When our oldest son, Caleb, was in second grade at a nearby private school, and our daughter, Abby, was a preschooler who had spent a little time in our local public school special education program, a sweet friend invited me to attend a weekend conference about homeschooling (led by Sally Clarkson). Tyce and I knew very little about homeschooling, and we had just begun to consider that it might be a possibility for our family. We had become very disappointed with what we found in both public and private schools, and we were questioning many aspects of education and life in general.
Would we have more children? Would I pursue a career or other interests or develop my own talents and skills? What kind of education did we want for our kids? How much time did we want to spend with our children? What kind of family did we want to be? What were our longterm goals?
To go back to when we were dating, I told Tyce that I wanted to have eight kids. That didn’t seem to scare him, and we kept dating, so I suppose that was an indication of the direction we intended to pursue with our family and life together. We both had anticipated the joys of parenting, and we were thrilled to have Caleb and Abby in our lives. We enjoyed our children, in spite of any difficulties or challenges that parenting presented. We knew there was great value in their lives and the time we invested in their development.
But homeschooling would require a different kind of focus on our kids. A choice to homeschool would be a choice to alter our lifestyle and our future considerably. Both Tyce and I had attended public school for the majority of our education. We had made the assumption that our kids would attend a full-time school, either public or private. But the culture had changed, or at least our perception of it did, and the environment in both public and private schools was different than we had expected.
As you probably already know, we made the decision to educate our kids at home and also pursue expanding our family. We felt we had more capacity to give and more love to share. I had wanted to adopt a child because of the significant difficulties I had with past pregnancies and also considering the vast needs in our society. Tyce also recognized these concerns but suggested that we try the fun way of expanding our family first and see what God had in store for us. I certainly wasn’t excited about the paperwork involved in adopting, and I soon embraced Tyce’s suggestion. Shortly after we decided to begin homeschooling, we found out that I was pregnant, and our son Luke was on the way! Not long after that, we found out that Abby needed to have open-heart surgery. Our first year of homeschooling involved more than two months on bedrest at home, a month of bedrest in the hospital, a C-section, open-heart surgery, and lots of help from friends and family. I’m sure many questioned our decisionmaking abilities. WE questioned our decision-making abilities!
At the end of that eventful year, we decided to utilize the same end-of-year tests that Caleb had taken the previous year, thinking he probably made very little progress academically with our focus on so many other priorities. How surprised we were when the test results showed more than a full grade level of improvement! We began to realize that not only did Caleb learn more academically, but he was much healthier and happier than he had been in full-time school. In spite of all the difficult circumstances of that first year, we all were better off having our kids with us at home.
As summer began and we settled into life with a new baby and recovered from the events of the year, we began to have time to ponder philosophies of education more deeply. We began to ask more questions.
What is our end goal in the education of our kids? Do we want them to be happy? Fulfilled? Wealthy? Why should we be concerned about what we teach? How will we determine what curriculum to utilize?
We’ve learned that all parents educate at home, whether they realize it or not. If your children live with you, the question is not whether you will educate your kids at home but rather HOW you will educate them. What are you teaching your child through how you live? You are their first and most important teacher.
Many parents ask questions like these: Is there good reason to be purposeful in what we teach? Or is life simply a random series of circumstances that we each learn to navigate on our own, reaching our own conclusions without being guided or directed by anyone outside ourselves? The universal support of public schools is evidence that most of us believe in the idea of a guided and structured education.
Many parents seem to overlook the reality that their kids will be guided by someone and that they have the power to determine who guides them. If parents choose to leave their kids in front of a television or computer screen for multiple hours each week, they will be guided by those who produce the content shown on that television or computer screen. If parents place their kids in a public school for the majority of their alert hours, they will be guided by those leading and directing in that environment.
There are many people who are all too eager to guide your children for you. Perhaps you’ve heard this phrase, which is often attributed to Adolf Hitler: “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” In Republic (380BC), Plato wrote: “When the true philosopher kings are born in a State…they will set in order their own city. They will…take possession of the children, who will be unaffected by the habits of their parents; these they will train in their own habits and laws.” In 1918, the Communist Party Education Workers Congress declared: “We must create out of the younger generation a generation of Communists. We must turn children, who can be shaped like wax, into real, good Communists.” James Dobson of Focus on the Family recognized this truth. He stated on February 16, 2002: “If they can get control of children, they can change the whole culture in one generation. There is a concerted effort to manipulate the minds of kids.”
If, as parents, we fail to recognize our role, responsibility, and opportunity in educating our children, then we should not be surprised when someone else comes along and guides them away from us. If parents don’t care what their children learn, that in itself is a lesson to the child.
Unless the child is taken from the parent at birth, the parent has the first opportunity, the privilege to shape and mold the heart and mind of the child. Parents are the first and primary educators of children. This is a great gift and one that we are wise to not discard.
Multiple research studies have documented the strength of the bond established between parent and child at birth. Even without research studies to prove it, we know in our hearts that the parent-child bond is one of the strongest, if not the strongest of human bonds. The way we interact with our newborn infant is the beginning of our journey of educating them. In fact, even before a child is born, parents can influence the hearts and minds of their children. Newborn infants recognize the sound of their parent’s voices. They recognize sounds that have become familiar to them while in the womb. Education begins before birth.
Perhaps you recognize the need for guidance and the importance of educating your children in an appropriate and healthy way, but you don’t feel qualified to lead and direct your children. Perhaps you believe others are more qualified to direct and guide their education. Maybe you are just beginning to consider the idea that you may have the qualifications needed to teach your children. In parenting, we can all use some help along the way, and this is especially true as we consider how we will teach our kids all they need to know for life. A wide variety of options are now available for educating kids. Most of us are no longer limited to the local public school as our only option for receiving help. Homeschooling has become much more popular as curriculum options expand and online access makes it more easily accessible.
“Homeschool” is a strange word. It denotes the idea that children are educated at home, but also the idea that the government education system is brought into the home. School is a governmental and societal construct for education that lies outside the home, much of it outside the control of the parents. When we use the term homeschool, we reference, whether knowingly or not, the idea that government systems of education are being brought into the home. For this reason, my husband and I prefer to use the term home education rather than homeschool. However, for the purposes outlined in this endeavor, we hope to address the idea of homeschooling because it has recently become so popular.
When we use the term home education, it is a little easier to think of educating our kids beyond the scope of merely reading, writing, and arithmetic. Education is a broader term that encompasses all kinds of learning. School is a more specific term that denotes a system or institution with a particular focus or emphasis, usually achieving a basic level of understanding in certain subjects. Schools are established by societies or governments to help all children in that society to achieve a certain level of understanding in certain subjects, the scope of the curriculum or the essential knowledge and skills that are deemed by government to be necessary for all citizens to learn. Those who choose or write the curriculum, who write the scope and sequence of courses, who determine the requirements for graduation are the ones who have the privilege of determining what they deem important for all children to learn. Parents who place their child in the school are essentially delegating this responsibility and giving up this privilege to someone else.
Much of the failure of our public school system stems from the fact that the majority of parents have handed over more than just the teaching of certain subjects; they have handed over the lives of their children. Schools and other organizations have embraced this opportunity and often encourage parents to leave children in their care without the parent’s involvement. Schools and parents alike have become eager to have the school take responsibility for their child’s education. But no matter how wonderful the teachers are, they cannot replace parents. Professional educators have told parents that only “trained professionals” could educate their kids, and parents believed it. Many still believe it. They believe it to the extent that they think they cannot teach their child at all.
The truth is that trained professionals cannot educate kids in everything they need to know for life. No matter how kind and generous they may be, trained professionals cannot love classrooms full of children for multiple years, learning the idiosyncrasies of each child and how they learn and what they need. Teachers cannot adjust for every child to teach in the way each child can individually receive. They may be very effective in meeting some needs of some students, but schools cannot meet all the needs of all students. School is about learning a few subjects over a specified time in an institution set up to teach certain specific material to large groups of students.
Education, however, is about helping a child learn within the context of love and relationship. The school will never be able to replace the education a parent can provide. The whole education of a child is more than simply learning a set of facts or processes; it’s a lifestyle of love, training within relationship. A child must be nurtured and cared for, listened to, and observed. It is in the home that these things should take place. It is in understanding the daily patterns and habits of the child, the state of their heart, mind, soul, and body, that parents can tailor the forms of education to the needs of the child.
Many professionals in the field of education and some parents would interject here that many kids don’t have this kind of home. Their argument is that because kids don’t have a home that is safe and where they are loved and cared for, that the school is the next best thing. The suggested solution is to replicate the home at the school. But this model never works. It’s called an orphanage. I think we can all recognize the downfalls of orphanages. Yet our society is moving more and more in this direction. As more parents give over more of the rights and responsibilities of caring for their children to the schools, the schools become more and more like orphanages. Some schools now serve three meals a day to students, send meals home for the weekend, some have laundry service provided, healthcare, etc. Teachers and administrators in these schools cannot meet all the needs of the students in their care. They are overwhelmed and incapable of providing for every student’s needs (regardless of how much funding is provided).
If we continue to promote this as a solution, we will only increase the problem. The more government provides, the less the parent feels responsible to provide. Increased government provision merely serves to decrease parental involvement. It is a downward cycle, and we are wise to recognize it and reverse the trend. As public school services have increased, the level of achievement of students has decreased. As parents have become increasingly less involved in their children’s lives, we have experienced increases in mental health issues, crime, bullying, and a myriad of other negative results. Parental involvement may not be the only factor creating these issues, but it certainly is one of the biggest.
We cannot replicate the home at the school, and we also cannot replicate the school at home. Essentially, homeschooling is an ineffective term. If you would peruse almost any social media page dedicated to homeschooling, you will find many parents who have tried to replicate the public school system at home and subsequently recommend that others avoid this because it will always fail. We saw this to be true when many attempted to transfer public school methods into the home during the Coronavirus lockdowns of 2020.
While public school methods are ineffective in our homes, education at home has long been recognized as the most effective form of educating a child. Institutionalized schools are a relatively recent experiment, while home education has been a successful endeavor throughout history, in almost every time and place. We have many generations before us to observe. Our generation and current society may have mistakenly bought into the idea that home and school could somehow be combined. We can correct our mistakes and learn from how others educated at home in the past as well as how some are effectively educating at home currently. Many have asked us to share how our family has educated at home, so we hope to someday write another book in an attempt to share what we have learned from our experience in hopes that it will help others find their own way to educate their children effectively at home. Check back with us later to hopefully find a link to that book on home education. Until then, you can learn more about our family when you check out “The LaQuey Family Story” section of this website.
We understand that many people want to learn about homeschooling without being confronted by religion or faith. To those, we have two words of advice. First, everyone has faith in something. If you don’t have faith in God, you have faith in man. You are free to choose this, of course. Our experience is that those who place their faith in man will always be disappointed. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you place your faith in God. It is out of our care for you that we openly state the benefits of our faith and how God has helped us make decisions that have brought tremendous blessings in our lives and in our home. Our faith in God is a key component of who we are and how we make decisions. While we each fail and make many mistakes, God has never failed us, never led us astray, and never disappointed us. People will always disappoint us. Second, if you don’t place your faith in God, consider which individuals you do place your faith in. At some point, every other option will fail you.
As you read about our choices in educating our kids, we hope that you will discover why we have continued to place our trust and faith in God. You will hopefully recognize that God has directed, guided, sustained, provided, helped, encouraged, and loved our family throughout the years and in every circumstance, both good and bad. You will hopefully recognize that God is not only loving but also all-knowing, all-powerful, and has a good plan for each of us. The Bible tells us that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life (John 3:16). Beyond eternal life, God promises life more abundantly. This is our hope for you: abundant life here on earth and eternal life in heaven! The Bible also tells us that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and the beginning of knowledge (Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10). Only when we begin to understand that God has the power to either punish our sin or save us from it, do we begin to have wisdom and knowledge. Because we know wisdom and knowledge begin with the fear of the Lord, this is where we begin in educating our kids. One of the first and most important lessons we learned about teaching our kids is that we needed to train their hearts to love God and want to please Him. Once that was established, education became an enjoyable lifestyle of learning! To learn more about how we taught our kids to fear and love the LORD, explore further in the section of our website titled “Biblical Discipleship and Parenting.”