Do Any of Us Need Guidance?
- Wednesday, October 16, 2002
We're not sure how many of you are "support group leaders" or give home-school advice regularly. If you do, how often do you get asked the same things over and over?
It's not that home schoolers are dumb; we're rather bright people. We know what we want for our children and why. But there's the intimidation factor. We're just afraid of some state "child protection" agent showing up, or scared to death our children will fail, and that we will be held responsible. We aren't "professionally-trained" teachers. Furthermore, there are always new home schoolers entering the picture who need to know the same information the last ones needed.
So many of us will head to our regional home-school convention or curriculum fair. We load up on all the latest and greatest books, posters, games, ... and, yes, curricula. We blow the budget for our kids. Then home we go home, ready to take on the year. It's not too many weeks later, overwhelmed with emotions of stress and strain, we wonder if this is really worth it.
We have seen this scenario by well-intentioned home schoolers far too many times. No matter whether it's a pre-schooler way ahead of the curve and reading at the age of four, or a high school student still in the throes of lethargy and apathy, moms are looking for advice. They normally call some "veteran" begging for help. In our case, getting five-to-10 calls a week at times from desperate parents was not uncommon.
What is most interesting was the number of almost identical questions: "How do I get Suzie to be diligent?" "Ricky won't sit still and do his work." "How do I keep track of grades?" "I don't know how to do this math (or history, or science ... fill in the blank)!" "How do I make a transcript?" There were maybe 20 or 30 questions we heard over and over. Frankly, it made our job easy, but it's monotonous after a while.
A Better Way
That's when it hit us that there is a better way. How that happened was interesting. David had lost his job. Laurie did some substitute teaching at the local high school. While walking by the guidance office bulletin board, she was impressed with the information. The thought hit her, "Why can't home schoolers get this stuff? It could really help." She came home excited and said, "Someone ought to write a book for home schoolers with all these ideas in it."
David replied, "Yes, you should." That's how our "Guidance Manual" was born. We had a contract and book within nine months.
Now there's a "Guidance Manual" to help parents think through how to teach their children, and why they want to do it any particular way. Think of it as a "portable Guidance Counselor."
For first-time home schoolers, there's the question of what's important. What foundations do we want to lay early in our home school? If we can figure out how to inspire learning in our children, won't they then be motivated to learn on their own? If so, how do we inspire learning? Are there any tools that help?
What about the spiritual focus? How can I work on my child's heart? What resources should I make available to help do this? What's important to emphasize that will create an environment conducive to spiritual growth and development? What activities can we do as a family to develop Christian character?
And then there's worldview training. When should we begin? Should we over-protect our children? How do we do that and still help them learn discernment as they grow? Where can we find good materials to teach children a proper worldview? How do we cover all the bases?
What about basic training like cooking, cleaning house, yard work, changing the oil in the car, fixing the bike, balancing a checkbook, grocery shopping ... all those things that they need to know before they leave home?
Then there's testing. Is it important to test our children if our state doesn't require it? Why are different tests given? Can they help identify their bents, temperaments, likes and dislikes, drives, and ambitions? What is the difference between the Iowa, Stanford, California, and Metropolitan? What about the ACT or SAT for college-bound students? What is a CLEP test? An AP or Dante? Is there a time and place when an IQ test might be appropriate?
College preparation, military training, ministry, missions, options for sports-oriented students, special needs or gifted children, and 50 other areas are things parents want to know about. It's almost essential that home schoolers have their own personal Guidance Counselor just like institutional schools do.
There's a better way. Parents can direct the education of their children just fine, thank you. All they need is to know where to look. With the Internet and library resource centers, we have access to everything that the local school district might provide. We want a way to pull everything together into one place.
That's why we wrote our "Guidance Manual." If someone else would have provided one, we would have bought it ourselves. Why "rebuild the wheel?" And now the next generation can take things to the next level from here.
David and Laurie Callihan are authors of "The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School: A Parent's Guide for Preparing Home School Students for College or Career," and the brand new "Christian Homeschool Daily Planner" (with their Grand Plan built right in). Learn more at www.davidandlaurie.com
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