Betty Jean Larson
Let me begin by saying that this article is not intended to be one that says that everyone should do things in the same way that I do! I believe in parent-directed education. Homeschooling is one manifestation of such education. One of the beauties of homeschooling is that each parent can decide how best to achieve a godly and academically excellent education for his or her children.
Our decision to begin homeschooling our son was made when he was in the third grade. Our first order of business was to find a curriculum that would work for him and for us. In much of our reading about homeschooling, the idea of a classical education continued to appear. It appealed to us mainly because of the sensible approach to learning it provides.
We began by using Covenant Home Curriculum, which is classically based and is run by Reformed folks in Wisconsin. (Their address is 17800 W. Capitol Drive, Brookfield, WI 53045; their Web site can be visited at http://covenanthome.com.) However, we do not use their materials exclusively. As the years have passed, more good material has become available to homeschoolers. We still use Covenant Home Curriculum, but add other components to it.
This year, our son is participating in two classes that are being offered on the Internet by Escondido Tutorial Service. This tutorial service is an interactive class, utilizing real-time audio, video, and electronic whiteboard technology. One of Derek's classes is a pre-algebra class. The other is called "Great Books Tutorial I." In that class, Derek will study many of the classics of Western literature. This course will actually be six years long! It begins with the literature of ancient Greece and ends with present-day philosophers. One of the most interesting things about the course is the direct link that it provides Derek with other home-schooled children around the country.
It is our opinion that many of the current "styles" of education seem to focus on tolerance and worldly ways of looking at things, with the result that our children are not able to properly defend the faith any longer. Let me quote Fritz Hinrichs of the Escondido Tutorial Service on this subject: "Christian education has become something of a lost science. Not only have Christians done very little to prepare their children to become godly intellects, but intellectual incompetence has been seen as the true helpmate of vital spirituality. A soft mind has been seen as a vital tool in the pursuit of a soft heart. In our day, mental rigor and a vigorous intellectual pursuit have become equated with doctrinal rigidity and cold spirituality."
He further points out that in order to live in the age we are in, we need to truly understand what has gone before. We must help our children to look back into history and then discern the ideas that have shaped our world today. Obviously we will run into difficult passages and ideas when studying many of these great books, but we cannot be frightened of them. As parents, we are becoming more and more convinced that the greatest thing we can give Derek is a godly framework that he can use to evaluate everything he comes into contact with, in whatever God calls him to do. We want to provide him with the tools he needs to build this framework and the ability to firmly and lovingly defend his faith in the sovereign God.
A question most homeschooling parents are asked is, "What about socialization?" Let me tell you how we have provided parent-directed socialization for our son. We are members of a local home-school support group which provides many opportunities for group educational and recreational activities. For example, on one afternoon each week, the children all attend various classes that interest them. Our son is currently taking a writing class, a ceramics class, and a pre-engineering class. One parent of each child in the group must teach or be a teacher's aide in one of the classes. There are also group field trips to places of interest around Houston, such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Derek also participates in a weekly science lab taught by a scientist who is also a Christian homeschooling dad.
Another resource we have taken advantage of is an outdoor education camp for homeschooling families. This camp is run by a Christian group that has a large facility north of Houston. It has counselors who lead the children in such activities as riflery, archery, canoeing, and hiking. The entire family stays together in a cabin, and meals are served in a dining hall to the whole group. There are times for Bible study and games. The moms often use free time to discuss homeschooling optionsa favorite occupation for us!
In conclusion, I would like to share our school verse, which sums up our view of homeschooling: "And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children" (Isa. 54:13 kjv).
Mrs. Larson and her family are expatriate OPCers currently living in Houston, Texas, where they have recently joined a PCA congregation. Reprinted from New Horizons, January 1998.