“I could never homeschool my children!” was a common phrase I shared when talking to my sister and sister in-law who homeschool their children in Charlotte, North Carolina. Surprisingly, this belief has taken a complete 180.
First, I think it is important to say that I have nothing against homeschooling, as long as it is done in a way that is free from – what I call – Bubble Barricade.
What is Bubble Barricade?
You may have conjured up an idea of what this looks like already. It is quite simply as it sounds. An invisible barricade that faith based homeschoolers can put around their children. This invisible bubble that surrounds them has a gate keeper most often known as: Mom.
Mom will open the gate and allow others into the bubble when they prove themselves worthy. To be worthy the gate keeper needs to know that the guest or guests will not disrupt the delicate spiritual balance and growth she has been trying to maintain in her children.
Frequent visitors include their homeschool community – other families, all sharing the same doctrine, values, and perspectives – , their extended family (which at times are reluctantly welcomed), and their church community.
Those not worthy are any families or individuals that do not share their values, ideals, and beliefs; those with alternate perspectives. This can include, but is not limited to: LGBTQ community members, nonbelievers, and political adversaries.
This extreme representation is what most outsiders would consider stereotypical of homeschooling families. However, while there are certainly families like this, it is becoming the exception rather than the rule. In fact, more professionals, regardless of faith, are turning to homeschooling as an option. I am fortunate to have a sister and sister in-law who are actively navigating this life giving balance free from bubble barricade.
A Delicate Balance
I can empathize whole heartedly with a mother’s desire to protect her children’s hearts. I am also a believer (aka Christian) and value time with our church community. I rely on people that share my faith to support my marriage, family, and work. I pray and am constantly striving for a closer relationship to God.
However, I also need alternate perspectives to challenge my beliefs and to support my own personal, familial, and professional growth. Our world is a beautiful tapestry of cultures with diverse knowledge, skills, and life experiences. In my opinion, we are doing ourselves and God a disservice by not immersing ourselves in it.
My husband and I chose public school for our two children because we wanted them to be exposed to many faiths, ethnicities, and cultures. We believe in the power this upbringing has on their ability to empathize, understand, and relate to humanity. We also believe that this upbringing would challenge their own faith and allow us to support them as they journeyed through seasons of doubt, disbelief, and confusion. We did not want them to choose Christ because it was all they knew, we wanted them to choose Christ in spite of all they knew.
My work is completely driven by a desire to unite humanity. Cultured Kids, an organization that I founded and direct, is focused on creating product solutions that will support unity development within our most diverse public schools. I believe that finding a common culture to stand on and work towards as a community is the key to unification. This unification can result in a sense of belonging that will serve as ammunition to break down walls of division, minimizing school violence and isolation.
Considering our goals for Cultured Kids and our current focus on Fairfax County – where we currently live and my children attend school – I decided to become a substitute teacher. I was determined to better understand the school day, the educators role, the culture variations at local schools, and the administrators leadership. The experience was eye opening!
While I may share more about this experience in another article, I would like to just share a couple of important findings:
- You can actually get through all active learning with a child or small group of children in 3-4 hours a day (Fun article relating to this shared by an educator in the UK.)
- While each school and classroom had differences in culture, three characteristics reigned true throughout: overpopulated, under supported, and restricting children’s authentic growth.
- The majority of the day is devoted to classroom management.
- The overall attitude of educators, office staff, and admin was: defeat.
Coincidentally, this new experience was juxtaposed with some
personal challenges our son was having in his classroom. Meetings with his
teacher, school psychologists, counselors, etc. left us feeling hopeless.
Ultimately, he was not far enough behind in his development to get the support
he needed and not advanced enough to join the Advanced Academic Program that
our daughter is a part of.
Having seen the systemic challenges left in the wake of No Child Left Behind, I was determined to not let my child be left behind. In order to provide him the space to be curious and top be given a chance to love learning – what I believe is the most important criteria for education – then homeschool seemed like the only option.
This decision will undoubtedly take a toll on our finances, my work, and our home. However, when considering how much time and attention I put in to supporting others’ children’s needs, I could not possibly ignore my own son’s.