Yvette Hampton: A listener asked, “I’d love recommendations on a good homeschool curriculum for my preschooler, age three.” And Aby, I’m going to let you answer this, but before you answer it, I’m going to say, we just recorded an whole episode all about preschool with Leslie Richards, from the Homegrown Preschooler. In this hour-long conversation with Leslie she dives deep into homeschooling preschoolers and how to keep order in your home when you are teaching multiple ages.
Aby Rinella: I hope I don’t answer it differently than her!
Yvette Hampton: It’s okay. I know you won’t because I just interviewed her and I know where you stand on this issue, because you stand where I stand.
Aby Rinella: Wonderful. So, what I’m not going to do is give you recommendations on a good homeschool curriculum for your preschooler because your three-year-old is three! We need to throw out curriculum because your three-year-old doesn’t need curriculum. Your three-year-old needs you to read to her, as much as you possibly can. Your three-year-old needs you to talk to her, play with Play-Doh with her, play games with her, take her on adventures. Read to her. I’m going to say that over and over.
I have my Elementary Ed degree and I got an emphasis in early childhood development. My husband always says I have my masters degree in “coloring and Play-Doh.” And there is really no evidence that says that if you use a formal academic curriculum in those early years – and I’m even talking about for kindergarten – there is no evidence that your kids are going to be any more academically “successful” than kids that didn’t. But there is an unbelievable amount of evidence that shows that if you read to your child, interact with your child through verbal communication, and play games with them, they will be far ahead of their peers.
So that’s, I’m not going to go too much further into this because there’s a whole podcast on it. But I would say, would you just take your three-year-old and snuggle that three-year-old on your lap, and just do life with them and not worry about the curriculum. That is my greatest advice.
Yvette Hampton: Yep.
Aby Rinella: And my guess is that this is this mom’s first three-year-old, because we all asked that with our first kid. And then we all realized that you don’t do that!
Yvette Hampton: Right. When Kirk Cameron was with us for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo someone asked him a question about curriculum and he said “parents are the best curriculum for their children.” YOU are the curriculum! We are their curriculum. They will watch us and learn from us.
Aby Rinella: Oh good. I mean, she’s literally written a book about preschoolers and it’s through play, it’s through exploration, it’s through interacting with your kids. That’s how they learn. Do not sit your three year old down at a table and expect them to copy letters and do worksheets because they can’t.
And here’s the thing, if you do, not only can they not, you are going to rob that child of the love of learning. You’re going to kill their love of learning before they’re ever even actually school age. And I’ve seen it happen time and time again, you get a first grader who hates school and that’s because they’ve been sat down for the last three years trying to do school when they never should have. So just right now, just instill in them a love of learning. Don’t kill that with worksheets and curriculum.
Yvette Hampton: Right. And I used to be a preschool teacher. And let me just tell you, we didn’t have a set curriculum. We literally read to the kids several times a day. We had our reading hour, they played dress up, they played with toys, they played outside, they just explored, they played with Play-Doh. We did not make them sit down, pull out flashcards and say “A says Ah” “B says Buh.”
Aby Rinella: At three they’re not even able to put that stuff together.
Parents, be encouraged. You will have plenty of time for academics. While your kids are in pre-school (and even in kindergarten) let them play, read to them, and love them!
One of the most important things you can do for your kids is let them play outside – a lot! Listen to Aby and Yvette discuss the importance of outdoor play here. Were created to be in the garden, and there are SO many benefits to the great outdoors, including dirt, sun, exercise, and especially, pointing our kids to their Creator through His creation!
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 35 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.
Few subjects bring so much fear and uncertainty to parents as the thought of pulling their kids out of school and homeschooling them. While there are a wealth of fantastic resources available and a thriving homeschool movement across the country, until families take the leap into homeschooling there are always going to be unknowns and the nagging thoughts of “am I able”, “am I enough”, “will my kids get a good education”, “will my kids be able to get into college”, and the ever-present “what about socialization.”
Even if your kids haven’t started school yet and you are just considering homeschooling your preschooler or kindergartener, many of those same questions and doubts persist, and too many times this is compounded by the objections of friends and family members.
Here’s the good news. You can do this! Literally MILLIONS of students are being homeschooled right now. Not only have Millions been homeschooled since the rise of modern homeschooling, many more have been homeschooled throughout history, as “traditional school” has only been the standard for the past 150 years or so.
There’s even more good news. Not only can you do this, but it will be good for your children. Homeschooled students are thriving. Decades of research is now proving that homeschooled students are, on the whole, better prepared for college and life than their public and private schooled peers. Here are just a few links to back up these claims:
If you, or someone you know, is considering homeschooling we encourage you to attend the Homegrown Generation Family Expo. We have gathered an amazing group of speakers together for a week of homeschooling encouragement and practical advice. The online conference will be LIVE and INTERACTIVE from February 17th through the 21st and registration includes lifetime access to the videos, notes, and a virtual swag bag full of valuable resources. Lifetime registration is just $20 here.
Homeschooling is good for students, good for families, and good for culture, so it is our mission to encourage and equip homeschooling families to start well and finish strong.
Yvette Hampton recently talked with author and speaker, Israel Wayne about how to start homeschooling – how to do it well – and how to make it to graduation and beyond! Israel Wayne is the author of Answers for Homeschooling: Top 25 Questions Critics Ask, which answers many of the questions that people have when considering whether homeschooling is appropriate for their family. In this conversation, Israel and Yvette discuss why so many families choose to homeschool and how the alternatives (public school, and private school) are really doing. They also discuss whether homeschooling is appropriate for all types of families, or if it is best suited to certain groups.
They also discussed what steps a family should take when they want to start homeschooling and what really matters once they start, whether it’s curriculum choices, educational methods, scheduling, organization, life skills, relationships, or discipleship. Finally, Israel gives helpful insights for dads in leading their families in instruction and discipleship.
Enjoy their conversation
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone, this is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I have a return guest on with me today, and he is one of my absolute favorite homeschool people, one of my favorite guests that we’ve ever had on the podcast. As a matter of fact, Israel, I think that your podcast, I don’t think, I know that your podcast interview that I did with you quite some time ago is one of the most listened to that we’ve ever done. I am so excited to have you back on. Israel Wayne, welcome to the podcast again.
Israel Wayne: Hey, it’s great to be back with you. Thank you so much.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you. Thank you. You are such a blessing to us. We have really enjoyed getting to know you, Garritt and I. We’re excited, because you’re going to be part of the Homegrown Generation Family Expo that we have coming up February 17th through the 21st. It’s so funny, because people keep looking at the list of speakers that we have at our speaker lineup and just going “Oh my goodness, this is amazing, you have the best of the best of the homeschool heroes.” And I don’t say that to puff you up. I say that because you have truly had a huge impact in not only my life, but I know the lives of thousands and thousands of families. We are very honored. It is only by the grace of God that we have the speakers that we have for this event, and you are one of them that from the very beginning we said, “We’ve got to get Israel as a speaker for this event.” So thank you for joining us for that in a few weeks, and thank you for being with me again on the podcast today.
Israel Wayne: Absolutely.
Yvette Hampton: Tell us very quickly about your family, because you’ve got a couple of kids and a wife who you really like.
Israel Wayne: Yes, absolutely. Well, my homeschool journey actually started when I was a child. My family began homeschooling in 1978, which is like what, 42 years ago now? I’ve been in it my whole life, and was homeschooled all the way through high school, met my wife, who was homeschooled. Her family started homeschooling in 1983. Both of our families were pioneer homeschooling families. My mother founded and published the Home School Digest magazine since 1988, so I kind of grew up in the leadership side of homeschooling as well. So when my wife and I got married, being that we were homeschooled pretty much our whole way through, it was a foregone conclusion for us that we would homeschool our children. Lord has so far blessed us with 10 children. The oldest is 19, and the youngest has just turned a year. We have 10 children sandwiched in there between 19 and 10. Our oldest is working full-time. We have a daughter that just turned 18, a son that turned 16, I’m taking him to driver’s ed here later today.
Yvette Hampton: Oh no! Wow!
Israel Wayne: It’s one of those things. We actually have four teenagers living in our home right now, and then some little ones too. So we’re kind of hitting it on all cylinders, all sides of the parenting spectrum, we’re deeply entrenched in now, the parenting scene and the homeschooling world as well. Now, I speak at conferences and write books on homeschooling as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, that’s awesome, and you don’t write books just on homeschooling, you write books on family, on parenting and things like that as well. So, that is exciting. We’re doing a series right now on getting started homeschooling. This time of the year is that time where, as you know, because you’ve been in homeschooling for quite a long time, it’s that time of year where you kind of get into that slump. A lot of moms, they’re thinking through “Okay, why am I doing this? Am I going to do this again next year? What does our family look like?”, and reevaluating their decision to homeschool. Many of them are sold out on homeschooling and they wouldn’t do anything different, but they’re still having to think through what the rest of this year and next year is going to look like for them. Then you’ve got that kind of group of parents who are starting to think … There’s something about the holidays where we come into the new year and we start thinking “What are we going to do next year for our kids and for their education?”
Yvette Hampton: We’ve got that group of parents too who are just saying “What are we going to do? How are we going to educate our kids next year? Are we going to send them to public school, private school, homeschool? What are the options here for me?” And those are always my favorite people to talk to. I love nothing more than being able to talk heart-to-heart with another mom and just explain to her why homeschooling is so beneficial to our families. I would love for you to be able to talk about “what are some of the benefits of school?”, “Why do this?”, “Why get started in this whole journey of homeschooling?” Because it’s not always easy. It’s a lot of work actually, but it’s so worth it, and anything worth doing is hard. Can you just talk to the heart of those parents who are maybe just kind of thinking through “Okay, where are we going with this? What are we going to do next?”
Israel Wayne: Sure. Well, not all homeschoolers are religious, and not religious homeschoolers are of the same faith or religion. But for my wife and I, we’re Christians, and our Christian faith is very important to us. It’s a very defining aspect of our life and who we are. We want to be able to pass our faith onto our children, but I think for all parents, whether they’re religious or not, there’s a desire to pass their values onto their children and to teach them the things that are important to them. Then relationship. One of the things that I talk about in my books is the importance of influence, and if you want to have influence in your child’s life, you have to spend time with them. It’s unfortunate that the vast majority of children growing up in the United States, their parents are not the predominate influence in their life, simply because the parents have given away the number one factor or force in influence, which is time.
Israel Wayne: So if you want to have influence in your child’s life you need to buy back time, and homeschooling is a wonderful way to do that, because you get to actually be present with your children, to be with them and to teach them your faith and values. In the process of that you will have more conflict, I’ll just be honest, if you do that, as with any relationship, because when you spend time around people you see your faults and you rub each other the wrong way. It’s kind of like marriage, right? The more that you spend time with somebody the more that they can irritate you? But I don’t know very many people who say “The more you spend time with somebody the more possibility there is for conflict or irritations, so don’t get married.”
Israel Wayne: Most people recognize that there’s a huge payoff in that, yeah, you have more opportunity for conflict, but you have more opportunity for a deep profound loving relationship as well. That’s true with our children, that the more that we spend time with them, them more we’re around them, those conflicts actually give us an opportunity to press into real relationship and a quality and a level of relationship that we would never have if we only saw them occasionally. The same thing with like a marriage relationship, you would just never have the opportunity to really get to know someone or grow into deep love with someone if you just see them occasionally. This opportunity that we have with these children to be the primary influence in their life, for me, as the credit card commercial says, that’s priceless.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. I love that. A few weeks ago I interviewed Durenda Wilson, and we were talking about sibling relationships. One of the things that really hit me during our conversation was we were talking about the opportunity that we have as parents to work with our children through their relationship with one another as siblings. Sometimes that can be a really, really hard thing. But what struck me about our conversation was I thought as parents we have a responsibility to teach our children how to handle relationships with other people, and if you can imagine, everyone working and really putting effort and being intentional about teaching our children to get along with one another and to be forgiving and to be loving and to be selfless, and all the of the things that you would expect in a marriage and that you want in a marriage, if we can teach that to our kids with their brothers and sisters, imagine how much better they are going to be prepared for a successful marriage, because you take those same characteristics into marriage and you’re going to have a pretty solid good marriage.
Yvette Hampton: But when kids learn to be selfish and they’re not around each other and they’re not used to building those family relationship, it makes it hard going into a marriage to then know how to do that. The sibling relationships are so important in addition to the parent/child relationships.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, for sure. And I’m seeing the fruit of my investment right now in my children, particularly with my oldest, because he works 40 hours a week, and then he volunteers for some things with our church. So he’s gone a lot. So we don’t have that same time that we used to have when he was here all the time and we were teaching him and so forth. But at 19 years old he’s a man now, and he does still live at home for now. But because he’s so busy and he’s working our relational dynamic has changed, and I am, and he is, we’re both best friends in way. My wife and I are best friends, but he’s one of my best friends in the whole world. So our dynamic has changed where it’s not so much parent/child as much as it is that we really are friends.
Israel Wayne: I appreciate that I have influence in his life that if there ever is anything that I need to talk to him about, like decisions that he’s making or whatever, most of the time he’ll come to me and he’ll ask me for advice and he’ll look for input, or if there’s ever a time where I feel like I need to give him advice or council on a certain direction I try to be sparing with that. He’s open to it, and the reason is because, I look at it a little bit like, I didn’t invent this analogy, but like a relationship bank. Where you put deposits into the bank and you can make a withdrawal every once in a while, because there’s enough cash in there to float a withdrawal. If there’s something I need to talk to him about and say “You know what? I think this decision would be a good decision for you”, or “I think this would be a better decision for you.”
Israel Wayne: I have some investment there that he will listen to that and he’ll take that onboard because he respects me. And he respects me because I put the time in. Our children have to know that we have their best interests at mind and at heart, and that the things that we’re doing for them, we really are doing for them. Not because it’s easiest for us. Not because it’s most convenient for us, but because we really believe that this is the best decision for them, and of course we’re parents, right? So we’re going to mess up sometimes.
Israel Wayne: We won’t always call that right, but if your children really believe that you are for them, that you love them, you like them, that you have their best interests in mind and you have invested the best of yourself and your time and your energy in them, generally speaking, that comes back to you in terms of respect and relationship and influence later on in life. But when they know that they’ve been second fiddle, when they know that they’re way down on the priority list, maybe not even two or three, maybe like 8th, 9th, 10th … The average parent in America spends 19 minutes a day with their child.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: 19 minutes a day.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, why even have them?
Israel Wayne: Yeah, and the average parent in America watches two and a half hours of TV or Netflix every night of their life. I think kids understand that they’re just not a priority to mom and dad in most cases. So when parents come back to them at 18 years old and they’re trying to tell them what they should do … I hear parents all the time, “I don’t know why my kid doesn’t listen to me. He doesn’t like me, won’t pay attention, and ignores everything I say.” Well, they got ignored their whole childhood. So you didn’t put the time in, didn’t put the investment in. So for us, homeschooling is really just an extension of parenting and relationship. I call it Parenting With Academics. We’re not really doing anything radically different. It’s not school-at-home. It’s just the parenting and relationship process, adding academics to that mix.
Yvette Hampton: Oh, that’s such a great answer. I love that. We were talking about just that relationship between parent and child, and I know when we’re talking about homeschooling and why parents should homeschool oftentimes we talk about it from the perspective of “Don’t put your child in public school.” And I’m going to ask you a question that I know is going to step on some toes, and I don’t ask this in order to do so. I ask this because I really want to think through this. I want parents listening to this to actually think through the process of this, and I want to talk about private Christian school, because oftentimes parents will say “Well, I wouldn’t put my kids in a public school because clearly what they’re being taught there is completely against everything that God’s word says, but if I put them in this really good Christian private school they’ll be fine.”
Yvette Hampton: And let me just give a disclaimer here. I grew up in a really good Christian private school. I loved the school that I went to and I was discipled by my teachers that I had. I had great Christian, solid Christian, teachers who really helped guide my spiritual walk as a teenager. But that is certainly not always the case, and even now Garritt and I have really come to the conclusion for our family that we believe that homeschooling is best, even if there was a perfect … Well, I shouldn’t say perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect school or a perfect homeschool. But even if there was an excellent Christian school, as you will, talk to the parent who’s maybe considering “Well, we have this opportunity to put him in a good Christian school or homeschool, because now I look at the relationship part of it and I think I would never want to give up that time with my child and me being the one to disciple them.” What would you say to that parent?
Israel Wayne: Well, when you look in scripture there’s three different categories that we can evaluate this from. The first is what does God command, or what does God prescribe, and then the second would be what does God allow? Then the third is what does God forbid? Then we can take those three principles and we can apply them to education, and you’ll find that if you’re looking simply at what the scripture prescribes, what it commands, you find repeated commandments for parents to teach their children, instruct their children, disciple their children, discipline their children, train them in the way that they should go. You have multiple passages, dozens of passages in the Bible where God commands parents to teach their children. There are no other groups in the Bible, other people groups, or agencies, that are commanded by God to teach children except in a couple of places. Grandparents, where it says “Teach your sons and sons’ sons”, or “Your children and your children’s children.”
Israel Wayne: You have just a couple of passages where grandparents are commanded by God to teach their grandchildren. But for the most part it’s parents. Interestingly, the government is never commanded to teach children. They’re told in 1 Peter 2:14 and then Romans 13 that they’re supposed to bear the sword to punish the evildoer, that’s their responsibility. You don’t bear a sword … Bearing the sword doesn’t have anything to do with raising children. Then the church, interestingly, and this’ll be hard for some people, but do your own study on it, there are no passages in the new testament where the church is ever commanded specifically to teach children as a separate entity or separate group, and there are no examples in the new testament early church where the new testament church ever did it. There are none. We have built this entire infrastructure within the church on the idea of the church being responsible for teaching children, and there’s not one verse anywhere in the new testament that supports that concept.
Israel Wayne: Now, so then you ask “Well, then are you saying it’s forbidden?” Well, no. Things that are not specifically forbidden in scripture, in direct command or in principle, are allowable. So is it wrong for the church to teach children? No, it’s not, and certainly in the context of the body, or the context of the entire church you don’t want to disciple everyone in the church. That’s part of the thing. But a more fully Biblically orbed view of the church’s role in education is that they’re supposed to teach parents how to teach their children. They’re supposed to disciple parents to know how to disciple their own children, not to be replacement parents, not to be surrogate parents who do the work for them. I see very few churches that operate that way, very few churches that even have an understanding of that. I wrote a book called Education: Does God Have an Opinion? And in this book, I talk a lot about that whole concept of what does the Bible say about education and what are the parameters that we should have when we look at this issue?
Israel Wayne: Finally, when we look at what does God forbid in education, you’ll find that anti-Christian teaching is forbidden. Very expressly, very clearly, in multiple places in scripture, as a Christian parent you cannot lie to your children, you cannot give them false narratives about who God is, about the reality of life and how God is ordained and orchestrated in life-to-work and gender identity and all of those kinds of things. It’s not optional for us to promote an educational system that lies to our children and teaches them things that false, and teaches them things that are anti-Christian. That’s not an option. So, back to Christian schools. Are they allowable? Biblically they’re allowable in that they’re not expressly forbidden in direct command or in principle, but I think when you look at Deuteronomy six and some other passages where Deuteronomy six, it talks about how you’re supposed to teach your children from the time that you wake up in the morning to the time that you go to sleep at night, and you’re supposed to teach them whether they’re inside your house or outside your house.
Israel Wayne: Is there ever a time when you’re not inside your house or outside your house? Is there ever a time when you’re awake that it isn’t encompassed in that Deuteronomy six mandate? I think you’d have a really hard time doing that when you’re sending your children away from you for over 10000 hours between kindergarten and 12th grade. I don’t know how you fulfill the commands that you’re told to do in scripture when your children are being sent away from you. So there are situations that are less than ideal, and I think that we need to be sympathetic to those.
Israel Wayne: But even those situations where you don’t have the ideal scenario, you have maybe one parent and that parents has to work and whatever, and other people have to come along and make up for the lack based on the condition, it still has to be in the fear of the lord, it still has to be based on the truth. It can’t be anti-Christian. So there’s a place I think for Christian education that doesn’t look like parents teaching within the home. I think there’s a place for that, but we wouldn’t consider that to be the normal prescribed approach or method in scripture.
Yvette Hampton: Well said. I want to say, I’m not trying to put down anybody who has their children in school, because like you said, there are many situations where that is necessary. We have a friend, she has cancer right now, and she’s been struggling with her health for years now, and she had to put her children in school this year. It just broke her heart, because she really wants to be home with them, but she couldn’t physically be home with them. So they had to put their kids in school. And God is faithful, our kids belong to him. So I’m not trying to shame anybody who does. I just want to think through-
Israel Wayne: Yeah, we welcome the church to come along in those moments and help us. One thing I want to say though too is that the average cost for private school right now is 8600 dollars per year per child.
Yvette Hampton: Yes, it’s very expensive.
Israel Wayne: Which is crazy-expensive, and parents do it thinking “These people are going to give my children a strong Biblical world view”, and I want to encourage parents to do two things, Google Search a couple of things. Number one, the Gen 2 Survey. G-E-N, the number two, and then Survey. They have a chart in that survey, the Gen 2 Survey, it’s the largest study on church millennials. They have a chart in there that shows how education impacts the outcome of people having faith in Christ, having good relationship with their parents, having satisfaction in life, having a life that reflects Christian values and Christian fruit I guess you would say. All of those things are very dramatically impacted by the education that they receive, and Christian schools, according to the Gen 2 Survey, are producing negative results in your children becoming a Christian, living like a Christian, having a Biblical worldview, having a close relationship with mom and dad and having satisfaction in life. Negative in every one of those categories on the whole.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: Christian schools are actually negating against the Christian faith, not helping it, not improving it. Your child is less likely to be a Christian if they go to a Christian school than if they’re homeschooled, by far.
Yvette Hampton: Wow.
Israel Wayne: Another thing that I’ll point you to is NehemiahInstitute.com. If you go to NehemiahInstitue.com, on the very homepage there is a graphic that shows Biblical worldview assessment tests of students that are homeschooled, those that are in public school, and those that in Christian school, those that in public school and Christian school, a very low Biblical worldview and decreasing. It’s been decreasing since 1988. Whereas, homeschooling is significantly better and is slightly increasing. Both the Gen 2 Survey and the Nehemiah Institute show that Christian schools and public schools are both actually negative to faith outcomes, whereas homeschooling is positive. So we don’t base what we do on statistics, we base what we do on scripture, but the statistics seem to be bearing out what we find prescribed in scripture, parents taking responsibility for the discipleship of their children works, sending your children away from you to people, who in many cases you don’t even know, to teach your children things, you don’t know what they’re being taught. That approach is not working.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, I agree. You were talking earlier about the church and how oftentimes we expect the church to do the discipling of our children and to teach them spiritually and to grow them spiritually. Oftentimes I think parents do that with school as well. We expect them to not just educate them academically, but to educate them spiritually, and that’s a dangerous road to take, because Luke 6:40 says “A student will become like his master.” Well, do you know every one of their teachers, even if it’s a Christian school? Like I said, I went to a great Christian school, but this was almost 30 years ago, and I had great teachers but not all of them were believers. And that’s a touch place, but even when we do that, just like when we go to church, it’s still the parents’ responsibility. So when they’re coming home from school, whether it’s public or private, are we knowing what they’ve been taught and are we undoing anything that has been negatively taught to them according to God’s word, and are we still taking that role of discipleship with their hearts, because that still ultimately is the role of parents?
Israel Wayne: One more thing on the Christian schools. Nehemiah Institute has a Biblical worldview assessment test, and the Christian school teachers as well as students, and one of the things that they show is that the majority of Christian school teachers actually have a worldview that is either secular, humanist, or socialist. And you think “Well, how could that be?” I was talking with Dan Smith with the guy that is the leader of Nehemiah Institute, and he said that one of the reasons for that is that schools, because they cost so much money, Christian schools, they are requiring these teachers to be certified. 30 years ago that wasn’t a requirement, but now the schools are requiring they have teacher certification.
Israel Wayne: Well, where do they get that teacher certification? In most cases if you graduate from a teacher school you have gotten the most anti-Christian humanist socialist education on the planet, and you’ve been certified that you passed. So you bring these teachers in on the basis of their academic credentials and that they sign your statement of faith, but most schools never have any Biblical worldview assessment that they give before they hire to find out do they know how to think Biblically about social issues and about economics and science and so forth.
Yvette Hampton: Right. I don’t remember who I heard this from for the first time, it was many years ago. But as I heard when my oldest was a baby I think, is that we’re not raising children, we are raising adults. And that’s very true. We’re raising adults, we’re raising these kids to be all that God has created them to be. In your book called Education: Does God Have an Opinion, in the appendix on that one you have a sectioned called A Christian Education Manifesto. I would love for you to kind of jump into that and talk about what that is.
Israel Wayne: Sure. Well, I’ve often had people say to me that God doesn’t have an opinion on education, God doesn’t care how we educate our children, there’s no one-size-fits-all, what works for you may not work for me, there’s public school, private school, charter school, online school, homeschool, and people often say “You can’t say that God has one prescribed approach that’s the right fit for everybody.” That sounds really good, until you actually study the scripture on it, and my book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion, this book came out of a conversation that I had with my mother when I was a teenager, a young teenager, and I made that statement. I said “I don’t know whether I’ll homeschool my children or not. I guess I’ll just have to find out what my wife wants to do”, and I kind of liked being homeschooled myself. There were definite perks to it. I liked not having to get up till 9:00 in the morning and do school in my pajamas and not have to stand outside when it was cold and wait for the school bus.
Israel Wayne: There were perks, there were things I thought were pretty good about homeschooling, but as a young teen I’d never really done a scriptural study on it. My mom encouraged me, she said “I would like you to write an essay and defend that viewpoint, that God doesn’t care about education, it doesn’t matter how you educate your children. Defend that viewpoint, but defend it from the Bible, not just your opinion, but find scripture that actually supports your view that any form of schooling is equal and valid.” So, I thought, “Well, this shouldn’t take too long.” I thought I’d be able to whip something together in a couple hours, and I started studying that topic and boy, 30 years later I’m still studying the topic. But I found I was definitively wrong, that God was not silent on education, that God wrote voluminously on the issue of education and the scripture, both old testament and new testament, is absolutely full of statements of how God wants his children to be educated. He’s not silent on the issue, he has spoken.
Israel Wayne: So that appendix is mostly just scripture verses. This whole book has a lot of scripture in it all the way through it, but that appendix in the back is kind of a compilation where I just took a bunch of passages of scripture and applied it. One thing I’ll say about it is that when you see a universal principle that applied to everything, that universal principle that applies to everything applies to everything that it applies to. Everything it applies to is everything. So if you’re talking about everything, then you’re also talking about education, because education is a subset of everything. When you see something that God says that’s universally true for everything, then you have to say, “God has made this statement about education as well.” So just when you look through some of these passages, let me just grab a few of them, we sometimes don’t think about some of these passages as applying to education in particular, or schooling.
Israel Wayne: Like take Psalm 1 for example, it says “Blessed is the man who walks not in the council of the wicked.” Let’s just stop there. What kind of council are your children getting in the school that they’re in? Is it Godly council, or is it ungodly council? Is it wicked council? Is it teaching them the truth about their origins, or is it lying to them about who made them and where they came from? Is it teaching that God created everything in six days, or is it teaching them that they’re the result of a cosmic accident four billion years ago? Is it teaching them that God made them male and female, or is it teaching them that gender is a fluid concept? Is it teaching them that there are moral absolutes and there’s right and wrong that’s truly objective for all people and all places and all times, or is it teaching them relativism, that truth is in the eye of the beholder and what might be true for you is not true for me, we can decide our own truth, we can make our own path?
Israel Wayne: What is it teaching them about even sex before marriage, and so many of these things? But what is the school teaching them? Is it Godly council, or is it ungodly? Well, this tells us we’re supposed to avoid the council of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners. What’s the social environment of the school like? Is it a Godly social environment? We’re told in Proverbs 13:20 that “He who walks with wise will become wise, but a companion of fools will be destroyed.” What’s the social environment like? Or in 1 Corinthians 15:33 we’re told “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good character.” So what kind of social environment are your children being exposed to? So many times people bring up the socialization quote, “Aren’t you concerned about socialization?”
Yvette Hampton: Yes.
Israel Wayne: “Well, yes. That’s why we’re homeschooling. We don’t want our children to be in the way of sinners.” Now you’re saying “Oh, so you’re saying that you want to isolate your children and never allow them to spend time with anyone who’s not a Christian?” Well, I talked about this in the first podcast and those that didn’t listen to it should go back and listen to it, but the number one factor in influence in someone’s life is time, and if you let your children spend significant time around other children, those children will influence your child. It will just happen. If you let them spend time around anybody! A video game console. An iPod.
Israel Wayne: They’re going to be influenced by what they spend most time around. So the question is who do you want to be that influence, their peer group, or you as a parent? If you spend time around wise people you become wise, but around foolish people you will be destroyed. Well, what are foolish people? Well, in Proverbs 22:15 it says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.” That’s one Biblical definition of a fool. The other Biblical definition of a fool that comes to mind is when the scripture says, “The fool has said in his heart there is no God.” So what do we do as Christian parents?
Israel Wayne: We think “I want my child to be well-rounded, and I want them to be successful in life, so I’m going to put them in a classroom with 30 to 40 children that the Bible says has foolishness bound up in their heart and have an atheist teacher who says there is no God, and if they’re not in that environment with this atheist teacher that the Bible calls a fool, and these students that God calls foolish, if they’re not just immersed in this pool of foolishness they won’t be able to grow up and be socially well-adjusted.” Well, where did we get that idea? We didn’t get that idea from scripture. Scripture doesn’t support that idea. Scripture never tells you “Make sure you socialize your children with lots of other children.” I challenge you, parents, get your Bible, get a concordance, look it up, do a passage search on this.
Yvette Hampton: Do a 30 year essay.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, do your essay. Find from scripture where it tells you “Make sure your children spend lots of time around other children so they can be socially well-rounded.” It doesn’t say that. In fact, it says the opposite. It says “Make sure they spend a lot of time around wise people.” Well, who are wise people? Wise people tend to be older, tend to have the fear of the lord, and it then it talks about not having them sitting in the seat of the scoffer. Well, what’s the social environment again? Is it one that mocks and scoffs at authority? Is it one that undermines parental authority? Well, if that’s the social environment they shouldn’t be in that environment. But then someone says, “So what’s the antidote?” But instead of all that, his delight should be in the law of the lord and on his law, God’s law, he should meditate day and night. How can you meditate day and night when God’s law is not even allowed in a government school?
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Israel Wayne: We violate the thing that it tells us to do, create an educational context where you can meditate day and night on the law of the lord. We violate that. We violate all the things it tells us not to do, and then we somehow expect that it’s all going to turn out okay. That’s just one passage or scripture where the Bible has spoken really clearly to the issue of education, but people don’t think about it as an education passage because it doesn’t use the word school. So that’s what I do in this book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion, is I just go through dozens and dozens and dozens of passages just like that, and when you really are honest about it and study what the scripture says, it’s forceful that children need an explicitly, exclusively Christian education.
Yvette Hampton: Yup, that’s right. I couldn’t agree more. Can you take us back a little bit to John Dewey, Horace Mann, those guys who really have kind of influenced what public school is today, because they had an agenda. Talk about that a little bit.
Israel Wayne: Most people for some reason believe that public schools in America were started by Christians, that they were Christian, that basically they promoted Christian principles, Christian values, up until about maybe the late 1960s when they started to lose their way a little bit, and today they’re not ideal. That’s kind of where most Christians are on it, but most Christians have never really studied the history of government schools. If you go back and you study the Prussian school system, which is the one that our American system was founded on, you find that there was an intentional design on the part of the atheist God-haters to get children away from their parents so that they can indoctrinate them in anti-Christian worldview, and Horace Mann, who was in Massachusetts, he was a Unitarian God-hater, he started the compulsory attendance movement in Massachusetts in the 1850s.
Israel Wayne: By the year 1900 basically every state in the United States had adopted compulsory attendance laws where you had to attend these government schools. And Dewey’s role was to make sure that there were virtually no options for parents, that they had to have their children in a government tax-funded school, and whatever the government funds it controls. So Dewey started out with some basic Bible reading and prayers being allowed within the classroom, but his goal was over time to slowly remove all of that and just create a kind of secular utopia where everyone would come together under the banner of moral goodness, because as a Unitarian he didn’t believe in a personal God, he denied the doctrine of the trinity. He believed that all people were good, morally good, and that they would all come together and create a utopian society if you just get religion out of the picture.
Israel Wayne: And John Dewey, who was a teacher of teachers in the 1930s, he really revolutionized the schools, particularly in the 30s. He had gone to Russia, Vladimir Lenin’s wife had invited him there. He met Joseph Stalin’s wife, who was a big fan of his. They wanted him to come, he was the most famous teacher in American, the founder of the NEA, and they said “We want you to come here and teach us everything you know about pedagogy, about teaching method, and we want to teach you how to teach economic socialism in the classroom. In the 1930s they changed the textbooks where they pulled out three subjects that had been taught separately, history, civics, and geography, and replaced those with a Marxist curriculum called Social Studies, that had never been taught before. From the 1930s on there was a strong socialist push within the government school system.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a great film. We watched that early in our homeschooling journey and it really had a great impact on our lives. And you were part of that documentary as well. Just like you’re a part of Schoolhouse Rocked.
Israel Wayne: Ah, we’re looking forward to that.
Yvette Hampton: Oh gosh, us too. Us too. All right. In the last few minutes that we have I want to talk about just some practical things for parents, because we’re kind of talking about the getting started, and this interview with you, we’re kind of talking about the why. Like why homeschool? Why does it even matter that we don’t have our kids in school? Isn’t education just education? Isn’t it all academics? Aren’t they all teaching kids math, writing, this and that? And you and I have talked about this before. As a matter of fact, I think we talked about this on the last podcast, but for those who maybe are new to listening to this podcast, the reason that Garritt and I have been so convicted about educating our kids at home and why it’s so different in teaching them from a Biblical worldview is because not everything … Sorry, I’ve got a notice popping up on my thing here.
Yvette Hampton: Everything that we teach our kids should point them to Christ. Math can point them to Christ, because God is the God or order. He is the God of absolutes. So, when we see math laid out and we understand how all these numbers and formulas work together we understand the awesomeness of God. When we study science, we understand God as our creator. When we study history from a Biblical worldview, we understand God’s plan for mankind, and so on. So when we take God out of those things, which is precisely what the government schools have done, then we’re really doing a disservice to our children and to their hearts really, because math is not just math, science is not just science, history is not just history. So I really appreciate your take on that. So now that we’ve talked about all that I want to talk about just the practical part of getting started with homeschooling.
Yvette Hampton: What does a parent do if they’ve got their child in school, especially in a public school? At a private school they’re not going to really question it, but maybe they’ve got their child in a public school, especially if it’s in the middle of the year, and they’re just feeling like the lord is calling them to homeschool. How do they go about doing that? How do we just say “Okay, we’re going to pull our kids out of school now, and golly, with all that’s happening right now in the public school system and all of the parental rights that are being taken away?” We’re seeing parents pulling their kids out left and right. So can you talk to that parent and offer some encouragement to them?
Israel Wayne: Absolutely. Well, the first thing is, again, this book, Answers for Homeschooling, the Top 25 Questions That Critics Ask, I literally answer almost every question you can imagine about homeschooling. How to get started. How to choose a curriculum. Is it legal? What about socialization? Shouldn’t I have my kids in school to be salt and light? What about different learning styles, different learning teaching methods? I cover all that in this book, Answers for Homeschooling. So you definitely want to get that book, because Mike Smith of HSLDA said something like “This is the Walmart and Costco of homeschool books. It’s everything you need to know about homeschooling in one source.”
Yvette Hampton: I agree.
Israel Wayne: But what I would recommend, mentioning Mike Smith, that you become a member of HSLDA, go to their website, hslda.org, because they will provide support for you, make sure that you’re protected legally. They have a host of information on their website. You can get connected to state organizations. You should always be connected with the Christian State Homeschooling Association in your state. There’s a list of those on the HSLDA website. Also there’s a website called homeschoolfreedom.com, and there are state organizations that are mentioned there as well.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, we actually have a link to that on the Schoolhouse Rocked website. If you go to SchoolhouseRocked.com right on the front page there’s a button that says “Homeschooling in your state”, that will take you straight to Homeschool Freedom.
Israel Wayne: Then from those state associations, when you finally find your state association, almost all the state associations have a homeschool conference, the larger states do at least. You will want to attend a homeschool conference in your state. They have wonderful teaching, lots of great speakers, workshops on almost every possible topic, vendors that take curriculum. You can go and look at the curriculum and see what’s available and ask questions. There are homeschool experts there. There’s community, and from those state associations you can get plugged into local homeschool support groups, local co-ops in your area, so that you’re not just homeschooling in isolation, but you can homeschool with the community around you. I would also recommend going to nheri.org, National Home Education Research Institute. They area research group with Dr. Brian Ray. They have all kinds of statistics.
Israel Wayne: I have a lot of that in the Answers for Homeschooling book, because you’re going to have skeptics, right? You’re going to have in-laws, you’re going to have people say “Well, is this a good choice?” And “How are your children going to turn out academically?” I’ve consolidated a lot of the highlights into that book, but there are maybe specific question that people ask you and Dr. Ray has done fabulous research on all that. So having facts is really important, because you’re going to meet people who have opinions, and you’re going to be able to trump their opinions with fact. So that’s part of what I’m doing with the Answers book is trying to give you fact to refute the opinion. But definitely, member of HSLDA, become a member of your state homeschool association, get plugged into a local support group, and check out Answers for Homeschooling, I think it’s a great way to get going. Then there are lots of Facebook discussion groups.
Yvette Hampton: Which some can be a little dangerous.
Israel Wayne: Some can be a little bit dangerous, yeah. Again, a lot of the state homeschool associations now are starting their own, and those have some guidance from people that actually know what they’re talking about. So if you find your state association ask them if they have a discussion group, because they’ll kind of make sure that things don’t derail. It’s amazing how many people are maybe not factual, but boy, they have strongly held views. I’m in Michigan and we had somebody recently that said “I’m new to homeschooling. I’m just looking into this. How do I get started? What are the laws about homeschooling in Michigan?” And somebody said “Oh, there are no laws on homeschooling in Michigan.” I’m the vice president of our state homeschool association, so I had to get on there and say “Well, actually there are, and know what they are, because it’s really relevant to your life.” So it’s just amazing how people are really free to share what they think they know, but you really do want to find people that know what they’re talking about, and the state homeschool associations are a great place to do that.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, they really are. We love state organizations and HSLDA both, because you all have worked so beautifully together. HSLDA, Homeschool Legal Defense Association, this is not a commercial for them. They’re not paying us to say this. This is just something that we strongly believe in. But HSLDA and the state organizations are two groups of people that really work hand-in-hand together in order to keep … They’ve worked to make homeschooling legal, because it has not always been legal. They’ve worked to keep homeschooling legal, and then they work to really provide the resources and encouragement that families need in their own individual states. And like you said, knowing what the laws are, knowing what their rights are as parents. So like you said, on our website we’ve got the link to homeschooling in your state, and people can go straight there. They can look at their own state organization, contact them directly and say “Hey, what do we need to do?” HSLDA is the same way.
Yvette Hampton: They’ve got tons of consultants that will actually walk you through what you need to do for your state. HSLDA has representatives for every state and they will help you figure out what you need to do to legally homeschool in your state, because every state is different. Literally, every state is different. We homeschooled in California, and I was just talking to someone today, I was saying “Ironically, homeschooling in California’s one of the easiest things to do.” It will not always be this way, I’m 100% certain with the direction that California’s going. That’s a different topic, but homeschooling is very easy in California. You don’t really have to do a whole lot of anything. You have to keep attendance and file an affidavit, but other than that it’s much easier than some states that require a lot of … They have all kinds of rules and laws. So, anyway. But yes, that’s a great thing, and your book, we have it and it’s fantastic. I want to talk really quickly. We’re just going to over on this, and I’m not going to worry about it.
Yvette Hampton: I’m trying so hard to keep these podcasts short, but there’s so much good information here. Really quickly, I want to talk about the last thing, and we’ve touched on this already in this conversation, but what really matters? When parents are thinking of homeschooling, or they’re thinking about continuing to homeschool, is it curriculum that matters, is it keeping the perfect schedule, is it keeping our house clean? What is it that really matters? What is the heart of homeschooling our kids? And we talked about relationships, or course, but I would love for you to talk about this as a homeschool dad, and from the perspective of a dad. How have you gone about discipling the hearts of your children, because obviously discipleship is really what matters. It’s not curriculum. It’s not the perfect pretty schedule. It’s pointing our kids towards Christ. So can you very quickly talk to moms and especially to dads right now, and talk to them about as a dad what really matters and how do you disciple your kids?
Israel Wayne: I, a lot of times, think of children in our home as sort of the thermometer of the spiritual and relational temperature of our family, and when we see all kinds of bad attitudes and relational conflicts and stress and strife and lack of respect and all of that, we don’t like that, right? We look at it and go “Wow, it’s frigid in here, emotionally, relationally, spiritually.” We don’t like the temperature. But what we don’t think about sometimes is that we as the parents, we’re the thermostat, and if we want to see the temperature in our house, our relationships change, we change that by changing us. I get letters from people all day every day asking me “How can I change my child? How can I change my child? How can I change my child?” Well, the bad news is that the way that God has orchestrated things, usually the path to our child’s heart is through our heart.
Israel Wayne: You see this in Deuteronomy in chapter six where it says “This law which I give you this day shall be on your heart. Then you teach it diligently to your children.” So, God wants our heart first, and as dads in particular, I think even more than moms, we’re the thermostat for the family. Man, I notice if I come home grumpy and I have brought work home and stress home, and I’ve allowed my day to impact my mood and I bring that into my home and I externalize that on my wife, what happens to my wife? She gets grumpy. And it’s easy to do, but I can’t take it out on my boss. I work for myself, but we’ve all had those scenarios where there’re certain scenarios you just can’t externalize how you really feel there. So there’re certain times that I can’t take it out. So if I bring that home and I’m just negative and I externalize that on my wife, what happens? She feels that stress, she gets negative, and then who does she externalize it to? She externalizes it to the children.
Israel Wayne: Then who do they externalize it? Well, the younger children, or to each other. Then what do we do? We tell them “Stop acting like that or you get disciplined.” Well, right, well, who did that? We did it, right? We set the temperature. We set the tone. So in terms of the big picture, what we’re going for, is we’re really going for God to conquer all of our hearts, and being home in an environment where we’re together, we’re working together for a common goal, a common purpose, we’re a team, we learn things in that process of teamwork of you have to have leaders, you have to have followers, just like any team, but we learn things in that process that make us more like Christ, cause us to press through the difficult things into the deeper relationships.
Israel Wayne: And if we avoid that, if just avoid each other, yeah, we’re avoiding conflict, but we’re also avoiding relationship. So, I just think that God created this concept called family and in America we’ve done everything that we can to get away from it. We just try to avoid each other, because we think that that’ll lessen conflict. And it does, it lessens conflict, but it also ruins relationship. So, I really believe that God is a relational God, he wants us to know him, he wants us to be in a relationship with him, but he also wants us to enter into and take the risk of relationship with each other. When the family works, homeschooling works. When the family’s not working, homeschooling’s chaos.
Israel Wayne: So you can change curriculum, you can find a better math program, you can fix the academics, that’s not hard. That’s really, really doable. The relationships are where you have to focus, and if the relationships are in order and everything’s working, you’re going to find the homeschooling process goes relatively easy. It’s not easy, but relatively easy if the family’s working. But, man, when you got people that hate each other or they’re at each other’s throats, it’s grueling. So you’ve got to fix that, and that’s why our ministry’s called Family Renewal, and we encourage you visit our website at FamilyRenewal.org, because that’s what we’re about, we’re about family discipleship and about those relationships.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah, I love it. You’ve got a great ministry, and you will be speaking, we mentioned this in part one, you’re going to be speaking for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo that’s coming up February 17th through the 21st, and you’re going to be speaking specifically on this topic of family relationships. The day, the 19th, that you’ll be speaking, that whole day is going to be about family relationships. We’re opening it up that day with Kirk Cameron, and he’s going to be talking about marriage. It’s going to be followed by Ginger Hubbard talking about discipling the heart of your child, or Reaching the Heart of Your Child I think is actually the title of her session, and then Durenda Wilson is going to be talking about sibling relationships. And you’re going to kind of tie it all together that day, as well as on the panel.
Yvette Hampton: We’ve got a panel at the end of that day with all three of you just to answer some questions from those who will be part of the event. So if you guys have not yet signed up for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo, please do so. It’s only $20. You get the live event, it’ll be streamed live through Facebook and through the Homegrown Generation website. Then you’ll have lifetime access to be able to watch any of the sessions that you would like to watch at any time, and lots of free stuff. So we’ve got free virtual swag bags and lots of contest giveaways and things like that. It’s going to be a really fun event, but we are really excited to have you as part of that, and really just encouraged by your message, Israel, and the ministry that God had put on your heart. So, we’re excited to bring you back into the Expo to talk more about that with people, and then be able to interact with the people who are watching live.
Israel Wayne: Yeah, it’ll be fun.
Yvette Hampton: It’s going to be a lot of fun. So HomegrownGeneration.com. You can register on there. Israel, thank you again for your time. Thank you for your wisdom, and just for all you do for the homeschool community and for families. You are a huge blessing.
Israel Wayne: Well, we appreciate you guys and we’re excited about your ministry.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you.
Israel Wayne: We look forward to the conference. So again, everybody make sure you register and join the fun.
In her books How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You? and How to Have a HEART for Your Kids, Rachael Carman challenges mothers to surrender their will and draw closer to their heavenly Father. She invites moms to join her in loving God passionately and worshiping him fully while sweeping up Cheerios, doing laundry, and planning dinner. You will be affirmed in your role as a mother as Rachael speaks of her struggles with perfectionism and impatience and shares her challenges, failures, and victories amid the ever-changing seasons of life. Her honesty will surprise you, and her humor will put you at ease.
Rachael is not only a respected author but is also a sought-after speaker. She has been a speaker in over thirty states and seven countries. She has been married to her husband, Davis, since 1986. They have seven kids with whom they love to laugh. Together, their life has been a roller-coaster ride, with God at the controls. Rachael enjoys playing in the dirt, eating dark chocolate, and walking on the beach. She and Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.
Yvette Hampton and Aby Rinella, of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, recently sat down to talk with Rachael about why marriage matters, how to make it a priority, why it’s important to set a good example for your children, how to respond when things get hard (because that’s reality) and practical tips on how to have a successful and God honoring marriage. Backstage Pass members will get access to the extended portion of this episode with more tips on how to have a great marriage!
Enjoy their conversation.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette Hampton with my co-host, Aby Rinella, and we are back with another fantastic guest. Thank you so much for spending time with us today. It’s always such a blessing to know that you’re on the other end and that we get to spend a little part of your day with you. Many of you are familiar with our guest today, Rachael Carman. She’s a wise veteran, homeschool mom who both Aby and I highly respect and we’re thrilled to have her as a speaker for the upcoming Homegrown Generation Family Expo. Welcome, Rachael.
Rachael Carman: Oh, thank you so much for having me. I’m really honored to be with you in here.
Yvette Hampton: Thank you, tell us briefly about you and your family.
Rachael Carman: Okay. So I’ve been married to my man, it’ll be 33 years in December and we started out on this journey a long, long time ago together and we have seven children, which even now seems impossible. So we have two boys, two sons, and three daughters in the middle and then two sons at the end. I think it’s our 24th year of home education because next I have one more year and that will be 25 years. But we have five homeschool graduates, we have three college graduates and a fourth in this next May and one with his master’s degrees. So all to the glory of God no one is more surprised than I, and not because of my kids, just because of their mom. “O ye, of little faith.” That was me in the beginning of this whole journey.
Yvette Hampton: Well, it’s always an encouragement to hear from moms like yourself who have gone into this without the great confidence of I got this, I can do this and this is going to be amazing because very few moms feel that way. And so to hear you in this from the other end, just saying God works out all the details and in his fullness is so great. So…
Aby Rinella: Well, Rachael, I’m excited to have you here. I was able to hear you at the Homeschool Idaho Convention, last summer. My husband and I both heard you and it was powerful you bring a powerful story and just a great encouragement. And one of my favorite sessions of yours was the session that you did on marriage. And I think it’s so relevant today because marriage is under attack. The family is under attack and what God’s word has to say about marriage isn’t always a popular message that people want to hear. But it just was so encouraged. I just remember I walked out of that room and I could not believe the amount of women that were encouraged I mean just talking about. Wow. It was life-changing for a lot of marriages and it wasn’t just your opinion of marriage, but it was God’s word. And what does God say about marriage? And God’s word works, it’s designed to work. That’s why he gave it to us.
Aby Rinella: So, I’m so excited to take that message that I know just changed lives at my Homeschool Idaho Convention and just bring it to the masses through this podcast. So, you said 33 years you guys have been married?
Rachael Carman: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: And every moment has been absolute wedded bliss, right? No difficulties?
Rachael Carman: You’re funny. You need to take your show on the road. No, it hasn’t been that at all. And I don’t know if I shared this in Idaho so you might get some repeat stuff today, right? So I remember when some friends called to say that they were getting a divorce, which is heart-wrenching to receive that phone call. I’m sure both of you have received that phone call it’s not a phone call you want to ever receive and the person said they were getting a divorce and why. And he said to me, “But you know you wouldn’t understand because you just think each other are amazing and you all are just crazy about each other”. I can tell you this conversation happened 15 years ago. I can tell you where I was standing when I had this conversation. Because I said to this person on the phone. I said, “No, whoa, whoa, whoa. Look, we have been through our ups and downs.”
Rachael Carman: So this would have been … We weren’t even married 20 years at this point. As we’ve been through our ups and downs and if it were not the fact that I made a covenant before the living God, I would have walked years ago and there was this… I was overcome and I said, “It was some force”, but I don’t think it’s right for any of us to look at anyone’s marriage. Anybody who’s been not married longer than 24 hours, should know it takes work. It’s work. And I think we insult each other when we just think anybody is as easy.
Rachael Carman: I think it’s admirable those who have determined, especially in this disposable generation, to stay the course. Because that’s what it is, it’s not about we’ve had friends that got a divorce because they were no longer in love with each other. That’s not part of the equation according to the Bible, this was a promise I entered into a blood covenant with the holy God of the universe that said that I was committing my life to stay in this relationship, good or bad, up or down. I like it or not it wasn’t about my feelings. It was about a promise that I made. And that’s I really think you talk about circling back, we got to circle back. It’s not this marriage thing isn’t a feeling because that does not get you through the hard times. But a covenant does. And one of my big things about marriage is it’s really easy for us to think, it doesn’t matter if we don’t get who God is. Because when you get who God is there becomes a seriousness to the covenant made.
Rachael Carman: Because of who you made the promise to when you make it to God, the almighty sovereign of the universe. You made a vow and so yeah, 33 years, ups and downs, lots of moves, good financial times, bad financial times, selling houses, houses that don’t sell, unemployment, sick children, death of parents and grandparents. It’s been like anybody else’s but we have determined to stay true to the vows that we made before God.
Aby Rinella: I love that. And not even the vows you made to each other, but the vows you made to God and I think that’s really where the difference comes in with a biblical marriage like you said, “Who did you make the promise to? And do you have a reverence for him?” And that is what carries through the hard times.
Rachael Carman: It really does. Just like his word does not return void when we spend time with God and in his word, when we keep our word, which if you study God’s word is a pretty big deal. Keeping your word is a pretty big deal. We were just reading this morning in family devotions and the Sermon on the Mount. When Jesus told the masses, “Let your yes be yes, don’t go around having to swear”. And my son goes, ” Well, that didn’t make sense. You have to sign contracts.” I said, “No. But that’s not what it meant. It meant we need to be people of integrity such that when I say, ‘I’m going to do something’, people are like, ‘Oh, no. Rachael said she would do it. She will do it. You don’t need to get a signature. She will keep her word'”.
Rachael Carman: That’s what we’re called to and that’s what marriage is. It’s about being men and women of integrity who stay true to the word that we gave. And we stand our ground and determine to… It’s about honoring God, right? We’ve all heard it and they say it. It takes hearing something 17 times before it soaks in. It takes more than that many times if you have teenagers, that was true, but it takes… In other words, it takes a multitude of times to hear something.
Rachael Carman: And this generation has leaned into the idea that marriage is all about being happy.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: Then we have heard it, it’s really about that process of becoming Holy, Leviticus 19:2, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy”. And so we’re supposed to… Sanctification is a very real part of this. I mean, marriage is a very real part of the sanctification process that God invites us to lean into, not a runaway from, right? Oh, what I mean when we all love to run away from sanctification, do it our own way, right? And our arrogance and our pride and our selfishness, but marriage is this beautiful context that God says, “Lean in and trust me, I’ve got something for you”.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: I love that reminder of trusting him because it’s so hard and like you’re saying, the world is telling us, just do what makes you happy. You see it everywhere. You see it on tee shirts, you see it on signs, you see it on billboards, just do what makes you happy, do you, and that is not what the word of God says. And I was, as you were talking, I was actually thinking about the movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron. And it’s such a fantastic movie because I think if we’re all realistic about our marriage, we all come to points in our marriage where we feel like we don’t love that person. We’re angry with them. And I mean that feeling may last for 10 minutes or it may last for 10 hours or 10 years. But I think we all feel that at times.
Yvette Hampton: Like I just, I don’t like you. I don’t love you. I don’t want to be with you anymore. But if we rely on those feelings to make the decisions that are life-altering for us and our families, it’s not going to go well with us. And in that movie, Fireproof, he learns to fall in love with his wife all over again. And it’s such a fantastic and beautiful look at what God can do in a marriage. Because even though we don’t feel a certain way, it doesn’t mean that God can’t help us walk through that and heal our marriages. I mean, just like he can heal a wound that a cut on your leg, he can heal the wounds of marriage as well. And if we’re willing to be committed to what God has called us to do, then he can do that.
Yvette Hampton: He is a powerful God. He’s the God of the universe and, he can do that. Why especially in our culture today, Rachael, why does marriage even matter? When you look at a lot of millennials, and I know there are a whole lot of them who just feel like, “Well, marriage doesn’t even matter. I don’t need a husband. I don’t need a wife. I’m doing just fine on my own. I’m pursuing my career. I don’t need a family”. Why does marriage even matter in light of God’s plan for our world?
Rachael Carman: That’s such a great question that I think it’s a question that gets lost. And this me, me, me culture, right? There’s an assumption that it doesn’t matter that it is something that we should do away with. Let’s throw off the shackles of tradition. Let’s throw off the heavy weight of the way things have always been done instead of considering, well, why have they been done that way? Why don’t we dare to ask that question? And it’s a very important question. So, in the very beginning of the Bible, in the beginning, God created, we read through the Genesis account. There is the pronoun we used because we learn very early in scripture, the eternality of God that he established a beginning, right? He established time but he actually existed outside of time, established time with the rhythm of the seasons and all of that.
Rachael Carman: But there’s a… We introduced early in scripture because we know that there’s this perfect unity within the Trinity between father, son and holy spirit. And it is that unity that is physically illustrated in our marriages, right? So, husband, wife and God, that’s the Trinitarian representation in a marriage are those three. And then the reason it matters, I believe is, God wants us to participate in fellowship with one another. He invites us. We were never made to do this by ourselves, which is in my opinion, simultaneously awesome and incredibly intimidating, right?
Rachael Carman: Because it’s awesome because I don’t want to have to do this by myself. I think there are a few things worse than loneliness, which is really why I’m so committed to encouraging homeschool moms specifically because that loneliness can literally take you under when you feel like you’re all by yourself. And I want to just say here if you are a single homeschool mom and you’re longing to be in a marriage, I would just… I pray for you because it is a deep longing and I have friends that are single homeschool moms and that is a very difficult, and I’m so grateful that in scripture we’re told that God is the husband to those women who are doing it.
Rachael Carman: And it’s not easy. It’s harder than doing it as a couple, but God is so good to be a faithful husband in those circumstances. So I wanted to make sure that it didn’t seem like I was unaware that is a very real part of the homeschooling demographic. But marriage matters because again, it’s a part of our sanctification and as we come together as husband and wife and we practice in that fellowship and we practice what we’re called to as followers of Christ, and that is death to self, right? We become more and more like in the likeness of God’s son. It’s a molding process. And when we start learning the beauty and the power of dying to ourselves, then we are better equipped and ready to really serve this others that God puts in our path.
Rachael Carman: That’s what it means when it says so they were trying to trick Jesus and the lawyer I believe comes up and he says, “What’s the greatest commandment?” So it started out as 10, they expanded to 613 and now they’re trying to snag Jesus. Which one of the 613 is he going to say, because he can’t win this, right? Because in theory none of them are more important than the others. And so he goes 10, 613 and he goes to what two and he says, “Love the Lord your God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength”. And the second is like intuit, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Well, that scripture makes a pretty long list of scriptures that have been taken out of context to mean something that it didn’t mean. And so our culture wants that to mean that we need to love ourselves. This whole idea of self-love to the point that we’re neglecting others and we’re becoming selfish and we’re becoming thoughtless and inconsiderate is not at all.
Rachael Carman: If you really want to love yourself, you will seek to become what God has planned for you to be, which means you’re dying to yourself. To love your neighbor means you’re dying to yourself. You love yourself enough to know that your plan for you is not anything on what God’s plan for you is. And so marriage gives us this opportunity to practice this fellowship, to practice dying to ourselves, practice this unity, forgiveness and grace and mercy, right? And it gives us an opportunity to practice intimacy. I mean you want to talk about… So marriage has been under fire for a while now. We’ve seen even among believers, I think it’s 50/50 now, tragically. But even now, I mean you’d have to be dead not to see the attack on sex, right? This beautiful intimate acts that God has given to one man and one woman in a monogamous relationship with each other in a covenant relationship as long as they both shall live is under fire.
Rachael Carman: Because that intimacy represents the intimacy that is available to us, with the God of the universe. It’s a physical representation of the intimacy that God has in store for us and invites us into. So, of course, the enemy is attacking it. We ought not be shocked and surprised. He wants to attack that. He wants people to participate in relationships that are not God-honoring and to carry that shame and that embarrassment and he wants to destroy the beauty of God’s gift to us. So, it matters that we as believers stay true to the covenant that we’ve made, that we lean into the opportunities for sanctification, that God gives us in that context, that we learn what it means to forgive and to be kind and gracious and consider it. That we learn to die to ourselves and that we do indeed enjoy the intimacy that God has given us so that we can be allied to the nations.
Rachael Carman: Because that is something that plays from the inside out, right? And it does, people know. We went out on a date because I’m a huge advocate for couples… Still dating. So we went out on a date and our waiter, he’s in his thirties and he’s like, “So what are you celebrating an anniversary?” And something my husband goes, “No, we’re actually celebrating that in a couple of months”. And he didn’t really care. He just wanted to know. He is so… “And what will it be? How many years have you been married?”. And Davis looked at him square in the eye and said, “On December the 20th, it will be 33 years”. I thought the guy was going to collapse. You know what that nowadays, a marriage that honors God is a huge witness and testament and, I double-dog dare everyone to live that out. Live a marriage that other people look at and go, “I want that”. I think we can… It’s a conversation starter.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah.
Aby Rinella: Right.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good reminders and I will say happy anniversary to my hubby because right around this… At the time this is going to air, we will actually be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary.
Rachael Carman: Oh, that is awesome!
Aby Rinella: That’s awesome.
Yvette Hampton: Only by the grace of God.
Rachael Carman: I understand.
Yvette Hampton: Only by God’s grace have we been able to do that. And like you talked about earlier, it is only because we made that commitment to God in the beginning and we promised that we would never even say the word divorce. And, we’ve taken that covenant seriously and it at times has been really hard and just like you and just like everybody, we’ve been through hard times but, we go through them together and even in the midst of the trials and hardships that we have, God created us as a team and he brought us together as husband and wife and we’re committed to this no matter how hard it is.
Yvette Hampton: And, so, yeah, by God’s grace, 25 years and happy anniversary to you guys. I mean, it’s just amazing to see that and we love that. We get to share that with others and not brag about it. Like we’re so great, but brag on God about that and say, “Look what God’s done”. Because truly it’s only by his grace that we have been able to stay married this long.
Yvette Hampton: We are talking about why marriage matters. That was what we talked about in the first episode and just about our covenant that we make between not just us as husband and wife, but as us between our savior, the creator of the universe and how important that covenant is and how God will take all of these hardships and trials that we go through in marriage and use them for his glory. If we’re willing to commit to sticking with our marriages and trusting the Lord, he can and will heal any brokenness that we have because he is a God who loves us. He created marriage. He created it for his glory.
Yvette Hampton: And so I want to continue on this conversation and I want to talk about how homeschool moms can make marriage a priority because that’s something that I know that I struggle with. We get so consumed with our kids and with homeschooling and in our responsibilities at home and laundry and dishes and doctor’s appointments and park dates and all of these things. And sometimes by the end of the day, it’s us and our husband, our kids are hopefully finally in bed. And then sometimes, I just… I’m so exhausted and I don’t even want to have a discussion because I’m just done, I’m spent.
Rachael Carman: I love your honesty.
Yvette Hampton: So how have you after 33 years of marriage… We talked about at the end of the last podcast that you and Davis have celebrated 33 years of marriage and Garritt and I are celebrating 25 years of marriage and you’ve got seven kids, Rachael. So you have had a whole lot more even than I have of little people pulling on you constantly. How have you found it possible to make your marriage a priority?
Rachael Carman: Well, I think it really takes us… So I have a theory that I actually think is true and that is that it is very easy for us to just go through this journey at breakneck speed, trying to get it all done, throwing up a lot of dust, but really not accomplishing anything. And the reason why is because we don’t think that we can afford to take the time that we really at the end of the day, can’t afford not to take. And that is to establish a vision with objectives and goals for what we’re doing. It’s so easy to get caught up in just our lesson plan and I’m actually working on some stuff for my grandkids, right? So therefore and too, and I’ve been working on some stuff in concert with my son and daughter-in-law, putting some little activities together for little hands.
Rachael Carman: It’s been lovely and I just been thinking back on when I had little hands here and like you’re saying how hard it was. But very early on, Davis and I were counseled by some really wise people to take a weekend and think what exactly were we trying to achieve? Was it really just reading, writing and arithmetic? That’s not a bad objective and goal. But was that all that we were trying to do? Are we just trying to get kids who would be accepted into Ivy League institutions where we just…What were we trying to do? And I think it’s easy for years to go by and we just keep thinking, “We’ll think about that later. We’ll think about that later”. And I gave the example of homeschooling because we’re homeschooled moms and I think a lot of us can relate to… You get 5, 6, 10, 12, 25 years in and you’re like, “Wait, what did we do?”
Rachael Carman: But, it happens in our marriages too. And I think if we could step back and get a vision for the opportunity that we have. So, I would bet that most everyone wants their children to marry someone who is going to point them to God over and over. I think we would all want for our children, really good spouses who love the Lord, who are going to encourage our children that we have poured so much into, right? As homeschool moms, we pour an inordinate amount into our children and for all the glorious reasons and it’s wonderful and I love it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done next to marriage, but I’m very grateful that we’ve done it, but if you step back long enough to get the opportunity that you have to have a massive influence on who your kids choose as their spouse… By the way, you interact with your spouse now, right?
Rachael Carman: I can, when I’ve got little’s at my feet already begin to have a very loud voice. Not an obnoxious, not an obtuse, not an overbearing, not a manipulative, but a legitimate, authentic, gracious voice into my children as they began to look for a spouse as Davis and I interact on a daily basis. Because, we are either modeling for our kids something that they are going to long to have that they’re going to want or we’re modeling something that they’re like, “What was that? I don’t want that”. Right. And I mean everything in between, but I want to have the kind of relationship with him on a daily -basis that my kids, as they’re growing up and as they’re teenagers and graduating and getting out into the world, they’re thinking, “I want that”. And so I think it takes getting a vision because once you have a vision for the opportunity, right? Then it becomes a priority because then you’re like, “I want my kids to see an amazing marriage”. Not a perfect one. Our kids have seen us… I will confess, we are not yellers.
Rachael Carman: So, I know that can be a hard thing for a lot of people. We’re just not, we neither one of us came from yelling families. So, our kids have not seen us have a knockdown drag-out, yell crashing. That’s not been part of our home life. But they have seen us upset with each other. They have seen us cold towards each other. They have seen us frustrated and they have seen us come together and they have seen us stick it out and they… Because it’s up close and personal in this journey is going right. So they’ve seen this marriage grow and ebb and flow and work itself out. But they’ve also seen it as a priority. We have had date nights when the kids were little and it was a big deal. I would get dressed up, right? Davis would get dressed up because back in the day, I mean good grief when we had at one point seven under 13. I think, yeah. I mean really it’s a fog.
Rachael Carman: But even back then, I mean we prioritize going on a date and we would make a really big deal of it to the kids. This was our date night and sometimes Davis would go to the local grocery store and pick up a carnation and bring it to me. And it was a big deal. And the sitter came and… Everybody was a part of it and this, daddy is taking mommy on a date, and we would go out. I think your kids need to see that. If marriage is important to you and you want your children to have good marriages, then have one yourself. Prioritize it yourself. I’ve said for a long time, and this is not unique to me, but it is such a powerful truth that applies to a myriad of things. You cannot give what you do not have.
Rachael Carman: So, if you don’t have a vision for your marriage, if your marriage is not a priority, then you can’t cast those two things on that I think you probably want for them, but you can’t pass it on. I mean, you’re setting them up to do what… I don’t know if this is true for the two of you, but it’s been hard to be a first-generation homeschooler. Our parents didn’t do this, right? So we were trying to figure this out. I don’t want my kids to like be a first-generation good marriage, right? I want them to go, “Oh, I remember when dad used to do this and I remember when they do this, I remember they would go on date night”. So, our oldest son is married and they have two grandkids. And so when we get to go see them in the great state of Idaho-
Aby Rinella: Thank you very much.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They live in Moscow.
Aby Rinella: Oh wow. They’re way North. That’s beautiful.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. They’re way North. And he got his masters and so that’s why we were there. But when we would go and visit, we always made up for to watch the grandkids so they could go on a date. So we… That’s a gift, that’s a very cheap, inexpensive gift that we can give to them and we will continue to give to them. But if you want that for your kids, figure out a way to start doing it now and moving it out.
Aby Rinella: And honestly, I really think not that women need one more thing to fall on them, but I believe this falls on you moms because I don’t think there’s ever been a time where my husband hasn’t wanted alone time with me. There’s never been a time where he said, “No, I don’t have time. I have too much to do”. I usually see it as the homeschool moms who’s 170 lessons that they need to get done in one calendar year comes far before… That 170 lessons is at the expense of their marriages or their husbands. And so it’s usually us when the kids go to bed that say, “Well now I can do my color-coded lesson plans. Or now I can pre-read the book that I want my kids to read tomorrow”. And really I think moms need to know that this falls on you.
Aby Rinella: You need to be available to your husbands. And for years the minute, the kids went to bed, I sat down with my lesson plans and I started to realize, I am being unfaithful to my husband because I am married to these lesson plans. And when I surrendered that and honestly repented of that to the Lord and I said, “God, you know what, I’ve got one hour a day to get these lesson plans done. If I’m going to be spending the rest of the time with my husband, I need you to take this little fish, this one hour and make this work”. And when I put my husband before my lesson plans, when I put my husband before my meal plans, when I put my husband before my clean house, it’s amazing how God extended my day-to-day. It’s amazing how he took a little bit of time that I did have and extended that because I was seeking first the kingdom of God.
Aby Rinella: I was being obedient to God by putting my husband first. And I think we’re afraid to say, you know what when you are putting anything above God, it’s an idol. And when you are putting anything above your husband, even if it’s a worthy thing like lesson planning or… It’s not being faithful to your husband. And so ladies, we got to step it up in this area. We’ve got to be the wife of his youth that he fell in love with and know it’s not easy, but it’s worth it. It’s 110% worth it. And it’s amazing how everything else comes in to play, how God honors that when we make that choice in every other area of our life.
Aby Rinella: And I love how you said… I wrote down and I love how you said, “We need to make our marriages something that our kids want”. We beat them over the head with how important marriage is, we read the scriptures of how important marriage is. But if we’re battling each other every day, they’re going to walk away from it so fast. So I just love how you said, “We’re the living, breathing example of what God’s word says marriage is to be”.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. That is-
Rachael Carman: We have a whole generation of kids, and I’m talking across the United States, so not exclusively in Christian circles, but we have a whole generation of kids that have experienced the very real ramifications and reproductions, repercussions of coming from broken homes. And so it’s not even just to our kids, but to their friends. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, I have some mantras that everyone should have things that this is a hill I’m going to die on. No one should not have a place to be on Thanksgiving day. Everybody is welcome. People should have, nobody should send it by themselves. Everyone is welcome. This is not my house, this is God’s house. I want people to feel welcome here. I remember a couple of Thanksgivings ago, my second son who went to art school.
Rachael Carman: So yeah, it was as bad as you can imagine. Academically outstanding. He is a gifted artist but the liberalism and the promiscuity and every other blank you want to fill in was present. And this particular Thanksgiving, I remember he called and he said, “So mom, I have some friends I want to bring home”. I was like, “You know that’s fun. That’s great. Just let me know” and he goes, “I know, but I want to tell you”, all of them come from broken homes and we’re all… I’m always talking about, I just got off the phone with me or with dad or I’m looking forward to coming home. And they literally said, “Can we come and see? We’ve never seen it”. So I’m really telling you… And this is something that we also don’t understand the Genesis mandate renewed after the ark, renewed with Abraham to fill the world with the glory of God.
Rachael Carman: That’s part of what we’re doing. It’s a huge part that we have grossly underestimated when we have growing, thriving, joyful marriages. We are participating in the mandate that God has given us to fill the earth with his glory because it’s only with his goodness and his grace abiding in and through us, that’s even possible. But there are other people, Aby, there are people watching you and your husband. There are people watching you and your husband… People you’ll never meet, right? When they see you on a date or they see you’re holding hands, those are all things that we get to say, “God’s way is a good way” and it’s good for us. You know this chasing after my selfish happiness only ends in emptiness.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: God’s way always brings more fullness and joy than any way we try to do it on our own.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right. His plan is best. Rachael, we have just a few minutes left for this episode and then I would like to do an extended version of this one for backstage pass members, but in the last few minutes that we have for this one, can you speak to the hearts of those whose marriage is just under fire, they are not in a happy marriage for whatever reason. I mean there are a million reasons why marriages are unhappy. Sometimes it’s the husband, sometimes it’s the wife. Their marriage is falling apart all around us. How would you encourage those moms?
Rachael Carman: Yeah. And that’s really a great question and it’s a question that I get often when I do this session. Stand by your man is what it’s generally called. First of all, don’t try to do this by yourself. I believe the first thing you do is you seek God and you spend time in prayer. I think the best way to get the spouse you want to have is to be the spouse that you want to have.
Yvette Hampton: That’s right.
Rachael Carman: So, I think the best thing you can do to improve your marriage is improve yourself and in terms of taking a self-inventory of where you are, how are you contributing? How are you dying to yourself? How are you serving? Are you available? I think Aby made a great point a minute ago when you said it’s not generally the man, but men don’t like to be turned down indefinitely. That’s one thing I learned from my husband that he has talked to our girls about when it comes to dating.
Rachael Carman: He said, “Guys, don’t ask you out unless they think you’re going to say yes”. And so if you get asked out and it’s really a no, you need to be very kind and gracious and considerate because he probably didn’t ask. He would not have asked if he hadn’t thought you were actually going to say yes. So, my point in this is, I really do believe there comes a point where our guys aren’t asking us to snuggle on the sofa anymore and aren’t asking us to get away for the weekend anymore and aren’t… But that doesn’t mean nobody is. You know what I’m saying? I mean, if your husband is wanting to have time with you, we need to run with reckless abandon and do that. So the first thing, if your marriage is in trouble, take some time with God.
Rachael Carman: Dare to pray the hard prayer. God, show me what I need to see in myself, in my own heart. Their prayers that God… I believe God answers all of our prayers. But I mean, boy, that’s one. You’re asking God to show you. He generally shows you. And it’s not usually pretty, but he’s very gracious, loving-kindness. Secondly, know when you need help. There’s no shame in seeking out good Christian counseling and talking to someone. We’ve known friends that in their marriage, some childhood issues come up and it looks like a marriage issue, but it’s really something from way back that was undealt with and unhandled. And we’ve seen marriages reconciled through counseling when they’re both struggling with not… Communication is such a huge thing in marriage. So know when to get help and get it and don’t wait too long.
Yvette Hampton: And know who to get help from because it doesn’t mean go get help from your girlfriend next door who’s not a believer and who’s going to just let you gossip and break down your husband and your relationship, but know how to get godly help.
Rachael Carman: Yeah. I’m so glad you said that. Yeah, and be wise and who you seek help from, and again in this generation, one of the tragedies is their help is so generally pure-based instead of seeking out mentorship from older, they seem to be more content just commiserating among themselves. That doesn’t generally lend itself to progress forward, nor does it offer accountability. Which I think is bad design, but that’s not good. So you’re right. Seek out good biblical Christian counseling and dig your heels in on your covenant. Determine to honor God. Scripture speaks to this. Scripture talks to the woman who finds herself in a bad marriage and adopt a quiet spirit. Live what you believe. Honor, serve, respect. I would commend to anyone that book, Love and Respect. I mean, it’s been an outstanding book. Respect your man, honor him, seek to serve him. Do not talk in any way negatively toward him, to your children or to anyone else that will do it in faster than anything I know. And dare to do the hard work and stick it out.
Yvette Hampton: Yeah. Such good advice. I wish we could go on and on. I wish we had all the time in the world to continue talking about this because I know that there are moms out there who even if they’re not in a struggling marriage, we just need to be reminded of God’s promises and of his faithfulness to keep our marriages going and to keep them strong, not just existing but to keep them strong and have that good example set for our children. But we are out of time.
Yvette Hampton: So Rachael and Aby, if you guys can stay on, I would love to do an extended version and some bonus content for our backstage pass members. If you are not a backstage pass member, go to SchoolhouseRocked.com and you can see the Backstage Pass membership button right there and learn more about becoming a backstage pass member. There’s tons of great content on there, interviews from the movie, behind the scenes stuff from the movie and then tons of great podcasts, extended versions of the podcast that we’ve done. But thank you for your wisdom, Rachael. We are so thankful for you. Where can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Rachael Carman: My name is a little tricky to spell. It’s R-A-C-H-A-E-L.
Yvette Hampton: You’ve got that A in there.
Rachael Carman: I know that A is in there and then my last name is C-A-R-M-A-N. So, RachaelCarman.com and there’s tons of content there. I’m on YouTube with some presentations and I’m also on Facebook, Rachael Carman. So I do Facebook lives periodically and all of that’s available there.
Yvette Hampton: Okay, fantastic. We will link to all of those things and I’ll throw in really quickly, I know you’ve got a couple of books, How Many Times Do I Have to Tell You?, and then another one called, How to Have a HEART for Your Kids and you also… Some will know… This many will, but you and your husband Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries and so that’s a fantastic Christian worldview curriculum. You guys have a ton of great resources on there, so we’ll link back to Apologia as well. Rachael, thank you for your heart. You have such a heart for moms, for ministry, for homeschooling, and I am grateful for your wisdom and your willingness to share with us today.
Help spread the word that homeschooling is good for students. It’s good for families. It’s good for AMERICA! Go to SchoolhouseRocked.com/support and join the movement to spread the word about homeschooling through movie theaters nationwide.
Join Kirk Cameron for Some Fun and Practical Family Encouragement
We are very excited to announce that the Schoolhouse Rocked team is working to put together another encouraging resource for homeschool families. The Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo is a one-of-a-kind event. Live and fully interactive, the conference will feature some of today’s most popular speakers addressing the most important issues that homeschool families face.
Kirk Cameron will be speaking on Marriage and Family, Wednesday, February 19th, at 12:00 p.m. (EST).
Kirk and his wife, Chelsea, are homeschool parents and advocates who met on the set of “Growing Pains” and have been married for over 27 years. Together they have six children. Kirk currently tours the country speaking live in 30 cities a year as part of the “Living Room Reset” marriage and parenting conference. We were blessed to hear Kirk speak at a Living Room Reset event last January and it was a blast. We know he will be a huge encouragement to you and your family.
Kirk is just one of the amazing speakers we already have lined up for this event. Please click here to check out some of the other speakers who have already confirmed. The event will feature several Schoolhouse Rocked cast members and Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast guests, and will bring practical advice, valuable resources, and heartfelt encouragement on several topics, including marriage, family, parenting, getting started and keeping on track in homeschooling, homeschooling methods and styles, and more. Each day will end with a roundtable Q&A session where you will be able to interact with the speakers.
Because we want to make this event available to as many families as possible, we have set a very low price of just $20 for lifetime access, but if you act quickly you can take advantage of early-bird pricing of just $15!
The conference will be held Monday, February 17th to Friday, February 21, 2020. Live workshops will be held between 12 PM and 7:30 PM EST (9 AM and 4:30 PM PST).
Please join us for this exciting event! The Homegrown Generation Family Expo is a ministry of Schoolhouse Rocked and proceeds from this event will go directly to help fund post-production on this important film.
Thank you for letting us walk with you through your homeschooling journey!
Kirk Cameron Bio:
Kirk Cameron has been a part of the national landscape since starring as “Mike Seaver” in the ABC hit sitcom, “Growing Pains.” That role turned him into a cultural icon in the 80’s, with his mullet hairstyle, cool sunglasses, and wisecracking comebacks. Since then, he’s appeared in numerous television and movie productions, including the “Left Behind” series, “Monumental,” and “Fireproof”- the marriage-centered film that became the #1 grossing inspirational movie of 2008. His newest film, Connect, offers “real help for parenting teens in a social media world.”
In the fall of 2016 and 2017, he hosted live Fathom theater events called “Revive Us” — a “national family meeting” urging the family of faith to return to the principles that will bring blessing and protection to America. The live events took place in over 750 theaters across the U.S. Kirk also currently released his new talk show, One on One with Kirk Cameron, on the Trinity Broadcast Network.
Coming Monday, February 17th to Friday, February 21, 2020, confirmed speakers for the Homegrown Generation Family Expo include Kirk Cameron, Heidi St. John, Sam Sorbo, Andrew Pudewa, Kathy Barnette, Israel Wayne, Ginger Hubbard, Todd Wilson, Leigh Bortins, Rachael Carman, Durenda Wilson, Pam Barnhill, Connie Albers, Jeannie Fulbright, Aby Rinella, Karen DeBeus, Ana Willis, and Danielle Papageorgiou, and many more!
All Homegrown Generation Homeschool Conference workshops will be available for live viewing and participation on a private Facebook Group and in the attendees area here. Every attendee will receive a Swag Bag featuring gifts and resources from our sponsors and speakers. Additionally, attendees will have access to a vendor’s hall, resource recommendations, and life-time access to the course materials and conference videos.
The Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo is a ministry of Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution, a feature-length documentary about homeschooling, currently in post-production. The proceeds from this event will go directly to help fund post-production on this important film.
The Homegrown Generation Online Family Expo will be hosted by Yvette Hampton, host of The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast and will feature a workshop by Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast co-host, Aby Rinella.
“I can assure you that all of those things that seem super important, like, “did you get through the math book by the end of May?”, actually, in the big picture, are not all that important. I would say some of the least important part about growing up is the academic side. The most important part is the adventures, and the breadth of knowledge and experience and of course above all the relationships and the spiritual enrichment, that is so much more easily facilitated when you’ve got the time and space and priority to do that.”
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, I am so excited about our guest today. Before we started the Schoolhouse Rocked podcast, we sent out a question to our Schoolhouse Rocked followers and just said, “Hey, we’re starting this podcast. Who do you want to hear on the podcast? What guest do you want, and what do you want us to talk about?” Of course, many of you wrote in and said, “Andrew Pudewa.” We saw his name over and over again, and so many of you are very excited about hearing him and wanted to hear more of him because those of you who have heard him speak know that he is just full of wisdom and knowledge and insight when it comes to homeschooling and family and education.
Yvette: We, of course, are really excited to have him as part of the Schoolhouse Rocked cast. Welcome, Andrew. We are really excited to have you on today.
Andrew Pudewa: Hey Yvette, it is great to be with you. Thanks for the invite.
Yvette: Sure. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your family.
Andrew: Well, my wife and I have homeschooled all of our children. The oldest now is 39, and the youngest just got married at 18. That’s seven kids, six married, 11 grandchildren. I’ve been at this teaching business for a little over 30 years and the time has flown by. I have a little company called the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We publish video material as well as books and activity types of curriculum to help students with language arts, really to help teachers and homeschool parents help kids learn how to write better, but really, it encompasses all of the language arts, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Then of course, the result of good listening, speaking, reading and writing is better thinking, so a little tagline on our company. If you’re go to our website, iew.com, you’d see our little tagline. It’s listen, speak, read, write, think. It’s a good role. I’ve been at it full time for close to 20 years now, working with homeschoolers all over the world. I had the great privilege and pleasure of going with my wife to Russia for the Global Home Education Conference in St. Petersburg in Moscow, Russia last May. Then I went on an undercover trip over to China, I won’t even say where, to do a three-day conference for expat homeschooling families who live in China. We came back, finished up the summer, and then in August went to New Zealand and did a six-city tour of New Zealand to serve the homeschoolers over there. I’m looking forward to when that movie is out and ready and everyone in the world can stream it and see it.
Yvette: Well, we’ll have to, of course, translate it into Chinese obviously.
Andrew: I’d go for Russian first only because homeschooling in Russia is it’s exploding. I mean, it is going to grow so rapidly over there.
Yvette: That is amazing.
Andrew: The government evidently is either neutral or supportive about homeschoolers in almost all places. There are classical conversations, programs, I think. Many dozens of them. There may be as many as a hundred CC communities now across the huge country of Russia, and that’s just going to grow.
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Yvette: It’s been so encouraging to find out that when we started Schoolhouse Rocked, we, I think, had a very narrow vision of, “Well, this is for the United States because we were kind of in our little California bubble,” and that was what we knew. We didn’t realize that homeschooling is growing leaps and bounds across the entire world. It’s not just in America, and so it’s been really exciting and encouraging. Like you said, we really desire to get the movie out. We changed our focus. The movie is obviously filmed in the United States, and all of our cast members are from the U.S. but it has changed our focus to just say, “Wow, this is not just a movie that can change people’s hearts in the United States. It can change people’s hearts around the world.”
That is so exciting. I love that you’ve had the opportunity to go to all these different countries and talk about homeschooling. This is actually not the exact direction that I want the podcast interview to go because I have some questions for you, but can you tell us just in a nutshell what the flavor of homeschooling is? What are parents like in other parts of the country as you’ve gone there and talk to them about homeschooling?
Andrew: Well, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve been speaking at homeschool conferences really 20 years now, and so the demographic has changed, of course, as homeschooling has grown more and varied types of people have become interested in it. Well, I would say once upon a time, almost everyone was homeschooling for moral or religious reasons. Now, we’re meeting people who are coming into it through all different directions. Their primary reason may be academic. They just know they can do a better job teaching their kids one-on-one or three-on-one and in an individualized focus setting than any school and teacher no matter how good the teachers are just because of the nature of institutional education, again, people coming in from that side.
You’ve got people coming in with special needs and special circumstances saying, “this child has this thing going on”, and it could be health. It could be neurological. It could be some type of learning challenge. It could be giftedness. They’re just saying the schools are not equipped to maximize this child’s potential. I can do that better. They’re coming in on that side. Then there are other people that are just looking at the whole situation saying, “Well, there are so many things about that school I don’t like, and I can’t afford that option. And I’m not really sure that I want to homeschool, but I don’t see any better options.” I like that because they come in, and then hopefully, they begin to taste and see the goodness of the homeschool world and the culture and all the resources and opportunities that are available now that weren’t 20 years ago.
It truly is a case where I think more and more parents are realizing everyone homeschools. It’s just some people do it full time. Everyone has to teach their children at home. It’s just are you going to make that a primary part of your life, or are you going to do it on the side? We meet a lot of parents that are coming to conferences now saying, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this. Maybe I can, but I’m not sure I want to, but man, all the people here are so happy.”
Andrew Pudewa on School at Home
Yvette: Yes, and you see whole families together, which is really exciting. That’s one of my favorite parts of going to conventions is when you see mom and dad and kids walking around together and looking at curriculum and going to the different workshops. It’s really exciting just to see that dynamic of the entire family being together.
Andrew: Absolutely. The family is so under attack. In the western developed world all around the world, the family is under attack, so homeschooling seems to be on the vanguard of, “Let’s recapture. Let’s retain. Let’s rebuild. Let’s communicate to the world the great beauty of families functioning, learning, operating, growing together rather than being split apart by the busyness of life and technology. The institutions that can distract us.
Andrew Pudewa – Homeschooling Brings Growth
Yvette: I know for you, because you travel so much, you’re always on the road – I imagine it has allowed you to be able to have a really special kind of relationship with your kids because when you’re home, you’re able to be with them and instead of them being away at school. You actually get that time or got that time, because most of them are adults now. They’re all adults.
Andrew: It was a trade off because when you’re gone for three or four days, 30 weeks a year, that’s a lot of time to be gone. There’s mom feeling like having to do both sides of the parenting, but then when I’m home, I was always home. That was good. I could schedule classes and do things. Then a part of it, in our case because it was a family business rather than me working for other company, I would often take one or two kids with me. In the early days, I needed them. I needed their suitcase space to bring the books, I need them [inaudible 00:09:48] the booth.
Growing up in a family business, I think, it has its pluses and its challenges, but overall, I think all of them gained a lot of very practical, very memorable, positive and maybe a few bitter moments, but it certainly cultivated attitude of entrepreneurship that I can see in all of them now. They’re all grown up, and they’re all very entrepreneurial thinking, and a couple of them have started businesses on their own. It’s great to see. Great to see the… It’s wonderful, Yvette, to have adult children. You don’t have adult kids yet, do you?
Yvette: Not yet. Ours are still young.
Andrew: Well, one thing I would say to everyone who’s in that case of young children or in the thick of it with a teenager and a four-year-old all at the same time is it’s so great to have adult children because I can assure you that all of those things that seem super important, like, “did you get through the math book by the end of May?”, actually, in the big picture, are not all that important. I would say some of the least important part about growing up is the academic side. The most important part is the adventures, and the breadth of knowledge and experience and of course above all the relationships and the spiritual enrichment, that is so much more easily facilitated when you’ve got the time and space and priority to do that.
Although, it’s easy for us as homeschool parents to get caught up and worried about the academic side because we’re responsible for keeping the transcript and having grades and being sure that this kid is going to make it into college and get a good job someday. There’s that anxiety, so we’re always balancing that freedom along with that anxiety about academics.
Andrew Pudewa – Homeschooling is Efficient
Yvette: That’s a real struggle of course for homeschool moms. Our oldest is in seventh grade this year. I’m now starting to think, “Oh gosh, she’s going to be in high school in two years, and I have to start keeping real transcripts for her.” They’re seriously… I mean, there can be a lot of anxiety that goes along with that. Like you said, it’s not about just the academics. I mean, those are important but it’s so much more. School is so much more than just academics. It’s about character building and family and relationships and stuff like you said.
It’s so exciting, but that doesn’t always take away the questions that the moms have. It’s a big responsibility that we put on ourselves and that God gives to us when we choose to take on this role of home educating our children, because it is an important thing in so many areas. I mean, it’s their whole life that you’re holding in your hands. Only by the grace of God can we get this done effectively.
Andrew: That’s what you realize is they were God’s kids all along.
Andrew: I’m a big supporter of HSLDA. They, of course, are strongly behind the support for global home education freedom. In the early days, people would join HSLDA because they thought, “Oh no, if social services comes banging on my door, if the truant officer calls, what would I do? I want this insurance,” so they would join HSLDA for that purpose. I believe that we’ve become a bit complacent in the homeschool communities because we haven’t had too many huge legal problems in most dates. You and I both homeschooled in California for a while and that’s a very homeschool friendly state.
I’m in Oklahoma now. It’s probably the most homeschool friendly state, and even the less homeschool friendly states, which I will not name by name – You out there who live there, you know where you are. We take for granted now the freedoms that we have to do this, but honestly, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association does so much more than provide “legal representation” insurance in case you have a problem. I would just encourage everyone to join the HSLDA, not because you think you might need their services, but because what they’re doing is a tremendously good work and that is holding every single agency or government or office that interfaces with homeschoolers accountable in subtle ways.
Not just, “Is it legal or not,” but do homeschool graduates have the same opportunities and rights? Is someone infringing on that by saying, “No, no, your school diploma doesn’t count.” Then of course they provide some wonderful services. In fact, as having kids going to high school, you might want to look into their transcript service because they have a great little service. It’s not very expensive, and it will help you to stay organized for this next decade of having kids go through high school and all that. I wish everyone would join the HSLDA, because more than any other organization that I know of, they are standing on the front line of the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
I fear that right, while we may be taking it for granted, could be not only infringed, but actually cut in many cases very quickly without us even noticing it.
Yvette: I appreciate that, and you’re welcome, HSLDA, for that commercial! That was not planned, but I love that. You and I, last month, I think it was, we were at the HSLDA national leaders conference in Washington, D.C. We’ve been members of HSLDA for many, many years. I guess, this is our eighth year of membership with them. We’re now actually lifetime members because we figured we’re going to do this forever, so may as well just go for the lifetime. I really didn’t know all the things that they offered, and we’ve been members for a long time. There’s so much stuff on their website, but they really are a fantastic organization.
The freedom that they have fought for and the freedom that they continue to fight for and protect for homeschool families is incredible. Like you said, I think we do take for granted that we have this freedom to homeschool. When we started, we really didn’t know all of the backstories that had gone on in all… I mean, there were parents just like you and I who were regular homeschool parents, who were threatened in big ways for choosing to take their kids out of school and saying we’re going to home educate them. They fought long, and they fought hard, and they fought tough to get these freedoms for us today.
Most people don’t know about that. The other thing that I really had my eyes up into two were state organizations. They don’t fall under the leadership of HSLDA, but I know they work very closely sometimes with HSLDA, but on their own, they really work hard to protect their freedoms and their individual states and then they’re there for their own state families to encourage them and equip them and to keep their own freedoms for their own individual states. I think a lot of people… We’re actually going to be doing an interview later this week with Rebecca Kocsis. She’s one of the state representatives for Chia, which is in California.
We’re going to talk with her about state organizations. I agree. It’s so important to stand behind those people who are standing in front of us and keeping those walls broken down so that we can continue to homeschool our kids. Anyway, so I have a couple of questions. You and I could talk all day long. When we interviewed you for Schoolhouse Rocked, I remember, I think I might’ve asked you maybe four questions, and your interview was two and a half hours long. It was awesome, and it was funny we came away from there. We said, “Well, goodness gracious, how do we pull the gold out of this?”
The way we do that of course is we’ve got the Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass, and we will at some point have your full interview up on there that people can view, but I do have a couple of questions for you. Like I said, we had people write in and ask specific questions, and they wanted to know some things. There are a couple that I thought you would be just great at answering because I know you talk a lot about motivation in the homeschool day. One mom wrote in. She said, “How do you motivate the daydreamer to buckle down and complete their assignments quickly but well so that they can have more free time to pursue their passions? We’ve tried everything and even a scaled back assignment will take all day because she has no drive to finish. Do we just have to nag?”
How would you answer that mom? Help her out.
Andrew: It’s hard to give a specific answer to a specific question without knowing a few more details, but I would talk about principles of motivation, which I have studied extensively and talked about and written about. What I have come to understand over these decades is that there’s really four forms of motivation. One, I would call intrinsic, so something has intrinsic relevancy, right? If something is relevant, meaningful, interesting, engaging, applicable, useful to some degree, it’s easier to learn. Wouldn’t you agree?
Andrew: If something is not interesting, applicable, meaningful, useful in some way, it’s harder to learn.
Andrew: This tangible quality of relevancy when you can get it there, when it’s present, teaching and learning are easier, and when it’s less present or absent, teaching and learning are harder, so four forms of relevancy, I would mention here. If anybody wants to listen to this in more detail, there’s a 90-minute talk. You can get off our website called Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who Would Rather Be Making Forts All Day.
Yvette: I love that title.
Andrew: It’s a very popular talk.
There’s intrinsic relevancy. That’s when something is just so interesting that you are totally engaged. You want to learn about it. You lose your sense of time. You’re fascinated. You’re excited. You tell everybody what you’re learning and doing. That’s a super blessing when it happens, but unfortunately, it’s not something you can force. It sometimes happens more often with some kids than others. I mean, there are some kids who are just naturally more inquisitive and curious and will get excited and go pursue something and others who are just a little bit less so, a little more passive, wait around what to do.
To the degree that we as homeschoolers can find things that are intrinsically interesting to children and get them to do that, they’ll be motivated. They’ll use their time. They’ll use their time to be productive, but you may or may not find something that the problem usually comes between what mom believes would be useful learning and what the child believes is relevant and interesting. There could be a gap between those two.
Andrew: On the unschooling side of the philosophical spectrum is don’t ever tell kids what to do. Just let them pursue their interests all day, and they’ll learn and come out great in the end. That feels a little dangerous to most of us. Although, I have families that have done that, and there were schools actually around the world that are based on that principle. In many cases, the kid too seem to have come out pretty good on the other end.
Andrew: I think that total unschooling freedom idea is pretty – Most of us are a little bit, “Well, that’s too risky.” Then there’s things that people have to learn that maybe they’re not interested in intrinsically. The next form of relevancy to motivate with would be inspired relevancy. You may not be particularly interested in something but because someone whom you love or respect is interested in that thing. You hang out with them, and you catch vicariously a desire and interest to relevancy from that thing. I’ve seen this happen in any number of cases of parents who put kids in a class. The kid’s like, “I don’t want to do that class.”
Andrew Pudewa to Homeschool Dads, “Support and Encourage”
Then the teacher or one of their friends or they make a new friend, someone in that environment is so inspiring, but suddenly that kid likes that class and wants to go and want to read more, and wants to study and wants to become good. I would say probably the most frequent story I hear is the public speaking or speech and debate. Kids are very shy. I don’t want to do public speaking. I don’t want to stand in front of people. I don’t want to memorize the speech. I don’t want to do a debate. You just get them in there and do it for a while. Pretty soon, it’s the bug. The bug bites like the acting bug.
That’s, “Wow! That was cool. I got to do that.” Not only do I want to do that. Again, I want to be good at it. I’m going to polish this speech. I’m going to practice this thing. I’m going to do extra research so I can be good. That speech and debate in my world, is the most obvious example of power of inspiring. For us as homeschoolers today, we have a lot more opportunities to help get our kids connected with people who love something. I personally don’t really like science very much. I’d never wanted to teach science.
If you said, “Here, you have to do biology or physics with your kid,” I’d say, “Well, let’s hurry up and pretend we did this so we could do something meaningful,” but now with coops and classes and programs like Aquinas learning, classical conversations, online classes, which are really very surprisingly interactive with experts, teachers, and many of these teachers now were homeschool kids themselves who are now adults teaching online classes and teaching coop classes for the next generation of homeschoolers. This is so exciting because of their enthusiasm.
I’m sure you’ve seen this.
Andrew: You go hear a speaker or a teacher, and you are so inspired to learn more.
“We must be a special creation from an infinite intelligence, because the things humans do, particularly this activity of writing, is so incredibly complex.”
Andrew: Kids are like that, but some things are just not interesting. A lot of work books that kids have to do, they don’t see the relevancy. “Why should I have to mark all the parts of speech in this grammar workbook? Why should I have to do all this math? Math is not part of my real life. I don’t use double digit multiplication in reality. It’s just a few exercises and futility that stresses me.” What could be like that? English spelling stuff, even in our world of teaching writing, a lot of kids don’t like having to stay in one spot and wrangle their brain around the process of thinking of something, saying it to themselves, hearing what they say to themselves, remembering what they say to themselves.
Find a few letters to make a word they might know how to spell and not forget all that while they’re doing it. I mean, I’ve been often about thinking about the writing process. It’s so phenomenally complicated. For me, it’s proof that humans could not possibly have evolved.
We must be a special creation from an infinite intelligence, because the things humans do, particularly this activity of writing, is so incredibly complex. Anyway, so how do we help kids with that stuff? Well, this is where we’d move into the third area, and I think this is most applicable to the person who asked that question. That is contrived relevancy. It’s not intrinsically interesting. Nobody’s thrilled about it. Nobody’s going to inspire you. Now, how do you get wanting to do something? That’s when we can try to change it into a game. Sometimes, it’s a very small shift from a chore to a challenge.
That’s the trick. If chores can shift the thing from being a chore to be procrastinated, avoided, done in slow motion, tedious, complaining, to a challenge, “I’ve got to get this done,” then we see really good success. I’ll give you an example of just the slightest little shift that makes a huge difference. Let’s say you have a grammar workbook kind of thing, and you turn the page, and it says, “Identify all the prepositional phrases in the paragraph below. Underline each prepositional phrase with a single underline, and the preposition itself with a double underlie.”
I mean, who wants to do it? I wouldn’t want to do it. You will write stupid. I mean, what’s the point? It has no relevancy, no bearing on reality, but we have to do it. Well, now here’s the shift. In the paragraph below are hidden 13 prepositional phrases. Find them all and you win.
Yvette: Let’s make it a game.
Andrew: That’s just different. For boys in particular, but also for a lot of girls, it’s like, “Oh, well, I like to win. Okay, great. I’ll play the game.” Now, at some point, just saying you won isn’t quite enough.
Yvette: There must be candy involved.
Andrew: Some kind of economic system.
Andrew: Whether you use pennies or points or pop charts or peanuts, the thing that’s interesting about that is that’s the physical manifestation of something of value to the child that communicates to the child, “Your efforts are valued. I appreciate your work.” Now, some people would say, “Well, you’re bribing the kid to do what he should do anyway.” Well, bribery’s when you pay someone to do something illegal or immoral. That’s neither. You’re creating a game. I love my job. I love working, and I love traveling around the world.
I love teaching, but I’m not sure I would do it quite so much if there wasn’t some kind of economic side to it. Children are… They’re preparing to be adults, boys in particular. If you can set up some type of system to say, “Hey, if you do this much of whatever in this amount of time, then you get these points or these chips or these whatever, and that has value.”
Andrew: You can exchange those for some privilege or benefit. Then just be sure the privilege or benefit is something that you would want for the child anyway.
Yvette: Sure. Well, if you think about that even in life, whether you’re an entrepreneur or have a job where you’re employed by someone else, you do the work and then you get paid for that work that you do, and so you’re still getting something in return. You’re not just going and doing the job just for the sake of doing the job. That’s life. That’s actually a life skill that they’re learning, that you do this because it’s going to produce this result or you’re going to get this in return.
Andrew: If you don’t go that route, then you are stuck going the last… get down to the worst and least effective form of relevancy, which I have termed enforced. Enforced relevancy is when you say you will learn this or you will do this or you will suffer some penalty. I’m not talking about discipline. I am saying, of course, there are things that we all have to do we don’t want to do, and the consequences for not doing them are negative and children need that, but in terms of learning, what happens when you use that type of forced relevancy is you most likely to get the appearance of learning or a very temporary.
I’ll do everything on this page, but when I turn the page, I’m not even going to remember it. I’ll study for the test. As soon as I pass the test, I can forget all that stuff because it wasn’t really important. I really never cared. I just didn’t want to suffer the consequences of getting a bad grade or whatever.
Andrew: Sometimes, we resort to that. I mean, I would be the first person to say… I have said things like, “You’re going to have that math finished or you’re not going to eat ever.” I don’t have an easy solution to that person who asked that question, but I think by contemplating some of these basically principles of motivation, and like I said, I don’t know the specifics. My guess is that this person who has a fairly young child who is probably easily distracted. Maybe as young as six or seven. I don’t know. Maybe as old as eight or nine, but it’s possible that she’s taking kind of this let’s do school at home approach, and here’s the pile of books with the number on the cover, and you have to do x number of pages in each of these things every day.
“Some kids read and do math grade at five or six, but as the schools have pushed the academics lower and lower, we in the homeschool look at that and say, “Oh no, we have to do that. We have to start pre-k curriculum, which to me is the most ridiculous, oxymoronic thing you could ever say.”
Andrew: “So we stay on schedule and get done by the end of the year. And if we don’t do all that, then we can’t do other learning activities or anything else.” Sometimes, people start there, but then, I think, they come to maybe a little bit more organic understanding, especially, of younger children. I think, we start school too young.
Yvette: Yes, I agree.
Andrew: We try to press your kids at five and six years old into reading and doing abstract math when they’re not ready for it. Now, some kids are.
Andrew: Some kids read and do math grade at five or six, but as the schools have pushed the academics lower and lower, we in the homeschool look at that and say, “Oh no, we have to do that. We have to start pre-k curriculum, which to me is the most ridiculous, oxymoronic thing you could ever say.
Yvette: Sure. That’s the stage where kids still need to wiggle and move around. That’s one of the things I have heard you say several times about read-alouds and audio books and things like that is it’s okay for your kids to be flipping around on the ground or playing with Legos or doing whatever it is they do as long as there is moving, because in a classroom, we expect our children to sit still. They have to sit in their chair. They have to sit on their carpet and crisscross their legs and put their hands in their lap and be still.
Well, many kids can’t learn that. They are physically incapable of learning that way effectively. They need to move. They need to explore. They need to be able to do things with their hands and draw pictures. I mean, my 12 almost 13-year-old, she still is like that, and she’s not a real high energy person. She’s pretty mellow, but she still needs, even in church, I mean, she’s always drawing. She has to draw. If she doesn’t doodle on her paper, she’s not going to hear anything that the pastor is saying.
You can find Andrew Pudewa and IEW online at IEW.com.
Andrew Pudewa recommends the following resources in his interview.
Yvette Hampton: This is the type of interview that I love, though I love all of my guests. Sherri Seligson is one who has been through homeschooling with her kids. And she has a really neat story about where God has taken her and where she came from, and what he’s done through her homeschooling. So, I’m excited to introduce you to her. Welcome, Sherri.
Sherri Seligson: Hi Yvette. Glad to be here.
Yvette: Yeah, tell us, tell us about you. Tell us about your family.
Sherri: Well, my husband and I have four children. We homeschooled them K – 12. They are all out of school. I still have my hair and most of my sanity. They’ve made it through college and are actually productive adults. And before we had kids, I worked at Walt Disney World’s Living Seas Pavilion as a marine biologist, and then left that to what I consider a promotion, to become a mom. Yvette: Oh, I love that you say to a promotion because marine biology is a pretty amazing career to have. I love the ocean. You got to really experience God’s creation in a whole different way that most people don’t get to. Sherri: Yeah, it was amazing. It’s definitely not as glamorous as people tend to imagine it, but it’s definitely fun, definitely fascinating. And the more I studied it, the more I saw God’s creative hand in our world, just a beautiful testimony to Him. Yvette: That’s awesome. And so God has used that in some pretty amazing ways, for you as a homeschool mom, but for you also as just a homeschool leader, as a speaker, as an author. You’ve done some pretty neat things that help Mamas like myself who are in the middle of homeschooling right now and in the thick of it. We’re always looking for good curriculum. We’re always looking for the best thing to direct our kids’ hearts towards Christ. And so, you have been able to do that. But one of the things that you love to do is to encourage moms who struggle with the feeling of putting their lives on hold. Because some may have seen what you did as that. I would love for you to tell that story of you, “putting your life on hold” even though, like you said, you actually ended up getting a promotion. Sherri: Yes. You know, it’s something that we have as our… we imagine as a young parent or a young single person, before we have kids, we have this career, because society is telling us that it’s valuable to have a career and that being a stay at home mom is lesser, is settling for less, is not good enough. That is completely wrong in my opinion. Completely wrong. One of the best mission fields we have is our children, our family. One of the best ways to impact the world is through that.
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When I left my job, most of the feedback I got from coworkers, friends, even some family members was, “You’re nuts! What are you doing putting your career on hold like that?” And we tend to do that. We kind of think that we’ve got this plan that we’re going to do in our lives that’s significant. And then we become parents. Then we decide we’re going to homeschool. Which, you know, again, that reinforced the fact that my friends and family thought I was nuts. But then we kind of see that as a sidetrack to what maybe God has for us, what we’re going to do that’s great and mighty in this world. And so, we take this time, we count down the years, we mark off the calendar. “I’ve got five more years.” “Four more years until my last one’s graduated.” Or we even feel the pressure of, you know, putting them in public school or private school, or part-time. Because we just want to do something so that we can say we’re significant. But in my experience, if I did nothing else but… like people say, “What’s on your bucket list?” – and I’ve been to lots of fun places. I’ve been in New Zealand, I’ve been to Iceland, I’ve been to all over. My bucket list top check-off box is being a mom and being with my kids. So I’ve been able to check that box as I’ve been doing it, because that’s the best experience I’ve ever had. That’s the best place I’ve ever been. And God used that time to build skills in me, both spiritually and academically. I learned so much about history that I never learned when I was in public school. And that’s a whole entire topic right there. How much I believe homeschool moms and dads are some of the smartest people I know because we get the enjoyment of learning with our children and filling in a lot of those gaps that we had with the excitement of teaching them. And so He taught … God used this to teach me grammar that I did not have, writing skills, speaking skills, at encouragement, talking with my kids, teaching other kids. Because once you get pegged as a scientist in the homeschool community, you just kind of get volunteered to do co-ops, and to teach this class, which I loved. But it built skills in me that now I’m using every day. So, I’m able to have the blessing of writing curriculum for Apologia educational ministries. I get to teach. I get to film instructional DVDs that help go along with those courses. So we go on location. We talk about the science that’s happening wherever we are. And those skills that I learned going through that process of being a homeschooler, being a mom, were built in me because of that. I could not be doing what I’m doing today if it wasn’t for that amazing experience. And so, I believe that God uses His plan A. It’s not His plan B or our plan. It’s a plan A of bringing the children He has into our families, and then utilizing that experience to build in us humility, to build in us- Yvette: Patience. Sherri: What are those? In real ways … but then also building in us skills, whatever those skills are, that we can use to not only pour into our children, but prepare us for the next chapter that He has for us. Because, believe it or not, you may not believe it at certain times in your life. They will be grown one day. They actually will graduate. They actually will become adults. And then, what does God have for us at that point? And I know he’s got great things for all of us. And it doesn’t mean we’re all going to be like involved in politics or becomes famous whatevers. But we have a responsibility to use our time well and pouring into our extended family, pouring into our children and their children and then whatever it is God opens up to us. And so, I count the experiences that I had as a homeschool mom as part of that preparation, that it wasn’t a sidetrack, it was part of His plan A. And I continue to see, “Oh, I’m so glad I learned that. I would not have learned that had I not homeschooled.” So just as an encouragement to moms to continue building yourself as you’re building your children. Yvette: Yeah. Oh I love that so much. I love that you call it plan A too. Because I think oftentimes we feel like, “Oh, you know, we wanted to do this, we wanted to do that. And now, I’m stuck at home with these kids and I’m having to homeschool them.” And we feel like our work is insignificant and it’s not. Sherri: And it is not. Yvette: And the time goes by so quickly, which I’m sure you will relate to that. You know, our oldest is 13. And I cannot believe that she’s already 13 years old. I mean she was just born yesterday. How can she be 13? And I realize more and more how short our time is with our kids. I mean, it goes by in a flash. And I’m sure you experienced that with your kids. And now, God is using all of the things that you did before you had kids and took the things that you did from being a mom and homeschooling them. And now, he’s done something different with you. But he’s still using all of the gifts and talents and abilities that he created you to have to impact His kingdom. And there’s just no greater work than that. Sherri: Yeah, it’s not wasted time. It’s not. It’s the best thing we can do. And again, it’s the top of my bucket list. I have, you know, things I’d like to do, places I’d like to see, but that’s my bucket list topics. So yeah, it’s worthwhile. And there are days … I mean, I don’t know, I’m going to ask the Lord one day about this, but how time can feel like it’s fleeting, and then there are days or weeks or months where time feels like it’s standing still. I mean, there were those moments with our kids during those little years and I felt like time was not moving. There was no progress. There was no … like I was going to be in this moment forever. Yvette: Yes. Sherri: You know? I think that that’s when we need, even if it’s an hour break, or a perspective change, a friend we can chat with. Because within that tiny little moment of that little parenthetical moment in our life, where we feel like all we’re going to do is clean up liquids coming out of children … they do. That we feel like that’s going to be our life forever. And that’s a tiny little moment within the tiny little period of those young years, within the tiny little period of having them at home, within the tiny little period of my life that God’s eternal timeline … and He’s placed us in this spot for this time, for this period. That perspective helps me to say, “Okay, one more diaper. Okay, one more whatever it is, spilled honey with glass.” Yvette: Oh gosh. Honey is the worst. Oh no. It’s so sticky. Sherri: It is, especially in the glass containers. Come on. Yeah. And so, I think that a lot of it’s our perspective. But if we can get a vision of it, that God’s got a plan for us. And he doesn’t say, “Whoops, well this is happening, I’ll change the plan.” Then, it helps us have that right direction, that right perspective to keep moving, keep moving forward with what He has for us today. Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. What are some things since … So you’ve homeschooled your kids from kindergarten through 12th grade, all four of them. How many years apart are they? Sherri: They’re each two years apart. I married an engineer. So, we had four kids in six years. And then God just … We didn’t know how many we were going to have and God just said that’s your four is your number. And so yeah, we started with preschool with our first one, and thought, “Well, I can’t ruin preschool. I know my colors, I know my numbers.” And every year we would just pray and we assessed. And it’s usually like this time of year. We’re recording right now. It’s just now February. This is that. I would like check the computer, “How much is it for private school?” But every year, we’d reassess and we would pray and God just said keep going. Eventually our children said keep going. They enjoyed it, they caught it. And so, yeah, we went all the way through k through 12. And it was … They were lumped together, but the spacing was enough to where I could only teach certain groups. I mean, I had older and younger enough to where you couldn’t do everything with all of them. It was like spinning plates sometimes. But it was okay. Yvette: Which life is spinning plates anyway. Sherri: Yes. Yeah. Yvette: How did that build relationships between you and your kids and between your children and them as siblings? Sherri: I could tell you the perspective I have now watching my kids, watching ourselves with our kids, that that’s one of the best benefits of homeschooling is they are building relationships with you as parents and with each other. You know, if you think about the artificial environment of a brick and mortar school where kids are parsed into grades, and the fifth grade class goes on a field trip to the zoo, and they watch the elephant give birth or something. And they’re with kids that they’re probably never going to seek in the rest of their lives. And they’re not … When you’re as … as a homeschool family doing something like that, and the van breaks down and it’s raining and mom’s crying and the kids end up getting lollipops at the store because they’re waiting for the to truck to come. My kids have memories of that, that they share, the shared memories that built were their relationships. Oftentimes, I get the beauty of watching them come home for Christmas and we’re all sitting around having something to eat or something to drink. And they’re just chatting and reminiscing about their experiences. And some of them are misadventures and some of them are just, you know, inside jokes, movies they’ve seen together, things that have happened in their lives. They have shared memories that they get to enjoy together and relive together and that builds their relationships. They’ve been guided gently, sometimes not so gently, to get along. And even with us, we get to spend time with them through those challenging years, through those questioning years, wrestling. And so … And it’s not been easy, but it has been beautiful to see the pursuit. You know, God pursues us, He doesn’t let us go. We need to pursue them. Sometimes they don’t want it. Sometimes … At least, they don’t look like they want it. You know, when you give them a hug and they kind of go, “Oh mom,” they still love it. Tell them you love them, even though they may kind of give the eye roll. They, “I know that mom.” Well, I want to tell you again because they need to hear it. They need to know that we’re pursuing them. And it builds a relationship that is just beautiful, that’s wonderful, that never ends. And again, they’ll call each … When I hear that they’re going out together, two of them are going to go get dinner. I’m like, “Oh, I’m just so excited about that.” So, that will happen. And there were days where, you know, stop touching me, he’s touching me, that was our life a lot too. You know, my children, just like me, were sinners. So, we have to learn that. But just it’s a beautiful thing. The relationship building is such a blessing. And because we homeschool, we’re able to foster that. Yvette: Yup. I love it. I often tell our girls and you hear it all the time, we’re raising adults, we’re not raising children. And I desperately want my girls to grow up to have a great relationship and to be the best defense. ‘Cause I tell them, right now they’re almost five years apart, and so they feel like there’s such a big gap in their age. And it does seem that way, you know, between eight years old and 13 years old. There is a big difference. But I keep telling them, “When you’re adults, when one of you is 25 and the others 30, there’s not going to be a gap there. That gap completely closes.” You know, I’m friends with many, many moms who are 10 years younger than me or five years younger than me and it doesn’t matter. I don’t ask first, “How old are you?” You know? And if you’re five years younger than me, “I’m sorry. I can’t be your mom friend.” And so, that is one of our greatest desires for our girls is that they will grow to have a deep, deep bond with one another because they share life together. That’s what they get to do because of homeschooling. Sherri, I want to talk about how you transitioned your kids from the elementary grades into middle school and then into high school because it seems a little bit overwhelming to me. Yvette: Brooklyn, my oldest, she is in seventh grade right now, if we must label her with a grade. And I’m … that part didn’t seem as overwhelming as it does transitioning her into the high school years with transcripts and all these things that need to be taken care of. How did you deal with that with your kids? Sherri: Besides panic? You know, we … we … each child is different. You know, we actually, after having gone through the process with our oldest, everybody would say to me, “Oh, you’ve completed this transition. You’ve done it all the way through. You’ve got it figured out.” And I realized no, because each child is so different. Their direction was different, their giftedness is different. And so, the mechanics of how our courses that we had them doing and their experiences, whether they would work or not, whether they would dual enroll, it was different with each child. So, that’s going to look different. And that’s what we want. Because remember, we’re homeschooling them. We get that opportunity to adjust their needs, based on their needs, their direction, what God has for them. If we want to do the same thing with all of them, let’s just put them in a big classroom full of 25, 30 kids and do the same thing. And so it’s going to look different. But there are some things that we can do to help our kids in the transition that’s kind of across the boards the same, at least in theory or for the most part. Like as they exit elementary school years and enter the middle school years, we’re talking about adolescence. And it’s interesting that adolescence kind of falls at the same time as … I mean, physically, emotionally, mentally, developmentally, academically, there’s a lot of changes going on. And so if you imagine your child having that, it’s kind of like, I mean, we have to cut them some slack first of all. Their bodies are growing. Their bodies are doing things. They’re like, “What’s happening to me?” They’re having to … Developmentally, their brains are being able to transition from understanding only concrete information to understanding abstract ideas. And they’re questioning more, which is good, sometimes not so great, but good because they’re trying to process what this world is. Who is … what’s truth? How do I fit into this? So they’re going to have awkward feelings. They’re going to have questions. They’re going to be maybe inward. They’re not going to know how to respond. And we have to have that dialogue. That’s when we pursue them gently and give them space. And we also work on academically the transitions that are occurring. They are becoming more able as they enter sixth, seventh, eighth grade to become more independent. They want that. That can cause some of those issues in your household. They’re maybe loading the dishwasher differently than you want to because they see it as a better way to do it. And there’s going to be those questions or those, you could call them clashes, but it’s more of just really trying to see how everything fits. And so, academically, we want to help build those independent learners in them. And so … Like I love doing that as we design curriculum for the kids. Because, in those middle school years, we want to train them walking through it step by step, here’s how you do it, in the same way that you would show a child, let’s say, how to fill a dishwasher. You do it for them and show them. Then, you do it with them. And then, you let them try a couple of times. And you give them good feedback. And then, you’re ready to launch. And they’re going to make mistakes. And they’re going to put the non-hand-washable thing in there and ruin a couple of things. But that’s a process. And it’s the same way with learning. You’re going to give them … sometimes they may have access to solutions manuals or they at least know where they are. And sometimes they may kind of be tempted to find them and use them when you’re not aware. And those kinds of trial and error … This is the time to be addressing those things lovingly, gently, the temptations that they experience in that. They’re also spiritually going to be going from following mommy and daddy’s beliefs, belief system, to making it their own. And so, they’re going to ask questions that might shock us, you know, “How is it fair that a person over in wherever is born there and not hearing the Gospel like I am? Or how do we know that what they’re believing is not true and what we’re believing is true?” And if you don’t know the answer to that, that’s fine. Seek out the answer to that with them. Walk through. It’s not that they’re challenging you necessarily. They’re challenging questions. And we want to walk through that and it’s harder. And that, you’re going to find that in academics. You’re going to find that in how the household is run. You’re going to find those questions. But if you have an understanding that this is a child who’s maturing, this is a child who’s developing, and this is expected. We don’t want them to be elementary aged in their minds all the way through. Right? You don’t want an 18 year old like that. So, we want them to become thinkers. We want them to reason. And we want them to do it early on like this so that they have the benefit of dialoguing with us, of having those hard concepts. We started putting our kids in a co op that met one day a week for certain number … certain classes, not all of them. But I wanted my kids to experience external deadlines. I wanted them to take on that responsibility of communicating to me, “Well, you know, this is the way this teacher is doing this and how do I deal with that?” Or “Mom, this is not how we’re supposed to do it.” Okay, well let’s talk about that. We want them to be able to start navigating that a little bit at a time so that we can walk with them through those harder concepts, or how they manage their time. Let them fail sometimes. This is a safe place at home to fail versus a college environment or a career environment where they’re not knowing what to do and they fail something and they just fall apart. We can’t be … you know, we talk about helicopter parenting, when you’re all involved in everything. It’s really hard to do as homeschoolers because we know who their friends are. We know what they see, what they do, what their learning. And we tend to be helicopter parenting. But we also don’t want to be what I’ve heard as lawnmower parents. Like just push them on through. Just get them going. We don’t care what we’re mowing over. Let’s just get it done and check off the boxes and say, “We’re done.” We have to have … be somewhere between those two machines. I don’t know what we are. I haven’t come up with a metaphor for that. But it’s … We did it. I want to say we did it perfectly, but we didn’t. We did it vary fallibly. We made mistakes. We had lots of times where we would have just, you know, “Let’s have a family meeting and let’s talk about this.” Lots of tears, lots of apologies on our part and my part. But helping them to see that you’re navigating this process with them, through all of those arenas in their lives, helps to build conversation, helps to open up those doors for talking about those things, and helps them to identify that your heart is for them. You want the best for them in the same way that God wants the best for them. And it helps them to navigate those new experiences. I had the blessing. I’m right now working on my master’s in education and science design and science curriculum design. And I get the opportunity to talk with lots of teachers in the public school arena. Yvette: Oh, okay. Sherri: Part of this classroom. And it’s been so eyeopening to see what these dear, dear people have in their hearts for their kids that are in their classrooms and the challenges they face. And most of those who are in middle school, in those middle school years are just hitting their heads against the wall because they can’t influence those kids in the short time they have. They’re not the parents. We had that beautiful blessing of solving that problem, because the kids were home with us. We had those teachable moments. And you can’t have that quality time without quantity time. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: ‘Cause you can’t just say, “Okay, sit down with me and have coffee. We’re making this appointment one day every month and let’s just talk about something important. Go.” And they just look at you. You know? It has to happen as I mess up, as they mess up, and those natural conversations occur because you’re with them. You’re with them all the time. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: I mean, I don’t know. Does that help answer some of those- Yvette: Yeah. Oh, it totally does. And I love so many things that you said. You know, you talk about how they’re, at that age, kind of processing, what is truth? What is this life around me? What do I really believe? And what better way to navigate that with them then to be able to be with them day in and day out? Sherri: Absolutely. Yvette: Because we get to see … I mean, you know, no one knows our kids better than we do. No one. They can have teachers. And there are teachers, public school, private school, universities, there are teachers who love their students, truly genuinely love them. But they can’t … They just don’t have the ability. They don’t have the time. They don’t have the ability to know our kids the way that we do. And so they cannot walk through them … through life with them, and help direct them in every single way and, like you said, just allow them to figure it out. And one of the things you said really struck me as you said it. And it reminded me of Ginger Hubbard, if you’re familiar with her. She’s a sweet, sweet friend of mine. She has a book called Don’t Make Me Count to Three. And she talks a lot on parenting. And one of the things that she talks about is do overs and we do them with our kids. And so, you know, if you’re child disobeys and they … and we’re talking, you know, a toddler, maybe they hit their brother or sister because they’re mad for whatever reason. Instead of just saying, “Don’t hit your brother and sister.” And scolding them and then walking away, you show them the right way to act. So let’s do it over. If your sister took your toy, instead of hitting her, let’s figure out the best way to respond to her. And so, you take them by the hand and you walk them through how to respond properly. And I love that you relate that then back to our children and their life and their education. And that, even at the age of 13, 14, 15, you know, 18 years old, we can still take them by the hand and say, “Let’s do this together. I’m going to show you the right way to do it. And then, I’m going to let you do it on your own. And you may or may not fail. And if you do, then we’re going to do it together again.” And let them practice, but coming alongside of them. Because I think as homeschool moms, oftentimes we just assume that they know how to do things the right way. We assume they know how to write a paper. We assume they know how to do these math problems. We assume that they know how to, you know, make a speech or whatever it is. We just think, “Well, of course they know how to do that.” Well, maybe they don’t. And so they need mom to be able to come alongside of them, show them how to do it. Or if we don’t know how to do it, find someone else who does like the marine biologist mom. And you know … and that … I mean, that’s a whole nother topic, but that’s the importance of community in homeschooling. You must have community, you must seek out people. Don’t wait for people to come to you. You seek out people because there are people who are waiting to be sought out. And build community. And then, you come alongside of one another’s children as well. And you do this together, you do this life together. And it’s such a beautiful thing. And so I love that you talk about that as a great way to just transition them. Sherri: Yeah. Well, understanding also that what you do with one kid … you know, you may have … like we had this phenomenal lady that was homeschooler and she’s great for educating our kids on how to write. And I kept thinking to myself, “Oh please don’t retire next year. I’ve got three more kids. Oh, two more kids.” And yet, we have to realize that … I really believe God’s got His plans for our kids. And so, what He makes available for one child, He may not make available for the others, but for His good purposes. And so, we can’t rely on a curriculum or a human or a friend who’s doing something to have to be there for us, as long as we realize that God’s got it. You know, I can tell you example after example of things He did that with our kids. I mean, one of our children is a musician, full time musician, makes a living doing it. Yvette: Awesome. Sherri: And I’m thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, how is he going to feed my future grandkids?” But he has been gifted in that from the beginning and God opened up opportunities beyond what I knew to do. Yvette: Yeah. Sherri: To give him these experiences that he had during his growing up years to prepare him for what he’s doing today that I could not have done. He didn’t make those opportunities, the same ones, available to my other kids. It was just … And so, I see His hand throughout that and we have to trust that, that that’s going to happen to you. It’s going to look different. And as like you were talking about, the sharing thing or the hitting my child and having a navigator, maybe they don’t know how to write a paper. Maybe they did know how to write a paper. But now, as a hormonal 15 year old, they don’t, or they’re questioning it, or they’re saying, “Why do I have to use an ly word here?” I mean, the gamut. It’s there. And so, we have to walk through them… through the questioning season based on everything they’ve learned. “Why is this called red? Does everybody see the same red that I see? Can I call it something else?” I mean, they like to challenge, because they’re trying to reformat their world with their mature brain. And so, it’s just fascinating to see how the brain works, and how God in his amazing design coincided those adolescent years with their … all of that transition time, which makes it fun for homeschool families. Yvette: Oh, what a beautiful reminder that they’re not just crazy. Sherri: No. Yvette: You know, we’ve all been through it. But I think we forget. I mean, I honestly … I remember my junior high years and my high school years. But I don’t remember going through the insanity, sometimes it seems like these kids go through. But I’m certain I did. But I’m sure my mom remembers. I’ll have to ask her because I’m certain she’s got stories. But it’s such a good reminder to just show them grace because we were there once too. It’s how God created them. They are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing and not to always see it as them challenging us, which I think sometimes we always feel like they’re butting up against us. They’re challenging us. They’re being disrespectful. And sometimes, that’s the case. And then, we need to redirect them and their attitudes. So, I’m not giving permission for that, but sometimes they are really just trying to figure out what this life and this world is all about, so I love your encouragement. Sherri: Absolutely. Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash