With schools across the country closing due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many families are finding themselves unexpectedly and unwillingly homeschooling for the first time. While this turn of events may have come as a surprise to you, we (the homeschool community) would like to welcome you, no matter how long you are with us. We would also like to put your minds at ease. You really can teach your children at home and no, you won’t actually go crazy spending the whole day with them! Hopefully, during this unexpected period of homeschool exploration, you will find that you actually enjoy the time with your children and that it can be really beneficial to have them at home with you. We also want you to know that many (maybe most) of us were once reluctant homeschoolers too.
As for my family, we said we would NEVER homeschool our children, yet here we are in our ninth year of formal homeschooling. Not only are we homeschooling, but we LOVE it and now, we would have it no other way. In fact, we have dedicated every minute of our professional lives and most of our personal efforts, over the past three years, to spreading the message that homeschooling is good for students, good for families, and good for culture (this is true whether you are in Wuhan, China; Spain, Germany, France, Ireland, Britain, or the United States).
As you dip your feet into the homeschooling waters, if even just to occupy your kids while they’re home, I want to give you some encouragement and advice, and provide you with some helpful resources.
There’s a Revolution Transforming Education and it’s NOT Happening in the Classroom!
First things first, you don’t have to be a formally trained teacher to homeschool your children and yes, homeschooling is legal in your state. If you are considering keeping your children home after the Coronavirus scare has passed, the first thing you should do is check our “Homeschooling in Your State” resources. If you have specific questions about how to get started, what the homeschooling laws are in your state, how to formally withdraw your children from school, or what the requirements are to homeschool legally in your state, you should contact HSLDA (the Home School Legal Defense Association) and get in touch with your state homeschool organization. They will point you in the right direction, and HSLDA can help if you get any pushback from the school when you declare your intent to homeschool your children. Because we know that citizens are on lockdown in several countries, if you are outside of the United States, please visit this link to learn about homeschooling in your country.
Because we all hope this trial will end as quickly as it began, I would like you to consider a few things before you send your children back to school and go on as if the coronavirus pandemic never happened.
First, there are great reasons to homeschool, especially if you start with the end in mind. Realize that home education is about so much more than teaching our children, it is about growing healthy, well-prepared adults. While homeschooling won’t be easy, it will be oh so worth it! Not only does homeschooling allow us to nurture beautiful relationships with our children, and between siblings, and to transfer our values to them, but homeschooling also produces excellent academic results and colleges and employers are actively recruiting homeschooled students because they have proven to be ahead of their public-schooled peers.
Next, realize that homeschooling won’t (and shouldn’t) look like school at home. Homeschooling gives you the opportunity to custom fit academics, virtue training, worldview training, discipleship, and work and business training to the individual needs and gifts of your children. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to make school work for YOUR family. Homeschooling gives you the freedom to integrate school into every aspect of life!
Finally, understand that education isn’t neutral. All education is worldview training. All education is discipleship. All education is indoctrination. The only questions are “what worldview are students being indoctrinated into?” “who is discipling our children?” and “to what end?” While many want to believe that public schools are neutral, or that purely secular schools are not religious, you must realize that public schools are the most effective religious organizations in the world. Parents send their children to public schools to be discipled in the religion of secular humanism for 13 or more years (kindergarten to 12th grade), and schools are very effective at making dedicated disciples of this worldview. Some of the markers of this worldview are a committed belief in evolution and a dedication to multiculturalism.
If the secular humanism and radical Sex Ed weren’t enough, we have come to a place in our history where we have an openly Socialist candidate for president. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, yet here we are. But we shouldn’t be surprised. In addition to the secular humanism (a cornerstone of communism) and radical and dangerous sexuality being taught for several decades now, the public schools have distorted history and taught students to reject the Constitution, denounce American exceptionalism, demand “democracy” while ignoring that we have a representative republican form of government, and now openly embrace socialism as “fair.” We are getting exactly what we ordered. The original aims of the founders of modern public education, John Dewey and Horace Mann, have come to pass.
If you are going to send your children off to around 16,000 hours of indoctrination in the religion of secular humanism (otherwise known as atheism, materialism, or irreligion), in anti-family, pro-LGBT philosophy, and in socialism, don’t be surprised when your children embrace and endorse all of these ideals when they graduate. When you drop your children off at school and entrust their training to the “experts” there, you give up your ability to direct their education and to train their hearts. You also turn over your parental authority and significant legal rights (see In Loco Parentis). At the very least, if you have no choice but to send your children to public school, please KNOW what they are being taught, then actively work to teach them the TRUTH. In practice, this will look a lot like homeschooling, so you may just want to keep at it.
If you want to learn more about homeschooling, please join us for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. Registration gives you immediate access to over 35 hours of practical homeschooling instruction and encouragement, and a wealth of free home education resources. Additionally, new sessions are added regularly and attendees have the opportunity to interact live with the speakers and post questions in the private Homegrown Generation Facebook Group. This is a great way to get all of your homeschool questions answered.
I recently received a message from a family member in Michigan. Even though all of her kids are grown and out of school, she had noticed a growing trend of families leaving the public schools there. Knowing that we are big proponents of homeschooling, in an effort to understand some of what was driving this trend, she wrote me to find out why we had chosen to homeschool.
While I was happy to answer her questions, I was also excited at the opportunity to finally write down all of the things our family loves about homeschooling. While I know that every homeschool family has different motivations for choosing to home educate, I know that we never planned to do it, so over the years I have had to carefully consider what changed our minds and hearts. I also know that as the years have gone by (we are in our 9th year of formal homeschooling now) many of my convictions have grown. Where I was once loosely convicted that homeschooling was best for our family, at least for a time, I have now become firmly convinced that homeschooling is the gold standard for education through high school, and in many cases, even through college. In fact, while I was educated in public and private schools from kindergarten through junior college, I very happily completed a Bachelor’s degree at home, and would heartily recommend that graduating high school students take seriously the option of getting a college degree at home.
One quick note: While I normally would not shift between “I” and “we” pronouns so readily in a single article, in this case it is completely appropriate and even necessary. Homeschooling is a team sport! Homeschooling works best when mom, dad, and kids are all on board. While this isn’t always the case, it really helps. I know, as the husband, father, and spiritual leader in my home, my role is critical. I must support my wife, who is the primary teacher. We must be unified. I must encourage my children in their learning and they must be engaged in that process. We must be active in training the hearts and minds of my children, and I must take the lead in teaching them the Word of God.
So, after far too long, this is why we homeschool.
First, we love that we can integrate the Bible into every aspect of our girls’ education. While we know that every homeschooling family isn’t Christian or even religious, it should still strike everyone as a benefit that every aspect of your child’s education (every academic subject, religious discipleship, character training, professional training, etc.) can reflect the values, morals, and goals of the family. Our primary goal for our girls is that no matter what academic subjects they enjoy or excel at, in everything they would have a Biblical worldview and would develop a distinctly Christian character.
While we fully expect our girls to be well-educated and we work diligently to teach them fundamental skills and subjects like math, reading, writing, logic, language, history, and science, we know that both knowledge and wisdom begin with the fear of the Lord. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 (ESV) “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10 (ESV) We also know that rather than worrying about what we (or our children) will eat or wear, where they will live, or what they will do, we are instructed to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” and all of these other things will be added. Matthew 6:25-33
The next thing we love about homeschooling is the ability to customize the education that each of our daughters receives to their personal strengths, abilities, desires, goals, and preferences. We know that every person is specially made by God for an individual purpose. There is no standard person, so a standardized education is, at best, a compromise for every student. Even in our family, our girls are very different. Each excels at different things, struggles with different things, and enjoys different things. We believe that these gifts, strengths, and preferences give us some insight into what God is preparing these girls for in the future, for His glory, so we do our best to customize our girls’ training to best develop their strengths and allow them to work in the areas that interest them.
That said, we still want our girls to have a well-rounded education, so we make sure that they are getting instruction in many different subjects. Even though one of our girls doesn’t love math, that doesn’t mean she won’t need to know math to succeed in life, so we teach her math – in a way that best suits her learning style. Because of our ability to custom fit their education experience, we can pay special attention to both of our girls needs and struggles and give them the help they need where they struggle. In fact, because of the flexibility of homeschooling, the ability to repeat content that hasn’t been mastered, the ability to teach at the pace of the student, and the availability of excellent curriculum and resources (in our case, Teaching Textbooks was a LIFESAVER), our daughter is now doing great with math and has become confident in her skills.
Next, we love that homeschooling allows us to teach for MASTERY of subjects. In a traditional educational model, all of the students must move through the curriculum at roughly the same pace. The teacher tailors the curriculum and lessons for the middle of the class. Some students excel and are bored as they wait for their peers to catch up with them. Other students struggle to keep up and never really learn the material. Only a small percentage of the class gets the optimum amount of instruction, and those students will not be the same in each subject so, in every case, students are not trained at the optimum pace to truly master the subjects they study. Advanced students will always be hindered and slower students will always be left in the dust.
In homeschooling, we have the luxury of adjusting the pace of every course to perfectly meet the needs of our children. We don’t move on until they have mastered the material and we never make them needlessly repeat work they have already mastered, when they could be moving on to new material and subjects. While this means that our most homeschoolers don’t fit within their “grade level” in every subject – they may be “ahead” or “behind” – they have the opportunity to truly master the subjects they study. As an added benefit, we are under no compulsion to study six to eight subjects every day and move to the next classroom when a bell rings. If we want to take a full day, week, or month to dive deep into a subject we can. If we have a child who wants to do several math lessons every day, to move ahead, there is nothing stopping them.
We love the freedom that homeschooling provides our family. We have the freedom to set our schedule and modify it any time, depending on what is going on in life. We have the freedom to travel and to teach from everywhere and anywhere. You wouldn’t believe the amount of GREAT educational experiences we have had in our car, as guests at peoples’ homes and farms, at historical sites, at national parks, at the beach, and just about everywhere else. Not only do we have the freedom to travel, but we have freedom of location. We can live or work anywhere and we don’t have to worry about what school district we will be in or if we will be around at the beginning of the school year. Homeschooling allows us to pursue the things that are important to our family. We are able to work together, to minister together, and to experience every aspect of life together – joys and challenges.
On the topic of freedom, we love that homeschooling allows us to teach the foundations of freedom. While History, Social Studies, Government, Civics, Economics, and nearly every other subject taught in public schools have been corrupted by distinctly socialist, anti-American, anti-constitutional, and anti-family agendas, we have the freedom to teach these subject without the progressive bent.
We know that our children are OUR responsibility. Public schools are constantly pushing the boundaries of influence and control they exert over students (and even parents). Under the legal principle of In Loco Parentis, public schools take the place of the parent in matters of discipline, medical treatments (including the administration of birth control, abortions, and cross-sex hormone treatments), mental health evaluation and treatment, mandated vaccinations, and the authorization of instruction in sensitive and controversial subjects, regardless of the will of parents. While many parents believe they have the right to opt their children out of controversial lessons, in practice, this isn’t the case. Many parents are currently outraged about dangerous, anti-family Comprehensive Sex Ed (CSE) programs being implemented in schools across the country. In district after district, parents are shocked to find out what is being taught in these programs – after their ELEMENTARY SCHOOL students are already being taught – and they are wondering why they didn’t have the option to opt out. When parents drop their children off at school they turn over their authority to the school, in many cases, even when the student isn’t at school.
These parents are missing an important point. The “C” in CSE stands for “Comprehensive.” Pro-homosexual, pro-LGBT instruction, which promotes early sexual activity and deviant and dangerous sexual behavior, is being integrated into every subject. That’s what “Comprehensive” means. History classes have the accomplishments of prominent gay leaders added. Science and health classes get heavy doses of sexual instruction added under the guise of “preventing pregnancy” and “preventing HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.” The library has books on finding your “true” identity and defining “family.” English classes read “sexually suggestive” poems and students are instructed to write down the included vulgar terms for genitalia.
We understand that ALL education is indoctrination (the teaching of established doctrines – basic, deeply held principles) and ALL education is discipleship (the intimate training of the whole person – intellect, character, and values). We love that in homeschooling we get to direct every aspect of that indoctrination and discipleship. We know that no one, not even the best, most loving, most dedicated teacher, with the highest moral character, will love our children or care for their lives on earth or their eternal souls like we will. Therefore, we believe that we, their parents, are best suited to direct that indoctrination and discipleship.
While it isn’t the most important aspect of home education, it should be noted that there are a wealth of excellent resources available to homeschooling families. High quality curriculum and resources to cover EVERY subject can be easily found from multiple vendors. In fact, there are even completely free homeschool programs that cover every subject and every grade from pre-school to high school, and most colleges and universities offer their courses online as video and audio podcasts.
In addition to the wealth of curricular resources, there are support groups and co-ops that focus on every imaginable teaching method. Classical education has become very popular among homeschoolers in the past decade or so, and it is growing even in private schools. Homeschoolers are able to determine what methods or combination of methods work best for their family. Some of the popular styles or methods employed, in addition to classical education, are Charlotte Mason, eclectic, unit studies, lifeschooling, unschooling, Montessori, virtual school/online school/video instruction, and combinations of all of these. In our own home we have used a combination of Classical, lifeschooling, and eclectic methods, augmented by online and video programs for a few specific subjects.
Finally, because it is the most common objection to homeschooling, I will address the socialization question. Because homeschooling is legal in every state, and has been since the early 1990s, the stigma of having your kids out in public during the week just doesn’t exist any more. Homeschooling families have the freedom to go about life together in ways that they didn’t in the early days of the homeschooling revival in the early 1980s (it must be noted that homeschooling was the norm throughout history, and the “traditional” classroom model has only been common for around 160 years). In just about every state, county, and city, families have the opportunity to have their kids involved in sports, social clubs, church, AWANA, youth groups, service organizations, scouting organizations, and educational co-ops. Our girls have never lacked opportunities to be social. They have participated in gymnastics, AWANA, youth group, several homeschool co-ops, and an organized weekly classical homeschool program. To the contrary, we have often had to dial back the social activities to avoid being overwhelmed by them.
As our girls have grown they have also been able to work with us and serve others in important ways. We have enjoyed the distinct benefit of having our kids contribute in valuable ways to the family business and economy, and to the running of the household. This has not only benefitted our whole family, but they have become very competent homemakers and skilled “employees,” which will prove invaluable as they grow into wives, mothers, homemakers, leaders, and servants in their communities.
While we, and most homeschooling families, realize that homeschooling offers an unequalled opportunity to develop socially, it should be noted that “traditional” school offers a very unnatural and unhealthy social construct. It is one in which students are segregated by age and discouraged from “socializing” in class. Their personal wills are minimized and they are herded around in groups from task to task every time a bell rings. It is also one in which the dangers of peer pressure and violence are very real. In fact, the only other social constructs that closely resemble the social structure of schools (especially public schools) are prisons and asylums.
As you research this subject, I would like to recommend several resources we have produced, including podcast episodes on the “why” of homeschooling, how to homeschool, and the benefits of homeschooling.
If you are considering homeschooling yourself, I would like to invite you to register for ouronline homeschool conference, the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. There you will find over 50 hours of homeschooling instruction and encouragement and a wealth of homeschooling resources in the Digital Swag Bag. Registration includes lifetime access to every session and you can watch each session video online or download the audio to listen on the go.
Homeschooling in Your State (State Homeschooling Organizations) – Almost every state has a Christian state homeschool organization, made up of mostly volunteers, who are on the front lines fighting to keep YOUR freedom to homeschool and providing you with the information and resources you need to homeschool legally and successfully. These organizations are vital to the homeschool benefits we all enjoy and your involvement and support are critical.
HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) – HSLDA is a legal organization that works to protect and defend the rights of parents to educate their children. In addition to their legal support they also have support representatives who can give state-specific homeschooling guidance. Finally, they track and fight anti-family and anti-homeschooling legislation in the United States and around the world, even arguing in the Supreme Court at times.
Classical Conversations – This is the largest Christian homeschool program in the country. They have a ton of really good articles on their blog.
Teach Them Diligently – These guys put on large Christian homeschool conferences in several states. Homeschool conferences are a great place to preview curriculum and to get encouraged and equipped.
“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.
“In fact, my mother-in-law had asked me, a couple years before I even had kids, if I’d ever consider homeschooling, and I said absolutely not. And it wasn’t anything against homeschooling, I just thought I had the perfect gig as a mom, that my kids could come to school with me, we’d have the same vacation time, I’d be able to spend quality time at school with them. So on paper, everything looked like I would continue teaching and everything would be great. But God’s plans are so much different than our plans, and he began to just slowly sprinkle that idea in my thoughts that homeschooling might be a good path for us.”
Jamie is a Christian mother to five blissfully abnormal kids, and wife to her formerly homeschooled husband, Dain. She is a former school teacher who can now be found encouraging and equipping a growing tribe of mothers all across the globe on theMom to Mom Podcastand through her blog,The Unlikely Homeschool. She speaks at national conferences. And in addition to writing and speaking, she loves talking faith and family over a cup of coffee, and hanging out with her family.
Yvette Hampton: I am excited to have a return guest with me today. Jamie Erickson was on the 11thepisode of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, and we had such a great response to her episode, she was so encouraging. It’s one of the most listened to episodes that we’ve ever done, and so I’m excited to have her back, talking about her new book that she just released, and a new podcast that she is doing with a couple of other mamas.
Jamie Erickson: Thank you for having me back.
Yvette: Yes. I am so glad to have you back. You are a homeschool mama who loves to encourage homeschool moms. It is one of the big passions that God has put on your heart and you do it well, so I am thrilled to have you again.
Jamie: Thank you.
Yvette: I want to talk about two things. I want to talk about your new podcast that you recently launched and about your new book that was just released. But let’s talk about the podcast first really quickly, because I really want to spend most of the time talking about your new book. So tell us about your podcast.
Jamie: Okay. It’s called the Mom to MomPodcastand I cohost it with Kate Battistelli, and September McCarthy. Kateis the author of Growing Great Kids-Partner with God to Cultivate His Purpose in Your Child’s Life and the The God Dare. She’s been married for 35 years and is mom to GRAMMY award-winning artist Francesca Battistelli and Mimi to her four children. September McCarthy is a mother of 10 and a homeschooling mom. We’ve all homeschooled at various places on the journey. And what I love about our podcast, and kind of why I initially wanted to take on a project, is we’re three moms, three different stages and seasons of motherhood, and we’ve really seen the gamut of motherhood, because Kate and September have grandchildren, and we’re all in different places. And we don’t always agree on everything, but we have the common thread of Jesus weaving all of our words together, and so we have the same goal, to see our children come to know the Lord and love him. And so it’s a really gospel-centered podcast that hopefully encourages moms in every place. It’s really a podcast, at least I hope, for every mom for every season.
Yvette: Yeah. So it’s not just about homeschooling, though you guys talk a little bit about homeschooling on there.
Jamie: A little bit, but it’s really just for any mom, we don’t necessarily focus on homeschooling. Obviously we all homeschooled, or homeschool currently, but we recognize that not every mom is called to that and not every listener will be a homeschool mom. So it’s really, hopefully, for every mom.
Yvette: Yeah, it’s excellent. I’ve listened to it a few times and it has definitely become one of my favorite podcasts to listen to. So thank you for doing that. I love listening to podcasts. Oftentimes, people will say, “When do you find time to do it?”, and I’m like, “I don’t have any more time than you have, trust me,” but that’s usually my, “when I’m in the shower and getting ready in the morning, putting on makeup or whatever”, I can get in a few minutes, 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes it’s in spurts, but-
Jamie: Yeah. Well, and I love to read, but I don’t always have the time to sit down and read. A podcast is a really easy go-to, to listen to while I’m doing the dishes, folding laundry, and yeah.
Yvette: Yes. I’ve just really, for myself, jumped on the audio book bandwagon. We’ve done it with our girls for a really long time, but I’ve never really done audio books myself. And I found myself not reading as much, because like you said, I just don’t have time. By the time I fall into bed at night, I’m so tired, and I will pick up a book and try to read it, and then I’m closing my eyes, and before I know it I’m asleep and I’ve read maybe a page. But I can do audio books, and I love that. Those keep me a little bit more alert, and so I am enjoying audio books a little bit more. And I can play them on a little bit faster speed, so-
Jamie: Yeah. Oh, that’s nice. Yeah. I think it’s always good for moms to pour into themselves, because you can’t pour out from an empty cup, so if you’re in-taking some great information or even just reading to expand your own horizons, anything that you do that sort of maybe only looks like is adding to you really adds to your whole family, because you come ready to teach and to share, and you have a wealth of knowledge to bring to the table.
Yvette: Yes. And I feel like there’s such a good balance between that, that we have to find as moms, because we don’t want it to be all about me, me, me, and how can I serve myself, and how can I make myself happy. We’re serving our families, but at the same time, like you said, if our cup is empty, I mean, we then have very little to give, and so we need to make sure that we’re taking care of ourselves as well. Not in a selfish or idolatrous ways, but so that we have more to give to our families, that we’re resting and exercising and doing the things that we need to do so that we can care well for our families. So, yes. Well, okay, so that’s the podcast, the Mom to Mom Podcast, and that can be found on iTunes, Spotify-
Jamie: iTunes, Spotify, you could go to momtomompodcast.comand go directly to there, or we’re also on Instagram.
Yvette: Great. We’ll put links to that. Let’s talk about your new book though. I am super excited about this book and I actually love the title of the book. That was the first thing that really captured me. It’s called Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence. But I love the Homeschool Bravely part of it, because so many moms … We’ve spent the last two and a half years filming for Schoolhouse Rocked, and the number one thing that we hear from every single mom, it does not matter who the mom is, everything that we hear is mom doesn’t feel like she is adequate enough to home educate her children.
There has only been one mom, in all of our interviews, who said, “Yep. I totally felt like I was capable of doing this,” and she has her doctorate in education, and she did her dissertation on homeschooling, and so I would say, yes, she has every right to say that she felt like she was totally equipped to teach her kids. But for the most part, most of us do not feel like we are capable of doing that. And the reality is, we’re really not. That’s why we need the Lord to help us through this. But we also need to just take that step of bravery and just say, “You know what? This is what we feel is best for our kids, and so we’re just going to take this leap of faith, and we’re going to do it.” Talk a little bit about why you decided to write … Well, first, talk about why you chose to homeschool, yourself, and then talk about what led to writing the book.
Jamie: Well, I was a teacher for several years, even before having kids, and my husband, like you had mentioned, was homeschooled. And homeschooling was never in my radar. In fact, my mother-in-law had asked me, a couple years before I even had kids, if I’d ever consider homeschooling, and I said absolutely not. And it wasn’t anything against homeschooling, I just thought I had the perfect gig as a mom, that my kids could come to school with me, we’d have the same vacation time, I’d be able to spend quality time at school with them. So on paper, everything looked like I would continue teaching and everything would be great. But God’s plans are so much different than our plans, and he began to just slowly sprinkle that idea in my thoughts that homeschooling might be a good path for us.
“When I had my first daughter, I just honestly couldn’t envision myself handing her off to somebody for six to eight hours a day. Not that I didn’t trust anybody else, it’s just that I loved her so much and I didn’t want to miss out on those moments with her.”
And part of that, I would say that the real catalyst for that was that … It was kind of twofold. One, when I had my first daughter, I just honestly couldn’t envision myself handing her off to somebody for six to eight hours a day. Not that I didn’t trust anybody else, it’s just that I loved her so much and I didn’t want to miss out on those moments with her. Even when she was really little and she wasn’t even … school was just a few years down the road, and we weren’t even close to sending her off yet, I still had those painful thoughts of, “What am I going to do when she has to go to school?” So that was part of it. And I also think that, if I’m being really honest, part of my reason to want to homeschool was that, as a teacher, I had seen sort of the underbelly of what it was like for kids in school, and I think teaching sort of ruined me for anything but homeschooling.
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Yvette: So then, was it hard for you, since you’d been in the classroom … In the classroom, whether it’s public school or private school, you have to kind of fit kids into a box, you’re forced to, there’s no other way to do it when you’ve got a classroom full of anywhere from 20 to 30 kids, or more. Was it hard for you, when you started homeschooling, to break out of that?
“Actually, because I do have a teaching degree, I can say that I came to homeschooling with sort of a burden on my back. I had all of these preconceived notions about what schooling was supposed to be, because I had been trained to teach the masses.”
Jamie: Yeah. I often hear from moms, in fact, I just wrote an article about this, about how helpful, or actually unhelpful, my teaching degree was when it came to homeschooling, because I think moms without that teaching degree, moms without that doctorate and dissertation, feel lesser than and feel like they are ill-equipped, but actually, because I do have a teaching degree, I can say that I came to homeschooling with sort of a burden on my back. I had all of these preconceived notions about what schooling was supposed to be, because I had been trained to teach the masses, and that looks so much differently, and has to. I mean, even the best of teachers, they have to maintain order and they have to teach sort of with this herd mentality. And when you bring that, you take that square peg and try to fit it in this round hole of homeschooling, it just doesn’t fit. And it really was a burden more than it was a blessing, for the first few years of homeschooling. And then I found my groove, and realized I could cast off the chains of the old guard down the street and do it my way. But right away, I think my degree wasn’t helpful.
Yvette: Yeah. But loving your children a whole lot was. So was there-
Jamie: Absolutely. And knowing them well helped a lot.
Yvette: Yeah. Right. So much. So you said, obviously, you loved her, you wanted to spend time with her, you wanted to be with her. Do you remember that kind of aha moment, of like, “Oh yeah. I actually do want to homeschool. I said I never would, but I think this is really a good idea”? Do you remember that moment or was it more of a process of time?
Jamie: I think it was a process for me, that God slowly started to show me, I’ve been teaching her all along, and that doesn’t have to necessarily stop just because she meets this magical age that the school district determines she has to then be taught by someone else. Who was it that taught her to walk, that taught her to talk, all … If you look at, statistically, child growth and development, 90% of what a person learns, they learn by the time they’re five. So in those first five formative years, I had already taught her 90% of what she needed to know. Why did I need to pass it off to somebody else?
Yvette: Yeah. I’m with you.
Jamie: But it was a process for me, I guess.
Yvette: Sure. Yeah. And I think it was for me too, a little bit. We’d said we’d never homeschool, and then I think it was kind of like you, at that moment when I held this baby in my arms, I had waited 11 years to be a mom, and I was like, “I really like her. I really genuinely like her, and I love spending time with her, I love being with her. I love watching her grow. I love getting to experience all her first things, her first steps, and her first word, and just the things that you would miss.” And the same with school, I love getting to watch her just figure out what her life is meant to be and how God designed her. And so it’s really exciting to be that mom who gets to come alongside of our kids and experience … I think it’s Israel Wayne, he talks about that kids are in school, if they go to school from kindergarten through 12th grade, it’s like 10,800 hours, somewhere around there. 10,800 hours-
Jamie: That you miss out and-
Yvette: I mean, think about that. That is a long time to miss out on your child’s life. And then, of course-
Jamie: And what-
Yvette: … they grow up, and move out of your house, and …
Jamie: Yeah. What you get on the back end of that, when they do come home at the end of that long day, is really the leftovers. You get the extras that are left over. They’re just tired and they don’t really have much else to give. I didn’t want the leftovers.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah. Well, okay, so I’m sitting here recording with you and this is really funny, I emailed you last night and I said, “I haven’t gotten my copy of the book yet,” and so you sent me a little bit more information on it, because I’d been waiting for it to come, and my husband literally just walked in as we’re recording and he handed me my new copy of your new book.
Jamie: Here it is.
Yvette: So here it is, you guys. This is so exciting. So I’ve literally not even opened it. He just wants to-
Jamie: Does it have the new book smell?
Yvette: It does. I love the smell of books. I love the smell of libraries. They smell so good. They have a certain smell. And it doesn’t matter what library you go to, anywhere in the country, they all smell the same, California to Georgia.
Jamie: If only we could bottle that smell and wear it as a scent.
Yvette: Right? Yes. Maybe we can make candles and market those to homeschool moms, right?
Jamie: Yeah. That’s an idea.
Yvette: Homeschool Bravelyis your new book. Walk us through it a little bit. Tell us about some of the chapters that you’ve got in it. I mean, I’m looking at it right here, but walk us through the book a little bit.
Jamie: Okay. Well, it’s divided into three different parts. The first part really touches on the fears that homeschooling moms struggle with, because I think there’s some really prevalent universal fears. As moms, we naturally kind of have this lifelong relationship with self-doubt, all moms, I think. But then you go ahead and you add on the weight of your child’s education, and that’s a whole different ball game. That’s a whole mess bag of additional fears that you carry, because now the burden of proof is on you, for those 12 years of schooling. So the first part talks about fears.
And the second part is really referencing some of the struggles that we have as homeschool moms. I think there’s some key ones, when you’re trying to homeschool, when you have lots of little ones under foot, and trying to live in the tension of being mom, but also being teacher. There’s the struggle of teaching a struggling learner, or somebody who just regular academics doesn’t come easy or click with. Then there’s the struggle of teaching sort of that child, one of those wild ones that doesn’t want to color within the lines, and who always has the crossed arms. What do you do on the days where all you see is just chins raised in the air, and defiance, and, “I don’t want to do this”? So hopefully I speak to that in that particular section. And then just the struggle of the crazy chaotic days of just combining home and school. Even if you don’t have a struggling learner or you don’t have toddlers, anytime you try to mesh together a bunch of imperfect people in the world, you’re going to have struggles, because Jesus told you would, in this world you will have struggles.
So that’s the second part of the book. And then the last part is the solutions. Where do we go when we need bravery and it’s just not coming? What is the source, the hope that we have? Where do we look to, to squash all those fears?
Yvette: Yeah. I love the solutions. We always need those. I mean, we can work through all of the problems, and talk about them, and be frustrated about them, and even pray about them, but it’s so great to have actual solutions. And in reality, God’s going to give us what we need. But I love that in this book you offer actual practical ways to deal with those things.
Jamie: Yeah. Hopefully there’s lots of take-aways. And it’s not a homeschooling how-to book, because I think there’s plenty of those on the market. Some really great women have already written them and have done a much better job than I could. But there’s plenty of practical tips and take-aways, I hope, within the pages.
Yvette: Yeah. So why this book? What made you want to write this book? Because there are, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of different homeschool books out there, many really excellent ones. And I’m sure this is definitely in line with all of those. So with all of those out there, what made you want to write this?
Jamie: I think this is a little bit of a different book in that it’s not a homeschool how-to book. So a mom who’s been homeschooling for 20 years could hopefully pick up this book and really glean some truth from it, as well as the mom who’s just starting out, because it really speaks to the pain points that we have and the fear that we have. It’s a book of encouragement that really sets your gaze back on your very source of bravery, and that’s God. And so the reason I wrote this book is because there are lots of homeschooling how-to books out there to sort of give you marching orders, and your 12-step programs, and your checklists, and those are very helpful, but at the end of the day, you can’t tack a pretty system onto soul work. And so I hope that my book really helps a mom sort of quiet the voices of not good enough.
Yvette: In the book, I know one of the things that you mentioned is about how one third of all new homeschool moms quit after the first year. Why do you think this is?
Jamie: That’s a staggering number, isn’t it?
Yvette: It is.
Jamie: That’s 33%-
Yvette: Yeah. That’s huge.
Jamie: … of mothers who start end up quitting. I think there’s a couple of different reasons. I don’t think you can peg it on any one thing, but I think some of the biggest contributing factors are, one, homeschooling can be a very lonely road, and very isolating if you do not surround yourself with a community of other moms sort of circling the wagons and showing you the way. But I realize that there are a lot of moms who are in very isolating communities. And what do you do with that? I mean, you can’t just go dig up friends that aren’t there. So I think isolation is one of the factors. I-
Yvette: So really quickly, on that point, do you talk about, in the solutions part, how to go about finding community?
Jamie: Absolutely. There’s a whole chapter about it, and also how to sort of speak to the naysayers, because I think that’s another reason that a lot of homeschool moms, maybe not the reason they give up, but definitely something that adds to their fears and leads them to giving up, is the naysayers. We talk about how to answer the naysayers, because anytime you choose a different path, homeschooling or otherwise, there are always going to be people, other folks, shouting from the curb, telling you you’re doing it wrong, while you’re actually down in the trenches doing the work. So you have to be able to have some real practical, tangible things, hold them in your hand to know, “When those naysayers come, how am I going to respond? And actually, as a Christian, what is the biblical response when people question your decision to home school?”
I think those are a couple of the reasons. I also think that the fear, the fear of the unknown, you don’t always see the immediate fruit. This is a life work, just like motherhood is, and you’re not going to see the fruit of it tomorrow. In fact, sorry to say, you might not see the fruit of it for years and years and years to come. And we’re such a quick-fix society, that if we don’t see the fruit tomorrow, or by the end of that first school year, we want to give up, because we think we failed, we think we did something wrong. Our life doesn’t look like the curriculum catalog cover, with the smiling children and the mom who doesn’t have any gray hairs. So I think we sit in the weight of this failure-centric thought or mentality. And if there’s nobody to come alongside us, and to cheer us on, and to help us carry that banner, then it’s easy to give up.
Yvette: Yeah. It is. I can say that there have been many times, not where I’ve wanted to give up on homeschooling, but where that fear sets in, and like you said, because oftentimes, we can’t see the results right in front of us. And so my oldest is in seventh grade this year, and I’m like, “Oh, she’s getting ready to go into high school, and I hope we’re doing okay, hope we’re filling in all the blanks.” And it is a little bit terrifying. We were in Nashville recently, at the Teach Them Diligently convention, and I was talking to Rhea Perry. She is a former homeschool mom. She’s a grandma now, but she has a home business company, and she’s fantastic. And she just sat down with me and she said, “How’s homeschooling going?”, and I didn’t break down, but I just was like, “Oh, Rhea, I don’t even know how to answer that.” I said, “I just feel like we’re not always doing what we’re supposed to be doing.”
Now, understand, we’ve been recording … or filming for this movie for two and a half years, and I have had multiple moms sit in front of me and say, “Just take it easy. Take a breath. Let God have control of this. Allow him to fill in all of the gaps, and your kids are going to be fine. You do what God’s called you to do, and your kids are going to turn out fine.” And I still have that anxiety of like, “Oh, I hope I’m not messing it up. I hope I’m doing all right.” And she just sat me down and she said, “You’re doing a great job.” She said, “God has you guys exactly where he wants you to be. He is going to fill in all the gaps. It’s going to be great. Your kids are going to be so much better off for having been homeschooled,” and it was just great. I needed an older mom to come alongside of me and just remind me once again, because I feel like I need to be reminded of that over and over and over and over again.
Jamie: Well, and I think that’s the enemy’s biggest trick when it comes to homeschooling moms, is to, one, make us think that we even can do it in and of our own strength, like God will only give us what we can handle. But that’s just not true. Of course, he’s going to give us some things that we can’t handle. Otherwise, if we could handle it, what would be the need of Jesus? So he wants us to first think we can get it all done, if we just pull up our big girl pants, we can do it. And then when we don’t, when at the first little tripping or stumbling, we feel like a failure, we’re face down in the muck, and we want to throw in the towel, that’s all a part of his scheme.
Yvette: It really is. It really is. So, and going back to community, that’s so much part of why we need community, because we need other moms to come alongside of us, and we need to encourage one another, because there might be a day where I’m feeling really low, and discouraged, and frustrated, and I have a friend who’s like, “No. You’ve got this,” and then another day she may be feeling that way and I can come alongside of her and say, “No. You’ve got this. Let’s keep doing this. Let’s link arms and let’s do this together.” So community is so important.
We have a few more minutes left, so I want to talk about a few more things. Let’s talk about the feeling of being overwhelmed. I know I find myself here, oftentimes, I’m sure you do, I’m sure pretty much every mom does, where we feel like we’re trying to just juggle life, all of these things, being a wife, being a mom, being a teacher, and being a taxi driver, or being whatever it is that we’re doing with our families. Maybe oftentimes we’re involved with ministry, or we’re helping to lead a co-op, or there’s just so many things. How do you encourage that mom who is just dealing with feeling overwhelmed?
Jamie: Well, I guess I would say that, “Remember, anything worth doing is going to be hard. Think about marriage, parenting, any of the eternal things that have eternal value, they’re going to be difficult, and it’s going to require digging in and doing the hard work. Don’t be afraid by that and don’t be surprised by that.” I think it’s very easy for a homeschool mom to be overwhelmed. And I also think that no one else around you, but other homeschool moms, are going to truly understand right where you’re sitting, and will truly understand the overwhelm. It’s easy to look at a homeschool mom who’s at home all day and just think, “Well, she must sit around in her jammies eating bonbons. And if I need a babysitter, I’ll call that homeschool mom, because what else is she doing all day?” They just don’t understand.
I think it’s really important, like you said, with the community, to have other women who recognize, and see you, and see your struggles. And then I think, too, I find it very helpful … and this is a boots on the ground, practical tip that seems to work, at least for me, I find it very helpful to really set … I don’t want you to think of homeschooling as a job, but in some ways you kind of have to, you have to be able to say, “This fits in this timeframe of my day, and I’m not going to let it commandeer and strong-arm the whole day.”
We start homeschooling around 9:30, in theory, on good days, and then at 3 o’clock … I’m teaching five, so they’re not always doing school from 9:30 to 3:00, but I am, because I’m one person and there’s five of them. But at 3 o’clock, I have a hard and fast rule that I’m done, because then I need to go on and do other things. I work from home, so I’ve got to juggle that. Like you said, there’s ministry things that need to be done. And plus I’m also a wife and I want to love my husband well, and I want to love my children as a mother.
I think sometimes you just have to give homeschooling the right weight and importance in the day. And I think too often, especially at first, homeschool moms, because of just the weight of a child’s education, we give homeschooling way more control of our lives, and make it harder than it’s supposed to be, and make it bigger than it’s supposed to be. Yes, academics, education, absolutely important, but your life is worth more than a textbook, or the next test, or that next worksheet. So I think it’s really important to put homeschooling in the proper perspective.
Yvette: Yeah. Yes. I love that. Unfortunately, we are out of time for the podcast, but I would love to stay on with you and continue talking, because I want to talk about a few more things. I want to talk about moms who don’t feel called to homeschool, because some feel like they need to homeschool because maybe their child’s being bullied, or maybe they don’t feel comfortable with the public school but they can’t afford the private school, and they just feel like it’s their only option, but they don’t necessarily feel like God is prompting them to homeschool, so I want to talk to those moms.
I want to talk about community. We touched on this a little bit earlier, but I want to give some practical advice that you give in your book. But I want to, for those who have ordered the book and maybe they haven’t received it yet, talk about how they can go about finding community, because for those introverts it might not be as easy. And then I want to talk about the naysayers. We talked about that as well a little bit, but I want to give some practical advice on how people can respond to those naysayers in their lives.
Yvette: So we are going to close out the podcast right now, but for the backstage pass members we’re going to stay on, and they can listen to the rest of our conversation. For those of you who are not yet familiar with the backstage pass membership, Schoolhouse Rocked is a film that we are in production on right now, looking to release in summer of 2020, but we have a backstage pass membership site, and with the membership site we have a ton of resources on there, mostly videos. So a lot of them are the full length videos, video interviews of people that we’ve had in the movie, like Heidi St. John. Oh my goodness, there’s so many. I should have the list in front of me right now. Israel Wayne, Sam Sorbo, there’s a bunch of people that we’ve got, so we’ll have their full interviews on there. Many of them are already on there.
And then for our podcast, oftentimes like this, I just have more that I want to talk about, so we will continue the discussion and people can view that discussion on video on the backstage pass membership site. So if you’re not familiar, go to schoolhouserocked.com, click on backstage pass, and you can find out more about that. And it’s a great way to support what we’re doing with the podcast, and with the film, and all that we have going on with Schoolhouse Rocked, so we would love it if you would check that out. Jamie, tell us where people can find you.
Yvette: Okay. Great. We will link those in the show notes. And then, again, the name of your book is Homeschool Bravely: How to Squash Doubt, Trust God, and Teach Your Child with Confidence. And that is already out on Amazon,probably through your website, right, and you can pretty much find it anywhere.
Making the decision to homeschool is huge for most families. There is so much fear, so many questions, and so much concern. “Am I doing the right thing for my child? Will I fail? What will my neighbors think?”
It’s enough to keep you up at night, and it probably does! It can be nearly impossible to just take that leap. You don’t want to step off the cliff blind, but still feel like public or private school isn’t for you. What is a family to do?
The biggest problem is that most new homeschoolers went to traditional school, right? What we know is the big yellow school bus and desks in a row. It isn’t what we want for our children, but how does homeschooling work anyway?
Imagine having all the information you needed to make an informed choice. I mean isn’t that what we want as parents, plenty of information to make the right choice? And then we need the inspiration and answers to be confident that the decision is best for our family? That would be amazing!
“Ultimately, God really called me. I started to really pray about it, and a few people approached me and said, “Have you thought about homeschooling?” And I was like, “No, because that’s not something we’re going to do.” And so it really started, though, to chase me down; God started to chase me down. Because I think, deep down, I did sort of admire what I knew about homeschooling, but I just thought, “That’s not for us.” – Karen DeBeus, Simply Living for Him