The Treasure in Front of Us
There it was, right in front of me—the blinking cursor over the message that I was no longer welcome on my homeschool support website. I had homeschooled my two children for a total of 18 years and had been active on the board for nearly five years. I had been a mentor mom for several years, fielding phone calls from moms new to homeschooling, going out to lunch, spending hours on the phone with them, encouraging them, and pointing them to resources. Why was I suddenly persona non grata?
I suppose I should be grateful. My local support group had “grandfathered” me onto their mailing list for an extra year or two after my last child graduated but only because I was teaching high school science to 60 of their children at my home twice a week and needed access to the group calendar in order to plan my classes. Once I was “locked out” of communication with the support group, I attempted to make the case that there were several of us veteran homeschool moms who were still available to help new homeschoolers through the maze of starting on this new adventure but was met with a consistent, “No; if we do it for you, we’ll have to do it for everyone else.” It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. What was I supposed to do now?
We were longstanding members of Home School Legal Defense (HSLDA) and were taken off their records when we graduated our last child. They did have the HSLDA Foundation, which is a way to contribute financially to help other homeschoolers when a family is no longer homeschooling; we joined. Although I’ve been “out of the loop” for several years, I still get the occasional phone call from someone starting out their homeschooling journey or from a homeschool mom who wants to give up and just needs encouragement. The icing on the cake, though, has been to have a voice through the HwH blog and my opportunities as a contributing writer with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. My head is ready to explode from all the experiences I’ve had, and it is a privilege to be able to help others with that knowledge.
There are many moms out there just like me. They have decades of experience homeschooling their own children or involvement in cooperative endeavors, such as I had, teaching students along with my own because there was a specific niche for my abilities. They may have cleared out or given away the educational materials they used for 20 years in order to reclaim space in their homes that had been inaccessible since their first day of homeschooling (you all know what I mean), but they haven’t forgotten what it’s like to homeschool; they are a valuable resource.
Some of them are now working outside their homes, but they will take your phone call. They aren’t raising little ones right now, but they have time to call the offices of senators and representatives to voice their opinion on issues that relate to homeschooling freedoms. They can give you an occasional break and teach a class where they have particular expertise that would benefit all your students. They have time available for research that young moms either can’t do or don’t have time or energy to do because they’re raising their families.
Because I now have three grandchildren, I consistently keep up with what’s going on in regard to homeschooling liberty, legislatively, because I want homeschooling to continue to be available to my own grandchildren and their future children.
Most of us are familiar with the famous saying, “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” The first year we homeschooled our son, I had a newborn daughter and H.R. 6 was brought up in Washington, D.C., attempting to require parents to be certified teachers in order to home educate their children. I remember calling my state and federal legislative offices and voicing my opinion (as did over three million other homeschooling parents), and we experienced a great victory in terms of liberty. However, I also remember my frequent lack of energy to expend in political activism when raising my children, albeit accompanied by a tremendous sense of pride in being a mom—a homeschooling mom! I never took my freedom to homeschool for granted; I felt grateful, I felt important, and I felt needed.
I want to encourage parents currently homeschooling their children to take stock of your surroundings both at church and in your community, and take advantage of the great treasure of veteran homeschooling moms and dads who are all around you. Yes, some of them want to be more actively involved than others, but there are many of us who would love to encourage you, help you research a difficult issue, and guide you to resources you may not even know existed. One thing I’ve noticed about God’s character, He doesn’t waste anything! Those of us who are now “retired” from homeschooling don’t want our experience to go to waste; we have a lot to offer! Just give us a chance!
Ruth Sundeen has a B.S. degree in Biology, with a minor in Chemistry. Home-educating her own two children for 18 years, she decided to include other students in their high school science classes, including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Anatomy & Physiology. She added Physical Science to her portfolio, when she started teaching science in private Christian schools for the past two years; in addition, she tutors college physics and chemistry.
Ruth is passionate about teaching science from a special creation perspective, helping students develop a love of science, a strong grasp of the scientific evidence to support special creation, and the conviction that they can make a difference in the world we live in.
She was awarded the 2017 SchoolhouseTeachers.com Teacher of the Year for her Biology curriculum design. She and her husband, Larry, live in Abita Springs, Louisiana.