Homeschooling is stressful. There are time constraints, financial burdens, and parent burnout. However, the big source of stress is fear that we are not doing enough to provide our children with the education they will need
When this fear snuck up on me, I found relief and hope in applying, what I call, the law of the farm.
Farmers have to plan for the long haul. They plant in the spring, water and tend their crops all summer in hopes that, come fall, there will be a bountiful harvest. Can you imagine a farmer foolish enough to think he could go out and plant in October and harvest in November?
The law of the farm applies to many areas of life. Parenting is just one example. As parents we repeat ourselves, endlessly. Teaching our children to say thank you, to wait their turn, to ‘use their words’ and to share. The pure repetition necessary to instill these lessons takes persistence and fortitude.
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Do you hate History? Did you watch the clock tick off each minute as your teacher droned on? Did you suffer through dry readings, memorize meaningless dates, and answer pointless review questions? Do you dread subjecting your child to the same boring process?
If so, I’m sorry. Believe me, it doesn’t have to be that way!
While in college I have a vivid memory of sitting in the library studying with some friends for an upcoming test for World Civilization. We were reviewing English history during the 1500’s. My friends were struggling with dates, names and seemingly unrelated events.
I wasn’t struggling. The reason… in high school I had read a series of historical novels set in the courts of England. Nothing boring or dry there. There had been romance, court intrigue, religious conflicts, betrayal, heroes and villains. I’d cried for Queen Catherine as she watched her marriage and family crumble because she couldn’t produce a male heir, and was horrified as her daughter, Bloody Mary, turned her reign into one marked by revenge, fanaticism and bloodshed.
I wrestled with the issues that caused England to break from the Catholic church and was fascinated by the complex and fragile allegiances that were formed to consolidate power. The characters I met were complicated individuals who were forced to make decisions that would affect whole countries, individuals often beset with self-doubt and questions. I found myself caught up in their dilemmas wondering what I would do, what they should do…and rarely finding a satisfactory answer.
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This has been a difficult article for me to write and one I have put off repeatedly. I was asked again today about Charter Schools and I decided it was time I address the issue.
First, and most importantly, I fervently believe parents should be able to determine how best to educate their children. We (not the government) will answer to God for the choices that we make regarding our kids, and, therefore, we should be free to make the one that best fits our family, convictions, and beliefs. That choice can legitimately be public, private, charter, or homeschool. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options, and it’s up to you to decide where your family fits. In this article I am not looking to argue for one over the other, or to make anyone uncomfortable, but to address my concerns regarding the confusion between homeschooling and Charter Schools.
The survival of the homeschooling movement, from a legal perspective, may come from making a clear distinction between homeschooling and Charter Schools. Choosing to use a Charter is a viable alternative, but it is not homeschooling. This line is becoming very blurred, and I believe this is intentional. It is one way to reclaim lost revenue and undermine the homeschooling system that has developed over the past 20 years and to regulate and control what is taught in our homes. If parents do not recognize the dangers, we may lose our current freedoms.
Like many of you, Charter Schools were one of our options. In my case, I wasn’t just contacted by Charter Schools that wanted me to enroll my sons, but I was also contacted by schools that wanted me to combine Grace Prep with them or who wanted me to teach there. Obviously, there are many financial incentives that would make that very appealing…and believe me, we could have used the money…but we chose to remain independent for a variety of reasons.
At a cursory glance it appears that the government has recognized the advantages of homeschooling and has jumped on the bandwagon by establishing independent study programs and charter schools. These options allow parents to ‘homeschool’ while having the government pick up the tab. It can appear to be a win/win situation. I want to point out some of the ways we, as parents, can lose in this scenario.
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