The idea that homeschooling may not be for everyone has gradually become a reality for me from my earlier “homeschooling-is-the-only-way-to-go” days. For some reason or another, there are parents who are not able to take the homeschooling route . Others can only keep at it up to some point. Nevertheless, I have witnessed how such parents, in their differing contexts, engage in discipling their children quite as effectively as those who delay sending their children to school. Thus, I have grown to be cautious about pushing the idea of homeschooling. Though I cannot claim it to be the best option for all, I have to admit it is what’s best for us currently.
Our case is quite unique with children who began homeschooling abroad and now homeschooling in the Philippines with the goal of finishing their schooling back in Canada. Thus, a lot of our decisions about homeschooling hinges upon this very scenario.
With two more years before our oldest heads off to college, concern has been expressed about how she (and the rest of our kids) will be able to face the bloody arena called university, sheltered as they have been thus far. And I’m not talking about the likes of Ateneo, U.P., or La Salle. I’m talking about the far off North American colleges where kids who have reached the age of 18 are off the fence and wanting to do whatever it is they are wanting to do.
The more I ponder about this though, the more the benefits of our homeschooling become evident to me. First, in no way do I see any hint presently that my children will “want to do what they have been wanting to do” as soon as they are “free”. In fact, that whole concept of “wanting to do what they have been wanting to do” carries no meaning for them. They are growing up in an environment where what is popular (or worse, what is morally wrong) is not something they had to engage in to belong. They are loved just the way they are and their value is defined by what they are worth to God. The years spent impressing this upon them will have hopefully allowed them to form strong convictions that will help them carry on in a world whose values are contrary.
We have always been open to the idea of our children attending high school before entering university to “prepare” them. In truth, this was my original plan – to homeschool through middle school and then send them to a Canadian high school (at least for the last 2 years). Coming home to the Philippines, however, has made the purpose for that inapplicable. I highly doubt sending my kids to a nice local high school here would in any way simulate what public high schools are like abroad, our schools here still being religious and conservative in nature (praise God for that!). On another note, we felt it was wiser to continue on with our current academic route which aimed to meet requirements abroad (foreign language necessary, levels of math, science, english we needed to complete, history we needed to know).
Homeschooling in high school is rougher sailing than the waters of the younger years. I would rather teach phonograms, fractions, or cursive than correct my teenagers’ geometric proofs, assign chemistry lab work grades, or have to be responsible for evaluating literary compositions. The difficult choice to homeschool through high school, I realize though, is one of the good things that came out of our coming home. The adolescent years is truly the time when children are prepared to think deeply and express themselves. Whether we are discussing the Great Books or biblical worldview or the events of history, my husband and I are able to dialogue and challenge our teenagers’ thinking. And as the reality of university draws near, then the more years we spend preparing our young adults, the better.
What about real training, I’m asked. Surely there is value in applying what is learned at home to real life experiences in school situations. Surely there is a rationale behind articling for lawyers-to-be, practicum for the business student, or residency for training doctors? Yes, there is. And this brings me to another light bulb.
Every time my high schoolers and I talk about their going to university, they never fail to express their desire for the whole family to be with them physically during this time (as our logistical issue is evident). What a comfort it is for parents to know that they are needed and trusted. Indeed, for parents who have embraced their role of shepherding their children’s hearts, parental influence on the children continues to rise even as children become more independent.
Thus, college life (and even beyond) will be the great big “laboratory” where our young adults will experiment and verify the principles we have passed on to them. And with the parent-child bond truly strengthened, rather than severed at this time, we have the privilege to continue to parent from a different angle.