Monday, March 19, 2012

"Who Home Schools?" Week 3

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It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  I hope that it answers the questions - Who homeschools and why?

This week's interview is from Elizabeth at "Yes, They're All Ours."  Elizabeth is the mother of ten children - six boys and four girls.  Her oldest is 26 years of age and the baby is 7 years old.  She has been home schooling since 1990 and is on the downside of her journey, with just five children and twelve years to go.  She has been happily married since 1983 to, Alan, whom she has followed all over the states of South Carolina and Georgia these past 28 years.

I hope you enjoy her interview and all of the links she so kindly included.

  • How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?

I became interested in homeschooling when my oldest daughter was 4 years old.  I began to get my feet wet teaching her from home that year, using Ann Ward's Learning at Home for Pre-School and Kindergarten.  At that time, my husband was passionately opposed to homeschooling, so I spent that year reading about homeschooling, researching the advantages, praying, and preparing a written "treatise" on homeschooling which I presented to my husband that next summer, along with my appeal.  Thankfully, God changed his heart, and he allowed me to "try" homeschooling for kindergarten, although he was still not supportive of the whole idea.  Then, I homeschooled for first grade . . . and the rest, as they say, is history!!  As he saw that we were able to homeschool successfully and that it was a blessing to our family, he became whole-heartedly in favor of homeschooling, and we never looked back!  (That was 22 years ago!)

  • Summarize how you reached this decision

I had never head of homeschooling, and thought it was strange, too, until I began to spend time with a precious homeschooling family.  I met this lovely woman named, Fran, when I attended a Time and Home Managment class she taught, and I was drawn to her by her sweet spirit and love for the Lord and her family. As I observed her and her four homeschooled children, I knew there was somethiing different about this family that I desired for my own family.  Fran not only allowed me to spend time with her and her children, but she generously loaned me book after book from her personal library. The books she loaned me literally changed the direction of my life.  The most life-changing books were The Way Home and All the Way Home, by Mary Pride, and Home Grown Kids and Home Style Teaching by Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore.  These books gave me a vision for home education and the confidence that I could actually teach my own children at home!

  • What is your goal in home educating your children?

God gave me a vision for a home-centered life style with obedient and godly children. I wanted to impart my own values to my children and to give them a biblical worldview.  I wanted to protect them from the negative influences and humanistic teaching in the public schools, and to teach them godly character and love of God and family.  I also wanted to spend time with my children and encourage them to turn their hearts toward their parents and brothers and sisters, rather than their peers.  As time has gone by, these goals have only been intensified and confirmed!   

  • Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?
Our extra-curricular involvement has varied greatly through the years depending on the time, money and energy available at that time and the needs and desires of a particular child.  Back in the "old days" when all the children were small, I did very little outside of our home!  Going to the library was a Big Outing!  LOL!  As they got older, we began to attempt more outside activities.  Through the years, our children have been involved in church activities, home-school co-ops, little league baseball, Upwards basketball and football, piano, flute, violin and voice lessons, homeschool orchestra and band, homeschool speech and debate, etc.  Outside activities can be beneficial and worthwhile -- but they also take their toll on home and family life (especially when they take you away from home for the dinner hour), so they need to be carefully evaluated and restricted.

  • Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?
My children have participated in group classes, such as homeschool Speech and Debate, where we paid a teacher; however, I've never actually hired a tutor.  Although, you could say I hire a complete array of tutors right now -- as I've "hired" the excellent teachers from Bob Jones Distance Learning to help me teach my children!  :)

  • Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?
I taught my oldest two daughters from kindergarten all the way through 12th grade!  The oldest participated in a home school group graduation ceremony complete with cap and gown, while the second one had a private graduation service and reception at our church.  My oldest daughter even received a sizable academic and music scholarship to a private, all-women's college in SC as a homeschool graduate (where she graduated magna cum laude with a double major in Music and Spanish!  So, I know she received a good education at home, and unlike her college peers, she was ready for independent learning in college!!  :)

I planned to teach all ten of my children at home all the way through high school . . . however, we sometimes find ourselves on a different path than we anticipated.  My three oldest sons ended up transferring to a Christian school during their high school years.  They really enjoyed the opportunities for involvement in Varsity sports, Student government, drama, and other activities during their teen years, and also seemed to thrive on the academic competition.  All three of them have Excelled in a Christian school setting and felt very well prepared when they transferred!  (Hooray!)

At this point, I plan to homeschool my five youngest all the way through high school, but who knows?  I've learned not to put God in a box and to try to evaluate what is best for each individual child.  He knows what is best for each one!

  • Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?
I've combined some things from various approaches through the years.  For about fourteen years, I homeschooled using a unit-study approach.  The curriculum we used focused on a passage of Scripture and a character quality each month and expanded from there to a study of a variety of related academic subjects.  I loved this approach, because everyone was studying the same subject at the same time!  I read biographies and literature that related to our studies; then I assigned projects based on age and maturity and had each child share reports with the group, so that the children also learned from one another.  These were wonderful years, full of rich learning, great family times and learning to think in analogies.  However, they were also exhausting, stressful, and required a lot of preparation time, teaching and oversight from me.  Then, I reached a point when I was 42, where I was totally S-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d and Overwhelmed and Exhausted with a new baby, a VERY ACTIVE toddler, and my "right and left arms missing!" (My oldest daughter was in college and my second oldest daughter was out of state serving with a ministry.)  I was really drowning trying to teach from first grade all the way through high school all by myself.  I was literally crying every day.  My husband saw that I was burning out and needed a change.  He suggested we try Bob Jones Home Sat, which was not without challenges, but it really did save my sanity!  It allowed me to cover all the bases with my children, and then we did some unit studies as icing on the cake, but not as the Core.  We ended up loving BJ Distance Learning (as it is now called), and that is what we still use today.  It takes a lot of the stress off of me, and my children are receiving an outstanding education!  The video instruction is extremely engaging and well done and has been a blessing to me with such a large family to teach!

  • What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?

Life changes and we have to be flexible.  We used to get up Very Early each day and start school!  We also followed a Very Strict Schedule!  (Think Managers of their Homes!)   Also, for many years, I homeschooled year around, and usually followed a four weeks on, one week off, schedule, which worked out very well.  It had many advantages for my young family!  However, life changes!! Once I had older kids in college and in Christian school, we found that it didn't work well to be doing school when they were off.  The older kids wanted to spend time with me and their younger siblings when they were on break and the younger kids were naturally distracted and wanted to spend time with their older siblings. So, we began to follow a more traditional school schedule.  

Also, since I now have three adults in their twenties (two of which are living at home), five teens, and only two younger children, I find that our schedule has inevitable morphed into later nights and later mornings.  There is no use fighting it.  Teens and college students are a lot like infants -- they have their days and nights mixed up!!  ;)  Therefore, we currently start school a good bit later and are generally Way More Relaxed about our school day!!!  This works for this season.

  • Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?
Although there are numerous advantages to homeschooling -- academically, socially and spiritually -- we have always homeschooled primarily for religious reasons.  We feel compelled to teach our children to love God with all of their hearts, all of their souls, all of their minds, and all of their strength.  It is more than just teaching them Bible verses or even creation vs. evolution -- we want to give them a biblical worldview.  We feel this is best done at home, where we can control what they are taught, who influences them, etc.    

  • Do you have a vision statement for your home school?  If so, what is it?

I have a theme verse that pretty well sums up our vision for our children.  It is found in Philippians 2:15-16 -- " That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guiltless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose."  (Amplified Bible)

  • If you were to recommend a book(s) to a new or prospective home school parent, what would you choose?

All of the books by Raymond and Dorothy Moore are great.   I would recommend starting with Home Grown Kids.  Also, The Christian Home School, by Gregg Harris definitely impacted me in the early years.  Another book I love, is Educating the Whole Hearted Child by Sally Clarkson.  I Love everything I've ever read by Sally Clarkson!  I also highly recommendHomeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit by Terri Maxwell!   (I wouldn't suggest homeschooling without it!) 

  • What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?
I think I was concerned that I couldn't teach a child to read, because educators want you to think that they are the only ones who can do that!  However, I learned that it is {usually} not that hard to teach a child to read!  I've now done it ten times!  (Although, I did have two boys that struggled to learn to read!  One learned at 8 and one at 9!  Not everyone learns at the same time or in the same way.)  

I was also scared about teaching higher level Math and Science -- thanks to BJ Distance Learning Online, that is no longer a concern!!  

Also, back in the very beginning, I bought into the lies that a homeschooled child would not be adequately socialized.  I now know that is a lie from Satan!  There is no better way for a child to be adequately socialized than through the home! 

  • What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?

I love reading aloud to the children!  I also love spending time with them and learning from them and investing in their lives.  What do I dislike?  Grading papers!  :) 

  • Are/Were there any subjects that you felt incapable of adequately teaching?  Have you overcome this?  If so can you explain how you have achieved this?

As I already stated, I felt inadequate to teach higher level math and science, because these are my weak areas; however, with the help of BJ Distance Learning, this it not an issue for me.  Also, my older sons have taken college classes for dual enrollment in their senior years, and that is another excellent way to tackle some of those higher level classes that may intimidate you. 

  • Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?

To me, homeschooling is more than an educational choice -- it is a way of life that has influenced everything about our home and family life.  It has helped to create strong family bonds.  It has blessed us in many ways and I hope that my family will continue to homeschool the next generation!


Savannah McQueen is the author of Hammock Tracks which includes Savannah's Savory Bites - dedicated to recipes and cooking with simple ingredients, Hammock Track Tales - a photographic journal of our life on the hammock, and Hammock Home School - includes editorials, book reviews, and educational link posts.  You can follow Savannah on Twitter and Facebook.

Upcoming this week on Savannah's Savory Bites - "How to cook with the basics" - Join us Thursday in the Hammock Tracks Family Forum as we discuss cooking without canned soups and prepared foods.

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