Is There Life After Homeschooling?
By Bob Reith
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #74, 2007.
The nest is empty. What are you going to do with all that old energy and new free time?
When I ask, "Is there life after homeschooling?" I do understand why such a question might provoke a whoop of hilarity.
After all, you are living in the middle of the daily battle. Certainly you plan, but you make decisions "on the fly," often not knowing how your efforts for the day (or for the unit study, or for the month, or for the year) will all end. There's so much going on in the present that the future seems miles away.
Yes, my friends, you sometimes feel overwhelmed. Nevertheless you press on. Many of you juggle responsibilities from household management to part time work to volunteering. Yikes!
However, let's consider my original question again. Take a deep breath, now, for the question does make sense, even before you have reached the end of your homeschool journey.
When the last child finally "graduates," I'm sure some parents rejoice with the shout of great rejoicing, "Wa-hoo!! We're through!" But it doesn't end right away, does it? If your children go to college, you may be compelled, of necessity, to shift labors to help pay for college. Some of you have already been doing so for years.
One day, however, it will all come to an end, God willing, even for those of you who have been homeschooling many children over many years. You'll look back, hopefully with fond memories, wondering at God's grace that you were able to get it all done. You may reflect, hopefully in a healthy way, on what you, as the homeschooling mom and dad, learned through the process. Hopefully you'll be able to give thanks for help rendered to you, or for lessons someone taught you, to help you be a better homeschooling parent than you might otherwise have been.
Have you considered that you have a wealth of experience now that you obviously didn't have when you began? You are not only older, but hopefully wiser. You've been "around the block," you know more from whence you came, you are grateful for God's provision.
Now, what do you do with it?
May I suggest giving back?
Many of you already give beyond the needs demanded by your own homeschooling efforts. You share your gifts and enthusiasm with other homeschoolers through friendships and local support groups, and even volunteer at your state's convention. And many are so grateful for those efforts.
Some of you, for various reasons, are more limited in what you are presently able to offer beyond that which you are able to provide your children. We understand that. But there may come a day, God willing, where you can hopefully be available to freely offer assistance to others.
Many of you who began homeschooling in the 1980s and 1990s are approaching the tail end of your personal homeschooling task. Therefore I'd like to encourage you to consider what you, the "retired" homeschooler, will one day do with all that experience.
Formerly considered almost a "back-alley" enterprise, homeschooling is increasingly becoming viewed as a viable, legitimate, and I dare say, mainstream option for teaching children. This wouldn't have happened without the many volunteers who served not only their children but other homeschoolers.
Today's homeschooling generation is reaping the benefits and example of those who have gone before. What will be your legacy to the next generation of homeschoolers?
The joke on the teacher's coffee mug reads, "Old teachers never die, they just lose their class." Perhaps the slogan on the homeschooler's coffee mug might read, somewhat more seriously, "Homeschooling: Because God's faithfulness never ends."
Those of you who are considering "retirement," please think of what you can continue to contribute to the current generation of homeschoolers. Your knowledge and experience may be an encouragement to many.