Jewish people were and are some of the most educated people on the planet. It is because they were chosen by God and given His Word. They never stopped learning and teaching throughout the millennia. Because of this, they have given the world more scientific discoveries, inventions, and more music than any other culture. Hebrew school was central to education giving children foundation for what God had planned for them individually and corporately as a nation.
Daily Bible Study
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness” (2 Peter 1:3)
The Bible is the foundation of everything in life from history to family gatherings. I used the Bible for learning to read (beginning Bibles) and writing (keeping a Scripture journal). I made up my own Bible studies, used a few curriculums, studied lyrics to hymns and worship songs. The Biblical festivals became central to our weekly, monthly and yearly lives. With every festival we studied types and shadows of people and events and highlighted Scriptures throughout the Bible that related to individual festivals. We developed plays and puppet shows for some of the holy days.
“Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).
Spiritual Gifts were very important to me. I found ‘tests’ to learn what each of my children’s spiritual gifts were so we could develop them – both in learning the strengths of their spiritual gifts as well was their weakness. In this way, I could teach my children in the very way that they were created by the Father.
Learning at Home
Apart from a good spiritual foundation, what is homeschooling? First, it is not bringing school into the home. It is allowing life at home to educate. This is how Adam and Eve taught their children agriculture, Noah taught his sons how to measure and build, King David taught his son public policy, King Solomon taught his sons architecture, and even Joseph taught his sons carpentry.
My husband taught our children how to take care of a vehicle so they would be wise when they owned their own. He also taught them Photoshop as he is a guru, how to play guitar, and how to take care of a lawn. I taught my children to cook, grocery shop, maintain a clean and orderly home. I also taught them how to play piano, how to garden, to take care of chickens, and how to use herbs and essential oils for their health.
Some structure is important. My children had responsibilities all day long. They made their beds, they got dressed, they did chores from feeding animals, doing their own laundry and helping to clean the house for Sabbath. In the evening they helped their dad clean up the kitchen after dinner. These responsibilities began at a very young age and taught them self-discipline. When it came time to actually ‘do schoolwork,’ they had already established an order to their lives which allowed for a more formal education and a lot of free time.
Free time? Most state regulations do not require more than 2 hours of school per day for elementary-aged children; high school-aged, 4. Of course, by opting out of that system, it didn’t matter to me how many hours they studied or played, I knew they were learning. From the moment we decided to homeschool, when my firstborn was about 4, we made the decision it was for the duration. We determined that homeschooling for us would begin process of lifelong learning and would not be institution (church or school) centered, but God and family centered.
Though I wanted my children to read, write and do arithmetic, I wanted them educated so they could reason and think for themselves when they became adults. My educational program did not follow the typical school program as I had children and then I had young adults. Though they knew their elementary grade so they could respond when asked, we didn’t really do grades. At the end of each year, I gave them a report card and moved them forward to the next level. Each report card was sent to grandparents to ‘prove’ we were educating our children. Since subjects in junior high school were just repeated in high school, I did not do junior high. When my children finished ‘sixth grade,’ they went right into high school studies. This allowed them to graduate at 15-16 years old. My youngest son started college at the same time he learned to drive.
I went to an excellent high school and took the college prep program. I did not care if my children ever went to college, but I wanted them prepared to do so if they wished. In fact, I encouraged my daughters to be homemakers and my sons to have good jobs to support a family. Yes, traditional values, but values that have and will stand the test of time.
How it is thus far? My oldest son began working for a corporation at 15, got his IT degree during that time and is now managing a department for another very large corporation. He is married to a woman who was home schooled and they will homeschool their children when they have them. My oldest daughter graduated at 15, got a position as a manager for bank tellers until she moved to New York to model and eventually work in movies. Now, she is a stay-at-home mom and teaches her two young ones in ways I could never have imagined. Second generation stuff amazes me. My youngest son graduated at 15, went to the local community college to get undergraduate studies completed. He then received a four-year degree in Human Biology. He continued his education at Palmer Chiropractic. Today, he has his own chiropractic practice. My youngest daughter graduated at 15. She took competitive dance classes while she went to a community college in another state. She graduated as a paralegal and is now working for a judge in a state court. She hopes to someday be like her sister and stay at home raising her children and home schooling them.
Having a degree in English, communication is important to me, especially written communication. I believe that reading classics and good literature creates vocabulary and develops writing skills. I used Learning Language Arts Through Literature, but my children didn’t just do the excerpts, they had to read the complete book. I developed an incredible home library, but more importantly we had A LIBRARY CARD.
I also loved unit studies for novels when we left Learning Language Arts Through Literature. I bought many and created my own. One of my favorite novels is Anne of Green Gables and I created my own study guide for that novel.
I have a degree in French and took some Russian. Over the years I taught myself Portuguese and Hebrew. There is evidence that learning a foreign language makes a person more intelligent so this aspect of communication became important to me. Plus, if you are raising your child to go on mission trips, shouldn’t communication with those in the foreign country should be part of the program? With whatever foreign language my child wanted to study, we used videos and CDs and found Rosetta Stone to be the best program. I taught basic Hebrew along with the ancient word pictures so that I could teach the 10 Commandments through the letters. I wanted my children to have a basic understanding of all the commonly used blessings. Today they all know a little Hebrew and one of my daughters is fluent in Portugues as she spent time in Brasil.
I love timelines and I had the wall space to make one huge one that began with the first day of creation and ended with the new heavens and new earth. Everything in between included both Biblical history as well as secular. We made not only words, but pictures to hang on our timeline which made it an interesting object lesson even for visitors to our home.
I used Bible geography to study cultures like ancient Egypt, Greece, Persia. Whenever we read about a country like Ethiopia, we studied the country. We made foods, costumes, and listened to music from the country. We also studied one or two countries from each continent.
We learned about the ‘other’ gods and goddesses found in Scriptures and the cultures that worshipped them. One of my children did a high school research paper on Greek gods and goddesses, where they are found in Scripture, and how they affect Christianity today.
IF I could do history all over again, I would have my children read nothing but historical novels. Each of them had very different historical interests and I believe they could have learned even more through novels. As a first generation homeschooler, I just wasn’t sure about ‘what they were learning’ so I didn’t focus solely on novels. I wish I had.
As for geography, I’m not sure how it happened, but having an exchange student changed all of their lives. It opened them up to wanting to meet people from other countries and then visiting them. Watching this desire develop in each of them has been a blessing that has no words.
The Creation week is jam-packed with science. For example, on day 1 is the study of light and physics. Day 2 was all about water, the atmosphere, oceanography, weather and includes rainbows. Day 3 begins biology and includes botany (study of plants) and geology (study of rocks and minerals). Day 4 is all-inclusive astronomy (study of sun, moon, stars, planets, space). Day 5 is orinthology (study of birds), ichthyology (study of fish), and marine biology (study of ocean life). Day 6 is zoology (study of animals) and anatomy, physiology and sociology (study of humanity).
I found wonderful science kits through Rainbow Resource Center that taught science through magic and many other topics found in the kits. As my children entered their high school years, I used Exploring Creation Through Physical, Biology, and Chemistry. I had everything from scales to test tubes to bunsen burners in my home.
Math is important because it teaches reasoning skills and the ability to think. I used Miquon Math with manipulative blocks and even an abacus with my younger children. In the upper years, I used Saxon Math. Challenges will always be a part of life and it’s important to meet challenges head on, not quit. When I was struggling with Algebra in high school, I wondered if I would ever ‘use it’ again. I did – when teaching my own children – one of which LOVED Algebra and Geometry.
A note here about my science and math book curriculums. When I was working on high school transcripts, I went to the local high school to see one. In the course of the conversation I learned that a student could go to school half the required time, do half of the book (which most do) and still receive full credit. I was astounded. In the few hours a day that my children ‘did school,’ they completed their math and science books in their entirety: experiments, study guides and all tests.
Many home studies I created for each individual child. My daughter who owned two horses did two years of horse studies, read every book she could find about horses including veterinary science. Though we lived in land-locked Nebraska, she wanted to study marine biology. I found a very hands-on curriculum which gave her a wonderful foundation for when she spent several weeks with a cousin studying marine biology on the west coast and visited an aquarium on the east coast.
One son completed a drafting course. From what he learned he designed ‘the Bridge’ of the Starship Enterprise to scale in my basement. He also loved studying Torah and understanding God’s laws, so he also did a legal course grounded in the Constitution of the United States.
One of my daughters was dyslexic. I learned that through exercise and dance her brain would make the right connections. She took dance from the time she was young and she is still dancing.
We did not homeschool our children to isolate them from the world, but to have the freedom to show them the world. We wanted them to see history, see geography, see life in its reality. From the butterfly museum to NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research) to milking cows or goats to visiting the Gettysburg Battlefield to camping in numerous national parks to visiting cities from New York to Rio De Janeiro and Jerusalem, my children were given a well-rounded education because they saw the world through their own eyes.
Lifelong learning, yes. That is what homeschool is about. Take your time. Learn with your children. Learn about your children. Watch them grow into the person God created them to be. It really isn’t about socialization, it is about parents and children coming together, being together, learning together, and loving together.
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