Meet the Lambert Family
The year was 1985. I was returning home from Richardson with two other ladies who had traveled with me to attend the first book fair in the state of Texas (now the Hearth and Home Book Fair held in Arlington). One of the ladies, whose husband had sent her on this trip as an encouragement for her to teach her children at home, said, “Well, my husband certainly knew what he was doing by sending me with you on this trip. We listened to tapes about home schooling all the way there and heard more about it while at the book fair …. But I tell you what: if I’m going to home school, I’m going to tell everyone what I’m doing. I’m not going to sneak around and try to hide.”
Later when I was telling Tim about the conversation, I mentioned that I wished I could be like that. He said that I should go ahead and be open with people about it. I just gawked at him.
Let me back up a little. We were just completing our first year of home schooling, educating one student at home. I had spent the year cringing every time our doorbell rang during school hours. I would not allow my child to play in the front yard during the day, nor would I take him to the grocery store during the time that students were usually in class. We had named our school so when people asked Peter where he went to school, he could reply, “Lambert Christian Academy.” That had backfired once when his soccer coach responded to that answer with the query, “Oh really? Where is that?” Peter, then seven, replied, “I don’t know; you’ll have to ask my mother.”
You see, home schooling has always been legal in Texas, Tim and others are fond of explaining, just not clearly legal. That means that those of us who were teaching our children at home believed that we had the legal right to do so, while others, especially people connected to the TEA (Texas Education Agency), thought otherwise and encouraged school districts to prosecute home educators for thwarting the compulsory attendance laws.
So why were we doing it? Why had we made the decision to teach our children at home if it was so scary? The only answer I have to that question is that it had to be the Lord. When Peter was old enough to go to kindergarten, Noell was two and a half years old, and Stephen and Stephanie were six months old. We were not discussing home educating at that time. One reason was that we had never heard of it. Another was that we were focused on just surviving each day. Through a friend at church, God provided a godly, retired schoolteacher to instruct Peter in her home with no more than three or four others. After his first fall with Mrs. Curry, she told us that she believed that she could put Peter through first grade the second half of the year. Not realizing the future implications, the proud parents agreed.
Peter did well, and at the end of two years with Mrs. Curry, he was second-grade age and ready for third grade. He was also now of compulsory attendance age (At the time, the age was seven; it has since been changed to six years old.), and Mrs. Curry would no longer teach him because “he legally had to be in school.” So the proud parents had to make a decision. We were committed to Christian education, but we had been warned to not put our children ahead in school, especially the boys, because they would tend to be followers and we wanted them to be leaders. There was only one Christian school in Lubbock in which we were interested, and a call to the school revealed that they had no way to deal with a child who was ahead other than putting him in the next grade. Either that or he could repeat the grade he had just completed with the same curriculum that Mrs. Curry had used. We found neither of those choices acceptable.
By this time, Tim had started to get interested in the idea of people teaching their children at home. He heard a Focus on the Family radio program on which Dr. Raymond Moore was discussing it, and we had some friends (with no children, mind you!) at church who were encouraging us in that direction. I, on the other hand, was not too keen on it, as I was pretty sure I knew who would have to do all the work, and my plate was already very full! However, given Peter’s situation, we really had no choice but to teach him at home.
The first year I thought this was a short-term solution and that eventually he would enroll in that private school. I would tell people, “I’m homeschooling this year; I’ll think about next year later.” However, I noticed something; I had my son back. When Peter went to Mrs. Curry’s, he was gone for five hours a day; he started at 7:30 a.m. and was home by 12:30 p.m. He ate lunch, took a nap (I rode that horse as long as possible!), and watched his one hour of television; then it was time for me to start supper. I hardly spent any time with him. When we were schooling, I was spending time with him again.
So one year stretched into two, and two into three. About my fourth year of home schooling, I was considering a seven-year program for our curriculum and determined that, if we started that program the next year, we would complete it the year Peter was a senior. I suddenly realized that I was thinking about high school! Gasp! I came to the conclusion that home schooling had become a lifestyle for us; it was what we did and who we were.
We had also become more relaxed about people knowing that we homeschooled. Not long after my trip to Richardson, Tim told me one day that he wanted to visit with the superintendent of the local school district. Being used to hiding from the school district because of the legal climate, I was very uncomfortable about his doing that. However, he asked me to read The Day They Padlocked the Church, a book about some Christians in Nebraska, their church school, and officials who had been heavy-handed in dealing with them. The book helped me realize that we had to stand up for our rights as parents to direct the education and upbringing of our children. Tim had his visit with the superintendent, and I spent the next week waiting for the knock on the door—which never came.
Noell began her formal education our second year of home schooling, and Stephen and Stephanie joined two years later. We had our good days and our bad days; we had our good years and our bad years (at least, in MY opinion). We used different curricula, sometimes full programs and sometimes the eclectic approach. There are some subjects that we covered well, and some that our children will have to teach themselves if they need to know much about them. They are capable of doing that and in some instances have already done so.
Home schooling was probably the hardest thing we have ever done, but it was also the most rewarding. Our children are miles ahead of where we were when we were their ages, and they have relationships with each other that will hold them in good stead the rest of their lives. Peter graduated in 1995 and is now the president of a software developing company and married to another home-school graduate, Rita, who is THSC’s special events coordinator. Noell, a 1997 graduate, is working as a legislative director in Austin for a Christian state representative. Our 2000 graduates, Stephen apprenticed with a home-school friend of ours and is now working as a locksmith, and Stephanie serves many as she works at THSC as Rita’s assistant, runs our house, coaches home-school tennis, and teaches piano lessons.
Do not misunderstand me. Home schooling is not a panacea. It does not guarantee that your children will never go their own way; it does not guarantee that your children “will rise up and call [you] blessed.” Our children are not perfect, nor were we perfect parents. They will make mistakes, just like we have. We trust God that He will use our efforts for good in their lives and that we have given them the best start that we could, because He is the One who called us to this lifestyle called home education.
For three years Tim was president of the local support group which he and Lyndsay helped start in 1984. During that time, Tim was asked to serve on the Advisory Board of the Texas Home School Coalition. In 1990, he was asked to take over the reins of the organization, and the whole family served as volunteers at that time.
As the Coalition and the Lambert children have grown, things have changed. Tim began to work for THSC fulltime in 1995. Lyndsay, now a completed home-school mom, helps Tim at the Coalition as Director of Special Projects. While their children do still occasionally volunteer for THSC, because they have moved into adulthood, much of the work they previously volunteered to do is now handled by staff.
The Lamberts, while no longer homeschooling, are all committed to the home-school community and the furtherance of parental rights to direct the education and upbringing of their children in Texas.