No more than you and I are. In fact, their experience of life is more like the real world that you and I experience as adults, compared to the world that children their own age in a traditional school setting experience. Homeschooled children are not in a classroom for thirty hours a week. But this is not a limitation: It is a kind of freedom.
Yet many people have this image of homeschooling families, which assumes that because we choose to do school at home, that means we are always at home, and that we don’t interact much with society. Well, as far as the homeschooling families that I know are concerned, nothing could be farther from the truth. While the majority of the children in my city are in a classroom, my family can be found at the library, at our favorite coffee shop and bakery, museums, farmer’s markets, countless errands, nature trails, the list could truly go on and on. So if you are concerned that homeschooling means living life in a bubble, let me assure you, it need not.
But you still may wonder, with all this home educating, time with siblings, and playing out in nature, where do our kids get exposed to the difficulties of life, if they aren’t in public school? Where do they see sin and conflict and have to work through problems, in order to practice for adulthood? I think there are so many answers to this! The public school experience has not always been a given in all of human history. Yet sin has always been present; and so there are always plenty of opportunities to see the harsher realities of life. My kids meet people with a wide variety of beliefs in our neighborhood, we see people in ill health at the nursing home we volunteer at, we see real problems in our extended family, conflict occurs at home and at church, and we read the news. We talk about politics and current events. These are the rich experiences and places my children are exposed to. Because my kids have siblings, we can hardly go through a single day without having conversations about how Jesus would have us respond to the provocations that happen at home with those we love. I wish conflict was confined to the public school alone! My kids are far from being isolated from the problems of life. But the truly wonderful thing is that they are not just seeing problems, and left to themselves to figure out the right response. Because we are generally together when these hard truths present themselves, we are able to talk through the way Christ would have us respond. How many times did we ourselves, as children, get exposed to something in school that was too upsetting and confusing for us to properly handle, yet when we got home and our parents asked how our day was, we simply said, “fine,”? Being exposed to sin is not enough. Because being exposed to sin is not the same things as being equipped to understand the world and learning, one experience at a time, to respond in a godly way.
If homeschooled children are exposed to people, which they are, than there are plenty of opportunities for them to live as a light to the world. Think of the generation to whom those words in Matthew 5:14-16 were written! There was not a public school system at that time available for everyone as we know it today: And yet this concept was able to be carried out. 1st century Christians were a light to the world at the market, in their extended families, in their communities. This is the same way that a homeschooled child who believes the gospel can be like a lamp on a stand.
In my house, I believe that I am raising a future author. He will have a lifetime of opportunities to shine as a light, Lord willing. I don’t expect my kids to be a huge influence on the world at age 6 and 7 (although I do think they are a testimony to God’s goodness, and at times, to the wisdom found in the Scriptures). But I hope to train them, by God’s grace, to be an influence when they are mature.
Luke 6:40 says, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.” I think this points out that our children, as students, are the ones being molded. We can’t place them in a classroom with a teacher and 20 to 30 other students, and expect that their influence will be the one that prevails. We need to be careful where we place them as students. Because they will be like their teacher.
– Jen Dees