Home School. Sort of a dirty word in our present day culture. Stirs up some fairly negative images and one often-asked question: “How do you know that your kids are on pace with students in traditional classrooms?”
My oldest son, a college sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, TX, attended private, Christian schools since kindergarten. My youngest two kids have been in traditional classrooms since coming into our American family from Russia in 2005, and, most recently, were also in a private, Christian school.
In January 2011, prior to the major upheaval of our family, I felt prompted not to re-enroll the youngest kids back into their comfortable, uniform-wearing classrooms. We weren’t unhappy with their present situation. We weren’t mad. Our family was still in tact. But my soul knew that a change was on the way. I began researching a new private Christian school in the area focused on an altogether different teaching philosophy, that of Charlotte Mason. It intrigued me. I read books Ms. Mason wrote and books written about her. I met with parents that were genuinely excited about this school and its philosophy. We completed the paperwork, my kids toured the school, tested for acceptance, and God’s spirit prompted me: “Home School.”
I was in the middle of a Priscilla Shirer Bible study called, “Discerning the Voice of God”. I learned that God prepares the way for our immediate obedience. If He calls me to do something, I don’t need to pray back to Him for confirmation. God gave me a picture in my mind to further illustrate this principle. If I ask one of my kids to do something, I expect them to complete that task. If it’s scriptural, they don’t need to kneel before me and pray, asking for more information. We have a relationship built on mutual trust with a belief that I want the best for them so they don’t need to ask anyone else for wise counsel. Although it might stretch them out of their comfort zone, their prior experiences have prepared them to carry out any task requested of them by me. So DO IT! I laugh to think how many times God has called me to do something and I’ve insisted upon praying back to Him even though it didn’t go against scripture, I believe He is God and I am not, and when it’s stretching me outside of my comfort zone, I know that He has prepared me. So when the Holy Spirit prompted me this time, I immediately said YES to home school.
However, I did pray that God would prepare my husband’s heart for what I was to propose over lunch that day. And He did. By dinner that evening, the kids voted to begin homeschooling right after spring break 2011 and we haven’t looked back. Using the very same teaching philosophy of Charlotte Mason, we set up school in my husband’s poker room in the basement and began learning together just five weeks later! We followed Amblesideonline.org for our curriculum with most of the literature available to read free online. Our updated curriculum journey with reviews is here.
Will we home school through high school? My answer is this: “If God moves the cloud and leads us, as He did the Israelites, into a new situation, then we will go.” We hold a formal family meeting at the end of each school year to take our kids’ temperatures on the subject. As of May 2013, neither student wants to make a change so we’re forging ahead into 7th and 8th grades. Why switch curriculum? I have to re-evaluate pace, learning styles, interests, learning gaps, and general excitement for the materials as we move ahead each year. WE are the incoming students and WE are ever-changing, ever-growing.
How am I able to teach my kids all subjects as they intensify? My answer is two-fold: “God equips the called” and “Hire out your weaknesses.” I was a business major in college and couldn’t understand why anyone would want to devote their life to a classroom full of kids and receive a minimal salary. Now I teach full-time and receive no pay! Ironic, yes, but as parents we’re full-time teachers anyway. Prior to home schooling, I spent most evenings re-teaching math, editing book reports, and reciting spelling lists without having sat in the classroom to receive the lesson. Now, I’m learning alongside my kids and the concepts aren’t difficult at all when you have the teacher’s guides and the power of the Holy Spirit! If God calls you to Home school, He will equip you. In our weakness, He is made strong. But certainly there are limitations and for the subjects that require Bunsen burners and human cadavers, we’ll enroll at the local community college or find a science geek with a home laboratory in his basement.
What about socialization? Ah, you were hoping I’d address this one, right? My answer: watch this….
How do I know that my kids are on pace with kids in traditional classrooms? Well, I don’t think they are. We school four hours a day most of the year, our curriculum complements our Biblical worldview, in addition to all of our various subjects we read two novels a month together, the kids complete their homework before dinner time, and they have lots more free time and face time with me, something we were missing before.
I’m not an advocate for home school or traditional school. In our modern-day culture of more is better, I am an advocate for more family time, more imaginative free time, and more time to travel the world learning about God’s people outside of our comfort zone. Yes, more is better and, for us, that means home school.