Honest Conversations with Wendy Cunningham
“Absolutely not. Not my thing.”
That was my response when my husband hinted at his desire for me to homeschool our kids. At the time, we had a three-year-old, a one-year-old, a baby on the way, and I ran a successful business from home. To say I didn’t have the time wouldn’t paint the full picture—I wanted nothing to do with it. Besides, I was a product of public school, as was my husband, and we were doing just fine (thank you very much).
When I lived in the West, homeschooling was both foreign and frightening for a number of reasons. Namely, no one I’d ever met was homeschooled or homeschooled their children. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t have known the first thing about where to begin such an endeavor.
Once we moved to rural Tennessee—where homeschooling is not only normal, it’s celebrated, and resources and support are in abundance—I briefly considered the idea again. But how could I ever pull it off? I wasn’t a teacher. Although I had my bachelor’s degree, it was in theater performance, for goodness’ sake. And besides, I worked! There was just no way. So, I did what so many parents do by default.
I sent my daughter off to kindergarten at the local public school.
“I felt Holy Spirit impress upon me something I’d skipped in my decision-making on this topic. I hadn’t prayed about it.”
Conviction from Holy Spirit came almost immediately. If you’ve been reading along with me over these past months, you know I receive my biggest breakthroughs in the shower. This was no exception. One evening, only a few short weeks into my daughter’s education, I felt Holy Spirit impress upon me something I’d skipped in my decision-making on this topic.
I hadn’t prayed about it.
In the five years I’ve been homeschooling, I’ve had many conversations with moms about whether or not educating at home is right for their families. The chat always ends with, “I’ll pray about it.” To which I respond, “Did you pray about public school?” The surprised smile always gives them away. Like me, they hadn’t. It was just the expected course of action.
As I showered, a little embarrassed about my rash decision to surrender an enormous amount of influence over my child without even praying about it, Holy Spirit pushed me a little further, and I began to wonder…
Does God have an opinion about education?
Turns out, He does!
Scripture is clear in some areas, and it’s gray in others. I certainly subscribe to the idea that we needn’t yell where God is whispering and vice versa. Although one could argue that the role of “government” can be debated in Biblical terms, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere that suggests education should be the government’s responsibility. Scripture tells us plainly where the role of educator lies. It certainly isn’t in the hands of governing authorities, and perhaps surprisingly for Christians, it also isn’t in the hands of the Church. God suggests it’s the family’s responsibility.
Ephesians 6:4 says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” The word used here in the Greek is paideia. The definitions of paideia according to word study are as follows: rearing of a child; training and education of children; instruction. The Greek lexicon goes so far as to say, “The whole training and education of children (which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals…).” Paideia speaks to the culture of a child’s upbringing as well as instruction—the foundation. I’m not confident public school provides an appropriate culture or foundation for any child’s upbringing, let alone a Christian child. And furthermore, God didn’t give my children to public schools. He gave them to my husband and me.
Now dads, as the above Scripture suggests, you’re not off the hook. God doesn’t explicitly relegate this job to moms, despite our nurturing nature. It was my husband who suggested I should homeschool our kids, but he’s the one making sure my son can read a tape measure and the one teaching the kids how to operate a tractor. In my searching, I found twice as many commands for fathers to instruct their kids when compared to mothers. In practice, yes, I think most households find that mamas are at the center of homeschooling, but at the very least, this brings fathers more exposure to their children for discipline, correction, and training—which God assigns as their duty.
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Wendy Cunningham is wife to Tom and homeschool mom to three amazing gifts from God. In addition to that calling, she is an entrepreneur and author. Her book What If You’re Wrong?, blog, and devotionals can be found at gainingmyperspective.com. She is also host of the podcast Gaining My Perspective. Wendy loves Jesus and inspiring people to step into their calling—whatever that might look like in this season. When she’s not working, writing, traveling, or podcasting, she can be found homesteading and chasing kids and cows on her farm in Middle Tennessee.