What Are Some of the Long-Term Benefits of Homeschooling?

By Zan Tyler


The phone rang early one Monday morning in January. I was already at my desk, writing and working. “Too early to be a telemarketer,” I thought. So I glanced at the caller ID on my phone and saw that it was my son Ty.

As a medical device salesman, Ty rises early and is on the road in the wee hours of the morning, traveling to various hospitals in his territory. I cherish these calls from Ty when he is traveling, as it is an unhurried time to chat, fellowship, and catch up on his life and his family’s life.

I picked up the phone and immediately sensed the urgency in his voice: “Mom, have you talked to Papa this morning?” (Papa is my 90-year-old father, whom we all love dearly.)

“No, Honey, I haven’t. What’s wrong?”

Ty continued: “He called me early this morning. He has hurt his back and can hardly move because the pain is so severe. He asked me which doctor he should see and if I could get him an appointment as soon as possible. I’m working on it now and I’ll call you as soon as I have worked something out. Meanwhile you might want to go check on him. He didn’t want to bother you this early in the morning.”

Wow. I hung up the phone, and as I reflected on this call, there was so much to marvel at on so many levels.     

My mind flashed back to our twenty-one years of homeschooling and all the time my children were able to spend with my parents and Joe’s parents as they were growing up. My sons are two years apart in age, and the noise and activity level they generated as little boys often drove my father to distraction. Somehow in the midst of the craziness, they forged deep relationships together. And just like the boys used to go to Papa for help and support, now he is coming to them. Role reversal.

Dad has helped Ty at many junctures in his career by arranging meetings with key people in both the medical and legal communities in South Carolina. My father is an attorney by training and served as a trustee on the Baptist Hospital board for twenty-five years. He is still a director on a long-term acute care hospital board. He knows the medical community here, and yet he was calling Ty for help and advice. Role reversal.

Ty went to work and arranged for me to take Dad to a wide range of doctor appointments quickly. On Friday, just four days later, Dad had surgery. Ty rose at 4:30 that morning to pick Dad up and take him to the hospital. (Joe and I arrived an hour later.) Ty knows the doctors, the Operating Room nurses, the procedures, and the protocols. And just like Dad used to say when he had arranged important meetings for Ty, “I want you to meet my grandson; take good care of him,” Ty was in that hospital introducing Dad to doctors, nurses, and hospital staff saying, “This is my grandfather; take good care of him.” Role reversal.

Dad had out-patient surgery. On the Saturday after his surgery, he called John, my second son, who is now an attorney. He wanted John to come visit with him and provide some legal advice about a couple of issues. Role reversal. John brought his two little boys with him—my precious active and talkative grandsons. While John visited with Dad and talked to him about his concerns, I took those two little boys downstairs to play in the same room their dad and uncle used to play in when they were rambunctious little tykes. Role reversal.

The week after his surgery, Dad had to be readmitted to the hospital. Ty, Joe, and I were out of town. My sister flew in to care for Dad. John, who is a true shepherd, rearranged his demanding work schedule to visit Dad, run errands for my sister, and provide a measure of calmness and care for them. Role reversal.

My daughter Lizzy lives five hours away and has been in her current job only for a little over a year—so she has little time off. Although she can’t visit Dad often in person, she is faithful to call. My mom used to call Lizzy “her ray of sunshine,” and she is definitely that for Dad as well. She makes him smile and, at times, laugh out loud at her stories and musings. I can picture Lizzy as a toddler, staring out our dining room window—waiting for Dad to pick her up. “Where is Papa?” she would ask impatiently. She couldn’t wait to see him. And now Dad feels the same way about Lizzy—she lights up his life in such a special way. Role reversal.

Why am I writing about this in a homeschooling column? Now that my twenty-one years of homeschooling are complete, I hope that the following five thoughts will give you a perspective that can be difficult to grasp or appreciate while you are in the trenches.

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