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.
“We have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.” – Zan Tyler
While we were at the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center, in Vancouver, Washington to finish filming interviews for Schoolhouse Rocked, homeschool pioneer, Zan Tyler stopped by for a surprise visit. Zan was instrumental in the fight to make homeschooling legal in South Carolina, in the early 1980s. She was in Oregon to speak at the Oregon Christian Home Education Association Network (OCEANetwork) homeschool conference, in Albany, Oregon and wanted to visit Heidi St. John and get a tour of the homeschool resource center. Because her story of the legal battles and persecution that she endured to pave the way for homeschooling families in her state provided such important historical perspective and cautionary advice, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to interview her for the movie and for the podcast.
Following her dramatic battle for the right to homeschool her children, Zan went on to teach them through graduation and all three of them attended college on a variety of scholarships. Gaining resolve during her battle, she went on to fight for other homeschooling families in South Carolina and across the United States, founding the South Carolina Association of Independent Home Schools in 1990, Speaking at homeschool conventions around the world, and writing several books, including Seven Tools for Cultivating Your Child’s Potential and the forward for Heidi St. John’s Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight: Managing Your Days Through the Homeschool Years. She has also worked to develop Bible-bases homeschool resources as the director of Apologia Press. Here is her story.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, this is Yvette, and we are back with the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. This is a really fun one, because we are actually on the set filming for Schoolhouse Rocked the movie. It’s so neat to see how the Lord provides just different guests and people for the movie and for the podcast as well.
You are going to love my guest today, her name is Zan Tyler. She is just a sweet, sweet homeschool mom whose kids are grown now. She has an amazing story and I know you are going to be so encouraged by what God has done in her family and through her family, for the homeschool world.
So Zan, welcome. I am really excited to talk to you today!
Zan: Oh, thank you, Yvette. It’s great to be here.
Yvette: Thank you. Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Zan: Well, we have three grown kids, six grandchildren, and we homeschooled for 21 years, from 1984 to 2005, and homeschooled each of the kids from kindergarten through high school.
Yvette: So that was back in the day.
Zan: That was back in the day for sure.
Yvette: You are truly considered, in the homeschool world, one of the pioneers, who really got homeschooling kind of off the ground, and you are very instrumental in homeschooling becoming legal. Not just your state of South Carolina, but in many states, in addition to that. So, let’s talk about that, because there’s so much to tell in your story. Tell us, kind of from the beginning, how this whole story unfolded for you.
“When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, ‘Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.’ I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.”
Zan: Well, it was 1984, which I just always think is so George Orwellian, and my oldest son was in kindergarten. He was very bright and gifted, but not reading. He was the only one in this little kindergarten of eight that wasn’t reading. So I was looking for answers, because I had no educational background. I wasn’t sure if it was a problem, or what he was going through.
A friend of mine recommended that we hold him back a year. That was normal for boys, they needed a little more time to mature. But another friend of mine, she and her husband were getting their masters degrees at Columbia Bible College, getting ready to go to the mission field said, “Zan, I taught in the public schools for many years before I had Nat and I’m going to homeschool, and I think you should homeschool Ty.”
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You know the scene from Star Wars, where the walls – it’s really a trash compactor – and they start closing in? When she said the word homeschool, I just felt like the walls of her little home at Columbia Bible College were closing in on me. I thought, “Lord, if you will just get me out of here, I never want to hear the word homeschool again.” I just thought it was the strangest thing I had ever heard. Our family was extroverts, and I just couldn’t imagine.
But she gave me a book, Homegrown Kids by Dr. Moore. I took home that book, and all the way home I’m telling the Lord, “Well, I’m never going to homeschool.” I get home and I start reading that book, more as a courtesy from my friend than anything else, and it was like the Holy Spirit was just wooing me, and softening my heart, and showing me what a glorious way to educate homeschooling really is.
The only problem was, this was 1984, and we didn’t know one person in the world who homeschooled. There were no organizations, no HSLDA. I think it had actually started on the West Coast, but we certainly didn’t know of them on the East Coast. No state organizations, no support groups, no, nobody. So I really had nobody to turn to.
I used to walk in the morning early and pray and listen to the Bible on my Walkman, and I really just felt like the Lord was saying, “Okay, I really want you to homeschool your boys.” I just remember saying, “No, I just can’t do this.” So I ran inside. We went to the public school district in our area, I showed them the testing that Ty should be held back a year, even though he was six, and they said, “Okay.” That was that, and I thought that was the end of the story.
Until others, people in the school district, were getting their orientation packets for kindergarten and I didn’t get one. I called the school superintendent, he said, “You can’t put your first grader in our kindergarten program. We’ve put him in first grade.” I said, “Well, private schools are filled at this point, I have no choice.” He said, “Well, I’m sorry, you cannot do this.”
So, I called my old high school principal, who is now associate superintendent of instruction in the district, and just asked him to write a note to hold Ty back. He said, “Well, Zan, I just can’t do that.” Which, they did those kinds of things all the time. I said, “Well, I guess I’m just going to have to homeschool Ty.” It was a threat, it was my trump card. He said, “Oh, the school district’s gotten so lenient with that kind of thing.”
Later I found out they had approved one person in the history of the district, and she was a certified teacher. I had been an economics major in college. I had planned to go to law school, until Joe proposed and we got married and had children instead. I mean, I did not have the educational background they were looking for. So we had to hire an attorney just to find out what the law was. The local school district, nor the State Department of Education, would give us the law. There’s no internet, no Google, no organizations, no other way to find it out.
So, we hired him, we submitted our application. It’s about, oh, I mean, it was about five inches thick, everything they wanted from me at that point, and they denied my application. So we had to call our attorney again. He said, “Oh, now you appeal to the state board. They will deny you, they will uphold whatever the local school board did.” I said, “What then?” He said, “You’ll end up in family court.” I said, “What then?” He said, “Well, I don’t know, honey.”
“He looked at me and he said, ‘Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.’ So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, ‘Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.'”
So, I’m telling the Lord, “I told you this was not a good idea.” So, in the middle of all of this, I had a thought. The State Superintendent of Education had actually observed my mother’s classroom. She was a fourth grade teacher when he was getting his PhD. I was in the fourth grade, so I saw him every day after school for several months. I called Dr. Williams, said, “Dr. Williams, this is Zan Tyler. I’m Sybil Peter’s daughter. I have a problem, can I come see you?”
So, I went up there, and just explained my predicament, all I wanted to do is hold Ty back a year. The school district said, yes, then they said no. Private schools were filled, and they denied my application to homeschool. What am I going to do? He looked at me and he said, “Well, if you continue down this path, Zan, I’ll have you put in jail for truancy.” So, that was sort of the watershed moment for me. I said, “Well, then you’ll just have to put me in jail.”
Yvette: Which at that point, I would say most parents would probably just say, “Okay.” They would throw their hands up, give up and say, “All right.”
Zan: You know, I think that was just when the Lord took over for me. There’s the verse in Acts that says, “Don’t fear when you’re brought before governors, because I’ll tell you what to say.” It was really an out of body experience, because I said, “Then Dr. Williams, you’ll have to put me in jail.” I’m thinking, “Who just said that?” It was really like an out of body experience. But I knew the Lord had been calling me, and in that moment he, I don’t know exactly how to explain it, but he confirmed that to me.
Yvette: It’s so neat to have just a piece of God when he asks us to do everything. We’ve talked a whole lot about this on the podcast, is that when God calls you to something, he’s going to provide everything that you need, and he is going to pave the way for you. Whether it’s homeschooling, or, you know, a new job, or a move across the country. Whatever it is, he’s going to provide the way, and he’s going to pave that road.
So I love that you were just obedient and you were willing to listen to what God was telling you, because you have, now since then, impacted so many families. So, continue on. Well, let me ask you this first. How did your husband, Joe, how did he respond to this whole idea of homeschooling? Was he all in favor of it? Was he a little resistant? What was his response?
Zan: Well, I’ll tell you now that Joe does a workshop called, You Want to What? Confessions of a Reluctant Homeschool Dad. So, we’ve always had a great marriage. Joe’s a great communicator, and so we could always talk. Basically what he said to me was, “I know how much you love the Lord, and I know how much you love the kids. So I totally trust you, but I think this is the craziest thing we’ve ever done.”
He finally said, “Well, if it’s numbers and colors, you can’t mess up a kid too much in kindergarten.” Then we laughed, because low and behold Ty was color blind, and we didn’t know it yet. I mean, he was very supportive of me, he just thought the idea of homeschooling was nuts.
Yvette: So what was his response when you started to get into a little bit of legal trouble?
Zan: You know, then we were just all in it together.
Yvette: Which is how it should be.
Zan: Yes, yes. So, he tons of pizza. I should say this, no man should have to eat as much pizza during those early years of homeschooling as Joe did.
Yvette: Yep. You are one busy mama.
Yvette: So, how did the rest of the story transpire from there?
Zan: Well, it was interesting, because being the brave noble person I was, we had decided not to tell either set of parents we were going to homeschool. Joe said, “You know, you’re going to have to tell them at some point, it’s kind of like being pregnant. People will recognize, at some point, that something is going on.” I said, “Well, when the time comes, I’ll talk about it.” I just had no more emotional bandwidth.
So, when I was threatened with jail, then that forced the conversation, because my parents were very involved in the whole fabric of Columbia. Not social life, but just community life. Dad was, in addition to his profession and being a lawyer, he was chairman of the board of the Baptist hospital system. I knew that the newspapers would not say, “P on homeschool mothers and Tyler goes to jail.” It would say, “John Peter’s daughter goes to jail.”
I knew I needed to tell them. So, I go by to tell them, and I hold it together, “Mom, dad, I’m going to homeschool Ty.” Of course, they don’t know what it is, I barely know what it is. “I’ve been threatened with jail, and my hearing is on Tuesday. I didn’t want you to read about it in the newspaper.” Then I just lost it. I was hysterical, and I left. My daddy, we’ve always been so close, he just went to be with the Lord. But he was just so mad I had been treated that way.
As God, in his very kind of providence would have it, he was speaking at a hospital function the next night with Nancy Thurman, who was the wife of Senator Strom Thurmond, who was a legend in South Carolina politics, served in the Senate for 50 or so years. I had worked for him when I was in high school. It was the first year of the 18 year old vote, and I was female to boot. So I did television commercials with him and toured the state with fundraisers with him and his team. So I knew him, and I had called his office and gotten no response.
Dad said to Mrs. Thurman that night, “Zan needs help from the Senator now.” So she called his chief of staff who said, “We’ll overnight a letter to Charlie Williams, the State Superintendent of Education, telling him to approve the program.” But the next day we got a call from his chief of staff saying that the Senator was actually going to fly down and meet personally with Charlie Williams, who was the State Superintendent of Education.
So, when Senator Thurmond, the legend, walks in and tells Dr. Williams, “Her program is legal, we’ve looked into it, you need to approve it.” Then everything changed. So, the threats of jail averted, and the State Board approved my program. We homeschooled that first year. It was still very tough, we had policemen riding up and down our streets of a very quiet neighborhood. We assumed to make sure that we were inside having school and at home, and we had threatening phone calls, and neighbors.
Yvette: From the school board?
Zan: Well, you know, at first, we didn’t know. This is before caller ID and cell phones and all of this. So BellSouth had just come out with this very expensive callback system, you could see who called you. I told Joe, I said, “I want to pay for this.” We had no money at this point, legal fees and all. He said, “Okay, you’re paranoid, but we’ll do it.” It was school districts, and it was not just my own. It was other school districts in the state calling me, wanting personal information, seeing if I answered the phone.
It was crazy. But that year, our goal was just to get Ty ready for first grade. But the things that we saw happening in our home, even with all the pressure, the legal pressure outside of the home, there was just this, not magic, that’s the wrong word, but this just incredible depth building in our home that we had never had before, even though I was a stay at home mother up until that point.
So, our vision for homeschooling began to grow a little bit, and legal threats were starting to pour in, and the State Department of Education was getting ready to promulgate very negative regulations. So, it just grew into an eight year struggle, really, or battle, where for eight years our family was, either in court or in the legislature, fighting for good homeschool laws in South Carolina.
Yvette: At that point you knew you weren’t just fighting for yourself; you were fighting for others who would come into homeschooling.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: Through that time, did you start to meet other families who were homeschooling?
Zan: Yes, yes. I remember we went to the first conference in Atlanta, and I think there were seven families from South Carolina there. Which I had no idea, we were delighted to see seven. But everybody was so nervous, nobody would give out their phone numbers or their last names, because we were so afraid that there was somebody from the government there. They were scary times.
But during that first year, Joe and I began to keep a database of people who were starting to call us then from all over the country, it was kind of strange. It was think tanks and attorneys, and people looking to move to South Carolina, who may have already started homeschooling in another state where there was no threat. So, we just started collecting names of people who had heard of homeschooling. We weren’t necessarily looking for homeschoolers, just people who had heard of it.
So we started growing this database, which came in handy then, in December of 1985, a year later, when we got the information that the State Department was getting ready to promulgate the regulations that would require teaching parents, and to have a college degree, and only use state-approved tax. So that gave us a little bit of list to begin building that grassroots movement with.
Yvette: So how did homeschooling change your family?
Zan: Oh, my goodness, I feel like Shakespeare, “let me count the ways.” It just, this closeness. We were close to begin with, I can’t explain it. Just a deeper intimacy. It made the kids closer. The most dramatic change for me is I began to notice my boys’ spiritual gifts. There was no time for that kind of observation before, but even though they were young, I believe that the Lord gave me insight into things that the boys were capable of spiritually, and the way they thought.
For instance, we had been praying, just for our neighbors, that we’d have a chance to witness. One day, during our first few weeks of homeschooling, they were out playing and I called them in, they were riding their bikes in the driveway, and he didn’t come. I said, “Ty, honey, you have to obey me the first time, or homeschooling is not going to work.” He said, “Well, mom, did you see that little boy on the bicycle?” He said, “We’ve been sharing Jesus. I’d never seen him in our neighborhood. I was afraid I’d never see him again, and I just needed to tell him about Jesus.”
Zan: It was through instances of being together so much, that I began to see his heart to really share the Gospel, even as a young little boy. Then my other son, who is now an attorney, was always very thoughtful. When Joe and I went to our first homeschool conference, in Atlanta. Conference, I use that word very lightly, there were maybe 60 people there from 10 states or five states or something. My sister took John and Ty up to Stone Mountain, and they were six and four. We’d been learning the children’s catechism, and they found this footprint that looked like a huge footprint in the mountain, and Ty said, “John, look at this. This is so big, it must be God’s.” Four year old little John says, “Ty, God is a spirit and have not a body like man.”
Oh, my goodness! So, I began to see their spiritual depth really blossom. That has always been one of the greatest parts of homeschooling to me, is that we can prepare our kids to take their place in the world, not just academically gifted and other gifts, but their spiritual gifts. The church just needs mature believers now, people who can speak truth.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. So, kind of take us down the road of what homeschooling looked like. You say you went to these conventions, and there were about 60 people there, you know, to what it is today. Because now you go and you’ve got 6,000, 7,000 people or more at some conventions. It has changed dramatically, obviously.
It’s really interesting, because we’re going into our ninth year of homeschooling, but when we came into homeschooling nine years ago, it was very similar to what it is now. It was a very acceptable culture, it’s not awkward for us to go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. When people say, you know, “Oh, are you off of school today?” My girls say, “No, we’re homeschooled.” Then typically people will respond with, “Oh, wow, that’s great. I wish I could homeschool, or, you know, my sister homeschools, or my daughter home schools.” I mean, everybody knows somebody who homeschools.
Zan: Yes, that’s right.
Yvette: But obviously, it wasn’t that way for you.
Zan: That’s right.
Yvette: So, take us through what it was like for you in those beginning years, and other families, to what homeschooling has become today.
Zan: I have such a vivid memory of having homeschooled for about six months, and being in tears one morning during my quiet time, just saying, “Lord, remember me, this person you made so extroverted? I now have no friends.” There were people in the neighborhood who would no longer speak to us, people in our church who were suspicious. I mean, this was 1984, and like I said, when I said we knew nobody when we started, we knew nobody when we started. So, there was just no support and nobody for the kids to share that experience with.
Now, as the year progressed and we went into the second year, then we found friends. I mean, it wasn’t unusual for us to drive to Greenville to see another homeschool family, which was 100 miles away, or Charleston. Then we began to develop a few friends and a little bit of a community. I will say this, that the community that developed was very, very close. Then when we were threatened in 1985, with those regulations from the State Department, we started pulling the group together and sending mailings out.
Then somebody gave us an organization that had already the 501(c)(3) status they weren’t using anymore. We took that over and then formed the first homeschooling organization in South Carolina. So, it was definitely hard. It was just hard. But we knew the Lord had called us, and then to watch it grow step by step. We had the first public hearing in South Carolina in 1986, and we actually had about 400 people show up for that, which was really amazing. We had no idea. We just sent out this blind list, this list we had been mailing, and we had all these people show up. It was pretty amazing. That was a ton of people.
Yvette: That is a lot, because that’s before the days of even email-
Zan: That’s right, oh, no, email, no. That was the days before fax. It was by phone or mail. So, it was very interesting. So, it was the Lord, and then eventually we started going to the National Leadership Conference. It was people from a lot of other states who had … everybody was going through their own set of circumstances. Some people were very free, like in Georgia or North Carolina, other people were like us in South Carolina, where we were very threatened, and it was very hard. But that was our peer group, and that sort of was what the Lord gave us, just to keep us going, and that fellowship we needed to keep going.
I can remember the first time Joe and I were asked to go to Japan to speak at a conference there, and it wasn’t for expats, it was for Japanese. I sat on the plane, and all of a sudden I just started crying, because I looked at Joe and I said, “You remember when we first started homeschooling? All people wanted to do was shut me up. You know, make her be quiet, stop talking about this, go away.” The fact that somebody was paying us to fly halfway across the world to talk to them about homeschooling, it was just overwhelming.
It’s one of those moments that will just always be emblazoned in my mind. But it was like a revival movement, the Lord just kept raising people up and up and up, and it got bigger and bigger, and it was this grassroots ground swell. That was one reason you know it’s really the Holy Spirit, because there’s no other explanation for it.
Yvette: Yeah. So, you’ve been through the whole process of helping to make it legal. Where do you see homeschooling going in the future? Do you see that our freedoms are in jeopardy at all? Or do you think that we will be able to continue on with our freedom? And how can people make sure that our freedom stays?
Zan: Joe always says, “It’s not that the grass is greener on the other side, it’s the grass is greenest where you water it and fertilize it.” So we shouldn’t ever take our marriages for granted, we should never take our freedom for granted. I know what it’s like to be an innocent person who was threatened legally. I will tell you that is not fun. I never want another mother to go through what we went through. It was horrible. Wandering at night if somebody was going to take my kids, if a neighbor was going to turn us in to the Department of Social Services for something. It was extremely stressful.
So, my love for freedom is very, not guarded, but it’s in the context of knowing we can lose it, and knowing what that feels like. Ronald Reagan said, “It only takes a generation to lose our freedom.” Then there’s the quote, “All we need to lose our freedom is … for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.” So I think it’s very easy to become complacent, when it seems so easy.
But we need to remember we have enemies, whether it’s the National Education Association or the School Administrators Association. There are people out there who think that the fact that we can homeschool our children is the worst thing that has ever happened to the culture. We think it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to the culture.
Yvette: Right, of course, but they want control over our children.
Zan: We were talking earlier today about this, I was speaking at a leadership forum sponsored by Clemson University in South Carolina, but this was the education segment, I was the homeschool spokesman. After it was over, this woman asked me, she said, “Don’t you feel guilty for homeschooling?” I said, “Well, I have felt a lot of emotions over homeschooling, but guilt is not one of them, why?” She said, “Because you’ve robbed the school district of all the money the state would have given them for your children, you’ve robbed the school district of kids who probably would have good test scores, because you’ve also robbed the school district of involved parents, all of these things which we need.”
So I got real quiet, and I said, “Well, who do you think my kids belong to?” Well, she had no answer. So I read her this, this shows what my life was like. I used to travel with this in my purse, I had no idea what I’m going to talk about at this day. So I read her this statement, I’m going to read it to you, just because this is where my life was.
“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize his children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state. Those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
So she looked at me like, “Where did you get that right wing Christian propaganda?” She said, “Where did you get that?” I said, “From the United States Supreme Court, Pierce vs Society of Sisters, 1925.” I remember thinking then here is the problem with our society, nobody knows anymore that children don’t belong to the state. When you have to tell an audience that the child is not the mere creature of the state, and that is news to them, we are in trouble as a culture.
So, we have got to educate people, as to what freedom and liberty is all about, what the constitution is all about, parental rights, and who our kids belong to. That’s very elementary. Socialism and Marxism would have us believe our kids belong to the government.
Yvette: That’s right, that’s right. We have a couple minutes left. In these last few minutes I would love for you to talk about, because I know you’ve been very involved in your state organization. How can people get involved in their own state organization, or in, you know, the United States as a whole, to keep the freedoms that we have for homeschooling? And why do these state organizations even exist?
“The state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.”
Zan: Well, the state organizations have done the homeschooling community such a great service in watching each state, legislature by legislature, and knowing where the threats come up. So, I would invite and encourage every homeschooler to join their state group, and their state group will be the legislative watchdog. Then go to your state day at the capitol. Most states have that, some states don’t. Start one if you don’t. I would tell you to get to know your legislator and your state Senator, and that is not hard to do, they want to know you as a constituent.
Homeschooled kids are the best thing we have going for us, because they’re polite and articulate, and well-educated. It’s like one representative said to me, “Zan, now that I see the artwork, I want to know the artist.” So, we need to do that, we need to take our kids with us to vote, we need to get them involved with pro-life, pro-family candidates. My boys started working campaigns with me when they were little, we would hold out signs in the rain. You know, politics is not glamorous, but it is really necessary.
Then, you know, during the presidential election, every presidential election, we would have a blank map of the states, and we would color a state red if it went to the Republican candidate, blue if it went to the Democrat, and we’d mark in the number of electoral votes. So, explain to your kids the electoral college, there’s a great movement afoot to get rid of it. It would destroy our Republican form of government. So I would just say be involved. If it’s uncomfortable, just decide you’re going to live out of your comfort zone.
Heidi’s podcast is a great podcast. She keeps us up politically with what’s going on, and your state organization will do that. Join HSLDA as well, they’ve been a great safeguard for homeschooling parents.
Yvette: Yeah, absolutely. Yes, you’re right. Heidi St. John, her podcast, the Heidi St. John Podcastis excellent. She often talks about just things that are going on in the culture. I get all my news from her.
Zan, thank you. Thank you for everything you’ve done, everything that you and your family have sacrificed for the freedoms that we enjoy today as homeschoolers. You are a homeschool legend, and I am so excited to be sitting here with you. So thank you for your time today.
In this special roundtable discussion, Karen DeBeus, Aby Rinella, and Yvette Hampton talk about ‘Who’, ‘Why’, and ‘How’ of Homeschooling.
Yvette Hampton: I am so excited to be here with you today! I am the host of Schoolhouse Rocked: The homeschool Revolution, it is a feature length documentary that is currently in production, and I’m also the host of the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. I am mom of two amazing daughters, and wife to my husband for 24 years now, and we are in our eighth year of homeschooling.
Karen DeBeus: Hi everybody, I’m Karen DeBeus from Simply Living for Him, and I am the host of the Simply Living for Himpodcast. I’m also the author of several homeschooling books, and the owner of SimplyLivingForHim.com, which is a ministry to encourage all people to live more simply; whether it’s in your home, school or in your life. I also have four children, we’ve been homeschooling since my oldest was entering kindergarten, and now she’s just getting ready to graduate.
Aby Rinella: And I’m Aby Rinella, from His Calling, Our Passion, and I write and speak for different homeschool organizations, and you can find me over at CalledToTheTop.com. I’m the mom of three awesome kids, we’ve been homeschooling from the beginning. Above all, I’m a follower of Jesus and the wife to Jesse Rinella.
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Yvette: We are so glad to be with you today. We have been praying about this session, and just really excited to come together and encourage you as homeschool parents, whether you’re a mom or a dad, and just talk about some of the reasons why we’ve chosen to homeschool. So we’re going to answer three questions today, we’re going to answer the ‘why’ of homeschooling, the ‘who’ of homeschooling, and the ‘how’ of homeschooling.
And so, I would love to talk with you, Karen, because you’ve been through it now for 12 years. Your oldest is graduating high school this year, and so I would love for you to tell kind of your story about how you began homeschooling, and why you have chosen to homeschool.
Karen: I was an unlikely homeschooler, an accidental homeschooler, I never intended to homeschool; but God had other plans. I really believe that he called us to this journey, so when my daughter was just turning five, and getting to that time to register her for kindergarten, I was absolutely 100%, never thought about anything else she would just go to school.
The school was right around the corner from our home at that time, and so it just seemed like that was the next natural step. And I walked into the school building to register her for kindergarten, and as soon as I walked in, something happened to me that I have yet to be able to really describe in words. But I sort of became overwhelmed, and panicked, and almost physically ill. And all I could think of was, “She’s not going here.”
And it was really confusing because I had no idea where that was coming from. And so I registered her, because I didn’t want to look weird and turn around and get off the line, but I really felt deep down, “She’s not going here.”
And so I left that day, and I was crying, and I had my other children with me, and I started to talk to some people about what was going on. And they were all saying, “It’s the first time jitters. Once you put her in school, you’re going to see how you’ll have so much time to yourself next year.”
: And I really felt that wasn’t it, it was not the first time jitters; there was this deep sense of, “She’s not going here.” However, the really interesting part of this story is, I had no idea what else I would do. I didn’t really know much about homeschooling back then, I really only knew the Duggars on TV; that was my perception of homeschooling.
And so that wasn’t an option to me, and I knew that private school would be way too expensive, and I didn’t know what it was. And there were many reasons why I felt like I didn’t want her to go there but, ultimately, God really called me.
I started to really pray about it, and a few people approached me and said, “Have you thought about homeschooling?” And I was like, “No, because that’s not something we’re going to do.” And so it really started, though, to chase me down; God started to chase me down. Because I think, deep down, I did sort of admire what I knew about homeschooling, but I just thought, “That’s not for us.”
And so, all of a sudden, it started to appear everywhere. I would run into someone in the grocery store and they’d be like, “Oh, hey how are you? What are you up to? Oh I started homeschooling.” And I’d be like, “Okay.” I’d open a magazine and there’d be an article on homeschooling, I’d see something on TV about homeschooling; it started to really just appear.
And so when I really started to research it, I thought it sounded a great option, but I still felt it wasn’t something for us. But I prayed about it, and here’s where the answer is ‘the who’, it’s who God calls. Because I really felt that when we prayed about it, my husband and I sought scripture, we prayed about it, that God was really calling us to do this.
And I know deep down, 100%, he was calling us; however, sometimes when he calls you to do something, you don’t want to do it. I really knew he was calling us to do it, but I didn’t want to at all. And so, the more I searched the scriptures, the more I knew that this was a calling.
However, we had one more obstacle, my parents, my mother in particular, has always worked in public schooling, and I knew she’d be very upset. And so when I went and finally let them know what we were doing, it was far worse than I ever dreamed. I mean, they almost disowned me, I feel like, over it; I mean, that’s a strong word.
But, in my mind, I thought that would happen; I mean, they were you like, “You will not do this, you will ruin our grandchildren.” And I was like, “I have to do what God’s calling me to do.” And that’s really hard, because I fought with God like, “I know I have to follow you, and I know it says in the scriptures follow you, and not man.”
But these are my parents, we want to please our parents, but I decided to take that leap of faith and do that for that one year when it seemed absolutely crazy, but God was definitely calling me. And I figured, we’ll do it for one year and get it out of my system, and I’ll answer God for one year.
And here we are 13 years later and those very same parents who are so against it, are now our biggest cheerleaders, they are 100% on board, God has completely changed their hearts; but it took about 10 years until they were accepting. And not only accepting, now they’re telling everybody, “My daughter homeschools.”
So I really feel that God called me to homeschool, it was never something about me and my decision, and I have seen how he has worked through this whole situation. I mean forget the schooling part, just in our family, and it’s showing me that when you really follow him, he’s got the whole thing under control.
Yvette: Yeah, I love that story so much. When we started homeschooling it’s so interesting, because our ‘why’ has changed so much; and, Aby, you and I have talked a whole lot about our ‘whys’. But when we very first started, it was because we were fearful of the public school that my daughter would have gone into, and it was more of a … We were fearful for her, physically, to go into this school.
It was not in a great neighborhood, and she just wouldn’t have been safe to go to this school, we felt. And so that was kind of our initial reason, and then we went to a homeschool convention that summer before she was four years old, and we went to this homeschool convention. And we were invited by some friends and we’re like, “Well let’s just check it out.” As matter of fact I remember saying, “You guys have a convention for homeschoolers?” That’s so weird.
Karen: That’s weird.
Yvette: Really weird. And we went, and that weekend alone, the scales just fell from our eyes. And I’m so thankful that the Lord opened our eyes up to what homeschooling is. And the reason that we had said we would never do it was because we had so many misconceptions about what homeschooling was. We believed all the negative stereotypes, I thought, “Well I hated school as a kid.” Saying, “Why would I want to do it more, and then why would I want to homeschool my kids?”
And, I mean, we just had so many good reasons that we thought were good reasons. And we’re so grateful that the Lord changed our hearts about it because now, eight year later, we look back over what God has done, over the past eight years, and our ‘why’ has really changed, like I said.
And now our ‘why’ has really become … Because there’s so much happening in our culture. I mean, I know we all see it, it’s all around us, you can’t ignore it even if you try; and we really believe that revival begins in the home.
And as Christian parents, we have such a great opportunity to be able to speak truth into the hearts of our children. You think of Deuteronomy 6:5-7, and you hear homeschoolers talk about this all the time but, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. And you shall teach them diligently to your children, you shall talk with them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down and when you rise.”
And, basically, what that’s saying is, all day long. All day long you get to do this, you get to speak truth into the heart to your kids, and you get to teach them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.
And so that is why we have continued to homeschool, because it gives us the opportunity to be able to be the ones to shepherd our kids, and disciple them, and train them the way that we feel God has called us to train them.
We’re not perfect, by any means, we screw up all the time, but the great thing about that is that it’s not us doing it, it’s the Lord doing his work through us because we’re simply willing to be obedient to what he’s called us to do; and so it’s good.
I was actually just talking with a friend of mine about this today, and we’re saying it’s great that we’re inadequate, that we feel so ill-equipped to homeschool our kids, because if we felt like we had it all figured out, we wouldn’t need God to come alongside of us and help us fill in all the gaps and help us figure out this homeschooling thing, and this parenting thing, and this marriage thing. God does his work through us, all we have to be willing to do is to just say, “Okay.” And be obedient. So that has become the reason not why we started, but why we continue on this journey of homeschooling. So Aby, how about you?
Aby: Well I actually came from a line of public school teachers, and I was a public school teacher myself. I went to college and was trained to teach in public school. And I taught in both private Christian school and public school for years, and then when I became pregnant with my first, the minute I held that little girl my hand, I realized, “This is my child, this isn’t anybody else’s child.”
And my husband said to me … I was working full time, and so the initial decision was do I come home? And it was a no brainer, he said, “God didn’t give us these kids for someone else to raise.” And so when our first turned five, that truth that he spoke didn’t change, all of a sudden, just because she’s give; it didn’t change that, “Well, now it’s someone else’s turn to raise.”
And it wasn’t that I had a bad experience in the public school, as a teacher, it’s just that I raised 26 other kids, every day, not their parents; and now God gave me my kids and it was my turn to raise my own children.
And so that’s how it started with us and then, like you said, it kind of morphed for you. I truly was passionate about being home with my kids, I know not everybody, it’s not their …. I don’t know how they’re wired, they don’t love it the way I love it, but I love being with my kids.
But then we had to go to God’s Word and say, “There’s got to be more, because I’m sure there’s going to be days where I don’t love changing diapers I’m sure that’s coming.” And so when we went to God’s Word just over, and over, and over it pointed us to, “This is God’s design, this is God’s design.”
Every time God talks about children, he’s talking to the parents, “Train up your children and the way they should go. Teach them when they lie down, and when they get up.” It’s all to the parents. Other than when he was speaking to the disciples, who were trying to keep the children from him, but when he’s talking to the parents he says, “Teach them, and train them.”
And so we just realized this is awesome, we love it, but it’s also God’s plan and his design. And so that’s what’s kept us through the harder times when it hasn’t been all joy, and wonderful, and laughter; but when we’re obedient to God, that’s where the blessings are.
So that’s kind of where we started and I have a story similar to Karen’s that my parents were both educators and when we said, “Homeschool.” They thought, “Weird.” And they just couldn’t wrap their heads around it. They trusted us as parents, but they really had a hard time wrapping their heads around it. But eventually, they’re sold out, they tell everybody, I think [inaudible 00:13:12] sharing about homeschool, and how much they love it and how great it is. So that’s our journey, and that’s our ‘why’ is God’s Word. It’s pretty clear in there that this is what he’s called us to do, and so that’s how we do it.
And another struggle I had is for the ‘who’, who is called to homeschool? So many people say, “Oh, well, you have the college degree to do so,” And, “Oh you have the state certification to do so.” And, honestly, that was my greatest struggle; that was the greatest thing I had to overcome to be a homeschool mom.
Because I was bringing the system into my home, and I had a dear friend say to me one day, “You might as well ship your kids out, and go get a cup of coffee if you’re just going to bring that into your house.” So nowhere in God’s Word does it say that you need a certification, and nowhere does it say that you need to have a college degree to do this. It says that as parents, through him, we’re called to do. So that means everybody, that means every parent that has a child, God will equip to teach and train their children in righteousness.
Karen: And I appreciate you saying that, because I spoke at a homeschool group this week, in fact, and there was a woman there just thinking about homeschooling and she said to me, “But I don’t have a college degree.” That was the first thing she said to me.
Aby: And I say, “Praise the Lord.”
Karen: And I said, I haven’t been asked that question in a long time, but I remember in the early years getting that question a lot. Once in a while when people find out I homeschool they say, “Do you have a degree?” And I was always caught off guard, but I’m like, “But I’m their mom.”
And I remember thinking … And I said to this woman the other day, “Public school training or a trained teacher is completely different, it’s comparing apples and oranges; it’s completely different to what we’re doing at home.”
So we don’t need the college degree. I said, “Plus there’s so much resources, so many things available.” But, honestly, if somebody out there is new to homeschooling, or just thinking about it and they’re thinking, “Well, I can’t, I’m not the person cut out for this because I’m not a teacher.” So grateful you brought that up, 100% encourage them, “Absolutely, you can.”
When I first decided to homeschool, and told my mom, and she said, “You’re not organized enough, you’re not disciplined enough, you weren’t a teacher, you didn’t even like school.” Same thing and, “How are you going to do this?” And I was like, “You know what, let me introduce you to my God-
Because I cannot do this and you’re right, I’m not organized enough, I’m not disciplined enough, I wasn’t a trained teacher; you’re absolutely right, but God is calling me, and he will equip me.” And I have seen, and I feel I can finally say that we’re the end of the road, at least, for my first one instead of saying, “Oh we did it.” I’m like, “He did it.” “He did it, he is faithful, he did it.” So it’s such an exciting time. But I would say anybody out there who’s thinking that they don’t fit the ‘who’ is That they’re not! I mean, I remember thinking the same thing. But looking back over this journey, God is calling you, and he’ll use different circumstances to call each one of us. We’re all in different circumstances, or we all have different reasons but, ultimately, it’s because it’s a calling; I really believe that.
Aby: And like I said, I had to shed that degree. So parents ask me that all the time, or they say “It’s, it’s hard for me.”, or “You can do it, because you have the degree.”
And I say the only thing you need is a love for your kids…
Aby: And a Bible. Honestly, that’s all you need is God’s Word. And the years I have in training, I mean, four years in intensive training to be a teacher, I spent four years on how to fit kids into a box, and then I’d enter the classroom and go, “None of them fit in that box anyway.”
They’re all designed and gifted with different gifts and talents that God has given them, and no amount of training is going to give you the ability to teach that, it’s only going to be, Karen, like you said, by the hand of God, and a love for your own children; knowing and loving your own children.
And you might not be organized, and you might not love to lesson plan, but the reality is that’s the mom that God gave your kids, and those are the kids that God gave you. And so he perfectly meshes those things together, and there’s no piece of paper that any state can ever give you that qualifies you any more than the God who created both us and our children qualifies us; he’s the one that qualifies us.
Yvette: Yeah, and the truth is that there are, like you said Aby, you used to teach in the public school system, and you loved your students. And there are a lot of really good teachers out there in any school; private school, public school, there are some excellent teachers, excellent administrators who really love the Lord.
But nobody knows your kids the way that you do, and no one loves them as much as you do because they’re your kids, and you know them, you know their quirks, you know their gifts, you know their shortcomings, you know the things that they struggle with. And no matter how much a teacher might love them, that teacher cannot take time out of their day with 30 plus students in a classroom to focus on the character of your child; as much as they might want to they just can’t.
And so, as parents we have that great opportunity and privilege that we get to be the ones to train their character and to just care for them, and love them, and raise them up the way that God has created them to be.
And we tell our girls all the time God made them on purpose and for purpose, and God has a great purpose for each one of our children and for us, as well. And so, as parents, part of our purpose, whether you homeschool or don’t, part of our purpose is to train up our children. Well, are you leaving that to someone else to do, or do you get to take that responsibility and do it yourself?
Both of you have already talked about the ‘who’ of homeschooling, and I think that there are so many misconceptions, still, even though homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds, which is really exciting. There still is this misconception that only a certain group, or certain type of person can homeschool.
Maybe they have a certain look, or maybe they have a certain financial status, or whatever that ideal might be in your mind. And the fact of the matter is, God calls all of us to train up our children, and so we all are called to do this. And it’s something that God will give us the ability to do when we allow him.
Aby: And I think we have to say “Yes.”, because God often doesn’t show us how first. We have to show our obedience and our yes before he starts showing us how it’s going to happen.
Aby: Karen’s graduating her first, and I’m sure she didn’t have the whole plan.
Karen: Not at all.
Aby: But she said, “Yes.” And God gave her the steps and that’s how we’re at now is I don’t know the plan. We didn’t even know, financially, how I would come home, but we didn’t need to see God’s blueprint before we said, “Yes.” We said, “Yes” and trusted because he said he will do it. He said he will do it. And so I think I want to encourage parents to say … Don’t wait until you see the 10 year plan or the 18 year plan, and Karen’s great to have because she’s there, she’s at the end that we’re all going for. But she didn’t know the plan from the beginning, she just knew God’s plan and that she would just follow in obedience to that and trusted him.
Karen: And I-
Aby: And it worked, right?
Karen: Oh my goodness, he has blown the doors off our plans, you know what I mean? It was all right we’ll do this will do it maybe for one year and then try it again and again. Did I know that I would have a whole ministry birthed out of homeschooling, or that just our family’s journey? I can’t even wrap my brain around it, but had he told me all that back then, you don’t even really get a glimpse, it’s like, “Just do it.”
This homeschooling journey for us was one of the biggest times in my life, and in my walk with the Lord where I can say that I truly stepped out in obedience, not having a clue what was going on. And I often tell the story how a homeschooling mom had talked to me about homeschooling back then when I was sort of on the fence, I didn’t know anything about it.
And she had me over for lunch, and she kind of told me about homeschooling and then she gave me her kindergarten curriculum that she had hand-me-down from her daughter. And I thought, “Great God told me to do it and now I have a curriculum.”
And I often look back at that, and I laugh, and I wish I had that childlike faith, because I didn’t know there was anything else. I didn’t know there was any other curriculum, it’s just so funny that she gave me this and I was like, “Good we’re ready to go.”
I didn’t research, I didn’t compare online, I didn’t even go online, I didn’t know. There was no Facebook and all that stuff there, wasn’t conventions that I was aware of. And so, once I told somebody, “Oh, we’re using this curriculum because my friend gave it to me.” And she said, “Oh, you are? Did you know there’s others?” I was like, “No, I didn’t.” And then the Christian Book Distributor catalog came.
Yvette: Oh gosh.
Karen: And then the Internet exploded and then I started to… But I look back at that and I’m like … It was like you said, a Bible and God said so. Listen to God and do what he says, right? And that’s what it was, it was like I need to often remind myself over these years of that childlike faith I had. It’s an absolute step of obedience and you do not see the full picture; you’re not supposed to. And I never would have believed it if I seen a full picture.
Aby: Or done it maybe.
Karen: Right, I never would have believed it, I never would have imagined. So, and even as we’ve gotten to the end of these years, at least for my daughter, this year we were not knowing what was going to happen after this year. What happens after homeschooling? Is it college, is that a gap year, is it no college, is a community college? And it was that very same principle I went back to like, “Guess what? We don’t know but God does.”
Karen: And our job is to wait, and to keep seeking him, and he will have the plans unfold. So we often do not, at all, get the full picture. So if you’re out there, and you’re thinking about it, or you’re in the middle of it, and you’re ready to quit-
Karen: Just keep following God-
Aby: Yeah, and “Seek first the kingdom of God.”
Yvette: That’s right.
Karen: Yes, that’s our life verse.
Aby: “And all these things shall be added”
Karen: Yes, he will provide everything-
Karen: And more than you could ever imagine.
Aby: Yeah, for sure.
Yvette: So many great things there’s so much freedom and being willing to just follow what God has called us to do with so. So let’s talk about the ‘how’ of homeschool. And when I say the ‘how’, I don’t mean that let’s show you how to come up with a schedule, and you start at 7:00 in the morning, and you do math for 30 minutes, and then you take a little break.
Because the thing is that we’ve all recognized in our own families, and like you talked about Abby, is that homeschooling is not bringing the classroom into your home. And a lot of parents who are just coming into homeschooling, like we all did, think that that’s what it is.
We think we need to set up the desks, and we need to have our perfect schedule, and we need to make it look like school was as we knew it growing up; because it’s all we know, it’s what makes sense to us and it’s really hard to break out of that mold.
And, there certainly needs to be some sort of structure to your day, but it’s not the classroom in your home. It can’t be, there’s actually not a possible way to do that because life still happens all around schooling. You still have doctor’s appointments, and you have grocery shopping, and you have lunches and dinners to make, and you have sick kids, and there’s so many interruptions; and not bad interruptions, but things that just interrupt our day that we have to learn to work around.
But the great thing is that’s life, and so we’re teaching our kids, at the same time, that we’re educating them academically, we’re teaching them how to deal with life issues. I remember when I got married, I was young, we had just turned 20, and I felt very ill equipped for life; I didn’t quite know what to do.
I remember going to the grocery store and I was like, “I don’t know what kind of meat to buy. I actually don’t know how to purchase meat.” Because I don’t know what to do with it, because my parents always cooked.
And so it’s great, my 13 year old now she can cook a full meal, many of them. I can just say, “Honey, can you go make dinner?” And she won’t go into the kitchen and make a full meal for the whole family, and it’s fan- … I could never have done that at 13.
And so when we talk about the ‘how’ of homeschooling, what have you found with your families, what is your kind of … How does it roll with you?
Karen: I would say exactly what you just said, we’re not teaching for a test, we’re teaching for real life; and I always feel I just want my kids to be equipped for life. And we have done it all over the years from trying to schedule in 15 minute increments, trying to stay up with all that to, “Let’s have no schedule.”
And, in the end, it’s always been just what works for us is a happy medium. Having a outline of our day, but knowing … so important to know that life is part of the curriculum. Every year, especially at this time of the year, homeschooling families … Whenever I speak at this time of the year and I bring this up, they all start cracking up because they know it’s true.
Every year, this time of the year, every homeschool mom is like, “That’s it, this year is done, this year is over, it’s a wash, I’m dead, burned out. But next year is the year when we get it all together.”
And I’m like, “Guess what? Thirteen years haven’t got it all together, there has not been a perfect year yet.” Every year something has happened, whether it was job loss, or one year we had five deaths in those same amount of months; I mean it was a horrible year.
We’ve had great things happen, birth of babies, we’ve had family emergencies, we had so many things to deal with, but yet I feel like you said, our kids have seen how to live life by being immersed in life. People would say to me early on, “Well, how are your kids going to be prepared for the real world?” I’m like, “They’re in the real world every single day.” Right? It’s an immersion classroom.
When we moved, they learned about mortgages, and inspections. They knew more and they know more now, like you said, than I ever, ever did as a young adult or a teenager. And so, the curriculum is, I believe, so secondary, I believe God will work with whatever you choose as long as you’re following him.
And you have to choose a schedule, and a rhythm that works for your family; but, ultimately, it goes back to what we said before it’s all about following God. And not relying on curriculum, not relying on a style, not relying on a method of homeschooling to make your homeschool successful; it’s merely relying on God.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right.
Karen: And he will work no matter what you choose, no matter what style, what method. If I had used that little kindergarten curriculum that somebody gave me, the point is if we’re following God, we cannot go wrong.
Yvette: Yeah, right.
Karen: And that’s how to homeschool. Follow God. Do what he says.
Aby: And I think God already has a path laid out for kids. I mean his word says that he has a plan for them, a plan for good and not evil. And I think sometimes as moms, we carry that weight like, “I cannot miss fractions.” I just realized my daughter, the other day, I’m like, “You are not on top of fractions the way I thought you were.”
And it’s we carry that weight, they have to have every standardized … And I know new moms come in feeling like, “How am I going to do it all?” I think we give ourselves more credit than we should, it’s “God has a plan for my kids, and if I miss something that’s not going to derail God’s plan for my kids.”
He says, “Seek first the kingdom of God.” And as long as my kids are pointed to Christ, ff they never learned fractions under my home, and I’m not suggesting that, but if they don’t and God has a plan for them that includes fractions, he’s going to give them what they need. And I think sometimes our pride sneaks in to say, “Well I have to do this, and I can do this, and it’s up to me.”
And we carry that which leads to anxiety and that really is pride that says, “I can either make or break my kids.” And as long as we are obeying God’s Word, which really it doesn’t talk about math and language, it talks about his word and teaching and training in righteousness. As long as we’re doing that, he’s going to add all those other things into it.
Aby: So as you said, if we use the worst curriculum out there, God can still use that; he’s God for crying out loud, he’s God can use anything. And so it isn’t this debate of the different kinds of schooling, the different kinds of curriculum. As long as we’re focused on where we need to be focused on, and trust our children, and my husband always tells me, “As much as you love your kids, God loves them more, and he has a plan for them, and they’re going to succeed at whatever he has planned for them, which might be different than our thoughts, as long as they’re speaking him.” So that takes a lot of weight off of our shoulders as a mom too. To just be able to breathe and say, “Today we’re going to spend today together, we’re going to get done what we can get done, but we’re going to do life together and glorify God and, and there will be fruit in that.”
Yvette: Absolutely. Karen, I would love for you to talk on that because, I love everything Aby just said, and we’re talking about how, even if we had just God’s Word it would be enough. Talk about the year that you use the Bible as your core curriculum.
Karen: Yes, there was one year in our homeschool were, again, just the calling of homeschooling, I felt that God was calling me, for that year, to just put the curriculum aside and just study everything out of his word. And so we did language arts, science, history, everything except math, we did have separate math, I always have to say that because I don’t trust myself with the math. But we did everything from the Bible, so I put together a plan, which wasn’t comfortable for me, because I’m more of ‘write it down’ after we did it and then plan out the whole … But I did, I made a plan of how this would look. And I thought to myself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can’t possibly ruin my children if we’re in the Bible six hours a day, and we’re basing all of our studies off of God’s Word. Because he’s the creator of history, he’s the creator of science.” And we even did supplement some math in there.
So we did that for one year, it was our most amazing year ever, and it was also the year that my husband lost his job, and now he’s self-employed. So it was, at the time, going from that, “Okay, now you’ve lost your job, and we’re going to take this leap of faith and start our own family business.”
And wouldn’t that God knew,. It’s so amazing when I look back at that, because God knew we would need to be in his word, as a family, more than ever; that was such a difficult year. And we started in September, he lost his job in October, and we didn’t make the decision for our family business till March.
So, in that time frame we were like, “We don’t know what we’re going to do.” But here we were in the Bible every single day and guess what? I didn’t spend any extra money on curriculum that year, God knew; he even provided financially. I hadn’t purchased all the stuff I wasn’t going to end up using and wasted any money on curriculum.
We merely used the Bible, we brought in other supplements from the library, and DVDs, and things that; but we did not use any other curriculum. So I do have a course coming up that I’m outlining that because, over the years, that is one thing that I have been asked so much about is how we did this.
And it was the most amazing year, we don’t do it anymore, we don’t have the Bible as our main textbook, we have since used curriculum; however, the Bible is always, always the foundation of everything that we do.
Yvette: Yeah, that is so fantastic. We often have talked about the academics of homeschooling, and we’ve told our girls, “It’s not about the academics, but you have to understand the things that you need to be taught.” Because math is one that people say, “Well, how can you tie that into math?” Well simple because God is a God of order, not chaos, and God created math. He made it to make sense.
Karen: I love that you see God in math because it’s absolute, right?
Yvette: You’re so right.
Karen: “because two plus two is always four.” I tell my kids. Just like God is always God, and His Word is always true.
Yvette: That’s right.
Karen: You can’t change it.
Yvette: He made it. The same with science, if you’re being taught science that is an opposition to God and his word, and you’re learning the lies of the world, it’s not pointing you towards Christ. And so with our kids, “Well, you have to learn the basics of science, you don’t have to be a scientist-
Yvette: But you have to learn the basics of science because science helps you to see the glorious creation of our great God.” I mean it’s just amazing, you cannot look at any part of science, whether it’s the universe, or the human body, or animals, or anything, you can’t look at that and just think, “Yeah, yeah, it all just came about by chance.”
And so, science points our kids to Christ, if you’re teaching them science, according to God’s Word. History is the same way, “In the beginning God created.” And that’s what I love about you having used the Bible as your core curriculum because you start in the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That was the beginning of time. And so when we teach history, you teach it from the beginning of time because, again, it helps to point our kids towards their Creator. And when kids understand who their Creator is, that they were made by their loving creator for a purpose, it changes everything.
We’ve been talking so much about what’s going on in the culture right now, and you think about all the things that are going on and you think about, the abortion Holocaust; that’s going on. And all the insanity of what people are believing to be true, and you think about those people, it’s because they don’t understand their purpose. And even the men and women who are making these decisions in our culture right now, it’s because they don’t understand their purpose.
And it’s because they haven’t been taught that, or maybe they have been taught and they have chosen to reject it, for some reason. But I think that homeschooling is such an integral part of the revival that is coming about in our nation, and that is needed in our nation and in our world.
Because, again, we talked about this at the beginning of this, is that revival begins in the home; it has to begin with parents. Whether you have your kids in school, or homeschool them, or whatever revival has to begin at home, you have to speak truth into the hearts of your kids; it’s just a whole lot easier to do it when you’re homeschooling.
Yvette: It’s almost impossible to do it when they’re in a setting that is teaching them everything that’s contrary to the Word of God, and then having to try to undo that at the end of the day. And there is a revival that’s going on, and it’s very exciting to see it happen. People are waking up, the scales are falling from people’s eyes, and homeschooling is part of that revival, for sure. I’m absolutely certain of it, you see it I see it, people around the globe are seeing it; and so, it’s a neat place to be, it’s a neat time to be homeschooling our kids.
Aby: And there’s going to be a change and a shift, and more people are staying, I think that’s why homeschooling is becoming a thing is we’re seeing it. And we were looking at our door the other day and there were some deer just right out on our street, and there never used to be deer here because we’ve gotten so much snow, historically, that they migrate out.
And the younger generations learn to migrate because the older generations, year after year, they teach them they have their new fawn, they migrate out. Well we had a few dry years where there wasn’t snow, and so these animals … The older generations did not, they didn’t migrate out so the younger generations never learned how to get out of this incredibly snowy place where they’re, starving, they’re being slaughtered by predators.
And as we were looking at this deer we thought it’s due to several generations of not teaching them and showing them the way to safety, and now they’re trapped, and they’re stuck, and they’re being slaughtered left and right in this valley because there’s there’s too much snow they can’t get out now; they’re they’re stuck and they’re trapped.
Karen: That’s an amazing picture.
Aby: And we we’re just thinking … And that’s God’s creation; there’s your science!
Aby: That’s your biology, that’s God’s creation. God designed the older generations of these deer to teach and train these younger ones to migrate out of danger, how to get out of danger in hunting season.
And because that hasn’t been happening, this is where we’re at and we thought with our kids, we’ve had several generations … I mean, it used to be in the schools you hear grandparents say, “Well, schools never were as bad as they are now.” And then the next generation, “Oh, they’re so horrible now they’re teaching transgenderism.” And if we’ve lost this generational hand-down of God’s truth and, at this point, in our generation we have, I believe, no other option but to bring our children home.
Because there is a disconnect between what’s being taught them, and they are being trapped and they’re being led to slaughter; if we don’t get them home and be the older generation that teaches and trains them, the way to safety. So, even that, there was our science lesson. God shows himself in his creation all around us all the time. So we are called to teach and train our kids, otherwise we’re allowing them to be led to a slaughterhouse, essentially.
Karen: That is a great picture!
Yvette: Yes, it is. I want to talk really quickly about husbands, because there may be some husbands who are watching this; I’m assuming if they are they’re watching it maybe with their wives. But I would love for the three of us to maybe talk about how our husbands have encouraged us in this homeschool journey, because that’s such an important part.
I think, oftentimes, husbands don’t realize how very, critically important their role is as homeschool dad; even if they’re not the ones who are in the day-to-day academic part of it. And so, can you guys talk a little bit about, for yourselves, how your husband’s have supported and encouraged you?
Karen: Well, I feel very blessed because Steve, right from the beginning, when I had this little idea he was totally on board and he knew as little as I did. But he was like, “Sure.” He’s very laid back, so he’s just like, “Sure, if that’s what you want to do, we’ll try it.” So he’s always been supportive, so I appreciate that because I know it’s not always the case.
But, I think, when he came home from a traditional work place, and we have our own business, he has been involved in the kid’s education so much; but not at all with the curriculum or the textbooks. Just with teaching them, spending time with them, teaching them life, and he’s a very hands on, we’re a very together family.
So I think just the building of relationships; so important, way beyond the academic stuff. And he’s been involved in all of that relationship building, and just teaching real life. We live out here on our little hobby farm, and teaching the boys the animals, and the garden, and they do everything together, and building things; and all of that is education.
That is not the typical homeschooling curriculum but, like I said, life is the curriculum. So he’s very involved and, like I said, I’m very grateful, because I know that’s not always the case. I’ll have families come to me and say, “Well my husband isn’t on board and that’s difficult.”
But if your husband, if they work outside the home, and their schedule is busy, they can still be teaching so much; like I said, the stuff that’s even more important generally. They can still be teaching just by building that relationship.
We do our family Bible time every evening together, and that’s so important to us because, as I have these teenagers, they’re the ones that say to us after dinner, “When are we doing Bible? When’s Bible?” It’s so ingrained in them that this is what we do at night. And so, it’s a training that takes place over a long period of time, but never underestimate the power of a father, and a father who loves the Lord.
Aby: My husband was homeschooled for part of his education, so he was onboard from the beginning. And a little bit like, “This is what we’re doing with our children, so figure it out.” So true, which is really a huge blessing.
So he’s 100% on board, which is helpful when we waver, and I’m sure I’m not the only mom that sometimes is like, “Ah.” But he’s there and he’s the rock, and that’s huge. It’s huge for my kids to see that their dad’s sold out on this, and that this is what he knows is best for his family and he leads us in that direction.
So I’m very grateful and blessed that we’re in it together. Different families look different, my husband doesn’t do the math, the language, that whole bit, he really trusts me. And then sometimes I’ll be like, “What do you think of these two curriculums?” And he’s like, “Yeah, you got this. [inaudible 00:42:40] I can pray for you, I will pray for you.”
But some families the dad’s do a lot of the … I have a friend and the dad does the math, and that’s just how they work, so it looks different; and that’s the beauty of homeschool is that it looks different.
My husband’s very all hands on deck very, very involved. But I do want to speak to the moms that don’t have that. I have a very dear friend and her husband is not a believer either, and it’s very discouraging for her because you already, somewhat, feel alone sometimes in what we do.
And so she feels even more alone and I constantly encourage her and say, “You have an opportunity to lean on God in such a different way than a lot of people. And he is the godly father for your children and he is your husband and supporting you of this.” And that’s not to say that because you don’t have a husband that’s on board, and one of the greatest things I tell her is, “He’s letting you do this. He’s okay with you doing this, and that’s huge, and praise God for that.” So I’m very grateful I’m very blessed that my husband loves the Lord, above all, and wants to teach and train our kids in his word; but I know that’s not the case with everyone and that does not mean that it’s not doable.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. And there are many husbands who are not on-board with homeschooling, they don’t want their wives to do it, and as hard as it is to say this, I would say if that’s the case, then honor your husband.
Yvette: If your husband is not on board and he is non supportive, then be respectful of him, because he still is the head of your household. And so I would respect that.
Aby: And entrust your children to the Lord.
Yvette: That’s right.
Aby: Trust that God will protect your children.
Yvette: That’s right, that’s exactly right and he will if you’re faithful. And that doesn’t mean that you still won’t have opportunities to teach them the truth of God’s Word, and to instill Godly character traits into them; because there’s always opportunities to do that.
And then there may be some who don’t have a husband, they’re a single mom for whatever reason. And like you said, Aby, just allow God to fill that gap. Allow God to fill that that role of husband, and he will be the one, and find an older gentleman … maybe your pastor, or your dad, or another Godly man to come alongside of you, and pray for you, and pray with you, and encourage you in this endeavor to homeschool. And God will provide, he will be faithful in those things. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but he will be faithful in doing those things.
And yeah, and just like the both of you talked about, I’m grateful to have a husband who encourages me and we, from the beginning, we both together had said we would never homeschool. We used to joke about it, we’d say “We’d never, ever, ever do that to our kids or to ourselves.”
Karen: And now you’re making a movie.
Yvette: And now we’re making a move about it, directed by my husband; God has a sense of humor. But once, the Lord changed our hearts and, thankfully, he changed them together, I think it would have been really hard if my heart had been changed and not my husband’s, or the other way around.
But, thankfully, we went to that convention together that first year and God just said, “No, here you go, this is what you’re going to do.” And the same with you, Garret does not have a whole lot to do with the decisions about curriculum or anything that; he trusts me with that.
But he leads our family spiritually really well, I mean, every day we have our family Bible time, and he spends time teaching our kids the Word of God and praying with them; and it’s such a beautiful thing to see. And he’s committed to that, and I heard a pastor actually one of the gentlemen that we filmed for the movie, his name is Scott LaPierre, and he said, “Oftentimes, men will come to him to him and say, ‘I really don’t know a lot about the Bible, I don’t know how to lead my family spiritually’.”
And he says, “If you can read, you can read God’s Word. It doesn’t take more than that you don’t have to be a Bible scholar to be able to lead your family spiritually, you have to be willing to just open it up and read it.” And for goodness sake, even if you can’t read, you can listen to an audio version! So God is faithful though. I want to talk about two more things, really quickly, before we end. I want you each to tell about what your very favorite thing is about homeschooling.
Karen: I would say the family time, and the fact that we have … Now that I said we’re graduating one, and we have these three teenagers, and then my 10 year old, there’s nothing that can replace the amount of time we’ve spent together. And the fact that we can take trips whenever we want, when I go speaking, and I bring them all with me.
And the time, and seeing their relationships, I crack up every night because they’re in our room till the latest hours of night, and I’m like, “Get out of my room.” My husband and I, we’re like “Get out.” And then I look at him and I’m like, “Do you understand she’s 18 and doesn’t want to leave our room?” I mean, when I was 18, the last place I wanted to be was in daddy’s room at 11:30 at night.
Karen: So it’s just that we have so much fun together, especially now that they’re older. Some moms a little ones out there, I promise you it gets better. But having these fun people, and seeing that, it’s because I believe the amount of time we’ve spent together … And not that it was always joyful, there was horrible times, good times, but because we did it together, and we relied on God, and when we messed up, we went back to God. And so, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Harvard, nothing academically, nothing at all could compare to having the relationships that we have built between and, like you said, we’re not perfect, we have our moments, we have our disputes. But when all is said and done, we are so close. it’s been a good thing; this is why we do it. So that these relationships, and so that we know that we have done our job to pass down our faith to the next generation, who then will pass that down to the next generation.
And not just those generations, but all those people they come in contact with; the effect is huge just teaching these four children. Because they’re going to teach the next generation, and the next generation, and everybody those people come into contact; it’s huge.
Yvette: Yeah, the ripple effect.
Karen: Yeah, there’s nothing that I would ever compare; that, to me, is the reason. It has nothing to do like, “Oh we learned this great lesson, or these academics.” It’s all about the relationships; that’s been my very favorite thing.
Aby: I would say, I mean, the very same thing relationships. And I’ve learned … You know that saying, “The days are long but the years are short when they’re really little.” And now that we’re further along in this, I’m realizing how fast it goes.
I mean, I’m going to blink and those kids will, Karen you see; they’re graduating. And I just think we have 18 years with them under our roof. I think how devastating to me to send them out for half of that, to cut that time in half, because I love spending time with my kids, I love getting to know them and who God made them, and they’re just everything about who God has designed them to be. And if I had to share those 18 years with somebody else, and send them out of my home for half that time, there’s no way I want to cut that time in half.
So, the relationships, the freedom of being able to … I mean, I love that when dad gets home early, we’re done. We go as a family, and just being able to do what God has called our family to do, and not be dependent upon another system’s schedules, and ideals of what we should be doing; I love that. And also too, I love being able to teach to who my kids are.
And that’s something that was really hard to do … Well was impossible to do as a public school teacher is I had to teach this and, hopefully, they fit in this. But I love how different God made my kids, and being able to teach them according to those things; that has been such a joy to do. And, again, pass down … I mean, big picture passed down who God it to my kids and know that they’re going to pass that down. So I think it’s kind of the same for all of us most likely.
Yvette: Yeah, well I’m going to piggyback on that from both of you and say it’s hands down, it’s the same thing. I told you Garrett and I said we would never, ever homeschool our kids and, one of the reasons that I, foolishly, thought that was because I used to think, “Why would I be around my kids all day every day?” I always thought that.
And the ironic thing about that is it took us almost 11 years to have our first daughter, and I desperately wanted to be a mom; I mean, all I ever wanted growing up was to be a wife and a mom. I got married young, and then it took 11 years to have our first, and I so desperately wanted this child.
And then I had her, and I remember she was maybe about three months old or so, and I remember one day just holding her and it was this moment where she locked eyes with me, and there was something about that moment where just my deep love for her was so real; like it almost hurt, that almost painful mom love where you’re just like, “I can’t even imagine loving another human being as much as I love this child.” That I waited for her so … Whether you waited or not, but this child that you hold in your arms and you just love them with such a deep love.
And then I would think, “But I don’t want to be around her all day every day, that would annoy me.” And then it came time to think about school, and that was one of the things that started leading us towards homeschooling is because I thought, “I genuinely love being with her.”
And I was recently talking to a mom who was saying, “It would drive me crazy to be around my kids all day every day.” And if you think about that, if you’re not around your kid all day, and they’re being raised by someone else, and they’re being instructed by someone else, they are not going to behave according to your standards, because they’re not with you, they’re with someone else most of the time. Most of their waking hours, they’re under the supervision and care of someone else, so they’re not going to be trained to the way that you’re going to train them.
Yeah. And so when we have them all the time, we get to train them. It doesn’t that mean it’s easy, I mean, we all deal with discipline, but we get to train them the way that we feel God has called us to train them, according to His Word. And so they become a delight, they’re fun, most of the time. I mean, you’ve got your moments…
Karen: Even at 11:30 at night.
Yvette: Even at 11:30 at night. But it’s such a delight. And I know for myself, if we have to take a trip apart from our girls, or even sometimes, honestly, if I’m gone for a few hours, I miss them. Because it’s almost like I feel like I’m missing a limb or something. And I truly enjoy being with my kids and the relationship that it allows me, because we homeschool them and we get to have them home with us; it is so much fun.
Karen: And it does take time, like you said, to cultivate that. If we’re sending them out, and it’s starting at six weeks that they’re outside of the home, and I’m living my life at my job, they’re at their daycare, and they’re at their school out, and we’re not cultivating that relationship. So then it does become difficult to build those bonds and, honestly, those bonds might not even be there. So it does feel like maybe you’re living with strangers, because you spend so much apart.
So that is a really good point. And so we do need to cultivate that by being together.
Yvette: Yeah, and even the sibling relationships that are formed between them. And, again, I mean there’s still going to be squabbles between siblings. It’s different, my girls have such a bond, they’re almost five years apart, and they have a bond with each other that is undeniable. And it’s really neat to see them because I never had a connection with my sister, I love my sister, but I never, ever had a connection or friendship with her like my girls have with one another. And so I love that they get to be each other’s best friends, I mean, and we told them early on, “You’d better learn to each other because you’re kind of all each other has.”
And they have other friends and stuff, but on a day-to-day basis, its them; and so, it’s such a blessing. So okay we have just, literally, a couple more minutes and I just want to end with an encouragement; and I want to encourage two different moms.
So first, let’s encourage the mom who’s maybe thinking about homeschooling, and she’s just not sure if this is the right thing for her. And then encourage the mom who’s in the middle of it, and she’s feeling discouraged, and just maybe ready to give up. So what would you say to those two different moms? Aby, let’s start this one with you.
Aby: Okay, the first mom that’s thinking about it, I say just do it; just hop in and do it. I think there’s a lot of moms that have three year olds, I’ve had three this week and their oldest is three and they say, “Can I meet to go over curriculum with you?” And I say, “Three? No, but you can meet and let’s talk, let’s pray, and let’s get our ‘why’ at least down. And let’s talk about what God’s plan is for you as a mom.”
And so I would say to them, “Don’t sweat the schooling, build the character, build the relationships, invest in the lives that God has given you to invest in. And above all, be obedient to God in what he’s called you, because I guarantee you when you’re obedient, he will give you all you need to do it, and you’ll be beyond blessed.”
And for the mom that’s in the midst of it, that’s tired, I’d say, “We’ve all been there, we’ve all been there, you’re not alone.” And probably the greatest encouragement I would say is, “Step back from the school.” Again, “Step back from this idea of school, and go enjoy your kids, go breathe life into your kids, go build those relationships, cultivate that unity and that bond. And pray that God would ignite the passion that started you there, and remember back.” It’s really fun for the three of us to tell our stories, I really enjoyed this because it reminds us where this all came from and what God put in us to do this. So go back and remember what God told you to do, and remember that he’ll do it through you, if you lay your life down.
Karen: I would say for the mom just starting out, just pray, pray, pray, and if God calls you to it, he will equip you. Echoing what everybody said, just do it, he will not fail you.
But you have to seek him. I would say, “Don’t listen to anybody else but him.” I say this when I speak, “Don’t listen to me, listen to God. This isn’t what Karen says to do. Hopefully, God will use me to encourage but, ultimately, this is between you and God.”
And so really try to drown out the other voices, which is so important, so that you can hear God’s voice. We live in a very noisy world, and everybody’s trying to say how to do it and what to do. So, this is between you and God, this is a personal decision, pray and Matthew 6:33 like we’ve been saying, “Seek mim first.” And then just do it.
I don’t want to tell you what to do, but I truly believe though that if God is calling somebody, you do need to just take that step of faith, and put the fear aside. Because if I had listened to fear, I cannot even imagine how different our life would be right now.
Because there was tons of fear, and then that would bring me to, if you’re in the middle of it, again, keep walking in that faith, don’t listen to that fear. And remember that homeschooling is a mission field, your children are your mission. And no missionary goes out on the mission field and it says like, “This is going to be so easy, and comfortable, and safe, and I can’t wait, it’s going to be so easy.”
Any missionary has difficulty and has to rely on God and sometimes it’s dangerous, and sometimes it’s uncomfortable, and it’s the same thing; nothing worth doing is going to be easy. So when it gets hard, does not mean it’s not working; in fact, that’s when God is working.
So if it’s hard, don’t throw in the towel and say this is too hard say, “Wow what does God want to do through this?” Because I can look back on all the years I did look at the school one year, the local private school the year that I thought, “I can’t do this anymore.”
And, thankfully, like you said before Aby, you look back and say, “Wait, God called me to this, he will equip me.” So really remembering what he’s done, but there’s been many times where I wanted to throw in the towel, and you always have to remember that it’s not going to be easy and, in fact, that is where the most work will happen.
Karen: And when you get through it on the other side, and you look back and you realize this was God’s plan; it’s amazing. So, I would say to the person starting out and the person in the middle, don’t rely on yourself; just fully rely on God.
Yvette: Yes, amen. And I agree completely, do it scared! I think that’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever heard is, “If you’re afraid to jump on this homeschooling train, jump on any way, do it scared.” And have people come alongside of you who can encourage you, there are lots of things.
Karen you have a podcast, I have a podcast, there are lots of great podcasts out there, there’s a lot of good … There’re YouTube videos, there are a ton of good books. Karen, I know you’ve written several books, and we’ll actually at the very end, again, repeat where people can find you.
There are so many great resources out there and, like you said, it can be noisy, and there’s a lot out there. But find somebody … hopefully someone who’s local who can actually come alongside of you physically and pray with you and help walk you through this.
And if you don’t have that, I mean, there are places in the country that don’t have that, I’m aware of that. Find people through podcasts, or books, or online. I say that with hesitation because you can get a lot of really bad advice on Facebook, believe it or not; not everything you hear on Facebook is true!
Karen: But if you are listening to God, you’re able to discern.
That’s what I always say. If you’re in the Word, and you have a good relationship with God, then you’re able to discern all those voices.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right, and seek out wisdom. Our family, right now, is reading through Psalms and we often read through Proverbs, and we’ve actually been reading Psalm 8 and it’s all about wisdom. And so go read Psalm 8, and go read the book of James and if we asked for wisdom, God will give it to us; and so do it scared.
And then, again, for that mom who’s in the midst of it, just keep on. If you need to take a break, take a break; it’s okay. It’s better to take a break, even if you have to take a break for the rest of the year.
Take a break, it’s better to do that than it is to give up completely and put them in a system that’s going to teach them everything that you don’t want them to learn. So those would be my two encouragements.
Karen where can people find you?
Karen: You can find me at SimplyLivingForHim.com, which where also you can find the podcast there, the podcast is available on all the podcast streaming apps, you can find my books there. In just a few weeks, we are releasing the Bible-based homeschooling e-Course.
You can actually find some resources for the Christian homeschooling family at biblebasedhomeschooling.com, that is my other website. But if you come to Simply Living for Him, or you can follow me over there on Instagram or Facebook page, I have a lot of interaction with my audience; I would love to see you there.
“In the early days, the Attorney General of Texas said he didn’t believe parents were qualified to raise their kids, much less teach them at home, and we had a class action suit in Texas where we sued the state. We won, the state appealed that decision. So it was almost a 10 year legal battle in the courts. And of course, during that time, homeschoolers were prosecuted in Texas under the compulsory attendance statute. We eventually won that class action suit, but I realize, and I tell people I am slow, but I’m not stupid. Eventually, someplace along the line, I realized that we lived in a culture that did not respect parents and that if we didn’t get involved to participate in the public policy process, that people like Jim Maddox, who said he didn’t believe parents were qualified to raise their kids, would be making policy and law that would directly impact what I believed God was calling me to do, whether or not that was acceptable by the state.” – Tim Lambert, THSC
Yvette Hampton: Tim Lambert is the President of the Texas Home School Coalition, a huge organization of homeschool leaders who come together to support homeschooling in Texas.
Over the past several months, we have become very excited about and very aware of what the different state homeschool organizations are doing around the country. It’s been a blessing to meet many of these leaders and learn about the ministries that they have, serving homeschool families in each state. In this interview, I talk with Tim Lambert about what he and his organization are doing to protect the rights of homeschoolers in Texas and to promote homeschooling in general.
Hi Tim, It’s good to talk with you. Could you introduce us to your family and tell us how many kids you have and how long you’ve been in this homeschool world.
Tim Lambert: Sure. My wife and I have been married for about 42 years and we have four children, two boys and two girls. They’re in their 40’s to 30’s and we have seven grandkids and they all are homeschooled. We’re very excited about where the Lord has us and we’re kind of laying the foundation for the next generation. So we’re happy to be where you are.
Yvette: Yes, well it is great to have you where you are because you’ve been in this for quite some time. You started homeschooling back in the ’80’s, right?
Tim: That is correct. Yeah, we homeschool dads always say, “We homeschool,” but we all know that our wives do the heavy lifting, but it’s still a cooperative effort.
Yvette: It absolutely is, and actually later on in the show I would love for you to talk to some of the dads, those homeschool dads who need encouragement as much as the moms do. Tell us why you got into homeschooling in the first place.
Tim: You know, my story’s a little bit different. A lot of the stories that I hear from dads is mom usually gets the vision and she’s the one that goes to dad, and her husband says, “I really think we ought to do this.” But I was in sales and traveling a lot and I heard a Focus on the Family program with James Dobson about homeschooling and I came home and said, “Honey, this is a great thing. We really should homeschool.” And she looked at me and she said, “We?”
So we began to look at that option. Our oldest son has a November birthday, so he was one of those kids that we struggled with. We were told, “You shouldn’t put him in a younger-” So he was academically progressed so we had a wonderful Christian woman who had taught in the public schools for 30 years and private Christian schools for 10, and a friend of ours at church got a small group, so he was in a little group of four or five kids for his kindergarten and first grade year, and so by that time he was first grade age and was doing second grade work.
So the Lord kind of backed us in because all the Christian schools basically that you either repeated the coursework with your age group or you went ahead. So because of that circumstance, I think we were open to exploring homeschooling and we began to do that and we said, “You know, we’ll just do this for a year,” and we did it for another year, and before long it was a lifestyle, and helped start our local support group back in 1984, and got associated with the state organization in 1986. I became the executive director in 1990. So it’s been a long, fun road.
Yvette: Yeah. So there already was a state organization in place when you started.
Tim: Yes, that is correct. So the state organization was established by a couple who are both attorneys and they were kind of the grand masters of homeschooling and they fought. In the early days in Texas, the Attorney General said homeschooling was illegal and people would be prosecuted, so it was a very negative environment. They led the organization in those formative years and I came in in 1990 and became the executive director. We started with a Mac computer and a phone line and our kids were our staff. We’ve grown from there.
Yvette: Nice. Did you ever get into any kind of legal trouble? How did you handle that with your family?
Tim: We were prepared. We spent almost all of our group meetings in the beginning, we talked about what the law was and how to avoid these problems. There were a lot of people in those days who didn’t let their kids go out in the yard until after 3:00. But I’ve always been kind of an assertive person so we always had a plan. Our plan in those days was if somebody came to the door, then Lindsey was to not answer the door, and after they left, she would get in the car and head to New Mexico, and when she got there, 100 miles away, she would call me. That was, of course, before cell phones and that kind of stuff.
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So we were prepared for that and I kind of led locally and talked to the local superintendent and those sorts of things. Later, as I became the executive director, we took that leadership to the state level.
Yvette: I can’t even imagine, being in the time that we’re in today with homeschooling and the freedom that we have, and not just the legal freedom that we have, but the way that it’s accepted in society, it’s hard for me to imagine living in a time like that, which was not that long ago. I mean, that was when I was a child. I’m 44 years old and so that was my childhood. We knew just a couple people homeschooling at that time, but today, I take my kids out all the time, and not only do we not get in trouble for it, I cannot believe how many times people will say, “Oh, did you have the day off of school today?” And my girls will say, “No, we’re homeschooled.” And they’ll say, “Oh, you’re so lucky.”
That is almost always the response that we get is that people say, “Wow, that’s great. If I could have homeschooled my kids, I would have,” or, “I would homeschool my kids but I don’t have the patience for it,” and that’s a whole different topic. Because then I want to say, “Oh, well, I don’t either, but God gives it to me.” But it’s amazing to think back that it was just not that long ago that it was a really different time.
Tim: Yes, and part of our mission is to help homeschoolers remember that history. One of the homeschool pioneers in Texas just passed away recently and so she’s been commemorated, but we recognize that we have a 501c3 education organization and a 501c3 for our advocacy organization and a political action committee, so we work in the political arena and the legislature because we have to protect our freedom, but we also try to help the homeschool community know our history. Because if we’re not vigilant and proactive, we could lose that freedom.
Yvette: That’s right.
Tim: There’s a lot of opposition today across the country, and so that’s part of our mission is to help cast the vision, not only for the freedom that we do have, but help people understand how we got here.
Yvette: Right. So, okay, then let’s talk to those parents who don’t know all of the history. I mean, you gave a brief explanation of it, but who don’t know all of the history and what dangers might be lurking ahead for homeschoolers today.
Tim: In the early days, the Attorney General of Texas said he didn’t believe parents were qualified to raise their kids, much less teach them at home, and we had a class action suit in Texas where we sued the state. We won, the state appealed that decision. So it was almost a 10 year legal battle in the courts. And of course, during that time, homeschoolers were prosecuted in Texas under the compulsory attendance statute. We eventually won that class action suit, but I realize, and I tell people I am slow, but I’m not stupid. Eventually, someplace along the line, I realized that we lived in a culture that did not respect parents and that if we didn’t get involved to participate in the public policy process, that people like Jim Maddox, who said he didn’t believe parents were qualified to raise their kids, would be making policy and law that would directly impact what I believed God was calling me to do, whether or not that was acceptable by the state.
So we talk to new homeschoolers like you do and the mom’s eyes are glazed over and she just wants to talk about learning styles and how you choose curriculum and how do you organize your day and those sort of things, and I like to talk to the dads and basically say, “It’s our responsibility as husbands and fathers to know what the law is, be prepared.” We’ve pretty much won the battle with the school districts and the truancy officers, but CPS is a real problem for us today.
Of course, as you probably, I’m sure, are aware, there’s been a real national movement over the last year and a half of groups that are highlighting news stories of families that abuse their kids or whatever and say, “This is why we need to regulate homeschoolers.” And I’ve been blogging about that for a year and pushing back to let some of the major newspapers in Texas last spring call for the state to regulate homeschooling, saying that we had too much freedom. I’m happy to say our legislature’s in session and nobody filed that kind of bill.
But our focus today, legislatively, is to reform CPS and protect parents. We have probably as many as two dozen families a year that are members of our association that are contacted by CPS and investigated. We have legal counsel on staff to handle those situations.
So we celebrate our freedom. God gave us a great victory and he’s given us freedom, but we recognize that we have responsibility to maintain that freedom, and that means we need to be informed, we need to know what the law is as individual families so we know how to react. If CPS comes to the door, we field lots and lots of questions that people have every year, and then to participate in electing godly leaders that will help us protect that freedom at the legislative level.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right. Then talk to parents and tell them how can they help to support what you’re doing? Because I think oftentimes, and this was the case with myself, I didn’t really understand. We’re from California and so CHEA, the Christian Home Educators Association, they were kind of our state covering, and I didn’t even understand when we started homeschooling, I mean, several years into it, who they were, what they did, why they existed, and why they were important to me personally as a homeschool parent. So can you talk to the parent who’s listening to this who maybe just doesn’t understand what state organizations are and how they can get involved in protecting their own freedom to homeschool?
Tim: Sure. So every state, we go to some national meets every year, mostly Christian homeschool leaders, and every state has an organization and we all developed back in the 80’s. In those early days, we didn’t just have legal problems, but curriculum providers wouldn’t sell to us. So you had a problem of finding resources and that sort of thing, and so every state has an organization that was established, and in the early days we did conferences and it was a place to get information, to share information, to get resources. Also, we acted as a clearinghouse for information, so we, in our state as in most states, our organization acts as kind of the liaison with the state government.
Whether that is the education agency or the state Department of Education or the Child Protective Services or college admission or whoever it might be, we are the organization that has contacts. We know what the law is, we have people that help us. So it’s great for people to connect with their state organizations. We probably have close to 75,000 families on our mailing list in Texas and we have, obviously, blogs and YouTube channels and all that sort of thing. We try to connect people and give them information.
Then, of course, our legislature meets every other year, so we have a team of interns and staff in Austin. For the first five months of this year we’ve been following bills and testifying against bills, issuing calls to action when we’ve got bills that need to be killed. And then at the same time, we do a couple of conferences, one in the Dallas area and one in the Houston area, every summer. That’s kind of like every homeschool mom’s inspiration time. We have a children’s program and a teen program, so it’s a great time for the whole family to come and have a great time of inspiration and encouragement, and buy your curriculum for a year. It’s kind of like an in-service for public schoolteachers, but it’s also a great time for the kids.
Our mission is protection. It’s also inspiration and education and, of course, to be there when homeschoolers have issue. We have a customer relations team so we field probably 1,000 to 1,500 emails and phone calls a month and probably 60 to 70% are those of non-members. They’re people just trying to get started and they want information or questions. We kind of run the gamut.
Yvette: We were talking about conventions and just the different ways that your organization, the Texas Home School Coalition, can support Texas, those who are in your state. Of course, you’re in Texas. There’s same organizations exist in pretty much every state. Talk a little bit about your conventions because I know you’ve got conventions that are coming up pretty quickly here.
Tim: Sure. Yeah, we have two conventions in May. One is Mother’s Day weekend in Dallas and the other one is the last weekend of May in the Houston area in the Woodlands. These events all grew out of a way for the homeschool community to be connected with exhibitors and vendors, people who have great resources, people who are great speakers who inspire. That’s a great time annually for us as an organization. We try to help. This is something for the whole family. We’ll have a children’s program and a teen program. People develop relationships there that go on for years and it’s a great time of inspiration for mom and dad. We have a lot of dads that attend that. People always look for curriculum.
They come together, they get inspired, the get educated, they find out … and then of course we do workshops for leaders. We have different tracks, so we’ll have one for single parents, we’ll have one for special needs folks. We try to provide things across the gamut of the homeschool community. It’s a wonderful time. It’s very exhausting. It’s like Thursday through Saturday, but it’s a great time of encouragement. People, it’s kind of the end of school and get ready for the new year before the summer starts.
Yvette: Yeah, it’s a great time of year to have it because oftentimes this is the time of year that moms are really trying to think through what they’re going to do for next year. They’re a little overwhelmed, maybe. They’re getting to the end of the school year and they’re counting down the days faster than their kids are.
Yvette: They just need that boost of encouragement. They need to maybe explore some different options. Maybe the curriculum that they’re using this year isn’t working so well. It’s interesting to hear you talk about how, back in the day, curriculum companies wouldn’t sell curriculum to you. Now, the options-
Tim: Yeah, now we’re a major market.
Yvette: Right. The options are overwhelming and endless, but in a good way. There’s so much to choose from and so many great resources out there for families today, and praise God for that, because every child learns differently. Every mom and dad teaches differently, and so it’s great to have those resources. But it can be overwhelming to go to those things.
I remember, I think it was Janice Campbell was talking about how she remembers going to her first homeschool convention back in the ’80s and she said it was at a church and there were 100 people there and they had a few six foot tables set up with some books on them, and she was just elated. That was like a big convention for them and now you look at where they’ve gone.
I want to speak on behalf of some of the vendors that go to these conventions-
Tim: Please, please.
Yvette: … and I’m not one of them, so I’m going to just speak for them and to encourage those who go to conventions. One of the things, as a matter of fact, Jamie Erickson just read a really great article, I’ll link to it in the show notes, about this. These vendors, and again, this is something I didn’t realize until we were well into homeschooling. Most of the curriculum vendors that you see at these conventions are nothing more than moms and dads who saw a need, created a curriculum to go with whatever their need was, and developed this stuff to serve the homeschool community. They go to these conventions. It’s very expensive. You have to pay for travel and hotel and your booth and everything that goes along with it in hopes of being able to encourage the homeschool community through the sales of their different products that they have.
What a lot of people are doing today is they go and look at the products, they touch it, they feel it, they open it, and then they go find it online somewhere for $5 less or $10 less. I think I can safely say that if people don’t start taking care of the vendors and those who are coming out with these different products and serving the homeschool community this way, we’re going to lose them. Vendors will not continue to come if no one is supporting them and everyone’s just buying used curriculum and buying it form other places where it’s a whole lot less expensive.
Tim: Yvette, I couldn’t agree more, and in a lot of states, the smaller states, these conventions are dying and that is exactly the reason, folks. I understand everybody needs to do what is best for their family, but we’ve worked really closely with our vendors this year and trying to help them with some marketing ideas, do some online specials so they can order and do some of those kind of things. But the reality is you’re exactly right. If the exhibitors who essentially pay for these conventions are not supported, in other words, you don’t buy there, and eventually those conventions go away, and now you’re looking at having to travel further away to a conference or not even have a conference.
We recognize, we value our exhibitors and our vendors. They are the reason we do these conferences, and so thank you for bringing that up. I just want to put an exclamation point on that to encourage people. It’s a great time to come. It’s not uncommon for us to hear about the buy America. Buy in America. We like to say, “Buy at the convention.” We want to support those folks that are supporting us.
Yvette: That’s right, and if you think about the whole cycle of how this whole thing works, I fully understand we have to be the best stewards of what God has entrusted to us financially, as most homeschool families are … we are typically a single income family on a tight budget because most homeschool families are single income on tight budgets, so they need to be good stewards of their finances.
However, think of it this way: You’re really supporting yourself by purchasing at the conventions, because as people purchase curriculum and products and such at conventions, then those vendors will be able to continue going to conventions, which then support the state organizations, and those state organizations use those conventions to help support their organization that then supports the homeschool families.
Tim: That’s exactly right.
Yvette: It’s very, very much needed. It’s critical. It’s critical that we support our different state organizations. By spending an extra $5 or $10 to purchase products at the conventions, you’re really supporting your own freedom to homeschool in your state. Does that make sense?
Tim: That’s exactly right, exactly right, and I would go further than that and say these state organizations are the watchdogs in your state that are watching the legislature or what happens with the litigation or all those sorts of things. If we lose the state organization, now you not only don’t have a conference anymore, but you don’t have a guard dog watching for your freedom.
Yvette: Right, that’s absolutely right, and so for those listening, it is critical. Support your state organizations.
I would love to talk a little bit about your role as a father, as a Christian leader of your home. I think that so many people don’t realize it, and oftentimes dads don’t realize how very important their role is as the leader of their home. Especially when it comes to homeschooling, they think, “Well, my wife is the one who does all of the schooling, I go to work and provide so that she can do that,” which, praise God for that. I am so grateful for dads who support their wives in doing that.
But what would you say to the dad who, maybe he’s not sure about this homeschooling thing. He’s heard about it but he doesn’t think his wife is capable, he doesn’t think she’s organized enough. What would you say to that dad? How can you encourage him?
Tim: As a Christian, if you go back to Deuteronomy chapter 6 and you look at the exhortations there that God through Moses is laying out to the nation of Israel, there’s a very clear exhortation to the father to teach things to your children, when you rise up and when you sit down and when you walk in the way. As Christians, that’s discipleship. We are not moms, but dads are exhorted by the Lord to raise up our children in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.
When we started homeschooling, Yvette, it was because we wanted to pass our faith on to our children in the course of giving them an academic education. As the years rolled on and we began to enjoy the blessings and the fruit of homeschooling, I have come now, at the end of where most people are in their homeschool journey, to say the greatest benefit of homeschooling for our family was not academic. It was the relationships that we have with each other. It was the ability for us to spend time in knowing our children and raising them in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord.
As a father, what I say to homeschool dads is one day we are going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and we’re going to give an account of how we handled the responsibility that God gave us as husbands and fathers. Part of that, for me, is enabling my wife to homeschool. Most of us dads don’t do much of the teaching, but I used to say, “We’re the superintendent.” We have a little plaque in our house that says, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
I think it’s the husbands who God has given us the responsibility and really the ability to help our wives homeschool. I know I tell dads that moms will generally not homeschool for the long-term if they don’t have the active and assertive support of their husbands because moms get overwhelmed. They have a hard time prioritizing and they need us as husbands to say, “Honey, you can’t do everything. You’ve got to cross some things off the list here,” or to encourage them and spend time talking about our kids and what are decisions, what curriculum we need to make, all those sort of things.
I just tell dads when I talk to them that usually homeschooling is the mom’s choice, but if we do it well, it is a dad’s legacy to raise up a godly family that can carry on that family.
Yvette: I love that, and I love that you say, “You can’t do everything,” because I think oftentimes dads expect that, well, mom’s home all day and so she should be able to do it all. She should be able to keep the house clean and have dinner on the table and homeschool the kids and have all the grocery shopping done and the doctor’s appointments gone to. It’s not possible to do everything and I think that’s definitely one of the main concerns that dads often have, is what’s going to fall apart, and they’re afraid of that. It scares them that something in their family is going to fall apart.
But instead of saying, “What’s going to fall apart,” looking at how is this going to benefit our family and how is this going to benefit the eternal security of our … I mean, not that homeschooling is the gospel. We say that all the time. Homeschooling does not save our children by any means. Jesus is the gospel.
Yvette: But allowing your wife some grace and not expecting her to have everything in order all the time, because it’s never going to happen.
Tim: Sure, well, Yvette, I think dads who have those fears, many dads see homeschooling as some academic alternative. When they begin to see that this is a spiritual decision that will help me disciple my child into maturity and a godly Christian, then they begin to say, “Okay, that’s important. So now I prioritize that and how do we have to work around all these other things? How do we do the… ” When our kids were older, they had to clean the house. You make adjustments because this is a priority, because it’s not just about academics. It’s about discipling my children and laying a foundation for them for the future and for eternity.
Yvette: Yes, yes, that’s right. That’s absolutely right. I would say, too, any of the dads who are listening right now, encourage your wives. Come home and ask her, “What can I do to encourage you? How can I serve you right now?” Whether it’s dishes or laundry or getting the kids bathed and ready for bed, or my favorite, take the kids and let your wife go out and have coffee with a friend or go walk around the mall or the park or something. Mommies need breaks, too, and so I think dads who do that are … they’re my heroes. My husband does that. He’s fantastic. He’s great at serving our family, though we’re together all the time.
Tim: Yvette, one of the things I recommend dads to do is read the book The 5 Love Languages by Dr. Chapman. That just revolutionizes, because when you talk about what you can do for your wife, we need to prioritize that, and if her love language, most of the time it is different than yours, and you’re loving her in your love language and it’s not connecting. That book was really revolutionary for me to help me understand how to love my wife in a way that she felt loved. It’s just great, a great book.
Yvette: Yes, that is a fantastic book, and we’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well. We are out of time, unfortunately, for the podcast, but tell people where they can find you. Where can they learn more about Texas Home School Coalition and your conventions that you have coming up?
Tim: Well, it’s THSC.org, so you can find us on the web. You can find a YouTube. We have a YouTube channel and a Facebook group, so we’re everywhere, so please join us and we’re glad to help you.
Yvette: Okay, and what do you have on your YouTube channel? I didn’t know that you had a YouTube channel.
Tim: We have a YouTube channel. We have all sorts of videos. We actually did a … years ago we did a documentary with some of the pioneers of homeschooling in Texas, so it’s kind of a history of homeschooling. Then we have YouTube videos of the work we’re doing in Austin at the legislative sessions, different animated videos about the history of homeschooling in Texas, so just a plethora of different videos.
Yvette: Okay, that’s great. We will link back to that for sure, as well. Thank you so much, Tim, for your time. Thank you for what you do to support homeschooling. I know that you primarily work in Texas, but I know that your work is spread. It ripples throughout the rest of the country and you are a great blessing to all of the people that you’re serving in the homeschool community.
The following article is an excerpt from the upcoming Schoolhouse Rocked Homeschool Quick-Start Guide, which was contributed by HSLDA (Homeschool Legal Defense Association. If you have questions about homeschool laws or getting started homeschooling, please visit www.hslda.org.
You have looked at various educational options and think that homeschooling may be the best fit for your child(ren). You probably have a million questions, but two of the primary ones may be what are my rights as a parent and what are my responsibilities? Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand; it’s hard to discuss one without covering the other.
First, you have the fundamental right to direct the education and upbringing of your child. This right has been long established and recognized by the United States Supreme Court. What does that mean practically?
Well, you have the right to decide whether to homeschool your child. This is a decision that you as a parent make based on what is in your child’s best interests. Many parents have found homeschooling to be best for all their children. Others have found homeschooling the best fit for one child and another educational option better for a different child. You as the parent know best whether to homeschool your child, and it is your right to decide. A child’s teacher, a county official, your best friend—none of them can decide that for you or deny that to you.
As you may have already discovered, homeschooling is a diverse movement. There are many different methods of homeschooling, and it is your right to determine which method is best for your child. Some families find a fully structured, all-in-one curriculum to best suit their situation. Others have found their children thrive in a more hands-on, organic learning environment. Still others prefer a theme-based or classical great books study which combines several subject areas into an interwoven unit.
Closely related to your homeschool method is your right to choose the resources you will use. There is no pre-approved or state-mandated textbook list. You will find hoards of homeschool resources through homeschooling friends, groups, and online. Do some research, find what looks appealing to you, and give it a try—you can always adjust throughout the year.
A final note on your rights in homeschooling: you have the right to privacy in your own home. Occasionally a government official will attempt to intimidate a homeschooling parent by saying, “You have to let me in to inspect your schooling, records, etc.” Don’t be fooled: in this situation, it’s best to get direction from a legal professional. Membership in HSLDA is a comforting way to be sure you have that guidance if it is ever needed.
All of this sounds good, you say. But how do I know what I have to do? There are three straightforward responsibilities every homeschool parent has: know your state law, follow your state law, and provide of your child’s education.
Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states and is governed by state law. For this reason, the specific requirements you may have will vary depending on what state you are in. Some states require you to teach certain subjects, others require you to file paperwork, and some require certain evaluations. You can find your state’s homeschool law at https://hslda.org/content/laws/.
But it’s not enough to know your state law: you are responsible to follow it as well. Make a checklist for each year and set a reminder of any deadlines to help keep you on track. (Homeschooling parents are busy, and it’s easy for deadlines to slip past!) Keep good records showing you followed the law because that information will be important as your children graduate and enter college or the workforce.
Finally, and most importantly, you as a parent are responsible to provide for your child’s education. This is true for every parent! Again, states have differing ages set for when a child is subject to compulsory attendance (when he would have to start attending school), and many states include educational neglect in their child protection laws. A parent may provide for a child’s education by enrolling him in a school, thus delegating the actual educational instruction to someone else. Or, as you are considering, a parent may decide to provide for his child’s education by instructing him directly.
Choosing how to educate your child is a big decision. Homeschooling is a wonderful option many parents and children find rewarding. While it is a lot of work, the one-on-one individualized instruction is rarely equaled elsewhere, and the homeschool community is a supportive network.
If you have more questions about homeschool laws or getting started homeschooling, please visit www.hslda.org or give us a call!