13 Mar 2013

I was recently asked to speak to a group of education majors at one of the state universities. The format was to be a panel discussion with one person each to represent public schools, charter schools, parochial schools and homeschools. We were to have a few minutes to introduce ourselves and the type of school we represented. The rest of the time was for students to ask questions. I’ll have to admit I didn’t spend a whole lot of time preparing as I didn’t really expect a group of education majors to have many questions for a homeschool dad.

As it turned out, I was the only one on the panel to show up. The department head in charge of the event told me I had the whole one and a half hours. In an effort to get a feel for the crowd (and to buy some time) I asked them what they thought homeschooling was. Some had no knowledge of it and others were quite familiar with homeschooling. Things went well after that introduction, and we had no trouble using the allotted time.

Near the end of the discussion, I spoke about the amount of influence they will have on those they teach. I wrote down the names of several teachers from my past that had some influence on me. I also told them that I never once told any of them thank you for the personal interest they showed in me or how they helped me in some particular way. The point I wanted them to realize was that although they may never hear it from the students, they really will have a lot of influence on their lives.

Just a few days ago I was signing a stack of NCHE diplomas for NCHE member families graduating homeschool students. I thought back to my discussion with the college students on the topic of influence, and I was reminded of you, homeschool parents. You probably don’t get a lot of praise from your students—your children, in this case. Even so, you need to realize the unbelievable amount of influence you have in their lives. Yes, it can sometimes feel like a thankless job, but you are shaping their future in ways you cannot imagine, and that influence reaches far beyond them. Their own families and generations to come will be different because of people who influenced their lives—primarily you!

Sure, a little ongoing praise from your children for your efforts would certainly be nice but try to look past the here and now and think about how much you are shaping their future. Those teachers, and others, from my past have no idea the amount of influence they had on me, but that doesn’t make it any less real. The truth is you may never hear it either, but it doesn’t make your influence any less. Think about that the next time you get frustrated to the point of considering quitting or the next time you feel like you’re getting nowhere with your students. You are making a difference; so don’t give up. I have a lot of admiration for you! Keep up the good work!

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9