We all know that any venture has three parts: starting, doing and completing. We should also know that as difficult as getting something started may be, it is the doing part that requires the greatest amount of time and effort, with finishing usually coming fairly easily at the end.
This is not the case with home education. Getting started is usually the most difficult. This is because all of our status quo educational experiences have to be overcome. Not only that, but everybody else’s hang-ups seem to end up being “our” problems.
Completing a home education journey can also be difficult, depending on just how much pressure you are facing from the outside.
Before I continue, I would like to suggest that you take the time to review the blogs completed thus far in this series. If you have not been closely following, it would be a good idea to get the background and if you have, simply do so as a refresher. Most of the hang-ups you have had to overcome have been already been dealt with there.
Once having gotten out of the gate, so to speak, having established the foundation and the goal, having found the best fit for a provider, and having determined the how, the where and the why of home education, the easiest part is the actual day to day task of providing opportunity for the children to learn.
Usually after the first year, most of the anxieties, fears and insecurities will have diminished. Sadly, there will always be that lingering nagging feeling that you may have made the wrong decision and there will be no lack of people to “encourage” you with these doubts and misgivings.
By now you have had a chance to reconsider the things you thought were important, some of which you will now see as silly. You may even regret having implemented some of these things, but take heart. As important as starting may be, it is not so important how you start, but how you Run The Race.
If you are struggling with doubts and fears, or you have lost your initial vision, perhaps you have been listening to or following the wrong people.
If you find that fundamentally nothing has changed regarding why you chose to home educate in the first place, then re-evaluate what has been going well and continue or improve on those things. Discard the things that haven’t been working.
This season of your home education journey could very well be the most fun you will have as a family. The children are little, they see their parents as perfect (I believe God has temporarily blinded them!), and once past the Learning To Read phase, they are like sponges just soaking up the information from the opportunities you provide them.
However, one must always keep in mind that younger children must be treated as such, and not as adults. It is good to give children responsibilities, no doubt, but not major decisions that will affect their lives.
When children squeak about going to or going back to school, the answer is no! Sometimes they just want what other children have which may be as simple as buying them a backpack!
If you started without having sent the children to school, this new, more comfortable phase, will continue until the children enter puberty.
Should you have started home education from a school situation, the outcomes of this phase will depend on just how much time the student spent in school.
Generally speaking, it is fair to say that the more time spent in school, the greater the number of “school issues” that may have to be dealt with, on both the parent’s and the student’s part, and the longer it may take to get things working in this new paradigm of home education.
Even if really comfortable with your decision to home educate and even if things are going relatively well, problems and issues will arise from time to time. As long as you have committed to home education and not just picked it as an option presented to you by the world, you should be able to get past them when they arise.
Truth is, there would have been problems and issues had you sent the children to school. In comparison, home based issues are relatively minor, so “get over it”!
The most difficult part of getting started was likely having to review, renew or replace the school-based thinking that you were tempted to bring home. Once you have overcome those temptations, your ongoing challenge will likely be the continual vigilance to avoid slipping back into that snare.
Gradually and eventually, both parents and students should find comfort in learning within the environment created by God for the training and teaching of children, namely, the home. We have found that after the first year has been accomplished, parents (and students) are better equipped to carry on.
We call it being on home education “cruise control” and it will likely go fairly smoothly until you reach the finishing part, which will not necessarily be more difficult, but it will be different. We will talk about that later.