Do you home educate your own children?
Let me take you back to the early 1980's. I was having a busy morning at the office with just a few moments between meetings. There would be just enough time to make a quick call home to tell my wife I loved her and ask how things were going. At that time we had four children, six years old and younger. I thought she might be needing a little encouragement. Little did I realize that this day would be a turning point in our lives.
At the time I was the science director, Kindergarten through twelfth grade, for the ninth largest school district in the State of Texas. My wife, Shirley, had been trained as an early childhood specialist. We made every effort to provide as many educational experiences for our children as time would allow.
During our short conversation, Shirley shared that she had just listened to the guest speaker on Focus on the Family discussing a whole new way of educating children -- at least new to us. She was emphatic that this evening I too must listen to his presentation. Amidst the busyness of helping to feed and bathe our young children, I was able to listen. The next day I went to our local library and checked out Better Late Than Early, and School Can Wait two books written by Dr. Raymond Moore, the guest speaker on Focus on the Family.
This was several months before Bryce was enrolled to attend first grade at the same building in which my office was located. I had many opportunities to closely watch the young children in my wing of the building. I noticed that many 6 and 7 year old boys and girls were uninterested in learning. This wasn't what we wanted for our children. We had a difficult decision to make. Should we begin home educating our children? But what would our friends think? What about my colleagues at work? What would our parents think? And how could we possibly ask the principal for Bryce's enrollment forms back? These were just a few of the questions that we were facing. After several weeks of seeking guidance and wisdom, we decided to try home education for one year. Surely, we couldn't mess things up too much in just nine months.
Did we have our ups and downs? We thought this would be just a snap. Well, by January of our first year we were exhausted. Could anything be as hard as this? Because of Shirley's background, she was trying to implement a full scale pre-school program in our home. Bryce was about 6 at the time, Ben was 4, and Blaine and Betsy were 2. Bryce couldn't read; however, wouldn't just a little more phonics take care of the problem? But he went from 6 to 7 and then from 7 to 8 and 8 to 9 and then from 9 to 10 and 10 to 11. This was our first child and he still could not read. My parents were very concerned. Was Dr. Moore's philosophy wrong? Was it too late? Should we have had him tested? Would he ever read? These were just a few of the questions we were wrestling with during those first few years.
Each of our children have brought joys and difficulties in the daily life at the Quine house. Having a great love of literature, Shirley would read to our children many hours during the day. In addition, we made it a practice of reading every night as a family. What wonderful memories we have! Freckles and the Girl of the Limberlost, Anne of Green Gables, Carry on, Mr. Bowditch, and so many more. By the way, at about the age of 12 Bryce started to read. Let me share with you the titles of the first five books he read: Fellowship of the Rings, Two Towers, and Return of the King all by J R R Tolkien and Kidnapped and Treasurer Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson. At sixteen, in just four short years of reading he was assessed as reading at college level.
An area of conflict over home schooling quickly arose at my work. How could an administrator giving direction and leadership in the public school possibly not send his own children to school? For me the answer was simple -- not so for my superintendent. After a Friday afternoon one- on -one meeting between my boss, the Superintendent of Instruction, and myself, I realized that my influence in this school district was quickly coming to an end. How could it be? We had hoped and prayed for such a position of influence for more than 8 years.
Shortly after this meeting I resigned to start a part time school teaching math and science to home taught children in the Dallas area based upon the ideas of Dr. Francis Schaeffer, Dr. Raymond Moore and Charlotte Mason. We met twice a week for about 2 hours each day. It was not only a chance to help other families in their pursuit to home educate, but was also a way to teach my own children as well. I remember Ben saying to a person, "Wouldn't be sad to have a dad who taught other parents children, but never teach his own." It was during this time that other families not able to send their children to my school would ask me for advice on how to teach math and science to their children. I would scribble out some of my thoughts and give them to those who would ask. One such family whose daughter was in my school moved to Austin. After several phone calls and many scribbles latter, she encouraged me to type out the lesson plans for her and others needing advice. This was the birth of Making Math Meaningful and The Cornerstone Curriculum Project. Today we have produced materials for math, science, music, and art . I am currently working on a book for teaching history and world-views. A closed door was simply an opening for a much broader door -- one that would result in greater opportunities to give direction and hope to families desiring to teach their own children.
That was16 years ago. Our oldest four children have finished their high school studies at home. Our oldest son, Bryce who couldn't read until he was almost 12 years old, has graduated from Hillsdale College summa cum laude in the Honors Program and will be attending law school this fall at Wake Forrest. Ben, our second son, will be a junior in college this fall studing classical piano. Blaine and Betsy are both studying classical ballet this summer and seeking God's will regarding pursuing this as a professional career. Our five younger children are at home with us.
I owe a debt of thanks to so many people. To Dr. and Mrs. Moore for encouraging us through their speaking and writing to develop materials that utilize informal teaching strategies that create a warm, loving 'hands-on' learning environment. To Dr. Francis Schaeffer for exhorting us to look for the meaning behind the message -- to equip our children to stand independent of the current ideas and thoughts of our culture and to speak a clear concise presentation of Christ to a culture that so desperately needs to know Him. To Susan Schaeffer Macaulay for introducing me to the educational writings of Charlotte Mason. To my family for allowing me to try out my ideas on them before they are used by other families. And finally, to my wife, a very sensitive person, who has always encouraged me complete a project in spite of difficulties involved.
more about the Quines…