Why We Started a Home School
I was raised in a home where education was emphasized. My father, all four of his brothers, my Grandmother, and Great Grand Mother were all school teachers. As you would expect, our home was a place of education. We learned to speak properly. Pronunciation was exact. I don’t remember learning the rules of grammar, poor grammar just sounded funny.
We played all kinds of games. My oldest brother was extremely bright. He loved math and science. In the 1960s and 1970s we would have contests to see who could calculate the exact time, duration, and thrust required for a lunar modal to make the softest landing on the moon. My oldest brother, Larry, always won. He went on to become a math teacher. He taught AP calculus in high school.
While we were a family of educators, we were also very religious. My father was a lay minister in our church. We were always very concerned about the influences one might expect to receive from the public schools. The purpose of the schools here in America used to be to educate the soul first, and the mind second. They taught the virtues, and built character. As time went on, the social engineers took over. They knew that “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world,” and oh how they jockeyed for position. My wife and I knew that we could overcome almost any social engineering, or other bad influence from the schools with the teachings in our home. It was academics that pushed us over the top.
We have six daughters. Some of them are very gifted, while others struggle with some things. One of our children started to run with a very interesting group of friends. We had considerable difficulty getting her to change her friends. We knew that it would not work unless she decided to make that change herself.
We were very concerned about this daughter. We tried everything, with little success. We prayed for help, and it came. One Saturday, at about 1:00 PM, this daughter experienced tremendous abdominal pain. We took her to the doctor (yes, they were open on a Saturday afternoon). They thought it was just a really bad case of the flu, so we took her home. On Monday morning, we took her to the hospital. The white cell count was through the roof (over 18,000). As we had suspected, her appendix had ruptured.
Sarah spent the next two weeks in the hospital. She had her appendix removed, and 5 days later, on the day that she was to come home, the doctor took one look at her, and said: “She doesn’t look good, I want a white cell count.” His suspicions were correct, a massive infection had set in once again. A week and two surgeries later she was released from the hospital, and missed the next two months of school.
In the State of Washington (we live in a Seattle suburb) state law requires the public schools to provide the equivalent of a public education to those students who cannot attend school. We learned that this translates to one hour a week. The local school district sent a tutor to our home for one hour a week. In this hour, she went over the previous weeks assignments, and gave her her work for the next week. It only took five to six visits for Sarah to catch up with her class. (She missed two months of school, however, she was not able to do any school work while in the hospital, or for the first week she was home). I was amazed that this daughter, who always struggled in school was able to catch up in such a short period of time.
Time is exactly what Sarah needed. Time away from her friends. The ruptured appendix was a blessing. It helped her to realize how much she loved her parents, and how much they loved her. She also saw her friends more clearly. We put her in a private school later that year. It was really more of a home schooling co-op. The academics were not veryl strong, but it gave her the chance to make new friends and lose the old. She even got excited about learning once again. (Previously she wanted to just drop out of school). This was our first experience with anything like home schooling. It was a great blessing for Sarah and for us.
After Sarah graduated from high school, we noticed that our youngest two children were having much more difficulty reading that our other children ever had. All our older girls were reading at the post high school level in the sixth or seventh grade. Our youngest two, it appeared, could hardly read. We read the scriptures together as a family every night. Each of us reading a verse in turn. It took forever for these youngest two to read their verses. We knew that they needed extra help, but they had so much homework that there was no time for us to teach them. That is when we started to make a permanent break from the public schools.
We began to home school Angela in October of her third grade year. Angela is a very bright girl. Many have commented that you could carry on an adult conversation with her, but she almost could not read. Once mom took over teaching this young lady, she began to progress. Angela loved the attention. Mom loved actually raising our children. Then the other shoe dropped.
Bridgette, our second youngest daughter, brought her report card home from school. It was bad. She had one B, one F, and all the other grades were Ds. This child works very hard. She would come home and do two to three hours of home work each night, without being asked. Her teacher commented on her report card “Bridgette has not yet completed a single home work packet (one weeks assignments) this year.” I was appalled. I wondered how much work this teacher was dumping on these children. I was concerned. When I saw how hard Bridgette was working, and how she was rewarded for that work, I was afraid that she would give up and quit. This was the last straw. My wife and I both decided it was time to home school both of these young ladies. We both thought that our daughters grades were really a reflection of the schools. We were not going to let our child slip between the cracks.
We cracked the books, in our growing home school, with two girls right after the Christmas Holidays. We began to assemble materials, prepare lessons. Like many people, we had considered home schooling for many years, and like many people, we were fearful of trying it alone. We didn’t know where to get the materials, or how to proceed. We made a lot of mistakes. We bought phonics products that were worthless. I went to work, researched education, wrote computer programs, including the Arithmetic program that comes with our curriculum. I collected the best books that I could find. We went back to the basics, and it worked. The girls learned to read well. Bridgette is reading very well. Both of them have read The Lord of The Rings and many other books. When we tested these girls after home schooling them for 18 months, both went from testing two to three years below their grade level, to testing either right at grade level (in Angela’s case) to testing about a year ahead of their grade level (Bridgette). Bridgette is now starting pre-algebra in what would have been her seventh grade year. This is not unusual for home schooled children, however, Bridgette tested at the third grade level in the fifth grade, and is now well ahead of her class. Not bad for a couple of committed amateurs.
My wife and I worked to create educational materials that worked. We created some wonderful phonics activities, wrote and tested the Arithmetic computer program, collected the best books we could find. We researched education to learn what they did when parents ran the schools. (Funny thing, when parents ran the schools, parents insisted on quality products that worked. Today there are too many fingers in the pie. Even the homosexual community, who could never have children of their own, have a say.) Children do not belong to the government, the community, or the village. They belong to families. Education belongs in the family. No hireling can replace the love of a committed Mother or Father.
Update: Bridgette and Angela are now attending a local community college. Angela started college at age 16, Bridgette at age 17. Angela is in honors. Bridgette is also excelling. These two young ladies would have been left far behind if we had not taken matters into our own hands. Today people comment about how bright they are. I am very pleased with the kind of people they turned out to be.
Paul R. Stone