I am happily homeschooling 3 children, ages 16 1/2 and 15 (both girls), and an 8 1/2 yr old boy. The children love homeschooling. However, I am suddenly feeling more alone than ever in what I do. I am in a large support group in my town, but more and more homeschool mothers “drop out” once their children reach age 12 or so. What was once a real source of camaraderie has dwindled to only a handful of mothers like me who are “sticking with it” in the upper grades. I really miss my old friends, but as they put their children in school (largely public) it’s as if some have never homeschooled. They become “public school mothers.” We all want to believe we are doing the right thing with our children. All of the mothers say their children just love public school, are doing well, and many have said “It’s not so bad. What were we all so worried about?” Please understand, I have no desire to send my children to school of any sort. I guess I am lamenting that, the more who drop out and say school is great, the fewer there will be who hang in there. Just as it is hard to implement courtship vs. dating when nobody else nearby is doing it, it is hard to keep one’s chin up homeschooling high-schoolers when there is so little support, even in the local church. I am attempting to teach my children classically and will continue. They are getting a great education–thanks, Bluedorns! However, as we near college-age I’m feeling a little stressed. I have it easy in that my girls have no desire to go to college. They want to be wives and mother lots of children and homeschool them-yea! My struggle is not to think worldly thoughts and assume the girls need to go to college. The world (and much of the church) says our daughters (especially) need an education so that they can “have something to fall back on just in case.” My husband’s ministry is to college students at a large secular university and most of the girls admit to us that they don’t really know why they are here–they want to marry and stay home with children, too. We are also seeing first-hand how unnatural it is for any of our students to be choosing mates without parental guidance. If our girls do attend college, it will be locally and they will live at home. Again, they are not desiring this for themselves right now, and we don’t know how our thinking may change in the process. They have a couple more years of high-school, thankfully. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of college, SAT’s, etc. Julie
I know what you mean about homeschooling families giving up once their children reach the teen years. Back when our kids were teenagers and we attended homeschool events such as ice-skating or project days, often our kids were the only older kids there. I am seeing it more and more all over the country. What I don’t understand is why people want to give up just when it starts to get fun. The junior-high and high-school subjects are so interesting and challenging. Science fairs, biology, history…there is so much to learn. I gave myself an education as I educated my children. And you are right, once your friends put their kids in the government school then it seems like you don’t have much in common anymore. You don’t and you won’t. Ask the Lord to bring to you like-minded families. If He wants you to have fellowship, He’ll bring them your way. But I know there are plenty of homeschooling families in rural areas that go for long lonely seasons not having much fellowship. That happened to us for several years. One thing you don’t want to do is surround yourself with people who oppose what you are doing, especially if you are one who gets discouraged easily. Try to fellowship with like-minded people. Of course, don’t take what I say to mean you should never associate with those who disagree with you. We can’t and wouldn’t want to do that. You know what I mean.
I’ll tell you how I have used the SAT and ACT tests in our homeschool. If we had a particularly stressful day with various ones not cooperating with me, then I would go to the library and check out the SAT or ACT practice test books. The sight of those books struck terror in the hearts of my kids. “Oh, please, Mom, you aren’t going to make me go to college, are you?” Peace was restored and cooperation regained.
If you teach with the Trivium you have raised self-learners. College sometimes becomes unnecessary. Why pay a professor many thousands of dollars to teach you something you can easily learn on your own. Of course, if the child wants to be a doctor or go into any of the government licensed fields then he will need to go to college. What we would like to suggest, and we are only suggesting here, is that perhaps you could steer your son into making his own job. Building his own business. There are other options besides the usual “I’m 18 so I need to go out and find a job” mentality. We never used the term “graduate” in our home, and the age of 18 doesn’t signal anything different than the age of 16 or 17 or 30. Learning goes on.
The bottom line is, young men and young women all need an education. I put an equal importance on making sure my daughters are educated as thoroughly as my sons are educated. I would just suggest to you that on-campus college is not always the best place to get educated. A classical education frees us from the box in which society traps most young people — the “college” box. We are free to pursue further education in our own way and aren’t tied to the constraints of the educational establishment. Laurie