Finishing Strong: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Finishing Strong (Part 1)

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Well, it happened! It seems like you just started yesterday, yet your home education program has become an integral part of your life for some time now.

But things are changing! Those little children that you have poured yourself into are mysteriously changing into young men or women, and with that, your role in their lives needs to be adjusted as well.

Before we discuss this new phase of home education that is coming upon you, we should quickly review what has gotten you to this point in your journey.

I am assuming, of course, that both parents agreed to educate their children at home and that this decision was based on a solid foundation of Christian faith with the ultimate purpose of following God’s directive to teach your children to love and serve Him.

It is also assumed that both parents clearly understood that to bring any aspect of the status quo school system home was to invite trouble into their home education program.

I trust that in those first six or so years of “official” home education, you have discovered resources that fit your family’s specific needs, have come to be comfortable with some sort of schedule, and found a workable familial division of labour, not to mention a reasonable level of expectation of all family members.

Undoubtedly, you have also found that by choosing to be different from the rest, you challenged the status quo mentality, creating many “opportunities” to not only strengthen your resolve to continue on this path, but also to “practice your debating skills” against those who would have you do as they do.

Indeed, you have learned to be comfortable and secure with the way things have been working for you and your family, enjoying what can be described as “home education cruise control.”

Alas, “all good things must come to an end,” it is often said, but sometimes things actually don’t end, but rather change, or transition, or transform into something different, something like how a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly.

Children also go through a sort of metamorphosis. Like the butterfly, puberty may change a lot of things, but the end “product” is still what God originally created, with the notable inclusion of what you have done with them, up to this point.

How this transition or “metamorphosis” will go is anybody’s guess, but it is safe to say that the best place to prepare for and go through it, is with the parents at home.

Indeed, this metamorphic change is an almost mystical transformation into “adulthood.” Parents may find themselves going from being the source of all wisdom to being the target of criticism and challenges. To be sure, this is not always the case. However, we should not only expect this, we should encourage it!

I know. I know. Why not just have the wonderful children you raised, simply transition into wonderful adults without any of these challenges, contests, even outright rebellion stuff? It is true that not all pubescent children will behave in the same way, but when they do “declare their independence,” it may actually be nothing more than the exercising of the inquisitive, questioning mind you encouraged, or a manner of reflecting what they have seen in you!

If you created them to be independent critical thinkers, and I sincerely hope you have, then you can expect them to “bite you” on occasion! If this happens, remember, they are not “biting” as much as testing to see if what you taught them is indeed true.

Observing that there is no mention of God having grandchildren helps us understand why children have to go through this process. This must occur in order for them to willfully establish their own personal relationship with God. Otherwise, we end up with clones, which I am sure you’ll agree, is far too common, nowadays.

This personal understanding of the message of the gospel is what we envisioned for them from the start. We just had no idea how this transition from parental faith to individual faith would happen, so this usually comes as a bit of a surprise to parents, especially with the first child.

As they develop an adult mind of their own, they will start to question and challenge a bit more, occasionally with a little more belligerence than you are willing to accept.

Although you do want to encourage them to personalize and internalize the truth that you taught them, there may be times when you may need to remind them of what constitutes acceptable behaviour.

Writing the truth upon the walls of their hearts during the formative pre-puberty years was the best way to prepare them for this event. Even though you may at times think that was a lost cause, we are promised that “when they grow old, they will not depart from it,” so have faith that those efforts were not in vain.

If we consider that the training of children starts at birth, that puberty takes place around twelve, and that a home education is essentially done by sixteen, it means we have about a dozen years to Run The Race in preparation for the four, six years at best, to complete the job and Finish Strong!

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