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Actually, there are no good reasons for quitting. Well, I wish this were true, but it isn’t. Sometimes life has a way of throwing things at us that require major shifts in plans, if not paradigm changes to our lives.
We started this series with reasons for not quitting, the biggest being that we, as followers of Christ, are not really given the option to quit, that is, if obedience matters.
We then went on to discuss how (grand)parents, church, family and children can all play roles in convincing us to lose our resolve to home educate and send our children back to the very system we originally intended to escape.
I then offered some advice to a family who had lost their enthusiasm for home “schooling” and how their “burnout” precipitated a return to school for the children, followed by an essay on how you cannot blame anybody for the decisions you make, especially when purportedly advancing “freedom” as your foundational premise for making them.
In this final instalment on the topic of quitting, I want to discuss events that are, unfortunately, legitimate reasons that I have seen for giving up on home education.
As mentioned earlier, I will always believe that home education is the best option for properly preparing children for their future, yet not everyone can or should. I prefer to not get into the details of who should not keep their children home as this is not the place.
What I do want to do is quickly discuss why some dedicated home educating parents have had to give up, not as examples of losing one’s resolve, but of life changing issues that compelled a return to school.
The most obviously legitimate reason for ending a home education program is the death of a parent or child. Death precipitates the reconstruction of the entire family and rarely does that include continuing with home education.
Occasionally, the death of an extended family member can also affect change within the family. Sadly, in our many years of experience, we have seen this too many times. Indeed, once is too many times.
Although there are many single moms home educating, divorce is, unfortunately, an all too common reason for losing the resolve to home educate. The breakup of a family is perhaps more difficult to handle than the death of a spouse as it often comes with deep feelings of rejection. Children often wrongfully assume some responsibility which can only exacerbate an already difficult situation.
Mothers sometimes need to go to work because of the death of a husband or as a consequence of divorce. Occasionally, financial considerations also demand this. Other reasons for doing so are more likely rooted in self-centered purposes.
Debilitating illness or injury has also forced the sending of children back to school. If the mother is too sick to do the job, dad is often unable to continue due to the demands of his work.
Sometimes the addition of another child can push an already difficult job of teaching older children over the edge and children are sent to school so mom can recover and regroup. Sometimes the children are brought back, but usually once a busy mom has tasted the “liberation” that comes with using the school’s “baby sitting service,” it is hard to return to home educating.
I know that we have all heard about the concern a lot of people have respecting the socialization of home educated students. Sometimes it is a legitimate concern.
Nearly everyone has opportunity to mix with others, but occasionally families and/or children can be so isolated that school provides an escape from its boredom and tyranny. This is not the greatest reason for sending children back to school, but it can be one.
There is no doubt that I have had to simplify the legitimate reasons that we have seen for ending a home education program. I am also guilty of making a few assumptions and of coming from an older and more conservative perspective.
However, as much as death, divorce, illness, one more child, yet another problem or what have you, has ended a few home education programs, there are as many stories of dedication and overcoming that are nothing short of the most incredible examples of courage and heroism.
Home educators are natural risk takers. They start by standing against the pressures of status quo school systems, then proceed to battle discouragement and negative persuasions. They conflict with many, not because they are confrontational, but because they dare to be different.
True home educators are usually a brave bunch, a tough bunch, a resilient bunch. They are usually overcomers. They are often full of faith, so when hell comes to pay them a visit, many just stand and/or press on.
We have had our hearts broken by some of the awful things we have seen come upon home educating families. However, on occasion, we have been very surprised by what can only be described as the miraculous recovery that families have made in response to devastating events.
It has been a privilege to watch these families that had every reason to quit and did not. Thank God for these stalwarts of the faith. They are an inspiration to all of us. They may have been tempted to quit, but in the end, they didn’t because they couldn’t.
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