Running The Race
Having started, and especially after the first year, most of the anxieties, fears and insecurities will have diminished. Sadly, there will always be that lingering nagging feeling that you may have made the wrong decision and there will be no lack of people to "encourage" you along with these doubts and misgivings. By now you have had a chance to question the things you thought were important, some of which you will now see as silly (like creating a school in the home). You may even regret having implemented some of these things, but take heart. It is not so important how you started, but how you Run The Race.
If you are struggling with doubts and fears, you may have to reflect upon the reasons you initially had for home educating and ask yourself what has changed since then. If you find that you have lost your initial vision, perhaps you have been listening to or following the wrong people. If you find that fundamentally nothing has changed, then re-evaluate what has been going well and continue or improve on those things and discard the things that didn’t work.
If you started without having sent the children to school, this new, more comfortable phase, will run until the children enter puberty. This season of your home education journey could very well be the most fun you will have as a family. The children are little, they see their parents as perfect (God has temporarily blinded them!), and once past the LTR (learning to read) phase, they are like sponges just soaking up the information from the opportunities you provide. However, one must always keep in mind that younger children are indeed children and must be treated as such and not as adults.
Should you have started home education from a school situation, the outcomes of this phase will depend on just how much time the student spent in school. Generally speaking, it is fair to say that the more time spent in school, the greater the number of "school issues" that may have to be dealt with, and the longer it may take to get things working in this new paradigm of home education. Gradually, both parents and students should find comfort in learning within the environment created by God for the training of children... the home.
Education Unlimited has found that after the first year has been accomplished under their care, parents (and students) have been better equipped to carry on. We call it being on "cruise control".
Getting Too Familiar
The most common issue that arises during the Running The Race phase of home education is familiarity. The mother is always with the children and the children start to see her as one of them. Fathers have to be diligent in having the children keep a healthy respect for their mother.
Dad also can become a little complacent since mom is doing such a good job. It is true that if "something isn't broken it is not wise to fix it", but it is also true that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". The overriding principle "is that "if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"." Dad should periodically take mom out on a date, giving her a chance to bounce some ideas with you, vent a little and to enjoy some "adult company".
The father has to be involved in the training, teaching and discipling of their children at all times, as this is his responsibility and not the mother's, even though the mother does most of the work involved in the home education. The mother’s role is simply to be a helpmeet, that is, to help the father meet his goals for the preparation of his children to be good citizens of this world while serving God in His.
It should also be noted that even though academic study is important, it pales in importance to understanding who God is and how He desires us to conduct our lives. Minister to the children's hearts while challenging their heads.
Education Unlimited has found that if the father is not seriously involved in this part of the training, he is largely disqualified from being taken seriously by the children after puberty.
Losing Your Wheels
The pressure to conform to the status quo has never stopped. You have celebrated learning how to address the concerns of loved ones regarding home education; you may have become so weary of the “socialization” question that you have invented a "less than gracious answer" and you have become convinced that you are not ruining your children’s lives! Still, the pressure is on and life is not fair or particular as to who gets what problems, only that they are inevitable. Parents can be tempted to quit and they do occasionally "lose their wheels" and trip while Running The Race. It can happen at any time of the year and at any point in the journey, however January and February seem to be the worst times.
This is where things get a little embarrassing from a faith point of view. Remember the statement made at the beginning, the one about "requiring a lot of effort and faith"? If there is no biblical foundation in your life, you are free to do as you please. If you do have a biblical foundation in place, you are still free to do as you please, only in this case, you no doubt started home educating as a conviction. Knowing that God has directed parents to train, teach and disciple their children, with no provision to abdicate that responsibility to "hired, replacement parents" in a very dysfunctional "gigantic age-segregated family", how does one veer from this revelation? Who has changed their mind regarding this matter, God or man? Is God confused? Does He require one thing of us in the beginning and then change His mind and redirect us in complete opposition to His Word? Some parents even state that “God has given them a peace” about quitting home educating.
It is safe to conclude that, in order to avoid having to admit and deal with our struggles and fears, we deflect the issues by justifying our decision and by claiming it is God’s will. This is where confusion has set in and it is quite often that parents in this situation have become tired of Running The Race believing that they cannot provide what is best for their children. You are not alone in facing fears and dealing with difficult trials. Education Unlimited’s facilitators are familiar with the trials that home educating families face and are willing to walk through them with you. Our facilitators are caring and compassionate individuals and we pray that you feel safe and supported by them.
Education Unlimited’s faith, hope and expectation is in a loving God having a plan and purpose for our futures.
Is Quitting The Answer?
Do you think that anyone else can do a better job of training children than loving parents? Is being tired an excuse to quit? If frustrated, is quitting the answer or is fixing the issue causing the frustration the wisest thing to do? If the children are "driving you crazy", is sending them elsewhere a solution? By making that decision, are you not just postponing today's problems until tomorrow, when those problems are likely to become much more serious?
Before quitting, consider the following:
- Nothing will change the fact that God is God and that He has directed parents to train, teach and direct their children to Him so He can direct them in their lives.
- Everybody experiences a crisis of faith from time to time, and you are no different. If you are in a crisis of faith, remember that it is temporary and in time, will pass.
- Even though continuing on may occasionally seem difficult, Paul's letter to the Galatians instructs us to "not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not".
- Trials are to be expected in life. Learn and grow from them.
- Hang in there, God is not finished with you or your children. He is allowing you to be tested and He would never allow this testing to go beyond what you can endure.
Quitting may be the easiest solution, but it is a temporary one. Sending your children to an institution can turn your children's hearts from God to the world and its views and negatively influence family relationships. Bringing the institution home is no better and not necessary, as there is no need for high school accreditation.
Education Unlimited has experienced, either directly or vicariously, nearly every trial imaginable. None of these are pleasant experiences, but all lead to better people, better situations, or opportunities for greater service.