Monthly Archives: January 2012

Reflections of a Homeschool Pioneer, Priority #4: My Sister Is an Only Child

One day, when I was a young boy, I saw my mother reading a book. The title of the book: “My Sister Is an Only Child”.

“That’s a dumb title for a book!” I thought.

Recently I was watching a CNN special on how to fix American public schools. One of the people interviewed was Professor Ken Robinson. Robinson is a favorite of mine and I strongly suggest everyone watch some of his talks at TED Conferences [Go to You Tube and enter his name. He is not only very funny, but has some important things to say that anyone who cares about children needs to hear].

The interviewer, Fareed Zakaria, asked Robinson how American schools could be improved. Here is the short exchange between Robinson and Zakaria (I can’t quote it exactly, but this is close):

Robinson [responding to Zakaria’s question]: You have three children, don’t you?

Zakaria: Yes.

Robinson: I have never met your children, but I know something about them. They are very different from one another, aren’t they?

Zakaria: Yes, very different.

Robinson: Herein lies the great problem with public schools: Every human being is different, yet, we don’t treat children as if this was the case. We treat them as if they were the same: same abilities, same capacities, same interests. What we need is to celebrate the individuality of each child. Public schools were originally created on a factory model, to educate masses of children as efficiently as possible. This requires conformity, uniformity, and standardization. But, we are not making motor cars, here. We are raising unique human beings.

At that moment, the title to my mother’s book jumped into my mind (I had not thought of that book in decades). I thought, “My sister really was an only child!”

If you think about it seriously, every child is an ‘only child’.”

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am that famous educators like Robinson are finally saying things we homeschoolers have been saying for a long, long time.

As a homeschool parent, are you treating each of your children like he or she would be treated in the public (factory) school?

Or, do you shun conformity, uniformity, and standardization as you homeschool your different children? If so, in what ways are you celebrating the individuality of each child?

Please comment below. I would really like to hear from you on this important issue.

Reflections of a Homeschool Pioneer, Priority #3: Whose Kids Live in Your Home?

This little nugget is one of the major keys to raising children: The children in your home are not your children.

Your entire homeschooling enterprise will change if you can grasp this truth!

What if you truly believed that God created each child and intends to be that child’s Father for the rest of his life?

God then allows the child to reside in the home of humans for a short time and asks those humans to raise the child for Him and for His purposes. The human parents’ main responsibility is to find out how the Father wants His child raised and what life, and educational, experiences his Father wants the humans to provide while the child is in their home.

All the time the child resides in the humans’ home, the Father seeks to inform the humans what He wants done with His child. When the humans become confused as to what to do, they are to ask the child’s Father. The Father will tell them.

I have often told the story of the time the oldest boy declared that he hated math. That distressed me because I did not think learning should drive a person to something as drastic as hate. I told the boy, “Put away your math and I will ask your Father what is going on. We will return to math if and when He tells me what to do.” (There is a fuller version of this story in an earlier blog).

I talked and talked to this boy’s Father for an entire year, keeping my promise that we would do no math until I had heard from the boy’s Father. I knew one thing: I was this boy’s Dad; not his Father. The things I didn’t understand, his Father did understand. And I knew his Father would tell me or I would find myself going off in directions that might not be best for His son.

When the boy’s Father finally told me, a year had passed. The answer was so interestingly novel, I am still amazed to this day.

Whose children live in your home? Yours? Poor kids! Try putting the responsibility of raising them on their real Father. We are only helping Him raise His kids, so we had better keep a line open to Him. He is more than eager to tell us how He wants his children raised.

Your entire homeschooling enterprise will change if you can grasp this truth!

Reflections of a Homeschool Pioneer, Priority #2: Dad Should Not Be Principal of the Homeschool

Homeschooling is usually initiated by mothers. When Moms bring the idea to their husbands, Dads often respond, “Sure, honey, whatever you think.”

What Dads usually mean by this is, “I’m really busy bringing home the bacon. There is an entire industry out there to educate children. But, if you have time to do this and think you should, then go ahead…” We call this Dad supporting Mom’s homeschooling.

What is wrong with this? I will tell you: If Dad supports his wife’s homeschooling, Mom will eventually burn out.

What causes Moms to burn out is not the work of homeschooling, but the responsibility of making it work.

Men don’t understand that women can actually get physically ill when they feel totally responsible for how this homeschooling enterprise works out. That responsibility is simply not Mom’s to carry! Instead of Dad supporting Mom’s homeschooling, Mom should be supporting Dad’s homeschooling.

A few years ago, I was giving a homeschool seminar to a group of about 600 people. When I had finished speaking, I felt the Lord prompt me to give an alter call for healing. I was stunned! I had never even thought of giving an alter call during a homeschooling conference. “This isn’t the place for alter calls,” I thought.

But, I obeyed, telling the audience there might be a few ladies who needed healing for medical issues brought on by their particular homeschooling situation. I told them to come up front and I would pray for them. Then, I dismissed the rest.

Within moments, I was looking down at over 200 women who had come forth for healing! It was then I realized how serious this is.

What if Dad said something like this to the children, “Your Mom and I have decided to homeschool you kids. Since I work during the day, I have asked your Mom to do most of the teaching. Mom and I have discussed how we will do this. I have told Mom that she is not required to make you do what we have agreed should be done. All she has to do is tell you what the two of us have decided. She will not remind you several times and she will not raise her voice. You will make homeschooling easy for Mom. If you don’t, you and I will have a talk. And, we may even more than a talk.

Support is not the same thing as being responsible. If Dad only agrees that Mom should homeschool, what happens if things don’t work out? He can always say, “Yeah, I didn’t think it was such a good idea. But, you wanted to, so I agreed.”

However, if Dad is the homeschooling parent and Mom is his helper (meaning she may still do most of the teaching), all the weight of responsibility is lifted from her shoulders and she can simply follow through with what she and Dad have agreed needs to be done.

There is lots of flexibility in this arrangement, too. As time goes by, the kids can appeal for changes in routine and curricula and both parents can make whatever changes are necessary to make homeschooling flow more happily.

Mom is not carrying a burden. She is enjoying her time with the children and really enjoying Dad being responsible.

Dad, how about telling your wife, “Honey, instead of merely being a ‘figurehead Principal’, I am going to be the homeschooler around here. Will you help me?”
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Reflections of a Homeschool Pioneer, Priority #1: No Child Marriage Left Behind

I promised to begin the New Year thinking about my nearly 30 years’ involvement in homeschooling and share what I believe are the most important truths every homeschooler must consider.

And, I promised to share both from my successes and my failures.

I also promised to try to put these truths into some sort of priority order. So, here goes #1 (this may seem like an unusual #1, but I suggest that you consider it carefully)…

When I ask parents what they believe is most important for their children to learn, no adult has ever responded, “I want my children to grow up with a really healthy idea of what a good marriage looks like.”

Allow me to be blunt:

Homeschool parents often forget that their children are not the most important individuals in their home.

Every one of us has a finite amount of time for relationships. Homeschool parents tend to focus on their children: we fret over curricula, we worry about reading, we plan and we plan and we plan some more. Then, we homeschool. We pour ourselves into our kids.

Our spouses get what’s left over, if there is anything left over. Bad idea.

How would your children characterize their parents’ relationship? Do they happily roll their eyes at your show of affection? Do they have to sacrifice some parental time because Dad and Mom truly believe time spent with one another is more important than time spent with their kids?

If you are homeschooling, your kids are probably around you most of the time. They watch and learn—not so much by what you say as what you do (or don’t do).

Here’s a scary thought for some (and a positive thought for others): Your children will probably relate to their spouses in much the same way you relate to yours.