Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling

When I began investigating homeschooling in the early '80's, I heard from quite a few speakers and authors who promised outstanding Godly children if I would just follow their particular plan. The authors and seminars were different, but the promises were the same - homeschool and parent their way and life would be smooth sailing from now to retirement. That's a tempting offer for a new parent insecure about everything from when to start feeding carrots to when to send them off to college. And to be honest, we were tempted, but we resisted most of these formulas and promise filled plans. I'm not sure why in every case, but it seems as though many of them, even though they were Christian based, seemed to take Christ out of the formula.

Twenty years later, homeschooling has grown up. Many of the children are now parents themselves and doing very well. Others are not. What happened? And why? Was it a faulty plan, or a flawed parent? Those are some questions many are now asking. Including some who earlier in their careers had promoted ideas that promised success.

In his monthly article Solving the Crisis in Homeschooling Reb Bradley examines the issue and looks at possible reasons why the promises haven't matched the results.

In the last couple of years, I have heard from multitudes of troubled homeschool parents around the country, a good many of whom were leaders. These parents have graduated their first batch of kids, only to discover that their children didn't turn out the way they thought they would. Many of these children were model homeschoolers while growing up, but sometime after their 18th birthday they began to reveal that they didn't hold to their parents' values.

Some of these young people grew up and left home in defiance of their parents. Others got married against their parents' wishes, and still others got involved with drugs, alcohol, and immorality. I have even heard of several exemplary young men who no longer even believe in God. My own adult children have gone through struggles I never guessed they would have faced.

Most of these parents remain stunned by their children's choices, because they were fully confident their approach to parenting was going to prevent any such rebellion. Some were especially confident, because as teens these kids were only obedient. Needless to say, the dreams of these homeschool parents have crashed, and many other parents want to know what they can do to prevent their own children from following the same course.

He goes on in great length to detail what he believes are some of the contributing factors. I agree with most of what he says. But the bottom line is that there is no such thing as "plug and play" homeschooling or parenting for that matter. Even if we did everything perfectly our children can choose NOT to serve God or accept our values. If there is a crisis in homeschooling it's because we're expecting it to do what it was never designed to do. As a I wrote in my essay, Successful Bloggers and Homeschoolers,

Homeschooling is not the salvation of our culture. Jesus is. Homeschooling will not make a family successful. Jesus does. Homeschooling will not keep a child from rebellion. Jesus does. Homeschooling will not keep a marriage strong. Jesus does. And the minute, I think that homeschooling will do any of these things, is the day I begin the slide toward defeat. Homeschooling will not build a successful family any more than a hammer will build a successful house.

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: Psalm

Don't expect homeschooling to do what it was never designed to do. The hard part of homeschooling is the heart part. Don't let anyone fool you, there is no formula we can follow for guaranteed success, that's the work of God Himself.

(Thanks to my friend Barb and Lindsey for pointing me to this article.)

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