Ahh - summer, nothing to do but relax and enjoy vacation, unless of course, you’re a homeschooler. Then it’s time to attend homeschool conferences, study up on the latest homeschool books, clean out your schoolroom and plan, plan, plan for the next school year! In the midst of all this educational flurry I think it’s important to review the history of homeschooling. Many homeschoolers don’t realize that the modern homeschooling movement started in the 1970s, fueled primarily by the work of John Holt. Holt was a disillusioned educator who felt that the public education system was damaged beyond repair and that children stood a far better chance of success at home. He was quick to point out that recreating school at home was unlikely to be any more successful. He said that, “children, without being coerced or manipulated, or being put in exotic, specially prepared environments, or having their thinking planned and ordered for them, can, will, and do pick up from the world around them important information about what we call the Basics. “
This belief - that children who are placed in an enriching and supportive environment will learn everything they need - inspired an entire generation of homeschoolers. They proved that children could go on to lead successful and enriching lives, without the restraints of formal education. Unfortunately, the homeschool movement became so successful that many companies started to see it as a prime business opportunity. As the years went by, homeschool curriculums multiplied exponentially. (I could use my Rainbow Resource catalog for weight lifting).
As more and more children left public school, the charter schools saw the opportunity to capitalize on the movement by offering online programs. While there is good to be found in all of these options, it’s important to remember the philosophy that homeschooling was founded on: that children don’t need a fancy environment or “special” books or programs, they don’t need specialists or professionals to teach them. What they need is an environment rich in educational opportunities and love. I have a friend who calls it creating a vacuum. When our homes are full of books, games, conversation, and ideas, our children can’t help but be sucked in. As hard as it is, we have to “trust the process”. Not only trust that children will learn when given the opportunity, but also that the Lord will provide the ideas, people and resources we need to help them in their journey.
I will be the first to admit that at times the responsibility of educating my children seems mind boggling and overwhelming. But, as the years go by I am constantly amazed by the small miracles that seem to flow through our lives and how the Lord provides for my children’s needs. The examples are too numerous to list, but one blessing stands out in my mind. Last year I attended a homeschool parent meeting held at a local private school. While I was there I had a conversation with the school’s director. She is a former homeschooler and an inspiring teacher. She mentioned that she was starting a dyslexia tutoring program at her school. When I told her about the work I’d done with my profoundly dyslexic son, she offered me a job working for her as a tutor. That offer provided me with numerous hours of training that have greatly improved my ability to work with my son’s learning disabilities. She taught me so much about the gift of dyslexia. Another unexpected blessing came over the course of the year, as her voice of wisdom and encouragement gave me the courage to keep homeschooling my teenager through high school.
This is only one example of the many ways the Lord has blessed our homeschool. He knows our family’s needs and He knows how much I love my children. I have to remember that He loves my children too and that He has a plan for each of them. As I put my trust in Him, rather than the commercial interests of the homeschool movement, He will provide for our family’s every need.