A few years ago, couponing was all the rage. In fact, not just couponing but EXTREME couponing was popular. TLC’s show Extreme Couponing seemed to come on almost every night of the week.
As a result, lots of people jumped on board, including me. I started buying multiple Sunday papers. I had a file system for all of my coupons. I followed several couponing websites. I thought that surely someone with 2 math degrees could figure out how to save major bucks using coupons.
Like many others, I crashed and burned. I quickly realized a couple of things: 1. Even with a “good” coupon, the store brand was almost always cheaper. 2. We were too brand loyal (when we weren’t willing to buy generic – like for toilet paper). 3. I was buying things that I wouldn’t normally buy just because I had a coupon, which ultimately cost us more money.
TLC benefited greatly from this flash-in-the-pan trend, but the real (non-extreme) couponers ended up being penalized. Once lots and lots of people were showing up at the check-out with their coupon notebooks, the stores started cracking down on their coupon policies. There were now rules for things like how many coupons could be used in a single transaction. These rules weeded out the people like me who were caught up in the fad, but the steady couponers – the ones still doing it now – are left dealing with the regulations that followed.
It doesn’t take a lot of insight to predict that homeschooling is about to skyrocket. People who never in their wildest dreams expected to homeschool are considering it. Homeschooling has been on the rise for the last several years, but recent developments are fanning the flames.
In many ways, this is a great thing. I have never said that every family should homeschool, but I do think that every Christian family should at least prayerfully consider it and then follow the Lord’s leading (just like with every other decision). Lots of people are now doing just that.
However, this influx of new homeschoolers will almost certainly be followed by increased regulation. Homeschooling is still relatively “under the radar” at the moment, but that’s about to change. I fully expect that governments (both national and state) will begin to impose more rules on homeschooling. Already in many states (particularly in the northeast), homeschoolers must have their curricula approved, submit to various forms of observation, and provide lots of information to local school boards. These laws will likely spread to other states and perhaps be enforced at the national level (even though education is supposed to be handled at the state and local levels). In fact, homeschooling may eventually be illegal again.
So in light of this, what should we do?
Only the Lord knows where all of this is headed, and only His ways can be fully trusted. We should be constantly praying for wisdom, protection, and direction. If He has called your family to homeschool, you can be sure He will equip you for the task.
2. Prepare to mentor.
Homeschooling is about to look like January at the gym. Many people are going to start homeschooling out of a reaction to recent rulings and events, but like going to the gym, homeschooling is not easy to do day after day, and those who have not been called to it (and equipped for it) will eventually fall by the wayside. Whether you have homeschooled for one year or twenty years, you have knowledge and experience that would benefit a brand-new homeschool mom. Think about all of the questions, fears, and uncertainties that you felt when you were first starting out, and seek to help others succeed by sharing what you have learned.
3. Be prudent.
My goal is not to cause anyone to panic, but I do think a healthy sense of urgency is required here. The freedom that most of us enjoy may not last forever, so we would be wise to take advantage of the opportunities that we currently have. Educate your children to the very best of your ability – both academically and spiritually – while you still have the privilege of doing so. The window of opportunity may close more quickly than anticipated.
4. Be proactive.
Groups like HSLDA (the Homeschool Legal Defense Association) do a great job of monitoring the bills being written and being brought up for votes in state legislatures. Stay aware of what is going on in your state, and don’t be afraid to call your senators and representatives when needed. Many states have things like Homeschool Day at the Capitol where you can meet your senators and representatives. Participate in those. It’s important for lawmakers to hear from their constituents and have friendly faces in their minds when they think about homeschoolers.
A big wave of homeschooling is headed our way. It is sure to be followed by tighter regulations. Whether the ultimate result is positive or negative may be shaped by our actions and reactions. Brace for impact. Here it comes.