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Do You Have to Have Kids to Home School?

  • Terri Camp Home school author and mother
  • 2001 30 Aug
Do You Have to Have Kids to Home School?

Do You Have to Have Kids to Home School?
By Terri Camp

Someone I know said the funniest home school workshop they know of was entitled, "Do You Have to Have Goats to Home School?" I thought it was pretty cute, but I have changed it just a bit. 

Even though I don't think it is necessary to have kids (baby goats) to home school children, I do think there is great value in having various pets.  When I was growing up, I thought I loved animals.  I had a cat that my sister and I often used as entertainment.  Her name was Rascal.  She would sometimes come when we called her name, but was certain to come when we yelled, "MOOOOMMM!"  I'm sure it drove my mom batty when my sister and I would sit on opposite beds yelling "Moooommmmm!" just to get the cat to come to us.  This would go on until we tired of the game.  It was a bonding time for my sister and me.
I once brought home a puppy from my paper route.  I told my parents that the puppy followed me home.  But, in fact, I coaxed that poor little puppy, which kept looking back to his own home, to follow me to mine.  I don't think he lasted long enough to eat the small bag of puppy chow that I bought him.  I learned that if you want to be followed, you can coax; but if you want them to stay, they must want to be there.

While on vacation in Minnesota, I purchased a cute, fluffy pair of hamsters for my sister's birthday.  I didn't know that the hamsters would eat through their cardboard box faster than you can say "McDonald's hamburger."  After leaving the pet store, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch.  As I sat there, a woman sitting nearby was looking strangely at the bag I was protecting in my lap.  Finally she yelled, "There's something coming out of the bag!"  I tried to poke the hamster's head back into the paper bag, while nonchalantly continuing to eat my lunch.  I didn't want to spoil my sister's birthday surprise.  I think my mom noticed anyway, because the woman began to screech, "There's a MOUSE in that bag!"

We were quickly escorted out of the restaurant.  In the car, I thrust the adorable hamsters into my mom's face.  She agreed that they were very cute. 

They became my sister's property and responsibility.  One day they escaped off the front porch (with all their little blessings, too) and multiplied in our yard.  One summer several large holes suddenly showed up in the yard.  We would often come home to be greeted by a hamster scurrying out of the driveway.  The poor things ended up being met with untimely death. 

My parents also let us get fish.  For some reason though, we never established a feeding routine for the fish.  They were fed when someone thought they looked hungry.  I would come home from school and feed the fish.  A half-hour later my sister would come home and feed the fish.  An hour later, Dad would come home and feed the fish.   Then the algae began to grow in the aquarium and no one could see the fish, so we didn't even notice they were there.  Once I remember looking into the side of the green-walled aquarium and, as I was dropping food into the top, saying, "I wonder if there are any fish left in there."

When I began setting up housekeeping, I knew that animals would just be a natural part of the process.  First I bought a puppy.  I lived in a second-floor apartment.  I also had a full-time job.  I put the puppy out on the deck while I was away.  This lasted until the downstairs neighbors complained that he was watering their plants and their lawn furniture.  I then locked him up in my bedroom, where he dug the carpet up under the door, ate my bed, and carried toilet paper from the bathroom all throughout my bedroom.  He also ate Steve's prize squirrel skin.

I was thankful when we moved to a house with a yard.  Within a week, Steve brought me a kitten.  She mangled the curtains.  The dog destroyed the screen door.  Then we decided to have children.

After several years of more pets than I can even remember, we moved to the country.  Country living was what I considered the epitome of our home-schooling venture.  Now the children could take nature walks, have various critters, chop wood, and shovel.
The animal population on our "farm" grew.  The first year we built a chicken shed for the chickens my son wanted.  They preferred to use the cat door into the garage and roost in the rafters above Steve's workbench.  The chickens soon departed and the chicken shed was converted into, well, a shed.

I don't know what my reasoning was to have geese.  I knew there must be some reason for geese, I only had to have them in order to discover what it was.  It didn't take long for me to see their value.  The value of geese is to hone your children's survival skills.  One time Cathy, who was about 5 at the time, was out playing.  One of the geese suddenly decided to chase her down.  He jumped on her.  She grabbed him by the neck and wrestled with him until he left her.  I decided we were not planning a survival unit any time soon, so we eliminated the geese.

Then came the horses ....

(To be continued in Part 2)

In addition to devoting herself to her husband and the eight children she home schools, Terri also enjoys writing and speaking to offer encouragement to women in an effervescent, humorous way. Visit her Web site at or e-mail her at [email protected]