Jeff’s Journal: Continue to Tend the Plant

Jul 1, 2001

Complacency can enter just about every aspect of our lives. Many times I speak on the danger of complacency with the homeschool freedoms we enjoy in North Carolina. For this article I would like to discuss complacency and how it enters into our everyday homeschool world. I want to touch on the teaching of our children and the degree of involvement we have as parents.

Complacency may be defined as “a feeling of contentment or satisfaction,” which sounds like a good thing. Who does not want to have a feeling of contentment or satisfaction? The problem begins when a person decides that the initial feeling of contentment is good enough and there is no need to do anything more. We can see the problem  when we look at a related word, “complacent.” This word is defined as “content to a fault.” Now the picture becomes a little clearer.

I have a graduating homeschool student this year. One thought is to sit back, tell myself that Cindy and I have done a great job teaching him (OK, Cindy did a great job teaching him), and send him on his way. I could easily develop a feeling of contentment or satisfaction. I could easily send Casey away to college and focus all my attention on my daughter Amy. But, that would fall into the “content to a fault” category. My teaching duties do not end the minute my son graduates from high school. As parents, our teaching duties never end.

The title of our state newsletter is the Greenhouse Report, and the symbol on the cover is a small rose. Just as a gardener cares for a precious flower during the early days by keeping the flower in a controlled environment, homeschoolers care for their children the same way. One reason our family decided to homeschool was so that we could control the teaching material and the teaching methods. When a gardener decides to plant the flower into the garden and completely expose it to the outside environment, the care does not stop. The gardener will continue to care for the flower, but on a more limited basis. That is the same thing homeschool parents must do with their children. Of course, we never stop loving our children. Loving our children and caring for them sometimes fall into different categories. If the parents feel a complete sense of contentment, then the teenager will be allowed to grow through the early adult developmental years without proper parental guidance. The parents must understand that the teaching period is not over and there is much more to offer the child. Drawing the line between full care and limited care will be different for every family. The key is to understand that there still needs to be a line. Parents still need to provide care for their children after they graduate, but it will be on a limited basis compared to the early years.

Parents need to ensure they do not become complacent with their children at any age. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can be flexible . We can make changes to the material and methods as needed to achieve maximum results. I believe in the review and revise approach. This simply means that certain things, as decided by the parents, are reviewed on a regular basis to determine their effectiveness. The review will then determine if changes need to be made. A problem develops if a parent becomes “content to a fault” with their child’s development. I am not suggesting that parents need to make changes every year; I am only suggesting that parents perform a review and make changes if needed. Performing a review by looking back at what works and what doesn’t work will help keep parents from becoming complacent.

I submit to you that having a feeling of contentment and satisfaction is a good thing. I suggest to you that we receive our feeling of contentment and satisfaction from knowing that we have done our best and that we are continuing to look for ways to do things better. At NCHE we are continuously looking for ways to better serve the homeschoolers of North Carolina.

GREENHOUSE is NCHE's flagship publication. 

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