Inside Out- Avoiding the Pitfalls of Homeschooling

10.21.15 | Martha Manikas-Foster

Interview with Karen Swallow Prior

Interview with Michelle Van Loon
 

As many as 1.7 million students in the US are home schooled. Enveloped in that number are Christian homeschooling families, who are often motivated by the opportunity to integrate faith into learning and provide individualized instruction for their children.

Our guests today know, first hand, homeschooling’s benefits. Michelle Van Loon is a homeschooling veteran, who, in addition to teaching her children, has worked as a home school writing tutor and curriculum reviewer. Dr. Karen Swallow Prior is an award-winning professor at Liberty University who often sees great strength in the home schooled students who enter her classroom.

Yet both Van Loon and Prior know that a homeschooling environment can fail to prepare a student for life after graduation if it insulates students from people and experiences outside the home school community.

Van Loon understands how the demands of homeschooling can lead families to spend time exclusively with others who’ve made the same choice. “It can be all-consuming,” she says, “and be very tempting to isolate and self-segregate with the only people who really seem to really ‘get it’--which are other home schoolers.”  

This kind of self-segregation can lead a family to substitute what began as a schooling option for the multiple influences present in God’s church and the community at large, with its variety of connections, personalities, and viewpoints.

By limiting the number of influences in a child’s life, a parent may inadvertently end up making the child’s transition to the workplace or college classroom more difficult.

“If the motivation to home school is one that’s rooted in a desire to shelter students from the real world, as opposed to equipping them to live as Christians in the real world,” says Liberty’s Dr. Karen Swallow Prior, “I think that distinction has a lot of ramifications either way.”

Van Loon says, “Fear is not a good place from which to make a decision. Being able to address those fears, before God and with others, is a great way to begin to re-calibrate.”

Listen in on my conversations with Michelle Van Loon and Karen Swallow Prior. We discuss the potential benefits and shortcomings of home schooling, brainstorm helpful questions a family can ask in self-assessment, and offer concrete strategies that could help prepare students for life after graduation.

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Inside Out airs Wednesdays at 12:20pm EST during the Family Life Noon Report.

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