Looking Back While Walking Forward
Are the years speeding by as you homeschool? If you are like me, you’ll look around and wonder how your children grew up so quickly and are ready to start school or are in high school thinking about what the next step will be after graduation!
Why not stop and take a few minutes to look back, way back. Grab a cool glass of lemonade, pull up a comfortable chair, and let’s reminisce together by remembering the pioneers of homeschooling, retracing the hard fought battles, and being ever mindful of the resultant freedoms we enjoy today.
If you are planning to teach history to your children this year, include a lesson on the history of homeschooling. All of you may be surprised at the many benefits you are blessed with as a result of those early days.
Prior to compulsory education laws in the United States, education mostly took place in the home. Public education brought changes causing children to leave home to attend schools that hired professional teachers. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, books advocating that not all children fare well with a one-size fits all educational program hit the bookstores. Raymond Moore’s book, Better Late than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education (1989) stirred families to consider the possibility of educating their children at home.
The early pioneers soon raised the hackles of public school officials and truant officers. Some of these parents were threatened with jail if they did not enroll their children in a public or private school. They persisted in their quest and trusted the Lord while they sought legal help. Two attorneys (Mike Farris and Mike Smith) heeded their cries and together founded HSLDA in March 1983. Through these thirty years, HSLDA worked with state homeschool organizations and legislatures to pass laws in all 50 states to make homeschooling legal and free.
Most curricula during the initial years were not specifically written for teaching children at home. Undeterred, the pioneers developed their own courses (this was before the internet), used public libraries for resources, revamped Christian school texts, and created original material. Above all, they desired to foster a love of learning in their children and to instill godly character. As a result, many of these fledgling, novice entrepreneurs grew into successful homeschool businesses that benefit your families today. (You may even run into some of them at the June ICHE conference!)
Each year through the next decade, more and more families chose to homeschool their children. More and more publishers appeared on the scene, designing all types of curricula and resources for families to use. Home computers opened whole new possibilities for education, and homeschoolers led the way. Many families persevered and taught their children all the way to high school graduation. Community colleges saw the financial advantages and admitted homeschool high school students in dual enrollment programs. These students were soon knocking on college and university doors for admission. At first the schools were uncertain as to how to evaluate these applicants, but it didn’t take long for them to recognize the caliber of the students.
The new millennium brings better homeschool legislation in many states, resulting in less oversight. Colleges, employers, and the military eagerly recruit homeschool graduates. They recognize the character and commitment your young adults bring to education and the marketplace. In addition, many early homeschool alumni are presently homeschooling their children, adding another generation to the waves of homeschoolers.
The next innovation is the influx of online learning and alternatives for obtaining a college degree. Different types of education are being accepted at a greater number of schools in the United States. There are colleges that offer many courses and degrees online, allowing students to work from home at their own pace and on their own schedules. (Has a certain homeschool ring to it, doesn’t it?) Many also grant credit by examination through such avenues as Advanced Placement courses, CLEP, and DSST tests.
Homeschoolers are quick to discover and put to use great new sources of materials.
Universities, curricula publishers, companies, and organizations have found ways to give away their products for free – and homeschoolers benefit from their ingenuity.
By the time some of your children graduate high school, there will be new avenues not yet created and developed through which they will be able to receive post high school education, making it look completely different from today. All of this – could it be because of what those early pioneer homeschool families started by taking education back into the home?
Today you not only have freedom to choose how to educate your children, but there is a myriad of materials, resources, and support for you to complete the journey with success. No longer do you need to fear taking your children outside your home during the school day or instructing them not to tell people they are homeschooled. Instead, they can participate in internships, volunteer in the community, or serve others while being proud to be homeschooled.
I don’t know what the future holds, but I hope that by remembering the sacrifices and courage of early homeschool families, you will be inspired to continue teaching your children all the way through high school. If you would like to read about the personal stories of many families who sacrificed much in the early days of homeschooling and paved the way for you to do so, seek out Chris Klicka’s book, Home School Heroes.
In the same way that early homeschoolers brought changes, you too are making a difference in your families, your neighborhoods, and our country. The Lord provided for them and He’ll do the same for you. All He requires of you is to trust in His Almighty power for such a time as now!
Adapted from HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru High School Newsletter
December 2012, http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/2012/12/20121206103007.asp