Saturday, October 11, 2014

Homeschooling

My mom homeschooled me and my siblings  back in the 70's when it was illegal to do so. I remember ducking when the doorbell rang and going completely silent so whoever it was would go away. It didn't matter who it was — if it was during school hours and we didn't invite them, my mom didn't have the luxury to see who it was. Our friends understood and eventually joined us in homeschooling  for a couple of years.

So keeping the blinds and curtains closed and not being able to play outside "during school hours" was a normal part of our school years and it was a very serious thing. The consequences for being caught truant from mandated public school were grim. So we were very careful.

When I got married, I knew I wanted to homeschool my own children. They were lucky enough to be born when homeschooling had been legalized and was becoming more and more common. Today, there are millions of homeschoolers - and our numbers continue to climb. But the threats to homeschoolers have not altogether disappeared. 

We are still the object of suspicion for people who can't understand why we would deprive our children of the public school institution. There also exist more than a few cunning school officials who target homeschoolers to jump through more hoops than necessary when they pull their children out of a public school.  Which, in my opinion, every parent should do. I am extreme that way. :) I also believe every person should repent and turn to Jesus for salvation. There are some instances where grouping people into an "everyone" category is right and necessary whether they think so or like it — or not. 

When we started homeschooling, the state we lived in required that, unless I had an AA degree, I had to take a "homeschooling qualifying course". I was glad I took it because of all the information I received about homeschooling. I was given a wonderful introduction to homeschooling naturally and it has stuck with me. 

My primary goal was to bring my children up in the fear of God.  My guiding verses were:

For what does it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul? Mark 8:36
Hear, O Israel:The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart. And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest upDeuteronomy 6:8

The command there is not academic. It is a command to teach by example loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might. Those are the things we are to teach diligently. That is what we are to talk of when we sit, walk and lie down and rise up. That's all throughout the day. But it's not being a Bible thumper. It's not religious piety, religious rebukes, religious acts and religious talk. Nope. It is modeling Christ in our actions. It is saying "I'm sorry. Will you forgive me?" when we are wrong. It is giving and receiving grace. It is the love of God shed abroad in our hearts.  Raising children to love and fear God begins with a parent who truly loves and fears God. 

I began reading and singing to my kids in the womb. I continued singing to them with lullabies at bedtime and singing other songs during the day. I read to them daily and we colored in coloring books, played board games and played with blocks, numbers, magnet letters.  The world was our classroom. Everything was a learning experience and my children loved it. They didn't realize I was teaching them to love to learn.

When they were 4, I taught them to read using "Teach Your Child To Read in 100 Easy Lessons".  The title says lessons, not days. :)  I followed my child's ability level and when they were overwhelmed, we took a break for a few days and sometimes a week or two, before continuing on to the next lesson.

If I had it to do over again, I would have waited to start that book with them until they were 5 or 6. Why? Because they could read magazine covers and billboards and whatever else - appropriate or not - at an age when their understanding levels were too immature to process it. So unless you live in the boonies and your world is very, very sheltered, I would recommend teaching children to read at age 5 or 6.  Even age 7 or 8 would not be bad.  Sometimes late really is better than early. (Raymond Moore wrote a book about that.)

Homeschooling is not a classroom. It's not separate from life. It's not about grades. The things we remember most are from what we are most interested in. How much time was wasted in school careers when we could have been exploring what we were fascinated by?

Give your children the freedom to learn and explore under your guided and loving supervision. Give them some boundaries, though. As children, they are not wise.  Just as you would not send them to play out in traffic, you must not simply throw open the doors of the world. Seek wisdom yourself and never neglect to ask the Lord for help.   And keep learning yourself!  Show your fascination at something you've just learned. Haven't learned anything new lately? It's never too late to start.

That's homeschooling. 



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