We are Chris and Beverly Parrish, parents of a terrific tribe of kiddos—Benjamin, Luke, Andrew, Hannah, Seth, Gavin and Jack—who range from in college to in diapers.
Our home schooling journey began with the closure of Benjamin’s private preschool. Suddenly we had no place to send him for the fall of his first grade year. We investigated other private schools in our area, church schools, and the local public school. There was also some fringe, hippie, commune, granola “thing” called home schooling that we knew two families were doing. Completely skeptical, Chris at one point even told Bev that it would take the audible voice of God for him to agree to home school the kids. While we had an opinion about home schooling, it was based purely on a lack of information. So in an attempt to be as objective as possible and examine all of our options, we knew that we at least had to do some research on home schooling.
Bev set about reading everything she could get her hands on. We attended a Gregg Harris home schooling conference (That is when God spoke.), compiled a “pros and cons” list, and decided that we should at least give it a try for Benjamin’s first grade year. How hard could it be, right?
Initially opposition from both sides of our families was fierce. Bev comes from a long line of public school teachers, and there is even a school in San Antonio named after her grandfather. Chris’s dad is a bit of an academic. Neither set of grandparents knew anything about home schooling (note from Chris: “and still do not”), and were determined to have their grandbabies properly “socialized,” and not in some “religious cult.” The good news is that after all these years, they have realized that their grandkids have turned out just fine. They do not even grimace anymore when asked where their grandkids go to school.
Chris was graduated from one of the federal military academies and was always drawn to the ability to give our kids an academically excellent education—given the one-on-one tutorial method of home schooling. Bev was drawn to having control over what the kids were taught spiritually, morally, and otherwise. More than anything else though, we both wanted to be the primary influence in our children’s lives and knew that home schooling offered that opportunity.
Over the years, home schooling has enabled us to custom-tailor our kids’ educations to their specific needs, pace, and learning styles; they are not forced to conform to the needs of a random, “average” student in a classroom. We have had late readers who blossomed into voracious and proficient readers because we were able to relax and let them learn at their own pace. There have been years when we did not accomplish all the academics that we wanted and seasons when we seemed to have nothing but interruptions to our school schedule. The one thing for sure that this journey has taught us is that high test scores are not the measure of success. Success is seeing your nineteen-year-old wrestling with his four-year-old brother. Success is having your sixteen-year-old sitting contentedly in church with his two-year-old brother (happily attaching stickers to his big brother’s shirt and face) in his lap. Success is seeing your kids develop their own genuine faith in the God of the universe.
We have both been involved in different home school leadership roles over the years. Chris currently serves on the board of THSC, and Bev hosts a “Smoothing the Way” group for new home schooling moms. We also host “open to the public” informational meetings at the local public libraries where we get to meet prospective home school parents and answer their questions, guide them toward helpful resources, and assure them they can successfully teach their kids at home. At these meetings we see parents who are choosing to home school their children for a wide variety of reasons. Chris is fond of saying that there are as many reasons to home school as there are parents who do it. They may not share our particular convictions or beliefs about education, but we do share a commitment to give our kids the very best. Every parent who leaves feeling encouraged to tackle their children’s education represents a family whose lives might well be changed for eternity.
Chris is self-employed in the land development business. Bev is self-employed as a domestic goddess*. We both enjoy reading, exercise, and chocolate. All of us enjoy sailing, and the oldest three boys have been sailing competitively for three years. Our eldest son, Ben, has just received a congressional nomination for appointment to a federal academy. Luke is learning to fly. Andrew is a Civil War historian. Hannah has been riding in a therapeutic equestrian program where she gets to wear her boots and be a real Texas cowgirl. She, Seth, and Gavin are also taking swim lessons and are becoming very proficient little swimmers. Young Jack sits quietly, observes all, and strategizes his pending global domination. When not teaching school, Bev enjoys doing her nails and eating bonbons in the over-abundance of her free time.
*Editor’s note: A definition of “goddess” is a woman whose great charm or beauty arouses adoration.
Chris and Beverly Parrish live in Houston with their family. Chris and Beverly both served as officers of Christian Home Educators of Central Texas (CHEACT), the regional support group in Austin before they moved to Houston, and Chris continues to serve as a THSC board member on the finance committee.