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Church’s Role in Encouraging Homeschool Education Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 23rd, 2020

Over the past few years, the popularity of homeschooling has increased rapidly. Since ordinary schools are unable to offer children the type of education which their parents believe is best for the youth, they have become a second-choice educational institutions for some of the parents. Homeschooling, on the contrary, has turned into a much better option. Because of the tangible help that churches offer to the members of the parish who have decided to homeschool their children, the role of churches has become crucial in homeschooling process. The above-mentioned concerns not only the sufficient help that churches provide to the parents of home-schooled children, but also numerous challenges that such type of dependency involves. Taking a closer look at the way in which churches participate in the homeschooling issues and the arrangement of homeschooling for the families, one can possibly offer the solutions to the existing problems.

To start with, it is necessary to stress the role of church in the support of co-ops, which the whole homeschooling idea is based on. Developed from the existing parish, a co-op can be described as a mini-society which is regulated by the church and which the church offers educational opportunities to. As First Class explains, “The church supports the co-op by offering the use of its facility and helping to promote the ministry”1. Therefore, the church serves as a mechanism that helps not only build the co-op, but also keep it together. In addition, one must not lampshade the fact that it was with the help of church that the First Class Homeschool Ministries were established; according to the First Class, FCHM comes alongside and provides each co-op with its own website, online database, promotional materials and leadership training2. Hence, it can be concluded that church tackles the organizational issues concerning the homeschooling issues within the created co-op.

Another important issue to consider is the fact that the church spurs the growth of the ministry’s influence. Thus, the premises for more people to join the community are created. In addition, in the congregational disputes that the churches in question took part in, the significance of the latter grows. Enhancing the impact of the ministry, church proves the parents’ right for their children to be taught at home, which is another important advantage that churches give to the adepts of homeschooling. As First Class stresses, with the increase of the ministry’s significance, “Churches have a tremendous opportunity to reach out to these families with support and encouragement,” which means further development of the community and the solution of the educational issues, as well as working on the homeschooling strategies3. Once the ministry becomes more influential, homeschooling will get a better chance.

When it comes to discussing educational issues, one might notice that there is a group of people who are mentioned insultingly rarely – namely, parents. Indeed, it seems that the parental involvement in the educational issues must be encouraged, yet parents are seldom mentioned when the children’s education is discussed. With the impact which church has on the homeschooling issue, however, the shift of the emphasis from a number of irrelevant issues to the concern for the parental involvement becomes possible. According to the data offered by the Michigan Department of Education4, children’s performance improves with the increase of parental involvement, yet, as the research conducted by Hayden, in most schools nowadays, the parental involvement rates have dropped5. Meanwhile, as First Class claims, since churches set the rules for the homeschooling practices in the community and encourage the given practice, the role of parents is enhanced greatly. Parents not only participate in their children’s school life more actively, but also play the role of teachers.

Thus, parents choose the specific way in which certain information must be offered to the children, developing specific practices that help children digest the information faster, etc.6 According to what the Diocese of Hallam Schools’ Department claims, “The first and primary educators of children are their parents. Schools should seek to help parents be more conscious of their role and establish partnership. It is impossible to do too much along these lines”7. In addition, it is necessary to mention that Lee Duigon claims that homeschooling supported by church puts the emphasis on parental involvement, taking the importance of parents’ participation in the students’ learning to the maximum and proving the given policy from a Biblical point of view: “Home education is the only model for education given in the Bible8. Thus, the role of parents in the students’ education, as well as the participation of the former, is emphasized and, therefore, enhanced greatly.

Another aspect of the church’s impact on community homeschooling is setting rules and regulations for the homeschooling process. The given issue deserves being addressed not only because of the obvious necessity to establish the rules for teaching and learning, but also because of the efficient ways in which the church has managed to overcome numerous difficulties related to the organization of educational process. Despite all the advantages of homeschooling, which mostly concern the ability to use an individual approach in teaching, one of its greatest flaws is the necessity to restructure school rules to adapt them to the homeschooling process. Meanwhile, the rules for homeschooling practice offered by church seem to leap through the cracks, offering a flexible and efficient policy of teaching the students. The given issue, however, is a double-sided sword, since the absolute control of the church over the educational process can possibly lead to quite undesirable outcomes. As Campbell explains,

Rather than teaching the absolutes of the Word of God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead each one into religiousness, churches that live within a paradigm make rules that force young people who are Christians but who don’t agree with the list into either being hypocrites of “rebellion.”9

Therefore, the impact of the absolute control that the church has over the educational process in homeschooling communities is rather questionable. However, one must admit that the given dilemma concerns personal ethics rather than the issue of homeschooling in general.

Of course, the issue of financial support must be mentioned as the key driving force of the homeschooling process. It is obvious that, without the sufficient financial support from a certain organization, parents would not be able to provide their children with the necessary knowledge, train the appropriate skills and offer students the required experience without which the education process would be incomplete. As First Class states, “Scholarships are given out as needed. No family is ever turned away for financial reasons”10. However, the financial issue also has its negative aspect. Church does not offer the families of the parish who prefer to homeschool their children the necessary amount of money for textbooks and the rest of the things that are required to complete the school program efficiently. As Campbell explains, the supplies which families can provide their children with are rather scanty:

When you homeschool, you use every available space in a house for books, school supplies, and even nooks and crannies where individuals can pursue their own hobbies and projects. I knew that, for most of us, inviting another family to your home for dinner and a time of fellowship required creativity and a willingness to be “cozy.”11

However, this is the point at which the significance of the church’s impact on homeschooling can be questioned. While church definitely helps solve the issues arising at the community level such as opposing the ideas that all children should go to public schools, the issues within the community remain unresolved. The above-mentioned can be proven by the fact that church makes little to no effort to provide the required equipment for studying:

We had to ask ourselves some hard questions regarding our use of time and resources. Would spending 4 hours preparing to teach an adult Sunday School class be better used in spending 4 hours in one on one time with each of my older children? Would my children glean more by spending time helping care for elderly grandparents or younger siblings than they would sitting under the teachings of the youth leader whose own wife and children didn’t even attend church?12

However, the aforementioned issues can be explained by the fact that homeschooling has not been practiced for as long as public schooling has, which means that the financial issues and the issues with supplies will be resolved as time passes and people will adjust to the specifics of homeschooling13.

Despite the misconceptions concerning the financial aspect of the homeschooling process, one must admit that church offers a lot to the homeschooled students; one of the things that church offers on any account is the premises. While parents may choose to teach their children at home, church still offers the place where children can be taught in case the family faces difficulties in teaching at home, as in the case depicted above by Campbell. As a rule, church offers enough room for both students and teachers, providing room for lecturing, conducting lessons and doing all sorts of activities that school program involves, which solves the problem of the lack of room mentioned by Campbell. It goes without saying that renting the church premises also costs a considerable amount of money; however, compared to the money that parents are to pay for the education in traditional schools, the costs are quite low. As Harvey Mechanic explains,

In addition to the proposed independent contractor fee, our homeschool co-op will be charging each co-op family a $40 co-op fee which will cover the children’s participation in the enrichment educational classes and activities and a registration fee that is a per family fee to cover the cost of operating the group, that is, to pay for group liability insurance & background checks required by our host church for us to operate on their premises. (Mechanic, 2009)

Judging by the evidence offered above, the price which church charges the members of the co-op for renting the room for schooling is much less than the money which parents typically spend on the needs of the students who go to public schools. According to what the recent news says, public schools have recently raised the fees which they charge students with: “At high schools in several states, it can cost more than $200 just to walk in the door, thanks to registration fees, technology fees and unspecified ‘instructional fees’”14, which contrasts sharply with comparatively low and stable prices that church demands for the rented premises. Therefore, church boosts the development of homeschooling by providing the necessary premises for studying and teaching.

As it must have been expected, the role of church in the homeschooling process also influenced the religious studies to a great extent15. Because of the impact that the church has had on the world’s perception of homeschooling process, as well as the resources which church has provided for the development of homeschooling, including the financial ones, church had the authority to shape the program of homeschooling, especially the religious studies. At present, in home schools organized with the help of funds and resources offered by the church, the emphasis of the school program lies on teaching the students the Word of God the way in which the church sees it. Ad it has been stated before, the role of religious education in home schools which are supported by the church is huge, which has its advantages and drawbacks. Mentioning the positive elements first, one must admit that the efficiency of teaching in the communities of the kind described above is very high according to the existing evidence16. However, the given strategy allows for a number of controversies, such as the collision between the supporting church organization and the parental congregation that the church is still dependent on.

Another issue that can be raised when considering homeschooling controlled by the church is the fact that the students learn the aspects of the Christian belief as the only possible interpretation of the way in which the world is ruled17. On the one hand, the given specifics of homeschooling can be viewed as positive both by the parents whose viewpoint aligns with the one of the church and the church members themselves. As Bach explains, “Some religious home schoolers also see public education as destructive to their beliefs. Others believe that education that ignores religion is incomplete and fails to teach children essential moral values”18. Therefore, the concern for the quality of education that children receive in religious communities and in the course of homeschooling can be questioned. In addition to the aspect of one-sidedness in terms of cognizing the existing religions, the issue of quality is raised, which means that the issue of homeschooling has to be reconsidered and that the standards for knowledge and skills which the students are going to acquire must be reestablished. To be honest, the fact that the church supervises the homeschooling process makes it possible for the former to offer the members of the parish its own path to theology, which can possibly be erroneous. According to Campbell,

In contrast to the traditional structure found in most denominations and eschewing the long-established polity in most conventional churches, NCFIC churches struggle to carve out their own paths and even theology based on the premise that homeschooling is the best and most biblical lifestyle for Christian parents.19

While the fact that some of the church communities tend to show initiative and struggle for people’s rights to homeschool their children, the fact of conflicting with the rest of the denominations, which remain more conservative and tend to choose the traditional way of educating their parish, is still there. Conflicting with the rest of the denominations, the churches supporting homeschooling can quickly become isolated from the rest of denominations, which, in turn, will result in the quality of education, as well as the amount of the financial resources for homeschooling20. Without efficient communication between different parishes and churches, the whole idea of developing a homeschooling system can be threatened for the lack of resources and funds.

The last, but definitely not the least, the effect of the church’s control over homeschooling on the social life of the people within the parish must be taken into account. Logically, it would be reasonable if the impact that the church had on the students and the teaching process ended together with the end of the lesson. However, the impact of church stretches further and affects the students’ family life as well, according to the recent researches. Despite the fact that the Word of God is studied very thoroughly in home schools, there is a threat that a student, who is taught to consider every single rule that the parents teach him/her the word of wisdom, a teenager can start worshiping family instead of God: “If homeschoolers are not careful, family can easily become an idol”21. Therefore, parents have to be very careful when deciding on the strategy which they are going to use in teaching the child; otherwise, the teenager will not be able to worship God as a member of the community and a true Christian should, worshiping his/her family instead.

Although the decision to offer the families of the parish the facilities that are required for homeschooling does involve a lot of conflicting issues within the church, there are reasons to believe that the role of church in the homeschooling arrangement cannot be overestimated. Even though it has been shown that there are issues within the churches supporting homeschooling that can possibly tear the church integrity asunder, it is still important to mark that the separation issue is not the consequence of the homeschooling idea, but rather the premises for the latter22. Judging by the evidence offered above, the whole idea of homeschooling thrives on the facilities and the suggestions offered by the supporting church organization, which means that without the latter, homeschooling would no longer be in existence. While one must admit to some negative effects that arise from the church’s complete control over the homeschooling issue, it is still necessary to give credit where it belongs and to say that without the churches to support homeschooling, the latter would have ceased to be. Therefore, the role of church in homeschooling is crucial. Church helps perfect homeschooling practice by adjusting educational process to meet the needs of the students and providing families with necessary resources.

Reference List

Bach, Laura. 2004. “For God or grades? States imposing fewer requirements on religious home schoolers and the religion clauses of the first amendment.” Valparaiso University Law Review 38, no. 4, 1337-1398.

Campbell, Karen. 2009. . Web

Clements, Andrea. 2004. Homeschooling: a research-based how-to manual. Lanham, ND: Scarecrow Education.

Diocese of Hallam Schools’ Department, n. d. A model home-school-parish policy. Web

Duigon, Lee. 2012. Why you should homeschool your child, part IV: ten reasons why you should homeschool your child. First Class. n. d. Web.

Haskins, Sonya. 2010. Homeschooling for the rest of us: how your one-of-a-kind family can make homeschooling and real life work. Bloomington, MN: International Bible Society.

Hayden, Erik. 2010. . Pacific Standard, Web.

Johnson, Diana. 2008. When homeschooling gets tough: practical advice to stay on course. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

Mansfield, Abigail Maye. 2009. How does parental involvement affect middle school student achievement? Web.

McHugh, Michael. 2006. Christian homeschooling: foundation and practice. Arlington Heights, IL: Christian Liberty Press.

Michigan Department of Education. 2001. What research says about parent involvement in children’s education. Web.

Simon, Stephanie. 2011. The Wall Street Journal, Web.

. n. d. Web.

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