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.
Yvette: Awesome, and Aby, how about you?
Aby: I’m CalledToTheTop.com, and that’s where you can find all of our stuff in one. It’s not a blog, but it’s a housing for what we do and all of our writings that are out there. And then over at Facebook at Aby Rinella – His Calling. My Passion.
Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
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