Fear as Your Driver

What drives the decisions you make as you homeschool? You might be surprised to hear me say, “For most homeschoolers, their homeschooling decisions are driven by fear.”

This has been true as long as I have been involved in homeschooling and with other homeschooling families. That’s about 30 years now. Not much has changed during that time.

Thirty years ago, a woman was marketing a program to teach kids to read. It was expensive: $225.00 (and that was in 1980’s dollars). The lady had spent a lot of time and money producing a reading program complete with booklets, cards, records (eventually she changed to cassette tapes), and pictures.

She sold a lot of programs.

Why? Because the program was expensive.  At the time, insecure parents reasoned that an expensive program was better than a cheap one. Still today, homeschoolers tend to buy what has the most pizazz or is the most expensive. We are insecure in our ability to know what is best for our own children so we let some publisher tell us what’s best.

May I be bold enough to say that “insecurity” is just another word for “fear”. May I also say that we need to look that fear full in the face and refuse to let it be a driver in our homeschooling.

Instead of purchasing the lady’s reading program, we found one in the library that had no pictures, no songs, no cards, no booklets. We liked it, mainly because it was a true phonics program and, besides, all the extras simply distracted our boys from reading. The price printed on the cover was $19.95. It had gone out of print so we reprinted it and it became the beginning of our family business. When we said the lady’s program was not really a true phonics program she threatened to sue us. We were not afraid because it was the truth.

While I am on the topic of reading, I will ask, “At what age should a child be reading?” The answer depends on whether or not you are following the traditional age-grade model of the public school. If your child is in preschool or 1st grade—and you are looking ahead at the material your child must master in the coming months and years—you will probably say something like, “A child should definitely be reading no later than age 6”.

What is driving this response? I say: fear. Why? Because, what if your child doesn’t learn to read until age 9 or 10, or later? Would that be a problem for you? Again, why?

Fear will take you down a narrow road you don’t want to be on and making a U-turn on that road is not easy.

Who determines what your child will be doing next school year? Who determines what curricula your child will be using next school year? Who determines what grade your child will be in next school year (and why should your child be in a grade at all?). Who determines how long your school day (or year) will last?

Are any of these decisions driven by fear? Fear of what or whom? If the driver is fear, open the door and tell it to get out of your homeschool vehicle. Then, move into the driver’s seat yourself.

We teach our children to have faith by having faith, ourselves. Faith that their Father (not Fear) will lead us to make right decisions for them.

A good place to begin is by asking yourself, “Why am I doing this [whatever this is]?” Then, don’t be afraid of the answer you receive.

6 thoughts on “Fear as Your Driver

  1. kathycnc

    “Fear will take you down a narrow road you don’t want to be on and making a U-turn on that road is not easy.” Such a depth of insight and wisdom here, Chris! True, not just for homeschooling, but for the way we relate to life in general. Thanks for being a seasoned voice of wisdom. Dale and I appreciate you!

  2. sushieq

    True words, indeed. We were late to homeschooling because I was *afraid* I couldn’t/wouldn’t teach my son anything on my own; when we did decide to homeschool, it was because I was *afraid* of what they were teaching in the schools; we are full-fledged unschoolers now and love it, but I spend a lot of time *afraid* that we’re doing the wrong thing, *afraid* that my son will never make another friend as long as he lives (though evidence has proven differently), *afraid* he won’t be “well-rounded” enough, *afraid* the word “neglect” just might apply to us (my son is nearly 16, so this is patently ridiculous…but I worry just the same)…you get the idea.

    Well, like ol’ Dr. Phil says, “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge,” and just identifying these emotions as FEAR–mostly of the irrational ilk–goes a long way towards banishing them.

    I’ve missed your posts. It’s very good to see you back.

  3. chrisdavis

    Thanks, sushieq, for the honesty. It’s really not the fear that is the problem, is it? It’s where we allow fear to take us. When we homeschooled, we received no support from anyone and that was hard. But, we were pretty “counter cultural” and stepped so far out of the public school mentality that no one could recognize what we were doing–including ourselves. All I can say is, fear is recognizable and that helps us to do something else…

  4. creativebizmom

    What a great post! another way to look at it is FEAR, False Evidence Appearing Real. I know I am constantly asking where my apprehensions come from, if they are fear based, I know i am being decieved. knowing if we are Glorifying God in all we do, He will ultimately get us to where He wants us, and Faith in knowing that kills my fear. Keep up the great work in sharing your wisdom Chris!

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