Home School Court Report
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Vol. XXIV
No. 5
Cover
September/October
2008

In This Issue

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by Andrea Longbottom
- disclaimer -
Homeschool Lawyers, Homeschool Dads

Part Two

In the July/August 2008 issue of the Court Report, we introduced our three litigation attorneys, who are homeschool dads as well. In this issue, we’re introducing Home School Legal Defense Association’s six contact attorneys—also homeschool dads! They field calls and emails from our members about legal issues, and contact school districts, caseworkers, and others to resolve situations that threaten our member families’ freedom to homeschool.

In honor of HSLDA’s 25th anniversary, we asked our contact attorneys some questions about homeschooling in their families. Come on in and get to know your team better!

Smith family
Courtesy of the family
Mike and Elizabeth Smith with their 4 children (now grown). Mike and Elizabeth homeschooled for 14 years.

Mike Smith

HSLDA President

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? In 1981, our son’s kindergarten teacher said he wasn’t ready for 1st grade, but I knew my son was smart. Around that same time, I was listening to a Focus on the Family radio program about homeschooling and was excited to try this for our son, because it wouldn’t force him into a formal school setting before he was ready. Eventually, Elizabeth and I began homeschooling three of our four children.

What was your role in your homeschool? I got the children up and did our daily devotions and then did some minimal tutoring and reviewed work when my wife asked me to.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? All of our children have graduated valedictorian of their high school!

Klicka family
Courtesy of the family
Chris and Tracy Klicka with their 7 children (ages 10-20). Chris and Tracy have been homeschooling for 17 years.

Chris Klicka

HSLDA Senior Counsel

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? In 1984, as a second-year law student, I was working at the Rutherford Institute with John Whitehead. He put me in charge of answering all the calls from families across the nation who were homeschooling “illegally” and underground.

I began to develop a deep appreciation for the biblical call these families heard to train their children in God’s ways. It was then and there that my wife and I determined, even before we had any children, that we would homeschool them.

What is your role in your homeschool? My main role all along has been teaching the children Bible classes, leading in nightly family devotions, and teaching them how to write well. I have also been the “enforcer” to ensure that the children are disciplined so that they listen to their mother!

I have taught all my children two classes—a government class and a church history class—which I have opened up to approximately 10 other homeschooled high schoolers each year.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? Teaching all our children in the Lord and watching them grow spiritually has been irreplaceable. Watching the lights go on when they understand how to read and when they learn concepts is priceless. The close-knit family relationships and loyalty to one another are wonderful.

I suppose if I have to pick favorite memories, it would be when we took seven children all in tow on various field trips around the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., area—with all the gawking, stares, and smiles from strangers. Also, seeing the children absorb and learn so much from these field trips has truly been a blessing.

Black family
Courtesy of the family
Dee and Ricci Black with their 4 children (ages 17-26). Dee and Ricci have been homeschooling for 21 years.

Dewitt (Dee) Black

HSLDA Senior Counsel

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? Two reasons. First, my wife, Ricci, and I wanted to be the primary influences in our children’s lives, and we didn’t want what we were teaching our children at home to be contradicted by what they were being taught at school. This included not only what they were learning from their teachers but also negative peer influence from other children. Second, we thought we could give our children a better-quality education in a one-on-one tutorial setting than what they would receive in a traditional classroom.

What is your role in your homeschool? My involvement has varied over the years, but I have mostly spent devotional time with the children early in the morning before leaving for work. We spent time reading the Bible, praying, and memorizing Scripture. Until the last couple of years, I taught the children math beginning at the 8th grade. With the availability of excellent CDs for instruction on the computer, our high school-age children have been using this resource for their math instruction. (They also like me better than they used to.)

What is a favorite homeschool memory? One significant blessing that I am continually reminded of is the love our children have for each other. I think this is a direct result of homeschooling. They enjoy spending time with each other and truly are friends. Growing up in my family, I had two younger brothers who also attended public school. We all had our own set of friends outside the family and weren’t very close.

Woodruff family
Courtesy of the family
Scott and Jane Woodruff with their 3 children (ages 16-21). Scott and Jane have been homeschooling for 12 years.

Scott Woodruff

HSLDA Staff Attorney

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? My son was attending our church’s school, but the teachers acknowledged they could not give him the one-on-one attention he needed to be challenged to reach his full potential. I took a day off work and sat through an entire day of 2nd grade. I found that my son only had to use his brain 40 percent of the time. I was convinced we could do better at home. After a trial run of homeschooling over the summer, with all the kids enjoying the new adventure, we made the leap the following fall and have never regretted it. I began with a rather tentative attitude, but the more I got into it, the more I realized how amazingly well it lined up with the biblical mandate for families to disciple their children.

What is your role in your homeschool? I tended to get much more involved as my children reached high school age. Four years ago, we began a co-op that meets weekly in our home, and it now involves 12 families and 15 youngsters. I’m the principal, and I also teach literature to the older group of students during the fall semester.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? For each of my kids …

After going through a rough patch in her life, my youngest daughter, Sarah, wrote me a letter worth its weight in gold to this old dad's heart:

Through my childhood and adolescent years, you’ve probably heard about every form of back talk, seen every disgusted facial expression, and have never totally lost your cool! … You’ve stretched me to the limits and helped me along the whole way. When I look around and see some of the pain some of my friends are in, I realize how fortunate I am that I’m your kid. I know that the world would be a better place if there were more dads like you. Thanks for always being there for me. I love you.

Betsy, our second child, won our county spelling bee in the 8th grade and got to go to the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C. After going out socializing with other contestants, she came in glowing, very excited, because she had just met a Hindu, an agnostic, and a Unitarian, and had spent several hours sharing Christ with them. I treasure the memory of her joyful willingness to share Jesus with people who were perfect strangers moments before.

My wife and I had told Chris, our oldest, that he would be financially responsible for his college expense, but to be candid, I was sweating how he would really do this. Then we learned that he had been named a National Merit Scholar Finalist based on his PSAT score—and with that came nearly 100% of the finances he needed for college! I cherish the memory of how God blessed my son and dramatically solved the college finance issue.

Schmidt family
Courtesy of the family
Tj and Susan Schmidt with their 3 children (ages 6 months–4 years). Tj and Susan have been homeschooling “ever since our first child was born.”

Thomas (Tj) Schmidt

HSLDA Staff Attorney

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? My wife and I were taught at home by our parents for the majority of our lives. We are committed to teaching our children at home since we believe that this provides the best opportunity for their healthy spiritual, emotional, and educational development.

What is your role in your homeschool? Since our children are still young, I mainly encourage them to tell me about the things they have learned during the day and show me their latest drawings. I am a sounding board for their most recent Scripture memory verses and read lots of stories to them on my lap.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? A favorite memory from my own homeschooling years is probably the flexibility home education provided. My mother would give us our assignments for the whole week, and then we had to make sure we completed them. If we finished early, we had the freedom to pursue our own interests—as long as our chores were done.

Donnelly family
Courtesy of the family
Mike and Patty Donnelly with their 6 children (ages 6 months-11 years). Mike and Patty have been homeschooling for 7 years.

Mike Donnelly

HSLDA Staff Attorney

Why did you decide to homeschool your children? Patty and I wanted family to be central in our lives and the lives of our children. Homeschooling was the only approach that wouldn’t fragment our family. Our concerns for our children’s spiritual and character formation were also important reasons we decided it would be best to educate our children at home.

What is your role in your homeschool? As the dad, I try to support Patty in areas of discipline, schedule development, correcting schoolwork, and curriculum selection. I also try to make sure that she has all the academic resources she needs. I lead our daily family devotion and encourage the children to be diligent in following through with their work assignments and in being supportive members of our family.

What is a favorite homeschool memory? Traveling as a family to visit the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum this year was a real highlight of our homeschooling journey! We love to travel together as a family—it creates wonderful memories and enriches our homeschooling experience.


About the author

Andrea Longbottom is a homeschool graduate who lives and writes in the Houston, Texas, area.