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Beyond Sheltering

By Pete Storz

Shelter:

  1. To cover from violence, injury, annoyance or attack;
  2. To defend; to protect from danger; to secure or render safe; to harbor;
  3. To betake to cover or a safe place;
  4. To cover from notice; to disguise for protection.

Fortress

  1. Any fortified place; a fort; a castle; a strong hold; a place of defense or security;
  2. Defense; safety; security.

Christian homeschoolers are frequently challenged, "You can't just keep your children sheltered!" One's inclination is to respond by asking "Why not?" and then explore the absurdity of the idea that homeschoolers isolate their children 24x7x52. Articles have been written to show that, done properly, sheltering is not only appropriate, but is the parents' duty. While not disagreeing with those authors, perhaps using a different word would better convey the meaning of what Homeschooling parents are trying to accomplish.

At the top of this article of are definitions from Noah Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition, of the verb, "shelter" and the noun, "fortress". While the meanings seem similar at first glance, there is an area of difference that is of interest for the purposes of this article. A shelter is a place of refuge, and may be temporary in character. A fortress is more permanent in character, and while being a place of refuge, it is itself defensible and suitable either as a base for counter-attack or to plan and stage an attack.

Thus, I would like to propose that Christian homeschoolers respond to the challenge mentioned above that, rather than simply being a shelter for their children, their homeschool and family are a fortress. Our families should be safe places for our children when their encounters with the world are unpleasant or less than victorious. With our homeschooling, our families can combine the stable, enduring quality of a fortress with the opportunity to train and prepare our children for the moral and spiritual challenges they will face in life. Homeschooling during junior high and high school will enable the family-fortress to be a base for their children's early sorties into life - summer camps, scouts, babysitting, part-time jobs, and taking college classes.

In summary, I think the fortress concept communicates a more complete image of what homeschooling can accomplish - to persons outside of the family - and can provide vision to the parents.

Copyright © 2003, Peter Storz and HomeschoolChristian.com

About the author: Pete Storz grew up in Woodland, CA, near Sacramento. His family attended a Lutheran church, and for grades 1 through 3, Pete attended the private school run by that church, and public schools thereafter. Pete attended a college in Phoenix, AZ, graduating with an Associate's degree. While in Phoenix, Pete worked in a Christian bookstore and tape library, was involved in a ministry that reached out to Jehovah's Witnesses, and ran sound for several local contemporary Christian music bands. Pete moved to "Silicon Valley" to work in electronics and be closer to his parents. He met Becky in 1978 at a church, and they were married in 1980. They have three children, Suzy, Chris, and Katie. Becky first heard of homeschooling on a Focus on the Family program, and about a video seminar by Dr. Raymond Moore that was to be hosted at a nearby church by his daughter. After attending this and a seminar by Gregg Harris, Pete and Becky were encouraged to believe that they could homeschool their children. Remembering that first year or two, when support was crucial but hard to find, Pete and Becky started a support group in 1992 with a special emphasis on fellowship, person-to-person support, and helping new homeschoolers get started. Though Pete and Becky stepped down from leadership after 4 years, SELAH Christian Schools continues to assist homeschoolers in the San Jose, California area. Pete and Becky continue to publish a resource directory for San Jose area homeschoolers as well as other support activities.

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