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Michele's Musings: Upon Christian Homeschooling

Passing the Baton, Part 2 of 3

by Michele Hastings

In a relay race, each member of the team runs as hard as he can before passing the baton to the next person in line. For our family, having both of our teenage sons attend school for the first time, it feels like the passing of the baton. Because we’ve homeschooled both boys up to this point, the responsibility for their education has been, for the most part, on my shoulders. Although I followed their “bent,” allowing them as much freedom as possible, to learn in their own way and in their own time, their education was still more my priority rather than their own. And I ran with it. I gave it my all, committing my time, energy, and self in order to help our boys discover and become who God created them to be.

At this stage, with their sense of identity intact, our next goal is to see them develop ownership and self-responsibility over their lives, including their education. Honouring Asher’s decision to go to school this year for grade 8 was a way of transferring ownership. And enrolling Tymon in a few classes at a nearby high school enabled us to offer him options without overwhelming him. Originally Tymon had no interest in going to school but neither was he taking ownership over his education at home. I was willing to homeschool him all the way through high school, but only if he started showing initiative and picked up his share of the burden.

It really is quite miraculous how smoothly the transfer of responsibility has taken place. I fully expected to have to draw up a list of rules regulating bedtimes, homework etc, but there really was no need. The first hint that the boys were going to be self-regulating regarding their school attendance and academic responsibilities was when I noticed them organizing their binders and packing their backpacks with school supplies. After only two weeks of this new routine, I have to say was pleasantly surprised by the ease in which both boys have acclimatized to their new environment and lifestyle. Tymon has not only been taking responsibility for his school assignments, but also taking his home studies more seriously. And although Asher says that school is “boring,” he’s dutifully fulfilling his obligations.

It’s been a real challenge for me to keep my nose out of what they’re doing. After all these years of monitoring their activities it’s difficult to step back and allow them space to share or not share the details of their life, instead of demanding to see and know everything that’s going on. Sometimes I feel like a dog begging for crumbs, yet at other times they seem to enjoy telling me stories about what happened at school that day or showing me what they’ve done. It also helps when they need my signature at the bottom of assignments!

I’m grateful for teachers that insist on parental involvement. It’s a relief to not be shouldering the full responsibility of their education, I still want to be aware of what’s being taught. Now I think of their education in terms of being a joint responsibility between teacher, student, and parent, and balance is seldom easily achieved. The trick is balancing their sense of ownership and desire for independence with my need to stay involved and feel connected.

The next area that we’re hoping they’ll eventually develop ownership in is embracing our Christian faith as their own. Although we’ve tried to “pass on” our beliefs, morals, and values by teaching them about life from a Christian perspective and modeling our worldview, they’ve yet to “take the baton.” I’ve never been naïve enough to believe that just because they’ve been raised in a Christian home they’d automatically become Christians. But I had assumed that because we’d made such an effort through homeschooling, to connect our faith to every area of our lives rather than compartmentalizing school, church, social life etc, it would be enough. Yet neither of our sons appears to be developing a personal relationship with Christ or growing in faith.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re good kids and so far we’ve been fairly pleased with most of their decisions and behavior, but neither see their need, or hunger for truth and righteousness. They pray, if asked; go to church and tithe, because they have to; and read the bible, if we make them. Most of their friends aren’t Christians; they’ve chosen secular music over Christian music, and they follow worldly standards, rather than Godly standards, when it comes to their viewing habits.

Like horses in a pasture, wearing out the grass along the fence line, they gaze longingly at the grass on the other side of the fence, wondering if they’re missing out on anything. We’ve never been legalistic, but since submerging them in our Christian worldview hasn’t helped them embrace our beliefs, I’m hoping that by opening the gate so they can get a glimpse of what little the world has to offer, the temptation to rebel would be short lived.

My prayer has always been that they would make a decision to follow Christ at an early age…beyond “asking Jesus into their hearts.” My own life experience has taught me that the longer one lives in the world apart from Christ, the more baggage there is to deal with later on. My hope is that there will come a day when they will own their Christian faith. I don’t know the plan God has for our boys. I just know that He calls each individual in a different way and at different times. He loves our kids and He’ll guide each step along the way. M.H. ■