Strengths and Challenges

“For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:1)

After homeschooling and graduating two sons, I can look back to a tale of two sons: “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.”

Our firstborn learned the fundamentals of reading in a Christian school before we moved from Lubbock and ended up feeling forced to homeschool. Everything I learned about home schooling was discovered through speaking to a friend at the Christian school in Lubbock and reading everything I could find. The authors who influenced me the most were the late Dr. Raymond Moore and his wife Dorothy. I then met Ruth Beechick in the book You CAN Teach Your Children Successfully. She endeared herself to me when she stated that curriculum should be the servant and not the master.

I started our adventure using everything Dr. Moore’s foundation, The Hewitt-Moore Foundation, recommended. By the time the first year was over, I had discovered that some of the recommended curricula/tools did not seem to be effective for us. Our son started reading real books instead of textbooks. He has been an avid reader ever since and has experienced success in the world of marketing and blogging. For several years, when we traveled he would keep a notepad on hand and would write what he called “random thoughts” for possible future publication.

I am sorry to say that like his mother, numbers were not his friends. We had an excellent aid for the basics of math, but when we hit higher math, I was thrilled with the algebra book we found; I finally began to understand algebra! But we could not work together. One day, after leaving my son in his room with a graded paper, I heard the algebra book hit the floor as he threw it in frustration. That caused me to ask my husband if our son could take off a year from algebra for a consumer math course. That is what we did. What a relief! The next year our son was ready for algebra. We rejoiced! (I still struggle with it.)

Our second-born fit the typical pattern of reading for boys (and the one mentioned in Moore’s Better Late Than Early—that boys generally start reading later than girls). My husband started wondering when “the boy was going to read.” I quoted Raymond Moore, and then I prayed, “Lord, please let the boy read!” At age eight, the light came on. (Our son loved pigs at that stage of his life, so I was pleased to find a book in the children’s section of the library: The Great Pig War.) Success at last! We rejoiced!

For years, although he could read, he did not love reading. When he took a history class with our friends the Lamberts, he did lots of reading of historical-period books and fell in love with Braveheart. In fact, he asked for the book for Christmas. He also chose to take the second semester of the class, even after his home school graduation. He later tackled “Beowulf.” When we gave him a new Bible one year for Christmas, we asked if he wanted an NIV, but he preferred and still uses the KJV. Still rejoicing!

During the years in between and since, he started writing quite a bit. He kept family and friends in stitches as he waxed creative in his emails as The Helpful Email Guy (THEG). (His brother even made business cards for him and his partners.) He welcomed complaint emails covering subjects such as the email virtual cow drops and boxing matches during the 1990s. He has been working on a book for quite some time. I look forward to reading it!

I insisted that our sons show their work on all their math problems. Second-born would blurt out the answer while Mom was still working the problem and explaining that he must show his work. He always seemed to get the right answer in his head. He is now working in law enforcement and has realized that he has an analytic mind.

Both of our sons had their moments of feeling defeated in the areas of their academic challenges. I appreciated my husband for giving us grace on the algebra and for giving us space on the reading. We do rejoice with our sons in their accomplishments!

I encourage parents not to compare their children with those in their own or in other families. Rejoice with those children (your own or those of friends) who earn scholarships, but understand that they are exceptional among many who apply for these scholarships. Rejoice, also, and encourage your children in whatever successes they achieve.

Shelli Simons – has written 4 posts on this site.
Shelli and her husband Ron have been married since 1975 and live in Lubbock. They have two adult sons—Benjamin and Jonathan—both now married. They also have three incredible grandchildren—but who compares? Ron and Shelli began homeschooling Benjamin’s second grade year and continued until both sons graduated. Shelli now serves THSC as associate editor for the THSC REVIEW magazine.

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