Thursday, 14 December 2017

G Guest Editorials

Four Keys to Going the Distance in Homeschooling

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By Tom Frye  

Tom Frye is a singer/songwriter, worship leader, speaker and author. He and his family have an active music ministry, known as the Frye Family Band. The Fryes recently founded Family First, a ministry to strengthen families. The Frye Family Band’s book,101 Devotions for Busy Families, and their new EP “Alive for the First Time” are available at www.familyfirstministries.net.


This graduation year was different than our previous two. It marked a change of seasons for our son, but as our youngest child, it also closed our season as a homeschooling family. His graduation marked the culmination of fifteen years of homeschooling he and our two daughters, the majority of which was taught by my wife.

As I watched my son turn the tassel, I found myself choking back tears as I recalled those midday phone calls and late night conversations when my wife doubted her ability to see through our commitment. Each time we reminded ourselves about the reasons we chose to homeschool, the qualities we could see taking root in our children’s lives, and the many times when God had already proven Himself faithful.

Looking back, though some days seemed particularly long, the years really did go by quickly. As I reflect on those days, I recall four specific things that helped us – and I believe will help other homeschool families - stay the course.

1) Know Your Why:

Your “why” is important. Your why is the single most important reason you made the decision to home-educate. When there is a particularly difficult day, week, or even school year, your why will keep you focused on the big picture. Your why may be the desire to choose a curriculum which best reflects your world view, it may be because you want to be able to adjust your teaching to your child’s learning style, or it may be that you want to foster a greater sense of family unity and purpose. Whatever the reason, identifying your why will exponentially increase your ability to stay the course.

2) Count the Cost:

Jesus spoke of this when He said in Luke 14:28, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” (NIV). As with any commitment, home educating requires sacrifice: sacrifice of income, time, and sometimes, approval. For many homeschool families - including our own – this meant answering a barrage of questions from both the critical and the well-intended. The questions ranged from our ability to effectively educate our children, to concerns over their socialization, and deprivation of certain activities. It also meant a willingness to drive older vehicles, live in a smaller house, and the occasional denial of other creature comforts. However, as with any investment, the returns are now, years later, being realized in the form of scholarships, awards, and various other opportunities that may have never been realized had we not counted the cost.

3) Build Ebenezers:

In Joshua 4:4-7, we read the story of the children of Israel crossing the swollen Jordan River. Within that text, Joshua instructs twelve men to carry a stone from the river, one for each tribe and stack them on the other side in order that they may commemorate the occasion. These stones were to serve as an Ebenezer, so that: “When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’”

The Ebenezer is a physical reminder of God’s faithfulness. It helps us refocus when doubt and fear are seeking to command our attention and provide opportunities to pass our faith onto our children through our own story. Our Ebenezers may be in the form of awards, scars, or well-mannered children. They may also take the form of a diploma, marriage license, or family picture hanging on the wall. But keeping physical reminders of God’s faithfulness to us is a great way to keep us focused.

4) Delight in Your Children:

Along with the weight of the responsibility of schooling our children comes the privilege of spending many precious hours together. While the individual subjects are each essential to our children’s future, so too are the many life skills that are found in the practical application of the class work. My wife and children would sometimes bake a batch of homemade cookies to practice measurements, plant flowers or work in the garden as part of science and biology. We took many field trips to landmarks, museums, and other places of interest, and we made obstacle courses in the backyard. These activities helped our kids to not just think creatively, but burn off some energy. We played music together, served shut-ins together, went on missions trips, participated in community theater productions, and in the end, whatever shortcomings we may have had, God filled in the gaps. He took our meager offerings of love, nurture, and a desire for our children’s success, and made up the difference.

Many times in the midst of our homeschooling my wife would say, “I feel like it’s all on me,” to which I would reply, “No, it’s all on God. We just need to do our part.”

We are not perfect parents, nor are we perfect teachers, but we do serve a perfect God. Our children are now enrolled in college, each having graduated high school with honors. Just one more Ebenezer they will be able to hang on their wall to remind them of our faithful God.

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