Home School in Hard Places

When people find out that we, as a family home educate, they are often very surprised. Most Christians I speak to have a negative view of home education and many have expressed concerns that home education has negative effects for the children, the parents and the ministries of those who home educate.

I’ve been told that home educating turns your children into geeks or denies them opportunities to reach their potential. Others have told us we are crazy and the thought of spending 24/7 with their children gives them nightmares, whilst others feel unqualified and unable to do it, and most surprisingly I have been told that home educating your children isn’t an option for church planting.

Every time I have a conversation about home education I can guarantee that I will be asked these three questions; Are you or your wife a qualified teacher? What about socialisation? How do you meet people if you don't have a school… Click To Tweet

Every time I have a conversation about home education I can guarantee that I will be asked these three questions; Are you or your wife a qualified teacher? What about socialisation? How do you meet people if you don’t have a school gate ministry? Well here are my answers:

Are you or your wife a qualified teacher?

No, but neither are we qualified linguists, swim instructors or cycle proficiency instructors and we managed to teach both of our children to speak, swim, ride a bike. We also managed to teach them to walk, read and eat with a knife and fork all before they were school age. I think that if we are able to teach our children all they need to know before they are school age, then we should be able to teach them until they are ready to leave school too.

Qualifications are not a legal requirement and neither are they necessary when home educating your children. The biggest requirement is having the time and desire to do it. There is no financial help for home education, so finances and being required to work full or part time might make things difficult. However there are numerous support groups and free and paid resources that can help you get started and continue educating your children.

What about socialisation?
Our children meet, interact, learn and socialise with a far more diverse group of people than they would if they were at school. For starters they are not grouped into a class of people all the same age. They are part of and have been part of numerous social groups in our community, from church to Kickboxing, from dancing to helping in a dementia group, from roller hockey helping with the parent and toddler group.

If you are a social family, your kids will be socialised. Our home is like Kings Cross Station and our children are constantly socialising with people of differing age, social, faith and ethnic groups. The problem for us isn’t socialising our children, it is protecting time for us to spend alone as a family.

How do you meet people? What about the school gate ministry?
I may be wrong, but I am not aware of many people having a meaningful conversation at the school gates from what I see is lots of stressed parents rushing along with their kids trying to get them into school on time before dashing back home or to work.

Even if the school gate is a good place to meet people, you only meet people who have children of primary school age, and (unless you want to risk getting arrested) you can only meet people there, if you too have children of primary school age.

The school gate is not the only port of call in our community and parents of children in primary schools are not the only demographic we are trying to reach, so don’t let the pressure of using your children as a way to meet people at the school gates as being something you have to do.

One thing we do, to meet parents, is to run a morning drop in at the local library. After parents have dropped their children off at school they can pop in for a chat and coffee. We also run a drop in for parents and their children to come to after they have collected them from school. This enables church members without children and home educators the opportunity to meet parents in our local community without having to be at the school gates.

Home educating has made planting New Life Church so much easier for me as a planter and for us as a family. Our children are part of our ministry and witness God working in our home, our church and our community on a daily basis. We have so much flexibility as we set the timetable, holidays, and when we start and finish the school day.This means we can take holidays when we need to and we can deal with pastoral emergencies when they pop up and still get the time back with our family later on.

Im not advocating that everyone should or is able to home educate when planting a church, but I do think it is definitely an option to be considered, especially by those who feel their children’s education is a barrier from them moving to and ministering to a church, in a hard place.

If you would like more information on home education whilst planting churches than please get in touch.

Author: Ian Williamson

Ian Williamson is a church planter and the pastor of New Life Church, Middlesbrough. Ian has lived and worked in the town his whole life and has been in full time Christian ministry since 2007.

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