Should I Educate My Children At Home? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 1)

At every stage of home education you’re going to encounter fears and concerns, beginning with the one we are going to address today. Fears and concerns are to be expected whenever we determine to follow an unfamiliar path.

Now, if we consider fears and concerns to be “symptoms”, all we need to find is a “cure” for each. There’s an antidote or “cure” for both. The antidote for a concern is a solution, and the best solution is always simple. So, I’m going to offer you some simple solutions for your concerns.

What do you think is the antidote for fear? It’s called faith. We either believe or we’re scared. That’s what it boils down to. We are not to confuse worldview and religion with faith. I believe that faith is tied to truth and truth is determined by God, not man.

Everybody has a worldview, and everybody is religious, even when they “insist” they are not, but not everyone has faith. Wherever faith is lacking, fear is experienced.

I’m going to discuss some of the most common fears and concerns of home education in this series. I will be coming at them from a Bible-based faith perspective and largely as an un-schooler. You’ll understand more about this perspective as we proceed.

In the pre-structured period of a child’s education, the question is: “why should I home educate?” Here’s the simple answer: because it is the best option, most of the time. I cannot truthfully say that it is for everyone, but it most certainly is for those who gave up their job or career to be home with the children.

The other thing to consider is that the alternative isn’t so good.

Nobody can know a child better than a loving parent, and you are already his or her greatest teacher.

You potty train them. You’ve taught them the most difficult thing they’re ever going to learn in their life, and that’s called language. You’ve taught them to speak intelligently.

You train your children for the first six years, and then you determine to let them be taught by some “professional” who knows very little about them. We do this without questioning the system or truly knowing the system’s or the teacher’s world view perspective. And we are truly unaware of what is being taught, even if in a private school that claims to share your world view!

By default, you are your child’s greatest teacher, because nobody knows or cares for a child more than a loving parent. As truly unique individuals, children need the consistent individual attention that only a parent can provide. That’s all there is to it.

Now, when I ask parents why they are not teaching their children at home, I get a number of answers. Listen carefully to these reasons for not home educating.

“I could never do that.” / “I don’t know anything about it.” / “I’m too busy.” / “I’m not patient enough.” / “I’m not educated enough.” / “I only have grade ???” / “I couldn’t teach high school.” / “I have to work.” / “I have a career.” / “I can’t afford it.” / “I believe the government has that responsibility” or simply, “I am not interested or I don’t want to.”

Have you noticed that every one of those “excuses” start with “I”?

Parenting demands sacrifice. This should be an obvious fact.

When you gave birth, your life changed. Whether you’re the mother or the father, you suddenly stopped being number one. Any healthy individual should realize that in order to properly parent a child, that child must take priority in the parent’s life.

Now children always believe they are the centre of the universe, which is precisely what we have to “fix” when parenting. It is truly sad when parents, who somehow missed this important lesson, put themselves first, whether by failing to provide for the child, through career ambitions, or unabashed selfishness.

Parents have the freedom to choose. The choice is, will you sacrifice yourself for the sake of your children, or will you sacrifice your children for the sake of yourself?

If you give this some serious thought, those are the only two options parents have. No matter what decision is made, something will always need to be sacrificed, but only the sacrificing of “I” can be legitimately considered to be a sacrifice. Sacrificing something other than “I” is actually more of an offering than a sacrifice! Think about that!

When Do I Start? / What Should I Use? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 2)

*For children who have never gone to school, one of the first questions asked after deciding to home educate is, when do I start the primary level? Is there an official starting point?

Well, there is an easy answer to this question also: start when they are ready. Only schools have fixed start and stop ages for formal learning. Neglecting the unique nature of individual students, this assumption of readiness is based on averages. If your child is ready at that time, great, but if not, then he or she can be either bored or frustrated to tears.

You are in the only real position of leadership. You are leading your children by taking your cues from them. They’re going to let you know when it’s time and then you will be able to proceed without “incidents” related to bad timing.

People often share their troubles with me as a facilitator, or perhaps as one who has been around a few corners in the world of education. Usually while they’re telling me their problem, they’re also giving me the solution to that problem.

For example, “My daughter just the other day came over and told me she wanted to read.”

That’s your cue. Go for it. It’s going to work now because it’s her idea.

They know when they’re ready. We have to trust them a little bit. At the same time we have to offer opportunities for learning, without making them do things they are not ready to do and be just as ready to start them in their formal education at a younger age as at an older age if, indeed, they are ready.

*Another often expressed concern about home education is regarding which resources should be used?

Well, here’s another easy answer: it really doesn’t matter.

Everything works, from nothing at all to regimented programs to everything in between. Anything, whether books, workbooks, apps, games or whatever, can be instrumental in providing opportunity for learning.

Really, all resources are just tools. Find the tool that works, that inspires, that allows the child to grow with the least amount of pain! You simply want to use the right tool for the job.

If something doesn’t work or inspire, find something else or try another method. You are the boss!

Am I Doing Enough? / Socialization? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 3)

*The fear of failing or of not doing enough is a very common fear or concern, mostly for the moms who incorrectly assume the children’s failures will be a result of their own.

Every person who starts home educating for the first time is already concerned about not doing enough. Often, while the children have not yet even started formal education, parents can already be expressing concerns about post-secondary options! This is okay. It is good to have a plan.

However, I find this concern funny because if parents have seen what I have seen, they would know that even if they were sleeping half the time, the children would still be well educated, in fact, usually way ahead of their peers. Your fear is not really about doing enough, it is about not doing enough school. There is a big difference between these two approaches.

Trust me. The less “schooling” you do, the more personalized your children’s education is. This eventually translates into a genuine post-secondary readiness, one that fits them well; one that does not require attending post-secondary institutions so they can discover themselves.

If you’ve just started, take one day at a time, then one year at a time. Once you’re past the primary stage, you will enter an easier period because you will get comfortable with the process.

As the children transition from the primary to the secondary stage they become more independent learners. I usually use independent learning as an indicator of how advanced students are at the secondary stage of formal education.

*You’ve likely heard the concern about the socialization of home educated children. I have even heard that children need to learn how to get along with children! This would be a joke if it wasn’t so sad! We are created as social beings. Children naturally get along with children. The only training needed for socialization is exercising proper manners.

Besides, what do you think is more important? Learning to get along with children of the same age or getting real life experience at getting along with people of all ages? Where will children spend their lives? As children or adults? Think about this.

When was the last time you were in a room filled with people of the same age doing the same thing at the same time? School! You can simply dismiss this fear or concern as disconnected from reality!

Now, should you be confronted with this concern, there may be many possible ways to address it, but the best way to deflect this silly question is to ask the inquirer what their concerns might be regarding the socializing issue.

If they have an answer, ask them to clarify. You will find that those who are most concerned about this issue are those less likely to be able to share a good reason for the concern.

Allowing and encouraging children to be comfortable with who they are is one of the biggest advantages of home educating outside of the status quo expectations of society.

There is no better way to prepare them for the “socialization” requirements of the adult world. They will be less likely to have to keep up with the “Joneses” and be affected by peer pressure. However, one must bear in mind that peer pressure is a very powerful influence that requires serious preparation to resist.

The Fear of Failure: Fears and Concerns Series (Part 4)

A fear that grips us all, at some time and in some way, is the fear of failure. This is especially the case with home education because it is a different approach to education than what is usually accepted.

Failure is always a possibility when starting any new venture. In fact, what is required to get past it is the decision to take a risk, and oftentimes that risk involves having to trust God rather than man.

The fear of failure may show up more than once in your home education journey. In fact, it is likely to show up at every stage of your children’s growth and learning process, especially at the secondary or high school level, but that is likely to diminish as you gain more experience and knowledge.

I realize that it is not a fair comparison, but having home educated my own children and now being involved in the home education of my grandchildren, not to mention having been part of the education of thousands of students in my life, I have come to the point of being fearless within the field of education.

I think I have experienced everything at least once and found solutions to nearly every issue causing fears and concerns in this arena. And, if I haven’t, I believe my collective experience has prepared me for what lies ahead.

I am telling you this because one of the best ways to deal with a particular fear is to connect with someone who has experienced the same. Someone who can comfort you and guide you to properly deal with it. Scripture tells us that we comfort others through the comfort we have received. This means we can only help others by having experienced what they are going through.

My experience has equipped me to tell you that although failure is always a real possibility, you can avoid failure by avoiding the things that can only lead to failure. I have discovered seven things that can eventually lead to a failure in home education.

1. A house that is not in order or has no order, is in danger of failing and if the house is in danger of failing, the home education program is usually not far behind.

When my wife informs me that a new family has joined our organization, the first question I ask is whether the husband is on board. When the husband and wife do not agree on home educating their children, it is not going anywhere. It is critical that mom and dad agree and work together to make home education successful.

In order for this to take place, it is important to have a proper understanding of the authority structure within a family. This is not to advance or condone dictatorial leadership, but the buck has to stop somewhere and anything with more than one head is a freak!

I believe that the father has the authority along with the associated responsibility for the leadership of the family and this is especially true when it comes to the education of the children. How this actually manifests itself is dependent on the characters of the father and mother and the individual dynamics of the home.

It is important here to not confuse the division of labour with the need for structure. If either the father or the mother are not fulfilling their respective roles or if either tries to play the role of the other, things do not usually go well. Most failures in home education are related to this problem.

2. Related to the first issue of improper order within the family is the question of the place of children within it. Children are born to parents, not the other way around. They are not mini-adults and are not mature enough to make the best decisions regarding what direction their lives should take. That is why God “invented” parents. Having children in control is a sure recipe for disaster, not only in the home education but in the home, period.

3. When parents have brought the school way of thinking home, they will often get frustrated with trying to fit a “square peg into a round hole,” so to speak.

Training and teaching children at home is entirely different from sending them to school, therefore, bringing school home usually doesn’t work. If this problem is not fixed, when thinking that the school way is the only way, parents will eventually send the children to school where they actually know how to “do” school.

4. We are social beings and usually do not function well by ourselves. We require fellowship with people of like mind to properly survive what may come our way. When a family, a mother or children do not have the support of others, the wheels of home education can come off pretty quickly.

5. Following the advice of people who see themselves as experts but who have limited knowledge and experience will ultimately lead you to frustration and failure. Although it is important to surround yourself with people sharing a similar journey, it is best to listen to those who will support and encourage you to home educate in keeping with the unique individual needs of your family and children rather than direct you to do what they have done.

6. Educational decisions based on anything other than the educational welfare of the child is a bad idea. It is not the movement, the program, the technique, the resources or the methods that matter. Losing the focus of home education as being in the child’s best interest is sure to end in failure.

7. By far the biggest obstacle to success, or if you will, the main reason for failing in a home education, is parents lacking the knowledge of, and confidence in, God’s way.

Not everybody would agree with this statement, but since we are coming from the biblical perspective, I can assure you that we are either leading children to the knowledge of the truth, or we are not. It should also be obvious that the two different directions are mutually exclusive. That is, you cannot reach God using man’s way, nor, for that matter can you usually please the world using God’s way.

In my opinion, failure in a home education is returning to the school as having the greater authority and knowhow in the raising, training and teaching of children.

I would be a fool to state that school should be avoided at all costs. However, one has to know that nearly every school either advances man as God or man’s idea of education as Godly. Therefore a return to school is, in my opinion, to have failed. Failing to trust in God and putting our confidence in man is sure to fail us in the end (Ps. 118:8).

Several years ago, while being interviewed regarding home education for a radio program, the interviewer asked me to summarize home education. Without hesitation, I said it was a matter of faith. I still believe that today.

We are likely to return to this fear of failure as we proceed with this topic on the fears and concerns of home education because, once you have overcome it, it is likely to come again.

What is Happening to My Child? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 5)

Life is really a mystery. I know that there are people who think that they know all about it, but do they really? I have some ideas based on a lot of experience about what life is, but I could never say I am clear about it. I know that it officially starts at birth and ends at death, but I am more inclined to believe that birth and death are but transitions that change the environment, maybe, but not life itself.

There is another transition in life that, in my opinion, is a very big “event” in everybody’s life. It is a transition that sees a lot of changes take place, in spirit, soul, and body, yet while children go through it, most people do not give it a great deal of thought, simply observing that changes are quietly taking place.

In many ways, it is a metamorphosis. It is really the dying of the child, if you will, and the corresponding birthing of the adult. By now you likely understand that I am talking about puberty.

Puberty may not be as dramatic as the changing of a caterpillar to a butterfly, but there are many similarities. The butterfly is actually the same creature as the caterpillar. It has the same genetic makeup even if it looks different and now lives with a different function.

Similarly, a child does not change in genetics or character as much as being transformed from a little boy to a young man or from being a little girl to a young lady. Their “persons” are mostly unchanged, even if it may seem at times that they are not the same persons!

No doubt this transition can, at times, be a bit traumatic for both the child and the parents. This is especially the case when children are forced to go through puberty surrounded by others experiencing the same thing, which is the case when going to school.

I realize that I am revealing a deep bias, but common sense should help you understand that this is when children need adult company to help transition into the adult world. This is the worst possible time for peer counselling as all of them are “going through” rather than “having gone through” puberty.

When a child goes through puberty while being educated at home, the transition is much easier because this is a difficult time that requires a steady positive influence that only full time parents can provide. Their unconditional love is essential to help children walk through the transition. Indeed, it is best when parents can walk through it with them, 24 hours a day.

Although puberty may be confusing, even challenging, at times, parents must remind themselves that as these former children become adults, they have to change their parenting techniques in keeping with this transition. Adults should be treated as … adults, yet keeping in mind that they are still in transition, lacking experience and wisdom!

Having taught in grades seven and eight where children are collectively going through puberty, I was often reminded that this is where school really fails. The school insists on continuing to treat them as children, usually only respecting the “adulthood” of the child when he or she has demonstrated the ability to behave as he or she has been directed.

A family normally has only one child going through puberty at a time. Thankfully, God mercifully avoided the possibility of parents having 20 or so children going through puberty at the same time, like what you see in school!

While parents may have protected the children as they trained them, they now must focus more on preparing the adults as they teach them. The father’s role becomes even more important here as it is his job to validate these children as men or women. This is not the time for absenteeism, if it can be avoided.

The first concern raised at this secondary level is mostly associated with puberty. The question is, when are they ready to begin learning at the secondary level? The best answer is still the simplest answer, which is when they are ready, even though the school may have the starting point set at 15 years of age.

Within a home education setting, when students start taking responsibility for themselves and their education or when they begin demonstrating signs of self-motivation, they will begin working more at the secondary level. This usually occurs much earlier than within a school environment, often resulting in home educated students having completed the secondary phase of their education before their school counterparts begin it.

By this time in your home education journey, you have likely dealt with all or most of your primary fears and concerns, but as previously mentioned, with any new venture comes new fears and concerns. Puberty is most certainly a new venture in parenting, so it comes with a new set of fears and concerns, especially with the oldest child who, unfortunately, is the experimental child of the family!

What Should Be Done About High School? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 6)

Once a child enters puberty, along with all the changes that this brings to the family, a new concern arises that often grows into a fear. Indeed, it is probably the greatest, most universal fear within the home education community. In fact, this fear is likely the single biggest reason for the collapse and failure of home education programs.

What about high school? What about accreditation? What about obtaining a high school diploma? And, from the child’s perspective, what about friends? Within all these concerns there is an overarching concern that will increase when reaching the fourth level of our fears and concerns for home education.

That is, before embarking on our home education journey, most people want assurance that their efforts will lead to good results. We want to best provide for our children’s post-secondary futures. Once parents get past this initial concern, it seems to go away, until the children reach puberty, when it returns in full force.

This is the stage where all the original reasons for home educating seem to be buried with a greater concern for the future. Lacking the full understanding of what a “high school” level education is and that the alternatives to a regular high school education are actually much better, parents often abandon their original resolve to keep their children out of harm’s way and send their children to be “finished off” in high school.

This may have merit when we apply this to raising cattle, where we send them to the feedlot to be “finished off” before being butchered, but it has no application to students when given serious thought and consideration.

What has actually changed when considering the original reason for having decided to home educate in the first place? Likely nothing, except that the children are older and more likely to be expressing more of their own personal opinions.

You wanted the best education for them. Nothing has changed. You wanted them to be properly exposed to the truth. Nothing has changed. You wanted to be with them to form a solid family unit where siblings grow up to be each other’s best friends. Nothing has changed.

You kept them home because you loved them and desired to do as God had directed. Nothing has changed, unless of course, the world has convinced you to trust it with the children it never created rather than the God who did. Sort of like when the apostle Paul questioned the Galatians, who having begun in the spirit, now foolishly considered being perfected by the flesh.

And you desired to give them the best possible tools and position from which to successfully move on to a fulfilling life. Nothing has changed.

Home education is still the very best way to prepare students for their individual lives. School grouping cannot provide the best environment for a student to develop as an individual. The family has always been the place where children can be who they are without all the extra pressures and indoctrination that comes with school. Again, nothing has changed.

Puberty is when a child starts to really look at the world. Not just their own personal little planet, but what the universe has to offer. It is the stage in their lives where others, outside of the family, will start to have increasingly more influence in their lives, and likely the time when children will start to question the validity of their home education.

This is when, unaware of what school is really about, they may make some noise about going to school to get an accredited education, leading to a high school diploma, and there will be no end to the false information designed to have you believe that man and his institutions can do better than God and His directives.

What students are really wanting at this stage of their lives is to get out of the home. The simple solution here is to let them out; to provide new and stimulating things for learning and opportunities for socializing with others, yet always with the full knowledge that most others will do what they can to undermine your resolve to prepare your own children for their futures.

Even though these young adults can be very convincing at times, parents still need to parent. Young adults hardly have more insight or wisdom than parents.

As long as the child is under your roof, you still have some say in their lives, especially when just entering their adult lives. It is true that you need to treat them as adults, but that is only so when they are conducting themselves as adults.

Children have even less information about how attending school will likely retard their education than parents do. This is not the time to let them make uninformed and potentially life altering decisions.

Should parents keep the student home yet decide to follow public programming, the concerns regarding school based social issues may be taken care of, but the child is still exposed to all that comes with the secular public programming and is now more under the tutelage of strangers than of the parents.

How Can I Teach High School? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 7)

I must admit that whenever we see our secondary students sent to public programming, whether physically to school or online to “get their diploma” or to “get their credits” or to “prepare them for post-secondary,” I am deeply disappointed.

I wonder where we went wrong, and how we could have prevented this calamity. I also question how parents can so quickly give up their faith and trust in God to put their confidence in man, especially when most people know what little personal benefit they actually got out of school.

We do everything we can to help, support and encourage parents and students to continue with the superior option of home education, but we are but one voice in a crowd of people driven by fear. Stories of the failure of unaccredited home education are abundant, but hardly accurate, yet they have great influence on people who do not know any better.

Bad news travels fast. The enemy specializes in bad news and if he can get students away from parents, he has a far greater potential to negatively influence them. Parents should be keeping their children home where they can protect them, not only physically, but ideologically as well.

Please pay close attention to the following statement: Students do not need high school accreditation or diplomas to be successful in life or to gain admission to post-secondary institutions.

All they need is a personalized education that will uniquely serve them in their lives. And this is only possible when completing their secondary level education at home within the family.

Admittedly, when children go through puberty and start the secondary stage of learning, determining to continue the education at home may lead you to our next concern. When reaching higher levels of learning, parents often express their fear of not being able to teach their children at this more complex level.

If this is one of your fears or concerns, I have good news for you. You don’t have to. In fact, you’re fired! Just kidding, but not really. Think about it this way.

When children reach young adulthood and take ownership of their education, they can continue learning in ways and means that you may never have experienced or imagined. This is where home education really starts to show its superiority.

Home education is not playing school but providing opportunity for learning, and when the children start finding their own opportunities, your job is done. Maybe not entirely done, but your job description will certainly change. Your role transitions from being the teacher to being a mentor. You will now need to slowly get out of the way and encourage them to teach themselves.

After all, you are not the one that needs to learn the algebra, or the biology, or the economics, or whatever it is they are studying. They do. You may be required to assist your children on occasion, but you should not have to teach them. Let them do it. Let them discover it. Leave them to learn it, in their way, at their own pace. Students given this freedom usually accomplish much more in far less time than their school peers.

Of course, there’s always that couch potato or sloth, but he’s not common and the condition is usually not permanent. Usually this comes as a phase of puberty when all the energy seems to be going into growing a body. Indeed, they may seem to be losing more than they are gaining for a while, especially boys, whose favourite subjects may become sleeping and eating during this time, but this phase eventually passes.

Breaking free from the school method and giving the students the control over their education empowers them to take responsibility and to develop what God has created. It actually gets easier for the parents as the students take on more complicated concepts.

I have seen home education fail at this secondary stage. However, this is usually when the student either goes to school, brings school home, or when the parents attempt to mimic a school approach to programming.

When considering that school specializes in one-size-fits-all programming, having anything to do with school at this phase essentially eliminates the very advantages to home education.

Students do not need to learn all the subjects nor all the levels or concepts within each subject. It should make sense that to tailor the program to the student’s ability and interests will save a lot of valuable time and allow for early maturation and specialization.

There is no need to fear not being able to teach secondary level students. They can teach themselves. In fact, that was the secret to my success as a high school teacher. I directed my students. I encouraged them to take responsibility for their education and I helped them get it.

I consistently got better results than my colleagues and received innumerable “thank you’s” from students for having taught them how to learn, but actually all I had done was to expect them to learn and master the concepts. Even as a high school teacher, I got to the point where I rarely taught! And the results were obvious!

What About Standards and Accreditation? Fears and Concerns Series (Part 8)

One of the most common fears and concerns at the secondary stage of learning is meeting high school standards and accreditation.

Standards are very difficult to define. Even a certificated teacher can’t actually define what a standard is other than as a process.

The dictionary definition of a standard is “a required or agreed upon level of quality or attainment,” or “an idea or thing used as a measure or norm or model in a comparative evaluation.”

Confusing? The question is, what are we comparing? People? Really?

The modern world has over seven billion people and it is estimated that more than 100 billion people have walked this earth since its creation.

When considering that no two people have ever been the same or shared the same fingerprint for that matter, the idea that we can standardize humans is preposterous. Yet most people assume that standards for education not only exist, but can actually be reached even when they cannot be clearly defined.

If standards for people cannot exist or be properly defined, how then can they be measured or universally applied? The advancing of standards in education is one of the biggest lies told by the industry. Forcing students into doing the same thing at the same time at each level of a predetermined schedule is not to maintain a standard, but to make sure they all end up the same.

Let me tell you what standards are. The only place that I can really apply this dictionary definition of a standard is in a factory. All the products coming off the assembly line had better be the same. You do it for quality control, which is designed to prevent problems.

When we apply the dictionary definitions of standards to school, we realize that there are a number of similarities between it and industry. We want to make sure that all the products coming off the assembly line are the same, for quality control, to prevent problems. Yet no two teachers will be able to consistently deliver or meet these supposed standards.

There are your standards. They are more a measure of how everyone should be. Not how to think, but what to think. Not celebrating God’s created diversity and freedom, but the secular alternative of standardizing all to a bondage of conformity. If everyone is the same, it is much easier to control them.

Now on to accreditation.

Accreditation is the action or process of officially recognizing a person as having a particular status or being qualified to perform a certain activity, or official certification that a school or course has met standards as set by an external regulator.

This dictionary definition is more complicated stuff that is based on a faulty notion that people can be standardized! What this translates into, is that there are ways and means to make sure that people are properly trained to accomplish a particular task and to do it well.

It is a good thing to have expectations of people and standards for positions. The problem is that we get this all mixed up and start expecting the standardization of people, rather than of skills.

Accreditation is best understood when looking at certification. A person who is licensed or certified to do a particular job is accredited by an agency as having met certain expectations and requirements to properly and safely conduct themselves in that position.

Once again, this is not to standardize the person, but the level of skill needed to do the job. We would expect nurses to have some level of training, as we would the welder, the lawyer or any other position. To have a standard expectation of excellence is fine.

However, when put into perspective, seeking accreditation is to seek approval from man. This also is okay if we can keep this standard to positions, not people. When seeking accreditation in a high school program, we seek man’s approval of what God has created and that does not make sense. Man’s school program and God’s directives do not have the same objective!

High school accreditation is more a matter of standardizing the student than to assure he or she has met an agreed upon level. The proper collection of credits towards a high school diploma may indicate that the student spent a minimum 12 years to get it, but does it guarantee that anything was learned?

Are they all literate? No! Are they all numerate? No! Are they truly ready for post-secondary level positions? Maybe. Depends. Remember that in order for everyone to be able to get their diplomas, the level of expectation must continually be reduced. Where is fifty percent good enough in life outside of the “standard” expectation of the education industry?

God has created children to be different. Man insists on making them all the same. While it is good to expect excellence of the students, it is unreasonable to expect them to all reach the same level and to accomplish the same things.

The goal of home education should be educational progress with high and reasonable expectations while allowing students the freedom to be who God has created them to be. We should be seeking God’s approval rather than man’s accreditation in our secondary level education.

God makes no mistakes, and our faith in His abilities will eliminate the fear of not meeting standards and the need for human accreditation in education.

Sixteen Years Old (The Coming of Age): Fears and Concerns Series (Part 9)

Realizing that I am likely going to date myself as a “senior”, I recall that when I had finished grade nine, during my unhappy tenure in school, my formal education was over. In fact, I still have my Junior High School Diploma, issued by the Government of Alberta!

Why is it that fifty years ago, a person was deemed to be fully educated by age 16, unless intent on continuing with academic studies, for which high school was available, but today obtaining a high school diploma at age 18 or 19 is the standard expectation?

Related to this question is an observation I made when I quit teaching high school biology over a dozen years ago. Having started my teaching career in Saskatchewan, I eventually came to Alberta where I continued to teach Biology and French.

I had kept all my teaching notes from the beginning of my career and comparing them to what I was teaching twenty-five years later, I was more than surprised by what I saw.

Perhaps it had something to do with comparing notes from two provinces, but I clearly remembered that each time a new curriculum was presented, less information was required to be learned and expectations were always lowered even when we were told they had risen.

Like anything else that changes slowly over time, we usually do not recognize what is happening unless we stop and really take a good hard look at what is going on. That is what I did when I compared what was required of biology students in the mid-seventies to those of the early 2000s.

Without exaggeration, students at the end of my career had to learn less than half of those at the start of my career to receive the same grade twelve biology credits. Actually, I think it was closer to a third. Therefore, I believe that it is safe to say that my Junior High Diploma, received upon completion of my grade nine, likely involved more learning than a modern day high school diploma now earned three years later.

Today, schools expect less academic accomplishment in a longer period of time than not that long ago. Why? First, we need to understand that schools have become primarily a baby sitting service that allows parents to carry on with their own lives while expecting the schools to do the educating of the children, and in some cases, the parenting as well.

Second, schools are no longer about learning facts and figures, but about learning what will make them good, unquestioning citizens in a secular socialist global environment of totalitarian government control. It is no longer as important to understand math concepts or communication skills, just as long as the students can repeat the politically correct beliefs of the ruling few.

Now there seems to be a bit of a disconnect between what the government schools and other government agencies have to say about the official coming of age for students. In my day, either grade 8 or sixteen was good enough. That is why they issued the Junior High School Diploma. At sixteen, we could drive, so we were considered adults and ready for the adult world.

Today, we still believe 16 year olds are mature enough to drive a lethal bomb down the road, yet we do not consider them ready for the world without an additional two to three years of “schooling”. Why would that be? To make sure they acquire more academic information or to make sure they can repeat more indoctrination?

As you must surely know, what goes on in school is very different from a traditional home education. Pay close attention to the word traditional. As discussed already, traditionally, students were deemed to have been ready to transition to the adult world around the time they could acquire a driver’s license.

Traditionally, students who desired to advance academically continued on to senior high school. The rest went to work or started businesses, neither of which usually required more education and if they did, it was easily acquired.

Home education actually provides the perfect opportunity to continue on with this expected transition to the adult world, but rather than at a given age, it occurs when the student is ready. This is why many home educated students are taking post-secondary level courses, starting businesses, or going to work by the time they have reached the age of 16.

Modern technology makes advancing to post-secondary studies easier for the academic home educated students to continue. Part time work is available earlier and entrepreneurs can get an early start. Apprenticeships can begin at age sixteen.

I have seen students become fully accredited with degrees or certificates before their school peers have been officially dumped into a world they have not had time to understand.

If a student has been home educated from the start, it is rare to see them do much secondary work beyond the age of sixteen. That is, they are done with their formal secondary learning by the time they are old enough to get their driver’s license, as was the case traditionally.

Every student goes on to post-secondary activities, whatever that may be, because all activities beyond the secondary level are obviously post-secondary, whether it involves more formal education or not. Home educated students simply get an earlier start than those poor students forced to tolerate an additional three years of school in preparation for what, exactly?

We need not fear or be concerned about home educated students maturing earlier than their peers. It actually gives them an edge. AND, to send them to high school to be “completed” or to get their credits or diploma at or about 16 years of age is to direct them to go backwards to advance. This is pure foolishness and clearly not in keeping with the advantages of being educated at home.

Preparing for Post-Secondary: Fears and Concerns Series (Part 10)

Without getting into the silly notion that a student cannot succeed in life without a college degree, let’s have a look at the fears and concerns regarding post-secondary education.

There are actually two main concerns at this point in the education of your children. The first is how you can direct them towards their futures and the second is how to prepare them for that future. I will attempt to address both these concerns in the next two chapters of this series.

Here again, the solutions are very simple. Firstly, not wanting to insult you or to cause undue stress, I must be perfectly honest regarding the first concern regarding your child’s future.

Your child’s future is, quite frankly, none of your business! Hard words, I understand, but please, bear with me as I give you a few self-evident facts.

You have virtually no idea of what tomorrow will bring, much less where you will be in a month, a year or a few years. We all assume things will continue on as they always have, but life clearly teaches us that this is false and that we are not in control.

If you cannot predict with certainty what your future will be, how can you presume to have any idea as to where your son or daughter will go or what they will do with their lives?

Our task is not to direct our children to their futures, but to prepare them for it, without knowing what it will be! We need to trust that our efforts in training and teaching them will pay off and it usually does. Indeed, if we have allowed our children to be comfortable in their own skins, we also need to encourage them to determine their own pathways. Not easy, but simple.

Our job as parents is to make sure that they have a good foundation upon which to build their lives, starting with the spiritual foundation of faith in God. If we have led our children to know God, they are in the care of the only one who can possibly know the future.

Not only that, but He is the one who truly knows, understands and cares for that child. Our very best efforts at parenting cannot even come close to what God knows and does. Seriously, is there a better manner to direct our children than to demonstrate a faith in God’s ability to care for them in every way, including what place they will occupy in the future?

Understanding this is of critical importance for both the students and the parents. Students need to have faith in the fact that, if they trust Him, God will guide them in their lives and if they don’t, God will do so anyway, as He remains faithful.

Parents need to understand that their job is to lead their children to God who will lead them in their lives and into their future.

Preparing children for that unknown future is no easy task and requires a lot of faith. It may seem like God has asked parents to do the impossible! But directing students to learn in keeping with their strengths and abilities works well as these attributes are what will ultimately determine where they end up. Besides, we have all heard that what is impossible for man is not so for God.

One of the most damaging lies fed to students by the school industry is that they can be anything they want to be. This is only true when taken in the context of what the child is good at.

A student that does not like or cannot understand math will not likely become an accountant or an engineer, even if he thinks he can. Similarly, one who does not like reading or writing is not likely to become a journalist. So, if they can read to survive, and be able to write a legible email to their mother when away, good enough!

If they want to work on cars, let them. Love playing music? Great! When they reach the point where they have to make a decision regarding their futures, they will either have what they need or will obtain what they need to carry on. That is how we raised them, so that is what they will do.

When students are transitioning to the post-secondary level, parents should only be in an advisory role. If parents need to be actively involved in their child’s post-secondary admission processes, the child is not ready, not mature enough, to survive with faith intact at the post-secondary level.

Now, I am not going to suggest that the transitioning to the post-secondary level will be without some fears and concerns. Once again, this is especially so for the oldest of the family. However, once parents realize that their influence, although profound, is not the only contribution towards the student’s success, and once they realize that God indeed has a part to play, their faith will melt these fears and concerns away.

Think about this. Your parents likely didn’t direct you to do what you are presently doing with your life. Likely, you did not do such a great job at predicting it either, but here you are! Truth is, if they had directed you to something, that’s probably what you didn’t do.

On a practical note, there are a few things that can be done in preparation for the post-secondary level and the most important is to properly document what has been studied, experienced and accomplished in the home education program at the secondary level.

Alberta residents who have registered through Education Unlimited for their home education are provided with excellent tools to properly and effectively record the accomplishments of their children. Post-secondary institutions from many jurisdictions have been very pleased with what we have to offer.

Please allow me a bit of bragging on this note. I have been called Canada’s foremost authority on the post-secondary admission of unaccredited home educated students. It would truly be worth your while to check out these web sites for these insights. Go to www.educationunlimited.ca and leogaumont.com. I hope you will be able to see why I so confidently state that students do not need high school accreditation, courses or diplomas to successfully move on to the post-secondary level.

Home educators have done all they can to give their children the best preparation possible for their post-secondary years. Every student will eventually arrive at this level, whatever that is. All you can do for them once they arrive there is to stand with them, to encourage and mentor them. Oh, don’t forget to pray! That is much more effective than harbouring fears and concerns.