Learning to Fly
By Jeannette Webb
Our goal as we homeschool high school is to equip our children for the work they are called to do and are passionate about. Therefore, we need to develop a high school program that prepares them for excellence in whatever field they choose to enter. This is easier said than done! In fact, there are two common traps that we can fall into during the high school years that will negate all our good intentions: the trap of not expecting enough of our kids and the trap of squeezing them into someone else’s mold. Be on guard for both.
To expect excellence from our teens will often require mom to toughen up. We cannot give in to the temptation to sit by their side as a cheerleader, hold their hand, and sympathize about how hard school is and how fun it will be when school is out for the day. That kind of coddling kills intellectual vitality and destroys the spirit. To be honest, this is the Achilles heel of homeschooling. Mothers tend to be too easy on their students and expect too little. Or they get overwhelmed and things start sliding. Ladies, the Lord has called us to a higher standard!
The high school years are the “tough love” years where I expect a great deal out of my kids and let them know I believe in them and in their mental capacity to wrestle with hard concepts and tackle big jobs. It’s much like the sparrow I watched last spring on our back porch. She was teaching her babies to fly. All had flown except one and it just couldn’t seem to find the courage to leave the nest. After waiting for many minutes, the mother actually pushed the baby off the ledge. There was a sickening moment where the tiny bird plunged downward but, just in time, found its wings and flew to a low fence. By the end of the day, it was cavorting all over the yard, glorying in its newfound skill and freedom. That initial push must have been tough for the mother bird, but she knew what needed to happen for her baby to make it in the world.
In like manner, I must evaluate each of my children’s strengths, weaknesses and callings and design a challenging high school program that is unique to them.
Are You a Candle Maker or a Detective?
As you plan your high school, be careful of buying into the promises of some curriculums and philosophies that all but guarantee an end result for our children if we but follow their legalistic lead. These philosophies would say our job as a parent is as a candle maker. We follow the recipe to get the wax in the right condition, drop in the wick and pour the wax into the mold knowing exactly what it will look like when we remove the hardened product. However, this is the mentality that lies at the heart of the public school system that destroys so many lives.
Today, let me encourage you to think of yourself not as a candle maker with a mold, but as a detective, always looking for clues as to how God uniquely made your children.
Questions for a Detective
- What is my child’s learning style?
- What are his strengths and gifts?
- What is he passionate about?
- Under what conditions does my child function best?
- How do I need to stretch him and force him out of his comfort zone? (Warning!! This will probably require you to leave your comfort zone as well).
- What are his weaknesses and character flaws?
- How can I correct the problem areas?
It can take years of study to answer these questions, but the reward of our detective work is the key to our children’s hearts. To invest the time necessary to really know our children is to give them the greatest gift of all. Once we understand, we learn to appreciate the essence of who they are and maybe even see the world from their vantage point once in a while. We will also understand where their lives need to be strengthened and, with the confidence of the little mother bird, set up experiences that send them plunging in order that they learn their true strength.
Have you ever felt like you were pushing your children over the lip of the nest? Good for you! Leave a comment and tell me about it.