Without exception, a common question that Barry and I get every single school year is: “Why did you guys decide to homeschool?”
When we first started out, we didn’t articulate our answer all that well, but the answer hasn’t changed. Simply put, we don’t believe you can separate God and education. Ever. This is our sixth year homeschooling, and we believe this now more than ever.
Creation…without a Creator?
How can you learn about math, science, or even geography if you leave out the person who CREATED it all?! It’s not possible. We do not want our children NOT having God as the basis of all knowledge. He is the reason why we live and breathe – and leaving Him out isn’t an option for us. Yes, it’s possible to educate and then add God later – but for our family, we don’t want Him to be an afterthought. We want him to be the FIRST thought.
There is no such thing as a neutral education. Every education, every curriculum has a viewpoint. That viewpoint either considers God in it or it does not. To teach children about life and the world in which they live without reference to God is to make a statement about God. It screams a statement. The message is either that there is no God or that God is irrelevant.–RC Sproul, Lifeviews, page 23
The best part about families having the option of homeschooling is that it adds the ability for every family to make the choice for what type of learning works best for them – both for the students and parents. Some choose public school. Others choose private school. Some choose homeschool. And guess what? We’re all choosing what is right for OUR FAMILY.
We live in the state of Virginia – one of the few that allows families to apply for homeschooling based on Religious Exemption. We decided that method was the route for us to go at this point in our homeschool career. So, when Annie was 6, we applied with the county in which we live and were approved.
In Virginia, this means you don’t have to do state-approved standardized testing each year, turn in lesson plans to the School Board, or a bunch of other stuff that is traditionally required with homeschooling. In some states, coordination of homeschooling with local government is easy – in some, it is extremely difficult.
In our case, we had to write a letter of explanation as to WHY homeschooling was our religious choice and outline how we planned to educate our children. We had to provide multiple letters with character references – including one from our pastor – that supported our position. There was also the requirement to prove that we were competent to teach and train school-aged children (college diplomas in relevant areas of study were accepted as “proof” for this – I have an education-related Bachelor’s Degree; Barry has an MBA).
Once we turned in all this information to our county’s School Board, they met to read it over and approve, decline, or ask us to present our case in front of the Board for additional consideration and discussion. Obviously, since you’re reading this, we were approved – and thankfully, with very little fanfare. It was actually quite a pleasant process working with our County.
Once and Done
Going through the process of obtaining religious exemption means all of our kids fall under religious exemption now – and from now on. As each child gets up to school age, we simply write a letter of intent and send it in to the School Board to add that child under our exemption.
Now, the state pretty much leaves us alone. We get to school as we like, using the curriculum that’s best for us. Right now, that means we are using Abeka Academy. Even though the State doesn’t require us to prove our children are receiving a particular type or amount of education, this doesn’t mean we’re slacking!
Having the ability to homeschool the way we want puts the burden of teaching our kids on us – and it is a big responsibility! But it is also one we take seriously. Our kids are actually generally above their grade level in all subjects.
Homeschool is an amazing option for those who wish to pursue it, and it has been a huge blessing for us. But (obviously) it isn’t the only way to educate your kids. For some families, traditional public schooling fits. Private schooling is the right answer for some. And it may be something altogether different for another family. You have to do what works for you. Hopefully, this helps you understand why we chose to homeschool and gives you some things to consider for your kids’ educational future.
If you homeschool, we’d love to hear why you made that choice!