The Fear Factor: How Our High School Journey Began
I have experienced three moments of full-blown fear in my homeschooling career.
First, in July of 1984, my husband Joe and I applied to our local school board to homeschool our 6-year-old son. Our application was denied, and we were forced to appeal the decision to the State Board of Education. In the midst of that process, the South Carolina State Superintendent of Education personally threatened to put me in jail. I was afraid.
Second, in January of 1991, the South Carolina Attorney General's Office issued a negative opinion concerning the validity and legal status of the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools (SCAIHS). (Joe and I had founded SCAIHS in 1990 to offer homeschoolers in South Carolina a private alternative to public school supervision.) In response to the opinion, the State Department of Education circulated a memo declaring all SCAIHS members illegal. The morning I found out about the opinion and the memo, we conducted school as normal. We had just finished our school day when I happened to look out the dining room window to see two tense policemen, gripping the handles of their guns, approaching my front door. I remember thinking, "It is finally happening. I'm going to jail for homeschooling." I was afraid.
Third, in the summer of 1993, I realized that God was in fact leading us to homeschool our two sons through high school. I can remember being overwhelmed and almost paralyzed by the enormity of the task. So much was at stake. Images of algebra problems, Spanish vocabulary lists, and animal dissections danced in my head. How was I going to teach all those things? How could I take a chance on ruining my sons' futures? What if I failed? What if they couldn't go to college? What if . . . what if . . . what if . . . ?
I remember walking on the makeshift track in my backyard as I wrestled with all of this. "Oh, Lord," I whimpered, "I don't think I can do this." The tears started to flow. I was very afraid.
Just how scared was I? I would say that the fear I had experienced at the prospect of jail, on a scale of one to ten, rated between an eight and a nine. But when it came to the prospect of homeschooling in high school, my fear level was off the charts. I had been homeschooling for nine years already; I had survived all types of threats, legal proceedings, and legislative crises; and still the thought of homeschooling in high school scared me to death.
As I poured out all my worries and fear to the Lord on the walking track that day, He gently began to remind me of the other pivotal points of panic in my life—and how He had sovereignly intervened to rescue me from them all. I had never gone to jail, in spite of external threats and internal fears. God miraculously parted the waters for us to homeschool in 1984, and the policemen who came to the door in 1991 were actually there because of a series of robberies in our neighborhood. (That is one of those stories that is funny in retrospect, but held no humor for me at the time!)
It was as if God was saying to me, "Haven't I met you time and time again in your hour of need? Do you really think I would abandon you now? Tell me what you are most worried about."
So I shared with the Lord my concern about adequately preparing the boys for careers and life.
He said, "Trust Me" (from Psalm 37:3).
I shared with Him about not wanting to teach high school math, Spanish, and science courses. Even though I had done very well in all of these courses in high school and college, I wasn't sure I could do them justice as I taught them to the boys at home.
The Lord said, "Stand still and see My salvation on your behalf" (from II Chronicles 20:17, New American Standard Bible).
Within a week, I received two phone calls that demonstrated God's faithfulness, power, love, and mercy to me. One of my dear friends, Debbie Essig, called to say her parents had moved to town to help her homeschool her children. Her father was a retired high school science teacher. Debbie wanted to know if I would be interested in signing Ty and John up for the biology class he was planning to teach (complete with labs). Would I be interested? Are you kidding??? I had a praise service when I hung up the phone.
A day or so later, my phone rang again. This time it was Lillie Smith, another close friend and neighbor. Lillie had been a Spanish teacher at a local high school for almost ten years. She and her husband, Randy, had just received news confirming their plans to adopt a baby. As Lillie shared this wonderful news with me, she continued, "This means I won't be teaching at the high school anymore. I would love to teach the boys Spanish, if you could use the help." Needless to say, another praise session ensued when I hung up the phone.
With God's help and encouragement, we began the high school journey at home. I wish I could tell you that I quit my worrying and fretting altogether. What I can tell you is that, in spite of my weaknesses and faults, God showed Himself strong. The words of II Corinthians 12:9 became my mainstay: "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me" (Holman Christian Standard Bible). I knew that God was with me; He would never leave me or forsake me, and He would never quit providing abundantly for my children.
And He hasn't. In spite of my fears and misgivings, the Lord blessed our home. Our two boys attended college on a combination of academic, leadership, and athletic scholarships. Both have now graduated, are married to wonderful Christian women, and are pursuing successful careers. Our daughter, Lizzy, graduated from our homeschool in May 2005. She is attending a Christian college on a substantial academic scholarship and scholarship money she received for serving as South Carolina's Junior Miss 2005. Most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, all of our children continue to love and serve King Jesus.
Chapters 13 and 14 in the book of Numbers tell the story of Moses sending 12 men to spy out the land the Lord promised to give the Israelites. All 12 spies agreed that the land was indeed flowing with milk and honey and filled with abundant fruit. But 10 of the spies could only see the giants residing in the land. They gave in to their fears and were willing to forfeit the fruit of the land in order to avoid the giants. Only Joshua and Caleb responded with faith: "Caleb quieted the people in the presence of Moses and said, 'We must go up and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!'" (Numbers 13:30, HCSB)
As you "spy out" the land of homeschooling in high school, you will be amazed at its beauty and the fruit that is ripe for the picking. It was in the high school years of homeschooling that I witnessed my children blossom. They grew significantly in their faith and in their love for the Lord Jesus. They developed sophisticated, scriptural worldviews. They participated in meaningful, life-changing internships. They honed skills in sports, the arts, and other hobbies. They participated in community service projects. They traveled abroad with missions. They grew intellectually. And our family remained close. We would all have missed so many blessings, and they would have missed so many life-changing opportunities, if we had not made the high school journey together.
Do you want to homeschool in high school? Do you sense the Lord's leading? Then don't let your fears dictate your actions. Give your fears to the Lord and embrace the challenge. Refuse to bow to the intimidating giants in the land. Read Hebrews 11 and be encouraged by the faith of those who came before us. May we join those who by faith "conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight" (Hebrews 11:33-34, HCSB).
It is by faith that we homeschool for God's glory. It is by faith that we seek to raise a new generation that can proclaim Christ to the nations and influence the culture with His Gospel.
STAY TUNED FOR PART 2!
Joe and I spent 10 years teaching high school at home. In Part 2 of this series (coming in the next Court Report), I'll share some of the practical, powerful things we learned as we set out to determine a proper course of study for each of our children, with their different interests, needs, and long-term goals.
|About the author
Zan Tyler is the Home School Resource and Media Consultant for Broadman & Holman Publishers and the Editor of the Homeschool Channel for LifeWay's Web Network. She and her husband Joe have three children and homeschooled them all from kindergarten through high school (1984-2005). Zan is the author of 7 Tools for Cultivating Your Child's Potential and speaks internationally on a variety of homeschooling topics.