Category Archives: Homeschooling

Homeschooling

Spared Rods

I was reading an article here in the Seattle times yesterday that made me ill to my stomach.

It’s a story about a young girl in the Seattle area that was locked outside by her parents and allowed to die of exposure. She was locked outside as a form of discipline. These parents homeschooled this girl and followed the parenting methods laid out in a book called To Train Up a Child.

To Train Up a Child is authored by a man and his wife out of Tennessee named Michael and Debi Pearl. Michael Pearl is an evangelist and pastors a marriage and family counseling ministry called No Greater Joy Ministries here on this website. Essentially, Michael Pearl and his wife Debi adhere to a literal interpretation of the “spare the rod spoil the child” part of the Old Testament in the Bible.

The article in the Seattle Times goes on to describe 3 other child deaths by the hands of parents that were followers of Michael Pearl’s child rearing advice. They had several other things in common also, most notably they each were homeschooled.

My wife and I homeschool our children. In most instances I am an advocate of homeschooling, but not in every circumstance. As I’ve stated here before, we got a lot of flack from people when we first decided to homeshcool. Even now, when people ask where our kids go to school, we get quite a few raised eyebrows. However, I understand homeschooling is not for everybody.

Homeschooling is hard work. It’s a long-term commitment. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a degreed teacher to get your kids a good education. Mostly its dedication. For both of my kids, because of their personalities, it works out well. I understand, though, that certain personalities might not work well and I also understand that if both parents have to work outside the home it doesn’t work out well either. Nevertheless, I still believe educating your kids at home is still the best option if it’s available.

One thing we’ve run in to over the years is our fair share of “nuts” that homeschool. These are the ones that seem to always make it into the news, much like the ones mentioned in the Seattle Times article above. The ones who live in the woods and refuse to pay their taxes, the ones who read a passage in the Old Testament like “spare the rod and spoil the child” and interpret it to mean it’s okay to lock your child out of the house and allow them to die of exposure while at the same time ignoring New Testament passages the instruct us not to exasperate our children and discipline harshly to the point of discouragement. The ones who ignore the instructions by Paul telling men to be servant leaders and examples for their children, not discouragers.

These seem to be the types of homeschoolers the world hears about. The sad thing is, there are certainly plenty of them out there.

I’m a firm believer in discipline. The thing is, discipline isn’t only defined as physical punishment. When God wrote “Spare the rod and spoil the child”  that passage when interpreted in light of the New Testament means that if we love our children we will bring correction rather than ignoring destructive and sinful behavior. Discipline is sometimes physical, though I firmly believe far less than many Christians believe. Discipline is always consistent, it’s always loving, and it always builds up rather than tears down.

Many times in my life I’ve heard from well-meaning parents that discipline was intended to “break their spirit” and bring the child into line. That by “breaking their spirit” the child was less likely to stray  and was more likely to obey. Over the years, however, I’ve seen the result of this sort of discipline. In every case that I’m aware of it has led to nothing more than destruction and chaos. It’s lead to a hole in the child’s life that takes nearly a lifetime to dig out of.

I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes. There’s no doubt I’ll continue to make more. I also understand that a child is an individual with their own will; God deals with each of us as individuals. As time goes on, though, and I see the results of not only my own mistakes but the mistakes of others. One thing I’m convinced of is the results of harsh discipline.

Overly harsh discipline results in a child not seeing God as both a loving God, but a God who disciplines us because He loves us and wants to correct us. It results in an adult that has a hard time relating to others in a patient and loving way. In far too many instances it results in psychopathic behavior. But worst of all, harsh discipline results in a person that has a hard time not only trusting God as their Lord, but believing that He loves them and gave His life for them.

So next time we might have the idea that “spanking the devil” out of a child is the way to draw them closer to God, think again…..Is God patient with us? Yes. Does he give us many many chances before he “spanks”? Absolutely. Does he “smack” us every single time we do something wrong? No. God deals with each of us in the most patient and kind way. So where would a Christian possibly get the idea it’s okay for us to discipline our children that way?

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Perception Is Nine-Tenths Of The Law….Wait…

As a family that homeschools our children, we’ve become quite used to “The Look“.

It’s that look you get from people when you tell them you homeschool your kids. It’s the look that all homeschool parents are familiar with because we’ve all seen it.

“The Look”  is a look that’s given and conveys a lot of information without any words actually being spoken. It’s similar in function to the look you used to get as kids from your mother when you were acting up in public. You know the one. It says “You better cut it out or I’ll roll your head across the floor”, without any words actually being spoken.

The homeschool “Look” conveys so much more, however. “The Look”, when applied to homeschooling, communicates: “You crazy, anti-social, right-wing, Christian fundamentalist, denim skirt-wearing, no TV-watching, bible-thumping, abortion protesting, big white van driving, pajamas to school wearing, no deviled egg eating, weirdo with a bunch of kids that can’t spell or socialize with the rest of the “real world”…..They all seem to think they’re the ones that understand the “Real World” and we don’t.

Even my kids have come to recognize it instantly in the eyes of the disapproving when asked where they attend school.

Not everyone gives “The Look” when asked where the kiddos attend school. Some are genuinely interested or at least neutral. However, we can spot a teacher in an instant by “The Extreme Look”. It’s also quite easy to spot atheists, self-proclaimed intellectuals or people employed as scientific types. “The Extreme Look”, rather than being a slight look of skepticism like “The Look”,  is actually initiated by a slight raising of the nose followed by a look of contempt with a dash of disgust thrown in.

We actually became familiar with “The Extreme Look” almost immediately after announcing our plans to homeschool because of our close proximity to several teachers in our circle of influence. One teacher-friend actually begged….I mean begged….my wife not to follow through with homeschooling.

A couple of weeks ago in San Antonio we were standing in line to take a water taxi down the San Antonio River. While standing in line my wife struck up a conversation with a gentleman in front of her. He asked her where our kids went to school and of course my wife told him we homeschool…..She received “The Extreme Look’ followed by a chuckle and “So….What are you going to do when you have to turn them out into “The Real World”? (There you go, the ol’ “real world” comment again). My wife responded something like “I’m not really sure about the little one, but I guess since my 16-year-old is already in college getting A’s and B’s and taking college level courses in her homeschool group she attends, I would say she’s already in the real world, much sooner than most kids her own age.” 

This is a common perception among those living in “The Real World”; that we’re raising a bunch of undereducated, anti-social kids. However I have to be honest because, of course, many homeschooling families are, as I’ve stated here in this article. But it’s no different with homeschooling families than with public school families. In other words, “garbage in, garbage out”. You get out of it only what you put into it. Homeschooling is hard work.

In public school, some parents are involved and see to it that their kids are doing what they’re supposed to be doing in public school. Then there are those that aren’t. I can assure you there are plenty of undereducated anti-social kids being pumped out of public school also. How stupid is it to believe that merely because you attend public school you’re automatically going to be highly educated and properly socialized.

All it takes is a kid with a lisp, or a weight issue, or some other non-typical physical feature to become the focus of intense bullying. I know some would say it toughens them up, but all it does is prep them to become recluses in the least or serial killers in the extreme. How could anyone think that only another 15-year-old could be a good role model for a 15-year-old?

Jesus said in John 16:33 that “In this life you will have trouble”. The troubles of life will come at us whether we protect ourselves from “The Real World” or not. God will see to it as He brings His purifying fire upon our lives. It makes no sense to me why a parent would think “The Real World” is the place to nurture a kid, though. How could a person who is blinded by the lies of satan, who doesn’t honor Jesus as their Lord, who doesn’t seek after the true Word of God possibly view “The Real World” correctly? Are they not viewing the world through a lens distorted by their own lusts and satan’s lies? They can’t because they don’t have the wisdom of God. Their god is their belly.

“The Real World”  doesn’t really live in the real world. They can’t because they’re the ones that are blind.

So when you ask where our kids go to school and you give us “The Look”, we understand. We’ve seen it and heard it all before.

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Teacher, I Do Declare!

My wife and I homeschool our two daughters. It wasn’t a decision that came about lightly and without a lot  research and prayer. It’s also been a decision that hasn’t been without its share of criticism both from friends and family.

Many, if not almost all, of our fellow homeschoolers made the decision on the basis of their Christian faith. Ours, on the other hand, was a decision based mostly on academics. For reasons far too lengthy to go into in this post, we felt like we (my wife with a high school education and I with a junior college education) could do a better job than the public school system where we live.

We no longer “feel” we could do a better job, we’re confident. We don’t lay the blame on any individual teacher, but at the feet of an overall system that has bowed to politics and allowed the “inmates to run the asylum”.

As I said earlier, the decision to homeschool hasn’t come without its critics. My sister is a teacher, two of our best friends are teachers, my wife’s brother is a teacher as is the wives of two of my co-workers…..needless to say the critics have abounded.

As time has gone on though (this will be our fifth year of homeschooling) we certainly see where some of the critics of homeschooling get their fodder. There’s a huge amount of people homeschooling their kids that are just plain doing their kids wrong. I’m coming to understand where the complaints from public school teachers regarding homeschooled kids being undereducated are coming from.

We live in Texas where the laws and rules regarding homeschooling are very liberal. Basically, the only law is that your kids have to be schooled. How you do it is up to you….even to the detriment of your child’s future.

Many Texas homeschoolers see this freedom to educate your child as you se fit as a license for laziness and poor educational practices.

Some examples of poor educational practices we have seen are:  having their child read a couple of articles to a fellow church member and calling it a years worth of speech, making the kid do a few extra chores around the house and calling it a years worth of home economics, picking up a couple of math exercise books at Wal-Mart and calling it high school level math.

 My wife and a close friend she homeschools with  have asked a few of the parents doing this sort of thing what they are planning on doing when the time comes for their kids to go to college and each one has stated that they’ll just turn a transcript stating the work was done.

These are professing Christians…ya know….the whole “Thou shalt not lie” thing…and none of them see an integrity issue with it.  I guess they can’t see that not only will their kids not have a chance at college, but just getting any type of gainful employment will be very difficult. They are parents that are willfully setting their kids up for failure.

The whole “head start in life” thing and college issue pale in comparison to this, though: Do they not think God is hearing every lie they tell and seeing every deceptive thing they write on a transcript? Do they, as people who name the name of Christ, have no fear of the Lord in regards to the deception about their kids schooling? Do they not realize that others, including their own children, are seeing the example being set and thinking that lying and deception is acceptable?

While the majority of people within our homeschooling circle are committed to the education and success of their kids, you don’t have to look far at all to find ones that aren’t.

Deception is a lie. Half truths are lies. Telling a college that your kid did something when they didn’t is a lie. And if you’re a professing Christian and you’re lying about your kid’s education, you’re taking the name of the Lord in vain.

If you’re a Christian and you homeschool, it would be a good time to examine yourselves and see whether you are dealing in integrity regarding your kid’s education……..For the sake of your kids future and their very soul.

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