It worries me a little that if I was a Mom today in the circumstances I was 28 years ago, I probably wouldn’t have considered homeschooling. I wouldn’t have thought I would fit. Frankly, I wouldn’t have thought I had enough money.
Nobody likes to talk about money. It seems tawdry somehow, but I see lots of wonderful people who begin the homeschool journey, are passionate about it, yet eventually abandon it for monetary reasons. I can understand it. It is almost impossible to make it on one income today. Unless your spouse makes serious money, and frankly most people don’t; it takes real sacrifice. But homeschooling is not for the elite, the financially well-heeled, the talented or the exceptionally educated. It is for families passionate about raising their children to love and serve Jesus.
Homeschooling originated as a move of the sacred. Faithful church families from the previous generation were losing their kids to the world in droves. It was frightening to watch and sobering to consider. A revival of God brought families home. He brought them home to school, home to live and learn life together as believers. The vision was to create a firm foundation to launch mighty men and women for Jesus to be lights in a very dark world. The focus was on character, separation from the world, and service to the Lord.
The only thing early homeschoolers had in common was a deep desire to raise their children for God.
When I pulled my fourth and second grader from public school to begin homeschooling them in the 1980’s, my husband was an E-5 in the military. (For those of you non-military people, that translates to….didn’t make much money) We had 5 children under the age of 10, and no money in the bank. We didn’t even own a car. I think we were minimalist before it was trendy. There wasn’t any gross mismanagement of money or circumstances; frankly there just wasn’t enough money to manage. We were obviously poor. My husband rode a bike to and from work. Believe me we stood out. While we were in these very circumstances, God called us to homeschool. Even I didn’t think it would work out.
I’m concerned that today homeschooling more and more gives the impression that it is for the elite. Everyone has expensive clothes, music lessons, gymnastic lessons or special sports coaching. Our ranks are filled with high paying professions. Please don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not bashing any of those things. It is the very fact that God blessed homeschooling so strongly, and gave such outstanding results to so many very ordinary parents, that created the draw that fills our ranks. The problem that concerns me is that as the ranks fill with more and more financially successful families, the percentage of middle and lower income families diminishes. Each year I watch that percentage get smaller, and therefore the feeling of belonging gets weaker for those who are on the lower end financially.
The influx of financially prosperous families brought changes to our community, and it’s time we thought about those changes. Some have been wonderful. Prosperous families invested in the start-up costs for programs(especially sports) that have in turn blessed many. Other changes are not so wonderful. In the beginning most if not all homeschool events were free. Now in contrast…. EVERYTHING COSTS. The fees are often perceived as relatively small, but we are often comparing them to what similar activities cost in the secular arena. The flaw in that reasoning is that most families in the secular arena are dual income, and the government is paying for the children’s education. They have more discretionary money.
Let’s only charge for what’s necessary, and let’s only charge what it costs.
So….what’s my point? Mostly, I guess I want to encourage those families that think they don’t fit financially.
Homeschooling is a move of the sacred not the secular.
God blesses homeschooling. God will honor the fact that you do it in spite of your financial challenges. My husband rode a bike to work for about 10 of our homeschool years. He would do it again. We have wonderful memories from those very financially strapped years. If you are tempted to quit because of money, I beg you to reconsider. God did not care where we were financially. He cared about our faithfulness. Don’t wait to homeschool until you can afford it, because I don’t think that day ever comes. Homeschool because God calls you to it. Extras are nice, but they are not necessary.
For the rest of us, let’s never forget our roots as homeschoolers. God calls among all economic situations. God uses the poor or the less prosperous to test our hearts and our generosity. May the test find us open-hearted, open-handed, and embracing the opportunity to learn from those whose struggles are different than our own.