10 Lessons I've Learned from Thirty Years of Homeschooling
- Friday, July 13, 2012
I have taught several thousand homeschooled teenagers a course in constitutional law. I have graded thousands of examinations.
Some students not only understand the advanced concepts of constitutional law, but also write better prose and better content than most lawyers. A disturbing number of students, however, seem to get the concepts quite well but cannot express themselves appropriately. The spelling is awful. Who in the world conned people into believing that spelling doesn’t count?
One girl I taught (and I am relieved to say that she attended a private school), told me she wanted to go to Princeton University. She turned in a five-page exam with 52 spelling errors. I told her that until she learned to spell, Princeton or any good college was out of the question. Every time I grade papers, I find far too many with simply unacceptable spelling, grammar, and penmanship.
If you want to ensure that your child is taken seriously in either college or the adult world, his penmanship needs to look like he is older than 8.
I fear that the homeschooling movement has become so enamored with all of the bells and whistles of cool curriculum add-ons that we have forgotten some of the basics.
Teach your children to read and write to a level of mastery. Math skills should also reach a level of basic mastery. Emphasize these basics and all the rest will be added unto you.
6. Your marriage is more important than your curriculum.
Your personal relationship with Christ is even more important. Moms, if you are so exhausted from homeschooling at the end of the day that you have no time or energy to interact with your husband, you need to find an easier path (I will have something to say to dads about this in the next bullet).
America’s greatest deficit is not in reading, math, or science—although our national scores in these areas are woeful. Our greatest deficit is in our ability to create and maintain stable families. The greatest thing you can do for your children is to have a stable and joyful marriage. Modeling such a marriage is the best guarantee you can give them that they will have such a marriage also.
If you wanted to do that fancy new classical curriculum, but it would take you 12 hours a day to pull it off—don’t do it. Find a program that is easier on Mom. Marriages take time to be healthy. Leave yourself some time.
7. Dad, you need to be both protective and cooperative.
Dad, do not let other people invade your wife’s generosity and steal her time. Some women in your church might say, “We are having a Bible study and you have four children here already. Can you watch ours as we study the Word?” Dad, do not let people invade her time and energy in this fashion.
Dad, make sure that your wife gets a break. My wife has taken a long walk—usually four miles—nearly every day for the past 30 years. Well, actually, it’s been longer than 30 years. But she did not stop walking just because she was busy with homeschooling.
That has been incredibly important to Vickie. It was my job to help protect that time and to cooperate with her to make this possible.
Dad, you must also take as much of the load as you can manage in one of two areas: the academics of homeschooling or the care of the home. These areas form the bulk of your wife’s to-do list. Your goal is to ensure that your wife knows from your actions that you are as committed to homeschooling as she is. You accomplish this by taking items off of her to-do list and getting them onto yours.
8. Tell your kids why you are homeschooling them.
Your goal is not to raise good children. It is not to raise good adults. These are but necessary steps in the process. Your goal is to replicate yourself by raising good parents.
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