An interview with Jessica Jansen of the Saint Edith Stein School for Girls.
The Homeschooling Defense
Forming children amidst a hostile society.
The Left desperately needs to convert your children. While the Right is open to children and supportive of large families, the Left is increasingly anti-childbirth (“Want to fight climate change? Have fewer children,” writes the Guardian’s Damian Carrington). So unless our new woke Left finds young converts to fill its ranks, it will die. They are working hard at this conversion project everywhere. Leftism is rampant in public schools, of course, but also in many private schools, religious institutions, youth programs, social media, movies, advertisements, music, billboards, and likely even in the minds of your kids’ friends.
How can parents protect their children against this all-consuming indoctrination? In a hostile society, one of the most viable options is homeschooling—as a lifestyle. Homeschooling makes parents into their children’s primary educators, as they should be. Hence homeschooling grows ever more popular as the Left grows ever more aggressive.
Sure, your kids might turn out alright in school—but why take the risk? It might be more difficult than the drop-off/pick-up ritual, but if you care about your kids’ formation, don’t let logistics be the thing that stands in the way. With this in mind, here are a few practical tips for how and why to make it happen.
Taking Charge as Your Children’s Primary Educator
Homeschooling doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to design a curriculum from scratch or teach every subject to your child. What it does mean is that you are free to choose your child’s curriculum and who teaches it. With a little research you can find plenty of good resources to help you form a curriculum and instructions on how to get started homeschooling. The key is that you’re the one in charge. As school principal, dean, and teacher, you have the power to replace problematic textbooks, discipline your children, and indoctrinate them in the way you see fit. You don’t have to go through a bureaucracy to make any necessary adjustments.
In the early years, being your child’s instructor—the one with the answers—builds your child’s instinct to come to you with their questions, doubts, and problems. As your children get older, they increasingly learn to take responsibility for their own education—planning out their own school (and work) schedule and learning to learn without someone holding their hand every step of the way. All this takes place within the environment of the home—where it is safe to fail and learn from mistakes without suffering the worst consequences.
Functioning as a Family
Of course, education is about much more than just academics. The education a child receives involves how they learn to live life—whom they associate with, what they believe, and how they behave. The freedom that comes with homeschooling allows parents to center their schedule around their family life. Your children need to know how to put family before themselves. Doing this isn’t only a tool for educating them: it’s a valuable life lesson.
Do not underestimate the importance of doing things together as a family. My parents continue to make sure we do as many things as possible together—going to church, shopping, taking walks and hikes, and prioritizing events that every member of the family can attend. My mother leads us in morning prayer before we all eat breakfast. Our family has an hours-long evening routine, beginning with dinner, then flowing into stories for the younger kids, prayer time, and finally some time for the older children to listen to and discuss a book or two with my mother (currently it’s Rod Dreher’s Live Not By Lies).
When your actions make it clear that your priority is your family, your children, too, see that your principles and priorities should be theirs. By learning to sacrifice personal pleasures for the good and unity of the family in small ways, your children learn to become better husbands and fathers, wives and mothers.
The Importance of Community
You can’t do all this yourself. In a society bent on attacking the family, it is necessary to be surrounded by a good community. Without a real-life, offline community as a shield, your family is a target. At all stages of life, people need a group of like-minded friends. Homeschooling, too, thrives when there is a community to protect it.
Homeschooling communities are naturally adapted to comprise the best types of families. Some families may simply be frustrated with the available schools, but many groups are centered on commonly held principles and beliefs. You can find your homeschooling community by asking around at local churches, looking for homeschooling connections among friends and acquaintances, or researching organizations and support groups.
In our group, as a rule, the parents care deeply that their children should be grounded in conservative Christian principles and are ready to make major sacrifices to achieve that end. Most choose to live on a single income so that the mother can stay home to teach the children. The parents in these groups share advice—veterans teach newcomers what worked for them. Once you find a local homeschooling community, you’ll find an expanding network of people on the same mission as yourself.
Within this network, your children will find friends from families you trust. As you gather with these families, your children will learn to relate well with people of all ages, not just classmates. They will learn what is good because what they see and experience primarily is good: intact families, faithful believers and proud patriots, normal people. As a result, they will be able to judge potential friends and communities against the standard of friendships and community that they experienced growing up and hence, choose them wisely.
These people are those who will have your back when the crazies come for you. When the 2020-21 lockdowns came to Los Angeles County, our family and a group of homeschooling families organized sports days twice a week at a local park, attracting over 50 children and parents while the rest of the county cowered in their homes. The local police had no problems with us, and since there was no official organization that the public health authorities could target, sports days continued despite several complaints. Within this group, the children were able to experience life normally. Their instruction, interaction with friends, and activities within the homeschooling community proceeded as it always had.
Living in the World
The way you allow your children to be exposed to the world determines how well they will be able to live in the world as adults. While you have much more control as a homeschooling parent, that doesn’t mean you can eliminate their exposure to the outside world. It is inevitable that they will be confronted with news, ads, people, or experiences that challenge the work you’ve done to form them. What you can do is explain these things at their level and help your children learn from these experiences. As your children grow, you can discuss issues with them and help them form their own arguments based on your instruction.
Because your kids won’t be tied down to a typical school-day schedule, they will also get opportunities to experience the “real world” in constructive ways that “regular school” kids can’t. It’ll be easier for them to get a job and make it work with their school schedule. They can make time to volunteer where others are only able to on the weekends or in the summer. They can spend time caring for their grandparents or helping neighbors. Over time, they’ll learn to take care of the younger ones in their family and other families you know.
Your family will also be a light to the rest of the world. People notice when you do things together as a family—in the store, at the park, or at your child’s soccer game. Your witness to how a whole family can function together happily and normally can be an inspiration. It demonstrates to others a better reality that they might not have recognized before. There is certainly something special about seeing kids, from toddlers to high schoolers, working together happily in their family or homeschooling community.
Last Line of Defense
For homeschoolers, there is at least one significant way that the Left can still get control over your children. If you give your child a phone, or unrestricted access to the internet, you are giving the monster a way in. This is the quickest way to undo all the work you’ve done for your children. Social media, YouTube, and the internet in general are most addictive and influential for children. Though it’s possible they might find good content, these platforms are not designed to help you in your mission.
The world wants you to think that it’s a foregone conclusion: your children simply will have a smartphone, and there’s no way to stop them. This is ridiculous: you are the parent. You can set the rules. Teach them to use the internet for necessary purposes, but also spend time explaining that they can and should leave technology behind to experience reality most of the time. No child needs a smartphone. The convenience it might give you is never worth the possibility of your child becoming a slave to their phone and the ideologies it promotes. Don’t give the monster a chance.
They’re coming for your children. They want your kids more than they want you. The Left may want your compliance, but it wants your children’s minds and hearts. They consume your children by keeping them away from you and immersing them in an education and culture soaked with their ideology. Your responsibility as a parent is to remove them from the jaws of this monster and place them on the solid foundation that you create, with your family, in your home, defended by your community.
The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.