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Vol. XXII
No. 3
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May/June
2006

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Encouragement for the Tough Times

J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association

Do you ever find yourself wondering if home education is really the right choice for your family?

There are many reasons why people lose their confidence to homeschool: A child refuses to do his schoolwork or doesn’t like learning at home. Maybe a husband doesn’t help out. Finances may be tight. Opposition to homeschooling is expressed by relatives, friends, in-laws, and outlaws. Parents are discouraged by low energy or sickness. Or maybe a family is facing legal challenges. Any one of these reasons may prompt parents to decide that homeschooling isn’t right for their family.

I believe that if we can articulate the right reasons for homeschooling, then the reasons not to homeschool become much less compelling.

There is no denying the academic success of home education. Study after study reveals that homeschoolers score higher, on average, than their public school counterparts. It would be hard to argue that the individualized education homeschooling provides is not in a child’s best interest! The typical classroom simply cannot focus on the individual needs of each student.

This is just as true for children with special learning needs. Some of these children are highly gifted and the classroom setting would be de-motivating. Others are struggling learners and the classroom setting would distract or overwhelm them.

What about high school? True, teaching higher-level courses and preparing a student for college can be very intimidating. But, as HSLDA High School Coordinator Diane Kummer says, “The time I had with my own two children at probably the most crucial period of their lives, as they were developing into a young man and a young lady, I wouldn’t trade for anything. With the Lord’s help, you can teach high school.”

So many of the pressures and stresses that cause parents to question their decision to homeschool do have solutions—but it can be difficult to see them when the obstacles are right in front of us. When we experience these feelings of discouragement, we can gain perspective by remembering why we started to homeschool in the first place. Then, we need to ask the Lord for strategies to overcome the challenges that confront us.

If there is a week’s worth of household tasks to be done in the next 24 hours, lesson plans to write, and spelling tests to grade—and the kids just aren’t expressing appreciation for all your hard work and sacrifice—remember God’s command in Ephesians 6:4 to “bring them [your children] up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (KJV). He didn’t promise that teaching your children about Him would always be easy, but He did promise that “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Corinthians 12:9).

The good news is, if we accept God’s challenge to raise our children up in His ways through home education, He will meet our needs. He may bring across your path a fellow homeschooling parent who has dealt with the same challenges you are experiencing. He may use a workshop at a homeschool conference to re-inspire you, or a sudden breakthrough in your teen-ager’s attitude to strengthen your resolve.

Out of a desire to serve our members who are experiencing some of these struggles, HSLDA offers the services of two special needs coordinators and two high school coordinators. These ladies can help you come up with fresh solutions to the problems that are discouraging you. (Email specialneeds@hslda.org or highschool@hslda.org, or call 540-338-5600.)

If we expect instant answers to our prayers, we may be disappointed. Let’s not give up if our problems are not resolved right away. The words of the old hymn, “Standing on the Promises of God,” are a good reminder of the key to long-term success both in homeschooling and in our Christian lives.