Declaring His Power to the Next Generation Part 3
- Dana Hanley Contributing Writer
- 2006 17 Nov
[Editor's Note: This is the third part in a three part series. Click Here to read Part 2.]
There is a common thread among descriptions of homeschooled adults, whether from officials in higher education, employers or community organizations. It is not that homeschooled adults necessarily possess superior knowledge or skill in their chosen field. The edge they show in average SAT scores is not mentioned. In fact, other than noting increased time for internships, this aspect of homeschooling was rarely addressed. Instead, the distinguishing features most recognized in homeschoolers were issues of character. When describing homeschoolers to prospective employers, Dr. Ray responds, Self-starters, reliable and creative, intellectually prepared, better than average, read voraciously, watch TV less. (Grossman, Robert J. Home is Where the School Is. Society for Human Resource Management, December 3, 2001) Kim Coughlin, who was homeschooled since the fifth grade and currently homeschools her eight children, shares her perspective on how homeschooling helped her in the formation of her character.
My parents were unarguably the greatest influences upon my worldview. This was certainly not the case in the years in which I attended public schools. I clearly recognized this in myself at the tender age of 10.
These issues of character and worldview touch on the heart of why many Christians choose to homeschool, and why many did so in the face of legal difficulties and pressure from friends and family members. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36) This desire to pass the faith of the fathers down to the children, although central to many parents’ decision to homeschool, has never been researched and measured objectively. For at least two decades, homeschool parents have clung to Proverbs 22:6, (Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it) as encouragement that the faithful discipling of our children through homeschooling would produce faithful adults. But how was it playing out in the real world of sincere but imperfect parents? It was this question that inspired Sandra Anderson, who homeschools her own children for religious reasons, to design a research study to begin to assess these issues.
Many proponents of home education have stated that what they value is their religion. They want to pass on their principles. I, in fact, have spent the last six years doing just that. I want my children to adopt my faith and my morals, not those of society around me.
Her study, Home Education: Declaring His Power to the Next Generation?, completed in February 2006, consists of an online survey of 1693 homeschooled adults and parents of homeschooled adults, asking questions to determine how effective homeschooling had been in passing the faith commitments of parents to their children. The results are very encouraging. Anderson began by asking general background questions, including how long they had homeschooled, along with several questions to assist the respondents in focusing on what their faith values were. A full 75% of parents responded that they had homeschooled their children nine to thirteen years, providing good insight into the benefits of homeschooling over a longer period.
When asked about whether they felt their child had adopted their religious views, 90% of the parents responding believed they had. The longer the children were homeschooled, the more likely they were to adopt their parents’ values. This finding was in contrast to common misconceptions that long-term, intense exposure might lead to rebellion. This is especially significant when compared to statistics gathered from children in the public schools. According to Consideringhomeschooling.org, . . a shocking 75% to 85% of Christian children sent to public school drop out of church, and do not hold a Christian worldview after high school graduation.
On the parent’s assessment of their child’s religious values, Anderson added the option, other, please specify. 7% of respondents chose this option and as she read the comments, Anderson was shocked.
Almost all the respondents claimed their child would be more religious, more committed to their family’s values than even the parents were. I had forgotten to add this option!
Similar results were observed in the responses of homeschooled adults when asked if their religious values were similar to their parents’ Only 3% expected to have values very different from their parents. A student cannot be greater than his teacher, but when the child is introduced to Christ as his Teacher, he can surpass even his own family in faithfulness to the Lord.
These statistics are very encouraging and support homeschoolers in their endeavors to model Christ to their children.
While the numbers of homeschooled children who walk away from the faith of their parents may be small, it is still a very real situation to families who are faced with a prodigal child.
It is significant to note, however, that even in those few cases in which the children walked away from the faith, homeschooling was not often viewed as the cause. Parents cited reasons such as not feeling enough love at home, problems in the church, the influence of peers, not living their beliefs consistently and not discussing beliefs enough. Only one parent thought their child would have been more likely to have adopted their religious beliefs if they had attended a public school and only one thought that a private, Christian school would have done a better job. Overall, even in the cases where children walked away from the faith, homeschooling was viewed in a positive light.
Lisa Hodgen, homeschooling mother of ten and founder of Me And My House Ministries (www.me-and-my-house.org), has felt the pain of a child not choosing her faith. She continues to encourage others, however, and reminds them that they homeschool because it is God’s plan and He has His own purposes. In regards to her daughter, she shares,
She still has these things, a foundation to return to, when God opens her eyes, bringing light to deliver her. I do not believe home education failed her, or failed in itself. Teaching and training our own children is the means God has given the home to produce godly seed, instructing the next generation to walk in His ways. We do not follow it for pragmatic reasons, because it seems to work within our timetable and in our ways. We do it because it is right and God commanded it for His own glory. As a parent it is hurtful and disappointing when our children walk apart from these ways. But we do not walk by sight, but by faith. God has spoken that His word is alive and powerful and will go forth and not return void.
God has indeed shown Himself mighty through the modern homeschool movement. As many thousands of parents have sought to be faithful to God’s plan for their families, He has been faithful to them, blessing their efforts abundantly. The road of homeschooling may not always be an easy one and the difficulties can be very real. But despite the trials, we can truly say, along with Samuel, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. May we continue to rely on Him as we walk onward in faith, training the next generation in His ways and according to His plan.
Oh, and what about Jennifer Morrison who was so unsure of her parents’ ability? She graduated from homeschooling and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration. And if children are in her future, she plans on teaching them at home as well.
Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation
[Editor's Note: This is the final part of a 3 part series. Miss parts 1 or 2? Click Here:
Dana Hanley is a homeschooling mother of three. She holds a B.S. in Education from the University of Kansas, but feels like her true education began when she began preparing to homeschool. You can join her on her journey and learn more about her thoughts on education and family life at her blog, Principled Discovery, at http://gottsegnet.blogspot.com.