Home Education In California: How It All Began by Chuck & Pam Geib

*This article originally appeared in the SCOPE Newsletter in July, 2017.

Home Education was more of an experiment or an idea rather than a philosophy for many families in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Seen by many as social misfits, these parents were trying to educate their children without the age segregated environment found in public schools and the strict structure of a classroom. These families were primarily secular and used the “Un-schooling” approach of having their homes full of books and learning resources to stimulate learning naturally with little or no set classroom time.

In 1972 Dr. Raymond and Dorothy Moore brought home education into the Christian arena. They wrote the book, Better Late than Early which was born from an article first published in Harper’s magazine. The California state legislature was considering a law to lower the compulsory age for children to attend school to 2 years, 9 months and in response to that legislative idea Dr. Moore wrote the article based on his research that children actually did better if they waited to begin formal education. The article was republished in Reader’s Digest and was so well received the publishers requested the book be written. Thus modern Christian Home Education was born.

It would take nearly a decade for the seeds that were planted in 1972 to sprout. There were a few cutting edge Christian families who embraced the Moore’s ideas and began to homeschool during that decade but the fullness of time had not occurred for most. Dr. Brian Ray and his wife, Betsy began both to home educate and to research home education in the late 70’s. Dr. Ray meant for his research to be part of his doctorial thesis but was turned down. Instead it became his life’s work and was used in his thesis which then became about the public school system.

In the early 1980’s Dr. James Dobson invited Dr. Raymond Moore to be a guest speaker on his Focus on the Family radio program. In those days  Dr. Dobson was who the young Christian family looked to daily for encouragement in parenting their children.

In Los Angeles County a husband and wife heard the now famous radio program and knew it was an answer to their prayers for their young son, they were Michael & Elizabeth Smith. In Orange County two families heard it also and felt the same answer to their prayers for their children, the mothers of these families were Karen (Woodfin) Middleton and Susan Beatty. These women were soon overwhelmed with the numbers of phone calls and letters asking for help to begin home education because hundreds, perhaps thousands, of families heard that broadcast and felt lead of the Lord to try homeschooling. Susan and Karen began writing a newsletter but it was soon apparent that their work needed to be offered to a wider audience and on a statewide basis rather than just a local county one and the new organization, Christian Home Educators Association of California (CHEA) was born. The first organizational meeting for this association was held in the home of Mike & Elizabeth Smith culminating in forming a small advisory Board consisting of Mike Smith, Dr. Raymond Moore, and Jonathan Lindvall. The year was 1982.

Although groups were cropping up all over California, they were still small in numbers. An average support group might consist of a half dozen families. Many families did not even have school aged children yet. They had heard that wonderful radio program and wanted to gather with others who planned to homeschool their children when the time came.

The legalities of homeschooling became a major issue in the beginning days and Mike Smith was asked to step in and help families who had issues. At a conference in Sacramento Mike met another homeschooling father, Michael Farris who was essentially doing the same kind of help for homeschooling families in Washington state. In March of 1982 these two men founded the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) with 250 members. CHEA and HSLDA would continue to work hand in hand on issues here in California indefinitely.

The first state wide homeschool convention was chaired by Michael Smith and held in downtown Los Angeles at the Church of the Open Door in 1984. The Keynote speakers were Dr. Tim & Beverly La Haye and other speakers included: James Rose, Gregg Harris, Karen (Woodfin) Middleton, Susan Beatty, and Cathy Duffy. A whopping 900 people attended.

In February of 1985 Dr. Raymond & Dorothy Moore sponsored a How to Homeschool Conference in Pasadena. All attendees sat in their seats and speakers came and went. There were about 1000 attendees with both Dr. and Mrs. Moore speaking, Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum, the creator of Math It, Elmer Brooks, and the creator of Winston Grammar, Paul H. Irwin. Not to disappoint the masses, Dr. Dobson also made a guest appearance.

In March of 1987 HSLDA moved to the Washington D.C. area and set up offices there taking Mike Smith away from the state and the position of legislative liaison. Roy Hanson who already homeschooled his own children and worked closely with CHEA and HSLDA officially became the new legislative liaison and the 3 groups of Family Protection Ministries (FPM), HSLDA, & CHEA began its long run of watching out for home education and homeschooling families in California.

By 1985 the small little support groups multiplied immensely. Groups went from 5 or 6 families to 25 to 30 families and continued to grow steadily with each consecutive year. Dr. & Mrs. Moore visited different cities throughout the state giving seminars on home education. Gregg Harris also made the rounds throughout California giving 2 day seminars and being a featured speaker at homeschool conventions. Jonathan Lindvall first gave one day Priorities workshops and then his two day Bold Christian Youth and Bold Christian Living workshops.

The 1980’s brought lots of books to the forefront. Susan Beatty and Karen Woodfin Middleton co-authored An Introduction to Home Education which regularly sold out at conventions almost immediately. Dr. Moore added Home Grown Kids and Home Style Teaching to his growing list of books. For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay was the first glimpse for many into the Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. Mary Pride gave us The Way Home which advocated our children being our mission field and the idea of passing on a godly heritage. She also gave us The Big Book of Home Learning which quickly expanded to several books to hold all of her curriculum reviews. Cathy Duffy also wrote her Christian Curriculum Manuals (both elementary & Jr. & Sr. High School) and stayed on top of what was out there and which curriculum worked best for Christian homeschoolers. A Survivor’s Guide to Home Schooling by Luanne Shackleford and Susan White gave us our first book by a couple of homeschooling moms about how to make it work day in and day out. Ruth Beechik’s You Can Teach your Child Successfully and her The Three R’s are still foundational “how to” books that every homeschool teacher should read. Encyclopedia of Bible Truths for School Subjects by Ruth C. Haycock was a must have for every homeschoolers book shelf. Mary Schofield introduced her first edition of The High School Handbook and a little known book by Debbie Castaneda and Pam Geib titled Help! I’m Homeschooling had its modest debut.

The major periodical of the day was The Teaching Home. It went from a simple black and white format to a beautiful full color edition during that first decade of homeschooling (it is still available for free on-line and in an email format). The Court Report by HSLDA was also a foundational magazine that home educating parents waited for every other month. Home School Digest also made its debut with its above quality articles and fewer advertisements.

In the early days of the 1980’s A Beka was not sure how they felt about homeschooling so they announced that it was not profitable to offer their books to homeschoolers and gave them a deadline as to when they would quit selling to families individually. The outpour of orders from families buying complete K-12 curriculum was so overwhelming the company re-thought their decision and never did stop selling to homeschoolers. Bob Jones University Press (now known as BJU Press), Rod & Staff, Christian Light, Alpha Omega, Christian Liberty Press, all made their presence known and became familiar sites at local homeschool conferences and fairs. Exhibit Halls were generally smaller in those days and those few periodicals were thinner.

Park Days were foundational to the early homeschool family. Not only were they a time of socializing but they were also a time of learning from each other about curriculum and teaching styles and philosophies. Group field trips, parties, service opportunities were all shared and enjoyed. There were almost no computers (oh a few here and there but used mostly for games), no cell phones, very few answering machines, and families sharing their resources, babysitting swapping, rides to and from, and gleaning from each other what worked and what did not. Community was essential.

Thus was the first real decade of Private Christian Home Education. Next time we will share some of the history making moments of the past 30 years and how God providentially met each need and concern as it came up.

Another Deep Question

I wrote recently about a profound question from my 12-year-old-boy. This post is about my daughter. She’s only eight years old but her mind fastens upon questions much older, ancient questions, questions the great thinkers and theologians have debated. These questions pass through her mind and slip from her mouth, befuddling those around her. Last night she asked another big one, “If God hates sin so much, why didn’t He stop Adam and Eve from sinning?”

Let’s just stop right here. What? You’re eight years old. Don’t you have questions about dolls or bunnies or clouds? Don’t you want to know why the sky is blue or how birds fly? Oh, that’s right, you’ve asked about birds flying, haven’t you? Just the other day you said, “Look at those three birds. They are flying without moving their wings. How do they do that?”

She had seen three vultures circling above. They floated on the wind currents and didn’t flap their wings. So, she asked the question. Is it normal to ask such questions? I don’t know. Her older siblings asked questions as they grew, but I don’t recall them asking the same types of questions.

As bedtime approached, I was working up an answer about why God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from sinning. My mind wrestled with the best explanation to give an eight-year-old (and the best explanation to understand it myself). I lay on my bed as she was in the other room getting into her pajamas. I planned to give her an answer while I tucked her in and prayed with her. But it didn’t happen. The day had been a tiring one for me. My mind was exhausted, my body was spent. As I lay there formulating an answer, my eyes closed, and I fell asleep. When I awoke my daughter, and the rest of the household, were asleep.

I had missed my chance and was angry with myself. In the morning I sat at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee and watched the sun illuminate the morning sky. And then it struck me. A great truth comforted me. I fell asleep last night but God didn’t. I am weak, but He is strong. I fail as a father, but God never fails. The sun rises each day announcing that God is still on His throne. Even though I didn’t give my daughter an answer, things would still be okay. God wouldn’t fail her – even if I did.

She walked into the kitchen just as those thoughts were in my mind. Rubbing her eyes, hair hanging over her face and waving wildly on top of her head, she came to me and hugged me. And then I took a stab at answering her question.

“Honey, last night you asked about sin and why God didn’t stop Adam and Eve from sinning. This is a difficult thing to understand but I’m glad you are asking such important questions. Here’s one answer that might help.”

I gave her the best answer I could about sin and God and how God’s highest priority is not only to stop sin but to glorify Himself. This happened at the cross where sin was dealt a deadly blow. “Did that answer your question, honey?”

“Yes.” She smiled, then opened the back door and went out to play. The sun shone a little brighter (at least it seemed to) as I took another sip of coffee and thanked God for His goodness.

Why We Homeschool

*This article was written by Betsy Robertus

The most important reason we homeschool our children is time. It takes time together to build the important relationships in their lives: with each other, with their parents, and most importantly with God. It takes time to raise them with a Biblical worldview. It takes time to instill the godly values we want to instill in them. With so much to accomplish, I feel it is vitally important to be good stewards of our time and our children’s time.

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.   Deuteronomy 6:6-7

 I admit when I first heard of the idea of homeschooling – after college but well before children – I thought, “Who would do that?!? That’s insane!

 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.     1 Corinthians 1:25

Slowly the Lord worked on my heart. When my oldest was a baby, I met a woman who only homeschooled her children for middle school. I thought that was a good idea. Those seemed like especially precarious years. I thought, “If I ever homeschool, I’ll do it for those years.”

I still had that plan in mind when my oldest was in kindergarten in our local public school. She wasn’t having a bad experience, but I grew very anxious as I thought about our future: increasing time away from home during her best hours, increasing homework, correcting all the learning and socializing she would be receiving that wasn’t Biblical, participating in an evening Bible program at church, training in serving others, time for disciplining, possibly a sport or extra-curricular activity AND time for building those important relationships?!? Impossible!! We couldn’t do all this during weekends and after-school hours! What would suffer the most? Relationships. The most important thing. It would be impossible to disciple our children without plenty of time together to have the relationship that turns our hearts to them and theirs to us, and then to the Lord.

When I finally took my anxiety to the Lord during quiet time with Him, He immediately answered me. “You need to homeschool.” No! I couldn’t do that! At least not yet. With my son entering preschool, the next school year was going to be the first time my children would both be in school. I told the Lord I planned to make good use of those three mornings each week: I’d do chores, errands, exercise, sew, volunteer in the classrooms and fellowship with friends.

Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.     Proverbs 19:21

Even though I wasn’t convinced, I started researching homeschooling. I’m so thankful for all the information that is available on the web and in books. I made a list of the pros and cons. The pro list was quite lengthy. The only thing on the con list was my time: for getting things done and having time to myself. Despite the clear message from the Lord and the overwhelming evidence, I still couldn’t commit to homeschooling.

Finally, I said to the Lord, “I am clutching those three mornings to myself. If you really want me to homeschool, please help me let go of those mornings! I cannot do it without your help.” Immediately I felt my grip on those mornings open up, I let go of them, and I could finally see the enormous blessings that would come from homeschooling my daughter those three mornings.

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God  and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3: 21-22

Those days working with the Lord to change my heart were a “mountain-top” experience for me. I felt so close to the Lord by hearing His voice, seeing His answers to my prayers, and having the peace that comes from obeying. Those mountain-top moments would sustain me during the coming valley.

Our first few months of homeschooling were difficult. My daughter had some character issues we had to work through at the same time I was doubting all I was doing day-to-day regarding her education. When I felt like quitting, I took strength from remembering the Lord’s clear call to do this. When I cried out to Him regarding the difficult heart issues we were working through, He showed me that if she could not submit when she was 6 years old, what could I expect when she was 16?

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.    Hebrews 12:1-3

We stayed the course, drew incredible encouragement and wisdom from experienced homeschooling moms, and worked through those challenging months. The Lord grew us and our relationship in a unique way and I wouldn’t trade those months for anything. I delight in my children, their own personal growth processes, and the time we have for discipling and training. I pray always that we spend our time in a way that glorifies the Lord.

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

A Profound Question from a Twelve-Year-Old

Jesus died for our sins. He took the punishment we deserved. God the Father poured out His wrath for sin upon God the Son. Jesus was crushed for our iniquities, bruised for our transgressions. We deserve eternal separation from the infinitely holy God of the universe, but Jesus took our place.

Considering such propositions, my twelve-year-old son asked something profound. At dinner, I queried my children. “Do you have any questions about the Bible?” My son quickly said, “Yes, I do. How did Jesus take our punishment? He was only dead three days? Where did Jesus go when He died? Did He go to heaven or hell?”

Stated differently, my son was asking the following. If the punishment for sin is eternity in hell, how did Jesus, in a grave for three days, count as our punishment? How is three days punishment enough to substitute for the eternal punishment we deserve?

Wow, what a thoughtful question. I’m surprised often by my children. Brain cells fire when I think they aren’t paying attention. Synopses spark, working through philosophical questions and pondering large ideas.

My son’s question reminded me of something: too often I lecture, talk, and teach, when I also need to listen and learn. I need to know what’s going through my children’s minds, what they are asking themselves.

The talk which followed my son’s question was lively. His older siblings jumped in, also his seven-year-old sister. My wife and I offered solutions to the problem (Biblical ones, I hope) and the conversation drifted to other topics. For a few moments, we pondered something huge and important, something with eternal ramifications. Twelve isn’t too young to be asking such big questions.

In fact, I’m reminded of another twelve-year-old boy discussing important things with those older than himself. He was in His Father’s house, a long time ago, talking to the rabbis.

I Can’t Save My Children

The job isn’t easy. It’s glorious, purposeful, and filled with good moments. But it’s not a cakewalk. You don’t win the good parenting prize by walking around and stopping on the winning number. In fact, I wonder if there is such a thing as “winning” as a parent.

It’s not a contest after all. We aren’t in competition with other families, are we? Yes, the devil prowls around. In that sense, we have an enemy and this is a battle. But victory belongs to the Lord, not us. The only thing we can point to as “winning” is our faithfulness. We are called to raise children in the nurture and discipline of the Lord. If we do, we win – whatever the result.

This is difficult to grasp. The most faithful parents might have children who leave the faith. I hate this fact. But it’s true. Unsaved parents have children found by Christ and believing parents have children renounce the faith. Life isn’t fair. And that’s the point. None of us deserve God’s mercy and grace. It’s not fair that He pours out mercy on sinners like us. It’s not fair at all. We receive what we don’t deserve.

What if a child of mine departs from the faith? I can’t stomach the thought. But there it is, a real possibility. I plead with God often, Lord, save my children, let their names be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Why would God allow a child to be raised in a Christian home and then depart from the truth? I don’t know. One thing I do know – it’s not God’s fault. Each person is responsible for their own rebellion against God. Each is called to account for hearing and obeying (or not obeying) God’s call. If my children (please Lord, don’t let this happen) leave the church, I will not have failed as a parent. They will have failed to obey God’s Word, resisted the convicting work of the Spirit, and scorned the truth.

I must continue to trust in God’s goodness, to throw myself, my emotions, my broken heart upon Him. Lord, save my children. Jesus, please let them turn in repentance to you and confess you as Lord. The hard truth it this – I can’t save my children. The good news is this – God can save my children. Therefore, I will do all in my power to teach my children the things of God, and I will trust God with all my heart, knowing He is good and just and merciful.


Established in 1984, SCOPE is a nonprofit Christian organization that seeks to advance home education.

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