I’ve been sharing with you how we began to homeschool. That was 37 years ago!
But, I stopped in the middle of the story, so let me continue…
You see, back in the early ’80s, “Homeschooling” was a foreign concept. We didn’t personally know anyone who had done it. There was no internet, so no way to “ask Facebook” if anyone else out there was homeschooling. It was so very different than it is now.
We had loved our first year homeschooling our 2 oldest boys. What began as a desire to teach my kids for just 1 year, quickly turned into a burning desire, that we believe God gave us, to continue. But, the following year, we were blindsided with an experience I would never want to repeat
We moved to a house we had just finished restoring, and so had a whole new set of neighbors. Apparently someone was concerned that our school -aged children weren’t “in school”, and they called the truant officer.
Soon we had a knock on our door which started one of the most difficult times of our lives.
As I said, homeschooling was something new. The truant officer threatened to take our kids away and sternly told us to put our kids in school.
By then, we had a strong conviction from God that we were to teach them at home. And, there was, in fact, a provision in our state law that allowed parents to teach their kids at home.
But, soon thereafter we had another knock on our door delivering us a summons to court.
Back then, there was no HSLDA or even state groups to help defend the right to homeschool. It was a very scary lonely time.
We told our oldest son if they were taken from us and sent to Grannie, to be sure to have his younger siblings say their prayers at night. We heard of a Constitutional lawyer who agreed to take our case and defend our right according to the provision in state law. He came to film and document our schooling. He had lots of information to present to the judge.
The trouble was, we had a judge who said he wouldn’t listen to the evidence! He didn’t want to hear anything about religion, and it was the religious exemption clause we were claiming. It really opened my eyes to the state of our judicial system. I thought a judge had to listen to the case before making a judgment. He slammed his gavel down and told us to put our kids in school. That was that.
What could we do? Our lawyer advised against appeal if we didn’t have adequate financing to make an appeal to the state Supreme court. We didn’t.
We finally were able to teach our kids under the protection of our little church school (the one where our kids had been in preschool). They had a spare room in the church and graciously allowed me to haul my kids there every day and be their teacher. By then we had 5 children, number 6 on the way.
The room had a little kerosene heater. I still feel nauseous every time I smell kerosene scent. I had been nauseous already from the pregnancy. However, I was so grateful to be allowed to continue to teach my kids. As I said, this wasn’t just some frivolous idea that we were too obstinate to let go. We had a strong leading from God that this was clearly what we should be doing.
As years went by, we found that God had placed that same conviction in many other families across this country. None of us knew of the others at the time, but I KNOW God is the one who started the homeschooling movement.
NONE of us ever dreamed of a homeschooling movement. We were just following God’s leading in our lives to teach our own children.
The following year we helped to lobby for a clearer law in our legislature and opted to keep our kids at home with blinds closed during school hours as we felt the legislature was leaning positively toward making a clearer law to allow homeschooling.
But, times were still tense. We had come up with a drill when anyone came to the door during school hours. The older kids were to hide under their beds till the visitor left. We were trying to sell our home and move out of the jurisdiction, and one day a realtor came with a prospective buyer. As we were showing them Nate’s room I noticed big pair of overstuffed bear slippers pointing straight up in the air, sticking out from under his bed. (where little Nate was hiding) I quickly ushered the realtor to the next room. We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t very funny at the time.
Anyway, we made it ok that year. The following year a new law came through and we submitted to annual testing and were able to teach our children without fear.
Incidentally, each year for the first few years, homeschooling seemed to double in the number of families who began it. We became so convinced that it was the right way for our family and helped many others to begin as well. We had a meeting in our home each month to help those wanting to start up.
Now as I look back, it’s amazing that what began in isolated homes across the nation became what is now known as the homeschooling movement.
We were thought of as doing something really strange, and now it has spread so fully that everyone has heard of homeschooling and can consider it as a viable option if they choose to do so.
I have NO doubt in my mind it was a movement begun by God and I feel privileged to have been called to suffer to help gain freedom for so many families.
I am so thankful for the opportunity that so many fought for and won.
Homeschooling is not for everybody. But if God leads you to do it, you’ll never regret it!
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