Homeschooling in Hard Times: An Introduction
Raylene M. Hunt
Veteran homeschooling, single mom of two blessings, Helen & Matthew.
Homeschooling is undoubtedly a growing trend in education. Trends, however, tend to change with the tide of popular culture. As our economy continues in this downturn, I wonder if homeschooling will be strong enough to maintain itself, becoming more than just a trend. Homeschoolers today, have ridden on the waves of the pioneers. We’ve become complacent and assume that it has always been and will always be as easy as it is right now.
There is however, a cost to homeschooling. It isn’t just one option for many families, it is the only option. There is more involved than just the monetary cost of the curriculum and extra curricula lessons. For many families, the cost is much higher. It can mean sacrificing family ties because relatives don’t understand. It may even mean sacrificing ties in the Christian community, as churches (especially those with their own schools) do not understand. Families may have to sacrifice luxuries that they’ve grown to consider necessities. It may mean giving up internet at home all together or downscaling from DSL to dial-up. It may mean that there is no cable, or that the family has only one car instead of two. It may even mean downsizing the family home. There are families who are willing to sacrifice, but what about those who haven’t had to? Will the turn in the economy change their minds? Will families be willing to make further sacrifices to be able to continue to home educate?
My fear is that there will be families who think it simply can no longer be done, and that the sacrifice just isn’t worth it. After all public education is free, and then both parents can work. It seems easier to sacrifice our children to the government schools than to sacrifice the conveniences we enjoy daily.
There are others I know that will sacrifice without hesitation or second thought. I know this because they already are. Weekly, I encounter families in difficult situations who are, against all odds, continuing to home educate. There are growing numbers of single parents who are joining the ranks of seasoned homeschooling families. There are parents with limited incomes who are doing it. They are being discouraged from it on all fronts including family, friends and other Christians. Everyone promotes the easy path. Put the children into the government schools, and get a job. I’m not sure they understand the reality of what they are recommending. Take a wife whose husband has been incarcerated as an example. Their family has been torn apart and its stability threatened. Put their children into the public school system, and send mom to work 8 – 10 hours a day. The result is a recipe for disaster not just for the children, but for the entire family unit. When mom comes home at the end of the day, she is too exhausted to provide for the most basic needs of her family. What would it really cost to support that family through their difficult season? What would it teach the children to see others sacrificing to help their mother?
As with most all things, those who could benefit the most from homeschooling have the least amount of resources available to them. Based on my own years of experience, if you are a family in a difficult situation, homeschooling may be the thing that makes the difficult time a little easier to bear. Count the cost, but also weigh it against the worth. It can be done.