4 Moms 35 Kids: Extreme Homeschooling

OK.  That part about extreme is a bit misleading.  Maybe.  Then again, maybe not.  Anything you do with children is bound to be extreme, right?

We have been homeschooling for a fairly long time – our oldest is nearly 17, and we homeschooled from the beginning.  If you want to get really specific, I whipped out the ABC flashcards when she was 19 months old.   That was over 15 years ago.

But our exposure to homeschooling goes back even further.  My parents began homeschooling me and my siblings in 1983; they are still homeschooling the youngest 5.  During his high school years, my husband attended a one room schoolhouse with about 12 other students of widely varying ages.  His father was the schoolmaster.  I think that bears a striking resemblance to homeschooling as well.

Having been so far out of the public school mold for so long, our views may seem a little extreme to some.   I do try to pull my punches, but consider yourself duly warned.  We homeschool grads are just so poorly socialized, you know… 😉

This isn’t the first time the topic has been addressed on our blog and we have to leave for 5 dentists appointments in less than 90 minutes so I’ll cheat and copy from a previous post.  If what follows is encouraging, you might want to read some of my other posts on the subject here , here and here.  If it makes you too angry to type straight, you might enjoy the comments on those ssame posts, where other readers who shared your opinion took great delight in verbal evisceration.

1. What reasons prompted you to start home schooling?

…This Chalcedon article explains why much better than I ever could, but in a nutshell we believe that:

  • the public school system is anti-Christian in its very foundation. The presence of a nice Christian teacher cannot overcome this fact. (Did you know that John Dewey, the “Father of Modern Education,” signed and helped write the Humanist Manifesto?)
  • parents are commanded to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
  • we are to teach God’s words to our children night and day, at home and abroad (Deut. 6:4ff).
  • the best way for us to do this is by homeschooling.

2. Have your reasons to continue changed?

Our reasons have been refined. Years ago, I would have said that the academic results and other benefits were among our reasons to homeschool.

Now I see these benefits not as causes, but side effects of our decision to homeschool. We would stand firm in our decision homeschool even if it meant a sacrifice in academics.

3. What do you wish you had known sooner or what advice would you pass on?

  • Don’t stress about the days that you don’t seem to do enough formal schooling. Children are always learning, and new concepts often “click” during down time.
  • Don’t push concepts before the child is ready. You can spend 2 years teaching a 4yo to read, or do it in a few weeks when she is 6. I don’t know about you, but my 4yo and I have better things to do.
  • Read!  Read with your child, read to your child, read silently in your child’s presence. A child who loves books will be a well-educated child.
  • Don’t try to “Do School” at home. Your goal is to teach your child at home, not to create an institutional-style school environment in your home.  Take a deep breath and relax.

More questions?  Hop over to the other 3 moms, where you’re sure to get a different take on the topic at hand:

Raising Olives

Smockity Frocks

The Common Room

Upcoming topics:

  • May 6 – Picking a curriculum, method or tactics that work for a large family.
  • May 13 – Teaching little kids
  • May 20 – Teaching big kids.  what changes? what do they need that little ones don’t and where do you need to give more freedom.  How do you make the transition.
  • May 27 – Putting it together. How does it work?

Past topics:

  • March 18 Live-blog day, in which all 4 of us live-blog a real day in our home.  Find out what we really do all day.  It’s our own reality show, just for you.  Who needs TV?
  • March 25 – Outings with only little ones.  Mom’s rules of order, and how notto become the poster family for birth control.
  • April 1 – A baker’s dozen for managing the food budget: budgeting in the kitchen to feed a crowd.
  • April 8 – Menu planning, how we plan (or don’t plan) to feed our hungry crewmates.
  • April 15 – Cooking from Scratch.   What we make from scratch and what we would like to make from scratch.
  • April 22Cooking for a Crowd.  The big linky!  We shared our own recipes, and you shared yours.


  1. Kim I really like your blog! I do not homeschool right now. My kids are in Headstart and they are learning a lot but the headstart is seperate from the regular school and I really do not want my kids to go there. I want to start homeschooling but I just dont know where I would start. I am oing to fell bad for pulling them out of school beause I know they like it so much. They like seeing their friends and playing with all the school toys. My oldest son is going to kindergarten next year and he’s excited to go to the new school so im afraid to tell him he isnt going to go. Or I was thinking of waiting got my middle son to be done with his 2nd year of headstart then pull them both out but then I would feel bad that my oldest went to kindergarten and my middle didnt get to 🙁 I want them to have the same chances and experiences so im just worried. I know that I want my middle to go another year at headstart though but I just dontknow what to do with my oldest….So if you have any advice for me on that It would be greatly appreciated and on how to start the homeschooling process, legaly.

  2. (I’ll promote your website. check out http://tinyurl.com/2a7pnsh)

    Wanted: Inspiring stories from Homeschoolers to be part of an inspirational collection. Theresa Thomas and Patti Maguire Armstrong are collaborating on the book, Stories for the Homeschool Heart, due to be released early this fall. Contributors will be given a free copy of the book and can purchase 6 more at wholesale price. Also, the bio under the story offers an opportunity of free advertisement for authors, speakers or other projects.

    What we are looking for: Stories need not be blockbuster-amazing. We are looking for anything inspirational, humorous, miraculous, thought provoking, etc.. It cannot just be facts, however, such as how our family homeschools, but an actual story.  There must be a turning point with an uplifting ending.  

    A breakthrough just when you were ready to give up.
    Encouragement from a child or friend that turned things around.
    An answer to prayer.
    Family being against the idea until some turning point.

    IT need not be directly schooling related.  It could also be family or faith related but the family happens to homeschool.

    Deadline: May 31, 2010 Submit to: [email protected]

  3. I’m sorry, but I just have a lot to say on this subject!

    I would also like to add that when we first started homeschooling, originally with my third child in first grade, we didn’t do so for religious reasons. But as time went on and I studied with her every day, I began to be very excited about how God might use her. She knew more about Him in 1st grade than I did at a very much older age. I began to see that God might raise up a new generation for His kingdom among homeschooled children which would be the leaders of the Church and do great things for this fallen world.

    But then, more recently, I have come to see that God doesn’t need to wait for our children to grow up, he can use their old parents just as well. I see around me a revival in progress, among homeschool parents. I don’t look at it so much as what our children might do someday, but what we can do now. And one of the best things we can do is to teach other parents. You do a great job of that with your blog, Kim.

    • Tami,
      Thanks for taking time to share your wisdom. Long comments are always welcome when you have something to say that’s worth sharing!

  4. I’m quite late to this discussion, and I just responded with my children’s story to your original post of May 2, 07, so I won’t repeat all that here. But I would like to add one thing.

    As I said in my other reply, I am a Christian “blue-blood”. All my grandparents were Christians, and as far as I know, all my great-grandparents as well. My parents met and married at a Christian college and I was actually born there, in the student health center (this was long ago.) I attended Christian school from 2nd grade thru graduation, and then went to the same college my parents attended, where I met my husband. We have been church-goers and professed Christians all our lives.

    We sent our first and second sons to public school in reaction to my experiences with my Christian school – that story is in my other reply.

    What I would like to say is that for most of my life, I lived a “Christian” life-style because it was the only one I knew, and I truely believed it was the way to live. But it wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I began to read and study my own Bible, on my own, and not just in “Bible class”. I’m embarrassed to admit that for me, Bible was just another academic subject, and not really my favorite. I’m pretty sure I had never read the entire Bible thru until I was 45 years old. And what I’ve found out about myself is that most of what I did in life had a lot more to do with being an upper-middle class American in a conservative social group than it did with being a Christian.

    I think this is true in my acceptance of government schooling, in my respect for the US military, in my reverence for the state, in my attitude toward children and my possessions, and really, in almost every area of my life. As I began to study for myself, I began to see that what we casually believe “in the Church” often isn’t in the Bible at all, and in all those areas mentioned above, is often completely contradictory to the Bible’s teachings. I think this is a huge issue in churches today, and most of them seem to be clueless, at least the congregations I’ve known best. I just don’t see any way to reconcile my former mainstream “Christian” beliefs with Jesus’s teachings.

    My worldview has changed radically in the last few years, from a very average American one, to a much more Biblical one. Not that I have it all together by any means! But my point is, that if every Christian read and studied the entire Bible, and prayed for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we wouldn’t have so much division among us. God is all about truth, and He will show you if you sincerely seek it – it’s right there in His own Book.

    I suspect that many Christians are like I always was, leading a generally Christian life that doesn’t look that much different from the world, because they don’t know any better. They do as they are told, by their families and churches, but they don’t really know for themselves. “My people are destroyed from lack of knowlege” God said in Hosea 4 of the Isrealites – I see the same today. I see Christian friends all around me who don’t really know what God says, they just know what their Bible class teachers and pastors say. It isn’t always the same thing.

  5. Perry, it is refreshing to see a husband step in and protect his family, even on the internet. I think we can all use a reminder now and then that loving our neighbors as ourselves still applies to online conversation 🙂 Even if I think your wife is wonderful and makes me smile every time I read a post!

  6. Jeanie,

    It’s an Mp3 about an hour long. Victoria is the mother of 7 (mostly grown) it’s very refreshing to listen to.

  7. Perry,
    Is this an audio book? I will look into the other 2 books you suggested in the other post( “When You Rise Up” by R.C. Sproul Jr. for a fuller apologetic of discipleship based education, and “The Messianic Character of American Education” by R.J. Rushdoony to understand the rotten root of American education.)


  8. Having put out that question – I don’t mean to take away from God’s ability to control our governments…it’s just a conversation that risen before.

  9. I went back to the old posts that were linked – some of the comments made my jaw drop! And, of course, some of them are just the ordinary arguments homeschoolers hear all the time.

    We have been homeschooling our 10 yo daughter from the beginning and her brother (who should be arriving in the next few weeks) will have the same benefits of NEVER being part of the PS system.

    Secular humanism in Canada is far more advanced than what we see in your U.S. – and my husband and I have pondered what we would do if homeschooling became illegal. Have you and your family considered how you would respond? Whether it happens now with our children or in the future with our childrens’ children?

  10. I have a question for you guys since you mentioned that your oldest is almost 17. What are your plans for education after 18? I know a lot of homeschooling families feel very strongly that their children stay home until they marry, but that can include going to a local college or technical school. I’m just curious how you are going to address that issue, especially since you’re main focus is equiping your children spiritually.

    Will it be an individualized thing for each child, or do you have a specific plan for all them going forward?

  11. Hey! I’m a second-generation homeschooler, and we also began in 1983, complete with an arrest! Times have changed, but I would never choose any other way!

  12. Thank you for this post.
    We’ve been home educating almost exactly a year. We took one child out of school so this has been quite a transition. We have had plenty of challenges.
    It would be great to know how you manage home educating with babies and toddlers. When we started, we had a 3 month old and a 2 year old, in addition to the child we are home educating. Over the year, the elder of these has become easier to occupy-painting, puzzles, having books read and hate to say it, but some DVDs. The baby is now a gorgeous, very mobile toddler with an attention span of a few seconds who is just dropping his morning sleep.
    Reading has been great for us and we have done a fair amount of reading aloud as well as allowing private reading time.
    I’ve been reading recently about a more relaxed approach to home education. Much of it makes sense, although I guess I still run a ” school at home” in many ways. I can see, though the risk, of not tackling certain subjects such as maths. How can this be avoided?
    Many thanks

    • Sarah,
      Homeschooling with babies and toddlers is one of our upcoming topics. Let me assure you, it works much better with a relaxed approach to homeschooling.
      You’re right: there *is* a risk of not tackling certain subjects, but this isn’t necessarily as big a problem as you might think. For one thing, everyone has gaps in their education. As a homeschooling parent, you’ll work on filling those gaps as you become aware of them. They don’t all have to be addressed on a predetermined schedule, and most subjects can be learned in far less than the 12 or 13 years that so many children spend in an institutionalized school setting.

  13. This whole post was encouraging as a home-school grad and future home-school mom, but I have to say that my favorite part was bound up in the phrase “great delight in verbal evisceration.” Not only is it pleasing on a linguistic basis (I’m a language nerd), but I know EXACTLY what you’re talking about. Hm.. not sure if a “smiley” or a “frown-y” is more appropriate at this point….

    • Stephanie.Nicole,
      Thanks for appreciating that phrase. I was snickering a bit as I typed it, both about the sound of the words together and the image evoked – maybe I’m a language nerd too, deep down.

  14. Jeanie,

    We both highly recommend Victoria Botkin’s talk on homeschooling


    I think you will find it highly encouraging in your current circumstance. 😀

  15. Thanks Kim,
    I needed to hear this today. We pulled our children in Dec ’08 and I know it was the best thing I have done. I still try to “Do school, at home”, and have MUCH to learn about relaxing still. We pulled our children, and w/ in 2 weeks I found out I was expecting, the military was moving us and had to get a house ready to sell. From last January until now has been a whirlwind. We were given several assignments only to have them taken away as we are in a program (EFMP) b/c we have son w/ special needs. So we sold our house, had to back out, had a baby in Sept, and got right back on the market in November. Just in time for the Holidays : )
    I say all this to say “GOD IS FAITHFUL.” Our house sold a 2nd time, we are still homeschooling w/ God’s grace and I am a work in progress as well is our homeschool : )
    Thanks for your blog it really speaks to my heart : )


  16. I chuckle again at how similar our thoughts are on these topics. I love how you pointed out that being out of the pubic school mindset for so long can make our views seem ‘extreme’. I nearly started with the same type of comment, but I’m not as talented at being concise as you are. My post still ended up way too long!

  17. I went and read the past posts that you had highlighted. There is not any inappropriate remarks or manner in your statements on homeschooling. It is intriguing to me how someone such as yourself who has thought long and hard and prayerfully on a subject-could be anything-is so quickly deemed “judgemental” . When did stating facts and opinions become “judgemental”?.
    People should get out their dictionaries and look up some vocabulary words. That’s what we homeschooling mothers do all the time. Stating facts and opinions and conclusions and having a good old-fashioned debate is hardly the same as passing out judgements. They aren’t synonyms.

  18. @Gwen lol I’m not accusing anyone of being uncivil but if you go and read some of the posts Kim linked to you will see this topic can quickly turn ugly if we are not careful with how we approach it

  19. As a homeschooling mom of 7, I too would say that one of the biggest pieces of advice I would give would be to READ! Specifically read alouds to my children – it’s a huge benefit to them, it’s great for time together with my kids, and from a learning perspective – if they have a love for reading then that will eventually develop into a love for learning, then, Lord willing, reading and learning from the Word.

    For us, it seemed like a good idea in the beginning, but homeschooling truly has become a conviction and a way of life for us. Thank you so much for your wise thoughts!! (I just read Perry C’s comment and it was kind of intimidating – so I re-read my comment hoping it’s civil…. 🙂

  20. Good morning to everyone. I”m the Dad here @ inashoe.com and I am asking everyone to keep the conversation civil on this thread. Please feel free to disagree or agree, but do so with courtesy and civility. Remembering the second great commandment to treat your neighbors as you want to be treated.

    Also I would heartily recommend reading “When You Rise Up” by R.C. Sproul Jr. for a fuller apologetic of discipleship based education, and “The Messianic Character of American Education” by R.J. Rushdoony to understand the rotten root of American education.

  21. I did not homeschool however IF I had it to do over again I would in a heart beat. I have encouraged my daughter who is in a serious relationship to def homeschool her children when the time comes!Her boyfriend comes from a large family and was homeschooled.
    I adore your blog and I have my daughter read you because quite frankly I love you and Perry and your family is a great inspiration to me, I think my girl can learn allot from ya’ll when the time comes Iam sure we will be coming to visit so she can meet you and glean many great Ideas from yall!!

    • Paulette,
      You’re always so sweet to us! We enjoyed meeting you last year, and look forward to getting together again soon. And of course you’re welcome to come visit anytime you’re in the area. Just say the word!

  22. Thanks for the encouragement. We are just beginning to homeschool, our soon to be 5 yo and 3 yo. I am also pregnant with our third, so sometimes I am feeling a bit overwhelmed. It is so great to hear of Moms who have been there, done that and are still standing 😉

  23. What a blessing to have family that supports (and does the same) Home schooling , My Family’s schooling style is similar to yours and while our extended family is not antagonistic towards home schooling they are always asking ,Why don’t you do this? and Doesn’t she know how to read yet? I especially like what you said on learning to read. I didn’t learn to read till I was at least 7 and I now LOVE reading. Also, it is so true that the main reason for home schooling (if you are a Christian) should be to equip your children to “Speak with the enemies in the gates”
    Not to win the most spelling bee’s or to learn algebra by age four. (though spelling and algebra certainly have their place).


  1. […] 29 – Extreme Homeschooling, where I try to stir up trouble but you all are much nicer and more agreeable […]

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