My Homeschooling Story: From Refugee to Pioneer

16 Jul 2003

by Melanie Hudson

As I reach the end of yet another year of homeschooling, I find myself in a reflective mood. I think of an article written by Chris Davis entitled “Homeschooling Isn’t about Education.” In this article, he refers to three types of homeschoolers: the pioneers, the settlers, and the refugees. He refers to the parents who are convinced that God wants them to take total responsibility for raising and educating their children as pioneers. The settlers are the ones who join in the homeschooling movement once they see the success of the pioneers, but simply bring school home and even plan at some time to mainstream their children back into public school. The refugees are parents who are escaping a negative situation in public school, but with no real desire to understand what they are doing or why. Davis’ main concern voiced in his article is that even pioneers can lose sight of the real reasons they are homeschooling and slowly become refugees.

Thinking back over the last five years, I realize that my homeschooling story is just the opposite of what Davis fears. Five years ago, I came into homeschooling as the exact refugee that he describes. Although I realize now that God was wooing me in small ways—a program heard by chance on Focus on the Family or a “coincidental” meeting with someone who homeschooled—it took a bad situation in the public educational system for me to even consider anything else. The difference in this refugee, however, was that I did want to understand what God’s purpose was for my family in this experience.

As I reluctantly began homeschooling my younger son, leaving my elder son in public school, I slowly moved from refugee to “settler.” Even the next year when I also began homeschooling my eldest son, I still planned to put them back into public school at some point and made all plans with that end in mind. However, I also began to read books by Gregg Harris, Raymond Moore, Susan Macaulay and others who were writing about the philosophy behind and reasons to homeschool. Slowly, God began to show me that there was, in fact, a bigger picture. As I went to training events and homeschool conferences, I began to catch the vision of those pioneers that Davis describes in his article. What I wanted for my sons began to take shape in my mind. One major turning point occurred when I judged the homeschool state debates. I saw handsome young men who were articulate, well mannered, and behaved so differently from their counterparts who attended public school. I had a clear picture, like never before, of how I wanted my sons to “turn out.” 

Then something miraculous began to happen. My sons started to resemble this far off vision that I had for them. They started becoming more obedient, more respectful, more articulate, more of everything that I wanted them to be but had no clue how to accomplish. Although I still can’t see the whole picture, God has assured me that His plan is so much bigger and better that anything I can imagine, and it involves my sons being trained and educated in a way that is different from what I had planned. It didn’t happen overnight or even in one year of homeschooling, but I now realize that God has done something that only He can do: he has turned a refugee into a pioneer! 

Melanie and her husband Randy are currently in their fifth year of homeschooling. They have two sons, Tyler, eleven, and Tanner, ten, and live in Mt. Airy, NC.


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