As far as parents go, there are also a series of stages they go through when raising their children. This is also the case when deciding to teach their children at home.
The first stage is to naturally assume school is the answer to their children’s educational needs. Parents will usually, initially go this route and most will stay there.
Those who either learn through experience or otherwise determine that the home is the place to be raising, training and teaching children, will usually bring a lot of the school’s thinking home with them, at first. This is the home schooling stage, a place full of confusion and associated fears as it is often a hybrid between what God has ordained and what government directs.
The home schooling stage eventually gives way to home education as parents realize their God-given authority, get comfortable with having the children at home and take greater control over what will be done respecting the education of their children.
Most parents are comfortable within the home education stage and stay there throughout their children’s formal education. At this stage, the program usually fits the child, even if employing at least some notions of school. There is nothing wrong with this, but some of the more “daring,” or should I say “faithful,” will eventually come to be free of all school ‘thinking” and become “un-schoolers.”
The best way to define this stage or process is that it simply is not doing or playing school in any way. Those who make this stage generally have a greater trust in God and less confidence in man. You may want to see what Psalm 118:8 has to say about that. (I will be discussing this approach to home education in more detail a bit later.)
As parents transition from one stage to another there is a greater sense of freedom as they make the program fit the child rather than having the child fit the program. As you, no doubt, know, working with children has always been better than fighting with them, so finding what works for them is definitely a better idea.
As the children grow, they become more and more independent. In the end, they do as you had planned from the start and what you knew would eventually happen. They leave home to start a life of their own. In a home education, parents have the privilege of growing with the children as they grow together as a family.
Without diminishing the importance of having a good education, one must understand that relationships are of far greater value. Keeping and teaching all the children at home is the best way to develop the most important relationships, which are our relationships with God and with each other as a family. Friends may come and go, but family should stay and stick together, forever.
Now, while home education may go through a few stages or phases, it actually follows the transitions in parenting, which also has to change as the children grow older.
When babies, children need to be nurtured and protected. Training starts soon after birth (potting training for example) and is essentially completed by puberty. In fact, a very experienced older neighbour lady told us that if the children are not properly trained by age five, it is too late and there will be lots of issues to deal with as they grow older. That was wise counsel.
Once a child reaches puberty, more teaching and less training takes place. However, once the student begins taking responsibility for his or her education, parents will find their role changing from that of being teachers to being mentors and guides.
This new role is long lasting, continuing until the children reach their thirties or forties, at which time the parents are old enough to be appreciated as sages and the children are old enough to finally appreciate what the parents were saying all along!
Whether students or parents, everybody grows older and, supposedly, wiser. While each generation is responsible for helping the next, each new generation seems to be faced with problems the former generation has not experienced.
Although there can be what appear to be stages in growth and learning, the fact is most things are simply continually changing and we transition from one level or stage or phase to another as we learn and apply our new found knowledge.
And, I don’t believe this process ever ends.