03 April 2007

How Long?

"We're not sure" or "I don't know" or "probably through middle school at least" is what I usually answer when I'm asked the never-ending, often repeated question, "How long do you plan to homeschool?"    Everyone, that is, everyone who doesn't homeschool,  is so concerned with this question, and, to tell you the truth, I'm really not all that concerned.  My concern lies within my own heart.  I'm not sure that I'm being completely truthful when I say that I don't know how long we'll homeschool, and I've been searching my heart because of this. 
How long do we intend to homeschool our children?   My 100% truthful answer is that we desire and intend to homeschool them until they go to college.  I don't really know of an ideal time for them to enter the public school setting.  Middle school?  That seems crazy to me.  Middle school tends to be the worst time in most people's lives.  Kids are cruel at that age, and I know that many middle school students are so caught up in what other people are doing or saying that their educational experience is hindered.  It sometimes haunts them for years beyond middle school.  Students enter high school with battered self-esteem.  Do I want that for my kids?  Nope, so the ideal setting for middle school is at my dining room table.
And how about high school?  The biggest arguments that opponents of homeschooling give is that children will not have the same opportunities for extracurricular activities.  Translation:  Children will not get to overwork and stretch themselves as thin as humanly possible while still trying to figure out how to grow up, understand their faith, and become successful at simply living.  I know that there are countless extracurriculars in the high school setting that my children could participate in, but they can participate in just as many activities as part of a homeschooling community, which is a fact that many people don't realize.  Why do they need to have all those activities when focusing on the one or two that truly interest them makes so much more sense?  Homeschooling provides more opportunities for students to serve their churches and communities, and they're be able to work part-time jobs during traditional school hours.  Job experience, community service, and focus on their own interests seems to make much more sense then sending them to high school where so much of the learning is hindered by peer pressure, lack of proper funding, and other negative influences.
Do I expect my children to go through school at home and then survive college without faltering?  I can hope for this in a perfect world, but we live in a fallen world.  Personally, I think that the age of 18 is a legal age for adulthood, but not necessarily the age when a person is mature enough to make adult decisions.  Because of that, I hope to be able to guide my children throughout their college years and to help them in the process of becoming an adult.  I won't just throw them into the world and expect them to make it, so that argument doesn't fly with me either.  Borrowing a phrase from my alma mater, I want my children to become "world changers" in every way.  Throwing them into a difficult world without guidance seems like a ridiculous idea to me.
So, the next time someone asks me this question, I'm going to be 100% truthful and tell them that we intend to homeschool our children until they graduate from high school.  I'm not going to say that our decision won't change as our children grow and we evaluate each of their individual needs, but, at this point in the journey, this is our plan.  Plans are made to be changed, and we understand that, but we intend to do what God leads us to do.   With Him leading us, I have no doubt that our children will become successful adults.

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