People are going to call me an idealist, and perhaps I am, but I believe that homeschooling can be for everybody. Let me quickly add that I am not saying that everyone ‘should’ homeschool, just that everyone ‘can’ homeschool. The choice is in our hands.
Too often I hear about homeschoolers who’ve returned their children to school because ‘homeschooling didn’t work for them’ or ‘homeschooling stopped working for them’. This statement is misleading and I want to attempt to address it.
Homeschooling is a tool. To say that homeschooling ‘didn’t work’ is like saying the shovel, the broom, or the hammer didn’t work. The tool is not responsible for the work that it does, but instead the user is responsible. To gain the full benefit of a tool you must use it correctly. The tool must also be the right size and fit for you. Experience will improve your use of the tool and with continued correct comfortable use of the tool you will achieve your goal.
If your tool did not achieve the desired result or stopped working during the task, it is not the fault of the tool. It is up to the user of the tool to maintain it properly, to use it efficiently and effectively, and to care adequately for it. If or when the tool stops working the responsibility lies solely at the user’s feet. We must be careful not toss it aside, casting all blame on the tool, telling those around us that the tool has faults.
There are tools that do not work well due to their design, like a square wheel or those plastic scissors with no blade (which are designed for safety and frustration and not cutting of any sort!). Government schools currently fall into this category. They promise to do a great number of things but are designed in such a way that many of their goals are impossible, restricting their benefits to only a few users. It does not matter how one uses this tool, or how often, but rather if you fit the size of the tool. You see, school is a ‘one size must fit all’ tool. If you are in the average range then school will probably help you gain an average education. It promises a lot more but is yet to deliver in a consistent hence guaranteed manner. User beware!
Thankfully homeschooling is a fully adjustable tool that can fit any student, family, style or ideology, if you are prepared to use it well.
You see, the user is the key to successful homeschooling. You can make it work for you or not. The tool is only as good as its user.
I suppose homeschooling is a lot like making fresh, homemade bread. Bread made at home is, without question, much better for your family’s health (and taste buds) than store bought replicas. But it’s up to you whether you want to do the work to make bread at home. Bread from the store is more convenient – faster, easier, cheaper, less messy, and you don’t have to do the work. A no-brainer choice for many. But a handful of folk, who are willing and able to work for the very best for their family, will learn how to bake bread. They will ask experienced bread makers for advice. They will gather the ingredients, lovingly mix them, pound and knead them when necessary and sit back and watch it rise and bake, careful not to let it burn. They will take the time to make bread for their family consistently each day. They will experiment with and vary their recipes so their family doesn’t grow tired of the bread. They will work tirelessly feeding their family the best bread they can provide. Bread making will become a part of their daily life, continuing on whether they are busy, ill, or troubled. The act of bread making will become a habit and a loving ritual.
You see, homeschoolers either make the great effort and many sacrifices to homeschool, or choose the supermarket version of education. Homeschooling doesn’t ‘stop working’ for any family. It is a tool which we choose to stop using or a goal which we choose to stop valuing.
As I said in the beginning, it is not my belief that everyone should homeschool. I think it would be wonderful for their families if they did but I am realistic and understand that most people won’t homeschool. Many people work and have no time to homeschool. Some people have external obstacles, such as spousal rejection of homeschooling or government interference. Some can not muster the physical, mental or emotional strength to embark on the journey or maintain it. Other people simply have no desire to dedicate themselves to homeschooling in a way that is necessary for its success. And others yet, dabble in both worlds, never really fully committing to either. These many obstacles prevent families from homeschooling and I totally understand that this is the way it is, although I won’t deny that it makes me sad.
My concern is with people, who tell themselves, and then others, that homeschooling ‘stopped working’ or ‘didn’t work’. Yes there will be times when homeschooling is really hard, and you have to take serious action to keep it moving in the right direction, but at no times will it ‘not work’, if you are using the tool properly. Homeschooling will only stop working when you do.
At these points in your homeschooling journey you will have to ask yourself – Do I want to continue homeschooling or do I want to stop? Do I still value homeschooling enough to continue making the sacrifices? Am I working hard enough in this endeavour? The choice is always ours to make. Prayerfully make the decision.
But please parents, don’t blame homeschooling when you decide to leave its path. It discourages other homeschoolers who continue on faithfully using the tool of homeschooling. Everyone has the choice to either homeschooling or try the alternatives. But the success, or not, of homeschooling is our own responsibility and in our own hands.
P.S. I don’t bake bread by the way. I’d like to but as yet ‘I’ haven’t done anything to make it happen. It’s not because I don’t know how to. I can learn. It’s not because I don’t have time. I can make time. It’s not because I don’t have what I need. I can find it. If I’m being completely honest about it. My desire just doesn’t match my motivation. It has nothing to do with the bread making process at all. Whether I make bread or not, is in my hands. How well I make bread is also up to me. Will I do it or will I not? The ‘should’ part is easy. The will?…well that’s the thing we all struggle with…that unruly will of ours.
P.P.S. I get the feeling that my readers are going to expect me to try my hand at baking bread now. Talk about peer pressure! Hehehe 🙂