By Rachel Fisher
Home education is something very personal to me because this is something Matthew and I have chosen to do in our family. There are often questions surrounding this topic, alongside strong opinions on both sides. So, I thought I would write about it purely from a personal point of view.
Christian parents must make all sorts of choices over the years, however, where education is concerned, what is right for one family, may not be right for another. This is our story, of our personal journey and how God led us to home education.
To start at the beginning would be when our children arrived. I have shared in previous testimonies that when our children arrived it felt like a tornado had come. Not least because our first born nearly died during labour.
There are some things in life that are turning points and for us becoming parents was one of those. It was chaotic, frightening and overwhelming and yet powerful…the responsibility for another human being felt immense and thoughts quickly turned to how we were going to use the responsibility wisely.
Our Key Values
Some of these thoughts included how to teach them the gospel and verses such as, ‘Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it’ (Proverbs 22:6).
‘You shall teach them (God’s ways) diligently to your children and talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up’ (Deuteronomy 6:7).
I remember a gift from a friend on the arrival of our first daughter was a beautifully illustrated board book of Psalm 139. As a baby that wasn’t easy to settle, I had been advised to start a bedtime routine so this book became a part of the process. She also loved to be sung to so Psalm 23 was regularly sung over her to comfort her (and often Mummy too).
As toddlers, I heard somewhere that a good way to teach the Bible to children who can’t yet read was to act out the stories with them. This became a bit of a regular afternoon routine and the girls loved it. It ranged from building our own ‘Noah’s Ark’ out of cardboard and filling it with as many soft toy animals as possible to acting out the Last supper and Pentecost.
A particular favourite was ‘Miriam and Moses,’ and my Mum once commented that she was greeted at our front door on a regular basis by two toddlers with tea towels on their heads asking her to play “Mimim and Moses” with them!
It was fun times and once they started colouring, we could draw rainbows and colour in verses about God never breaking promises. We loved to sing too and often would sing and dance to Kids Praise and Veggie Tales songs.
We’ve always had a lot of books in our house, so age appropriate illustrated books were a must at bedtime too.
I was passionate about explaining the full gospel to them at an early age and Matthew located a brilliant toddlers picture book by Ray Comfort explaining why Jesus died for their sins and I remember finding this so exciting!
The time came to make decisions about applying for schools and we loved the principle of home educating; in fact, we knew some teenagers who were home educated at the time. Talking to parents of these people could be inspiring, but the thought of applying it to a 4 year old felt scary for me.
My main problem was I did not know any other parents (particularly Christian parents) who were home educating children of a similar age. As we looked around schools we found a sweet village primary school with two amazing Christian teachers running the infants and so we applied and got a space there.
The girls stayed at this primary school up until the Easter of when they were in year 4 and 5. They will never forget the wonderful Christian teachers they had there, who had by this time retired and many positive experiences.
However, during this time life as a family had changed significantly. We had moved house further away from the school, Matthew had been diagnosed with a chronic illness, there had been changes in the girls’ level of enjoyment of school itself.
When we had moved we met some new friends who had two daughters who quickly became our daughters ‘best friends,’ and were home educated. We were and remain so grateful to God that he brought this family into our lives as we connect so well in many ways, they remain an encouragement to us and provided living, breathing examples that home education can work!
I am fortunate that Matthew and I share the responsibility. This is a blessing to me particularly in the area of Maths! Also, Matthew has studied History and English so has specialist insight into those subjects. Home education is often associated with creating an attitude of lifelong learning which for me has been part of the journey.
One of the things I have discovered as a home ed Mum is, you don’t have to know everything, you just need to be willing to learn with them. For me, opening my mind up to learning about subjects I may not even have thought about in years has been an exciting time and given me a greater appreciation of so many more things, which causes me to enjoy life even more.
We really are surrounded by learning opportunities all day long and it’s easy to forget, as adults, that we never really stop learning and there is often beauty to be admired and wonderment to be had at the world around us. Educator Charlotte Mason said, “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline and a life.”
Above all, home education means that all subjects can really point to God. Whether it’s how amazing our bodies work in order to exercise, how the eye works, the beauty of poetry, the meaning of classics, the fun of painting, the context of history, the study of the proverbs and how to behave or how to treat your sibling with kindness…all these things point to our glorious God and how amazing He is and all that He has given us. To nurture our children in this love and His ways is the biggest privilege I’ve ever had. HHh
Thoughts About Legacy
Author Sally Clarkson says, “A Mother’s love and legacy is one of the most powerful influences in the world and will indeed determine the strength and history of a culture. But to provide such a legacy in the lives of our children requires a choice. The choice is to serve, give, train, provide and encourage. Few things will last after we die, but our children and their children will live throughout eternity. What we do as Mothers, therefore has eternal significance…”
If I had to name my personal favourite part of home education that I have discovered it would be reading books aloud. Sharing a book together is a bonding process and part of what we are cultivating is deep lasting relationships with our children that will last into adulthood. Author Sarah MacKenzie says, “Sharing a good book is like sharing a friend;” so I really enjoy this.
To round off I’ll share some books we’ve enjoyed together:
Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall, written in Edwardian times, the history of the British Isles in story form.
We have enjoyed learning about many different Christian pioneers and missionaries including:
Corrie Ten Boon
We also loved novels by Patricia St John such as, ‘Treasures of the Snow,’ and ‘The Tanglewoods’ Secret.’
If anyone is interested in home educating I would recommend listening to the podcast Cooper and Cary Have Words episode 102 entitled, ‘Too cool for School.’ Also, I have gained much encouragement in Motherhood generally from author Sally Clarkson who has written numerous books and her podcast, ‘At Home with Sally.’