An Unlikely Homeschooler: Guest Writer Susan Runnion

 You could say I am an unlikely homeschooler.  As a matter of fact, if you had told me 20, 15, or 10 years ago that I would end up homeschooling my kids, I never would have believed it.  I had some seriously negative stereotypes about homeschooling families from my growing up years.  I remember some “different” families we knew who homeschooled, complete with an abnormal amount of kids and interesting names.  I remember wondering what exactly they did all day, and how strange it was.  My college years only reinforced my negative view of homeschooling.  And since I had a very good public school experience, I always envisioned sending my own kids to public school one day. 

But as our eldest child started to inch closer to school age, I started to become more intrigued with the idea of homeschooling.  The kindergarten in our town is full day, and I couldn't imagine putting my just 5 year old on a bus at 8:15am and getting him home at 4pm.  It made me sad to think that my time with him would be cut so short.  During these early years, children are so impressionable, and I was bothered by the fact that for such a long period of time each day, outside influences would be competing with me for his heart.  God was also working in my husband's heart at this time, and we decided to homeschool our first born.  We are currently in our 3rd year, and I absolutely believe it was the right decision for our family.  God has really changed our perspective on homeschooling, and I would love to be able to share some of my thoughts with you about what went into our decision. 

As a side note: Choosing a schooling option for your children is a very complicated decision, and not one that should be taken lightly.  There are no cut and dry answers, and I absolutely believe God leads us all down different paths: public school, private school, or homeschool.  It is imperative that we go to Him and ask for wisdom from Him when it comes to this decision.  Psalm 25:12 says, “Who, then, is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him the way chosen for him.”  God is writing His unique story through each one of our lives and families, so please don't misconstrue our reasons for homeschooling as judgmental towards those who have chosen a different path.  To say all Christians ought to homeschool would be putting God in a pretty small box.  Only He knows the plans He has for each of our families. 

Why We Homeschool


Everyday Talk
Several years ago I read a book that, looking back, greatly influenced my decision to homeschool.  The book, Everyday Talk, by John Younts isn't a book about homeschooling, but I was challenged to take the instructions God gives to parents in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 seriously. 

These commandments I give to you today shall be upon your hearts. 
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home
and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

In his book, Younts says, ‘The kind of talk God requires here is talk that happens in the normal routine of life, every day.  God wants you to talk about His world.  God wants you to talk about what He does and how people respond to Him.  He wants you to do this when you are at home, when you are out and about, when you relax.  He wants you to talk about Him with love and awe every day.  He wants you to talk freely and naturally to your children about His commands and how to obey them day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute.’ 

God was impressing on me that I needed time if I really wanted to do this.  I knew once I sent my kids to school, my time with them would be greatly reduced.  On top of school, there are outside activities, playdates, sports, etc.  I didn't want to be so busy with life that at the end of the day I was trying to shove God down their throats to make up for the lack of Him during the day.  I wanted to have time so that we could talk naturally and freely about God's greatness and His work in our lives.


What exactly is the goal of education?  I think you need to define that for yourself in order to make an informed decision about educating your children.  In his book When You Rise Up, R.C. Sproul Jr. says, ‘I am suggesting that the issue of education is always the heart.  Changed hearts is the goal, the function, the very purpose of education.’  I believe the highest goal of education is godly character, not a 4.0 grade-point average.  And while the issue of heart-change is fully the work of the Holy Spirit, there is no doubt that mothers can have a profound and lasting effect on the hearts of their children.  I feel passionately that motherhood is a calling, a mission, and a ministry.  For me, homeschooling has been an incredible opportunity to shepherd my children in their walk with Jesus.  My work as a mother is primarily eternal work.  At the end of the day, who cares if my son has a 4.0 GPA if he doesn't know Jesus?  I am not suggesting that you have to homeschool in order to raise kids who know Jesus.  But for us, it is the right decision.


Freedom to be themselves
For me, one of the most compelling reasons to choose homeschooling was to provide an atmosphere where my children could be free to be themselves: free to learn, free to succeed, free to fail. Within the walls of our home, my son has a safe place to be himself, which I believe is beneficial to him during such an impressionable time in life. Regardless of age, they are facing tremendous peer pressure to be ‘cool’  …even at 5, 6, and 7 years old, the pressure to be a certain way or act a certain way is huge.  God has given each one of them unique gifts, talents, and abilities, and I want them to have the freedom to be themselves without outside influences telling them what is or isn’t cool.  I want my children to find their identity in Christ. 

Freedom to learn

Another benefit of homeschooling is that our children can learn at their own pace, and their education can be tailor-made to fit their style of learning.  Who came up with the notion that all children learn at the same pace and should all be meeting the same milestones at the same time?  When your children are taught at home, your children don't have to be boxed into a grade.  Also, our children have different learning styles, and it can be especially difficult for little boys to fit into a traditional school system.  Learning at home has enabled our children to learn at a pace and in a way that works best for them.


Time for Relationship

In what is probably my favorite book ever, For the Children's Sake, Susan Schaeffer Macaulay writes, ‘What is truly important?  The sacred career?  Educational institutions make poor substitute mothers, fathers, and homes.  There has never been a generation when children have so desperately needed their parents' time, thoughtful creativity, and friendship.  The surrounding culture is deeply out of step with the Word of God.  Other pressures threaten to take away sanity, stability, and simple humanity.’

What is more important than the relationships within a family?!  For us, homeschooling has allowed for deeper relationships between parents and children, and between siblings.  That's not to say that we never fight and our relationships are perfect...far from it!  But once again, time is on our side.  We don't have to deal with the mad morning rush, homework at the end of the day, or moving from one activity to the next.  We have a lot more time to hang out, play together, and just enjoy each other.

Time to Play, Time for Talent

Play?!  Yes...I believe free play is vitally important to a child's development.  Our society has every minute of a child's day scheduled!  There is hardly a moment for a kid to build a fort with the couch pillows and blankets or play freeze tag in the backyard.  Kids need to play, by themselves, without the constant interference of well-meaning adults setting the rules.  This encourages tons of creativity, and also some problem solving.  Homeschooling enables this kind of play because once again, kids have a lot more time!    That time also fosters an ability to pursue interests and talents on a deeper level.


One of the most common responses I get when I tell people I homeschool is ‘I could never do that!  You must be a Supermom!’  I am here to assure you that I am most definitely NOT a Supermom! If anyone were to peek into my home unannounced you would see that I have piles of laundry, my bed probably isn't made, and we all might still be in our pajamas at 11am.  As I write this, there is macaroni and cheese on my rug and there are about 50 baby wipes strewn all over the floor.  Our family is far from perfect...we are all sinners, learning to live together, love together, and forgive each other, as Christ has forgiven us.  Homeschooling has required a giving of myself:…especially of my time.  But isn't that essentially the Gospel?  Christ gave Himself for me.  In a way, homeschooling has allowed me to live out the Gospel in real life.  Nothing has brought to the light my short-comings more than homeschooling, requiring an even greater dependence upon God.  I'm not sure how long we will continue to homeschool, but for now, I wouldn't have it any other way.  I'd like to end with a quote from For the Children's Sake:

“There is no one method to achieve such a mature person. 
There is no perfect or complete situation.  We must pray for the individual, pray for wisdom, open our eyes, choose priorities. 
We must not only talk.  We have to serve, give, and be willing
to live with the children.  We nurture with life.”

About the Author:
Susan Runnion is a wife and mother of 5, residing in northwestern New Jersey.  She loves cooking, baking, and spontaneous dance parties with her kids.

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  1. Love this! Thanks for sharing ... we did start with public school and came to similar conclusions about what matters -- heart and character over grades and facts ... which we still get plenty of!

    1. That is great Ardith! Thanks for sharing!

    2. Amen! I totally agree Ardith! Thanks Sue for this article!

    3. Awesome, so glad it was encouraging!

  2. AWWWWW the reason I inspire to be more like you!!! Of all the woman I know you impress me the most (especially your patience). For anyone who might be quick to Judge this woman, let me tell you something. My boys attend public school and have know the Runnions for a long time. She has the most well rounded social kids who are a pleasure to be around. I, myself no long see homeschooling in the same light that I use too and thats because of Sue!! Great Job Sue!!

    1. Is this my dear friend Tracy?!! You made my you to pieces! I was thinking about texting you this past week about getting together soon. Thanks so much for what you said.

  3. Sue!!!!! I LOVE this post! This is an amazing testimony to God's work. Beautifully written and a beautiful heart for the Lord behind this post. Love it!

  4. Awesome stuff here! :) Thanks for sharing your heart! :) It's so encouraging to hear from others who are "in the trenches" at the same time! :) Thanks!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment Leslie! I totally know what you is very encouraging hearing from those who are in the thick of it at the same time! So glad you were encouraged. Take care!

  5. I had the pleasure of meeting Sue at a homeschool gym class(Sue-I was the mom with twin boys :)). I hope we cross paths again soon!
    I loved reading these 2 posts on homeschooling. Such great encouragement, and fun to read!


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