Home homeschooling Homeschooling and Important Basics

Homeschooling and Important Basics

by Kelly Crawford

Homeschooling is such a varied experience, affording every family the freedom to tailor it to their specific needs, interests, seasons, and personalities.  That is one of the most beautiful things about educating at home–homeschooling openly denies the “cookie-cutter” model and embraces the individuality of each child and family.

Given its scope, then, it can be difficult to define; but there are two things that come to mind as center to a healthy homeschooling experience.

Parental obedience.  Once upon a time this point would scarcely need to be made, for it was expected that “children obey your parents”.  But today, it is not uncommon to hear a mother say, “I could never homeschool–my child wouldn’t do a thing I said”.  I know, I’ve heard it.  If this is the case, I would consider it an “emergency situation” and would consider all things irrelevant until the relationship was brought into a right, joyous one.  Otherwise, life itself will be miserable, and trying to add homeschooling to it would be detrimental.

Understanding education. Yesterday’s post just touched on the subject, but a thorough research/thinking through of the real definition of education is necessary to combat one that we have been given from our institutional settings.  I find that even though we’ve been homeschooling for 8 years, we must continually refresh our vision about what education means to us.

In order to formulate an accurate definition of “true education” (which will vary from family to family), we have to have an end goal in mind. Many of us are prone to think of  “school” as merely a necessary institution that will ensure us a “good job” in the end.  Learning has little to do with it, if we can just pass the tests, get the paper, and get a job.

As a result, there are a good many “educated fools” walking around these days.  I would challenge you not to short-change your children when you flesh out your educational goals.  Home-educating affords us the opportunity to bring up well-rounded individuals with a richness and depth of education that has been long lost.

At the top of our list of educational goals are:

  • A love and understanding of Scripture (the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.)
  • Teaching them to be self-learners.  In my opinion, the government knows full-well how dangerous a society of self-learners can be, and has purposely created a system that convinces the masses they can only receive a real education through the transferring of information from a “professional”; such a concept ensures that people will be taught only what is “safe” for an engineered society.  But for centuries, the most intelligent men and women of history were self-taught; the average high school graduate can not even decipher the writings of these historical intellects.  I believe John Taylor Gatto when he says the system has purposely “dumbed down” our students.  The proof is in the pudding.
  • Teaching them to think.  Ask them questions, challenge their reasoning, and press them to give an answer for opinions they express.
  • Giving them a love of reading.  Not all children will love to read as much as others; but from the very beginning, one of the most important things a parent can do is to read to their children, read in front of them, and make books an important part of life.  Another thing is to read challenging books in their hearing, even if they don’t grasp it all.  They need to hear rich language before they understand it, just as they need to hear simple language before they can speak it.
  • Communication skills.  The ability to express one’s self is vitally important.  Writing well and speaking well are invaluable assets in any choice of career or role in life.  These skills usually come more naturally to a prolific reader, and the more parents verbally communicate with their children the better.  (Another benefit, in my opinion, of not being dominated by a peer group for most of the day.)
  • Teaching them to be numerate.  I’m not as concerned with whether my children pass trigonometry as I am that they are able to understand measurements and basic life-concepts of math.  I made a B in college Calculus and still struggle making change at a yard sale 😉
  • A love of arts.  Poetry, music, beauty–whether it be an intricate composition of notes, or the simple, mysterious beauty in the arrangement of wildflowers, we seek to heighten an awareness of the order, creativity and beauty that makes up the very character of the God we serve.

“Artists can unlock our imagination and stir us to pause, think, and reflect….Artists raise questions and compel us to think. The best of poets, for example, have a certain power of observation that can be a remarkable force for good — and at the very least can jolt us out of complacency.” -Tom Cronin

Your family’s goals may be completely different.  But my heart’s plea is that we don’t squander the incredible opportunity to enrich our children’s lives by simply copying a less-than-ideal formula in our home and calling it “home education”.

Think Outside the Classroom

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Are you a homeschooling mother who worries that you aren’t “doing enough”? Are you thinking of homeschooling but feel afraid that you aren’t qualified? If so, read more…

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Kristen August 6, 2009 - 12:02 pm

Thanks for your essays on homeschooling. We’re a homeschooling family, too. My boys (ages 5 & 6) are doing first grade work this year and my 3 year old daughter just “comes along for the ride”. I’m a jr. high teacher by profession, so teaching the primary grades has been difficult, but it is very rewarding. I’m enjoying reading your perspectives, although I think we have slightly differing philosophies of education.

Kim M August 6, 2009 - 12:15 pm


I love your education philosophy. I feel like I am learning so much from you. Thank you so much!
By the way, have you been to google books? You can look up the McGuffey eclectic readers from the olden days and see HOW MUCH we have truly “dumbed down”. The old readers & spellers are so advanced.

I totally agree with you love of the Scriptures being top of the list!

Word Warrior August 6, 2009 - 12:17 pm

Kim–Yes I just found out about Googlebooks–I need to really spend some time there browsing! Also, the recent business I introduced (Olde-books.com) are a great resource for rich reading. A post about where to find great, old books might be a good one, huh?

KB August 6, 2009 - 12:26 pm

“As a result, there are a good many “educated fools” walking around these days.”

Wholeheartedly agree!

In preparation for the upcoming school year, I’ve been reading another book that contrasts state standard- vs Biblical standard-education. The glaring difference between the “conventional” and the Hebraic (Bible-based) is purpose.

The purpose of state education is so that individuals can serve the state (e.g. high test scores, numerous academic degrees, trained workforce, etc). The purpose of Hebraic education is to serve God (serving others, true moral accountability, love and respect for neighbors, etc). Hmm, I wonder what’s supposed to be the priority for Christian parents????

It is my prayer that as Christians we start being more honest about this.

Sheila August 6, 2009 - 1:10 pm

Thank you for your wonderful post. As a h’schooling mom who has not a teaching bone in my body, your Relaxed Homeschooling e-book was very helpful and encouraging, as are your “school” posts.
Do you find that, having been a ps teacher, that your training and experience has hindered or helped your home school?

Bethany Hudson August 6, 2009 - 1:40 pm

Everything you wrote about are the exact reasons I want to homeschool–and why I think homeschooling will be better at instilling these values than a normal ps–or even any of the private schools in our area.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Word Warrior August 6, 2009 - 1:48 pm


I think at first it hindered it…we did the whole “sit at a desk, say the pledge, just finish your worksheets” routine until we both were so miserable that my natural inclination to “question the system” kicked in. Then I realized that a classroom operates the way it does because it HAS to, not because that is necessarily the best or only way; I finally realized we had all kinds of opportunities and it would be a shame to waste them.

But I think we all have to struggle to get past the classroom mentality because we are products of that method and it’s really hard to think differently.

Leslie from VA August 6, 2009 - 3:59 pm

I think Kelly’s book is great!
I recommend it highly! For me, it was like sitting down with someone who thought like I did about homeschooling.

I read it about this time last year, and it was just the motivator I needed to “think outside of the classroom” for another year as the big yellow buses took neighborhood children away.

Thank you, LORD, for the privilege to teach my children.

Narelle August 6, 2009 - 4:15 pm

Bless You!

Kim M August 6, 2009 - 4:40 pm

That would be a great post Kelly (about where to find good books). I found one actually written called “Home Education”!

Kim M August 6, 2009 - 4:44 pm

oops, I wasn’t finished.

Charlotte Mason’s book is there and several others written in the early 1800s. Just make sure you click “full view” to get the ones in the public domain.

Another author we have enjoyed is James Otis. He has written a lot of historical fiction. Your children would really enjoy those!
Also, if you go to http://www.libravox.com you can listen to audio books free (mp3 downloads) that are in the public domain. I found Helen Keller’s book as well as several others.

Ann August 6, 2009 - 5:36 pm

I have the same goals for my childrens’ home education. I do think some parents worry that a relaxed approach will somehow fail to prepare their children for the future particularly if they wish to pursue a college degree. We had a very relaxed approach in our home and yes it did work! I never taught my son algebra or calculus… he was able to teach himself! I used to worry that I had not prepared him well enough with our simple but fun unit study approach…lots of hands on learning and of course Bible study and reading great books but at 16 he began his university degree from home and he is doing so well! He has received full marks for all his assignments so far. He is currently studying database concepts which to me looks to be mind boggling but he understands it to such a depth I am amazed and it is not a subject we ever covered in our curriculum! I have recently written a post about my son’s experience of home education called ‘The Homeschool Graduate’ which others might find helpful.

Word Warrior August 6, 2009 - 5:40 pm

I didn’t pay Leslie to say that 😉 But hey, Leslie, I think I’ll use that on my sales page! Thank you!

jess in Peru August 6, 2009 - 6:16 pm

Kelly – does a love of “break-dancing/hip-hop” dancing consitute a love of arts? LOL! My 5 year old has some funky moves and he loves to dance. He is definitely gifted!

Word Warrior August 6, 2009 - 6:28 pm


LOVE these testimonies…such an encouragement to all of us!

Word Warrior August 6, 2009 - 6:29 pm


LOL! I’ve got one bent that way too…a good homeschooling mom can assign about anything to a “subject” 😉

jess in Peru August 6, 2009 - 7:10 pm

Kelly – go to my blog phamilyof6.blogspot.com and eheck out his hip-hop dancing to a rap version of “Awesome God.” I was just thinking today how God just gifts some people natural abilities and homeschooling is such a great way to hone those. He is only 5 so obviously not a professional, but you can’t deny the natural rhythm that NONE of us have in the house!

My kids speak Spanish and sometimes I think, well…they might not be the best at “this or that” but hey…they’re bilingual and love God!

Leslie from VA August 6, 2009 - 7:24 pm

You bet, Kelly!

My computer connection has been back and forth all day or I would have said more! I actually was worried that I sent it twice. (The second one is floating in cyberspace somewhere!)

One of my favorite quotes from the section on “Teaching Them to be Self-learners” is: “To be taught that my knowledge is limited only to what another can teach me is, at best, depressing! But it is also wrong.”

And my last favorite quote that I will share from Kelly’s book is a great one:
“With life-learning, there is no start or finish, no taking off, no being behind….just a constant readiness to learn something else.”

Yep, I am ready to wave at the buses again! My children are learning right here together with me!

Kelly L August 6, 2009 - 8:50 pm

this post was great…and what an encouragement some of the commentos are!

Kim from Canada August 6, 2009 - 10:56 pm

I love the ‘educated fools’ line! There are far too many of them out there – and I think I used to be one ;o)

On Wednesday night family Bible Study at church we just had a discussion about the ‘why’ of homeschooling and talked about goals we have and should have – great stuff!

massmom August 8, 2009 - 11:50 am


Great post!

Here’s a quote that I stumbled across – it gives all of us with children something to think about when deciding their educational experience:

“The philosophy of the classroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln

Tammy September 12, 2012 - 8:15 pm

Wow…that is a deep and scary thought…wow!

Word Warrior August 8, 2009 - 11:57 am


I meant to ask you the name of that book…

Anonymous August 25, 2009 - 11:10 am

I have enjoyed reading your posts, Kelly. I am a christian, and I agree with your theology. We also home school, and I have found it to be a pleasurable experience. Thank you for the encouragement!


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