by Joyce Herzog
Let’s suppose you have two kittens. One loves to cuddle and is on your lap every time you sit down. The other keeps its distance and rarely accepts cuddling. Would you force the one to cuddle who prefers to keep its distance? Would you refuse to cuddle the one who is always available?
You also have two house plants. One is a cactus. The other is a delicate ivy. Do you put both in the bright hot sun and water them both once a month?
As ridiculous as both of those sound, isn’t that exactly what we try to do with children? And why is there a difference? Why do we have such natural wisdom in raising pets and plants, and yet agree on such arbitrarily inconsistent and harmful approaches to our children–the next generation–our own offspring?
I think I have a shred of an answer–and it all relates to our love affair with the public school system.
Most of us were raised within the school system--either public schools or private schools, but institutional setting nonetheless. For twelve or more years of the only part of our childhood we remember, we were subjected to institutionalization. Whether we adapted or even liked it, or resisted and hated it is really immaterial. The fact is it had many profound effects on the way we think and act and respond to problems.
We were taught to stick to our own business. Is that why people today are so proficient at ignoring the needy? We were taught to sit passively waiting until someone told us what to do, how much effort to put into it, and when to have it finished. Is that why many of us stumble through life waiting for someone to give us direction? We were taught that everyone had to fit the mold--to jump through the same hoops at approximately the same time, in appreciably the same way, with essentially the same results. Is that why today we are all so very afraid to be different, to not measure up to some unidentifiable standard of what “everybody does?”
When I look, instead, to the answer that God has in front of my face, I am startled. I look at the family--oh, not by the politically correct definition--but by the simple design of the Loving Father. All families start with a man and a woman joined together to love and to serve. In most families, children are the natural result. There the similarity ends.
In the first place each set of parents is totally unique: in appearance, in personality, in preferences, in heritage, in their very individual sets of genes. Not to mention their ages and regional differences in language, accent, choice of food, talents, knowledge, and on and on and on. Then there are the children. No two families are exactly the same in number of children, spacing of birth, sex of children, color of hair, personality, preferences, and on and on and on. No two families are exactly alike. Think about it. No two families on the earth are exactly alike--ever!
Now I believe that God, had He so ordained in His perfect wisdom, could have done differently. He could have designed our bodies in such a way that exactly so many weeks after the union of a man and wife a child would be born and the first one would always be a fast-learning intelligent girl followed exactly two years later by a rough and tumble miniature mechanic. But He didn’t. In fact, it seems to me that there is a message in the very deliberate way He did exactly the opposite. Yet it is so obvious that we can’t see it anymore than we can see the nose so close to our eyes.
Every family is different. Every individual person is different. There is no single solution to the dilemma of what does my child need to learn today. Or the question of what do I have the energy to teach today.
Think of the goals of the public system. Notice carefully that the elite do not choose to educate their progeny within its hallowed and sacred walls. Consider carefully the reasons. Look at the history of our educational system. Become acquainted with its development and the stated purposes of its design so that you can once and for all be set free from its clutches.
One of the major benefits of homeschooling is that we can teach each child individually. We can allow children the freedom to be themselves, to explore deeply into subjects that intrigue them and fall within their talents and passions and permit them to skim the surfaces of other subjects in which they have less interest and skill. Sure, they need a basic understanding of math and reading. But beyond that, is there a “master plan?” I don’t think so. And even in that there is a great deal of freedom in the schedule within which they acquire the skills needed to cope with adult life.
Do not be bound by anyone else’s idea of what school should look like at your home. Only you know your children intimately, can be in tune with their passions and needs, and realize your own strengths and limits. Be assured that God placed those specific children in your care and He is convinced that you were the best parent – and teacher – for each of them. Trust Him to show you how to live that out day by day!
Copyright 2012 by Joyce Herzog. Used by permission of the author.
Joyce Herzog is a gifted teacher and author of many educational products, including Scaredy Cat Reading System, that simplify teaching for you and learning for your students. Joyce taught classrooms of learning disabled students in private and public schools for many years and has been working with homeschooling families for two decades.
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/joyce.herzog