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.