Are We Raising the Next Generation of Home Schoolers?

The first time one of my children sat on a panel of home educated students, I took the opportunity to ask him (and the other members of the panel, of course) if he intended to home school his children. I was trying to put forth the question incognito, but that did not happen. The answer from him was “Yes”; what else could he say before God and all those other people?

Since then, I have learned that I do not have to ask that question; someone else always raises it. Why do people want to know the answer to that question from young people who have gone through the process? Parents thinking about home educating their children ask that question wanting to know, I think, if the students hated home schooling and their parents and if they felt they had been scarred for life.

I always enjoy listening to the answers at these student-panel workshops. I will admit, though, that as a parent, I rather feel on trial when my children begin answering questions about their home schooling experience. However, I have always wanted to know what they would say to others; I want to know if my children have caught the vision.

It is such an encouragement to Tim and me when we are in a gathering of home schoolers and a young couple explains to us that the husband, the wife, or both were homeschooled and they are following their parents’ lead. We have been involved in the home school community long enough that we are beginning to have young parents approach us and introduce themselves as the children who were being homeschooled along with our children in those early days. What a joy!

Do you have hopes, as I have, that your children will home educate your grandchildren? I think there are a few things that we can do along the way to encourage them in that direction.

We should strive to make their home education experience positive.

Each school year, I would talk to my children to get feedback from them about our school. I would ask them what they liked and did not like about school. I listened to them and, when I could, made adjustments so that their home schooling experience would be more positive.

Am I talking about our school being child-centered, solely based on the whims and wishes of my underage, immature students? Absolutely not! I am talking about respecting them as human beings–making adjustments in the areas where I can and, in the other areas, teaching them about circumstances not always being to our liking. Once, Peter (my oldest) bemoaned the fact that he had no friends who were going the same direction that he was. Knowing that God had called us into home schooling, I did not consider taking him to the public school so he could have more choices of friends. I told him that we needed to pray that God would provide at least one such friend. God was faithful and provided him with several.

More than once I heard complaints about the schoolwork or curriculum. Not being willing to allow my children to be uneducated in areas such as math, I used those times as opportunities to encourage character qualities such as perseverance, persistence, cheerfulness, etc.

At one time, all four of our children played soccer until the practices and games expanded to five days a week and became too much of a drain on our family. Tim and I decided that soccer no longer needed to be part of our lives. It was a hard decision that none of the children liked, but we prayerfully made it based on what we believed was best for our family and ultimately best for each child. This gave the children an opportunity to learn to trust God to lead through their authorities.

At the state convention last year, one of the questions put to the panel of graduates was, “What do you feel you missed out on by being homeschooled?” Stephen, my younger son, who is particularly interested in sports and was particularly unhappy about the soccer decision, said that sports was something he had missed, but he had realized that, in the big scheme of things, it really was not so important.

We need to let them know that they are not in this alone.

If we want to encourage our offspring to home educate our grandchildren, they need to know that we are behind them not only philosophically but also practically. In our modern culture, it seems that everyone considers that a parent’s job is done when his children graduate and move out. The parents of these “adults” are now free to do their own thing, to travel, to “spend their children’s inheritance,” etc. I have also heard of people giving advice to young married couples to move as far away as possible from all the in-laws in order to get a good start in their marriage.

We believe that grandparents have a lot to offer their children and grandchildren. Sometimes that means helping in a physical way. We have encouraged our children to marry and stay close, in great part because of our experience when we had small children. When my oldest child was barely five years old, my second had just turned two, and my twins were about six months old, my sister moved into our home. I concluded that three adults had just about the right number of hands to deal with those four small children. I came to appreciate how much extended family could mean in a household filled with little ones.

Sometimes the help is psychological and spiritual. When my children were young, my mother and my mother-in-law both lived in other cities and were busy with other family members or activities. The older ladies in my church were either working or had other commitments. What I would have given for an older woman to periodically have a cup of coffee with me and encourage me that these days would not last forever and that there would be an end to diapers and runny noses! Titus 2:4-5 is clear that the older women are to encourage the younger women to be keepers of the home and to love their husbands and their children. Who better to reap the benefit of that command than our own daughters and daughters-in-law? I believe that all generations are losing out if we are not obeying God in this area.

Often people ask me if I plan to homeschool my grandchildren. My answer is always an unequivocal “No!” I have done my job where that is concerned. I do believe, though, that I have a responsibility to be involved in my grandchildren’s lives. I do want to teach them things–just not phonics and math. I want to read to them and help them develop an appreciation for good books. I believe that it will be my responsibility to pray for them and to encourage them in the Lord. I want to take them on trips and teach them about God’s creation firsthand. I think I should help my children by doing things with their children that they will not have time to do while they are so busy with diapers, runny noses, and the like.

We need to support them.

In an attempt to understand grandparents who give their children hard times for homeschooling their grandchildren, I have tried to turn the tables and put myself in their shoes. I am so committed to home schooling that I believe that home education may be the salvation of our society. So I have asked myself howI would feel if my children decided to put their children into formal schools. I think that I can then come fairly close to feeling as some of those skeptical grandparents feel: Horrors!

We must, however, be willing to let go of our children, our hopes, and our expectations. We must not take it personally if our children decide to go a different direction. We desired for our parents to support us in this strange undertaking and experiment that we were trying out on their grandchildren. We must be willing to trust God, just as we believe He guided us in desiring and doing what was best for our own children. Most of all, we must pray–pray for guidance from the Lord in the lives of our grandchildren and their parents. It is never too soon to begin praying, even long before you have grandchildren!

Who knows? Maybe someday we will even get to participate in our great-grandchildren’s lives and education!