Will the Homeschooled Homeschool?
By Joshua Harris
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #18, 1997.
Homeschool kids generally would want to homeschool their own kids, but are they prepared for such an occupation?
It's more than just a play on words. It's a serious question. Will the homeschooled homeschool? Of course it isn't a pressing issue in most families. There are more urgent things to think about. Let's get through this school year, let's finish this lesson. Homeschooling today is enough to keep us busy, do we have to worry about the next generation?
Inevitably, however, each family will have to face the question: Do today's homeschool students believe in home education enough to continue it when they have families of their own? Many parents feel very strongly about the importance of their grandchildren homeschooling. "Unless I see my children teaching their kids at home, I won't consider my home school a success," says Mike Farris, the president of Home School Legal Defense and a homeschool dad with ten kids.
Whether or not you share Farris's feelings, the issue raises serious questions about the future of home education. Will home schooling be a one-generation phenomenon? Have parents been successful in passing down the values to their kids that led them to homeschool? As the first generation of home schoolers graduate, marry and start their own families, will they come back for a second round or return to institutional schools?
In the final issue of New Attitude, a magazine for homeschooled teens, we posed these questions to our readers. "Will you homeschool your kids? What will you do differently?" Letters poured in. The verdict? The majority answered with a resounding "Yes!" While a few said they did not plan to homeschool their kids, or wouldn't all the way through, most desired to give their kids the same experience they had enjoyed. Students honored their parents for the sacrifices they had made and sang the praises of home schooling.
A letter from Stresa White from Strasburg, France, typified this reaction. She wrote, "Yes, I will definitely home school my kids. I love to teach and what better students could you ask for than your own kids? I want my kids to have the same flexibility and opportunities that I have. I want them to associate God with every part of their life, including school. Homeschooling has enriched and challenged my education and my life. I wouldn't trade it for public school in a million years. And I want my kids to have the same privilege. So I'm gonna pass it on!"
As I read the the letters I was both inspired and convicted. I was glad to hear many of my peers shared my desire to continue homeschooling. But I began to see how little thought I'd actually given to the details of homeschooling my future (presently non-existent) children. Would I, because of my own lack of foresight, waste the momentum and accumulated experience of my parents' generation and wind up just as unprepared as they were when they started? I've walked through countless curriculum fairs, but what would I do if I were having to choose books and resources for my own kids? Where would I start? Which approach would I use? Yikes!
If we're going to "pass on" the experience of home schooling, there's no better time than today to start preparing. Here are two ideas that can you get ready.
1. Evaluate your own homeschool experience.
Do you want to duplicate the way your parents taught you? Or are there things you would adjust? Sit down with your parents and recount the different grades in which you homeschooled and how they approached various subjects. Ask them what they would improve if given a second chance.
It will be helpful to evaluate not only the books used, but also issues of schedule and format. When asked what they would do differently, many New Attitude readers said they wished their parents had pushed them more and given them a more set schedule. "I usually complete more if I have a rigid schedule," wrote Charissa Imken. She added, "My mom can't believe I like being told exactly what to do!"
Amy Rehn agrees. "I wish there had been more accountability in my earlier high school years, that I had been made to work a lot harder. If only I could get back some of that time I wasted! I'm trying to cram a lot into this year, and I'm paying for my laziness. I'm not going to count on my kids having initiative and being self-motivated - that doesn't always come naturally! - but rather make it a priority to help them and see that their work gets done."
As you look at things you would like to improve, it's important to approach these questions with a high degree of humility and appreciation for your mom and dad. This isn't a time to point fingers, but to see how you can build on their experience.
2. Look for opportunities to teach.
"I think it's important to give kids opportunities to teach," says Mike Farris. "If there's a wide enough age difference within a family, the older students can be a part of the younger kids' lessons. If that's not possible I think we should be willing to look for tutoring opportunities in other families."
New Attitude reader Rob Osborn regrets not doing this with his siblings. "This is something that has never been stressed in our home school," he wrote. Now he's finding it hard to make time. "This is something that I am working on now," he continues, "but the older I get, and the busier my schedule is, the harder it becomes."
What better time than now - while you're still at home, while your younger siblings need instruction, while your mom and dad are actively involved in choosing and evaluating curriculum - to start preparing for your own future home school?
Our parents have done a great job. Let's take our experience as home school students and aim to do even better!