Israel Wayne is a national speaker and the author of several books including Education: Does God Have an Opinion? and his newest book, Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask. Israel appeared in the excellent documentary, Indoctrination, and we were very excited to interview him for Schoolhouse Rocked.
Join Yvette Hampton as she tells Israel Wayne the story of how she and Garritt began homeschooling their daughters and why they went out to make Schoolhouse Rocked. In this episode Israel also discusses the rise of public education and home education and contrasts the story of Schoolhouse Rocked and Indoctrination, which he was also involved with. Israel is a great friend of the Schoolhouse Rocked team and has been an important part of the movie, the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, and the Homegrown Generation Family Expo.
Few subjects bring so much fear and uncertainty to parents as the thought of pulling their kids out of school and homeschooling them. While there are a wealth of fantastic resources available and a thriving homeschool movement across the country, until families take the leap into homeschooling there are always going to be unknowns and the nagging thoughts of “am I able”, “am I enough”, “will my kids get a good education”, “will my kids be able to get into college”, and the ever-present “what about socialization.”
Even if your kids haven’t started school yet and you are just considering homeschooling your preschooler or kindergartener, many of those same questions and doubts persist, and too many times this is compounded by the objections of friends and family members.
Here’s the good news. You can do this! Literally MILLIONS of students are being homeschooled right now. Not only have Millions been homeschooled since the rise of modern homeschooling, many more have been homeschooled throughout history, as “traditional school” has only been the standard for the past 150 years or so.
There’s even more good news. Not only can you do this, but it will be good for your children. Homeschooled students are thriving. Decades of research is now proving that homeschooled students are, on the whole, better prepared for college and life than their public and private schooled peers. Here are just a few links to back up these claims:
If you, or someone you know, is considering homeschooling we encourage you to attend the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. We have gathered an amazing group of speakers together for a week of homeschooling encouragement and practical advice. The online conference will be LIVE and INTERACTIVE from February 17th through the 21st and registration includes lifetime access to the videos, notes, and a virtual swag bag full of valuable resources. Lifetime registration is just $20 here.
Homeschooling is good for students, good for families, and good for culture, so it is our mission to encourage and equip homeschooling families to start well and finish strong.
Yvette Hampton recently talked with author and speaker, Israel Wayne about how to start homeschooling – how to do it well – and how to make it to graduation and beyond! Israel Wayne is the author of Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, which answers many of the questions that people have when considering whether homeschooling is appropriate for their family. In this conversation, Israel and Yvette discuss why so many families choose to homeschool and how the alternatives (public school, and private school) are really doing. They also discuss whether homeschooling is appropriate for all types of families, or if it is best suited to certain groups.
They also discussed what steps a family should take when they want to start homeschooling and what really matters once they start, whether it’s curriculum choices, educational methods, scheduling, organization, life skills, relationships, or discipleship. Finally, Israel gives helpful insights for dads in leading their families in instruction and discipleship.
Enjoy their conversation
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have a return guest on with me today, and he is one of my absolute favorite homeschool people, one of my favorite guests that we’ve ever had on the podcast. As a matter of fact, Israel, I think that your podcast, I don’t think, I know that your podcast interview that I did with you quite some time ago is one of the most listened to that we’ve ever done. I am so excited to have you back on. Israel Wayne, welcome to the podcast again.
Israel Wayne: Hey, it’s great to be back with you. Thank you so much.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you. Thank you. You are such a blessing to us. We have really enjoyed getting to know you, Garritt and I. We’re excited, because you’re going to be part of the Homegrown Generation Family Expo that we have coming up February 17th through the 21st. It’s so funny, because people keep looking at the list of speakers that we have at our speaker lineup and just going “Oh my goodness, this is amazing, you have the best of the best of the homeschool heroes.” And I don’t say that to puff you up. I say that because you have truly had a huge impact in not only my life, but I know the lives of thousands and thousands of families. We are very honored. It is only by the grace of God that we have the speakers that we have for this event, and you are one of them that from the very beginning we said, “We’ve got to get Israel as a speaker for this event.” So thank you for joining us for that in a few weeks, and thank you for being with me again on the podcast today.
Israel Wayne: Absolutely.
Yvette Hampton: Tell us very quickly about your family, because you’ve got a couple of kids and a wife who you really like.
Israel Wayne: Yes, absolutely. Well, my homeschool journey actually started when I was a child. My family began homeschooling in 1978, which is like what, 42 years ago now? I’ve been in it my whole life, and was homeschooled all the way through high school, met my wife, who was homeschooled. Her family started homeschooling in 1983. Both of our families were pioneer homeschooling families. My mother founded and published the Home School Digest magazine since 1988, so I kind of grew up in the leadership side of homeschooling as well. So when my wife and I got married, being that we were homeschooled pretty much our whole way through, it was a foregone conclusion for us that we would homeschool our children. Lord has so far blessed us with 10 children. The oldest is 19, and the youngest has just turned a year. We have 10 children sandwiched in there between 19 and 10. Our oldest is working full-time. We have a daughter that just turned 18, a son that turned 16, I’m taking him to driver’s ed here later today.
Yvette Hampton: Oh no! Wow!
Israel Wayne: It’s one of those things. We actually have four teenagers living in our home right now, and then some little ones too. So we’re kind of hitting it on all cylinders, all sides of the parenting spectrum, we’re deeply entrenched in now, the parenting scene and the homeschooling world as well. Now, I speak at conferences and write books on homeschooling as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that’s awesome, and you don’t write books just on homeschooling, you write books on family, on parenting and things like that as well. So, that is exciting. We’re doing a series right now on getting started homeschooling. This time of the year is that time where, as you know, because you’ve been in homeschooling for quite a long time, it’s that time of year where you kind of get into that slump. A lot of moms, they’re thinking through “Okay, why am I doing this? Am I going to do this again next year? What does our family look like?”, and reevaluating their decision to homeschool. Many of them are sold out on homeschooling and they wouldn’t do anything different, but they’re still having to think through what the rest of this year and next year is going to look like for them. Then you’ve got that kind of group of parents who are starting to think … There’s something about the holidays where we come into the new year and we start thinking “What are we going to do next year for our kids and for their education?”
Yvette Hampton: We’ve got that group of parents too who are just saying “What are we going to do? How are we going to educate our kids next year? Are we going to send them to public school, private school, homeschool? What are the options here for me?” And those are always my favorite people to talk to. I love nothing more than being able to talk heart-to-heart with another mom and just explain to her why homeschooling is so beneficial to our families. I would love for you to be able to talk about “what are some of the benefits of school?”, “Why do this?”, “Why get started in this whole journey of homeschooling?” Because it’s not always easy. It’s a lot of work actually, but it’s so worth it, and anything worth doing is hard. Can you just talk to the heart of those parents who are maybe just kind of thinking through “Okay, where are we going with this? What are we going to do next?”
Israel Wayne: Sure. Well, not all homeschoolers are religious, and not religious homeschoolers are of the same faith or religion. But for my wife and I, we’re Christians, and our Christian faith is very important to us. It’s a very defining aspect of our life and who we are. We want to be able to pass our faith onto our children, but I think for all parents, whether they’re religious or not, there’s a desire to pass their values onto their children and to teach them the things that are important to them. Then relationship. One of the things that I talk about in my books is the importance of influence, and if you want to have influence in your child’s life, you have to spend time with them. It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of children growing up in the United States, their parents are not the predominate influence in their life, simply because the parents have given away the number one factor or force in influence, which is time.
Israel Wayne: So if you want to have influence in your child’s life you need to buy back time, and homeschooling is a wonderful way to do that, because you get to actually be present with your children, to be with them and to teach them your faith and values. In the process of that you will have more conflict, I’ll just be honest, if you do that, as with any relationship, because when you spend time around people you see your faults and you rub each other the wrong way. It’s kind of like marriage, right? The more that you spend time with somebody the more that they can irritate you? But I don’t know very many people who say “The more you spend time with somebody the more possibility there is for conflict or irritations, so don’t get married.”
Israel Wayne: Most people recognize that there’s a huge payoff in that, yeah, you have more opportunity for conflict, but you have more opportunity for a deep profound loving relationship as well. That’s true with our children, that the more that we spend time with them, them more we’re around them, those conflicts actually give us an opportunity to press into real relationship and a quality and a level of relationship that we would never have if we only saw them occasionally. The same thing with like a marriage relationship, you would just never have the opportunity to really get to know someone or grow into deep love with someone if you just see them occasionally. This opportunity that we have with these children to be the primary influence in their life, for me, as the credit card commercial says, that’s priceless.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. I love that. A few weeks ago I interviewed Durenda Wilson, and we were talking about sibling relationships. One of the things that really hit me during our conversation was we were talking about the opportunity that we have as parents to work with our children through their relationship with one another as siblings. Sometimes that can be a really, really hard thing. But what struck me about our conversation was I thought as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children how to handle relationships with other people, and if you can imagine, everyone working and really putting effort and being intentional about teaching our children to get along with one another and to be forgiving and to be loving and to be selfless, and all the of the things that you would expect in a marriage and that you want in a marriage, if we can teach that to our kids with their brothers and sisters, imagine how much better they are going to be prepared for a successful marriage, because you take those same characteristics into marriage and you’re going to have a pretty solid good marriage.
Yvette Hampton: But when kids learn to be selfish and they’re not around each other and they’re not used to building those family relationship, it makes it hard going into a marriage to then know how to do that. The sibling relationships are so important in addition to the parent/child relationships.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, for sure. And I’m seeing the fruit of my investment right now in my children, particularly with my oldest, because he works 40 hours a week, and then he volunteers for some things with our church. So he’s gone a lot. So we don’t have that same time that we used to have when he was here all the time and we were teaching him and so forth. But at 19 years old he’s a man now, and he does still live at home for now. But because he’s so busy and he’s working our relational dynamic has changed, and I am, and he is, we’re both best friends in way. My wife and I are best friends, but he’s one of my best friends in the whole world. So our dynamic has changed where it’s not so much parent/child as much as it is that we really are friends.
Israel Wayne: I appreciate that I have influence in his life that if there ever is anything that I need to talk to him about, like decisions that he’s making or whatever, most of the time he’ll come to me and he’ll ask me for advice and he’ll look for input, or if there’s ever a time where I feel like I need to give him advice or council on a certain direction I try to be sparing with that. He’s open to it, and the reason is because, I look at it a little bit like, I didn’t invent this analogy, but like a relationship bank. Where you put deposits into the bank and you can make a withdrawal every once in a while, because there’s enough cash in there to float a withdrawal. If there’s something I need to talk to him about and say “You know what? I think this decision would be a good decision for you”, or “I think this would be a better decision for you.”
Israel Wayne: I have some investment there that he will listen to that and he’ll take that onboard because he respects me. And he respects me because I put the time in. Our children have to know that we have their best interests at mind and at heart, and that the things that we’re doing for them, we really are doing for them. Not because it’s easiest for us. Not because it’s most convenient for us, but because we really believe that this is the best decision for them, and of course we’re parents, right? So we’re going to mess up sometimes.
Israel Wayne: We won’t always call that right, but if your children really believe that you are for them, that you love them, you like them, that you have their best interests in mind and you have invested the best of yourself and your time and your energy in them, generally speaking, that comes back to you in terms of respect and relationship and influence later on in life. But when they know that they’ve been second fiddle, when they know that they’re way down on the priority list, maybe not even two or three, maybe like 8th, 9th, 10th … The average parent in America spends 19 minutes a day with their child.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: 19 minutes a day.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, why even have them?
Israel Wayne: Yeah, and the average parent in America watches two and a half hours of TV or Netflix every night of their life. I think kids understand that they’re just not a priority to mom and dad in most cases. So when parents come back to them at 18 years old and they’re trying to tell them what they should do … I hear parents all the time, “I don’t know why my kid doesn’t listen to me. He doesn’t like me, won’t pay attention, and ignores everything I say.” Well, they got ignored their whole childhood. So you didn’t put the time in, didn’t put the investment in. So for us, homeschooling is really just an extension of parenting and relationship. I call it Parenting With Academics. We’re not really doing anything radically different. It’s not school-at-home. It’s just the parenting and relationship process, adding academics to that mix.
Yvette Hampton: Oh, that’s such a great answer. I love that. We were talking about just that relationship between parent and child, and I know when we’re talking about homeschooling and why parents should homeschool oftentimes we talk about it from the perspective of “Don’t put your child in public school.” And I’m going to ask you a question that I know is going to step on some toes, and I don’t ask this in order to do so. I ask this because I really want to think through this. I want parents listening to this to actually think through the process of this, and I want to talk about private Christian school, because oftentimes parents will say “Well, I wouldn’t put my kids in a public school because clearly what they’re being taught there is completely against everything that God’s word says, but if I put them in this really good Christian private school they’ll be fine.”
Yvette Hampton: And let me just give a disclaimer here. I grew up in a really good Christian private school. I loved the school that I went to and I was discipled by my teachers that I had. I had great Christian, solid Christian, teachers who really helped guide my spiritual walk as a teenager. But that is certainly not always the case, and even now Garritt and I have really come to the conclusion for our family that we believe that homeschooling is best, even if there was a perfect … Well, I shouldn’t say perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect school or a perfect homeschool. But even if there was an excellent Christian school, as you will, talk to the parent who’s maybe considering “Well, we have this opportunity to put him in a good Christian school or homeschool, because now I look at the relationship part of it and I think I would never want to give up that time with my child and me being the one to disciple them.” What would you say to that parent?
Israel Wayne: Well, when you look in scripture there’s three different categories that we can evaluate this from. The first is what does God command, or what does God prescribe, and then the second would be what does God allow? Then the third is what does God forbid? Then we can take those three principles and we can apply them to education, and you’ll find that if you’re looking simply at what the scripture prescribes, what it commands, you find repeated commandments for parents to teach their children, instruct their children, disciple their children, discipline their children, train them in the way that they should go. You have multiple passages, dozens of passages in the Bible where God commands parents to teach their children. There are no other groups in the Bible, other people groups, or agencies, that are commanded by God to teach children except in a couple of places. Grandparents, where it says “Teach your sons and sons’ sons”, or “Your children and your children’s children.”
Israel Wayne: You have just a couple of passages where grandparents are commanded by God to teach their grandchildren. But for the most part it’s parents. Interestingly, the government is never commanded to teach children. They’re told in 1 Peter 2:14 and then Romans 13 that they’re supposed to bear the sword to punish the evildoer, that’s their responsibility. You don’t bear a sword … Bearing the sword doesn’t have anything to do with raising children. Then the church, interestingly, and this’ll be hard for some people, but do your own study on it, there are no passages in the new testament where the church is ever commanded specifically to teach children as a separate entity or separate group, and there are no examples in the new testament early church where the new testament church ever did it. There are none. We have built this entire infrastructure within the church on the idea of the church being responsible for teaching children, and there’s not one verse anywhere in the new testament that supports that concept.
Israel Wayne: Now, so then you ask “Well, then are you saying it’s forbidden?” Well, no. Things that are not specifically forbidden in scripture, in direct command or in principle, are allowable. So is it wrong for the church to teach children? No, it’s not, and certainly in the context of the body, or the context of the entire church you don’t want to disciple everyone in the church. That’s part of the thing. But a more fully Biblically orbed view of the church’s role in education is that they’re supposed to teach parents how to teach their children. They’re supposed to disciple parents to know how to disciple their own children, not to be replacement parents, not to be surrogate parents who do the work for them. I see very few churches that operate that way, very few churches that even have an understanding of that. I wrote a book called Education: Does God Have an Opinion? And in this book, I talk a lot about that whole concept of what does the Bible say about education and what are the parameters that we should have when we look at this issue?
Israel Wayne: Finally, when we look at what does God forbid in education, you’ll find that anti-Christian teaching is forbidden. Very expressly, very clearly, in multiple places in scripture, as a Christian parent you cannot lie to your children, you cannot give them false narratives about who God is, about the reality of life and how God is ordained and orchestrated in life-to-work and gender identity and all of those kinds of things. It’s not optional for us to promote an educational system that lies to our children and teaches them things that false, and teaches them things that are anti-Christian. That’s not an option. So, back to Christian schools. Are they allowable? Biblically they’re allowable in that they’re not expressly forbidden in direct command or in principle, but I think when you look at Deuteronomy six and some other passages where Deuteronomy six, it talks about how you’re supposed to teach your children from the time that you wake up in the morning to the time that you go to sleep at night, and you’re supposed to teach them whether they’re inside your house or outside your house.
Israel Wayne: Is there ever a time when you’re not inside your house or outside your house? Is there ever a time when you’re awake that it isn’t encompassed in that Deuteronomy six mandate? I think you’d have a really hard time doing that when you’re sending your children away from you for over 10000 hours between kindergarten and 12th grade. I don’t know how you fulfill the commands that you’re told to do in scripture when your children are being sent away from you. So there are situations that are less than ideal, and I think that we need to be sympathetic to those.
Israel Wayne: But even those situations where you don’t have the ideal scenario, you have maybe one parent and that parents has to work and whatever, and other people have to come along and make up for the lack based on the condition, it still has to be in the fear of the lord, it still has to be based on the truth. It can’t be anti-Christian. So there’s a place I think for Christian education that doesn’t look like parents teaching within the home. I think there’s a place for that, but we wouldn’t consider that to be the normal prescribed approach or method in scripture.
Yvette Hampton: Well said. I want to say, I’m not trying to put down anybody who has their children in school, because like you said, there are many situations where that is necessary. We have a friend, she has cancer right now, and she’s been struggling with her health for years now, and she had to put her children in school this year. It just broke her heart, because she really wants to be home with them, but she couldn’t physically be home with them. So they had to put their kids in school. And God is faithful, our kids belong to him. So I’m not trying to shame anybody who does. I just want to think through-
Israel Wayne: Yeah, we welcome the church to come along in those moments and help us. One thing I want to say though too is that the average cost for private school right now is 8600 dollars per year per child.
Yvette Hampton: Yes, it’s very expensive.
Israel Wayne: Which is crazy-expensive, and parents do it thinking “These people are going to give my children a strong Biblical world view”, and I want to encourage parents to do two things, Google Search a couple of things. Number one, the Gen 2 Survey. G-E-N, the number two, and then Survey. They have a chart in that survey, the Gen 2 Survey, it’s the largest study on church millennials. They have a chart in there that shows how education impacts the outcome of people having faith in Christ, having good relationship with their parents, having satisfaction in life, having a life that reflects Christian values and Christian fruit I guess you would say. All of those things are very dramatically impacted by the education that they receive, and Christian schools, according to the Gen 2 Survey, are producing negative results in your children becoming a Christian, living like a Christian, having a Biblical worldview, having a close relationship with mom and dad and having satisfaction in life. Negative in every one of those categories on the whole.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: Christian schools are actually negating against the Christian faith, not helping it, not improving it. Your child is less likely to be a Christian if they go to a Christian school than if they’re homeschooled, by far.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: Another thing that I’ll point you to is NehemiahInstitute.com. If you go to NehemiahInstitue.com, on the very homepage there is a graphic that shows Biblical worldview assessment tests of students that are homeschooled, those that are in public school, and those that in Christian school, those that in public school and Christian school, a very low Biblical worldview and decreasing. It’s been decreasing since 1988. Whereas, homeschooling is significantly better and is slightly increasing. Both the Gen 2 Survey and the Nehemiah Institute show that Christian schools and public schools are both actually negative to faith outcomes, whereas homeschooling is positive. So we don’t base what we do on statistics, we base what we do on scripture, but the statistics seem to be bearing out what we find prescribed in scripture, parents taking responsibility for the discipleship of their children works, sending your children away from you to people, who in many cases you don’t even know, to teach your children things, you don’t know what they’re being taught. That approach is not working.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, I agree. You were talking earlier about the church and how oftentimes we expect the church to do the discipling of our children and to teach them spiritually and to grow them spiritually. Oftentimes I think parents do that with school as well. We expect them to not just educate them academically, but to educate them spiritually, and that’s a dangerous road to take, because Luke 6:40 says “A student will become like his master.” Well, do you know every one of their teachers, even if it’s a Christian school? Like I said, I went to a great Christian school, but this was almost 30 years ago, and I had great teachers but not all of them were believers. And that’s a touch place, but even when we do that, just like when we go to church, it’s still the parents’ responsibility. So when they’re coming home from school, whether it’s public or private, are we knowing what they’ve been taught and are we undoing anything that has been negatively taught to them according to God’s word, and are we still taking that role of discipleship with their hearts, because that still ultimately is the role of parents?
Israel Wayne: One more thing on the Christian schools. Nehemiah Institute has a Biblical worldview assessment test, and the Christian school teachers as well as students, and one of the things that they show is that the majority of Christian school teachers actually have a worldview that is either secular, humanist, or socialist. And you think “Well, how could that be?” I was talking with Dan Smith with the guy that is the leader of Nehemiah Institute, and he said that one of the reasons for that is that schools, because they cost so much money, Christian schools, they are requiring these teachers to be certified. 30 years ago that wasn’t a requirement, but now the schools are requiring they have teacher certification.
Israel Wayne: Well, where do they get that teacher certification? In most cases if you graduate from a teacher school you have gotten the most anti-Christian humanist socialist education on the planet, and you’ve been certified that you passed. So you bring these teachers in on the basis of their academic credentials and that they sign your statement of faith, but most schools never have any Biblical worldview assessment that they give before they hire to find out do they know how to think Biblically about social issues and about economics and science and so forth.
Yvette Hampton: Right. I don’t remember who I heard this from for the first time, it was many years ago. But as I heard when my oldest was a baby I think, is that we’re not raising children, we are raising adults. And that’s very true. We’re raising adults, we’re raising these kids to be all that God has created them to be. In your book called Education: Does God Have an Opinion, in the appendix on that one you have a sectioned called A Christian Education Manifesto. I would love for you to kind of jump into that and talk about what that is.
Israel Wayne: Sure. Well, I’ve often had people say to me that God doesn’t have an opinion on education, God doesn’t care how we educate our children, there’s no one-size-fits-all, what works for you may not work for me, there’s public school, private school, charter school, online school, homeschool, and people often say “You can’t say that God has one prescribed approach that’s the right fit for everybody.” That sounds really good, until you actually study the scripture on it, and my book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion, this book came out of a conversation that I had with my mother when I was a teenager, a young teenager, and I made that statement. I said “I don’t know whether I’ll homeschool my children or not. I guess I’ll just have to find out what my wife wants to do”, and I kind of liked being homeschooled myself. There were definite perks to it. I liked not having to get up till 9:00 in the morning and do school in my pajamas and not have to stand outside when it was cold and wait for the school bus.
Israel Wayne: There were perks, there were things I thought were pretty good about homeschooling, but as a young teen I’d never really done a scriptural study on it. My mom encouraged me, she said “I would like you to write an essay and defend that viewpoint, that God doesn’t care about education, it doesn’t matter how you educate your children. Defend that viewpoint, but defend it from the Bible, not just your opinion, but find scripture that actually supports your view that any form of schooling is equal and valid.” So, I thought, “Well, this shouldn’t take too long.” I thought I’d be able to whip something together in a couple hours, and I started studying that topic and boy, 30 years later I’m still studying the topic. But I found I was definitively wrong, that God was not silent on education, that God wrote voluminously on the issue of education and the scripture, both old testament and new testament, is absolutely full of statements of how God wants his children to be educated. He’s not silent on the issue, he has spoken.
Israel Wayne: So that appendix is mostly just scripture verses. This whole book has a lot of scripture in it all the way through it, but that appendix in the back is kind of a compilation where I just took a bunch of passages of scripture and applied it. One thing I’ll say about it is that when you see a universal principle that applied to everything, that universal principle that applies to everything applies to everything that it applies to. Everything it applies to is everything. So if you’re talking about everything, then you’re also talking about education, because education is a subset of everything. When you see something that God says that’s universally true for everything, then you have to say, “God has made this statement about education as well.” So just when you look through some of these passages, let me just grab a few of them, we sometimes don’t think about some of these passages as applying to education in particular, or schooling.
Israel Wayne: Like take Psalm 1 for example, it says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the wicked.” Let’s just stop there. What kind of council are your children getting in the school that they’re in? Is it Godly council, or is it ungodly council? Is it wicked council? Is it teaching them the truth about their origins, or is it lying to them about who made them and where they came from? Is it teaching that God created everything in six days, or is it teaching them that they’re the result of a cosmic accident four billion years ago? Is it teaching them that God made them male and female, or is it teaching them that gender is a fluid concept? Is it teaching them that there are moral absolutes and there’s right and wrong that’s truly objective for all people and all places and all times, or is it teaching them relativism, that truth is in the eye of the beholder and what might be true for you is not true for me, we can decide our own truth, we can make our own path?
Israel Wayne: What is it teaching them about even sex before marriage, and so many of these things? But what is the school teaching them? Is it Godly council, or is it ungodly? Well, this tells us we’re supposed to avoid the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners. What’s the social environment of the school like? Is it a Godly social environment? We’re told in Proverbs 13:20 that “He who walks with wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.” What’s the social environment like? Or in 1 Corinthians 15:33 we’re told “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character.” So what kind of social environment are your children being exposed to? So many times people bring up the socialization quote, “Aren’t you concerned about socialization?”
Yvette Hampton: Yes.
Israel Wayne: “Well, yes. That’s why we’re homeschooling. We don’t want our children to be in the way of sinners.” Now you’re saying “Oh, so you’re saying that you want to isolate your children and never allow them to spend time with anyone who’s not a Christian?” Well, I talked about this in the first podcast and those that didn’t listen to it should go back and listen to it, but the number one factor in influence in someone’s life is time, and if you let your children spend significant time around other children, those children will influence your child. It will just happen. If you let them spend time around anybody! A video game console. An iPod.
Israel Wayne: They’re going to be influenced by what they spend most time around. So the question is who do you want to be that influence, their peer group, or you as a parent? If you spend time around wise people you become wise, but around foolish people you will be destroyed. Well, what are foolish people? Well, in Proverbs 22:15 it says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” That’s one Biblical definition of a fool. The other Biblical definition of a fool that comes to mind is when the scripture says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” So what do we do as Christian parents?
Israel Wayne: We think “I want my child to be well-rounded, and I want them to be successful in life, so I’m going to put them in a classroom with 30 to 40 children that the Bible says has foolishness bound up in their heart and have an atheist teacher who says there is no God, and if they’re not in that environment with this atheist teacher that the Bible calls a fool, and these students that God calls foolish, if they’re not just immersed in this pool of foolishness they won’t be able to grow up and be socially well-adjusted.” Well, where did we get that idea? We didn’t get that idea from scripture. Scripture doesn’t support that idea. Scripture never tells you “Make sure you socialize your children with lots of other children.” I challenge you, parents, get your Bible, get a concordance, look it up, do a passage search on this.
Yvette Hampton: Do a 30 year essay.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, do your essay. Find from scripture where it tells you “Make sure your children spend lots of time around other children so they can be socially well-rounded.” It doesn’t say that. In fact, it says the opposite. It says “Make sure they spend a lot of time around wise people.” Well, who are wise people? Wise people tend to be older, tend to have the fear of the lord, and it then it talks about not having them sitting in the seat of the scoffer. Well, what’s the social environment again? Is it one that mocks and scoffs at authority? Is it one that undermines parental authority? Well, if that’s the social environment they shouldn’t be in that environment. But then someone says, “So what’s the antidote?” But instead of all that, his delight should be in the law of the lord and on his law, God’s law, he should meditate day and night. How can you meditate day and night when God’s law is not even allowed in a government school?
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Israel Wayne: We violate the thing that it tells us to do, create an educational context where you can meditate day and night on the law of the lord. We violate that. We violate all the things it tells us not to do, and then we somehow expect that it’s all going to turn out okay. That’s just one passage or scripture where the Bible has spoken really clearly to the issue of education, but people don’t think about it as an education passage because it doesn’t use the word school. So that’s what I do in this book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion, is I just go through dozens and dozens and dozens of passages just like that, and when you really are honest about it and study what the scripture says, it’s forceful that children need an explicitly, exclusively Christian education.
Yvette Hampton: Yup, that’s right. I couldn’t agree more. Can you take us back a little bit to John Dewey, Horace Mann, those guys who really have kind of influenced what public school is today, because they had an agenda. Talk about that a little bit.
Israel Wayne: Most people for some reason believe that public schools in America were started by Christians, that they were Christian, that basically they promoted Christian principles, Christian values, up until about maybe the late 1960s when they started to lose their way a little bit, and today they’re not ideal. That’s kind of where most Christians are on it, but most Christians have never really studied the history of government schools. If you go back and you study the Prussian school system, which is the one that our American system was founded on, you find that there was an intentional design on the part of the atheist God-haters to get children away from their parents so that they can indoctrinate them in anti-Christian worldview, and Horace Mann, who was in Massachusetts, he was a Unitarian God-hater, he started the compulsory attendance movement in Massachusetts in the 1850s.
Israel Wayne: By the year 1900 basically every state in the United States had adopted compulsory attendance laws where you had to attend these government schools. And Dewey’s role was to make sure that there were virtually no options for parents, that they had to have their children in a government tax-funded school, and whatever the government funds it controls. So Dewey started out with some basic Bible reading and prayers being allowed within the classroom, but his goal was over time to slowly remove all of that and just create a kind of secular utopia where everyone would come together under the banner of moral goodness, because as a Unitarian he didn’t believe in a personal God, he denied the doctrine of the trinity. He believed that all people were good, morally good, and that they would all come together and create a utopian society if you just get religion out of the picture.
Israel Wayne: And John Dewey, who was a teacher of teachers in the 1930s, he really revolutionized the schools, particularly in the 30s. He had gone to Russia, Vladimir Lenin’s wife had invited him there. He met Joseph Stalin’s wife, who was a big fan of his. They wanted him to come, he was the most famous teacher in American, the founder of the NEA, and they said “We want you to come here and teach us everything you know about pedagogy, about teaching method, and we want to teach you how to teach economic socialism in the classroom. In the 1930s they changed the textbooks where they pulled out three subjects that had been taught separately, history, civics, and geography, and replaced those with a Marxist curriculum called Social Studies, that had never been taught before. From the 1930s on there was a strong socialist push within the government school system.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great film. We watched that early in our homeschooling journey and it really had a great impact on our lives. And you were part of that documentary as well. Just like you’re a part of Schoolhouse Rocked.
Israel Wayne: Ah, we’re looking forward to that.
Yvette Hampton: Oh gosh, us too. Us too. All right. In the last few minutes that we have I want to talk about just some practical things for parents, because we’re kind of talking about the getting started, and this interview with you, we’re kind of talking about the why. Like why homeschool? Why does it even matter that we don’t have our kids in school? Isn’t education just education? Isn’t it all academics? Aren’t they all teaching kids math, writing, this and that? And you and I have talked about this before. As a matter of fact, I think we talked about this on the last podcast, but for those who maybe are new to listening to this podcast, the reason that Garritt and I have been so convicted about educating our kids at home and why it’s so different in teaching them from a Biblical worldview is because not everything … Sorry, I’ve got a notice popping up on my thing here.
Yvette Hampton: Everything that we teach our kids should point them to Christ. Math can point them to Christ, because God is the God or order. He is the God of absolutes. So, when we see math laid out and we understand how all these numbers and formulas work together we understand the awesomeness of God. When we study science, we understand God as our creator. When we study history from a Biblical worldview, we understand God’s plan for mankind, and so on. So when we take God out of those things, which is precisely what the government schools have done, then we’re really doing a disservice to our children and to their hearts really, because math is not just math, science is not just science, history is not just history. So I really appreciate your take on that. So now that we’ve talked about all that I want to talk about just the practical part of getting started with homeschooling.
Yvette Hampton: What does a parent do if they’ve got their child in school, especially in a public school? At a private school they’re not going to really question it, but maybe they’ve got their child in a public school, especially if it’s in the middle of the year, and they’re just feeling like the lord is calling them to homeschool. How do they go about doing that? How do we just say “Okay, we’re going to pull our kids out of school now, and golly, with all that’s happening right now in the public school system and all of the parental rights that are being taken away?” We’re seeing parents pulling their kids out left and right. So can you talk to that parent and offer some encouragement to them?
Israel Wayne: Absolutely. Well, the first thing is, again, this book, Answers for Homeschooling, the Top 25 Questions That Critics Ask, I literally answer almost every question you can imagine about homeschooling. How to get started. How to choose a curriculum. Is it legal? What about socialization? Shouldn’t I have my kids in school to be salt and light? What about different learning styles, different learning teaching methods? I cover all that in this book, Answers for Homeschooling. So you definitely want to get that book, because Mike Smith of HSLDA said something like “This is the Walmart and Costco of homeschool books. It’s everything you need to know about homeschooling in one source.”
Yvette Hampton: I agree.
Israel Wayne: But what I would recommend, mentioning Mike Smith, that you become a member of HSLDA, go to their website, hslda.org, because they will provide support for you, make sure that you’re protected legally. They have a host of information on their website. You can get connected to state organizations. You should always be connected with the Christian State Homeschooling Association in your state. There’s a list of those on the HSLDA website. Also there’s a website called homeschoolfreedom.com, and there are state organizations that are mentioned there as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, we actually have a link to that on the Schoolhouse Rocked website. If you go to SchoolhouseRocked.com right on the front page there’s a button that says “Homeschooling in your state”, that will take you straight to Homeschool Freedom.
Israel Wayne: Then from those state associations, when you finally find your state association, almost all the state associations have a homeschool conference, the larger states do at least. You will want to attend a homeschool conference in your state. They have wonderful teaching, lots of great speakers, workshops on almost every possible topic, vendors that take curriculum. You can go and look at the curriculum and see what’s available and ask questions. There are homeschool experts there. There’s community, and from those state associations you can get plugged into local homeschool support groups, local co-ops in your area, so that you’re not just homeschooling in isolation, but you can homeschool with the community around you. I would also recommend going to nheri.org, National Home Education Research Institute. They area research group with Dr. Brian Ray. They have all kinds of statistics.
Israel Wayne: I have a lot of that in the Answers for Homeschooling book, because you’re going to have skeptics, right? You’re going to have in-laws, you’re going to have people say “Well, is this a good choice?” And “How are your children going to turn out academically?” I’ve consolidated a lot of the highlights into that book, but there are maybe specific question that people ask you and Dr. Ray has done fabulous research on all that. So having facts is really important, because you’re going to meet people who have opinions, and you’re going to be able to trump their opinions with fact. So that’s part of what I’m doing with the Answers book is trying to give you fact to refute the opinion. But definitely, member of HSLDA, become a member of your state homeschool association, get plugged into a local support group, and check out Answers for Homeschooling, I think it’s a great way to get going. Then there are lots of Facebook discussion groups.
Yvette Hampton: Which some can be a little dangerous.
Israel Wayne: Some can be a little bit dangerous, yeah. Again, a lot of the state homeschool associations now are starting their own, and those have some guidance from people that actually know what they’re talking about. So if you find your state association ask them if they have a discussion group, because they’ll kind of make sure that things don’t derail. It’s amazing how many people are maybe not factual, but boy, they have strongly held views. I’m in Michigan and we had somebody recently that said “I’m new to homeschooling. I’m just looking into this. How do I get started? What are the laws about homeschooling in Michigan?” And somebody said “Oh, there are no laws on homeschooling in Michigan.” I’m the vice president of our state homeschool association, so I had to get on there and say “Well, actually there are, and know what they are, because it’s really relevant to your life.” So it’s just amazing how people are really free to share what they think they know, but you really do want to find people that know what they’re talking about, and the state homeschool associations are a great place to do that.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, they really are. We love state organizations and HSLDA both, because you all have worked so beautifully together. HSLDA, Homeschool Legal Defense Association, this is not a commercial for them. They’re not paying us to say this. This is just something that we strongly believe in. But HSLDA and the state organizations are two groups of people that really work hand-in-hand together in order to keep … They’ve worked to make homeschooling legal, because it has not always been legal. They’ve worked to keep homeschooling legal, and then they work to really provide the resources and encouragement that families need in their own individual states. And like you said, knowing what the laws are, knowing what their rights are as parents. So like you said, on our website we’ve got the link to homeschooling in your state, and people can go straight there. They can look at their own state organization, contact them directly and say “Hey, what do we need to do?” HSLDA is the same way.
Yvette Hampton: They’ve got tons of consultants that will actually walk you through what you need to do for your state. HSLDA has representatives for every state and they will help you figure out what you need to do to legally homeschool in your state, because every state is different. Literally, every state is different. We homeschooled in California, and I was just talking to someone today, I was saying “Ironically, homeschooling in California’s one of the easiest things to do.” It will not always be this way, I’m 100% certain with the direction that California’s going. That’s a different topic, but homeschooling is very easy in California. You don’t really have to do a whole lot of anything. You have to keep attendance and file an affidavit, but other than that it’s much easier than some states that require a lot of … They have all kinds of rules and laws. So, anyway. But yes, that’s a great thing, and your book, we have it and it’s fantastic. I want to talk really quickly. We’re just going to over on this, and I’m not going to worry about it.
Yvette Hampton: I’m trying so hard to keep these podcasts short, but there’s so much good information here. Really quickly, I want to talk about the last thing, and we’ve touched on this already in this conversation, but what really matters? When parents are thinking of homeschooling, or they’re thinking about continuing to homeschool, is it curriculum that matters, is it keeping the perfect schedule, is it keeping our house clean? What is it that really matters? What is the heart of homeschooling our kids? And we talked about relationships, or course, but I would love for you to talk about this as a homeschool dad, and from the perspective of a dad. How have you gone about discipling the hearts of your children, because obviously discipleship is really what matters. It’s not curriculum. It’s not the perfect pretty schedule. It’s pointing our kids towards Christ. So can you very quickly talk to moms and especially to dads right now, and talk to them about as a dad what really matters and how do you disciple your kids?
Israel Wayne: I, a lot of times, think of children in our home as sort of the thermometer of the spiritual and relational temperature of our family, and when we see all kinds of bad attitudes and relational conflicts and stress and strife and lack of respect and all of that, we don’t like that, right? We look at it and go “Wow, it’s frigid in here, emotionally, relationally, spiritually.” We don’t like the temperature. But what we don’t think about sometimes is that we as the parents, we’re the thermostat, and if we want to see the temperature in our house, our relationships change, we change that by changing us. I get letters from people all day every day asking me “How can I change my child? How can I change my child? How can I change my child?” Well, the bad news is that the way that God has orchestrated things, usually the path to our child’s heart is through our heart.
Israel Wayne: You see this in Deuteronomy in chapter six where it says “This law which I give you this day shall be on your heart. Then you teach it diligently to your children.” So, God wants our heart first, and as dads in particular, I think even more than moms, we’re the thermostat for the family. Man, I notice if I come home grumpy and I have brought work home and stress home, and I’ve allowed my day to impact my mood and I bring that into my home and I externalize that on my wife, what happens to my wife? She gets grumpy. And it’s easy to do, but I can’t take it out on my boss. I work for myself, but we’ve all had those scenarios where there’re certain scenarios you just can’t externalize how you really feel there. So there’re certain times that I can’t take it out. So if I bring that home and I’m just negative and I externalize that on my wife, what happens? She feels that stress, she gets negative, and then who does she externalize it to? She externalizes it to the children.
Israel Wayne: Then who do they externalize it? Well, the younger children, or to each other. Then what do we do? We tell them “Stop acting like that or you get disciplined.” Well, right, well, who did that? We did it, right? We set the temperature. We set the tone. So in terms of the big picture, what we’re going for, is we’re really going for God to conquer all of our hearts, and being home in an environment where we’re together, we’re working together for a common goal, a common purpose, we’re a team, we learn things in that process of teamwork of you have to have leaders, you have to have followers, just like any team, but we learn things in that process that make us more like Christ, cause us to press through the difficult things into the deeper relationships.
Israel Wayne: And if we avoid that, if just avoid each other, yeah, we’re avoiding conflict, but we’re also avoiding relationship. So, I just think that God created this concept called family and in America we’ve done everything that we can to get away from it. We just try to avoid each other, because we think that that’ll lessen conflict. And it does, it lessens conflict, but it also ruins relationship. So, I really believe that God is a relational God, he wants us to know him, he wants us to be in a relationship with him, but he also wants us to enter into and take the risk of relationship with each other. When the family works, homeschooling works. When the family’s not working, homeschooling’s chaos.
Israel Wayne: So you can change curriculum, you can find a better math program, you can fix the academics, that’s not hard. That’s really, really doable. The relationships are where you have to focus, and if the relationships are in order and everything’s working, you’re going to find the homeschooling process goes relatively easy. It’s not easy, but relatively easy if the family’s working. But, man, when you got people that hate each other or they’re at each other’s throats, it’s grueling. So you’ve got to fix that, and that’s why our ministry’s called Family Renewal, and we encourage you visit our website at FamilyRenewal.org, because that’s what we’re about, we’re about family discipleship and about those relationships.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, I love it. You’ve got a great ministry, and you will be speaking, we mentioned this in part one, you’re going to be speaking for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo that’s coming up February 17th through the 21st, and you’re going to be speaking specifically on this topic of family relationships. The day, the 19th, that you’ll be speaking, that whole day is going to be about family relationships. We’re opening it up that day with Kirk Cameron, and he’s going to be talking about marriage. It’s going to be followed by Ginger Hubbard talking about discipling the heart of your child, or Reaching the Heart of Your Child I think is actually the title of her session, and then Durenda Wilson is going to be talking about sibling relationships. And you’re going to kind of tie it all together that day, as well as on the panel.
Yvette Hampton: We’ve got a panel at the end of that day with all three of you just to answer some questions from those who will be part of the event. So if you guys have not yet signed up for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo, please do so. It’s only $20. You get the live event, it’ll be streamed live through Facebook and through the Homegrown Generation website. Then you’ll have lifetime access to be able to watch any of the sessions that you would like to watch at any time, and lots of free stuff. So we’ve got free virtual swag bags and lots of contest giveaways and things like that. It’s going to be a really fun event, but we are really excited to have you as part of that, and really just encouraged by your message, Israel, and the ministry that God had put on your heart. So, we’re excited to bring you back into the Expo to talk more about that with people, and then be able to interact with the people who are watching live.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, it’ll be fun.
Yvette Hampton: It’s going to be a lot of fun. So HomegrownGeneration.com. You can register on there. Israel, thank you again for your time. Thank you for your wisdom, and just for all you do for the homeschool community and for families. You are a huge blessing.
Israel Wayne: Well, we appreciate you guys and we’re excited about your ministry.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you.
Israel Wayne: We look forward to the conference. So again, everybody make sure you register and join the fun.
Coming Monday, February 17th to Friday, February 21, 2020, confirmed speakers for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo include Kirk Cameron, Heidi St. John, Sam Sorbo, Andrew Pudewa, Kathy Barnette, Israel Wayne, Ginger Hubbard, Todd Wilson, Leigh Bortins, Rachael Carman, Durenda Wilson, Pam Barnhill, Connie Albers, Jeannie Fulbright, Aby Rinella, Karen DeBeus, Ana Willis, and Danielle Papageorgiou, and many more!
All Homegrown Generation Homeschool Conference workshops will be available for live viewing and participation on a private Facebook Group and in the attendees area here. Every attendee will receive a Swag Bag featuring gifts and resources from our sponsors and speakers. Additionally, attendees will have access to a vendor’s hall, resource recommendations, and life-time access to the course materials and conference videos.
The Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo is a ministry of Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution, a feature-length documentary about homeschooling, currently in post-production. The proceeds from this event will go directly to help fund post-production on this important film.
The Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo will be hosted by Yvette Hampton, host of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast and will feature a workshop by Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast co-host, Aby Rinella.
“my job is that general contractor role where I have to know what’s going on in the family. I have to know my children by heart. I have to know where their weak points are, where their strengths are. I have to be able to identify when one of them is not doing well spiritually, when one of them is failing academically in some way. I need to have those conversations with my wife because she’s on the frontline, right? So, she sees … every day and have those conversations; “How are the kids doing? How are you doing? What do you need?”
Yvette Hampton: Today I am with Israel Wayne. I know so many of you are familiar with his name because you have seen him maybe on Facebook or you have heard him speak at a convention or you have read one of his books. Sometimes, Israel, I think you’re known as the Homeschool Guy, right?
Israel Wayne: Yeah, that’s kind of my moniker, the Homeschool Guy. I’ve got to trademark it.
Yvette: Right. I think you should. Tell us a little bit, Israel, about your family. And then, I’m really excited to have you on, today, and for you to just share about you and what God is doing in your life through homeschooling and having been homeschooled and all of that.
Israel: Sure. Well, my story goes back a little ways. My family started homeschooling in 1978 when I was just a little tyke. I had an older sister who had started into kindergarten in the public school system, and things didn’t go so well for her. She was very academically advanced when she entered kindergarten, but her teachers told my mother that they thought she had a learning disability and that she wouldn’t be able to learn. And, my mother knew that wasn’t correct and my sister hated going to school and she always complained about having stomach pain, and the other children made fun of her. She was kind of a quiet child and fairly studious, and she just didn’t fit into the kind of wild rambunctious type of activities and play that they did in the school, and so she really wanted to stay home with my mom.
After a few months of that, my mother actually took her out and began teaching her at home as she had done before sending her off to school, but unfortunately, we didn’t realize that, in those days, because of compulsory attendance laws, that was against the law, that you weren’t allowed to do that because your child had to be in school. And so, we ended up in court facing … possibly even having my sister removed from our home, having my parents lose their parental rights and having my sister put in foster care and then never seeing her again. That’s actually what homeschooling was like when we were being homeschooled.
The judge thankfully threw that case out of court. We ended up being in court several other times, but homeschooling didn’t actually become legal in the state in which I lived until the year after I graduated. I graduated in 1991 and it didn’t become legal until 1992 in that state, so it’s interesting how homeschooling has grown from 1978 when my family started with just a few hundred families back then, all disconnected. None of us knew each other. There was no network of homeschooling to what it is now with about two-and-a-half million students being home educated.
So, I was homeschooled. In 1988, my mother started a national homeschooling magazine. And so, when your mom publishes the national homeschool magazine, you’re kind of homeschooled. So, my wife, [Brooke 00:03:03], her mom started homeschooling in 1983. Her mom had heard Dr. Raymond Moore on Focus on the Family, on that very famous broadcast that kind of launched the homeschooling movement and started home educating, and her mom was part of the founding of the Arizona State Homeschool association, so we both grew up not only being homeschooled, but being homeschooled kind of in the national state leadership levels.
And then, in January of ’93, I started working as marketing director for Homeschool Digest Magazine, the publication my mother published and did that for 20 years and wrote my first book on homeschooling in 2000 giving my perspective as a homeschooled graduate, started speaking at homeschool conferences, keynoting homeschool conferences in 1995, and have just been doing this, now, for over 25 years full-time, serving the Christian homeschooling community and love what I get to do.
Five years ago, I started a ministry called Family Renewal with my wife and my sister, my older sister who was the one who kind of launched our homeschooling experience, and my children, so, for the last five years, I’ve done nothing but just travel around the country speaking at conferences and writing books, so, yeah, I’m somewhere between chronically and terminally homeschooled, I think, so that’s probably where that Homeschool Guy terminology comes in.
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Yvette: Yeah, it is literally in your blood. You win the prize. You are the homeschool guy. I don’t know that I know anyone who has actually been homeschooled as long as you. I know that there are people who have, but, yeah, you’ve been through it in … gosh, going through the whole process of it becoming legalized in your state and all of that, that’s pretty big. That’s quite something to experience, because we take it for granted that, “Oh, well, of course we get to homeschool,” and, I think oftentimes we forget that it hasn’t always been this easy. Tell us about your family. You have a couple of kids.
Israel: Yeah, we have nine, so far. The Lord’s blessed us with nine.
Israel: Our oldest is 18, and he’s just started two part-time jobs and he just got an offer for a third, so he’s just kind of jumped right out of high school into the real world, and he’s getting some good life experience. We’re pretty happy about that. We have … our children are about two years apart, so our youngest is two years old, and so we have nine children ages 18 down to two. We have four boys and five girls, and we have always homeschooled them and, by God’s grace, always will.
We got married because we had both been homeschooled. We just knew that there was nothing else that we would consider because for us, our experience is quite different, I think, than most people. Most people, when they close their eyes and think of the word education, they think of a big brick school building and a football field and they go in the building and there’s locker rooms and there’s a classroom and a blackboard. That wasn’t our experience. We just didn’t grow up that way. We didn’t go to government school, so for us, homeschooling was the natural conclusion. It’s like eating and breathing.
It’s like asking ourselves, “Will we feed and clothe our children?” It’s like, “Well, of course we’ll feed our children. What else would we do? Of course we’ll educate our children. What else would we do?” So, for us, we haven’t had this big paradigm shift that a lot of other people have. We haven’t had so much to try to unlearn, and homeschooling for us has never been … the plumb line for that has never been the school system. We’ve never thought about, “How do we try to do what we do the same way the school system does?” or, “How do we stay on the calendar of the school system or how do we teach the way the school system does?” Those questions are just completely outside of the scope of our experience.
So, I think homeschooling for us is a little bit different than it is for other people, but because of my day job, that I speak at conferences and I meet in person about 20,000 homeschooling families a year out on the road at conventions and so forth, I get to rub shoulders weekly with those families that are new to this process and hear their struggles and hear their questions. So, it helps us to remain relevant and be able to remember how difficult it is for them to try to come into this new world that, for them, it’s like visiting an alien planet or something. It’s this really strange other thing.
Yvette: Yeah, isn’t that fun, too? I love … it is literally one of my favorite things to meet a mom or a dad — but, typically, it’s the mom — who is just starting to think about homeschooling, and they’re like, “I keep hearing about this homeschooling thing, but I’m not so sure. I don’t know what it’s really all about,” and then you get that opportunity to just tell them, “Well, let me tell you what it’s all about,” and it’s so much fun, which is so much of the reason why we are filming this documentary on homeschooling is because we really want people to see the real picture of what homeschooling looks like, and we don’t make it all daisies and roses. It’s not always easy, but it sure is a blessing. I love it, and I love it when that light comes on and those scales fall from their eyes and they’re like, “Oh, homeschooling is amazing and your kids are not socially awkward and they can be well educated,” and there’s just so many benefits and it’s so fun. I love, love, love talking to new homeschoolers or those who just don’t know yet that they are new homeschoolers. That’s always fun.
Israel: Yeah, everybody homeschools until they stop, right? So, everyone homeschools their children, I think, threw the most difficult stages of teaching them how to be potty trained and how to feed themselves with a fork and how to tie their shoes and these really epic difficult things that we think … really, you need a PhD in engineering to teach a kid how to tie his shoes, in my opinion. Potty training? That’s psychology and sociology and anthropology. It’s all kinds of stuff.
Yvette: Physical science.
Israel: Yeah, exactly. It’s terrible, and it’s like we get through all that and then we’re like, “Oh, colors and numbers and shapes, I don’t think I can do that. I’m just a parent. I’m not an expert,” and it’s just so sad that, the fact that 6,000 years of human history, people have always taught their children. Now, all of a sudden, we’ve been crippled into thinking, “Oh, we couldn’t possibly do what people have done for thousands and thousands of years,” because in the last 160 years, we have a different paradigm. It’s really an odd perspective. The institutional school system is really the new kid on the block. It’s the untried, untested method.
Yvette: Oh, yeah, absolutely, yes, yes. So, you also had another kind of twist to your childhood in that your mom, for part of your childhood, was a single mom and homeschooled you as a single mom.
Israel: Yeah, that’s right. About the time that I was hitting high school, my mom became a single parent and I had had an abusive stepfather, unfortunately. My parents divorced when I was six and she remarried and so, really, he was more of a detriment than anything, but, eventually, he ended up leaving, and so then it was like we had to learn how to build some stability into our family. So, I had these younger sisters that, she was homeschooling full-time, so when I hit high school … my mom had dropped out of school in ninth grade, so she didn’t even go to high school, so, here she was, had these two high school students, and at that time, she got us Abeka video school, and that worked out great for me because all she had to do was basically create a lesson plan, and I knew how to follow the lesson plan by that time, and I ended up doing all four years of Abeka Video School in two years. So, it was kind of accelerated distance education before that was even a thing.
And so, I graduated a few days before I turned 16, got a really good academic education at home, but I remember before I entered high school, my mother said, “I have these younger girls that I have to teach. I have a business that I’m running. I don’t have time to hold your hand all day, so, basically, I’ve taught you how to read. I’ve taught you how to think. I’ve taught you how to study. I’ve taught you how to learn, and so, this is going to be what you make of it. If you want to learn, you’re going to have an opportunity. If you don’t want to learn, I can’t make you. I can’t force you. Nobody can. Even if you were in a school, they can’t force you. They can’t make you learn. They can incarcerate you and make you sit there, but they can’t make you learn.”
So, she said, “It’s really up to you. If you want to learn, you’re going to have an opportunity,” and she said, “You have all the tools you need,” so teach yourself,” and that’s what I ended up doing through high school. So, people who feel like, “Oh, I couldn’t possibly homeschool,” my mom homeschooled six kids as a high school dropout, a single parent, and when she became a Christian when I turned 12, one thing she told us is she said, “We’re going to go off government assistance and we’re not going to get food stamps anymore. We’re just going to trust God and God’s going to provide.” And, I thought two things. I thought, first of all, number one, you’re crazy. Number two, we’re all going to starve. And, God blessed her business and it prospered and she was able to provide for us and homeschool, just a real testimony to her willingness to follow the Lord, that … I believe God doesn’t call you to something and then fail to equip you.
Yvette: Sure, oh, absolutely. I agree completely, and that’s been our experience with homeschooling for sure. I think you and I have talked about this and stuff, that we said we would never, ever high school, and part of the reason for that was that … I mean, there were many reasons we said that, but part of it was that I hated school, and so did Garritt. We were not good students. We did not enjoy school at all, and the kind of ironic thing is: we actually hated going to school and so we thought, “Well, why would we ever homeschool our kids. We’ll send them to school.”
Oh gosh, anyway, but I thought because I hated school so much, “Why would I want to homeschool my kids,” and I thought that I was not equipped enough to be able to do that, and God has proven that, like you said. He has given us everything that we’ve needed, and our schooling looks incredibly different than a whole lot of other people’s. We travel a lot. We’re filming this documentary. We just have a very different lifestyle right now, but, God is working. My girls are learning and, quite honestly, they’re learning the necessary things, but quite honestly, if all they ever learned was to love the lord and love the word of God, then I’m okay with that.
Israel: That’s interesting. Could I jump on that real quick?
Yvette: Yeah, of course.
Israel: You know, in Matthew 6:33, Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you,” and the other things he was talking about there were material provisions. He was talking about our clothes and needing food to eat and daily provision and that kind of thing, and he said, “These are the things you worry about; are they going to be able to make a living? Are they going to be able?” all that kind of stuff that people worry about, and they think, “Well, if I homeschool, they’re going to be deprived. They won’t be able to take care of themselves in life.”
But, Jesus has already promised that that will be a given if we seek first the kingdom and his righteousness, and he also said, “What does it profit a man if he gains the entire world and forfeits his own soul,” and so, in terms of our priorities, I think some people think that we’re saying, “Well, we’re going to focus on godly character to the exclusion of academics,” as though somehow these two things are enemies. What was fascinating to the researchers 30 years ago when the first homeschool research came out from Dr. Brian Ray, when they started testing homeschoolers, was these homeschooling students whose parents had a high school diploma or less were scoring 30 percentile higher on the standardized achievement tests than students in government schools whose parents were PhDs or had teaching certificates and so on.
The academic schooling of the parent didn’t really factor in. What factored in was parental involvement, and so these moms and dads who had high school diplomas and less that just loved their kids and tried to instill their values in their kids, their kids actually did better academically, as well, and it’s that Matthew 6:33 principle. It’s not that the academics aren’t important, but they’re not our primary focus. They’re not our primary objective, so, I didn’t mean to preach, there. It just came out, so-
Yvette: No, I love that, and you’re absolutely right. And, you know, we’ve told our girls, “I don’t really care about them knowing science or history or math or English for any other reason but because it points them back to Jesus.” They have to know how to write so that they can write about God. They have to know how to read so that they can read his word. They have to understand basic science because God is the creator of it all and they need to understand their creator and the awesomeness of his creator. They need to understand basic history because, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, and they need to understand the history of God’s creation and God’s world and what he has done with it and his perfect plan as it has unfolded throughout history.
But, if they’re being taught those things apart from the word of God and apart from a biblical worldview, then they’re not really being taught those things properly at all and who cares that they’re learning them at all. And so, while academics are certainly not the most important thing, the Bible is, but I love that as a homeschool family, we get to use all of those things to just point them back to their savior and creator, and it’s so much fun to be able to be the one to do that with them.
Israel: Yeah, and teaching them how to love God with all their heart. Those things bring out the wonder in all of who he is. The second factor of loving your neighbor as yourself is that if you’re truly going to love your neighbor, some academics actually help in that, because if you sloughed off during the anatomy class and you’re a surgeon and you got extra parts leftover that you don’t know where they go at the end of the surgery, that’s not a blessing for your neighbor, or you’re an airplane pilot and you just didn’t think that those physics classes were all that interesting and you’ve got 240 people screaming in the final minutes of their life; that’s not a blessing to your neighbor when you’re … so, in loving God and loving our neighbor, academics help us to love God more and they help us to learn how to love our neighbors as well.
Yvette: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. Let me back up really quickly because I want to talk about something that you kind of just breezed through it, but I know the lights went off in my brain and I know that there’s others listening to this who go, “But how?” You said your mom came to you when you were in high school and she said, “I’ve taught you to read. I’ve taught you to think. I’ve taught you to study. I’ve taught you to learn. Now go do it. I can’t spend time holding your hand to do this.” How does one do that?
And, I think I’m even in that season right now with my girls. I’ve got a seven-year-old and a 12-year-old where I’m trying to teach them. They both can … well, my seven-year-old is still learning how to read a little bit. She’s getting much better at it, but I’m teaching them how to think and we’re trying to teach them how to study and how to learn so that they can go out and do that, and because, once they’re out of our home, I don’t want the learning to stop. I was one who, like I said, I didn’t enjoy school at all, and I remember, oh man, I could not wait until my high school graduation because I was never going to have to go back to another classroom again and sit in a class and have a lecture. That was just torture to me.
And so, I just thought, “Well, my learning is done,” and I crossed that off my list and I was like, “Okay, I’m ready to get married and have kids and move on with my life,” and, for my girls, I don’t want that for them. I mean, I want them to move on with life and get married and have kids, but I want them to have a life of learning and knowing how to study and knowing how to study the word of God and study whatever God has bent them towards in their interests. How did your mom teach you to do that and how are you teaching your kids to read and think and study and learn so that they can continue to do that?
Israel: Oh, there’s so many things. My mom was good at asking questions. Very rarely would she give me an answer to something. She would ask questions. She would ask questions that would lead me to figure it out on my own. She would encourage me to go study it on my own. There were times where I was … I remember when I was 15 telling her, “God doesn’t have an opinion on education. It doesn’t matter how you educate your children,” and she said, “I would like for you to write an article or write an essay on that and try to support your view from scripture.” So, she gave me an assignment on it.
Interestingly, that became a book that came out a couple years ago called Education: Does God Have an Opinion? And so, throwing it back at me was one way. Reading real books I think, is an important thing we do. We do that a lot with our children, having them read firsthand historical accounts, having them read real history as opposed to just novels. Having them read a lot of biographies gives them a broad perspective of the world. It opens their mind to thoughts and ideas, real life experience that’s outside of just a textbook and the academic at-a-desk learning, but a lot of asking questions, teaching them how to think through something, teaching them how to communicate through … I mean, my mom would say, “If you know what you believe, you know why your beliefs are true and you can communicate effectively through written and spoken communication, you’ll get to be a leader.”
Well, I was a nobody kid. I was an ADHD dyslexic kid that nobody thought could learn, and I’ve made a pretty successful living as a national conference speaker and author as a kid who didn’t learn how to read until he was 11. How does that happen? It happened because I had a context, first of all, where my love of learning didn’t get killed, and that’s what happens in institutional schools. They just systematically kill the love of learning for most students. And, thankfully, that didn’t happen to me. And so, I was a late bloomer, if you will, but just being just given the opportunity to learn the way that I learned and learn on my own time schedule, learn at my own pace, and just that constant unlocking of this world of discovery and inquiry rather than trying to fill my head full of facts and data and information, just unlocking doors to help me go explore. I think that’s way more effective in the long-run than trying to force your kid to remember information they’re never going to remember anyway.
Yvette: Sure, and I love asking questions. Garritt, my husband, he’s really good at that with our girls. Every day, we have our family devotion time and we always usually … we either memorize scripture or we read through a book of the bible, and so any time we’re reading through a passage of scripture, he always quizzes them at the end. “Okay, what did this talk about? What does this mean?” And, it’s so amazing to realize how well they understand what it is that they’re hearing.
And, when we first started doing that, it was a little bit of a struggle for them and they kind of go, “I don’t know. I don’t know what that meant,” and as we’ve done it over the years, of course, they get it. They understand, and if they don’t understand, then he’ll say, “What do you think it means,” and they’ll give their answer and then he’ll say, “Well, not really. This is what it actually means,” and, oh, it’s such a fantastic way for kids to understand the word of God and what it is that they’re hearing and learning, so-
Israel: One of the books that I wrote is a book called Questions God Asks, and it was based on a study I was doing through the Old Testament. I started noticing repeatedly that God asked questions of people, and so I started to write down any time I saw a question that God asked a person, and I asked myself, “What’s the purpose of this question? What’s the topic? What is it that God wants these people to think about?” And so, I ended up writing a book on that of 19 questions in the Old Testament that God asked people, and then I wrote a sequel to it called Questions Jesus Asks: 20 Questions in the New Testament that Jesus asked his disciples and the Pharisees and other people, and it just struck me as I wrote both of those books how God teaches and how Jesus taught through the art of asking questions, not nearly through didactic prose or some sort of teaching where you’re standing up telling everybody what to believe, but through drawing them out and saying, “Who do men say that I am? Who do you say that I am? Why do you call me good?” and so on. So, I’ve learned a lot from just even studying the questions God asked and the questions Jesus asked in the Bible about how to be a better question asker for myself as a parent.
Yvette: I love that. I think you’re familiar with Ginger Hubbard, right? You know who she is, so we recently did a podcast episode with her as well, and she literally … we talked about that exact same thing, and she said that’s one of the most important things, because, you know, when we’re teaching our kids to obey, it’s not just about their actions. It’s about their heart, and so one of the ways you get to their heart is by asking heart probing questions, you know, “Why did you make that decision?” just asking questions about the choices that they’re making that make them really think about what it is that they’re doing, so that is awesome.
Okay, so you’ve … let’s shift gears a little bit. I want to talk a little bit about a couple of the books that you’ve written. You mentioned one already. Well, actually, I think you’ve mentioned two of them. What books have you written? And, we’ll actually link to these in the show notes so that people can have an idea of what they are. They don’t have to write them down.
Israel: Sure. The books that are still available in print are Questions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks. And then, on homeschooling, I’ve written Education: Does God Have an Opinion? And that, I believe, is really, probably the most comprehensive book written to date on what a biblical philosophy of education looks like, and I actually go through each of the major academic subjects and teach how this subject will be taught either from a humanistic worldview or from a biblical worldview, and how most Christian homeschoolers who are teaching their children at home using a Christian curriculum are actually giving their child a humanistic view of geography or science or math or language arts or history rather than a biblical worldview because they don’t have the right paradigm. They don’t know how to think biblically about that topic.
And so, I actually walk them through each of those academic subjects and teach them, “How do you teach these subjects from a distinctly biblical philosophy?” I don’t know of any other books out there that are quite like Education: Does God Have an Opinion. And then the latest one … well, and then, there’s a parenting book that my wife and I wrote called Pitching a Fit: Overcoming Angry and Stressed Out Parenting. That’s probably our best seller, actually. Most parents have children, and with children come stress, so it’s kind of a universally relevant book.
But then, I wrote one called Full-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based Discipleship, and that’s really the big picture of: how do we disciple our kids and how do we get their hearts and keep their hearts. And then, my latest book that just came out this year is called Answers For Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, and this was one that, after I’d written Education: Does God Have an Opinion, I thought, “Man, I’ve covered everything. I’ve addressed this whole biblical philosophy of education,” and Master Books, my publisher came to me and said, “You know, the thing is, this book is really comprehensive, but there are a lot of the basic fundamental questions that people still here and they still get asked or they wonder themselves, ‘How can I teach my children on a single income?’ Or, ‘What if I’m a single parent?’ Or, ‘What about sports?’ Or, ‘How do I keep a transcript?’ Or, ‘What about college?'” and just all these questions that people had.
“What about salt and light? Should my children be in the schools to be salt and light, and maybe we should send them as missionaries,” and all those kinds of things. They still get asked, and so, I wanted to take the top 25 objections that people have to homeschooling and reasons that they say, “Homeschooling’s a bad idea because …” and then, I wanted to systematically dismantle those objections in a way that would give someone confidence if they’re looking at this and saying, “I’m thinking of going into homeschooling.” I wanted them to have all their questions answered in one resource. But then, also, there are people that are already homeschooling, and they’re sold on it. They don’t need convinced to homeschool, but they have a skeptic in their life whether a parent, an in-law, a neighbor, unfortunately even sometimes church leaders, you know, just people that say, “Oh, well, how do you know you’re not going to ruin them?” or whatever.
And so, I wanted to give them a book that would help them to defend their position and give them solid answers just like in Christian apologetics. You read an apologetics book to learn how to defend your Christian faith so when somebody says, “Well, how do you know the Bible is the word of God?” Or, “How do you know that people didn’t just make up the Bible and wrote it 500 years ago?” all that kind of stuff, how are you going to give your answer? What’s your apologetic. This is kind of an apologetic for homeschooling, a defense for homeschooling.
Yvette: Yeah, that is great. What I love about this book is that it’s written by a dad. Because, oftentimes … and, I know you hear this and I’m certain that you talk to men all over the country. Oftentimes, it’s the wife who wants to homeschool, and Dad is saying, “I don’t know about that,” or, “No, that’s not a good idea. We need to put the kids in school,” and so, many homeschool books are written by moms, which are great. I mean, there are so many great books out there, but I love that this is written by a dad because it can be for anybody, but I think this is an excellent book to give to dads or to grandparents. That’s another huge group of people that are from a different generation, and so, oftentimes, grandparents will say, “You want to do what? You want to homeschool our grandkids? Why would you do such a thing?” and this is a great book to be able to hand to people.
Again, that’s partly why we’re making Schoolhouse Rocked is because we want to give people a tool that they can hand to their husband or to their parents or two their friends or siblings and say, “Here’s why we’re doing this. Just read this book or watch this movie and you’ll understand why it is that we’ve made this decision for our family, or why I want to make this decision for our family.”
Okay, you said … you have been to how many conventions, this year?
Israel: Oh, goodness, this year, I don’t know for sure, but I know I’ve spoken at 245 events in the last five years. I calculated that the other day.
Yvette: Oh wow, that’s a lot of speaking. And, all of those, are they all homeschool related or are those-
Israel: Now, some of those are family camps. I do a lot of parenting seminars. I speak in churches sometimes. I just did an apologetics weekend where I was actually teaching Christian apologetics in England at a church there, and so I do a lot of different kinds of things, but I would say probably three quarters of what I do is homeschool and family discipleship related.
Yvette: Okay, now you’ve got top 25 questions critics ask in this book. If you had to narrow it down to maybe the top five concerns that people have for homeschooling, could you narrow it down to that?
Israel: Yeah, I think I would say the top five would be socialization. “What about sports? What about college? Am I qualified to do this?” And then, what comes to my mind is the fifth is just a myriad of excuses why they don’t want to. That’s probably not an answer, but that’s what came to my mind because sometimes you realize at the end of the day, these objections are actually not real objections. I wrote an article one time and I called it The Dog Ate My Lesson Planner, because it’s like eventually you kind of realize that some people just don’t want to, and, fair enough, you don’t want to, you don’t want to.
And, people who don’t want to won’t, but my view is: if you really want to, you may not be able to get where you want to go in one easy step. You may not be able to get from point A, where you are now, to point B, where you want to be financially and your situation and work-related issues and all of that, but, I believe if it’s your desire that you want to disciple your own children at home, God will make a path for you, and you give it time and you give it prayer and develop a strategy, develop a game plan, and I believe God will allow you to realize that, because I think it really is his heart for parents to take responsibility for teaching and leading and disciplining their own children.
So, if you want to do it, I believe there’s a path. That’s why you’re doing this video. That’s why I’m doing this book because we believe you can and we just want to help remove the barriers. People that don’t want to, at the end of the day, it’s just, “Well, then, don’t,” right? It’s kind of as simple as that. So, sometimes, I think we just kind of have to be honest. I remember reading a survey that was done by a major Christian organization and they asked a question, “If you didn’t have to pay for it, would you give your child a Christian education,” and 77% of the respondents said, “Yes, I would homeschool or put my children in a Christian school if I didn’t have to pay for it with my own money.” And so, to me, that really kind of shows a big priority issue with a lot of people that that’s really the hiccup for them. They don’t actually believe the public school system is the best thing for their child. They don’t want to foot the bill for it or feel they can’t right now, and so I think that’s a huge issue, is the money.
Yvette: Yeah, and I think so many of these things really point back to misconceptions. People, they have misconceptions about what homeschooling is and what it’s going to look like for their family. I know we were in that same boat where we thought all the same silly things. “Our kids aren’t going to be socialized and they’re going to be weird and they’re not going to have a good education and they’re not going to get into college and they’re not going to be able to go to prom and go to football games,” or whatever it is that society has told us are the important things. And, as we have come into homeschooling, of course, you know, the Lord has completely changed our hearts about it and I’m so thankful for that.
But, again, like you said, part of the reason why we’re filming Schoolhouse Rocked is because we want to debunk all of those misconceptions and negative stereotypes that people have, and, surprisingly enough, we have had so much fun. One of my favorite parts of filming has been doing street interviews and just walking up to random people on the street and just saying, “Hey, can we ask you some questions and interview you about education?” Some people are like, “Oh, no, we’ve got lunch plans in two minutes,” and they’ll walk away and then other people are like, “Sure,” and we thought, going out, that more people would say, “Well, homeschooled kids are socially awkward and they’re not well-educated and they’re this and they’re that,” and we’re not finding that. It has been so fascinating.
We, I think, have only had a couple people say that, but, overall, I think our society is starting to shift for sure and say, “No, homeschooling …” we’re seeing it. We’re seeing that homeschooling is a good thing, and most people are saying, “Well, I’ve got a cousin who homeschools or a niece who homeschools or something like that, and, you know, their kids aren’t weird and their kids are really smart,” and so, people, I think their eyes are being opened to answering these questions without them even realizing it.
Israel: It takes a while. Yeah, I posted on Facebook a while back, “1982: ‘Don’t tell anyone you don’t go to school.’ -My grandmother. 2012, 30 years later: ‘Everyone should homeschool.’ -My grandmother.”
Yvette: Yeah, oh, that’s awesome.
Israel: It just takes time because people have biases, and sometimes they just have to see that the myths are really that; they’re just myths.
You know, I think that nine times out of ten, the best rule in parenting is: go with your gut. You almost never regret it. When you have a strong sense, an inkling that something’s not right or that something needs to be changed or that you need to be doing something with your child, we usually talk ourselves out of doing the thing that we know we ought to do.
Yvette: Exactly, that that is all that they are, and we’re desperately hoping to be able to show that homeschooling is not what people think that it is. And, so many people are at a loss right now as to what to do with their kids with school. They can’t afford private school or don’t want their kids to go to private school, and they’re not so sure anymore about public school because, “Is there going to be a lockdown? Is my kid going to be safe? What are they being taught in the classroom?” And so, I think a lot of people are coming into homeschooling scared. Talk to those parents who are coming in and they’re hesitant, but they feel like, “I know I’m supposed to do this, and I’m in. I’m buying into this, but I’m really, really scared.” What do you say to those parents?
Israel: You know, I think that nine times out of ten, the best rule in parenting is: go with your gut. You almost never regret it. When you have a strong sense, an inkling that something’s not right or that something needs to be changed or that you need to be doing something with your child, we usually talk ourselves out of doing the thing that we know we ought to do. That’s just a bad idea and we allow other people to talk us out of what we know is the right thing to do for our child. Nobody knows your child better than you do. No one loves your child better than you do? God didn’t give your child to somebody else. God gave your child to you. He gave that child to you because he believes that you, more and better than anyone else in the entire universe, are qualified and capable to make the decisions that are best for their future.
You have to trust that. Do you believe God makes mistakes? Do you think God is inept and incompetent and incapable and that’s why he gave that child to you? No, that’s not true. God doesn’t make mistakes. God gave that child to you because he believes you are the best person in the universe to make the right decisions for that child, so do it. Make the right decisions for that child and never apologize to anyone for being a good parent. And so, I just say: when you feel that pit in your stomach that just says, “I just don’t feel like this is right. I don’t think this is good. I don’t think we’re doing the right thing by our child here,” you need to listen to that because, a lot of times, that’s the leading of the holy spirit.
Yvette: Yeah, oh, absolutely, absolutely. I want to talk a little bit with you about your role as dad and leader of your home. You mentioned this briefly a few minutes ago, too, about leading your home spiritually. What does that look like in your home? I’m hoping that dads are listening to this, too, but I know it will mostly be moms, probably, but, how can you encourage dads to take that role? Because, with homeschooling, typically, it’s mom who does the educating part. Though, you know, homeschooling is life. It’s a lifestyle. It’s not just, “it down at a desk from 8:00 to 2:00 and do your worksheets,” but … okay, let me ask this a couple different ways. One, how can a dad encourage and support his wife and his kids through homeschooling? And then, my second question is: how can a dad lead his family well spiritually?
Israel: Great questions. I have a chapter in the New Answers For Homeschooling book specifically for dads where I address: what’s a dad to do? What’s the dad’s role in all this? And, the metaphor that I use with a lot of men just because I know it connects with them or they’ll at least understand the concept, is I say, “Suppose that you are a general contractor in construction and a homeowner hires you to build a house for them and you are supposed to oversee every facet of this construction project and you’ve been given this responsibility. You may subcontract out pieces and parts of that so that you have a drywall guy, an electrician, a plumber. You may not actually be physically doing all of the labor. You may do some of it, but you might not do all of the physical labor on the project. But, if something goes wrong in that process, you have to be aware of it. You have to be involved on a daily basis so that your workers have the tools that they need; they’re equipped to be able to do the job right so that … they’re provided for adequately to be able to accomplish what you’ve given them to do. But, ultimately, the responsibility is with you. If there’s a problem with the house, the homeowner’s not going to talk to the plumbing guy or the electrician? They’re going to come talk to you because you’re the general contractor.”
And so, we look in scripture. We see in Ephesians 6:4 … out of many, many passages that I could pick, I’ll just grab that one where Paul says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but train them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” And, in the Greek, that word admonition is the Greek word paideia. And, it’s interesting: if you look that up in, say, Encyclopedia Britannica and you look at the description that’s given there, in the Greek culture that Paul was writing to, that word was so pervasive, it was so universal that every single academic subject or discipline that could be taught was contained in the word paideia.
So, Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, says: gymnastics, history, literature, logic, philosophy, all of the subjects, all of the academic disciplines; they’re all contained within the word paideia, and so Paul says something super powerful there. He says, “Fathers, don’t provoke your children to wrath, but train them up in the paideia of the Lord,” not the paideia of the world, but the paideia of the Lord. And so, what does that look like? Now, the Greeks, they knew what the paideia of the world looked like. They had the Socratic schools and they had that whole pagan academic educational institution system. They knew what that looked like, but what was the paideia of the Lord? That’s what Paul was calling fathers to be responsible for, and it literally is fathers, there.
And so, it’s interesting that, unfortunately, in our Christian evangelical subculture, men have been more or less convinced, somehow … and, it’s been at least allowed within the church culture, this notion that as long as you go to work and you bring home a paycheck, that’s all you have to do. It’s your wife’s job to raise the children, discipline the children, feed the children, educate the children. Well, usually, it’s the government’s job to educate the children. It’s your wife’s job to raise the children. Scripture just doesn’t say that. It’s not what scripture says.
So, being a dad who has, at times … like I said, for 20 years, I had a day job, and so I would go to work and come home and so I was like all these other dads where I didn’t have the ability to be as involved on the academic day-in-day-out side of things as I would have wanted. I looked at it as: my job is that general contractor role where I have to know what’s going on in the family. I have to know my children by heart. I have to know where their weak points are, where their strengths are. I have to be able to identify when one of them is not doing well spiritually, when one of them is failing academically in some way. I need to have those conversations with my wife because she’s on the frontline, right? So, she sees … every day and have those conversations; “How are the kids doing? How are you doing? What do you need?”
And, another thing … again, I don’t know if any guys are going to listen to this, but, wives, make sure your husband hears this and play it back for him and make him think it’s his idea, but, guys, seriously, we spend money on what’s important to us, and I know guys that spend money on boats and on guns and their hobbies and golf or whatever it is that they do that’s important to them, video games, whatever, and yet, when their wife wants to get curriculum to teach their children, they get all put out of sorts about it and they’re like, “Well, we don’t have the budget for that.” Are you kidding me? Are you serious? You don’t have the budget for that? Better find a way to make the budget for that because these are your children. These are eternal souls that are in your home that God has given to you, and I just would say to the men, “You will never ever regret any money that you put into helping your wife become more effective as a woman of God, more effective as a mom, more effective as a wife,” even if that’s time away for her to just regroup or whatever.
You will never regret money that you invest in your wife and that you invest in your kids. Your boat, your hobbies, that sport scar, whatever, those things are going to rust, but these eternal souls and these relationships we have that are … hopefully these children are going to embrace our faith and are going to follow us into eternity. These are not something you want to go cheap on, and so I just would say any money you put in that direction is money well spent. Go to the homeschool conferences with your wife and support her. Go together. Talk about these things. Have date nights that are strategy planning sessions, and, as much as you can, teach the subjects yourself if they’re subjects that you like, that you’re good at. Whether it’s history or math or whatever, be involved as well on the academic side. And, just quickly … I went on a soapbox with that.
Yvette: Yeah, no, I love it.
Israel: But, I read an article where they asked kids in public schools, “What’s the most important academic subject that you could learn?” And, I was surprised to find that of all these thousands of students across America that they polled, every single student gave the same exact answer which academic subject was most important. You know what it is?
Yvette: What was it? Not a clue.
Israel: I wouldn’t have a clue, either, but it was in Scientific American or some magazine, Popular Mechanics, something like that. Turns out that it’s whatever subject Dad helps them with in homework.
Israel: Because, apparently, kids realize Dad has limited time, and so, if Dad is taking his precious time to help me with math, then math must be the most important thing. Or, if he’s helping me with science, then science must be the most important subject. Kids just automatically made that connection. So, one of the things that I think is super important — you asked about the spiritual side — that I do as a dad, the two most important things I do as a dad is homeschooling my children, and then secondly — you mentioned this about Garritt — doing daily Bible time with my children. I lead them through the scripture verse by verse all the way through the Bible, and I’ve done that since they were born. And, that wasn’t something I grew up with.
Yvette: Yeah, it wasn’t something I grew up with, either.
Israel: It wasn’t something I had modeled for me, but it’s the most important thing that I do apart from homeschooling, and I would strongly encourage: dads, if you haven’t done that, to make that a priority. And, there’s not necessarily a right way. You don’t have to do it like I do it. You don’t have to do it like Garritt does it. You can do you. You do you. If you just-
Yvette: Right, right. Yeah, and I think some dads feel like, “Well, I’m not a pastor. I’m not a church leader. I don’t know enough about the Bible.” Simply open it up and read. If you can read, then you can lead your family spiritually, and it is such a sweet time. I love that time with our family and it’s all our girls know. If we come to … we usually do ours in the morning time, but sometimes, you know, if we have to be somewhere early and we don’t get it done before bed, our girls will say, “We haven’t done family Bible time yet,” because it’s almost … you feel like you haven’t put on your seatbelt when you get in the car like you’re just missing something, and, you know, it’s just so, so, important.
And, I think, also, our kids seeing us spending time in God’s word is so incredibly powerful. A lot of husbands don’t take that step of leading their family spiritually, and that’s where I would tell the moms, “Pray, just pray, and ask that the Lord would convict them of that, and that doesn’t mean that their husbands don’t love the Lord, but, you know, pray that God would give them that conviction of leading their family spiritually, but, for the moms, too, goodness gracious, especially if your husband is not leading your family in family devotions each day, let your kids watch you, and not to do it like the Pharisees and have it be a show, you know, “Look at me reading my Bible, kids,” but, let them see you in the word of God. Let them see you on your knees praying. Let them see you digging in and trying to learn because like Heidi St. John says all the time, “You can’t give your kids what you don’t have. You can’t teach them what you don’t know.”
If we don’t know the word of God, we can’t teach it to our kids, but, you know, we can take the time to learn it on our own. So, wow: so much good stuff. You are so encouraging. I feel like I could talk with you for hours and hours and I’m so encouraged by what God is doing through you and through your ministry and through your family. I appreciate that you take your time to go and talk at homeschool conventions. Conventions were huge for us, for Garritt and I when we first started thinking about homeschooling. And, the reason that we decided to homeschool was because we really didn’t have a choice. We’re from Los Angeles County. The schools in our area were terrible and we thought, “Well, we don’t have any other options so I guess we’ll homeschool even though we said we would never ever, ever homeschool,” and, when we decided … and, we started talking about it. We had some friends invite us to CHEA, which is the California homeschool convention, and so we went there our first year, and, literally, in one weekend, our hearts were turned around and God just opened our yes up and we said, “Homeschooling is not what we thought it was, first of all. And, second of all, this is going to be amazing and it’s going to be hard at times, but it’s going to be the best thing for our family.”
And we’re so thankful for speakers like you. God has given you that platform to go out and to encourage families face-to-face and through books and through your ministry and your podcast and your Facebook page and all of that, so thank you for all that you do. Thank you, Israel, so much, for your time and for your ministry and just for how you’ve blessed our family and how you continue to bless others. And, thank you for being part of Schoolhouse Rocked. We are super excited to have you as part of the cast, very exciting.
Israel: Well, I’m excited about it, as well, and thank you guys for what you do. I believe God’s going to do big things for this film.
National Homeschool Day exists to equip homeschool parents with the resources they need to help their children learn about God’s creation through hands-on experience and interactive resources. Biblical Worldview Learning Centers across the country welcome homeschool leaders and homeschool learners on this special day, tailored for parents and youth to help them better understand how they can incorporate their local, faith-affirming resources into their home education.
Register here (Just scroll down to the “Locations” area to find an event near you) to join great speakers like Israel Wayne (Family Renewal), Barb & Rich Heki, Dr. Lainna Callentine
(Sciexperience), Sherri Seligson (Apologia), Kyle Justice (Awesome Science Media) on February 23rd for this exciting online conference. You can also meet the speakers and get some great homeschool freebies in their Facebook Launch Party, on January 28th. These nationally-known homeschool leaders, each of whom are homeschool parents themselves, will be giving presentations all across the nation through this simulcast. Pick a location and get a chance to hear from our speakers throughout the day. At select in-network locations, participants will have the ability to take part in special activities and hands-on learning.
Here are just a few of the dozens of valid reasons millions of families have chosen to home educate their children:
You can pass on your faith and values to your children.
Spending time with your own children is a priceless treasure.
Students can specialize in, and pursue, their own unique interests.
Homeschooling encourages socialization with all ages, not just same-aged peers.
Homeschooling allows for a customized educational approach to fit each child’s learning style.
Homeschooling offers a wider range of curriculum options than public schools.
Homeschooling allows families to avoid Common Core curriculum.
Homeschooling can provide better average academic outcomes.
Homeschooling allows families to avoid bullying, violence, drugs, and negative peer pressure common in many schools .
Students can learn at their own pace.
Homeschooling provides the freedom to fit schooling hours around your lifestyle / schedule.
Homeschooling allows for travel and “roadschooling” as a family.
Homeschooling provides opportunities for students to contribute to family businesses and learn entrepreneurship.
Parents direct sex education and what students learn when.
Homeschooling accommodates special health issues or dietary needs of children.
Learning-challenged students can use special resources just for them.
Students are exposed to a wider range of beliefs and experiences than in a one-size-fits-all classroom.
Parents can fill in gaps from your their public school education by learning alongside your children.
Children learn from real-life experiences, not merely textbooks.
Learning can be fun, creative and enjoyable, as opposed to “drill and kill.”
There are many great homeschooling support organizations, like HSLDA on the national level, as well as state and local homeschooling associations. These organizations can provide encouragement, information, networking, and social activities for you and your family. No parent, at the end of his or her life, ever regrets the time they personally spent investing in his or her child. People almost always find the time and money to do the things that are the most important to them. What could possibly be more important than our own children?
Giving your child the one-on-one attention and customized opportunities they deserve is a great gift to them. No one knows your child better than you, no one loves them more than you. Therefore, no one is better qualified to help them walk through life than you. For all the best reasons, your child will benefit from you giving the best of your time and wisdom. May God bless you as you pursue academic excellence for your child and a relationship that can never be replaced.
Have you ever wondered why we chose the title, Schoolhouse Rocked, for a documentary on homeschooling? The “rocked” in the title refers to the impact that we see homeschooling having on “traditional” education models.
3a. To disturb the mental or emotional equilibrium of; upset: “News of the scandal rocked the town.”
We are really excited about the revolution currently going on in education and we want Schoolhouse Rocked to literally shake the foundations of education and culture: to completely undermine the notion that public school is the primary way we should be educating our nation’s children.
While homeschooling has been the standard educational model throughout history, in the last 150 years public schooling has taken over the education of our children. In that time the vast majority of parents have become convinced that it is normal and right to send your 5-year-olds off to a government institution to be taught by “experts” for the next 13 years (at least) of their lives. Many parents willfully ignore that this modern model of public schooling is based on socialism and secular humanism, and that the intent of its founders (men like John Dewey and Horace Mann) was to separate families to allow for the indoctrination of children. For too long, parents haven’t believed that there was a viable alternative to public schools or expensive private schools (many of which use the same industrial educational model as public schools, but sometimes wrap this instruction in a layer of Bible), so they have sent their kids off to the threat of violence, to negative social influences and peer pressure, and to indoctrination in progressivism, socialism, perverse sexuality, evolution, and the religion of secular humanism. To top it off, while violence and godlessness is on the rise in public schools, academic performance is declining. This massive social experiment has failed!
While homeschooling has existed throughout the rise of public education, until recently (1993), it wasn’t even legal in all 50 states. In the past few decades, homeschooling has seen incredible growth and it is finally being seen as a viable, dare we say mainstream option. There is a wealth of excellent materials available for homeschooling families, from curriculum, to co-ops, conventions, podcasts, blogs, and much more. Now, around 2.3 million students are being homeschooled in the United States, and the movement is growing around the world. This is “the Homeschool Revolution!”
We want Schoolhouse Rocked to fuel explosive growth in homeschooling. Our mission with the film is to encourage and equip homeschool families to start strong and finish well, so let’s talk about what that actually means. The film will, first, call parents to their responsibility to train up their children. The Bible tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6), and “…bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:4). In fact, while there are scores of Bible verses and passages instructing parents to teach their children, there are none excusing them of this responsibility or instructing them to turn them over to the civil authorities for discipline and instruction. Following this call, Schoolhouse Rocked will provide the encouragement and resources to help these parents make a strong start in homeschooling. Next, the movie will show examples of what homeschooling looks like in real families, over the long haul. It will show what homeschooled students are doing after high school. The intent will be to validate parents’ decisions to homeschool and to encourage them that while it won’t be easy, the results will warrant the effort and sacrifice. It is our hope that this will have the effect of not only encouraging homeschooling families, but of breaking down the resistance of family and friends who oppose a families decision to homeschool.
Read what the Bible has to say about education in this excellent article from Schoolhouse Rocked cast member, Israel Wayne.
We want the naysayers to become advocates. We want the next wave of homeschooling families to have the resources and conviction to train their children with excellence and to arm them to become leaders and world-changers. While this may sound like hyperbole, we have seen so many examples of homeschooled kids graduating as well-prepared, morally and spiritually grounded, logical, intelligent, well-spoken leaders that we know it is no fluke. We believe these kids have the ultimate competitive advantage in the workplace, in culture, and in marketplace of ideas.
Ultimately, we feel like the time is right for this important film. There is growing displeasure and disapproval of public schools among a large portion of society. Stories of school shootings, teacher misconduct, pushes for blatantly anti-Christian instruction, gender and sexual insanity, and failing academics have even sympathetic, secular, progressive parents questioning whether it is profitable to send their kids to public schools. This is evidenced in the growing percentage of secular and non-christian (mormon, jewish, muslim, etc) families homeschooling, when for the past several decades the vast majority of homeschool families have been Christian. Now, taking your children to the grocery store in the middle of a school day doesn’t even raise eyebrows. Now, telling people that your kids are homeschooled usually elicits a positive response, where it used to spark a stream of probing questions and confused looks. We want to capitalize on this momentum and use Schoolhouse Rocked to pour fuel on this growing fire of excitement for homeschooling. We want to follow the film with a call-to-action and then provide them with the resources and encouragement they need to actually DO what we are asking of them – Bring their children home and teach them well.
We have made a big effort to provide excellent resources to follow the film. The Schoolhouse Rocked blog and podcast will offer excellent content for free, for many years. the Backstage Pass website will continue to offer in-depth training, encouragement, and perspective from homeschooling experts for the price of a cup of coffee a month (I would love to make these resources available for free as well, but they are very expensive to produce and Backstage Pass memberships help pay for the free resources on the podcast and blog).
One last note: we didn’t set out to make an anti-public school movie with Schoolhouse Rocked. We want Schoolhouse Rocked to show what is great about homeschooling! While I know that there are good public school teachers and administrators who work hard to teach well and love their students, they are working in an environment that is built from the ground up to provide a very specific outcome. A few good teachers and administrators in the giant machine of public schooling simply can’t change what public schools are doing. I highly recommend watching Indoctrination to get a great idea of where public schools are coming from and what they are producing. Between Indoctrination and the nightly news, I don’t feel like we need to make a case against public schools, but we can do much good by showing the benefits and joys (and challenges) of homeschooling. I really believe that homeschooling is the BEST option for educating our kids, and I am strongly convicted that public school is a very bad option.
That said, there are parents who really have no choice but to send their kids to public school. In this case, parents have an obligation to know what their kids are being taught in school and to actively engage in training the hearts and minds of these kids: undoing harmful instruction and pouring truth into their minds and hearts. This is no easy task, but to neglect it is to sacrifice these children to the whims and philosophy of the state: whims and philosophy that undoubtedly contradict yours and your family’s.
Garritt and Yvette Hampton, director and producer/host of Schoolhouse Rocked were recent guests on Israel Wayne’s excellent Family Renewal podcast, where they got to talk about homeschooling and the production of this important homeschooling documentary. Listen to the show here.