Fall 2012/Laura Sailer

That’s a good question. After over twenty years of homeschooling, four kids, two dogs, three high school graduations, one college graduation, one wedding and one grandchild, I think I can boil my initial motivation down to one simple answer. I stand looking at it from almost the finish line. It’s hard to see all the way back to the starting point exactly what I was thinking those many years ago, with a little baby girl in my arms, but the same passion still burns in my heart.

We went to our first homeschool conference when our daughter was only six months old. We weren’t officially homeschooling yet, although there are those who consider homeschooling as something that starts at birth. Gregg Harris (father of Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and Alex and Brett Harris, authors of Do Hard Things) was the speaker, piped in through some amazing new technology of 1988, and we watched him on the screen as he talked about socialization, discipline, delight-directed studies and raising your children to know Jesus and honor Him. I was very inspired. I had known I wanted to homeschool even before I was married. I had seen homeschool families and admired their wholesomeness, the way the children were being taught to obey and respect their parents, and the obvious advantage these families had of not only protecting their children from harmful influences but of having plenty of time and opportunities to teach their faith and values to the next generation.

When I was a young, single woman, I attended a conference where one of the speakers was teaching about Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley. She talked of how Susanna Wesley was not only a woman of prayer, but was the mother of nineteen children (ten of whom survived to adulthood). She spent one full hour a week with each child and taught each one how to read using the Bible. She talked about the importance of teaching our children to be biblically literate and spending time with them to impact them spiritually. I walked out of there knowing I was going to homeschool my children someday.

Passing on our faith was one of the most important motivations we had for choosing to homeschool. My husband and I both came to a vibrant faith in Jesus during college, and we were pretty radical. We believed (and still do) that if Jesus was truly Lord, He was Lord in every area of life. We saw the scriptures in Deuteronomy that said you should love the Lord with all your heart, soul and might and teach the words of God diligently to your children as you sit in your house and walk by the way, when you lie down and rise up. To us that pretty much indicated all day long—something we knew would be impossible if they went out of the home every day to school. We also believed that it was not the government’s responsibility to provide for a child’s education but the parents’ responsibility. We didn’t really think the government schools would do a very good job of teaching the words of God diligently to our little munchkin.

So we endeavored to do everything we could to train our children in the way they should go, both spiritually and according to their unique giftings. We spent lots of time together, read lots of books together, stayed active in church together. We did spelling drills and taught multiplication tables and tried to practice handwriting and checked off those high school courses that just had to be checked off. We encouraged each one’s gifts and hand-picked the high school curriculum for each child. These last twenty years have flown by. I don’t regret for one minute the time we invested in our kids.

Looking back, it was so worth it. I never really had a day that I was so frustrated that I wanted to send them to public school. Well, maybe there were a couple. There were days when the motto was, “school doesn’t have to be fun, it just has to be done,” and there were Fun Fridays, where we pulled out a big plastic tub of puzzles, games and art supplies and enjoyed the afternoon together. There were times that were interrupted by family crises, and the kids were sent outside to the woods to play instead of doing schooling. We schooled with nursing babies, preschoolers and high school boys, and lived to tell about it. Now as we finish the last few years of our homeschool course, we look with grateful hearts to God for our children. He entrusted them to us for a little while. We trust Him to take the work we’ve done and use it for His glory.