The How and Why of Homeschooling
There is ongoing discussion about needing to define who exactly is a homeschooler, and it causes me some concern because of its focus. It seems to me the discussion centers around ‘HOW’ someone homeschools, versus ‘WHY’ someone homeschools. INCH is certainly not the definitive voice on either how someone should homeschool, nor why someone should homeschool, but since we have been around from the beginning of the modern homeschool movement and have helped to obtain and maintain homeschool freedoms here in Michigan through the years, maybe our thoughts can be helpful to the discussion?
Originally, the homeschool community broke from the public and private education systems to allow families to personally train their children in Christian values and Biblical truth, not predominantly for academic reasons. This is ‘WHY’ they homeschooled. HOW they homeschooled back in those early days, was predominantly with parents personally teaching everything at home, since what they were doing was illegal and a certain amount of secrecy was needed. This is the period in which we hear stories about homeschooling in the basement or behind closed curtains, and keeping kids inside until after public school hours.
As homeschooling became legal, more people entered into the adventure. New homeschoolers did not always come into the homeschool realm primarily for training their children in God’s ways. The ‘WHY’ of homeschooling enlarged, and created some consternation among the first generation homeschoolers. The new homeschoolers were welcomed into the fold, however, with the goal of enlarging their vision for why they homeschooled, i.e. to disciple their children in the Christian faith and “train them up in the way they should go.”
As homeschooling has continued to become more mainstream, more culturally accepted, and more successful, more people have entered the fray with not only more ‘WHYs’ for homeschooling, but also more ‘HOWs.’ The methods of homeschooling have evolved. After homeschooling first became legal in the 90’s, likeminded families began coming out of their individual homes and joining forces, utilizing each other’s gifts and talents to cooperatively teach their children. The birth of homeschool support groups and co-ops occurred. These private local homeschool groups were the predominant means for helping families homeschool– until recently.
The current ‘HOW’ of homeschooling is so varied! It includes an overwhelming number of curriculum options and combinations of resources, including onsite offerings, virtual/online, and technological opportunities from all perspectives—some Christian, others secular, some privately-funded, others using government resources. This is where it seems that some from the homeschooling past, want to part ways with those of the homeschooling present. The primary fear comes from concerns about partnering with government-funded programs, as government regulation seems to follow whenever the government is involved, and no one wants to lose any of our hard-fought homeschool freedom!
INCH shares the concern that many have about partnering with the public schools because of its potential impact on our freedoms. Many of our pioneers remember having no freedom to homeschool legally, and worry that those days could return. INCH was part of fighting the original battle to secure Michigan’s homeschool freedom, and should that freedom ever be threatened again, INCH will immediately be in the legislature and in the media doing all we can to retain or regain our freedom.
However, INCH as an organization plans to maintain our primary focus on the work of sharing the wonderful ‘WHY’ of homeschooling, and not be derailed by too much focus on the ‘HOW.’ We’ve worked and prayed so fervently to obtain the current level of freedom we now enjoy—freedom that allows each homeschooling family to choose the options that will work best for their individual students and their particular family situation and circumstances.
We believe God called the pioneers of our movement to homeschool because He was concerned about the destiny of so many children being taught to ignore His existence and disbelieve in Him because of the secular worldview of our public schools and of our culture. INCH seeks to remain focused on our core values of Faith, Family, Freedom, and Unity, and on the Christian purpose of our mission, which is to encourage Christian homeschooling families to raise Jesus-loving, Jesus-serving children who will impact our world and our culture for Christ and His Kingdom. The annual INCH Conference is our trademark event for informing, instructing, and inspiring all homeschoolers in Michigan, but our greatest work there, as in everything we do, is to help homeschoolers in our state to catch a vision for training up children who know, love, and serve the Lord our God.
INCH wants to welcome to our membership, to our conferences, and to all we do… all homeschoolers, regardless of why or how you homeschool. But know in advance: We will issue reminders about how each family’s individual choices could affect the collaborative greater good of the homeschooling community in our state. We will attempt to clarify the homeschooling laws and regulations and their impact on Michigan homeschoolers. And we will unashamedly continue to focus on our ultimate goal– that Michigan will be a place where Christian families have freedom to pass on their faith in Jesus Christ through Biblically-centered, parent-directed, home-based, privately-funded, life-long home discipleship. Will you join us in the battle?
INCH Executive Director