Homeschooling is More Than What Happens at the Desk

Homeschooling is More Than What Happens at the Desk
by Vicki Stormoen

When we began homeschooling our kids back in the early 90s, “homeschooling” was a word you did not say too loudly without knowing who was in hearing range. This was back when it was not safe to let your kids be seen in the neighborhood before 2:00 pm and you scheduled all your shopping and errands at the same time every other “normal” family did so you would not have to answer the dreaded question: Why aren’t your kids in school? “Homeschooling” back then meant jean jumpers, 15-passenger vans (of which I had both), and an air of mystery and oddness, often labeled as fringe, far-right, ultra conservatives who were likely sheltering and ruining their children forever.

Fast forward to present day and the word “homeschooling” has taken on a whole new meaning that for those of us who have been doing this for many years can hardly even recognize. Homeschooling has become so acceptable, so cool, so hip, and so commonplace that for a good majority of people, it does not even mean what we think it means anymore. Homeschooling today is equated with Charter Schools, where you basically are still in “normal” school but sometimes you do that “normal” schoolwork at home, thereby making you a homeschooler.

This is not a comment, statement, or judgement on the explosion of the Charter School movement. It is simply an undeniable fact that the way many people use “homeschooling” and the way a private homeschooler uses the word “homeschooling” are two vastly different things. And this difference begs the question: What is homeschooling?


I submit that homeschooling is not merely an academic, scholastic approach or choice. It is not simply defined by the number of days or hours your child spends at home doing school. It is not limited to the ratio of parent hours vs. outside instructor hours involved in your child’s education. No, homeschooling is much more comprehensive and far-reaching than that: Homeschooling is the paradigm used to raise a godly, educated, disciplined, and biblically grounded generation for the glory and honor of Jesus Christ. Two crucial, practical things are needed to accomplish this daunting task: lots of time and the right environment.

The Bible paints a picture of the family spending substantial time together. Perhaps the most quoted and repeated verse in support of homeschooling is Deuteronomy 6:6-7: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall 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 up.” This 24-hour a day picture of actively and intentionally passing on our faith to our children requires, among other things, lots of time together. The scene is of parents using every opportunity, every activity, every teachable moment to a focused, biblical end. If we can catch that vision, take up that challenge, structure our whole family dynamic around that primary focus, the question about which educational option available to us best enables us to accomplish that goal becomes much easier to answer.

But simply spending significant, intentional time with our kids is not the only factor to consider. Recent studies in the field of psychology have shown that environment is much more significant in the shaping of personalities than previously thought. If this is true, it should give every parent pause in thinking through the environments they are placing their children in. By homeschooling your children, you are cementing the home as the preeminent environment in which these budding personalities are being formed. The godly traits, habits, and fruits we long to see in our children have their best shot in a home that has consciously taken up the Deuteronomy 6 challenge and has centered their environment to cultivate and nurture those godly fruits.

So how do we apply this more comprehensive view of homeschooling? There are three applications that immediately come to mind (and will keep this blog post to a readable length):
attitudes, relationships, and priorities.

Attitudes play an important role in the life of a homeschooler. As homeschoolers, we not only make decisions about what our children learn, but we have the opportunity to shape how they approach learning. This view of homeschooling extends beyond today’s math lesson or the upcoming science experiment. It looks at the heart, the effort, the discipline, the motivation, and the thought process that goes into the completion of the math lesson and the science experiment. This intentional focus provides perspective the student lacks and gives you the ability in real time to discuss the attitude, struggle, excellence, or indolence displayed and what the Bible has to say about that. Once our kids learn that as God’s creatures created in His image, our job as image-bearers is to think God’s thoughts after Him, education becomes so much more than lesson #34 in the book. Education becomes more than gaining knowledge. As image bearers, our students need to be taught that how they approach their duty to learn is just as important as what they learn. And as the one sitting at the desk with them, the opportunities to teach and model that can be captured as they naturally happen.

In addition to shaping attitudes towards learning, the homeschooling way of life forces, for better or for worse, a priority and emphasis on relationships within the home. From that wonderfully challenging fact comes all sorts of learning opportunities for everyone: conflict resolution, gossip, tattling, sacrifice, deference, sharing, submission, leadership, listening, delegating, persuading, stewardship, and the list goes on and on. You know what you need to have to teach, reinforce, and model those kinds of social skills? Time! Again, in real time, homeschooling gives you that time and ability to model and shape how your students grow and mature in these crucial social skills. Make no mistake, someone will be shaping these social skills be it the media, their peers, their teachers, or, more realistically, a blend of all of those. The one spending the most time with them will have the greatest impact. Homeschooling gives you that advantage.

Yet another opportunity bestowed through homeschooling with this more comprehensive vision, is the fact that parents are placed firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to setting priorities. Church involvement, community service, mission trips, vacations, time with extended family, all these things may or may not be possible outside of a homeschool environment. Schedules and deadlines are set by others, some who may not place the same priority on these kinds of activities as you do. But as the ones who set the calendar, priority, and schedule, opportunities for learning beyond the schoolroom abound. These experiences and relationships further add to the overall shaping of your children and will become instrumental in the priorities they will one day set for themselves.

When you begin to see homeschooling as providing you the time and environment needed to take up that Deuteronomy 6 challenge, your whole way of thinking changes. You begin to spot the educational, teachable moments in everything: the way the kids approach and complete chores, the sibling arguments throughout the day, the downtime moments that lead to unexpectedly profound conversations, the hurts and insecurities that often go unseen in the busyness of everyone going full speed in different directions. You begin to see that beyond the curriculum, beyond the ABCs, beyond the academic aspect of homeschooling, there are so many other aspects of raising this child for the glory of Christ that the homeschooling life affords. You begin to see that, truly, homeschooling is so much more than what happens at the desk.


About the author: Vicki Stormoen has been homeschooling her nine children through Heritage Christian School since 1994. She is currently the Principal of HCS.

Do you have questions about homeschooling or what Heritage Christian School can do for you? We love to help. Email (include your phone number and best time to reach you if you would like to chat on the phone) Or call the office at 858-541-2254. All of our staff are veteran homeschool parents with decades of experience.

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