Introduction: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 1)

I can just hear it!

Oh no! Not another guide for home education! There are dozens, hundreds, maybe thousands of books, manuals, even tomes, created for every conceivable manner and means of addressing every possible perception of what home education is or should be!

This is true. I have read several of them. Most are very helpful, but this one is going to be different.

This one is written from experience gained over more than forty years, in a wide variety of educational settings, including public, separate and private schools, in two provinces and using two languages. Not only from the perspective of a long time public high school teacher, but from one who has been a contributing member of the Alberta home education movement since its inception.

Most importantly, this guide is written from what has been gleaned through my home visitations and other associated activities with thousands of families desiring what was best for their children and therefore should serve as a useful practical guide.

This guide is actually the collection of thoughts, insights and observations gained over a lifetime of focusing on what an education really entails. A lifetime of errors and corrections, mistaken ideologies, indoctrinated mindsets and a sincere desire to come to the knowledge of what God calls “the truth”.

So much of what we believe today is actually not factual, although some person or agency will claim that it is. The world has become a confusion of misinformation, the likes of which has never been seen in human history. We are living in an age of deception exacerbated by the easy dissemination of lies in this digital age.

Everything sounds good and all of it appears to make our lives easier. Our insistence on instant gratification has made us truly suckers and targets for those who would benefit from our ignorance.

Complicated by our belief that we are correct because we believe we are, brought to ridiculousness by our measuring truth through feelings, not to mention an apparent complete lack of faith, our world has become a chaotic, intellectual and spiritual mess.

Why do we need another Home Education Guide? Because the once unified Christian home education community has been played and directed into serving a profiteering industry. This industry has discovered that it is easier and more rewarding to prey on people’s ignorance than to expend the time, energy and money to redirect parents to the truth.

Think about this for a moment. If our understanding of God is flawed or in error, our understanding of what a Godly family looks like will be suspect and our belief in freedom is more likely to be a carefully disguised manifestation of bondage. As once was quipped, “there is no greater bondage than that being advance by those who THINK they are free”.

Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. I believe that. Not only because it is written in the Bible, but because I have lived long enough to have witnessed through many trials, sorrows, griefs and pains, both personally and vicariously, that this is true.

This guide will not be a directive to home school. I refuse to direct others to do what everybody else is doing as this would be building on the sand that is failing public education today. Leading others to do what everyone else is doing does not qualify as true leadership.

I know where I want to lead you. I want to lead you to the truth; the way, the truth and the life to be exact. Not some Christianized version of secular thinking and methods, but to the Kingdom of God, from which all things are added unto us.

If I am successful at leading you to a biblically supported, common sense, family-focused, home-based process of training and teaching your children to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds and strengths, I believe I will have faithfully fulfilled the Lord’s calling in my life.

This guide is about freedom. It is about family. But, most importantly, it is about faith. A guide that is God-centred, family focused and freedom loving should be more than just a guide but a pattern I pray will last for generations, if we can keep from sliding back into the arms of the world as we have seen take place in the home education community of Alberta, Canada.

I have spent a great deal of time and effort to create this video guide, as it represents the heartbeat of this ministry. Although it is impossible to clearly define the steps you will take on your home education “adventure,” I hope this effort will provide some outlines and guidance through the times and events that can be expected along the way.

How you use the information provided here will be entirely dependent on where you are in your parenting and home education journey. You are all encouraged to subscribe to this blog so you can follow the discussion on what a Christian home education could, and should, look like, as it is being presented.

Target Audience: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 2)

Before creating any book or guide, the intended audience must be identified. So who am I aiming this work at? Who will benefit from following this effort?

Generally speaking, you could say that I am appealing to parents, as the topic is education, but education does more than prepare a child for the future. It creates the society we end up living in. So, even though the main target audience is parents, most anybody concerned about the state of our modern day society may be interested in what I have to say.

Today’s “anything goes” political and social environment is essentially recreating and normalizing most things on the basis of feelings, rather than fact. This new “reality” comes with the overarching objective of destroying any religious system that advances the existence of rights and wrongs, truth in particular.

It seems that everything is on the social justice butcher table these days. Nothing is sacred and it seems that nothing is worth defending except, of course the many causes of the social justice warriors, who often make a mockery of the very freedoms they claim to be defending. However, there is one thing that has avoided criticism from seemingly every agency advancing nearly any cause in every corner of the world.

Nobody touches the sacrosanct value and esteemed position of public education. Indeed, calls are being made in Alberta to amalgamate separate schools into public schools, defund and/or outlaw private schools, and to make home education as difficult as possible, essentially advocating that all students must attend a compulsory, secular humanist, public school monopoly.

In fact, the “progressive” NDP Government, likely an anomaly in Alberta’s political history, has undertaken the rewriting of the entire k-12 curriculum with the objective of making students “who are agents of change to create the globe that they want to be a part of.” Yet, very few people expose schools for what they are.

To challenge the status quo indoctrination system is a very dangerous thing to do, as not only does it involve the Godless, un-biblical, anti-Christian sentiment of the masses, but questions the daycare system parents have grown to enjoy in the name of “parental freedom from child-rearing responsibility.” To oppose public schools is therefore to make the world your enemy.

If you can look past all the rhetoric, the craziness, the name-calling, the belligerence and self-righteousness; if you take a serious look at what is happening, two things should become clear to those who subscribe to the Christian worldview.

The first is that the modern day enemy of the “new society” is God, particularly the Judaeo-Christian God. Since God has declared Himself to be the only God, with expectations of the mankind He has created, He has gotten in the way of the “all-things-are-good-if-you-feel-they-are” mindset being established as the “new norm.”

The second observation is that public education is essential to bringing about change to the existing system.

Now, I am not going to pretend that I can see, or know, or understand, all that is going on in the world today, but I can say that it has drastically changed, especially in the last few years.

From my Christian perspective, it appears like all hell has broken loose and that the most effective way to disseminate the “message” of the “new world order” is through the un-scrutinized government programming used in nearly every school in the English-speaking world.

Therefore, my audience is everyone with even the slightest concern about what the public school is advocating and normalizing, but particularly Christian parents, both present and future, as they decide on the best approach to the training and teaching of their children. This includes a variety of people at different stages in their lives and with differing backgrounds, experiences and “hang-ups.”

There are the seriously proactive parents with “preschool” children or no children at all. Then, there are the parents of “school-aged” children including: those just starting; those who have had some exposure to a school system; and those who are wanting to escape from the school system they brought home, favouring traditional home education or un-schooling, instead.

Even if we may have some fundamental differences in philosophy, it is assumed that we all share some common beliefs, including:

– Parents have the authority with respect to their children regardless of claims otherwise.

– Parents teaching their children in the safety of their home are better than strangers teaching them in a school.

– Parents usually desire the best for their children and take that responsibility seriously.

– Parents are usually best able to meet the individual learning needs of their children.

By now you have come to the conclusion that I will be coming from a Christian perspective. You should also know that I have to pick some starting point, so I will be approaching most topics from the point of view of only and always having home educated.

Please go to the Home Education Guide at www.educationunlimited.ca/resources for a more comprehensive discussion of starting points.

Getting Started: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 3)

The most difficult part of any job or venture is starting. No matter how much you have researched, observed, planned, imagined, thought or prayed about this new venture, the fact that our world view is corrupted with misinformation means that any decision is usually accompanied by unknowns, bad ideas, hang ups and baggage that bring about fears and insecurities. Determining to educate your own children at home is no different.

The common act of sending our children to perfect strangers, separated from parents and family, to be “trained” in the ways of the world is so ingrained that it is rarely questioned. When it is, you will discover that the system is broken and bringing it home won’t fix it. To home educate requires a paradigm shift in thinking, otherwise it is bound to challenge, frustrate, and eventually terminate your resolve to teach your children at home.

Although I personally believe home education is the best option for training, teaching and guiding children, I am not so naive as to think that everyone can do it. In a perfect world those who can would assist those who can’t, but this world is hardly perfect.

Having said that, I still believe the best decision will undoubtedly be to do the job yourself. No doubt the best time to make this decision is before the children start “school.” Starting from the beginning means there is no need for repair. The longer children are in school before coming home, the more difficult the task.

However, the biggest issue with keeping or bringing the children home will nearly always be that the school comes home as well. There are very few home educators who were home educated and even fewer who do not normalize the school’s way of approaching education.

That is why we spend so much time on this topic. Time keeps me from telling of the many home education programs that started on the right foot, only to be sabotaged at some point by schools, or people who trust government as the source of wisdom for the education of children.

What is even more disappointing is how many start home educating, claiming that they are doing so in obedience to God, but simply don’t trust Him to see the process to the end. Many lose their resolve to continue once the children get to the high school level.

This is a classic real world example of the apostle Paul’s statement to the Galatians when he called them foolish, who having begun by the Spirit, expected to be finished or completed by the flesh.

Simply put, this is either a lack of understanding or more precisely a lack or crisis of faith. When nearly every student and parent has experienced nothing but some variation of school, it is easy to understand how this can happen. After all, you have a much, much better chance of people encouraging you to return to what you know than to continue with what you don’t.

The most troubling words I can hear when meeting a family just embarking on their home education journey is when one of the parents tells me that he or she is a certificated teacher. Not that this is bad, but it means that they have not only experienced twelve years of classroom learning, but an additional four years of Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian indoctrination at college!

Make no mistake about this. A “Christianized” version of secular thinking is still secular thinking. Believers should understand that there are no versions or variations of the truth. It is either the truth or it is not. A critical look at school will provide ample opportunity to question the logic, sense and “truth” upon which it is based.

Since nearly all those choosing to home educate are indoctrinated to think, normalize, defend and/or emulate school, our biggest and most frustrating job is the deprogramming of parental school-based thinking while encouraging them to have faith in God.

No doubt it would be easier for us to simply prey on this misinformation, and while it may earn us more clients and money, it would not earn us the “well done thou good and faithful servant” we want to hear at the end of our journey here on earth.

So, let’s sum this up. In a nutshell, for home education to work, both parents have to agree to home educate; both need to be involved, at least in some capacity; and it is a mistake to bring school home, either in philosophy or technique.

Without a clear desire to do something different, you will end up with the same. To desire to outperform the school, you may end up with a better “product,” but like any other thing, it will still be a “product.” If school is not based in biblical truth and philosophy or shall we say, is “bad” from a Christian perspective, then to do the same, only better, results in a “better bad,” not an alternative.

Understand that compromising Christianity with school philosophy produces a logical inconsistency that will eventually undermine our commitment to God and consequently, our home education.

Training, teaching and raising children is no small task and deciding to do it yourself at home makes this task easier than having to live with school, but you had better have a plan or you may be planning to fail. We will talk about this next time.

A Solid Foundation: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 4)

Any structure can only be as good as its foundation, as this is the starting point from which one is going. A flawed foundation can only lead to a flawed building, whether physical, intellectual, familial, spiritual or what have you.

Jesus called the good foundation a rock upon which the “building” will stand against what comes at it. A bad foundation He likened to sand which can withstand nothing, in the end. One does not have to be an engineer to understand this.

Home education is no different. In fact, this is precisely what Jesus was alluding to when he spoke of foundations. He was not nearly as interested in constructing buildings as He was in building lives. Child rearing is about building lives.

Since parents only get one opportunity to raise their children, it is important that the job be well done, the first time, or, more accurately, the only time available to us.

Bringing children into the world is one of the greatest blessings, although a mother may take exception to that statement once delivery time comes upon her! This is called labour for good reason, but that ends up being only the beginning of a task that becomes the biggest and most important job parents will ever face in life.

I am not sure if you have thought of this, but raising children is not for cowards! Raising good children takes work. Raising Godly children takes dedication, commitment and a trusting faith in God, along with believing in His promised provisions for our lives and the tasks He has given us to do, especially regarding children.

This task is hardly a part time job! To achieve what God has asked us to do with the children He has given us, takes a full time commitment, best delivered in the environment expressly created for this task, which is as a family, in the family home.

And… once again, there is serious need for a foundation upon which this family will be established and built, and without which there can be no clear direction from which to go.

I know that I have shared this story before, but it is worth repeating. It took place a long time ago, at the moment I first held my new baby, who today is a mother of four children, herself! I can still remember the feeling of suddenly being thrust into a position of leadership with no direction. My heart told me that I was responsible for leading her somewhere and it frightened me that I did not know where.

Fortunately, I had been doing some serious studying of the Bible as a non-believer. I knew enough to know that I would never know where I was going until I was sure of where I was.

Similarly, without a clear understanding of where you stand, you have little hope of knowing where you are going. This is directed at all parents, but specifically to those embarking on their home education journey.

I assume that since you are reading this blog that you are a person in search of truth. Otherwise there would be no need for you to be here as those who have already “found it” are already “perfected.” But, just in case you have not, let me strongly suggest that you build your family structure on something fully immutable, namely God.

The Bible gives us a very strong clue right from the start… “in the beginning… God” and it ends with “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, amen.” In between the beginning and the end, the central verse of the Bible, Psalm 118:8, says that “it is better to trust the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Looking at the beginning, the end and the middle of the Bible provides us with our starting point, our goal and the means to get there.

Understand that you cannot get a more solid foundation than upon Him who created all things! Creating and building a family on a foundation based on the Creator sounds like a winner to me!

Ultimately, we all die and it is assumed that given a choice, we would rather choose heaven than hell. Hell is easy to get to. That’s why parenting is so difficult. To make matters worse, even though we may desire heaven for us and our children, none of us can make it on our own.

That is why the end of the Bible is instructive. Want to bring your family with you to heaven? Then “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you… amen!” He is our perfection, the way, the truth and the life. He is the only way we make the “grade,” so to speak.

Putting our trust in God the Creator, rather than putting confidence in man, the created, sounds to me like a wise way by which to build a family. Agreed?

Now, with God as a solid foundation, with heaven through Jesus Christ as the ultimate destination, your home education program is clearly destined for success.

Knowing this is the easy part. The most challenging part of your home education journey will be keeping your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of the faith. You will need to trust in God rather than putting confidence in man, who will have no lack of volunteers to help you forget your foundation and miss the mark of your eternal goal.

Finally, trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will establish your plans. Sounds like a winning plan to me!

Legalities! A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 5)

We live in a world of rules and regulations that generally have us do what we are supposed to do rather than what we want to do. In any case, we do need rules to avoid living in chaos, even if we don’t like them at times. Education is a good example.

The question is: who has authority over children, particularly when it comes to education? I intend to fully explain this someday, but for now, let’s just say that the parents who have brought the children into the world would obviously have the responsibility to train, teach and raise them, which is not possible if they do not have the God-given authority to do so.

Suffice it to say that parents are given the legitimate authority for all things pertaining to children. While government may claim to have this authority, God has not given it this authority. Simple logic should bring us to understand that God would not give children to parents and expect government to educate them. Had that been the case, most parents would have deemed potty training as a government responsibility, no doubt!

Once it is clear that parents have the God-given authority and responsibility to train, teach and guide children to adulthood, it is important to note what has to be done to stay out of trouble with the government and its false claims.

Too often, people quote the “render unto Caesar” passage as license to give our children to the government, but once again, consider that God gave them to parents, with no provision for handing off or abdicating the responsibility for raising them.

The rules in Alberta are simple, yet complicated. I am not going to deny that there are ways one can simply ignore the government directives respecting the education of children, but sometimes it is easier to simply play along.

Every child between the ages of six and sixteen in this province must be registered to receive some kind of education. Parents have the option to enroll students in a choice of schools, bring school home or educate the children the way they see fit.

Obviously, it is no burden, at least not at this time, to simply let the government know that the children are being educated, by you, at home, in a way that you approve of. This allows the government to think that it has authority while allowing you to exercise your God-given responsibility to train, teach and guide your children in keeping with God’s directives.

It may appear to be a compromise to some, but giving government what they want, which ostensibly is a desire to see all its citizens get a quality education, while parents retain authority to do so, is not “sin.”

Once understanding our place in this process, the question becomes, with whom will I register or notify? Alberta is unique in funding its home educated students without jurisdictional boundaries. This means that students can be registered either with the local school “authority” or any willing, non-resident one.

I do not recommend registering or notifying with the local school board. The local school system likely has little to no sympathy for, or understanding of, home education and so will naturally direct parents and students back to school, in one form or another. Not only do they believe that only schools can educate children, but there is also a monetary incentive for doing so.

Registering or notifying with a non-resident board provides far more choice and options. Once again, one must emphasize the importance of finding a board that will serve you, rather than manipulate your allegiance to their own benefit. Willing, non-resident boards can be public, separate or private schools, but very few, if any, truly understand the heart of unschooling parents.

It is also important to understand that since home education is funded in Alberta, money can become the primary focus, not only for home education providers, but perhaps even for home educators. Money should be the last criteria for choosing which school “authority” to notify with.

I have created a document that you may find helpful entitled, “Questions a Christian Home Educator Should Ask…” which lists a number of considerations for everyone involved in home education, including the parents. You can find it on our web site, by going to Resources, clicking on Home Education Guide and following through the steps provided to specifically address your present home education situation.

Summarizing, don’t simply believe what you are being told by potential home education providers. Knowing that your children come with money should alert you to go beyond the rhetoric.

Go to their web sites; look into their history; ask yourself, how has this board contributed to the long term best interest of home education? Consider the extent to which school based philosophy and accreditation is advanced; and make sure you will be the authority, otherwise you will be brought right back to the school-based thinking you want to escape.

Oh, and remember, just because a large number of people are doing something, does not mean what they are doing is right or the best option for you. If you make an informed decision in keeping with what is best for your family’s spiritual well-being, everything else will be added unto you.

Now What? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 6)

Okay. So you and your spouse have agreed to home educate and to do so by rethinking the educational status quo. If you are an Alberta resident, you have even found the provider, or shall we say the best way to proceed legally without abdicating authority to others.

Most importantly, you have determined to base your family on the foundation of God and you are aiming for heaven, through Jesus.

I am assuming, of course, that all the above are true and that, furthermore, you have determined to trust in God rather than put confidence in man. But, now what? Persecution! That’s what!

I have seen a lot of biblical promises come to reality in my life, but none greater than the assurance of being opposed for standing on truth. Jesus said many things regarding truth, including that it would set us free to be who God wants us to be and that offence caused by living and speaking it would lead to persecution.

My experience has also shown that this persecution, while coming from a single source, is manifested in two ways. Aside from our own internal struggles, external persecution comes from inside as well as from outside the system.

In the home education world, for instance, external persecution may take the form of government opposition, which is likely easier to handle than the internal opposition coming from family and friends, which can often be far more sinister and destructive.

Please understand that, when doing something outside the status quo, you are, without saying a word, making the statement that you are not in agreement with it and by extension, that those still a part of it, are in error.

This is so, even when you insist on using the “live and let live” or “to each his own” approach, or carefully avoiding any talk about the “prohibited” topic. However, avoiding the issue or pretending there is no issue, is not the best approach.

We were instructed by the apostle Peter to always be ready to render an account for the hope that is within us. I suppose that I may be taking a bit of license in this interpretation, but I take this to mean that we should be ready to defend our decisions, especially when they go against the grain.

In fact, that may be the only time we have to do so, since we are not likely to be questioned when doing what everybody else is doing.

Although the decision to train and teach your own children at home is becoming more accepted, it is still a “radical” decision in the eyes of most people. Radical decisions make others nervous for two reasons.

Firstly and understandably, others may be genuinely concerned for your welfare and that of your children. This is often the reason grandparents, who may not have your understanding respecting home education, or who unquestioningly endorse the “normal” way of doing things, sincerely express their concerns. This is usually, eventually resolved as they see the positive growth and progress of the children.

The second and likely main reason for opposing your “radical” decision is that it causes people to be uncomfortable with the decisions they have made. This is especially the case within the dichotomous “for Him or against Him” Christian world view perspective. From this perspective, if you have decided to do the job of educating your children yourself and others have decided not to, you cannot both be right.

This reality is often buried erroneously under the banner of choice. Clearly, we are all free to choose what we want to do and nobody is going to hell for making “the wrong decision” regarding the education of their children. However, it is fair to say that every decision brings the applicable consequences or results and it is also fair to say that some decisions are simply better than others.

Still, when confronted with either having to endorse your decision, or disagree with it, you will find that most people would rather “shoot the messenger” than admit a potential for error on their part. You may think this to be unfair, especially if you have not been vocal about your decision, but, as previously stated, your decision speaks volumes, even without using words.

Really! You will likely find it hard not to talk about your home education program because it will occupy nearly your entire life. So, what else is there to talk about? Weather gets old, fast.

A more dangerous form of internal persecution and likely the greatest source of discouragement, fear and self-doubt, will be your fellow home educators who did not determine to leave their school indoctrination behind when choosing to bring their children home.

This is made even more sinister in Alberta, where funding follows students. An industry has been created around this funding and those involved have long understood that the very reason the government made that funding available was to maintain control of all educational platforms. They also know that the more school they offer, the easier it is to please the average home educator who has not thought about what home education is or should be.

Now what? Be prepared to have to remind yourself every day of the scripture, “as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” and be prepared to be tested almost daily by those who would have you put your confidence in man, as they have.

Where & How? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 7)

Now that we have dealt with the philosophical issues and the price one has to pay for walking that “straight and narrow” path, let’s deal with a few practical matters related to home education.

For starters, although we have seen a few rare occasions where both parents work, most home educating families are single income, with a stay at home mom overseeing the task of education.

However, if the father understands his God-given authority for the welfare of his family, he will take the responsibility for the education of his children seriously and have his wife help him meet that obligation. (Wife=Helpmeet.)

There is no doubt that this constitutes a sacrifice on the part of the parents, but time will demonstrate that while you may have a few less toys and reduced opulence, you will end up with something far too many people are willing to give up for those temporal items… a real loving family! Turns out the sacrifices made end up being the best investment possible.

Remember, you cannot take your stuff with you to heaven, but you can make sure your children are there.

Scheduling is not necessary, but likely works best for most people. If having a schedule is best for the family, make sure it is one that fits the unique nature of your family and not the school.

Where you conduct your home education can best be described as where you happen to be at the moment. Some people like to have a dedicated room where concentrated learning takes place and where a door can separate that activity from the rest of the family’s busy life.

I am not going to discourage the creation of a special room, but I will suggest two things. Don’t call it a school room because it is not and don’t be surprised if the venue of choice is the kitchen table! If we define home education as JUST BEING A FAMILY, a special room for learning may become too confining to really serve as a place of learning.

Likely the biggest question most home educators, especially beginners, have is which curriculum should be used? The first thing I need to say about curriculum is that it is not necessary.

You heard me! People were learning long before someone got the idea to create a one-size-fits-all method of teaching things that actually fit very few! Suffice it to say that children will be learning, no matter what resources are used or made available.

Un-schoolers, famous for their avoidance of curriculum use, most certainly are not without resources. Books, libraries full of them, become the focus and delight of learning, not to mention the limitless resources and opportunities of the computer and internet.

In fact, most every opportunity becomes an educational moment when living together as a family intent on discovery and truth finding.

Having said that, most people cannot start that free. Most want some kind of structure to begin with. Not that un-schooling is unstructured, but it can be without the comforts of having something tangible to follow.

That said, it is the parents that require the curriculum, not the students, who likely have limited interest in learning what “someone” who knows nothing about them has determined they need to learn.

Parents, mom in particular, like having something they can use to measure progress. Something that can enable her to tell dad that so many pages or chapters were completed when he asks for an accounting of the day upon his return from work.

It’s okay to use curriculum. Whatever works best for your family. However, there are a few things you need to know about curriculum before you choose from the vast selection available.

The first thing you need to know is that any curriculum following a grade level system, is not only founded on a secular school methodology, but likely designed to be delivered by a teacher in a classroom. Most of the curriculum available is of this nature. Remember that “Christianizing” a secular process doesn’t fix it.

Some curriculum is designed with individuality and portability in mind, but most are not. Prescribed programs often using ten booklets as a year’s worth of work, usually include all that is needed to get the job done, according to someone’s else’s idea of what needs to be done. Many parents use this to start until they become more comfortable with using a variety of resources determined by their specific family needs.

There are also a great number of resources that are not really grade specific, but interest based, such as standalone book sources, web sites, and apps, although some of the computer based programming can become rather restrictive. I cannot hide my enthusiasm for the tablet as a supercool tool for learning.

Regardless of what you determine to do respecting the use of curriculum, always remember that you are the boss, the one in charge of what will be learned and when.

Getting caught up in a school-based program can become a handicap, especially past puberty, when children are much more capable of accomplishing a much greater amount of work than what is required at a school, in a much shorter time.

And remember, if the child understands the concept, there is no need to have him or her learn it over and over again, nor to complete the entire array of questions presented. Children are as unhappy about having their time wasted as we adults are.

Finally, be careful of taking advice from others, no matter how well meaning they may be. There is no lack of individuals willing to advise others and these people are often helpful.

However, always remember that your children are unique in this world and what may work for one family or student may be a hindrance for another.

Measuring Progress: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Getting Started (Part 8)

Once beginning home educators develop a workable household division of labour, establish a working schedule and a work place as well as find a suitable curriculum, the big question becomes: where and how will you lead the children, as their most influential leaders?

We addressed that question in an earlier version of this series and came to the conclusion that the best place to lead them was to the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God who ultimately has, not only the authority, but a clear vision of the future we can only see dimly.

But this leads to yet another question which is: how will you know that you are accomplishing the task and how well are you doing it? This is usually where questions on testing and standards come in.

Anybody who has given testing some serious thought will realize that it is one of life’s guarantees. Hardly a day goes by that we are not tested in some way.

Testing, as in determining if the children have understood the concept, is fine, but one must remember that this also is a school based practice. Consider that in a classroom there are a large number of students and usually but one teacher. Even a super teacher can only do a superficial assessment of any individual student’s accomplishments.

That is why there are tests designed to give the teacher an idea of how well the information presented has been understood. The problem is, even if a student can repeat a concept, it does not mean he or she understands it and knows how to apply it in real life.

Also to be considered is the question of whether a good mark indicates a good understanding or simply good memorization and/or test writing skills.

My personal experience in the classroom has shown that when the identical test is given a few days later, there is usually a reduction in grades. Clearly, good memorizers can easily become good forgetters. So, in my opinion, test marks are not a really good indicator of competency or proficiency.

A student learning at home is not in a classroom and does not have to share the attention of the teacher with a couple dozen other students.

Likewise, the “teacher” in a home education does not have to spread her efforts among a classroom full of students.

Therefore, testing is not necessary in a home education as the parent can directly observe whether the child has mastered the concept or not.

Of even greater concern for most parents still overcoming their school based thinking is the whole question of meeting standards. Are the children where they are supposed to be? Are they ahead or behind; better or worse than the average? This issue becomes a non-issue when a simple question is asked: ahead or behind or better or worse than what?

Neither governments, schools, nor teachers can clearly define or demonstrate what standards are for education, aside from expecting everyone to do the same thing at the same time.

Standards are a myth! When considering that over seven billion people are living on earth today and that no two are the same, each having unique fingerprints, how can one even suggest that there is a standard?

Chasing after an average is also futile, as that is entirely dependent on the group being “averaged”! Your children are unique, meaning their “average” and the “standard” to which they are educated is entirely dependent on who they are, where they are, how they learn and what they are capable of.

A much better goal than reaching undefined “standards” or some evasive “average” is what comes naturally for parents. Set high, yet reasonable expectations for your children. Not perfection, of course, but an expectation that things will be done well and on time.

Not only is that more realistic than “standards” or “averages,” but it is something that fits the individual uniqueness of each child. Better yet, don’t compare your child to others at all, as there is no one like him or her, remember?

Remembering that since the government’s claim to having authority in education is self-proclaimed and not God-given, government has to treat students as products of their system. In that light, standards make sense, but only when viewed through the lens of conformity. God’s created diversity insists on us all being different.

Incidentally, the only way anybody can make a difference in this world is if they are different. Let’s celebrate the differences and never mind averages or standards. Also consider that if we are all the same, we are much easier to control, which may be the ambition of government, but certainly not of God.

There is no pass, no fail, no behind, no ahead, no above, or below in home education. Only progress in due time. Encouraging students to be the best that they can is all that is required of us by God. Certainly, that is sufficient.