Is There Life After Home School?
- Katharine Trauger
- 2004 26 Mar
Is there life after home school? Is there a reason to finish our children’s education at home? I have to say that from my experience the answer is definitely "Yes!" There is definitely a future for your home-educated child. Many wonder about it. Many predict that it is impossible. They don’t understand.
I know, because I have been there. My husband and I, together with what were to become some of our dearest friends, began home schooling about twenty years ago. Can you believe that? I almost cannot. It was nearly unheard of, back then. There were no home school web sites, no support groups, no magazines, no newsletters, and almost no other people... well, I guess you could say that we are antiques. Some people thought we were breaking the law. Some of our families would not speak to us. We did not know where the adventure would go, but we did know where we would NOT go. Home schooling cost us in many ways (though not much monetarily) and we knew we could never throw away such a costly advantage. That was enough to keep us going, back then.
These days, though, people are seeing fruit. We have been there and done it and now some of us are writing the books. In some cases, our friends literally have helped the colleges rewrite their admissions policies to accommodate us. Three of ours have gone to college, passing CLEP tests, and earning scholarships. I relate this to show that entering college is much easier for home schoolers, now, because schools court us. Yes, in these days of crumbling social skills, the college admissions people still know how to woo parents.
Does this startle you? It should not. Think for a moment: The national study that delineates exactly what causes improved learning reads as if someone had been watching our home schools. Everything that home schooling parents do, from start to finish, is in that study. Unknown to us, or to them, ours is the only set of circumstances deliberately designed to enable the teacher to do everything exactly right. So, of course, our children are set up to succeed. Then, surprise, surprise: another study, one that investigated who was doing best in college, found that it was not the public, nor the private schools, but home schoolers, all grown up, crunching the books.
It is no wonder that people want our kids. Mention home school and you get the job. Have you begun to notice that? We have. Whether it is mowing, grocery bagging, childcare, radio, art, printing, accounting, research, teaching, veterinary or any imaginable field, what we are speaks so loudly, they do not need to hear what we say It is the life-style, the diligence, and the discipline, which make us attractive. People wish they could be like us. Lacking that, they hope to hire our children. It is almost as if they are casting a vote for our way of life, by helping our children along. In this wrong, wrong world, they have found something that is dependably right, right, RIGHT, and they like it. So many people are so glad simply to see a clean, healthy young person who does not have a chip on his shoulder—it just makes their day, gives them hope, easing their worries a little.
It should. You see, somewhere, deep inside every person, is the witness that the Lord’s ways are altogether good and right. Some people will never acknowledge that, but they cannot help but be glad when they see something that they can recognize as good and right, whether they acknowledge it as coming from the Lord or not. They have seen plenty of the other results—the results of the world’s ways. There is not a person on this earth, I hope, who thinks it is good that children are murdered at school. No one thinks that the children should be blowing up the schools. Who, in his right mind would approve of drug dealing in the hallways?
Ok, so we agree that we should go on with this home school idea, although we do not feel like it, maybe. The days come, though, when we do not think that we can do it, right?
Some of us are undisciplined. I have heard it so often: "I don’t have the patience (organizing skills, energy, time, or whatever) to home school." We have always answered with, "Neither did we, but we wanted to acquire those skills, and home schooling taught us how." Actually, though, it was the Lord teaching us new heights of self-discipline. He wants to do that for all of His children. We need a new perspective on life in general, and on home schooling in particular. If God has given us children, for their sakes we must begin to concentrate on the after effects of our actions with them. We dare not come to the end of our schooldays saying, "I just did not have my act together."
Some of us are just tired. As your children age, guess what—you do too. Bones hurt, and muscles weaken and stiffen. What would you do if you worked in a public school and your joints were bothering you? Would you still get up and go to work? Of course you would. If you did not even care about the children who were depending on you to teach them, you still would think about the principal, school board, and superintendent and their responses. Well, now your husband is your principal, your support group is your school board, and God is your superintendent. You can go on. Otherwise you must someday say, "I just grew weary in well-doing."
Some of us are afraid that we do not have what it takes to teach higher levels. I want to encourage you by saying that although I only made B’s and C’s in high school math, I could remember what I had learned, thirty years later, well enough to help my children puzzle out their problems. The moral is that if you ever learned it, it probably is still "up there" somewhere amongst the clutter of your already busy mind. Actually, what I found, was that from phonics to geometry, to history and beyond, I never really learned much in the public institution that I went to, and am just now beginning to appreciate and retain these facts. I never learned to write well until after all my formal schooling was over. Maybe it is just that you learn more when you teach. I know the home school methods have been "officially pronounced" the best for actual learning. You actually probably do have all you need to teach your older children. The parts you forgot are about to be remedied—something you have needed for a long time. It will not be good to come to the end of the school journey saying, "I gave up because I was afraid."
Some of us truly did not ever study some subjects. Perhaps you were in a school that emphasized sports or movies, or did not teach. Maybe somehow you escaped or fell through the cracks or quit or just could not grasp it. Perhaps you had or have a learning disability yourself. Mother, please, please do not think you are excluded or disqualified from the joy of finishing your older children’s education. There are several ways to make it happen:
- There are entire courses of lectures available on video or audiotapes. You do not have to know anything except how to pop in a tape.
- There are your friends at the support group. Ask and discover who is good in English or math. Realize that they probably would be, and rightfully should be, very glad to support you in your endeavors.
- There are the people in your community, who want to cast their vote in your direction, as I was saying. One of my best friends, a college math teacher who has remained childless, delights to answer my questions, although they usually are way below her level of expertise. I try not to wear her out, but if I am stumped (which happens in algebra II) I call her. She loves it so much and we have a good conversation to top it off.
You can find this type of help, too. You dare not send your child back into the same system that failed you. There has to be a better way. Learn with your child. Otherwise, all you can say, at the end, is that you didn’t try hard enough.
Last, but not least, some of us fear that we will somehow harm our children. As long as you realize that this possibility exists, and as long as you dread it, you are precisely the person who should be teaching your children. People who think they can do no wrong do not approach children with a good sense of dread of error. They are the ones who lead them astray, use them for guinea pigs in psychological experiments, and just plain teach them wrong. I will not tell you that you will never make a mistake. I certainly could not tell you that from my own experience. If you care this much about your child, though, casting him into the public arena is what you must never do. This is nearly guaranteed to harm your child. Keeping him near the life of God in you is what he needs. Even if you make mistakes, he can learn from them, too. According to Solomon, those who fear harming the children are the ones who should raise them and not any others who cannot possibly care as much. Do not plan someday to say that God’s grace was not enough.
I am past fifty years old and still have two teens to finish schooling. Sure, I am tired, some days. (Who isn’t?) Yes, I have to look up things or reread the teacher book, some days. (The same for cookbooks.) Of course, I have to find someone to help me, some days. (With plumbing, with doctoring, and with schooling.) And, I have, I have made mistakes, missed the mark, some days. (In possibly every aspect of life.) Nevertheless, there is one thing I do every day—I look into the eyes of my children and see clear-headed humanity looking back at me, not mass-produced confusion. That is life—true life.
It is the life that comes after home school.
Katharine Trauger has homeschooled her six children for twenty years. She and her husband, Gerald, live in Mississippi, and enjoy gardening, reading, and Bible study.
This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr ’04 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. For more information, visit http://HomeSchoolEnrichment.com.