I had a friend lately ask me about homeschooling a preschooler.  She has two lovely children, the oldest is almost 3, and all of his friends from playgroup are gearing up for “Preschool!”  Should she be doing something?  Something more than reading and talking and playing and loving?  I mostly encouraged her that God puts babies in families for a reason.  Little ones need their mamas!  I referred to some studies and articles I’ve read about Head Start doing worse than Head Start at home (where the ‘teacher’ comes occasionally to train Mama to interact with the youngster), and gave her some ideas for “preschool” if she wanted to do something.

But, as always, it got me thinking.  🙂  ‘Tis the season for homeschooling posts.  Many are about the curriculum choices for the family, or planning/organizing tips.  There are also the “Why we homeschool” posts.  All of which I love to read.  🙂  It never fails, though, for the “top 10 reasons” posts to garner plenty of comments that basically follow a particular format:  how much they love/admire/respect homeschooling and those who do, followed by any and all reasons it can’t/won’t work for them or their children, and how they just haven’t felt God’s leading there.  It also seems like they think those reasons have never been overcome by any who ARE homeschooling (i.e. ‘don’t have the patience’).  Some are followed up by references to “those” judgmental types.

One question occurred to me, after I wrote back my friend.  Why do we need to “be called” or “feel led” to choose something like homeschooling?  Do we wait for the calling, the leading, to cook dinner every night?  No?  Well, why do we do it?

What if everyone around us ate dinner at restaurants every single night.  What if that was the norm?  “Yes, it’s fine to use your toaster at home at breakfast, and maybe the microwave at lunch, but cook your own dinner?  In your house?  WHY would anyone do that?”

Well, because we want to be sure of what we’re eating.  What’s going into it (or not going into it), how it’s prepared and handled before it gets to our table.  It’s also often tastier!  We can choose to eat anything we want, with a little planning.  We can tailor portions according to appetites, eat earlier or later.  It’s also a lot more economical, because we’re not hiring someone to cook and wash and paint lines in the parking lot. We kindof even like it, breaking bread together and sharing fellowship within the walls of our own kitchen, like families of yesteryear.

“Oh, but I don’t have the patience to cook a full meal like that.  Especially every night!  Our house just isn’t equipped.  We don’t have an oven, you know, and our kitchen is small.  Besides, what if I mess it up?!?  I might burn it, or worse, contaminate it somehow.  Shouldn’t we just leave that to the experts?  They know what they’re doing, right?  Restaurants never make anyone sick, or have throwaway food.  And think of all the time it would take!  No, that would never work for our family.  We like different foods.  Have ‘special needs’ diets.  We have little kids underfoot, a new baby on the way…”

Shouldn’t cooking at home be a valid choice?  Does it really even need a defense???  Yet homeschooling is bizarre…  It’s really hard to wrap my mind around it when I look at it this way.  🙂  Cooking at home is not some strange, fringe phenomenon, and neither should home education be.  We are not the freaks.

I’m not trying to say that institutional education is inherently sinful, or wrong, mind you.  Most all my nearest and dearest have their children in an institutional setting for education, and I’m not faulting them for that.  I’m just trying to challenge our idea of “normal” — normal is really not the standard we should measure against, or the method we should employ without question.  Today’s “normal” – eating learning “out” every day –  is … well, … weird. 🙂