My parents' philosophy was that they wanted their children to learn ABOUT the world but not be IN it while learning about it. They wanted to teach their children (my siblings and me) what God says about the world, how we should live, and what we should believe. This is Biblical! In the book of Deuteronomy God says, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about then when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19).
My parents wanted to be the primary influence on their kids, instead of having peers and other non-family be the primary influence. After all, who knows children better than their parents? Who cares about children more than their parents? When parents are in charge of their children's education, they determine what and how their children learn and at what pace. Parents can certainly expose their children to other people, experiences, and places; homeschooling one's children doesn't mean those children have to be sheltered.
In fact, homeschooling provides opportunities for children to have experiences that public school doesn't. For example, I was in a community choir, church choir, and a homeschool co-op group; I visited Hong Kong my freshman year of high school, went on youth trips, had time for a job during the school year in high school, and spent the last half of my senior year in
Of course, being sheltered is certainly not necessarily a bad thing. Between media, peer influences, and just the way the world is in general, I WANT my children to be sheltered until they're old and mature enough to handle what the world will throw at them. In a storm, shelter is a VERY good thing.
Just as I wouldn't put my child outside in inclement weather without proper protection and preparation, I don't want my children exposed to "the world" till they're ready to deal with it. Do I ever wish I had gone to a public or parochial school? Never. I am so very thankful that I was homeschooled. Did I "miss out" on some experiences that my regular-schooled friends had? Yes, thing like peer pressure, being away from my family all the time, exposure to drugs, alcohol, sex and violence, etc, etc, etc. My friends went on cool trips. So did I. They were in choir and other school activities. So was I. I didn’t miss out on the good stuff.
What most people mean when they say they don't want their kids to be "sheltered” is that they don’t want them to not have friends and lots of different experiences. The biggest question homeschoolers get is "What about socialization?" Well, what about it? I interacted with people of all ages for my whole childhood. I became comfortable taking care of little children and having mature conversations with adults. That was better preparation for the real world than spending my childhood surrounded by peers who were just as immature as I was. Some homeschooling parents do their kids a disservice by keeping them at home all the time. That's not a good thing. Smart parents will provide opportunities for their children to make friends, have new experiences, and meet different kinds of people.
If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you’re already “homeschooling.” That means you are your child’s primary influence, not some daycare director and a bunch of other kids.
You're teaching him everything he knows, providing opportunities for him to meet new people and learn about the world around him. You're exposing her to new things as well as protecting her from things that she's not ready to experience. That IS homeschooling.
I’m forever thankful that my parents chose to educate me at home. It paid off in so many ways and was completely worth it. Not only have I had many amazing experiences, but I’ve had opportunities to make lifelong friends, and I got an excellent education and good grades on top of it! I’ve barely touched on the positive academic aspect of homeschooling, but I’ll save that for another post!