The One Sentence Essay by David West

As I arrived home from work, my wife said to me, “Calvin has a writing project he needs help with.”

To write is to die a slow painful death. At least, my son thinks so. He would rather do almost anything else. To read the text and fill in the answer blanks is no problem; that isn’t writing. Writing paragraphs, or even sentences, requires a different kind of work for him. It requires creativity and answers that aren’t in the Score Key. I don’t blame my son, many people don’t like to write. It’s an important skill, but it doesn’t come naturally. It must be taught.

The other night I was given the opportunity to help my son learn to write. He had been learning about various careers  in his Social Studies text and needed to write about how a person in one of those careers influenced him. He was stumped.

“I don’t know what to write.”

Days earlier I had suggested a tweak. “Instead of writing about how you have been influenced by someone, you can write about how you would influence others if you were in one of those careers.” He decided to write about being a chef. Here is his essay in full and the reason my wife said he needed help:

A chef can cook meals for sick people.

That was it; a one sentence essay. I had to admire his ability to get to the point, to cut out unnecessary words, to be clear and concise. I also recognized an opportunity to teach him a few things. We talked for a minute about the assignment and I made suggestions. He asked if five sentences would be sufficient.

“Calvin, when you have a project to do, don’t try to get away with doing as little as possible. That’s not the kind of person you want to be. You should be the kind of person who works hard to do your best when you have an assignment.”

He just stared at me, maybe listening, but probably wondering how painful this lecture was going to be.

“Don’t ask how little you can do and still complete the project. Take time and put in the effort to do the job well.”

Former experience with him told me I would need to do more than lecture. He really didn’t know what to write, or how to write it. The dilemma for me was to decide how much I could help. This was his project, not mine. It didn’t take long to decide. The project wasn’t as important as the process. I would use this opportunity to model for him. I would develop an outline, then write a rough draft, and have him copy my work. Observation is a learning tool; my son would learn by watching me.

I turned in his PACE to the section about chefs and started reading aloud. From the text I developed a list of bullet points that formed a loose outline. I wanted to keep it simple, so I didn’t develop the outline into proper form. I took a blank sheet of binder paper and handed one to my son.

“Now, I’m going to write from this outline and I want you to copy me. First, we need an introduction.”

Calvin asked, “What’s an introduction?”

I explained introductions and how they function, then we started writing.

“Write this sentence,” I said. “Chefs do their work in a variety of places. They work in restaurants, cafeterias, and homes.”

We continued on. The process from beginning to end was almost two hours. After he wrote the final draft neatly, I gave him a hug.

“Calvin, if I didn’t care about you, I would let that one sentence essay fly. But I care too much about you to do that. I want you to be a person who knows how to write and communicate effectively. It’s an important skill for life. This one session isn’t enough to teach you everything about writing. It’s only one lesson of many. You will be stuck again and again with writing and you will struggle. When you do, I will help. Eventually you will know how to write an essay from start to finish on your own.”

I tried to keep an encouraging tone throughout. He was frustrated enough; he didn’t need me frustrated as well.  I could have been upset that my evening was spent writing an essay about chefs. It would have been easy to be grumpy and complain that I had better things to do. The truth, of course, is that I didn’t have better things to do. What could be better than two hours teaching my son important lessons for life?

I teased him today, “Maybe you’ll grow up to be a writer.”

“No, I’m going to be a farmer.”

“Well,” I said, “Maybe you’ll write about farming.”

He gave me a look I could write about.

How Homeschooling Made a Difference in my Life by Joanna Devereux

Academics have never been my strong suit. When I was 11 years old we found out that I was severely far sighted and could not see anything up close. The day I got my glasses is a day I will never forget. It was the first day I knew there were letters on a keyboard and wicks on a candle. Not being able to see held me back with learning how to read, write, and almost every other subject. As you might guess it was a little embarrassing, and at sometimes made me feel like the stupidest kid in the room.

Once I got glasses and could see, I had to relearn everything to catch up. Basic school work was still taking me ten times longer to complete than the average student, but we still could not tell why. We tried everything, and thankfully, after much prayer, God lead us to an Optometrist who told me that my eyes never developed the basic skills they needed to work together. After 28 weeks of vision therapy, I noticed a significant difference in basic school work, but I was still behind.

About a year and a half ago, we went to Sacramento State University and took a test for dyslexia, and the results came back positive. Finally, something made since as to why, even in my Junior year of High School, I was still struggling so much with my reading.

Homeschooling was such a blessing because my mom was able to be a part of my schooling. She hand-picked the curriculum that would be the easiest for me, and always found ways to accommodate my struggles – letting me take my time with reading, and doing lots of hands on learning. I was able to study in a way that helped me the most, and I started to feel smart for the first time in my life. I started to tackle math, and reading. Although it will never be easy, it became do able and understandable.

Not only was homeschooling a blessing academically, it was a blessing spiritually too. Most school days were good, and productive days. But there were the difficult days too. We either cried, had a meltdown, argued with a sibling, or raised our voices at our mom. Yet, those were the days we learned the most important lessons. My mom called them character building days. Where instead of traditional academics, we learned how to share, how to forgive, and to keep doing our best to conquer our struggles. We had to learn how to get along as a family, and how to appreciate both the strengths and weaknesses of each other. Homeschooling for me, wasn’t just about learning a subject in school, it was about building my character and learning self-control. Without having those hard days, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

At the beginning of Junior year, it was time to finally start thinking about college. The thought of college was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. Excited to move into the next adventure of life, but terrified of the struggle that would come from not being able to do things at my own pace and not having my mom there to help me with the struggle. Then came another fear. A fear and worry a lot of kids have when they think about graduating and starting on the next path God has for them. What am I going get my degree in? What am I going to do with my life? Where does God want me to go? As this question hit me at the start of Junior year, I started to wonder, what was I going to do?

Growing up we did a wide variety of activities. My parent’s goal was to help us find our God given gifts and talents. I loved it most when we did the art projects – drawing, painting, building a Roman Coliseum, and even Art Class. No matter what kind of day it was, art was always my outlet. It relaxed me on stressful days and kept me entertained on boring ones. Freshman year I asked to study art history, and found that I had an eye for art. When we moved the summer before my sophomore year, I helped my mom decorate and place the furniture. I fell in love with art in the form of placement and beauty. The way someone can take the simplest of rooms and use their creativity to create a beautiful space. It was then God really placed on my heart that I needed to do something with art. I dug into the many different art degrees, and I stumbled across Interior Design – a career that integrates everything I love about art, and creativity.

Home schooling allowed me to find my passion. With all of my learning challenges I would have been so discouraged in the public school system, I don’t think I would’ve even wanted to apply for college. I am thankful that God used homeschooling to help me understand how I work best, and gave me the time to really focus on my relationship with Christ and my family. That was the biggest blessing of all.

My Christian Testimony by Joanna Devereux

I have been a Christian my whole life, and have grown up in a Christian home. Sunday mornings were church, and as I got older, Sundays also were AWANA days. Jesus came into my heart when I was four years old, and I was baptized when I was a baby. My whole life I have known that there was a God, and believed in him whole heartedly. As I grew up I learned more and more about Him, and was always in awe of His unfailing love, grace, and forgiveness.

When I was 16, I began to doubt if He was really there. When I prayed I didn’t feel like I heard Him, I felt as if he wasn’t there at all. The summer of 2015, I attended West Coast Honor Camp, a Christian camp for honor students in AWANA. That year I had been struggling with self-worth, and doubting God. I didn’t have many friends at the time and was feeling very depressed about life. I was mad all the time, yelling at family for no reasons, and not being a very loving or forgiving Christian. But I was too afraid to tell my parents because I thought they would be disappointed in me. That year, on the first night at camp, they told us that, that the theme for the week was self-worth, and Jesus’s love. It scared me, because I didn’t want to address my weaknesses. I shoved everything I was feeling down deep inside me so I wouldn’t think about it. In doing so I was really pushing God away, when He was opening His arms for me to come running back. That night I stayed quiet during devotions when our counselor asked anyone to share something they were feeling about the topic of the week. I was afraid of being judged, and worried about what others would think about me, say about me, or feel about me. Again, I pushed God away.

As the week went on, each message at chapel hit me. Each devotion in my cabin digging deeper. It became harder and harder to suppress those feelings of worry and doubt, and finally I had to talk about it. I went to my friend, and shared everything that I had been so afraid to share including how I saw myself and that I doubted that there was even a God. I explained that I knew He was there, but I didn’t understand why I couldn’t hear Him. Everything I once saw as His amazing creation, became just another thing in this world. As we talked. She listened and never judged. When I had finished talking, she asked me if she could be honest with me. She said, “Every Christian goes through a doubting phase. It’s not a bad thing. It means you aren’t having blind faith. But when you do doubt, you need to go find things out about it. Read the Bible, research, study, talk to a friend or pastor. Never be afraid of asking questions.” At the very end, she put it very simple, and what she said changed my view on a lot of things and made me really think. She said; “Joanna, I think you are pushing God away.” Woah. That wasn’t the easiest thing to hear, but man was she right. I needed to make a change and this week I was going to make it.

That night after chapel I sat down with my counselor and expressed my fears and the conversation with my friend. We sat there together, as I told her I no longer wanted to run away from God. I wanted to feel Him with me, and to feel the love He gives every one of His children. As she prayed with me, I began to cry. I had opened up, and the fear and anxiety that once controlled me was gone. That was the night I let Jesus back into my heart, the day that changed my life for the better. He has been closer to me than ever before since that day. After we finished praying, I got up to head back to my cabin, and as I was walking, I felt this big weight and dark cloud that had been on my shoulders and over my life for so long fade away. No longer was there fear of what people thought of me, nor the thought of trying to cover up my mistakes anymore.

When I got home, I was telling my mom and dad everything about camp, and what happened. The fear that I once had about telling my parents about my doubt and fear was gone. When I told them that I was no longer going to run from God, but towards Him, and that I took the faith they had given me and taken it for my own, they we’re beyond happy. There was no need for me to be fearful, because they were so proud of me.

Looking back now, I realize that everyone is going to have doubts. No one is perfect and everyone sins. And no matter how far we stray from God, He will always be there with open arms waiting for us to run back to him. We all His children, and He has more love for us than anyone can fathom. As I move into life after graduation, I want to make sure everyone knows just how special they are. That no matter what has happened in their life they are always loved by God and that He is always waiting for them to come back to Him.

“Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

 

 

 

How Homeschooling Has Made a Difference in My Life by Jane Robertus

 

Homeschooling has impacted my life in a way no other educational choice could. I learned many skills and have been able to develop in values and characteristics that I probably wouldn’t have if I were in traditional school. Being homeschooled was clearly the right educational path for me from first grade to senior year. I have been given countless opportunities to grow in relationships with family and friends and learn about God’s world in a thought-provoking environment.

My homeschool journey began in 2006, when I was in first grade. I was in public school for kindergarten  when my mom heard God’s call to start homeschooling me. I was simultaneously excited and confused when my parents told me about “home school.” Why did I have to leave my friends? Would I still be able to go on field trips? How can I do school at home, when home is home and school is school? But I was overall excited to begin “home school”. The first day we sat down at the new child’s size school desk and began to trace letters and learn basic mathematics.  The first few days of homeschooling went by fairly uneventfully; I enjoyed “playing school” with my mom and staying home all day was fun! Then came my first major mathematical challenge and I realized that having your mom as the teacher could be annoying. For one thing, my public school kindergarten teacher couldn’t send me to my room or take away any privileges. This is when I began to see homeschooling was no walk in the park.

Despite our rocky start we pushed through the first year of homeschooling and began to get into a good routine. I made many new friends and had plenty of opportunities to go on field trips. Soon enough homeschooling was my new normal. Elementary school was a wonderful time for me, I got involved in some sports and co-ops and all the while learned in a flexible and curiosity-encouraging environment. One of the major benefits of my younger brother and I being homeschooled was that we spent so much time together. While this provided us with more opportunities for small quarrels it also gave us more practice working through them and learning how to actually be friends with our sibling! I think my relationships with my family members would be less developed if I were at school for eight hours in addition to extracurricular activities and homework.

As middle school arrived so did a whole new era of my education. I was excited to enter into 6th grade and hopeful about the many opportunities that I would have as a “junior higher.”  But as I did so I began to, possibly for the first time in my life, realize that homeschooling was not “normal.”  In fact, the highly opinionated population of middle schoolers that I met at church, sports and other events seemed to think homeschool was “weird.” I began to worry: if homeschooling is weird, and I am homeschooled, then I must be weird. All I wanted, as a young junior higher, was the approval of my peers. This is extremely unfortunate because middle schoolers are some of the world’s toughest critics.

Soon I realized what it would take to be considered “normal.” I would have to stop being homeschooled. I knew this news would be difficult for my mom to take but it had to be said. So one day I chose an opportune moment when she was in a good mood and would be most receptive to this harsh reality. “Mom, I can’t be homeschooled anymore. I’m sorry. It’s just not right for me.” Her response was plain and simple, “No, right now it’s God’s plan for you be homeschooled.” This surprised me: how could God’s plan be for me to be homeschooled? Why did God want to keep me from the coveted standard of “normal” I so desperately craved? I tried again and again to change my mom’s mind but she couldn’t be swayed. Each time I asked the reply was the same: “God’s plan is for us to homeschool you.”

It wasn’t until the end of middle school and start of high school that I actually began to see how God’s plan for me was being homeschooled. As I entered freshman year I realized how many opportunities I had in homeschooling and how thankful I was for the flexibility in my schedule. In addition to this, I began to make some strong friendships at my church and through our homeschool group, and my desire to be like “everyone else” and go to “normal” school began to slowly dissipate. Throughout the coming years of high school I saw time and time again the benefits of being homeschooled. I got a quality education through a biblical lens, and I developed a genuine love of learning and curiosity about life that I hope will last my whole life.

Now as I prepare to leave for college I see that homeschooling was God’s plan for me and my mom was right once again. I am so excited for the world of possibilities that awaits me as I leave for college and what my life will be like further down the road. It is intimidating and exciting all at once, but with the education I received that was distinctly tailored for me and my strengths and weaknesses, I feel more than prepared for my future and whatever God has in store and I know my parents will always be there for me.

My Testimony by Jane Robertus

While preparing to write my story of how I came to faith, I looked over some guides and outlines on how to begin. Most of them split it into two different sections: “Before I accepted Jesus I lived like this” and “After I accepted Jesus I lived like this.” That was a challenging approach for me considering that I asked Jesus to come into my heart at age 3. I think this is both a blessing and a struggle. On the upside of things, I was raised in a Christian home, going to church every Sunday, doing Bible studies as a family and have my parents to set great examples for me of how to imitate Christ. I definitely learned from watching them live out their faith just like it says in Philippians 3:17 to follow those who set examples in Christ.

I accepted Christ on a walk with my mom one fall afternoon. I understood the basic concept of sin and that I hadn’t lived a perfect life, even in those short three years. I asked my mom about heaven and about why Jesus had to die. She explained to me that he died for my sin and everyone else’s. I thought about this for a little and then stopped on the sidewalk and said, “I want to accept Jesus.” So we stopped right then and prayed that Jesus would come and live in my heart and forgive me of my sin. My mom had made sure that I understood what I was doing and why. I think my story of coming to faith details perfectly what Jesus said in Matthew 18:3 when he spoke of having faith like a child.

It’s been wonderful that I have been able to grow in my faith for so long, but sometimes I wish I had a more drastic and sudden conversion. Not that I wish I had a major trial or anything like that, it’s just that I often take my faith for granted. Although I have met plenty of people who do not share my faith, I sometimes feel that I don’t fully appreciate how different Christ has made my life. In addition to this, I have often wrestled with making my faith my own. Growing up with Christian parents I often felt that their faith was my faith. For a lot of my life I have simply gone through the motions of Christianity: going to church, reading my Bible and praying. It wasn’t until high school that I wanted more out of my relationship with Christ. I realized there is no way to have a personal relationship with him if I don’t at least make an effort to learn about faith on a personal level. With this realization I began to attempt to live out Jesus’s command in Matthew 22:37 about loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

But this wasn’t an easy thing for me to do. I got busier and busier with each year and slowly I saw my quiet times with God get pushed to the back burner. I struggled with making my faith my own until I went to a summer leadership camp called Worldview Academy. Worldview was unlike any other camp I had been to: instead of feeding off an emotional high that lasted about a week after getting home, we studied theology and apologetics and learned to find the reason and hope in our faith.  I went 3 years in a row and each year I felt more and more encouraged in my faith and the reason for it. On the third year something clicked and I felt that my faith was finally my own. It wasn’t my parents’ or my friends’  or my church’s; it was mine and I had a reason for the hope that I had, just like it says in 1 Peter 3:15.

As I entered my junior year I was met with a busy schedule filled with academics, church and extracurriculars, but I knew that God was with me through it all. One of my favorite ways to stay strong in my personal relationship with God is by talking with others about God’s word. Something that has always been important to me is relationships with others. I think we can learn so much about the Bible and the world in general from talking with people of all ages. Since freshman year I have been involved in a Bible study group with some friends from church; over the years I have learned so much just from the weekly interactions between a small group of fellow believers and time centered around God’s word. A verse that really resonates with me is Hebrews 10:25 about the importance of being surrounded by other Christians: “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Over the years I have seen my faith change from simply being something I seemed to have inherited from my parents to something I have begun to take joy in learning more about and making my own. One verse that has shaped my life is Jeremiah 29:11, “‘I know the plans I have for you’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.’” I haven’t always seen God’s purpose as being especially clear in my life, but recently I have strongly felt God’s call to further my education at a Christian college. I enjoy studying the world through a Biblical worldview and this is something I believe I can only get at a distinctly Christian school and I hope to be encouraged in my faith and studies by my professors and peers. I am excited to see what God is calling me to and what else he has in store for my faith journey.

Homeschool Q & A by Betsy Robertus

Where do you live? Family information? Ages of your children?

My husband, Todd, and I have two children: Jane, 18 years old, and Samuel, 15 years old. We live in Roseville.

How long have you been homeschooling? SCOPE member?

We have been homeschooling for 12 years, beginning when our daughter started first grade and that was also when we joined SCOPE.

Are you the primary “teacher” or does your spouse get involved with the homeschooling?

I am definitely the primary teacher but Todd has been involved and responsible for different parts of their education over the years. When our kids were younger we would often plan the school year together and we, of course, discuss any issues that come up. In the elementary years we had a great time doing science most Friday evenings with Dad. He would choose the experiments or subjects, often with ideas I provided or sometimes we followed a published curriculum. For middle school and a little bit in high school, we continued doing some of the science experiments with Dad (especially the dissections!)

Another area Todd has taken on is Christian training/apologetics. He leads our weekly family Bible study time and it’s usually a study that includes reading or homework that each of us do during the week. He also always has books that he, Jane, and Sam are working through together, but different books for each of them. For example, Mere Christianity or More Than a Carpenter. They try to read a portion of the book separately each week and then discuss it together.

I have found that asking Todd to take over subjects that are challenging, either because of the academic content or because of personality clashes, can be a huge lifesaver for our homeschooling and our relationships. When a statistics course involved more conflict than learning, I asked him to take over as the teacher. This may be easier for courses at the high school level since it is more about providing oversight and coaching them through tough spots.

Additionally, an area that has some overlap with homeschooling is Scouts. Troop 107, a Christian homeschooling troop, has been an encouragement and blessing to Sam and the rest of our family and Todd is the main parent for those activities.

What do you love the most about homeschooling, and what do you like the least about it?

Definitely what I love most about homeschooling is the control we have over our time. We want to be good stewards of our time, and relationships are vitally important to us. I could see that if I wanted my children to have close relationships with their Lord, their parents, and each other, then we needed to make sure we had plenty of time together.

What I find most challenging about homeschooling is the time. I found that being a homeschool parent continues to be more than a full-time job even as your children progress through their school years. For me, it’s not just the time that I spend planning for and carrying out the academics, but even more so the time we spend talking and listening. I am very thankful that my kids have lots of things they want to talk about and I think this is a combination of how God created them and how we’ve spent time building our relationships. However, I have a finite amount of energy for interactions (I’m more introverted than extroverted). Therefore, I have had to be very careful about how I manage my time and what commitments I take on so I have the energy to commit to my kids and my marriage.

The effort and sacrifices are well worth it, though! I am so thankful for all the conversations we’ve had, the learning we’ve shared and the relationships we have with each other and with the Lord.

What is a favorite homeschool memory for your family?

Dry ice experiments! There are so many fun things you can do with dry ice and you can learn many scientific principles at all different ages. As much as possible, science should be fun. God is amazingly creative and He loves it when we learn about and delight in His creation!

What did you do to ensure that your son/daughter would be eligible to attend college?

It’s important to know your student and for them to know themselves. Throughout their whole lives you should be talking about where their strengths are and continuing to build on those strengths while not neglecting those areas where they aren’t strong. Our daughter just graduated. So, what this looked like for her was knowing that she did intend to go to college and preparing her to enter a university directly. Although we knew attending a community college first was another possibility, we know families where the high school senior decided at the last minute to apply to universities, so we wanted to do what was reasonable to prepare her for that.

I think “reasonable” is the key and the biggest challenge in preparing for college, and it could look different for every student. For our daughter it meant taking the PSAT, SAT and ACT only once and that was sufficient. I learned that depending on the student’s expected major and the schools they’ll be applying to, not every college-bound student has to take algebra 2, precalculus, chemistry, or physics. Our daughter’s strengths are writing, literary analysis, psychology and creativity. Therefore, instead of chemistry or physics we created our own zoology course, and instead of algebra 2 she took statistics (a great subject for all students!) Even without those “standard” college-prep courses, she still had no problem gaining admission to the colleges to which she applied.

One of the things that helped her admissions process and helped her feel prepared for college were college courses she took in high school. Community college is a great opportunity for this but we ended up with four other options that she pursued: she took an online British literature course through Liberty University; a psychology course with another homeschool mom and then took the AP test; a worldview class “Understanding the Times” which has an option for college credit through Bryan College; and then she took a human development course and passed the CLEP test for that. There are many ways to earn college credit in high school which helps with the admissions process and gives your student a head start on their required courses.

If you have an idea of what colleges your teen may be applying to and you’d like to pursue college credit in high school, it would be a good idea to ask those colleges if they have a listing of credit that they give for AP, CLEP or online university courses. Some colleges will limit the amount of AP or CLEP credits.  Jane almost took Liberty’s online freshman-level English composition course but at least one of the colleges she was interested in wouldn’t give her credit for that course if it wasn’t done in a classroom environment.

How has SCOPE benefited your family? Tell us something you learned by being a SCOPE member.

I am sure we would not have been able to stick with homeschooling if it wasn’t for the SCOPE community. From the very beginning I had ladies that would sit down with me for hours and tell me how this crazy thing called homeschooling worked for their families. Every year we continue to be encouraged and learn from the families in our Chat group, from the SCOPE conferences, the newsletters, and from the SCOPE-wide events. I know I have women in SCOPE who lift my family up in prayer and share in our successes and setbacks. Definitely the most important part of all of this was being involved in the Chat group. That is where our whole family has had the ability to share in learning experiences and form friendships.

I Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV): Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Teach Them How To Open A Can Of Paint – by David West

Teach Them How To Open A Can Of Paint – by David West

“Son, don’t be like that guy. Of course, I don’t know his story and don’t want to speak bad about him. Maybe his parents didn’t do projects around the house, or maybe they didn’t let him help with projects. I don’t know how a person can get to adulthood and not be able to open a can of paint. You don’t need to be proficient at everything, but I want you to know some basic things. And I want you to know how to think through a problem to a solution.”

My son and I had just left a home where I was hired to do some carpet work. I had watched, amused and baffled, as the homeowner attempted to open a can of paint. He was trying to paint an odor sealing primer on the concrete before I installed new carpet padding. The whole process was difficult to watch. Once he had opened the can (his wife eventually helped him), he struggled to apply the primer. His motion with a paintbrush resembled a southpaw throwing right-handed.

How is it possible, I wondered, to be so inept? I didn’t want to think ill of someone, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I couldn’t think how it was possible that he never opened a can of paint until that day, but there must be a good explanation.

I recall another time someone didn’t know how to do something which I considered a basic life skill. Upon leaving a restaurant our van wouldn’t start. I had battery jumper cables in the vehicle and was sure we could use them to get the vehicle started. My family waited in the car while I approached two young men to ask for assistance.

“Excuse me. My van won’t start and I need a jump. Any chance you could help? I have the jumper cables.”

Both young men (I guessed in their early twenties) looked bewildered. I waited through an awkward pause and then one of the men said, “What do you need us to do?”

“If you could pull your car alongside mine, then we can use my cables. I’m pretty certain that’s all my vehicle needs to get started.”

The bewilderment continued. “Okay, but I’ve never done this before. Will it do anything to my car?”

That was a question I hadn’t expected. How does a young man grow up without ever seeing someone use battery jumper cables? What did he think I was going to do?

The young men did help. I showed them how jumper cables worked and in a few minutes we were shaking hands and on our way.

Fathers can’t teach children everything there is to know about cars, paint, and tools. But what we know about these things we should attempt to pass on. My oldest daughter is driving and about to get her own car. I want her to know how to use jumper cables. I hope she never needs them, but I want her to know how to use them.

I can’t point to any Bible verse which says, “Fathers, teach your children basic life skills related to home and car maintenance.” But I can point to my own experience and make a suggestion. In order to fulfill the cultural mandate – to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it – we need to teach our children many necessary skills. Let them watch as we open cans of paint; hand them a set of jumper cables and show them how they connect to the battery.

In the current era of knowledge workers, mechanical skills are often forgotten. A fireman told me last week that mechanical skills are still necessary at his job. He said most of the young recruits struggle when asked to break down a chain saw and clean it. This wasn’t the case when he started on the job. His generation knew their way around objects with moving parts. The new generation knows their way around a computer screen. He suggested to my sons that they get some basic mechanical knowledge if they ever want to be firemen.

I appreciated his advice and I pass it on to you. Don’t let your children (boys or girls) grow up completely removed from analog and mechanical devices. They don’t need to be building contractors, handymen, or auto mechanics, but we should teach them as many basic skills as possible.

All of us differ in our knowledge of tools and how to use them. But at the very least, fathers, teach your children how to open a can of paint.

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

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

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.

 

5 Misconceptions About Homeschooling Debunked

Many people are reluctant to homeschool their kids for a variety of different reasons. However, most of these reasons are really just fears, rooted in the unknown. I remember thinking that homeschooling was just doing school at home and wondering why someone would do that. Once I found how completely wrong I was, I started to fall in love with the idea of it. And yet, I still had many fears. In this article, I will address five misconceptions about homeschooling. By just having more understanding, you too may have a change of mind and heart.

My Kids Will be Socially Awkward

This has been one of the most common misconceptions over the years but has gradually lost some steam. As more people are homeschooling, many people are realizing that homeschooled kids aren’t lacking social skills.

I believe this is true for a couple reasons. One, kids have many opportunities these days, whether it be at church, on sports teams, in co-ops, or merely in the neighborhood to interact with their peers.

Two, interacting primarily with other kids their age isn’t going to make kids have great social skills. Homeschooled kids have the opportunity to interact with people of many different ages, including those much older and younger. Through these interactions, they can learn how to have mature conversations with people of any age.

And let’s face it. Some kids are just awkward. I work with 4th and 5th-grade students at my church and many of those public schooled kids are awkward. It doesn’t have to do with how they are educated. It’s just their natural personality.

So rest assured, if you homeschool your kids, it does not mean they are bound to be socially awkward!

My Kids Will Not Receive a Good Education

While this is an understandable fear, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, recent studies show that homeschoolers actually score higher on standardized tests than both public and private schooled kids. Yes, higher!

For one, there are countless curriculum options available these days that are very challenging for homeschoolers. Because student to teacher ratios are much lower at home than in a classroom, each student can go at his or her own pace, not being held back or pushed forward. Thus, students can really get the attention they need for each subject.

Moreover, as most people know, education does not simply include that which we learn from textbooks. It is so much more than that.

Learning at home gives students a well-rounded education in real life as they see it played out before them each and every day.

From cooking, cleaning, and running errands, to interacting with adults, to welcoming people into their home for co-ops, homeschoolers can get an education in life experiences that they will take with them for years. Not to mention the learning available through field trips, mentorships, internships, and other arenas outside the classroom.

Because education can take place in fewer hours at home with far fewer students, kids, at least in the younger years, have more unstructured time in their day. They do not have to sit at a desk for the majority of their waking hours only to go home to do homework.

With that free time, their minds are able to create and think more outside of the box. Having the time to think and tinker and play is actually learning. Just ask Google if you are not convinced!

I Need to be a Trained Teacher

This fear is related to the one above. However, it too is very untrue. I believe credentialed teachers are very valuable and have one of the toughest jobs there are. In fact, I have very close family members and friends who were and are great public school teachers. Partly because of this, I feared that I wouldn’t be good enough because I don’t have the training.

Yet, you know your children better than anyone else does. You are aware of all their tendencies, shortcomings, strengths, and triggers. These simple facts help equip you to teach them well.

Additionally, it goes back to the great resources out there – a variety of great curriculum, tutors, online classes, teaching DVDs, etc. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Research what is there and utilize it.

Finally, you will grow in your teaching abilities. As you teach, you will grow more comfortable doing it. With each student you teach, you will be better prepared on how to tackle each subject.

Just like with anything else, the more you do it, the easier it will become. Keep growing, keep learning, keep stepping out in faith. You can and will be able to do it!

I Can’t Afford It

While there is a cost for the curriculum and supplies you will need, you might be surprised at how much you actually have to spend.

The bottom line is, if you really want to homeschool your kids, there will be a way to do it. Don’t let finances hold you back. There are even scholarships for struggling families through www.hslda.org

I Don’t Have Enough Space

I remember having this concern when we first started homeschooling. We lived in a very tiny apartment and my husband was working nights and needed to sleep during the day. I kept reading how people would set up their homes with dedicated homeschool rooms or spaces. That was no way possible for us.

However, learning took place and still does, all over our home. We mainly work at our kitchen table. The benefit…it always needs to be cleaned and organized after breakfast. No room for messes to be left out!

We also read on our couch and even outside. What could be more comfortable and inviting than that? On nice days, we often sit on our deck while my kids read aloud to me. And on cold, rainy days we snuggle together on the couch.

You don’t have to have a lot of space to be able to homeschool. Create an atmosphere of learning wherever you are.

Be creative. You may have to have educational materials in your kitchen or bedrooms. Maps may replace fine art on the walls. The alphabet may line your crown molding. Books may be in your living room in baskets or on shelves.

Whatever it may be, be creative with whatever space you have and learning will happen! I know people who homeschool in a trailer. So don’t let a lack of space hinder your decision to homeschool.

I hope I have helped clear up some misconceptions about homeschooling and settled some fears you may have had.

Blessings!

(More articles by Katie can be found at www.itakeheart.com)