Pioneer Files: Notes from a Homeschooling Veteran

A man who lives without honor will not gain from education.

Skeptics. Critics. Everybody’s watching.

Dance with the one who brung ya.

As you embark upon this journey in educating your young ones, you may find dealing with critics and skeptics one of your first and most emotionally exhausting battles (especially if you are a people-pleaser like me and hate confrontation).

Thankfully, the homeschooling movement is now largely accepted in much of this country and enjoys a large following. But when I first considered homeschooling in 1982, I was met with unanimous disapproval by my family and friends. Not one person thought I was doing the right thing. Some of them took pains to pull me aside and try to talk sense into me. Even my husband said the idea was crazy. He was understanding enough, thankfully, to let me try it. Eventually, my family became my most solid support base and source of help.

The real surprise was the amount of resistance I received from my brothers and sisters in the Lord. Prevailing attitudes about homeschoolers have mellowed, and many churches support home education today. But in the early years, my most bitter criticism initially came from God’s family. I was chastised for not committing to church programs and not being at some church functions. I was even told that my life was unbalanced because I spent my time at home with my children and husband instead of being at all the church activities. Although the criticism was well-meaning, it made a hard decision even harder. And it greatly contributed to the stress I was already feeling as a young mom, fairly new in my faith, with four little children to raise. How desperately I needed an older, wiser hand to lead me forward and encourage me!

But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’

-Matthew 11:16 -17 (NASB)

Jesus calls the tune to which we dance.

During these early years, God taught me valuable lessons in resisting peer pressure and striving to please Him rather than people. I also learned, mostly through my own mistakes, not to react personally to criticism, and to never see a critical person as my enemy.

Listen, learn, and respond.

So this journey to educate my own children was the path upon which I have been thoroughly “schooled” in the ways of God. In the beginning, I needed to quickly learn three important lessons: Listen to the concerns of others, figure out what God was trying to teach me, and respond in a Christlike manner – even if the criticism was unfounded. Our efforts with our children will eventually rise or fall on their own merits.

Home education, after all, is just a tool in the hands of God to educate an entire family in His ways.

Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.

Matthew 11:19b (NASB)

Next Week: Part 2 of Skeptics and Critics

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About PamThorson

Pam is a licensed practical nurse, author, caregiver, and veteran homeschooler. Her first book, Song in the Night, recounts her son's fight for life after a spinal cord injury. Her second book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver, offers hope and encouragement to those who care for others. Her third book, Arrow: the History and People of an Idaho Community, Volume One, presents the history of the community of Arrow, Idaho.

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