Not everyone who makes a difference in the world tomorrow will be a homeschool graduate. And not every homeschool graduate will make a difference. But I believe the homeschooling community represents one of the brightest hopes for our world for the simple reason that we are following a radically different path than the world around us. And because of this, we can see radically different results. The outcome, I hope and pray, will be hundreds of thousands of young people committed to loving God and making an impact for the cause of Christ.
Homeschooling matters because it’s a powerful tool you can use to help put your kids on a positive trajectory—a trajectory to becoming the difference makers of tomorrow.
Because God Uses Parents
It’s an awesome realization, but God entrusts much of the day-to-day work of His kingdom to ordinary people like you and me. He works through human channels to do what He could miraculously do Himself, but has chosen us to do in His place. He asks us to be His hands, reaching out to bless and touch others. He tells us to be His mouthpiece, sharing the good news of the gospel in every land. He asks us to be His stewards, sharing our resources for the benefit and help of others. And He entrusts us with helpless little babies and asks us to love them, train them, and equip them to be the men and women He can use when their time of service comes.
It’s a breathtaking responsibility, and one I don’t want to undertake without the blessing of God.
As parents, we’re confronted with a paradox: our efforts alone—including homeschooling—won’t guarantee the lofty outcomes we hope for. And yet, despite our inability to control results, God has still chosen us for this work. He has given us a responsibility, and we need to fulfill it.
And that’s why homeschooling matters most of all—not because we can use it to guarantee that all of our children will be happy and godly, but because it allows us to follow the calling God has given us in the most hands-on way imaginable.
And so homeschooling matters. It matters because parents matter. And parents matter because God chose us to do the most amazing work of all: raising up little people to become big people who love Him.
Jonathan Lewis is a homeschool graduate, husband to Linnea, and daddy to Patrick and Timothy. He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group—or to get in touch with him for any other reason—drop him a note at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.
Jonathan Lewis is a homeschool graduate, husband to Linnea, and daddy to Patrick, Timothy, and another on the way. He is one of the founders of Home School Enrichment Magazine and enjoys writing and speaking from his perspective as a homeschool graduate. If you would like to invite Jonathan to speak to your group - or get in touch with him for any other reason - drop him a note at jonathan@HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.