Friday, March 28, 2008

Heart of the Matter: Sheltering our children

It's The Heart of the Matter Friday meme: share your thoughts on this quote:

Clearly there is an appropriate kind of sheltering. When those who are opposed to homeschooling accuse me of sheltering my children, my reply is always, 'What are you going to accuse me of next, feeding and clothing them?" ~R.C. Sproul Jr

Sheltering our kids - always a hot topic for people unsure or critical of homeschooling. What are we sheltering them from?

Well, there's the obvious - bullies, fights, cliques, sexual abuse from teachers or fellow students. When a homeschooling parent mentions them, people nod and say. "yes, yes, those are problems. But still..."

How about all that wasted time? There is so much time wasted at school! Time wasted lining up, calling roll, waiting for other students to finish the work, waiting for the teacher to finish disciplining someone. Of course at home we waste time too. It's 7:18; I should not be typing here but should have my kids up and about and ready to hit the books, yes? But the wasted time here is not spent sitting doing nothing. A child needs to wait for me while I move some laundry around - he's reading a book, she's drawing. Or, better yet, they are helping me do it, learning those important but overlooked home skills. Sometimes the wasted time is intentional: "go outside and run around with the dog" means "blow off some steam, get some energy out, then come in and let's read." From my experience in school, waiting time is dead time, daydreaming time, misbehaving time. Yes, people shrug, "that's just the way it goes."

I'm also sheltering my kids from being put in a box. Not a literal box; the grade level box. My boy would be in 5th grade. He is doing 3rd grade arithmetic, though he understands high-school (or beyond?) level math concepts. His grasp of the basics does not yet meet his conceptual understanding. His reading level is probably about 5th grade, though if he is allowed to read about a subject that really interests him, he can read books found in the "adult" section of the library. My daughter would be in 3rd grade; she's doing 2nd grade math facts but reading 5th grade level books. Both of them are used to reading/listening to me read history and science books that aren't even in the elementary school curriculum. The boy asked some question recently about the Chechen Republic's relationship to Russia and the former Soviet Union. What grade do they teach that in?

How about sheltering my kids from an artificial environment? At what other time in their lives other than school are kids massed with their own age group almost to the exclusion of all others?

Guilty of sheltering them from absurd "zero tolerance" policies that make a child defending himself equally culpable as the bully attacking him, or equate an aspirin with illicit drugs.

I am sheltering my kids from the values taught in school, both implicitly and explicitly. Peer pressure to express their individuality within the strict confines of what is in style, inappropriate sexualization, a diminishing of Western values in honor of tolerance and diversity... yes, I will gladly shelter my kids from all that. This is, I think, the biggest fear of homeschooling opponents. They are afraid parents will pass on their own opinions, ethics, and morals. But that is the job of parents, and that is how a culture survives. (Will our culture survive?) That doesn't mean we teach them a narrow view of the world. We don't exclude other viewpoints; we simply emphasize our own, and we teach them why we believe the way we do.

Sure, there are dangers that we may shelter our children too much, or inappropriately. But I think that is a topic for another post.


Ellen said...

Well said. I think it's very interesting that some of the people who are "concerned" about sheltering choose to shelter their family from Biblical truth and the church community.

kerri @ gladoil said...

Yeah, I'm sheltering my children from being strung up on drug charges for asprin too.

And from being duped into wearing pants that hang down below their knees..And ESPECIALLY having to take showers after PE. That's a humiliation no one should have to endure.

I like the James Taylor vids. :)

Anonymous said...

That is my favorite RC quote! How timely. I will be sharing your blog with my "thinking about homeschooling" sis in-law. You continue to be an inspiration.

Birdie said...

Well said! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.