Assuming you have done some prayerful preparation and planning for the upcoming school year, now you are ready to discuss your plan with your husband. As you seek to go forward, united in training up your children, make this a high priority.
I realize that some husbands merely tolerate their wife’s desire to homeschool. These fathers choose against being genuinely engaged and settle for the sideline. If this describes your home, I want to encourage you to invite him to be a part. Inviting is different from guilting or badgering or manipulating or belittling. Don’t assume he doesn’t want to be a part of the homeschool adventure this year. Invite him to join you and the kids.
Ask your husband to set aside a specific time and date to discuss the coming school year with you. Tell him you want to let him know what you are planning and you want his support and insight. He will probably see some things in your planning that you missed. It is also important to review the objectives of your homeschool and remember that you are working together to bring the children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Suggested course of action:
- Pray. Whether your husband is supportive or merely tolerant, pray that God would bless your meeting. Here are several things to bring before the throne:
- Thank God for having a plan for your homeschool, for going before, walking with you and coming behind you.
- Pray that He would grant you and your husband wisdom and understanding.
- Pray that God would glorify Himself through your homeschool.
- Ask the Lord that you and your husband would be united, that He would grant your husband a vision for his family and that you would joyfully support him as his wife.
- Ask that God would grant you the time to meet with your husband and that he would engage in the discipleship of the children.
- Praise His name for all He is going to do!
- Set the date. Look at your calendars and choose a day you can sit down together to focus and discuss the coming home school year. Be considerate of his time and schedule. Many husbands are used to attending meetings with a clear agenda. Let him know what you want to discuss so he does not feel like he is put on the spot or unprepared for the discussion.
A few items you might discuss:
- Guiding Bible verse for the school year
- Review of roles
- Responsibilities for the individual children
- Proposed routine
- The subjects to be studied
- Prayer requests
- Set the stage. Plan the meeting to be just the two of you without the kids, if possible. You might trade off watching the kids with another homeschool mom. Try and make sure you won’t have any interruptions so that you can have a productive meeting. If you go somewhere, make sure it’s somewhere you can talk. If you stay in, make the setting as peaceful as possible. Most men enjoy a good dinner, consider making one of his favorite meals. Take a cue from Esther!
- Go Forward with Confidence. Now, make it happen. Talk with your husband, plan the evening, gather your visual aids such as your planner and various books from the curriculum you want to show him and have a great meeting.
It’s important to note that some husbands want to engage but they don’t know how. You might want to have some activities that your husband can take full ownership of – here’s a few ideas:
- Choose the year’s Bible verse
- Read aloud to the children each day
- Go over a particular subject with a child
- Plan and carry out specific outings or field trips
- Give you some time each week to plan by doing an activity with the kids
- Direct family worship
- Pray for specific challenges/opportunities
Again, it is important that we do not nag our husbands into helping, but rather invite them to be involved as they are able. We need to make sure that we don’t exclude them or make them feel that there is no place for them because we dominate and reject their help and input. As you’re planning, search diligently for a way to engage your husband’s talents and interests and encourage him to play an active role in your homeschool.
This is one of my favorite times of the year, the time everything is fresh and new and possible! This is the time when I get to look back and forward, dream and consider, pray and trust as I look to a new year of home schooling.
Over the course of 18 years of teaching my children at home I have learned that this journey is not about figuring it out, but it is about prayerfully persevering. It is about continuing on through the challenges and celebrating God’s goodness and faithfulness.
We must remember not to allow our plans to become our idol. God’s word says that “man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps.” God has a plan for each of our lives, for our family’s homeschool. We should plan prayerfully and hold our plans with open hands, offering our plans up to God to work through and use as He will for His glory.
Planning gives us a target to aim for. We do not always hit the bull’s eye, but having one means we are shooting in the right direction. It is vital we have a target to aim at while allowing, or rather inviting God to come and direct our steps.
Here are some steps I go through as I plan the year:
- Pray. Before you even begin the day, ask the Father to guide you and grant you wisdom as you plan. His Spirit will help you and give you insights as you go forward.
- Review Objectives. Our over-arching goal each year is to glorify God and to raise children who glorify God. From there I look at each student, where they are and what they need for the year and set goals for them individually.
- Plan out weeks. This simply means looking at the calendar and your family’s activities/travel and planning which days/weeks you will be home schooling. Additionally, consider planning in some down time for you and your kids. We adopted a 6-weeks-on-1-week-off schedule several years ago that works great for our family. The week off gives us a break, a chance to adjust and catch-up if necessary. Once you know when you can homeschool, now you can better plan ‘what’ and ‘how’.
- Decide on the year’s subjects. I have developed a rotation for our study of history so that we can go through world and American history several times over the course of their education. Subsequently I add in math, science, writing and foreign language. After these are in place I look to see what I can add in that is unique to each child. For instance I might add in some LEGO material for my LEGO enthusiast or an art class for my emerging artist. Though these may seem to be merely extracurricular, I maintain that as their particular talents and interest begin to develop, they should become more prominent, not just add-on’s.
- Develop a Routine. Over the years I have come to believe that a routine is much better than a schedule. A routine sets a pattern for our day, a course of action, and ultimately, habits. In contrast a schedule ties us, makes us slaves to the clock. A schedule demands we pay attention to the minutes instead of the moments. It robs us of joy and distracts us from our purpose. I desire to create a context wherein my children love learning. I want to engage them in such a way that they don’t even notice the time. I don’t want to rush to the next ‘thing’ but lean into the now, what we are reading or discovering or solving now.
As you consider the pattern you want to adopt for your day, I would encourage you to put God first (Matthew 6:33). Read God’s word together first; pray together first. This example of putting God first is an excellent example for your children as they grow up and begin to adopt their own daily routines. As they get older, show them how to have their own quite time first and then ask them to share what they learned that day.
After time with God, then put the other subjects in an order that best serves your children, their needs, and your day. We have a routine that is basically the same each day. This way the kids know the drill. They can proceed on their own if I am busy with a character issue or the laundry.
- Plan a meeting with the Principal. This is key. Make sure that you take the time to go over your plan with the principal of your homeschool, your husband. (In North Carolina, the husband/father is considered the principal of the homeschool. Though homeschool law varies from state to state, this is a good way to look at the division of roles.) Get a date on the calendar to meet with him and discuss your plan. More on this next week!
Join Me At CHEA This Weekend
July 7-9, 2016
Davis and I and 4 of our 7 kids traveled to California today. We had an uneventful trip and had some time to explore Pasadena where the CHEA conference for homeschooling families will beheld this weekend.
Davis will be speaking at the leadership track on Thursday and I have two presentation on Friday and the keynote address on Saturday morning.
May God be gloried and families encouraged this weekend.
Friday, July 8, 2016
11:30-12:30 Teaching Your Children to BLESS
2:00-3:00 What about ‘That’ Child?
Saturday, July 9, 2016
9-10 KEYNOTE: Soaring Beyond Survival
Join Me At The INCH in Lansing, MI!
Davis and I are in Lansing, MI this weekend to minister to homeschooling families alongside INCH-MI. We are honored to be apart of this conference and are anticipating God’s movement. It is our prayer that those who attend will be challenged, encouraged and inspired!
My schedule is listed below. I have included Davis’ presentations as well since we are both speaking. The outlines for my presentations are on my Resource Page. After each session Davis and I will be available to visit with you. We’d love to meet you and hear about your journey.
Thursday, May 19, 2016
2:30PM-3:15PM Leadership Lessons from the Trenches-Davis
7PM-8PM Me? Homeschool?-Rachael
Used curriculum sale: 2-7PM
Friday, May 20, 2016
8:45AM-9:45AM KEYNOTE: Teaching Foundational Truth-Rachael
11:15AM-12:15PM Stand by Your Man-Rachael; APPLES for Teacher-Davis
1:45PM-2:45PM What about ‘That’ Child? –Rachael
Book fair open: 10AM-6:30PM
Saturday, May 21, 2016
10AM-11AM When Doubt Creeps In-Rachael
11:15AM-12:15PM HEART Exam for Dads-Davis
1:45PM-2:45PM CHILL OUT-Rachael
Book fair open: 10AM-5PM
Waiting And Resting
Pages From My Journal
As you continue to work out the kinks in the plan you had for this homeschool year, would you like to hear a story of God’s faithfulness? Would you like to know how this homeschool mother is finally resting after years of waiting while you figure out what you need to do to amuse your toddler? I’d love to tell you about it as you are in the middle of potty-training your three-year old, getting your laundry done, preparing your grocery shopping list, or cleaning up after a rough start to the day.
Would you like a word of encouragement from someone who vividly remembers homeschool life back when I had kids in diapers and young ones who didn’t sleep through the night? Would you like to know that what you are doing is not in vain, not insignificant, not unnoticed? Would you like a little reassurance that God knows your concerns, that He hears your prayers, that He cares, and — get this one — He is working on your behalf. Even now, even today, even though your voice seems to be bouncing back in an echo chamber, even though progress seems minuscule — God is working!
Do you feel like the only evidence you have to show for your daily progress on this path is weary footprints in the dust? If this is you, or someone you know, read on. Let me tell you a true story of how God has encouraged me.
This last March, Davis and I traveled to New York City to visit The King’s College with our oldest son Charles. Boy, I never could have predicted this one. New York City? Really?
The college was hosting a special weekend for interested students and their parents. Davis and I arrived separately from Charles as he was flying in from Atlanta where he had classes at Impact 360 (his gap-year program). Davis and I landed at the airport, took a taxi and settled into an extraordinarily small hotel room.
When Charles joined us, we were all excited about our weekend together. We headed on foot from our hotel to the Empire State Building where King’s has its offices, student center, and classrooms. The students and faculty greeted us warmly and offered coffee and muffins. The air held an anxious anticipation for the would-be students. After all, this is New York City.
We proceeded to enjoy a “campus” tour (The King’s College considers New York City its campus since the students dorms, some classes, and the internships are spread across the city) which included different locations in the Empire State Building and across the street where the professors have their offices. After a New York style pizza for lunch, we had the opportunity to listen to faculty members and professors. Charles was completely focused, intrigued, and introspective. The goals and objectives of the college (as stated by an executive staff member) took my breath away as I had always hoped and dreamed that these options would one day be available for Charles.
After going through their agenda, the panel took some audience questions. One person asked about the history of the college. The answer included an explanation that it had started in 1938, but had run into problems in the mid 1990’s and closed the doors for four years. In 1999, the college re-birthed itself when a group of dedicated men (including Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ) gave leadership, focus, and renewed purpose to the school.
My mind started racing. Did he say all this happened just over ten years ago? Really? Is that what he said? Oh dear heavenly Father, You did hear my cries.
My eyes filled with tears. I wasn’t listening to the speaker. His voice now muffled, and distant. I sat really still trying to control my emotions. The tears ran down my cheeks; Davis took my hand, not understanding, yet showing support. Why wasn’t there a tissue in my purse?
Ten years ago.
The memories came easily and vividly, but not gently. That time was not just a blip on the screen or a bump in the road. No, that was a really tough time when my homeschool journey was filed with loads of self-doubt. Many of the old insecurities resurfaced. That was the year defeat and discouragement lurked about stalking me every day.
Charles was in pre-adolescence, a time when his body was being charged with hormones. This displayed itself with feelings ranging from anger and frustration swinging all the way over to elation and joy — often within moments of each other. His reading skills had only recently taken off and so did his questions, his intensity, and his abstract thinking. All this change caught me off guard. I expected this down the road and with my daughters, but I thought I had a few more years until these battles set in. Unfortunately, there was no denying – we were well into it.
In the middle of all this, Charles was struggling with some focus issues, which were affecting his schoolwork. I fought against the “testing” option. I thought I could teach and pray and love him through it. But that year, nothing seemed to be working. He seemed to need major intervention. Maybe private school was the answer; maybe this was the end of the homeschool road.
And so I prayed
I prayed that Charles would hear from God and grow in confidence, that the Lord would become real to him, and finally that God would prepare a place especially for Charles. As his mother, I had come to realize that it was going to need to be a very special place, where our goals, values, and vision for our son, our precious Charles, would be supported, where he could soar, where he could grow, where he could lead, where he would be prepared for God’s will and plan for his life.
We are now in our 15th year of homeschooling. I still stand by my characterization of this homeschooling lifestyle as the adventure of a lifetime. God knew that I enjoy the breath-taking rides offered by roller coasters, and my life’s journey has been nothing short of exhilarating.
Sitting there in a meeting room of the Empire State Building, I felt God’s peace. He had answered my prayers. Jesus told his disciples that He goes to prepare a place for us. He does the same thing for His children here.
As a homeschool mom I have missed many opportunities. Many things have gone untaught. We haven’t even gone to the library as regularly as most families do. We have missed some good field trips, and for what it’s worth, our annual test scores are pretty average. But this I know, God has given everyone of us opportunity after opportunity to see His hand, to experience answered prayer, to enjoy His provision, to rest in His plan, to trust Him beyond our understanding, and to rest in His providence.
When I speak, I regularly advocate for God’s providence and His sovereignty. I believe, but I must confess, I didn’t know what it meant to rest in His plans until that moment. During Charles’ senior year I wasted many a night worrying about where he would go and what he would do.
In that moment as I felt God’s peace wash over me it was as if He was saying, “I’ve got Charles. I heard your prayers all those years ago. I already know it is New York City, but do you trust me? I do have amazing plans for Charles. You persevered and obeyed. Though imperfectly, you trusted Me though tears and even doubt. And you recognized that Charles is really mine. I’d like you to do something now that you haven’t done in a while: take a deep breath and let him go. Let him come here to New York City, to The King’s College. I have some people that can continue what you and Davis started. I know it is a risky proposition, but that is why it is called faith. You can breath now. I have proven Myself faithful. I have answered your prayers. Now rest in my peace.”
So, as crazy as it might seem, Charles is at The King’s College in New York City. He lives 1.5 miles from campus and rides the subway regularly, which he has already mastered. And he is thriving. God has met my son in New York City for a kind of divine appointment. God even threw in some scholarships to boot. His grace truly amazes me.
Charles turned 20 years old in 2010. Through this journey our hearts have been knitted together by the Master. I miss him, his energy, his enthusiasm, and even his intensity. I miss the debates over breakfast and the 11:00 pm knocks on our bedroom door, “Mom? Dad? You got a minute?” Yes, I miss that. Every morning I go into his room, turn on his bedside lamp and say a prayer. At night I reverse the ritual. I haven’t stopped praying or missing — I’ve just started resting!
Homeschooling Is A Lifestyle
Finally, you need to understand that this is more than just an educational choice. Homeschooling is a lifestyle.
In North Carolina, we are required to complete 180 days of school. You need to embrace the idea that homeschooling is full-time. If you accept that home education is a daily, round-the-clock commitment, if you understand that learning should never be confined to a classroom or governed by a clock, you won’t have a problem meeting a 180-day minimum. Homeschooling will change your family’s outlook on everything—how you read and discuss the news, how you go to the grocery store, how you watch a movie. It will change what you talk about, where you shop, what you buy, what you listen to, read, and watch. And it should!
However, I’m going to suggest to you that these changes are not occurring just because you’ve embraced homeschooling, but because you have embraced the Lord of lords. After all, shouldn’t His presence and will permeate everything we do?
In the coming years your kids are going to have questions of eternal significance. I think of some of the questions my kids have asked me during our homeschool journey. I could have said, “School’s out! Sorry about that. I’ll answer your questions tomorrow!” But I’m so grateful and honored that they are coming to me with their life questions any and all times of the day. Your kids will come to you with those questions if you approach homeschooling as something you do together as a family in the admonition of the Lord. And that will be an eternal blessing for you and your kids.
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling:
My Best Advice for New Homeschoolers
When we got started, I received a tremendous piece of advice. Remember, I’m calling people and desperately asking them what I should do. I took my son out of school on a Friday and school is supposed to start on Monday, right? This is what my friends said: Relax. Don’t panic. Pray.
That’s my advice to you. Not just in your homeschooling journey, but in every part of life. When starting anything new and potentially life-changing, it’s very easy for panic set in, isn’t it? You start thinking about everything you don’t know or can’t anticipate and you soon find yourself reaching for a brown paper bag to breathe into. As a longtime homeschool mom, I’ve had moments like that as recently as last week!
When my oldest graduated five years ago, he chose to attend college in New York City. At some level that should have caused me to panic, but I had been praying about where God would take him. And when God has led my child to where He wants him to be, I can rest in what God is doing in his life. This is a habit you, too, can form. Not panicking, but praying.
After you relax, don’t panic, and pray, then my advice to you is simply to read, read, read, read, and read some more! If you’re pulling your kids out of school, you need to make it a priority to learn what they’re interested in and what makes them tick. I didn’t know that about my kids. I was so caught up in what the culture said about what I was supposed to be and do as a mother that I had allowed myself to believe it was the school district’s problem to motivate them to learn. The best advice I got was from someone who told me to take Charles to the library and see what books he was drawn to, then read those books to him and get to know him better.
If your children have already attended public school and you’re taking them out, you are going to have to “unschool” them to some degree. In this first year of homeschooling, they may say, “But at school we did this!” You’re going to have to work with them to let go of routines designed primarily to corral large groups of children. In the meantime, there are some great books out there to help you get a handle on this homeschooling thing. Books such as Cynthia Tobias’s The Way They Learn.
Become a student of your children. How do they learn best? Each one will be different. Debra Bell has a best-selling book called The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. Cathy Duffy has written some great books on how to select curriculum for your home school. These books are great tools that you need to get your hands on.
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling:
At the end of our first year of homeschooling, there were people who sensed we were not in it for the long haul. The feeling was that we were short-timers, that we weren’t going to make it. Someone suggested that we attend the North Carolina state homeschool conference and told us they would watch our kids and pay our way. A paid weekend away with my husband? Now this may shed a little light on my legalistic background, which I have since been liberated from. (Thank you, Jesus!) We went and registered for just one workshop so that we could honestly say we had attended the convention. Isn’t that pathetic? I wonder how many are here today because they feel they have to be here and not because they want to. I hope that’s not you, but that was certainly me!
But God is so good. The workshop we went to was presented by a man named Chris Davis, and he totally inspired both of us. I remember weeping in that workshop because I got what he was saying. Things like, “Are you just going to fill a bucket, or are you going to light a fire? Are you just going to raise another cog in a wheel, or are you going to raise someone that’s going to change the world?” We left that workshop excited and on fire. We drove back to Charlotte discussing all that we could do as homeschoolers, our minds exploding with possibilities.
I’m speaking this week on the how, when, who, what, why, and where to homeschool. But I want to tell you right now that homeschooling is not what you can do, but what God will do if the “you” will step out of the way. God’s faithful preparation, God’s faithful provision, and God’s faithful prompting made home education not only doable for my family but the best possible choice for educating our children.
God’s faithful preparation for me had happened in Akron, that strange and foreign land. We moved there because my father-in-law was terminally ill, and I wanted my kids to have some knowledge of their grandfather. We didn’t go there to learn about homeschooling. You may find that as you look back on the path that has brought you to this place today—this decision in your life—just how faithful God has been to you in your preparation. God gave me those women on that street who I just thought were cool because they stayed home and liked to garden. I learned more about gardening from those women than from anybody else. Indeed, I thought that’s why I was there. But in retrospect I was there to learn to embrace my role as a wife, a mother, and a daughter of the King. I bet that as you retrace your steps you will find that God has been faithful in preparing you.
Remember the house we bought because it was located in the best school district in Charlotte? There was a space over the garage that we had intended to build into an office for my husband. As it turned out, this space made a wonderful schoolroom! We thought we were moving into the perfect school district, but God already had faithfully provided the perfect place to put our school. You are going to find that God has provided for you, too, as you look back on this time one day.
Finally, there’s God’s faithful prompting. We must be open to what God is telling us—not just about homeschooling, but about countless other things. Before moving ahead, you need to know something: Homeschooling is not the answer. I don’t know what questions you have, but homeschooling is not the answer. Jesus is the answer. If you’re trying to address whatever is coming between you and your husband or you and your kids, and you think homeschooling is the answer, you are looking in the wrong place.
Homeschooling is all about introducing your kids to the Lord of the universe—the King of kings who loved them (and you) so much that He died on a cross to pay their debt. That’s what it’s about. I’ve met people who say they’ve tried homeschooling and it didn’t work, and I want to ask them, “Have you tried Jesus? He won’t let you down!” If you are trying to fill a void in your home or your heart and you think homeschooling is the answer, you will be disappointed. Unless Jesus is at the center of what you are looking to achieve, it’s not going to happen.
I challenge you to take some time this weekend to trace God’s faithful preparation in your life. Why are you here today? What circumstance brought you to this point? Perhaps it was the leading of the Holy Spirit—His faithful provision and prompting in your life. I want you to explore this further so that you can give praise and glory where it’s due.
I thought the yellow school bus was going to be my salvation. I thought it was going give me time away from Charles and allow me some personal space and freedom. In my workshop entitled “How to Have a HEART for Your Children,” I explore this issue of my relationship with Charles and what God has done to bind our hearts together and, subsequently, the rest of my children. I believe as mothers we have given our hearts over to a culture that says, “It’s all about you!” In the meantime, our children suffer. We’ve raised a generation whose mother’s hearts have not been with them. I want to invite you today to consider what you think is the answer to your woes. If you think it’s a big yellow school bus, you are mistaken.
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling:
A Rude Awakening
When we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where did we look for a house? In the best local school district, of course! We were willing to spend more money than we had to buy a house in the right location. So we found a house and began praying for Charles’s kindergarten instructor. Bless her heart, whoever she was going to be! That summer we went to an open house and met Charles’ new teacher. I was not impressed. As we buckled the kids into the car, I looked at Davis and asked “Is that who you’ve been praying for, because that’s not who I’ve been praying for.” And he said, “You know, that’s really not who I had in mind either.” So we decided to continue praying because we had six more weeks until school started.
And then the glorious day came: the day I would get my life back. This was the day that I would go back to Bible study and start rendezvousing with friends for lunch. Charles was such a strong-willed child that I had had to withdraw from so many social activities; I simply could not predict how he was going to behave each day. But this year was going to be different. I could not have been more excited about the first day of school. We bought the new outfit, got the new lunch box (both of which I still have, by the way). We took lots of pictures, and Charles was so excited about riding the bus. And glory to God, the bus stopped just at the end of our street!
We had it all worked out. Davis was going to take Charles and the neighbor boy to school in the morning, and at the end of the day (when Savannah Anne, our newborn, would be taking a nap) my neighbor would meet the boys at the end of the street and walk them home.
So the first day, Davis took Charles and the neighborhood boy to school and delivered them to their kindergarten classroom. Davis took pictures, waved goodbye, and left for work. In the afternoon, I waited for Charles to return. I walked down to my mailbox at 2:30 p.m. and saw my neighbor coming over the hill. Her son was beside her and her dog, but my son was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Charles?” I asked. And she said, “He wasn’t there.”
I ran into the house and called the school. “Oh, you must be the parent of the little boy sitting in our office,” they said. I called my husband and cried, “Charles wasn’t on the bus! They didn’t put him on the bus!”
On the first day the kids were suppose to wear a tag with their bus number pinned to their clothes. Davis said, “He had a tag on his shirt this morning. I don’t know if he took it off or what happened. I’ll take care of it.” So my husband left work, went to the school, spoke with the teacher, and sure enough, Charles still had the tag on his shirt that read “Bus 809.”
My husband told the principal, “Clearly, this is not okay. He has his tag and was supposed to get on the bus.” The principal reassured Davis, saying it was the first day of school and that things would go much smoother the next day. In fact, the principal said that Charles didn’t even need to wear the bus tag again, but Davis said, “Charles will wear the tag again tomorrow.”
Day two. Davis took Charles and the neighbor boy to school and dropped them off. At 2:30 I went down to the mailbox and over the ridge, only to see my neighbor, her son, and her dog—and no Charles. I called the school again, only this time they didn’t know where he was! Later we found out they had put him on the wrong bus! So now my son was terrified of the bus. This meant I would have to drive out every weekday afternoon, wait in a long line of cars, and pick him up from school.
This was totally messing up my plans. But was I thinking about homeschooling yet? Not on your life.
Charles stayed in school for eleven more days—and yet he never brought any schoolwork home. He had gone to preschool, and I had to have a suitcase to bring home all the stuff he’d created in class. Yet Charles did not bring home a single piece of paper in thirteen days of kindergarten. Davis decided to take that Friday off work. He made arrangements with the principal and teacher to spend the whole morning in the classroom as an observer. Soon after noon Davis and Charles came home: He had withdrawn Charles from school. It wasn’t that anything “bad” was happening. But there wasn’t anything good happening. Davis could see that our son was going to die a slow death if we kept him in that school setting.
When they got home, we packed all three kids into the car and spent three hours driving around Charlotte to visit private schools, putting Charles on every waiting list imaginable. At that time, private schools were asking tens of thousands of dollars just to put a child in kindergarten. Yet there was not one spot open anywhere. He was number six on the shortest waiting list we got him on. (I now chalk this up to God’s goodness.) When we finally arrived home, we were all sweaty, cranky, exhausted, and frustrated. We had pulled Charles out of school, and we didn’t know what we were going to do come Monday.
That’s when Davis said the fateful words: “What do you think about homeschooling?”
He swears now my head spun on my shoulders.
The most submissive response I could muster was, “Okay, so let me get this straight. You’re going to go to work all day, and I’m going to have to stay at home with the kids. Right?”
Davis said, “It just occurs to me that we’ve been praying for Charles’s teacher all this time. We know it’s not the teacher at the public school. Rachael, I think we’ve been praying for you.”
It was in that moment that the Creator of the universe used my husband to convict my heart about how we were supposed to move forward with my son.
I won’t lie to you. The first year my mantra was “You can’t mess up kindergarten.” How hard can this be? I thought. ABCs. 123. I can do that, right? Just the thought of my launching into this new endeavor sent my mother reeling. In the beginning, all we said was “We’re just doing this for now.”
Who do you think I called first when we made the decision to homeschool? I called my friends in Akron, Ohio.
“Caroline, I need some help.”
“Sure, anything. What is it?” she asked.
“We took Charles out of school, and I think we’re going to homeschool.”
The next thing I heard was the phone dropping. Caroline’s husband, Butch, got on the phone and asked what I had said to her. I had to eat a lot of humble pie, but the people that God had put in my life were the very people I called for help.
Isn’t God good?
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling:
Welcome! Nineteen years ago I was sitting where you are. Only I was unwilling to attend a workshop for new homeschoolers because I was too busy making fun of homeschooling in my spare time. Today, my husband is president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of creation-based science and Bible curriculum for homeschoolers. Davis and I have been married for twenty-eight years, and we have seven children, three of whom have now graduated from our home school. In recent years as a writer and speaker, I have traveled across the country and to Europe, Asia, and Africa to encourage homeschooling families around the world. What I have found is that through God’s grace, different parts of my reluctant journey touch different people in different places in their lives.
Here is the story of how we got started on this adventure of a lifetime.
Stranger in a Strange Land
In October 1990 I gave birth to our first son. I was sure that I wasn’t going to do any of those things that everybody else had done wrong as parents. You probably had your own list of things that you knew for sure you weren’t going to do or say as a parent, right? Well, we weren’t long into Charles’ childhood before we discovered that he was one of “those” children—very strong-willed. I will never forget shopping at a grocery store when Charles was about nine months old. He was buckled into the cart when he started throwing the fit to end all fits. It got so bad that I had to leave the shopping cart half full and walk out of the store. He was totally out of control. I was so naive that I thought, Yay! We’re going to get the terrible twos over early. But we were just getting started.
As Charles neared school age, I was looking forward to spending some time without him because every day with Charles was a battle. It didn’t matter what subject we were discussing, from what shoes he was going to wear to what food he would agree to eat. Everything was a wrestling match.
There was a time when Davis and I agreed that we were not going to have any other kids after Charles. I’m a firstborn. I married a firstborn. I gave birth to a firstborn. I figured we could all reach some sort of understanding. You know, a you-take-your-corner-of-the-house-and-I’ll-take-mine kind of deal. But then we decided that Charles needed a sibling, and so we had Anderson. Charles and Anderson are complete opposites. And yet they became incredibly close and dearest friends, which is such a blessing.
I always said that I would have all the children Davis was willing to have. Of course, I said this when I believed that he was done after two. And then God got hold of Davis’s heart, and he decided that he was open to however many children God would send. Along came Savannah Anne and then Molly, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Benjamin. But you need to understand that I didn’t come at this as some people do; I had no grand, romantic vision of always wanting a big family.
We were living in Akron when I gave birth to Charles and Anderson. Akron, Ohio, as you probably know, is situated far north of the Mason-Dixon line. For this southern girl, it was a little too far north. I was raised in Texas and was used to 350 sunny days a year. Then we moved to Akron where they get a whopping fifty-six days of sunshine annually. This was very, very hard on me, and the romance of experiencing four seasons quickly faded when I found myself shoveling snow in April. It was in this place that seemed like a foreign country to me where I first heard the word “homeschooling.”
When we moved into our house in Akron, the people across the street brought us brownies. The woman said sweetly, “Oh, you have a son!”
I said, “Yes, how many children do you have?”
“I have four daughters.”
“Really? Where do they go to school?” I asked.
“We don’t send them to school,” she replied.
I was just dumbfounded, because the bus stopped right in front our house.
“We homeschool,” she explained.
I had no self-control. This is what I said to her: “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard! The bus stops right here! It takes them away for eight luxurious hours a day! Why would you not send them to school?”
She just shook her head knowingly and said, “We need to get together.”
For three years we lived in that neighborhood of cute little houses built in the 1920s. It was the 1990s and there were five stay-at-home moms living on our street. Today you might be hard-pressed to find five stay-at-home moms in your entire neighborhood. But there we were, and we got together for Bible study every Thursday night. Despite the fact that we came from different denominations, we met to worship the King of kings together. I learned something very powerful from these women.
First, these women loved God. They also loved the Bible. You know, the book that so many of us are content to keep on the shelf as a symbol of our faith. But God’s Word meant everything to these women. They opened it and read it without expecting someone else to do it for them.
Second, these women loved their men. They were committed to their husbands. All of us women need to be committed to our men. And everyone who comes in contact with us needs to know that we are crazy about our husbands. These women taught me so much about how to honor, love, and respect Davis.
We had something we called “Baby Bucks.” Each baby buck was worth one hour of babysitting per child. We would switch off kids because we didn’t have the money to do it any other way. We would honor our husbands by regularly making time to go on dates and spend time with them without the kids around.
The third lesson I learned from these women is that they really loved their kids. They were dedicated to a level of motherhood that I had never seen before. However, I’m here to tell you that when it came time to leave Ohio, homeschooling still wasn’t for me.
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling: