Let’s Get This Straight: 2 Thoughts About Homeschoolers vs. Public Schoolers

LauraAll Posts, Motherhood

I think there’s a tension between homeschoolers vs. public/ private schoolers. (I dunno… I could be wrong… but I think it’s there.)

We’re each doing our very best, yet we’re afraid that maybe our children are missing out.

We wonder if other women are judging us.

We stumble over our words when we talk with one another because we’re not sure if we’ll offend, mortify, disappoint, overwhelm, or hurt someone’s feelings.

The best case scenario is an unspoken “agree to disagree” stance in which we just don’t talk about school.

It’s kind of a mess.

Jesus wants something better for His daughters, for His Church. He wants us to love one another and cheer one another on.

He wants us to believe that He has different gifts, callings, circumstances, and good works for each one of us to do.

He wants us to be content with the work He establishes for us and to be all about loving Him and making disciples.

But, how do we do that?

I think it begins with a few changes in our mindset.

Here are 2 things that help me to believe the best about you believing the best about me:

  1. One woman’s lifestyle doesn’t mean she’s right and you’re wrong. And it doesn’t mean she’s judging you. 

Too often, we look at another woman’s decisions and assume that she thinks she’s right. It follows that if she thinks she’s right, she must think I’m wrong. Therefore, she must be judging me.

But is she?

Does she really think she’s right and I’m wrong?

Our lifestyle choices are rarely that black-and-white. We need to remember that other women make decisions the same way we do: in a complicated, circumstantial, pros-and-cons, pray, pray, pray way.

Sometimes, we do something because God is calling and equipping us to do that good work.

Sometimes, our circumstances determine our situation.

Sometimes, we’d love to make another choice, but we cannot for one reason or another.

Sometimes we have misgivings about what we are doing and are praying for the grace to change.

When it comes down to it, many of our lifestyle choices aren’t a matter of “right” and “wrong”: they are a matter of preference, values, calling, diversity, opportunity, circumstances, and season.

What would happen if we gave each other the benefit of the doubt?

What would happen if we didn’t assume someone was judging us just because she has chosen a particular way of educating her children?

2. We need God’s divine help to dispel misunderstandings and pursue unity.

The best way to address misunderstandings is through relationships, right? Regular, open communication helps us to see beyond our assumptions and to understand the woman who is making different choices.

But let’s be honest: for busy moms, this is impractical, difficult, and time-consuming.

Working moms are working, and not available for play dates when stay-at-home-moms do most of their connecting. Homeschooling moms are home, educating their children, and are not available to meet for coffee when working moms are more likely to get together. In the evening when women without children are available, moms are at home tucking little ones into bed.

(When women do have a few golden moments to socialize, it makes sense that the women who are available match lifestyle choices. We can relate to one another and offer encouragement and strength.)

We have very few opportunities, practically speaking, to get together with women from other walks of life to help us get over our misconceptions and our fear of being judged.

Even if we try to take steps toward unity and understanding, it’s hard and impractical.

We need to acknowledge this difficulty and extend grace to one another.

We need God to make the most of our peace-making efforts and relationships. He alone can level rocky ground and straighten crooked paths amongst women.

Let’s ask Him to help us to connect with other women, to always believe the best, and to go first.

I’ll go first! 🙂

Why I homeschool our children:

If it helps you to understand me a bit better: while I was happily attending a private Christian elementary school, God called me to homeschool my children some day. That’s a true story. Just as He calls someone to be a missionary to China, He called me to homeschool my children. He equipped me through my excellent public high school education, liberal arts college education, and state school graduate education.

I don’t homeschool because I had a bad experience in school.

I don’t homeschool because we want to shelter our children.

I don’t homeschool because I don’t like the school system or our school district.

I homeschool because God is calling me to do it and, frankly, I want to embrace it.  As it turns out, it’s a glorious calling: I love the blessings of home schooling – the conversations, books-read, personalized education, outdoors, friendships, service, and discipleship opportunities.

I can rattle off a list of ways that God has opened doors and provided for me to walk in this often-difficult, often-lonely calling. On the bad days when I want to quit, I review the ways He has called and equipped me and I choose to keep going until He leads me in a different direction. On the good days, I’m all-in: the children and I read together, laugh together, and thoroughly enjoy a hands-on hearts-in education.

I love to share the wealth that comes from homeschooling. The homeschool world is full of incredible books, resources, and opportunities that would benefit any mother, regardless of her educational choices. 

I also love to hear about other school environments. I don’t want to “just tolerate” educational differences – I want to hear all about them. I want my sisters and friends to know that I’m completely supportive of the educational choices they are making and that I’m interested in that aspect of their lives. When my sister tells me about the wonderful traditions in her children’s sweet elementary school, I celebrate the goodness in that school and daydream about how I can apply the same virtue in our homeschool. I take note of the amazing ways teachers make learning fun, the math games they play, the reading centers they build, and the field trips they take. 

Of course, I struggle with jealousy when I hear about a school child’s amazing teacher – I wish my kids had her, too.

I struggle with feelings of inadequacy when I hear about a public school kid’s field trips, free music lessons, assembly programs, classroom decorations, and computer classes.

Every year, I mourn the fact that my kids don’t have that butterflies-in-the-stomach “first day of school” or the bus ride or the daily connection with many teachers and friends.

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear all about it from you. That doesn’t mean I think you’re judging me when you tell me all about it.

I’d so much rather hear about your child’s life than to coddle my own feelings.

I’d so much rather learn from the wealth of your educational choices than avoid a few FOMO’s.

There are gains and losses to every earthly endeavor. Instead of being afraid of one another, instead of avoiding topics that are near and dear to our hearts, let’s see the life-giving potential of sharing our lives.

Let’s keep walking forward with God.

Let’s cheer one another on, offering the wealth of our calling, choices, and experiences.