The Grand Plan
- Friday, June 15, 2001
Once in a while an idea comes along that sneaks up on us, but may be so revolutionary that it has the potential to change the way people think. It isnt often. Sometimes its impacting. Other times its like the fizzle at the end of a fuse, when the bomb is expected to blow, but doesnt. Theres no way to know until it gets there. But in many cases, it does explode.
One of the concepts that we have been involved with lately could be one of these. But were not sure. It all depends. Initial indications are that this idea will change the way home-schooled children proceed in their high school years and on to college or career. But the jury is still out because many students-at-home and their parents are just learning about it.
It is the result of the way things have developed over the past two decades of home schooling. We are now at a new threshold. More and more parents now have children in secondary school. No one really knows the exact number, but arguably thirty to fifty percent of home school families now have at least one child in secondary school. That equates to somewhere between 400,000 and 800,000 students across the U.S.
Tragically, many home school parents have decided to place their children into a public or private school when their kids enter ninth through twelfth grade, for a number of reasons.
It might be lack of confidence in providing academic expertise, or because of a lack of sports alternatives. Maybe it is because of the students desire to be with high school friends. There are a host of other reasons.
One excuse that seems to be predominant is the fear of failure. God forbid that Johnny or Suzie would be unprepared for life after high school, and it be our fault! No sane parent wants to have that hanging over his/her head. So instead of taking the risk, we go with the knowable. We put our child back in school.
But today, there are other issues driving parents to reconsider. Safety is obviously a question. Then theres the problem of conflicting worldviews, with the ever-invasive Humanism that is being flaunted with religious fervor in the classroom - including its agenda of safe sex, alternative lifestyles, evolutionary dogmatism, relativism, and anti-God morality. (We know there are pockets of resistance, but this is becoming more and more of the norm.)
There is also the socialization problem. Especially during the high school years, we want to be involved in directing our childrens morals toward non-peer influences rather than single-peer pressurization. And finally, the academic deficiencies due to no opportunities for smart and capable students are a real problem. Many high school students are just plain bored because they arent being challenged any more.
We who home school our children know the background behind all of these issues and the underlying concerns of each. We know that home schooling provides viable alternatives, whether others see them or not.
But there is one area that has gotten our attention as a key motivation to continue home schooling our children through high school. It is the thing that seemed to have stopped so many of our fellow parents. Yet it is actually the practical reason to do it.
It has to do with the why. It involves the issue of ownership and giving to our children the right to be in charge of their educational lives.
For us, it came about by accident. When Jeremiah was about 14, he began to ask us questions about college and his career path. In some ways, he probably was thinking that for Mom this home school stuff was a good thing, and could go on forever! So he wanted to know if there would ever be an end in sight.
So Laurie sat down and put together an outline of high school work. She gave it to Miah. When our next two children, Rebekah and Katie, saw what we had given their older brother (being just 2 and 3 years younger, but well on the same level academically), they wanted to know if their high school outline was the same. We easily found that it was.
What we had created was the beginning of what we now call the grand plan. This is a very simple sheet that overviews the courses that our children need to complete to finish high school. We developed that idea into some materials that we outline in our book The Guidance Manual for the Christian Home School. We also have developed some additional documents that we provide home school parents.
But heres what the grand plan really is. Its the vision. Its the catalyst for getting a teenager involved in real life. He or she begins to understand that there is a life after high school. And we can help our pre-adults begin to take hold of it.
We tell our children, Here is what you need to do to complete high school. When youre done with this, you are done. It can take you a few years, or ten years (God forbid!). But its up to you. And do you know what? Kids catch the vision! We think were on to something here that has incredible potential, not that it wont continue to take work to get through. But the road can be easier to travel with it than without it, no matter how aggressive or lethargic the student. It will definitely motivate. At least thats our observation.
It wont be very many more years and our children will be on their own. If we start working with them in the early secondary years using the grand plan, by the time high school is done, they will be prepared for a lifetime of learning.
You can learn more about the grand plan and our book on our Web site, www.davidandlaurie.com.
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