Our home schooling adventure began before we were even married, twenty-four years ago. James had the conviction to homeschool our children before we met. While we were still dating, he told me that he wanted a wife who would homeschool his children; I thought he was crazy! It took some convincing, but by the time we married and had children four years later, I was completely on board.
Now we have nine children ranging in age from twenty to two years old. Our goal has always been character over curriculum. We believe that the Bible teaches that God’s wisdom is more important than knowledge.
Proverbs 4:6-7 says, “Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.”
We never got involved in heavy curriculum or workbooks. We have done a lot of unit studies and “make-your-own” type of school. We discovered early that if we train the children to be disciplined and help them turn their heart to the Lord, they will thirst for wisdom and understanding. I have been constantly amazed at how much the children know that I did not teach them!
We also believe that relationships are a vital part of who we are in Christ. It is important to us that our children learn to love one another and to sacrifice for others. Therefore we spend much of our time practicing good habits and setting our own desires aside for one another. If you were a fly on the wall, you would often observe us sitting around the school table, sharing our thoughts on how to treat others or how to overcome our struggles.
Romans 12: 9-10 commands, “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”
It has been a delight to watch our children treat each other with kindness and courtesy. The words, “That’s not fair!” or “Me first!” are not permitted in our home. Even though children do not have the maturity to respond in a biblical way, they can still be held to those standards as they learn. They can practice serving as they learn. In our school being a servant is held in a place of honor.
Once that foundation is there, we can relax and enjoy school. We mostly use unit studies. We have learned about spiders, world geography, the “Little House on the Prairie” series, weather, and much more! Unit studies offer me, a mom of children of many ages, the opportunity to have all of the children in the same class. I simply adjust the load for each age level. Then they each do their own math individually.
While I would consider myself a very structured person, I am relaxed about where the day takes us. We may start out learning about Egyptian architecture and end up digging tunnels in the yard. We are confident that those two subjects are equally important; it depends on what the children need each day. As long as we get back to Egypt at some point, it is okay.
We make our home schooling decisions based on Scripture. It is a little like the desert island challenge. If you were stranded on a desert island with nothing but the Bible as your guide, how different would your life look? We know that we are not on an island and that our kids have to live out in the world someday. However, if we have prepared them to live with God’s Word as their guide, they are better prepared than if we follow the world?or the government schools.
Our oldest graduated from our home school two years ago, and our second child graduated this spring. It has been a joy to watch them grow, learn, and become godly examples for their younger siblings. Teaching them at home has allowed us to know their strengths and weaknesses. We are right there with them through their successes and their failures. Our goal is to grow warriors for the kingdom of God. History, science, and music are all secondary to that end.
We still have many years of home schooling left to go. We delight in each year we get to spend with each child. To God be the glory!
James and Lisa Pennington live in Kerrville where they serve the home school community in their area through their service on the board of the Hill Country Home School Association. They were selected THSC’s 2010 Leaders of the Year.