We have all too often homeschooled because it is right for us, more comfortable for us, easier for us, even necessary for us. It is all of those things of course, but it is also right and necessary for the world. It is also right and necessary for the poor. It is also right and necessary. Education is the responsibility of parentsnot just some parents, not just highly motivated parents, not just well connected, well prepared, well organized parents. Education is the responsibility of parents. Period.
Dr. George Grant from an article entitled Bringing in the Sheaves: Nurturing Parent-Directed Education in Our Inner Cities.
Do you know how to read? my four-year old friend seriously queried.
Yes, Chad, I can read, I responded just as seriously, desperately trying to suppress the smile that threatened to break through at any moment.
Good, he said rather matter-of-factly, because I have two library books and I was hoping you might read one to me. This first one may be too hard, but I think you can handle this one on pirates.
I probably can, I answered him, as we sat down on his bed to spend a delightful few minutes lost in the world of make-believe.
I smile every time I think about Chads question to me. How I take for granted the ability to read, and the precious gift of literacy. There are millions in our country today who would love to be able to take for granted the ability to read, but are functionally illiterate. The scourge of adult illiteracy is at an all-time high in our country. We know from studies like A Nation at Risk that not every school child can read either. Employers are painfully aware of this national crisis, as they are more frequently having to provide basic-skills training for their employees.
Can you imagine not being able to fill out a job application without help? Or not being able to lose yourself in a book just for the fun of it? Or not being able to pick up a newspaper and read it? Or not being able to read your Bible during the course of the day?
We, in the home-schooling community have a terrific track record when it comes to being literate and raising literate students. As parents, we have had to learn how to teach the invaluable skill of reading. We have labored through curriculum manuals, book fairs, and every conceivable phonics program to find just the right way to teach our children to become proficient readers. We can define words like phonemes, phonograms, and digraphswords we didnt even know existed in our lives before home schooling.
What should I do?
The ability to teach another person how to read is not a talent to be taken lightly. It is a desperately needed skill in todays world. Have you ever thought of taking this ability and using it to minister to someone outside of your immediate family? If not, please consider it now.
Why should I do it?
Why, you ask, should I add one more thing to a schedule that is already booked solid through the new millennium? The best answer I can give you is that it is the right thing to do. In Psalm 72, Solomon speaks of the righteous man and how he should deliver the needy when he cries for help, the afflicted also, and him who has no helper. Adults who cant read are needy, and probably afflicted. School-age children who cant read are needy.
God has equipped us.
God has blessed the home-schooling movement tremendously. Our numbers are growing exponentially; our test scores are amazingly high; our children are excelling socially because they have parents who love them and spend time with them; our high school graduates are going to the colleges of choice, and often on scholarship. The Lord has indeed blessed us, and through the act of home schooling, He has trained us and equipped us for service.
Make service a non-negotiable part of your school year.
I can tell you from personal experience that serving others together as a family is a joy beyond belief. Every year, as part of our home-school curriculum my children are required to be involved in serving others in some capacity. We must make service to others in our families, the church, and/or the community a priority, or it will never happen.
Make it a family affair.
For the six years we were involved in tutoring in an inner-city outreach program sponsored by my in-laws church. My father-in-law, my sons, my daughter, and I have been involved at various levels and in various capacities. Probably the greatest blessing has been developing a relationship with the precious student we tutored and her mother. They have become part of our lives, although we rarely saw them more than the once a week we spent tutoring them.
If we want our children to learn to serve Christ and others, they must see us serve. Tutoring is a great avenue for service because it is so desperately needed in todays world and, as home-schooling parents, we already know how to tutor. We dont have to learn any new skillsjust employ the ones we already have.
We can also model for thefamilies were involved with the necessity of parental involvement in the lives and education of their children. If you are interested in tutoring and arent quite sure where to start, call your church, local public library, or adult literacy council. Ask the Lord to provide the right child, adult, or family for you and your children to help. It is truly more blessed to give than to receive.
Zan Tyler is co-author of the book Anyone Can Homeschool and senior education editor for Crosswalk.com. She and her husband have three children and have been home schooling since 1984.