7 Things My Wife and I Learned From 22 Years of Homeschooling
When my wife and I moved to Ohio 22 years ago, we had just two little boys, ages 4 and 2. After looking at school districts, we decided to take on the task of educating our children at home. We wanted to provide an environment that was safe, happy, and committed to providing not only excellent academics, but also a strong moral foundation. So, the "Sanders' Christian Homeschool" was born in 1994.
Well, now we have four children: the three boys are all grown up and are successful in their career choices. Our "baby" girl is almost grown up and will be graduating this year. So what have we learned?
1. Home education is not for everyone.
Thank God there is so much educational choice in America. We have public schools, private secular and religious schools, and various kinds of homeschooling. In Ohio, some parents enroll their children in public school, but the child does all the education at home via computers. Others feel they cannot do the actual homeschool teaching, so they send their child to a homeschooling family (in Ohio a homeschooling family can take up to three students that are not part of the family).
At first the whole process seemed overwhelming. It indeed takes a lot of commitment and discipline to stick to the schedule and organize the work. (Thank God my wife is just such a person!) We had a little bit of paperwork to fill out notifying the local superintendent (we do not ask permission since it is our right to educate our children at home if we desire), and then we had to buy the curriculum and set up a plan to teach.
Fortunately, we had plenty of help from the "pros" in our local homeschool co-op (the parents who had been doing it for years), and the state organization which we joined (CHEO — Christian Home Educators of Ohio). We also joined HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) since we had heard horror stories of the overreach of state and local governments. (We have been proud supporters of all HSLDA has done to protect the rights of home educators.)
For over two decades the work has been very demanding and sacrificial on our part. I worked full time as a pastor while my wife stayed at home and taught most of the subjects. When I came home, I would teach the kids history (not "social studies"), geography, and their foreign language.
My wife has a B.A. in computer science with a minor in mathematics. My B.A. is in history. I have two masters degrees in theology, and an earned doctorate. However, we have also witnessed homeschooling parents who have only high school diplomas who have educated their children just fine. We have watched their kids grow up, go to college, and go on to successful careers.
Because we lived at that time on a pretty limited income, we gave up some things to do this. Eating out was a rarity. We had only one vehicle. We lived in a very modest home. My wife was the queen of coupons. We were able to work homeschooling into our schedule. We are both very aware that not everyone is able to do this because of other extenuating circumstances. Everyone's situation is different, and people have to find what works for their family.
Next Page: It was tough, but homeschooling gave us a few very important perks.