My Family’s Homeschool Experience - Michelle Stace
We began our homeschooling adventure in 1988. Our son was 7, beginning the 2cd grade. Our daughter was 5 and starting kindergarten. Let me first give a bit of background before I continue . . .
About a year before we began homeschooling, we met a Christian family, with children the ages of ours. This lady told me she was going to homeschool her kids - something I had never even heard of. Several months later I became a Christian myself and at that time began hearing of many serious problems in the public schools. I finally decided I wanted to homeschool our children, so I called this same lady, asking her to show me what she used for teaching. I then approached my husband, and after an interesting turn of events, he agreed that we could homeschool.
. . . So in September of 1988 we began. I was a baby Christian, untried and completely ignorant. But our God is more than able! “His strength is made perfect in our weakness,” to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen! Despite a multitude of sins, failures and shortcomings, the Lord was gracious and merciful. He brought us along His narrow way. He brought forth 2 children who love Him dearly and are such examples to me.
For us, a simple and basic curriculum worked well. We couldn’t afford the extras and got along just fine. Over the years we supplemented with various crafts and hobbies. We became friends with the family previously mentioned and our children played together every week or two. They also had a music class together, taught by my friends mother.
“Till the life of a child has had time to root, it should not be
exposed to various winds (confused or conflicting ideas and
ideals.) After it has rooted, let the winds blow as they will.
THEN they will only cause the roots to take a firmer grip.”
One area that we differed in from a lot of homeschooling families was in extra-curricular activities. Many people have the misconception that homeschooled children are deprived of the same opportunities and socialization of public school children. This is true, but this is a good thing! I believe a good solid education in the core subjects will properly prepare a child and give them the tools to learn anything they choose. With fewer distractions and choices, they are able to learn well the subjects that enable them to learn all else. When children are involved in many group activities, they become peer dependent, they get used to being entertained. They do not learn to develop their own hobbies and interests - they do not learn to be quiet and content at home. And they become easily dissatisfied because they compare themselves to other children. When children are in the company of their peers a great deal, they do not learn to interact with a variety of age groups, and so mature more slowly. The age ranges found in the family unit are reality and teach a child to interact with young and old alike.
“We seem to be judging when in truth we are seeking humbly
to obey." ~Amy Carmichael~
Another area of difference in our family, from that of many, is that we homechurch. We began doing this just as our son was entering the Jr. High Sunday school class. At the time I thought that my children, as well as myself, would be missing out on a great deal. That wasn’t the case. As you know, most of the kids attending church go to public school, so there is a big difference in upbringing and mindset. I am not putting down churches, or lifting us up, but for us it was distracting and worldly. Our family was rather isolated, but God used this for the good of our spiritual growth and reliance on Him. We learned to study His word and seek Him for ourselves, which developed a firm foundation. And no we didn’t have the perfect little church at home and we still don’t, but as said before: Our God is able!
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and
with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which
I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt
teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the
way, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a
sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between
thine eyes.” Deut. 6:5-8
The basis of the child’s education should be the Bible. All of life stems from this. All subjects are integrated in it. Education in itself should not be the primary goal. As Christian parents, our first goal is to live godly lives before our children, raise them in the fear and admonition of the Lord, so that somewhere through this process, Jesus Christ will become their personal Lord and Savior.
Read often from the Bible to your children. Amount and content must of course be geared to the child’s age, and then talk about what you’ve read. Have them memorize verses. I believe this is critical - God’s word will be hidden in their hearts. I am not one that cares for the study Bibles that are geared to every age and sex, though they can be helpful as a resource. The Bible itself is timeless and ageless and is enough. Remember, that study notes and commentaries are man generated. The Holy Spirit will reveal God’s precious truths to a seeking heart as one becomes spiritually ready.
In the homeschool situation maintaining discipline is very important. One should be consistent. As we know, it should not be done in anger, but with firmness and love. Also the children should not be allowed to fight physically or name call. This creates resentment, disrespect, and many long term problems. We didn’t allow our children to fight - not that they didn’t try at times :) - but as a result our children are very close.
“No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is
fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
If you’ve made the decision to homeschool, be committed to it. Commitment is essential to making anything work; such as our relationship to God, our marriage, or a job. It is what carries us through when difficulties arise and things get tough. Commitment to homeschooling is no different. Often a working mother has said, she would never have the patience to teach her children. Yet she is committed to her job and has the patience to deal with the people there. How much more so should we be patient with our own children! So many times parents, with great intentions, pull their kids out of public school to homeschool them. Then later the children are back in public school. Why? Because the kids missed their friends and wanted to go back.
The decision to homeschool must be the parents decision and should not be subject to the desires of the children. The parents are to be in control - they are accountable before God. I have also seen many parents put their children back into public school for the high school years. One of the main reasons for this is sports. Personally, I feel that in many cases the child is being thrown away when this is done. During these critical years all the good previous done can easily go by the wayside.
What if you have a slow-learner or a child that’s full of energy and has a short attention span (commonly called Attention Deficit Disorder), all the more reason to homeschool. The beauty of homeschooling is that you can gear it to each child’s need. They will thrive with one-on-one teaching. They will be more calm and focused in a quiet, structured home. The public school environment is chaotic and creates even more difficulties for children like these. It is greatly disturbing to know that so many children are drugged-up because they have been “diagnosed” with A.D.D.
Please don’t think you have to have the ideal marriage or children for all this to work. There is no such thing. Don’t think it will only work if all the family are Christians. This is absolutely not true. We all have our crosses to bear, sins to overcome, trials and tribulation. But it is in our very weakness and helplessness that God is able to work best because He is then glorified and it will be done in His strength, not ours. Seek God first and His righteousness and He will take care of the details.