A Homeschooling Legacy
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, welcome back to the Schoolhouse Rocked podcast, this is Yvette Hampton your host, and I am really glad that you’ve joined me today. I hope you are just having a great week and that God is doing great things in your life, and through your homeschooling if you’re homeschooling. If you’re not homeschooling, maybe you’re just thinking about it and you’re jumping on this podcast to figure out what this homeschooling thing is all about. I think today’s podcast is going to be a great encouragement to you. So I am really excited to introduce you to our guest today. Her name is Ruth, and she has a really amazing story. She actually was homeschooled growing up, and she is a homeschool mamma now, herself. So we’re going to talk to her today and just get a different perspective on the transition of homeschooling and where God has brought us today, and I think you’re going to be super encouraged by today. So Ruth, welcome to the podcast.
Ruth: Thank you.
Yvette: Tell us a little bit about you and your family and what you do.
Ruth: Well, I am a homeschool graduate from the prehistoric pioneer vintage days of the movement. And now I’m a homeschooling mama to my seven children. My husband and I are raising them on a small hobby farm about an hour outside of Houston. We live there with Zebu cows, chickens, horses, bunny rabbits, cats and dogs so our lives are full, and we’re just enjoying this journey of home education but most important family discipleship. And my husband and I had a heart to encourage other homeschooling parents to focus on the discipleship aspect of their homeschool journey.
Yvette: Oh, that’s awesome. So you were homeschooled back in the 80s and 90s. That was the time that I was growing up, so you and I are probably about the same age. I’m 44. Those are my childhood days as well, and back then, I think I only knew, gosh that I can remember off the top of my head, only one girl who was homeschooled. At that time in our town.
Yvette: I’m certain there were more, but there was only one that I can even recall at this point. So you were back in the day when it was not as well acknowledged and accepted as it is today. Talk a little bit about what your experience was growing up being homeschooled.
Ruth: My parents began this journey with home education in 1979 when I was in kindergarten. And I actually started kindergarten in a private Christian school, but we were having to commute a ways. And my mom got tired of that really quickly and thought why am I doing this? I can bring these little Abeka booklets home and work with Ruth on her numbers and her letters at home, so we did. And then first grade rolled around and she thought this is getting more serious, so again she enrolled me in a private Christian school, and this time we were carpooling with another family from our church. So that worked out. We still had a commute but we were carpooling, and that helped and so I finished out first grade and started second grade in that private Christian school, but then my dad felt God’s call to move our family to the big city of Houston from a small east Texas little town to the big city of Houston to start a church. And so we landed in Houston in the middle of my second grade year. And so once again, my mom thought well why can’t we just take her textbooks and finish out this year?
But for third grade we heard about a Christian school in Houston, and I started there, and it was about this time that my mom heard James Dobson’s program with Dr. Raymond Moore about homeschooling, and it really kind of opened her eyes that this really would be a valid educational option for us long term. And because my parents were pouring their lives into trying to start this little church, and that took a lot of their time, and then I was involved in the Christian school and that was taking a lot of our time and every night I would come home with tons of homework. It was hard for us to have good quality family time, it just didn’t feel right for our family. And so when my mom heard that radio program about homeschooling, she started to think more seriously. Why don’t we just spend our days learning at home, and serving the Lord in ministry as a family, and so that’s what they decided to do.
I guess I was in third grade maybe a month or two of that school year, and then they brought me home, and they homeschooled me all the way through 12th grade.
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Yvette: Okay, I love that program. Those listening, if you haven’t heard it yet, listen here. But the first recording that Dr. Dobson did with Dr. Raymond Moore. And Dr. Moore, he wrote the book Better Late Than Early, right? And it was kind of this new … I don’t want to say revelation but … this awakening that parents had that oh, you mean we can actually homeschool our own kids? We can bring them home and educate them ourselves, and they don’t have to go to preschool and they don’t have to go to kindergarten and they don’t have to go to first grade and be taught by someone else? I think, I could be wrong, but I think to this day, that airing of that episode of Dr. Dobson’s radio show was one of the most listened to ever. And really kind of, many people say that alone was what really kind of started the whole revolution of homeschooling. And opened a lot of people’s eyes up to the possibility of homeschooling, and what it could be and what it could look like for your family. So I love that. Did you have siblings growing up?
Ruth: One brother.
Yvette: One brother. Okay, was he older or younger than you?
Ruth: Younger, so he never went to school at all. They were sort of experimenting with homeschooling with me for the first few years. Back and forth, and back and forth, but finally we got in our groove during third grade. I know that they had specific reasons, one being that we needed more family time together. But another thing is, even being in a Christian school, they realized that I was being influenced by other students, and the teachers and I remember specifically one day I went to school and my teacher was talking about something in a positive light, it wasn’t a big deal, and she was a sweet lady, and I like her, but she was talking about something in a positive light that my parents had a personal conviction against. And when I went home and talked to them about that, I think it really hit them hard.
They realized that, well whoever Ruth spends the most time with is who’s going to shape her perspectives and her thoughts about life. And I don’t think world view was a huge term back then like it is now. But that’s basically what the Lord was showing them is like we want to take the responsibility to disciple our daughter. We want to be the ones who will guide her and shepherd her and disciple her so that she will think biblically. I’m so thankful they did that and I know that they also really wanted me to have a different vision then the typical vision of youth culture and the foolishness that so many get caught up in their youth. And they challenged me with 1 Timothy 4:12 that says let no man despise you because of your youth, but set an example for the believers in speech and love and conduct and faith and in purity.
And my parents always said Ruth, you can be a leader in righteousness. You don’t have to follow the crowd into foolishness. There’s so many teenagers throwing their lives away to foolishness. But you can serve the Lord in your youth, and you can do great things for God in your youth. They did a great job of bringing me on board with the ministering, and I saw them every day pulling their lives into the Kingdom of God, and the kingdom work into working with other people and discipling other people and they did a great job of saying you can be a part of this. So even from a young age they began giving me ministry opportunities. Whether that was making copies at the copy machine in my dad’s office in the back of our house, or when I got a little older helping in the nursery. I got a little older, it was teaching a class of children and then leading children’s choir and then playing piano for church. But they made me feel like I was needed. And gave me a vision for ministry. So I know that all of those things really were reasons they brought me home, and part of their vision for our family discipleship program. So I’m really thankful for that.
Yvette: Yeah, and so you see those then as a blessing now looking back. At the time when you were being homeschooled, was it difficult for you because there were not very many other kids your age staying home with their parents, or did you actually enjoy that time?
Ruth: Maybe a little bit of both. We didn’t have huge homeschool groups, but we were able to meet a few families and again, they just continued to encourage me in this vision of, you know, you don’t have to have a huge group of young people around you. You can serve the Lord with your time, and our family can be close and we can do this together and the Lord is building character in your life, even if you don’t have a ton of friends around you. And they encouraged me to have friends with people of all ages, so growing up some of my best friends were Godly adult ladies in the church who had children. And I would go to their houses, and I would help them, and then that was tied as two in action, because I was learning from them how to manage a house, and how to work with their children, and they would talk to me about things the Lord was teaching them as wives and as mothers. And then I worked so much with the little children in the church, that I loved them so much. And they were some of my best friends as well. So I learned to have friends of all ages. So that was a long term blessing for me.
Yvette: Yeah, it’s one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling, I believe, is because your kids learn to interact with people of every age. And it’s such an amazing thing. Our eight year old, she’s very outgoing. And we’ve often times had adults say to us, it’s amazing how she can carry on a conversation with an adult. And that’s not to say that kids who go to traditional school can’t speak to adults. But when you’re in a classroom setting all day long with only people your age, and then you’re with adults for a little part of the rest of the week, you don’t have that opportunity to constantly interact with people your own age. And like you said, older or younger. And so it just, I think provides so many great opportunities for us to just expand our view of people. And learn from, like you said, those tied us to women in our lives. Come alongside those other women and learn from them. I think that’s such a blessing. You talked about how your parents taught you to be a leader in righteousness, and I see you doing that now. You’ve actually come out with a book called Legacy: Reflections of a Homeschooled, Homeschooling Mama, because you were homeschooled yourself and now of course your homeschooling your own children. Tell us about your book.
Ruth: My husband encouraged me to write this book, he thought that my perspective coming from a homeschooled student and now being a homeschool mama of seven would be helpful to new homeschoolers and maybe also to long time homeschoolers who just need encouragement in the journey. So the book really just tells my story over about four decades of involvement in homeschooling, and what the Lord has done through all of that, and what he’s teaching me now as a homeschooling mama. It’s a real encouragement to focus on family discipleship in our homeschooling, and some practical tips too about managing the home and just managing life as we try to juggle a lot. A lot of plates are spinning when we’re homeschooling our children. Yeah, it’s just my story and what God has done and what he’s teaching me now.
Yvette: What are some of the things about homeschooling that the Lord is teaching you now?
Ruth: One of those things is just to measure success with the right measuring stick. You don’t want to use the measuring stick of the world which often times is rooted in humanism and materialism and we want our children to grow up and have the American dream and these sorts of things. But I think the greater goal is that our children will grow up and love the Lord Jesus Christ with all their hearts, soul, mind and strength. We’re not just going for high academics, and them getting into a prestigious university so that they can make tons of money. We’re wanting generational faithfulness. We’re wanting them to take the torch of faith into the next generation. So I think, I love Psalm 1, that says, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (KJV) And I meditate on that Psalm, it’s talking about us loving God’s word. About us delighting in his words so that we can prosper. That’s God’s definition of success. Is that we’re living according to his word. And that’s what brings true prosperity.
So when our families are mediating on the Word of God, dwelling on the Word of God, going to the Word of God all throughout the day, and living according to it. Applying it. That’s what’s going to bring true prosperity. And it also talks about His leaf shall not wither. As homeschooling mamas, I know that it’s very easy for us to grow weary, and to wither. And I am encouraged to remember that when we keep going back to the Word of God, that is what’s going to persevere us in this journey. That’s what’s going to keep us going and fuel us and renew our perspective so that we continue to have the vision in mind. Why are we doing this in the first place when we grow weary? He will keep us from withering. Also I think using the right measuring stick. We have to be careful in this online world of social media. We can go on social media and Pinterest and it lies to us all the time and tries to tell us that if our houses are not Pinterest worthy, we’re not good moms or if we’re not throwing our children elaborate birthday parties, we’re not measuring up as mothers, or we see our friend’s photos and their families look perfect. We get misconceptions by what we’re reading online and what we’re seeing online.
I think we just need to continue to counsel our hearts with God’s Word and what He says is the true measure of success and absolutely we want our children to have a good education. And we want to equip them for life. But we don’t want to idolize education. This is something that God has had to teach me, because starting out in the early years, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself by comparing myself with other moms, and feeling like there’s just this huge academic push. And at times I got caught up in that, and it distracted me from the more important areas of discipleship with my children early on in the journey. And so we have to not compare and then not use a short term vantage point but a long term vision of it’s not about how I’m feeling today. It’s not about how does my house look today, and I’m so frustrated because I can’t things organized or my children just aren’t cooperating with me today. We’re just failing, we’re just falling apart because things aren’t going well. Long term success is not based on my feelings today. But we want to say 10, 15, 20 years down the road, will our children be taking this generational faithfulness, will they be taking the gospel of Jesus into the next generation and teaching this to my grandchildren?
We’re not just raising children, we’re raising adults and we’re raising our grandchildren’s parents. And so sometimes it gets very discouraging when we’re feeling overwhelmed as homeschooling mamas, but if we can get our eyes off the immediate stresses, and look at what are we really aiming for? And it helps to ask ourselves that question. What’s really most important? What are our highest goals for this home education, home discipleship thing we’re trying to do? And keep our eyes on that.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I love it so much. We were actually talking last night, or family about you know, you’ll hear people say oh, they eat sleep and breathe volleyball. Or they eat sleep and breathe gymnastics or whatever it is that is that passion of that person. We were talking about Deuteronomy 6, and how we need to eat sleep and breathe Jesus. And that’s what homeschooling allows us to do. I’ve said it a million times, I’ll say it again. Homeschooling is not the gospel. It does not save our children. But it gives such a great opportunity to raise our children in righteousness. And you were talking about Psalm 1, and just the Law of the Lord, and how that brings blessings, and we tell our girls all the time, and I say it on the podcast all the time. One of the things we tell them is that obedience brings blessings, but sin causes pain. And we want our children to understand that God’s Law is there to protect them. God gives us his laws because he cares about us, and what an amazing opportunity we have as homeschool parents to be able to just instill that truth and that grace into our children’s lives, because like you said, it’s not about just the academics. Those are important, as long as they’re pointing our kids towards Christ.
But it’s so much more about character, it’s so much about who they become as adults. Who they become as people, and how are they impacting the Kingdom of God? And everyone of us has a platform. No matter what it is that we’re doing, he has given every one of us a gift and an ability to impact his kingdom for goodness and for truth. And so, are we raising our kids to be able to do that effectively? And how are we doing that with them? I’d love to know with you, what are some of the ways that you do that practically with your kids? How do you raise them in righteousness? How do you raise them in truth?
Ruth: Well I would say that the most important thing is just relying on the Lord and praying. Because I oftentimes say Lord, I don’t know what to do about this or that or the other. But allowing His strength to flow through, and then just, we keep trying to bring things back to the Word of God. It’s not just like there’s a subject of bible in our homeschool. But we want bible to be weaved through every subject. We want the gospel to be weaved through, integrated into every subject, so we just keep coming back to it over and over. And taking moments, as Deuteronomy, you were talking about that passage, says as you lie down, and as you rise up and as you walk along the way. And as I look back I see that that’s what my parents did with me. It was like a 24/7 discipleship center where if we were going to the grocery store, they were talking about the Lord, maybe they were talking about what they had read in their devotions, or they were talking about what the Lord was doing in the church and ministry. They were intentional, I guess having intentional conversations with me. So we try to do a lot of that.
Now we do have family bible time, and I do circle time with my children in the mornings, and that’s a time where I gather all of them, ages three to 17, and that’s an intentional time that I’ve set apart where I am trying to go over discipleship materials with them. It’s partially academic, sometimes we read our history lessons and things like that. But it’s heavily discipleship focused. It’s a time where we read books on Christian apologetics, and on world view, and on culture, do character lessons and make sure we’re reading straight from the Word of God. So there’s intentional times. But there’s many times just throughout the day where we’re just trying to converse. And talk to them about what God is doing and where we see the fingerprints of God in our lives throughout the day.
Yvette: I love that. I love the fingerprints of God. It’s so amazing, because you can’t, if you’re looking for it, you can see Him everywhere. In just about everything. There’s always evidence of our great God all around us, and it’s such a beautiful thing. How have you seen the transition of homeschooling from what it was when you were back in the 80s and 90s to what it is today. We’re in 2019, how have you seen that paradigm shift of what it used to be to what it has become today?
Ruth: I’ve seen so many changes. Just things like, there were only a few curriculums back when I was being homeschooled, and it was difficult to get your hands on homeschooling curriculum. We didn’t have the internet, we didn’t have homeschool mommy blogs. we didn’t have homeschool mommy podcasts. These pioneer parents back then were tenacious and brave and courageous, and they took the vision that God gave them. And they ran with it, even though they had very little resources to help them. And that’s one thing I like to share with people is that in the pioneering days, these parents took risks. Some of them were taken into court battles over homeschooling, and by God’s grace our family never faced that. And I’m really thankful for that, but some of them did get taken to court for homeschooling. And you just look and say why would parents take those kinds of risks and do something that seems so hard and so daunting and very little in the way of resources, they didn’t have big homeschool conventions. What were they thinking? Why would they do this? And I think for, not all of them, but I think for many of them, their reasons were really grounded in this desire to disciple their children.
They wanted to raise up young men and women of faith and virtue and character and wisdom and they felt that was what God was calling them to do.
Yvette: They had a conviction about it.
Ruth: Yes, yes. And now we’ve seen homeschooling explode, and I hope it continues to explode exponentially. I’m encouraged to see this. But I think that in our current homeschooling climate, I believe that many families are jumping onboard the homeschooling wagon for all kinds of reasons. And it’s not always discipleship reasons. I remember years ago we were at an ice skating rink and I met a mom and she told me that she was homeschooling, and she said her reasons were so that her child could skate all the time. And hoped to go far in skating. And there was nothing about discipling the daughter. And so I see people doing it for all kinds of reasons, I see a lot of people homeschooling out of fear, because they’re very scared of the school shootings and things like that. And so maybe running from the public school, and running out of fear rather than running to a vision for family discipleship. And if it’s running out of fear, I’m still glad that brings them to homeschooling, and then I guess my message is to say that’s great. Welcome. Now here’s a greater vision for discipling your children. And it’s not just about the academics, it’s not just about bring them home so they’ll be safe.
But there’s a vision, and realize what you can do in these years and with this extra time that God is allowing you with your children. So that’s one thing, I want homeschooling parents to have vision. I would say in the early days, there was more of a conservative [trench 00:25:48] to the homeschooling movement. There were a lot of families that were more conservative and with the growth and explosion of homeschooling, we see it becoming more mainstream. So in the early days of homeschooling I saw some families focus so much on wanting to raise mature and wise students that they focus a lot on the external behaviorism of their children, and had the best of parts. And yet sometimes they failed to reach the heart of their children through Christ.
And it was things like teaching good character, teaching good manners, teaching them to carry themselves in impressive ways. And yet sometimes there was so much of a focus on that external behavior, that I think some of those kids grew up confused. And maybe thinking that they were earning God’s favor by their mature impressive outward behaviors. And I try to be so balanced when I share this because I think those external behavior things are very important. I mean we all want our children to have good manners. We all want them to be mature and to walk with Godly character. And those things are important. But the thing is if those things are not coming out of a pure heart towards Christ, if it’s just taught as moralism or behaviorism, then I’ve seen many of those kids go off the rails when they grew up and gained independence.
And some of these young people, you would never ever think that they would go off the rails. It’s left me going what in the world, I would have never seen this coming. And I’ve seen this happen, I really think some of these kids never went from darkness to light. I think a lot of them never truly came to know the Lord Jesus Christ in a personal way. They just grew up, like well this is the way our family is. This is our family culture. These are the things we do and the things we don’t do, and God is pleased with me because of that. And so I think we have to be very careful about this. And I think we need to be, as parents explaining the why’s of the standards that we have with our children. Deuteronomy 6 verse 20 says, when your son asks you in time to come, what is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules the Lord our God has commanded you. Then you shall say to your son we were Pharaoh slaves in Egypt and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
So it’s just talking about when your sons and daughters have questions, that you take the time to explain, say the Lord has done this. Or this is where I’m getting this. I’m not, I think some of these kids might have thought mom and dad went to a homeschool conference, and they heard this guy and now they came home with 25 new rules for the family. Or mom and dad are just making up these rules because they’re weird, and they’re trying to ruin our lives. Things like that. And so we want to really give good biblical applications and explanations to our young people and lead them in loving humble sacrificial ways. We want to have heart relationship. And we want to be, our utmost goal to be that they know Christ because the bible says out of the goodness of the heart, when the heart is right, the behavior will overflow. So I think sometimes people like to stigmatize all homeschoolers as being this way or that way, but I think we can forget the question of what should homeschool culture look like, and say how can our families bring the most glory to Christ? What can we do to honor him and glorify him? So we want to be careful we’re not just creating little pharisees or little good rule followers.
Yvette: Little robots.
Ruth: But that we’re truly, truly seeing heart conversion.
Yvette: Yes, oh I love that so much. That is a perfect way to end the podcast. We are unfortunately out of time for the podcast, but I actually want to continue this conversation for our backstage pass members. So for those listening to the podcast, thank you so much for joining us today. For those who don’t know, I think most of you do, but we have what’s called a backstage pass membership site, and you can go on there and for a few dollars a month, you can become a member and that actually helps to support production on Schoolhouse Rocked. But you get a ton of extra videos and footage from the movie, and all kinds of exciting things. So we’re going to continue this conversation, and the remainder of it will be on the backstage pass membership site. But, really quickly, where can people who are listening to the podcast, where can they find you?
Ruth: I have a website, LegacyHomeschoolReflections.com. And I have a podcast, The Legacy Homeschool Reflections Podcast that can be found on iTunes or on that website. I can be found on Facebook at Ruth L. Adams. So I’m glad to connect with your listeners in any of those ways.
Yvette: Awesome, and we will link to those in the show notes so people can find you. So Ruth, thank you so much for your time today, you are a blessing. We will continue this conversation for our backstage pass members, and thank you guys for listening. I hope you have a great day today.
FIND RUTH HERE:
Ordinary Homeschool Dad by Matthew Adams (Ruth’s Husband) – https://amzn.to/2Bfbvgp
Better Late Than Early: A New Approach to Your Child’s Education by Dr. Raymond S. Moore