Keeping the Doors Open

When you begin to homeschool, you face the inevitable questions and confrontations from people who basically think you are nuts. When you choose to continue to homeschool through high school, believe me the confrontations become much more heated. I’d like to share with you some of my thoughts on why we continued to homeschool, through high school, with our four boys. Even if we had the money for private school, or lived in the county with the top rated public schools, we would continue to homeschool.

When we are in high school we begin to make choices that effect the rest of our lives. We begin to decide what kind of people we want to be, to visualize our role in the adult world. Oftentimes, the choices we make have far-reaching effects. They either open or close doors. Decisions regarding drugs, sex, alcohol, and peers can affect us for the rest of our lives. Doors can be shut that can never be opened again. Emotional scars can be formed, at this tender age, and can last a lifetime and shut even more doors.

It is easy to see these shut doors when they are glaring and obvious, like a teen age pregnancy. Harder when they are shut in more subtle ways, like lack of time to pursue an interest, the closing of a mind due to boredom, the slow sink into depression because they don’t seem to fit in. When I considered what I wanted to do about high school, I found the concept of opened and closed doors very revealing. Let me explain.

When Timothy, our oldest son, was in Jr. High he had had an unconventional schooling experience. He had never attended school and had met very few actual textbooks. Instead, we had tried to instill in him a love of learning. We have exposed him to the exciting world of books, of nature, and of music. We have made sure he is as comfortable in libraries and museums as he is in his own home. We have encouraged him to be observant of the world around him, whether it be the current political climate or the wildflowers on the side of the road.

We have tried to open up for him as many doors as possible. Not so he could master a set of facts, and thus be declared “educated,” but so he would realize that no matter how long he lived, there would never be enough time to explore all that interested him.

Academics are very important. We have tried our best to hold up a standard of excellence in terms of our children’s academics, but it is certainly not the most important aspect of education. Giving our children a strong grounding in God’s word and a solid understanding of how they can have a personal relationship with Him, provides the foundation for any education that follows. More than a good “education’ we wanted our children to have good character. What good is knowledge without integrity, compassion, and strength?

When I considered our high school options it helped to think of it in terms of open and closed doors. I believe wholeheartedly that a home education has served Timothy well in the area of academics. I believed that even with a homeschool, high school experience he would be able to get into the college of his choice (which he did). I knew that he could continue to play the sports he loves so much in venues other than high school. I knew that he would have time to pursue his interests in music, to write songs and stories, to play in sports tournaments, to work, and to serve in various church ministries.

All of these might have to be drastically curtailed if he were in a traditional school dealing with the extended schedule and homework. I know that he is free from undue peer influence, not from all contact with peers as is often feared, but from the constant pressure that can undermine his own sense of self.

We need a vision for what education can be. We need to move beyond meeting minimum requirements or keeping up with relatives expectations. We need to throw off the mediocre, and even the good, to pursue the excellent. Our goal should be far beyond reaching graduation, it must be to inspire our children to be men and women of integrity, curiosity, strength, and courage.

Kelly is a successful, veteran home educator with 24 years of experience.  She and her husband, Steve, live and minister in Southern California where he is a pastor, and she is the Director of Grace Prep School.  Visit her website for further details on what she calls “substantive” education which is more than a solid academic foundation.

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One Response to “Keeping the Doors Open”

  1. Lizette says:

    Very uplifting article. One would’ve thought by now people would be less anti-home ed. I think it is fear that stems from the fact that they know we know we are doing what is best for our kids.