IntroductionThey are your disciples - teach them about God, His Word and the world He made.
First, I'd like to make it clear that we are not experts or shining examples of model parents when it comes to homeschooling. It seems I learn best from making big mistakes. Maybe you can relate! Part of my reflection in sharing these mistakes so perhaps others can avoid them. Yet, in spite of our shortcomings, we have seen some wonderful fruit from the time we invested in homeschooling our children.
Secondly, I must say that the brunt of the actual work was on my wife's shoulders. For most of our children's. school age years I went out of the home to a full-time job each day while my wife stayed home and did the schooling. From time to time I would teach a subject like math or science or do a special project with them when time allowed.
As a young Christian I was taught and I believe rightly so, that the man is to be the spiritual leader of his family. With this in mind, I believed the Lord directed us to homeschool our children and after much prayer, much talk and working it through, my wife and I were of one mind to do it. So we embarked on the journey. We made some miss-steps along the way (mostly my fault), but we tried our best to obey the Lord.
Our Homeschool History
Our kids were homeschooled for most of their school years from grades K-8. There were a couple of years when we put them into public and Christian elementary school, but soon found out that was a mistake. Foundations are laid in those early years. I encourage you not to miss any of them together with your children.
Our oldest daughter was homeschooled through 12th grade and received her GED. She is married and has three beautiful children. I think her mom taught her well! In ninth grade our two sons began taking some classes at the local high school on a part-time basis and then went full-time for their sophomore through senior years and both graduated. Our youngest daughter is the only one still at home and in school. She is going to graduate early (as a junior) this year. She has also been involved with the local high school for certain courses and with our guidance has developed a curriculum that is heavy on homesteading, self-sufficiency and the craft skills that fit her particular gifts which will help prepare her the future. I believe this is an important thing to understand about training and teaching our children. Ask for wisdom to understand your children's gifts and callings. Then provide what they need to develop those gifts in order to prepare them for the future. In my opinion, this is not what they get in public or even Christian school. As parents, we are responsible for making sure they get what they need to fulfill their purpose and be responsible and productive in their future lives. You won't have it all, but you are the one who can make sure they get what they need. Again, I made some costly mistakes on this point, especially with my oldest boy.
I should have held him much closer during his adolescent years - much closer! I wish I could have that time back with him. I should have taken him out public school completely and been with him, maybe teaching him a trade or a fine craft. But, I missed that opportunity. That season of our lives was a time of great difficulty for us as a family. I missed a lot of things because of my weaknesses and spiritual neglect as a dad. Without all the details, just know that my oldest son, I think more than the others, suffered the consequences of my sin and neglect. Sure he made some bad choices, but I should have provided a more protective and stable environment. Don't make that mistake.
I am glad to say that we serve a God of redemption and He has a way of healing wounds and changing hearts. He did that for me and He is doing it for my son. We now have a good relationship after much forgiveness towards each other and a lot of mercy, grace and forgiveness from the Lord. My oldest son has many gifts that I believe God will use in a powerful way in the days ahead.
Our youngest son struggled too, but I did a bit better in watching over him during those trying years. He is the only one so far to complete a college degree. He will graduate with a BA in graphic design. We don.t believe children should have the goal of going to college, only if it is needed for their particular calling and purpose. He has developed a very employable skill. He was greatly influenced by me in his choice of training. He has gifts and a temperate that are similar to mine. He lived at home during the first 3 years of college. And now he lives with his new wife in an apartment in our village. I am very proud of all of our children!
Reflections on training and educating our children
You are responsible for their education, not the state.
You are the best person for the job.
Try to pass on everything you know.
What you don't know, you can learn or find other resources.
Don't be conformed to the world systems - be transformed! God is so creative (understatment of the century). Our children's education can happen in so many unique ways beyond the model the public school system offers.
Ask for wisdom to see the gifts and callings your children have, so you can give them what they need to develop and grow in their unique way.
Model being a life-long learner. When does an education stop? I think never!
Don't go it alone. Find like-minded people for support and a different knowledge base.
Try to be a well-rounded person yourself. Learn a lot about a lot of things!
Don't repeat the mistakes of others - make new ones! That means you are taking ground and advancing into new territory - making the path clearer for your children.
Enjoy the journey - have fun!
Some Scriptures to Consider
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
1 Timothy 1:5
But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Homeschooling our four children was one of the best decisions we.ve made for our family!
In my opinion and from my experience, you are the best teacher your child will ever have. Life is about relationships. How they love and relate to you will be a big part of who they become as adults. They will watch your every move and hear your every word, so be wise and be humble! Homeschooling makes a place for these relationships to grow and strengthen. It also helps instill a love of learning. It shelters them from unnecessary evils and difficulties in society and equips them for their future in the world as adults.
My best memories of homeschool days were when my husband and I would get off on tangents and start to tell stories about our lives. Of course, the kids would keep asking questions. They were always intrigued and amazed at the things we did "when we were young". So be honest! They want to know what's true. They want to know the good, the bad and the ugly. As well as the joys, the sadness, and the regrets! Honesty is what they want. They won't use it against you, but they'll learn from your mistakes. We were open and honest. The kids loved hearing about us, the fun and crazy things we did, as well as the bad choices. Like how their dad saw the movie "Jaws" in the seventies and when he went swimming in a lake he was so freaked out and afraid he had to get out. Lake? Shark? OK, Dad! Or when he ran away from home when he was sixteen to New Orleans without a trace except, he left his Bible on the seat of his car in the parking lot at school. He was gone 3 days. No sign of him. Can you imagine? Grandma has told the story too! God bless her! Lots to learn about that one! And then there are my adventures as a young teenager in Rome, Italy. The kids say, "Oh Mom, you did what? No way!" We thank God we are different people today!
Homeschooling gives the kids a love of learning for the sake of learning and not just to make a good grade. There is no competition or comparing themselves to another in the next row. We once had a science teacher tell our daughter that homeschooled kids were always the ones to win the science fairs and she couldn.t understand that. After seeing how our daughter loved to learn and would go the second mile just because she was interested, the teacher realized that this was the difference in the kids' motivation. She polled her class asking if they would participate in the fairs if they did not receive a grade and if it did not matter who won. It was a unanimous - no they would not! It was all about getting the grade. At home, we used to give a sticker or a star when a paper was complete. If it wasn't complete or if our child did not understand a part, we worked with them until they did understand it. Then they got two stickers! Homeschooled kids learn it because they love it. There's no peer pressure or grade pressure at home. As parents we can be instrumental in helping to instill that. Remember, a lot of us grew up with that pressure and performance push so you might find it slipping out of you onto them!
A wonderful aspect in homeschooling is that you can go at your own pace for the sake of understanding or because there is special interest in a subject or project. It's amazing to see the kids. gifts and interests come forth and how you can nurture and feed them through the years. That is very rewarding.
Do you ever think that you wouldn't be a good teacher for your kids? Or maybe you don't "qualify" because you don't have a teaching degree? Maybe you think you don't know enough about science or art? I've got to tell you, none of these hold any weight. I know because those were some of my doubts! Truth is, you know plenty. If you are starting out with young children you will get into the routine and you will be amazed. You teach them and they'll teach you a thing or two as well! If you are weak in an area you will become a student at times and learn to teach them. In later years, you may need outside help. For example, we got a college age friend to tutor our kids in math when they got to algebra and geometry. There is a large variety of homeschool curriculums, video homeschool helps and aids of all sorts out there to get you through with flying colors! What's important is that you are there.
If possible have a special homeschool place. If not a room, it could be the dining room table or a desk in part of another room. If something interrupts that day, go with the flow and pull it back in to focus as soon as you can. Kids like routine. Try to keep one but don't worry if a day or two gets interrupted.
Our kids loved chore charts. Have specific duties for each child each morning. They gain a real sense of satisfaction and confidence especially when you praise them for their work! And you will have a clean and orderly home! By 8 o'clock we had the house clean and ready to start school - most days!
You'll be surprised at how quickly they learn and want to do school. Sometimes we were finished with instruction by lunchtime and could go on to other fun projects. Friends and family may not understand why you don't do school from 8 a.m to 3 p.m. No matter, where you go kids learn, at the doctor's office, or at the little league game or on the road trip to Grandma's. How about baking a big batch of cookies and doing math at the same time? Some people think you have to spend all day "doing school". Homeschool becomes a way of life. It can be a 24-hour learning day. You are the leader. You say when and what and how.
On occasion when we'd be out in public during school hours people would ask why they weren't in school. We'd say, they are homeschooled. even the grocery store is a learning place!
My opinion on "sheltering" and "socialization" is that it doesn't mean that they are cooped up in the house and not let out to play or interact with other children or that they lack "experiences" in life. Actually it's quite the opposite. They interact with a much more well rounded group of people of all ages. And who DO you want playing or interacting with your kids and what "experiences" in life DO you want them to have? How does this scenario sound - a day of public school for an 8 year old...it begins on the bus at 8 a.m. with 50 other kids, then in the classroom with 30 other kids, out to the playground with 60 other kids, then to the lunch room with 80 other kids, and then back in class with the 30 kids from before and then the trip home on that bus at 3 p.m. with how many? Well, if I were that child I'd sure want to be sheltered from all that!
Our daughter took a class at the local high school and in a conference we had with the teacher she commented to us that her experience with homeschool kids was that they were very socialized. She was delighted to be able to carry on an intelligent conversation with these young people and she marveled that they were comfortable carrying on a conversation with her. She was glad to have our daughter just stay after to talk about the book they were reading and reflections and insights into it! Our kids grew up with people of all ages around them at all times. When they were old enough they babysat younger kids. Often we had families over for dinner where kids and parents hung out in the same room or even played sports together! We cared for older people on our street as well as folks in our church. We did it together. If you think about it kids today grow up "sheltered" in their own little world of a few peers where they dress the same, talk the same and do all the same things and often without their parents knowing much that goes on. Most often the influence of mass media such TV, movies and the Internet conform our kids into mainstream pop culture or some bizarre youth sub-culture such as ravers, metalheads, hip hoppers, goths and punk rockers. Don't you want to be the one influencing your children the most?
Homeschooling does require some sacrifices in time and money. For us it meant I needed to be a stay at home mom. We rarely had a second car or much extra income, but we didn't miss it and neither did our kids. We began to see how we always had what we needed and more. We cherish the love and relationships that were built through those years with our kids, some years were harder than others, but we were all in it together.
Our four children all live near to us now. Our oldest daughter is married with 3 children. Our oldest son is single and living on his own. Our youngest son is married with a child on the way and he will graduate from college this year. Our youngest daughter is 17 and will graduate from high school this year. She is the one who has been doing the self-designed courses on self-sufficiency, homesteading and craft skills to help her prepare for the future.
I believe life really is all about relationships. Building strong relationships with our children is one of the most rewarding fruits of homeschooling. I also believe that the most important relationship in our lives is our relationship with God. You can know God! Christ has opened the door for this to happen. Go through the door and begin a wonderful relationship with Him. You will need His guidance and power to fulfill your role as parent as He intended. May God bless you in your endeavor.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
"My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28