Second-generation homeschoolers have the tremendous privilege of following in the footsteps of those who paved the road before us. We have easy access to a storehouse of wisdom and experience because, as most new home educating parents will testify, the homeschooling pioneers of our day are among the most kind, warm, loving, passionate teachers in the world, and their desire to leave a multi-generational legacy of Christian families who desire to live according to God’s Word is contagious. Many first-generation homeschoolers are nearing the end of their practicum (if they haven’t already), but their zeal hasn’t dwindled. Their children may have left the nest, but in most cases, their involvement in homeschooling is far from finished. They face a new challenge, one that was recently posed to us relative newbies as a question: “What does the second generation of homeschoolers need from the first?” 5 things come to mind.
If you teach us that homeschooling is a secondary method of Christian education reserved for those who cannot afford private school, we will give up the moment private school becomes financially feasible.
If you teach us that the purpose of homeschooling is to produce academically elite children, we will give up when we realize that it is more important to be humble than to be smart.
If you teach us that the purpose of homeschooling is to avoid the negative influence of the world, we will give up when we discover that the sin in the world lives within each of our children, just as it lives within us.
If you teach us that homeschooling our children means that they will be reading at four and in university by sixteen, we will assume we are failing when our eight-year-old still mixes up his “b’s” and “d’s” and can’t write a cursive letter to save his life.
However, if you teach us that homeschooling is a method of family discipleship based upon the biblical principles of parental authority and responsibility, mingling of the generations, stewardship, and walking with wise men, we will be encouraged to find our strength, purpose, and fulfillment in the One who has called us to this glorious task when going gets tough (Ephesians 6:4 ; Deuteronomy 6:6-9 ; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Romans 12:2; Proverbs 22:6; Proverbs 13:20; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 2:3-8)
Remember when you were the only people you knew who homeschooled, and how you had to fight for the right to teach your own children?
Remember the court hearings, and when the experts who prophesied that homeschooling would result in academically deficient children were proven wrong and decided to popularize the socialization myth instead?
Remember when homeschool students started graduating from high school and attending university, and society discovered they could integrate into the “real world” just fine? And when opponents to home education decided that because it works so well it needs to be stopped?
Well, most of us second or third generation homeschoolers don’t have an experiential knowledge of these things or we were too young to remember. We didn’t have to make the kind of sacrifices you did to enjoy the freedom our generation has. We need to be taught the history of homeschooling for two reasons:
- so we never take our privilege for granted, and,
- so that when history repeats itself (as is becoming the case) and we find ourselves oppressed by a government who believes our children belong to them, we can borrow from the wisdom of the past and fight for our God-given liberty with confidence and conviction.
Tell us of the battles that were fought and how the Lord won them. Tell us the stories of real life heroes – fathers and mothers who homeschooled through familial rejection, judgment from “friends”, and government officials who breathed down their necks. Tell us of the vision they had for their families, why the struggle was worth the persecution, and how the Lord rewarded their dedication and determination.
We’ve heard you say things like:
- “If I could do it all over again, I wouldn’t have been so worried about the academics.”
- “I wish I had hadn’t started them so early; what’s the big hurry?”
- “I wish I hadn’t stressed over their SATs and preparing them for college. I’m realizing now that there are other alternatives to success than a four-year degree.”
- “I should have spent more time at home more instead of working so hard to make sure the kids were being properly socialized.”
If the temptation for your generation was to over-achieve, perhaps ours is to have an attitude that is too laid back. We need your wisdom and guidance to help us become balanced homeschoolers who are relaxed, but not lazy; intentional, but not stressed; motivated, but not self-seeking; visionary, but not impractical.
For years you have planned the conventions, run the book fairs, organized field trips, led the homeschool co-ops and support meetings, stood up against political decisions that would seek to limit our liberty, welcomed newcomers to homeschooling, embraced them, mentored them, offered your shoulder to cry on, and told us that we can get through this with the Lord’s help. You have worked tirelessly in support of home education, and the debt of gratitude we owe is inconceivable.
But, you are getting older (as are we), and most of your children have left the nest to build their own. How convenient it would be if you could keep on doing what you’re doing for the entire duration of our own homeschooling years! However, I fear that if we become too comfortable in our dependence on your leadership, we will be lost when the time comes to pass the baton.
Please, take us under your wing. Mentor us. Make us your apprentices.
How do you run a convention? Why do you plan them? What’s involved in organizing a co-op? How do we keep informed of State legislation, and what do we do if we our liberties are compromised? Are there certain channels that we should be tuned into? Why?
Make us part of your committees, involve us in the convention planning process, help us learn how to engage with the government and how to take action when it is required. Give us a job to do, so that we can help preserve the freedoms for which you have fought for, for our children, and they for theirs. In the same way you did when we were small, teach us diligently, when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up – even when you are old. (Deuteronomy 6:5,6)
You know it better than we do; we can’t homeschool in our own strength. We need the Lord’s grace for every step of the journey and mercifully, He has promised that those who ask in His name according to His will shall receive it. Pray that:
- We would impress upon our children the necessity of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and understand that only through Him can there be true intellectual growth (Proverbs 1:7; James 4:4)
- We would teach a simple curriculum written and designed by God (Psalm 1:1-2; Deuteronomy 32:46)
- We would practice God’s methods of nurturing (Psalm 128:1-4; Deuteronomy 6:5-9)
- We would seek to protect the souls, minds, and bodies of our children (Luke 1:17; Psalm 127:3-5; 1 Timothy 6:20-21; Luke 6:40)
- We and our children would be able to defend the faith and engage in intellectual warfare (Colossians 2:8; Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 10:5)
- Our children’s hearts “may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” (Colossians 2:2)
- We would not boast, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14)
- We would not “grow weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” (Galatians 6:9)
Are you a first, second, or third generation homeschooler? Is there anything you would add to this list? How do you bridge the age divide between older and younger homeschoolers in your own life?
Written by Jacinda Vandenberg. Jacinda is a second generation homeschool Mom to 6 children. She helps coordinate the OCHEC Convention alongside her husband Brad.