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Stories from the Home Front
Hold Fast to the Honor of Homeschooling
I was homeschooled from the 1st through 12th grades and never once desired to go to the government schools. At the time, I couldn’t imagine being confined to what looked like a prison system—bells telling me where to go, cutting short the time I wanted to spend on certain subjects; standing in line to have food dumped on a tray for me to eat; wearing the same clothes as everyone else; and truant officers hunting me down if I went rogue! None of that appealed to me. I was very happy with the freedom that homeschooling provided. Not only was I able to spend as much time as I needed on a subject, but I wasn’t forced to wait for others once I mastered it. This allowed me time to spend on things I enjoyed, such as reading history books or being involved in extracurricular activities.
While many parents and teens place importance on having friends, I didn’t. Through leadership in both local and state 4-H clubs and involvement with the Young Marine program, I naturally cultivated many friendships. I also actively participated in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association and Teen Pact. In fact, there were times when these activities cut into time spent on math and science, which was fine by me! Because of the unique flexibility that homeschoolers have, I was able to build relationships with individuals in my community that greatly helped my future career.
I owe so much to my mother and father for taking the time to homeschool me even though it was a financial burden. I know I was quite difficult at times; but because of my parents’ faithfulness and steadfast love for me (and my siblings), I am the man I am today. Now I have the great privilege to work for the Home School Legal Defense Association and assist families as they seek to make the right choices for the upbringing of their children.
When the Lord blesses me with a wife and children, I plan to homeschool them. In addition to all the reasons above, the most important reason for homeschooling is because children need to be discipled. Who will do the discipling and shaping? Will it be friends and peers, who are just as confused about life? Will it be the atheist teacher who receives her instructions from a union 1,000 miles away? Or will it be the parents? I believe that God gave responsibility to teach to the parents, and I don’t want to relinquish that responsibility to anyone else. It is an honor to raise children, so why would I want to give to another that honor?
Former HSLDA legal assistant
Laying a Firm Foundation
I was homeschooled for nine years through high school with a two-year hiatus in a small public school and private school during the middle school grades. As the eldest in my family, I was the occasional guinea pig for new ideas or plans.
My parents had been homeschooling for several years by the time I reached high school, yet they experienced many of the “new homeschooler” doubts and concerns all over again. Consequently, they approached high school with trepidation and a little trial and error. However, by sticking to the principle of “planned flexibility” (i.e., good planning coupled with the flexibility to change when educational needs dictated) that they had learned earlier in their home education journey, our homeschool high school program went fairly well.
Looking back over those years, I see the benefits homeschooling afforded me. One of the things that I enjoyed the most was being involved in planning my high school subjects. This gave me a vested interest in the courses that I was studying. Another benefit was having the freedom to work at my own pace with my parents’ supervision to ensure that work was being done. It allowed me to establish effective study habits and organizational skills, enabling me to complete my school work in a timely manner.
Homeschooling also gave our family the flexibility to serve on the foreign mission field. By the time I was 21 years old, we had lived overseas for five years in two different counties (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), enabling me to pick up a portion of two different languages (Creole/French and Spanish).
In retrospect, I never had reservations about being taught at home. Attending school the second time in grades 6 and 7, I was frustrated because of the wasted time of the classroom setting and bored with the pace of learning. In both environments, I maintained friends from school and church, so I never felt I was “leaving friends” when homeschooled.
I am definitely thankful that my parents made the effort to teach us at home. They could have given up while working for over a year to persuade local school officials to allow us to homeschool. At that time, my parents hadn’t heard of HSLDA (which had just begun), and I don’t think they knew anyone else who was teaching their children at home. Yet they persevered through those difficult times.
I don’t believe I would be working as a staff attorney at HSLDA today without my parents’ commitment to home education. In fact, my life might have taken a drastically different path. My parents’ dedication to teach us at home and prepare us for life in general instilled in me a desire follow God and teach my own children at home.
You see, my wife Susan was also taught at home. Because of our combined homeschool experiences, we never really considered anything else when we were courting and discussing our future plans and desires. We had a desire to build on the foundation our parents laid: to instill in our children a love for God, a love for wisdom and knowledge and a desire one day to homeschool their own children.
HSLDA Staff Attorney
Why I am Glad My Parents Homeschooled Me
So here I am: I’ve finished my first year of college (a state university away from home). Sure, the transition was big—who would say going to college isn’t a big change? I’ve gone from seeing my family every day, all day, to calling them once or twice a week and seeing them about once a month. I’ve gone from having few non-Christian friends (none of whom were my own age) to having a group of friends that mostly consists of atheists and agnostics. And I’ve gone from studying at home, largely on my own, to going to classes in a variety of buildings, interacting with all kinds of people all day long. I’ve frequently encountered the bias people hold against homeschoolers, whether it be in playful mocking or in my housemate’s sincere surprise, “You interact with people so well!” when she found out I’d been homeschooled all my life.
Some people think homeschoolers are sheltered—that their parents homeschooled them in order to protect them from the “evil influences of the world.” If that was indeed my parents’ goal, they failed; but, somehow, I don’t believe that was at all my parents’ intention. Far from being sheltered and unable to adapt to an unsheltered college life, being homeschooled gave me the skills and understanding I needed to interact successfully with the variety of people with whom I come into contact daily and for the classes I am now taking.
Homeschoolers are a minority. Whether you look among neighbors or friends or people you meet at the store, homeschoolers do not make up a large segment of the population. Consequently, we tend to be stereotyped. We sometimes face discrimination and alienation due to the way we have been educated. We have to accept that people will often not understand us nor be able to completely identify with us. Some examples I’ve encountered are the advice from a waitress on why homeschoolers won’t be able to make it in the world—because they won’t know how to act around people. Or the naïve questions from people who have only ever heard of homeschoolers but who don’t know any personally. Or even the jokes from friends that serve as frequent reminders of the fact that we aren’t like everybody else. We’re different. It wasn’t by choice; we usually didn’t have any say in the matter, but it’s now a part of who we are.
I am not interested in seeking sympathy for homeschoolers. Far from it. The understanding I have of the world, coupled with a strong education, has given me an unexpected advantage in my own transition out of homeschooling and into college. Here at university, my interaction with Christians is limited. Instead, I live and interact with Muslims, atheists, a moral relativist, a nominal Christian, and a girl who doesn’t care about God. I spend most of my free time with a group of atheists and agnostics who delight in picking on Christians. Unfortunately, most of the Christians with whom I am friends are so accustomed to hanging around other Christians that it’s difficult to identify with them most of the time—the struggles they’re facing are so completely different from my own.
How does this relate to being homeschooled? I have come to realize that the lessons I learned as a homeschooled minority are equally true to those of the Christian minority. As a homeschooler, I am so used to being a minority, to not being understood, to having many people be biased against me that I think I have an advantage over the freshmen here who attended some of the public schools or private Christian schools. Being part of the homeschool environment, I learned how to interact and identify with all types of people and across generational lines. This, in turn, has made it easier for me to adapt to being a Christian minority.
Just as I am proud of being homeschooled and therefore not afraid to let people know about it, I am proud of being a Jesus-follower and equally not afraid of letting people know it. Friends and strangers often make jabs at homeschoolers, but that doesn’t bother me or make me less willing to tell them I was homeschooled. In like manner, people at school make frequent jabs at my being a Jesus-follower, but I continue to introduce Jesus to them.
Yet, in all the transition and change, I’ve never once regretted being homeschooled. In fact, I think I may now have more pride in my home education than ever. And while I will be the first to admit that homeschooling isn’t for everyone, I am sincerely grateful to my parents for making the sacrifices they did to give me a unique education that has prepared me well, not only for college, but for life beyond the educational environment. As the diploma given to me upon my graduation from Teske Academy states, “Soli Deo Gloria.”
Developing a Heart for God
We decided to try homeschooling for one year when my oldest daughter was in 5th grade. One year turned into four years, but when it was time for high school we were nervous that we might be ruining our child’s progress, so we enrolled her in the local public high school. She excelled in her honors classes and was well-liked by the staff and students. But after that year we decided to return to homeschooling and enrolled in a program called Cedar Brook Academy. Because my daughter wanted to participate in producing a yearbook, they gave her the opportunity to start the first yearbook, giving her support and encouraging student participation.
Homeschooling through high school not only gave our daughter advanced academic opportunities, but creative working opportunities as she started teaching piano lessons and accomplished various volunteer work.
Along with academic excellence and a variety of learning experiences, the Lord used homeschooling to give all of my daughters a heart for the things and people of God and the joy of family. Throughout these years, our theme verse remained Matthew 6:33.
Apprenticeship Opportunities for Special Needs Teen
Editor’s Note: Parents of special needs children may often wonder just how they can help to fulfill their children’s career dreams. Following is a letter from one mom who brings inspiration to these families.
My daughter Adrienne is a young lady with many talents, hopes, and dreams. Her love for life and hugs are contagious, and God has given her many gifts to share! Though Adrienne struggles with poor problem solving abilities as well as cognitive, speech, and motor skills, these difficulties have not hindered her from obtaining one of her dreams—a job.
My heart’s desire was to help my daughter achieve this dream. After much thought, I came up with the idea of designing volunteer apprenticeship opportunities for Adrienne at a church office, a dental practice, and an orthodontic practice. On a quarterly basis, I coordinated planning meetings for Adrienne with her co-workers, employers, and friends, all of whom supported Adrienne in pursuing her goals and dreams. During one of these meetings, the orthodontist offered Adrienne a salaried part-time job!
My main thrust was to find a place for Adrienne to work where her interests lie as opposed to finding just any job that she could do. The job at the orthodontist’s office helps to fulfill Adrienne's dream of being a doctor—she wears scrubs, helps to sanitize cleaning tools, cleans patient stations, and welcomes patients.
Adrienne’s beaming face as she collected her very first pay check was priceless! I want to encourage other parents of special needs teens that opportunities for your children are out there! Be creative, gather together a supportive group of people who care about your child, and then watch doors of opportunity open.
“Me? Homeschool?” That was the question I asked seven years ago when my husband approached me about the possibility of teaching our children. My uncertainty was caused by a learning disability I struggled with all through my school years.
But dyslexia has taught me more than I thought possible. I never anticipated that dyslexia would provide me with gifts that could benefit other people—even our own children. Since both of them are showing signs of minor dyslexic behavior, I am able to show and teach them visually how to overcome some of these struggles and move forward. I am also designing a curriculum specifically for dyslexic students that integrates art with other subjects.
Homeschooling is no longer a question of “can I do it?”, but “how can I use what I know to help our children and my homeschool community?” Never underestimate how your struggles can benefit others.
High School at Home Blessings
Pride and emotions ran high this month as our two daughters graduated from college. Our older daughter graduated magna cum laude from San Diego State University and is continuing in a PhD program. Our younger daughter is a straight-A student at San Jose State University, and also just graduated summa cum laude and was the valedictorian at West Valley College. Wow!
Both were homeschooled from kindergarten until they entered college; thus, virtually everyone we know has stated, “You must be very proud.” The answer is obvious, but the reason may not be.
Most think that we should be proud of all the courses and facts that we taught, evidenced by the girls’ success at college. But we don’t think that our daughters remember much of what we taught them in the last four years of homeschooling, and so there is little that we can take personal credit for. I taught math, science, history, geography, and current events while my wife Vera covered the remaining subjects. How, then, is it that they both did so well? It’s because they learned important lessons that are not in the textbooks.
They learned to love learning, how to solve problems, and how to think and study on their own. They learned good work ethics and how to be accountable—all essentials for success. There are also things that they did not learn about firsthand. They were not confronted with gangs, drugs, sex, smoking, vulgarity, disrespect, and broken homes. They know what these things are, but they were not hounded or distracted by such things on a daily basis.
In short, the foundations set in the homeschooling environment provide so much more than just the three R’s. Homeschooling brings families together for several hours every day, allowing learning to go far beyond simple test scores. Family learning touches the fiber of one’s being and molds the fabric of one’s constitution, for both the student and the teacher!
John and Vera,
Thoughts from a homeschool mom whose children have all graduated
My first recollection of homeschooling my seven children is of my own inadequacies. Homeschooling seemed an impossible mountain that could never be climbed. How could I possibly do it in my own strength? Over the years, and especially during the high school years, God revealed to me that the tension I was experiencing resulted from wrestling in my own heart over whether I had the faith to trust completely in His sufficiency. Was He not able to accomplish all that He had called me to do? Was He not more concerned for my children's welfare than even I was? Did He not desire to see Himself glorified through their lives in a darkened world?
All of these truths, through the years, were tested and tried. It seemed, more often than not, I provided the hindrance to many of the things God was trying to accomplish. My own agenda, my schedule, my desires for order or security-all, at times, became obstacles that He had to maneuver around. I learned many lessons in giving up my particular plans for the day and letting the Spirit do His work. I began to see that He was more concerned about the spiritual and character education that was occurring in each individual heart, than in the trigonometry lesson I had scheduled for that day. Questions such as these were infinitely more important: How much did my children love the Savior? How much were they clinging to the cross for their help and deliverance? How much was humility towards their family members becoming a regular way of life?
Since we were some of the first homeschoolers in the country, we maintained a very high academic standard. The reception of homeschooled young people had not yet been tried in higher academia. We had no "test cases" to look to for an idea of how they would be received. The pressure to produce well-educated and well-rounded specimens to the world was great, and as a lone homeschooling mother, I felt it every day. By God's grace, my children all performed far above average and received full scholarships to college, but it was not without many failures on my part, and probably was in spite of me. I saw the simple truth of faithfully stewarding, one day at a time, all that He had given me charge to do. I also learned to look daily to my husband, my spiritual leader and the one ultimately responsible for our family. His wisdom and insight, and helplessness before the Lord, were a continual beacon in what sometimes seemed a darkened night.
It is a high and holy calling to educate your children at home, and it cannot be accomplished outside of the power of the Holy Spirit. These children that He has created for His glory do indeed belong to Him. As we surrender ourselves, by His grace, He will accomplish all that He has planned concerning each one of them.
Graduates speak: the benefits of homeschooling
Home educated through all 12 years of school, we have been blessed in many ways through this experience. As we entered the high school age, our family started to wonder: What about high school transcripts? Would we be academically prepared for college? What about the college admission process? There were also the questions of sports and music. Lastly, our parents feared they were inadequate to teach the higher-level subjects (even though they both have medical backgrounds).
The Bible says, "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24, KJV). God opened up plenty of "socialization" opportunities—such as volleyball—through our church. Homeschooling allowed us the time to learn piano plus one additional instrument each and to be involved in a homeschool orchestra throughout high school. In subject areas where our parents felt inadequate to teach, we simply learned together, or God raised up more knowledgeable friends in our church to instruct us. We received diplomas and transcripts through the satellite program through which we homeschooled, and were accepted into college without any problem.
Homeschooling gave us the benefit of being in a home setting with our teachers as our loving parents. We developed self-motivation and self-discipline as we studied on our own (finishing our first college semester with the surprise blessing of almost a 4.0 each!). Most importantly, being around our parents equipped us with their values and spiritual goals, accompanied by a deep sense of family love and commitment.
God's grace will always equip you for the next step in home education. As we are now both working on our PhDs and looking back, we can see God's hand in our high school years, working out every detail perfectly as we waited on Him and followed His leading.
Taryn & Mirren,
Thoughts about homeschooling
I was not too excited about being homeschooled in 9th grade. I wanted to be the same as everyone else-what I thought was a "normal teenager." It wasn't until 11th grade that I really began to see all the wonderful things I had overlooked in homeschooling.
First, homeschooling allowed me the privilege of having a significant amount of time to study God and the Bible. I am so grateful today for all that time in God's Word that truly provided me a solid foundation for my Christian walk.
Second, my mom and I had the unique opportunity to run errands, cook, clean, and just be home together on a daily basis. I not only grew closer to her, but more familiar with homemaking skills that I know will serve me later in life. It's hard to appreciate the opportunity we have to cultivate a friendship with our mothers when we're 16, but as I look back on those years, I don't think my mom and I would be as close as we are today if I had been gone all day. It wasn't as if we had extensive, three-hour conversations every day! It was sharing the mundane, simple hours of the week that sanctified us and grew our relationship the most.
Lastly, homeschooling enabled me to pursue unique giftings and extracurricular activities. Having studied piano since 1st grade, I was able to continue taking weekly lessons and practice more than I ever could if I was in school from 8:00 to 3:00, Monday through Friday . . . I now have eight piano students of my own.
Uniqueness and Diligence: Two Benefits of Home Instruction
My parents homeschooled me from 3rd through 10th grade, after which I attended community college for 11th and 12th grades. Looking back, two aspects of home instruction particularly contributed to my success in life and at college.
First, homeschooling shielded me from the peer pressure that is especially potent in junior high and high school. Large public schools can be factories that force teenagers to conform their personalities to various molds. Homeschool alumni whom I've encountered tend to have more unique interests than graduates of public schools. Though generalizations are not true in every case, I know my own interests diverge from those of the mass culture, and I'm told that my personality is uncommon (in a good way!). As a result, I have a lot to contribute to, as well as learn from, my friendships and interactions with others. I'm also strongly convicted in my faith in Christ, as mass culture's rejection of Him doesn't trouble me.
Second, by requiring independent, analytical modes of thought, home instruction laid the foundation for my success at college in a manner that public schools cannot duplicate. Under my mother's system of homeschooling, my assignments usually were to read textbook passages on my own and then to complete problem sets or answer my mom's oral questions, which tested reading comprehension. Rather than relying on a lecturer to introduce and clarify the material in the textbooks, I had to understand ideas, events, and data on my own, turning to my mom if all else failed. That forced me to think for myself and to exert myself, since I wasn't being spoon-fed the material. As a result, I was well prepared for college, which follows the homeschool model of independent learning more closely than the public school model. Indeed, from my observations at college, what separates the top students from the rest of the pack is usually not intelligence but more often a diligent work ethic and good thinking habits. Homeschooling inculcated those skills in me.
Homeschooling Around the World
I appreciated homeschooling through high school because it gave me the opportunity to travel around the world. My dad successfully passed on to me his wanderlust, sense of adventure, and enjoyment in meeting new people and experiencing new cultures. He was an Air Force officer, so we lived from Maine to Florida and explored everywhere in between before I was 15! Thanks to our flexible schedule and transportable school, we were even able to go with my dad when he was stationed on military bases for “temporary duty.” Mom often included our travels in the lesson plans: the Alamo, Revolutionary War battles, Civil War battles, early American exploration. Wherever we were, my brother and I experienced history rather than just reading about it from a textbook.
During high school, Dad decided it was time for us to see Europe ... not just once, but three times! During our first trip, after visiting battlefields and monuments in Germany, World War I became more than just “the precursor to World War II.” It ignited a self-directed study of WWI. The second trip actualized D-Day and the push to overcome the Nazis as we walked along the beaches of Normandy and through the former Dachau concentration camp. During my senior year, my parents graciously sent me with a small group from our co-op to Greece and Rome, where the previous two years of studying these ancient cultures came to life in vivid detail.
Thanks to my parents’ faithful example, I plan to homeschool my own children someday. I only hope I, too, am able to pass along the wonder and joy of exploring the world firsthand.
Policy regarding resources listed by our Homeschooling Thru High School program:
Being listed as a resource does not constitute an endorsement by HSLDA. Our list of resources is not intended to be an exhaustive inventory of all available materials, but rather a sample listing of resources commonly used by our members.
HSLDA retains the exclusive right to determine which resources we will list. We will periodically update our list based on member feedback.
In general, resources listed must be of value to a substantial number of homeschoolers and cannot be overtly anti-Christian or anti-HSLDA.