As I write this, my newly graduated daughter is mid-flight on her way to Delhi, India. There, she will spend time with a good friend who is doing water quality research on a Fulbright Fellowship. Then, Natalie will fly to China to spend another three weeks touring the country in preparation for the possibility of a lifetime of service there. My son is currently in Scotland to present his research at an international conference.
It’s a long way from our little house on the prairie to Asia and Europe. And yet, I shouldn’t really be surprised. While my life is a small one rooted firmly in the red Oklahoma soil, my goal for my children was that they be able to move in any intellectual circle. I wanted them to feel comfortable with the destitute as well as with the king makers of the community. From the time they were tiny, I worked to help them develop the skills to move in spheres of influence, whether that be the powerhouses of politics in Washington, D.C. or the cultural elites of New York City. I have to admit that my vision was only as large as our country, but my kids took that dream and expanded the borders.
I suppose this vision occurred because I looked at parenting in an unusual way. I always saw myself as a subcontractor. I took the materials I was given (my kids with their different bents, personalities, strengths and weaknesses) and followed the specs (scripture, prayer, good parenting advice I had gleaned over a lifetime). I knew I didn’t have the bigger picture that the primary contractor would have. I could only see a very small piece for a limited amount of time. I didn’t have a clue what the finished product would look like, but I had to do my job well enough that my “building” would be ready for anything.
This meant a tough academic education (although it was very nontraditional). It meant a constant developing of skills, learning to work hard, and pray hard. It meant taking my kids past myself and my experiences into their potential. You see, many parents limit their kids to what they know and what their own world holds. Here’s a small example. I’ve heard so many homeschool parents who don’t understand math declare it unnecessary for their kids. Being the mathematical midget that I am, I could have easily done the same. However, I refused to limit my kids because of my limits. Today my son is working on a Ph.D. in theoretical math/computer science and my daughter basically has an applied math degree as an operations research engineer.
Here’s the deal. By limiting your kid’s education and skill sets, you limit where they can go to college, their future, and potentially the influence they will have on the world. While it is true that Jesus used simple fishermen and tradesmen as his disciples (and still does), he also used a very gifted and highly trained man – a well-educated Pharisee to spread the gospel throughout the entire known world. Paul wrote most of the New Testament, shared his testimony with some of Rome’s highest-ranking officials, debated the merits of his faith on Mars Hill with the intellectuals of the day, and ultimately brought his case and his faith before Caesar.
Paul was one tough cookie (I would love to have known his mother)! He endured stoning and beatings and shipwreck and all manner of things. He was humble enough to work with his hands to support himself, yet he was well read and articulate. He wrote persuasively, he spoke fearlessly, and lived passionately. He was obviously prepared for anything. Are your kids equipped for whatever life might hold?
Look Who’s Talking!
It was an absolute privilege and blessing to work with Mrs. Webb throughout high school. At the end of 8th grade, I hesitated at the thought of homeschooling through high school. How would I do AP’s, SAT tests, and extracurriculars? And would a homeschooled application even look competitive to colleges? Yet, I had no need to worry. As Mrs. Webb helped me choose classes (e.g. online, at the junior college), pursue my musical gifts, and plan for tests, I became more and more confident in homeschooling through high school. Even though it’s trickier as a homeschooler to find accredited advanced courses and extracurricular activities, Mrs. Webb guided me in forging my own opportunities as an educational entrepreneur.
When the application season rolled around, I realized how invaluable it was having Mrs. Webb. She knows us high schoolers so well, and it’s clear she really cares about her clients as students and people. Her godly insight kept me focused on Christ, and her worldly experience helped me craft my applications competitively and creatively. Unlike some other counselors, she doesn’t try to fit students to a preset “competitive” mold; instead, she helps students like me discover and develop our own God-given talents, strengths, and passions. She was always there for us; her promptness and readiness to help was a real encouragement and blessing, especially during the last few stressful weeks of applications and essays. In particular, she gave me rich feedback for my essays, and helped me think and write on a deep level, which grew me as a writer. With Mrs. Webb, I prepared applications for ten extremely competitive Ivy-level schools. By God’s grace, I was admitted to seven of them – including my dream school, a certain top-tier Ivy.
It’s one thing to have a college counselor. It’s another thing to have one who knows homeschoolers. And it’s another thing to have one who helps us maintain a Biblical perspective, with the ultimate goal of proclaiming Christ through worldly success. ~ Evan, CA
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