Homeschool Hubbub at Our House: Our Teaching Philosophy

We love reading books together. We love learning together.

We love stuffing the ourselves into our small bathroom with the light off, so that we can look into the mirror with a flashlight through prism glasses to see how color is dispersed through the light (and then laughing our tails off together because we are so crammed into the bathroom that we can’t open the door to get out without practically falling together into the bathtub.)

We don’t spend hours of our time filling out workbooks at our house.   We used to and it didn’t work.  It was grueling for the boys and I found myself nagging all day at them to finish their pages. Yeah, not so much a fun way to learn.

We want our boys to love learning. (Not that is always has to be fun…but we want them to be curious and creative and excited about learning new things.)  And we don’t want them to think that learning begins and ends with the opening and closing of a workbook or a textbook. We’ve begun to take more of an “un-schooling” approach to homeschooling over the past couple of years. (I’ll try to share more often some of the ideas we’ve used to teach our kids spelling and writing creativity and math and science…)

But beyond all of that…

Our family’s homeschool philosophy is that there are some things that are much more important than others:

Matt and I feel very strongly that teaching our boys to love and serve others is far more important than learning the states and capitals. We feel like teaching our boys about God’s kingdom is more important than learning all of the past presidents of the United States in chronological order. And we think that if they learn to be hard workers, but they don’t learn all the dates of history…we will not have failed as parents (or educators).

Our kids still learn all of these factual things…but we don’t focus on them nearly as much as we try to focus on spiritual matters and areas of the heart. Because of this philosophy…there are some days we don’t open very many books at all.

Some days our boys simply learn about life. And caring. And loving. And serving. And about being patient. And about how to talk to an elderly person. And about working hard until you are so tired you can’t see straight.

We’re constantly working to figure out all of this education stuff. And discipline stuff. And the most effective ways to train our kids to be like Jesus. Never have we been so thankful for grace as we have been as we raise our boys.

I’m very curious about what your opinions are on this subject (whether you homeschool or not).  If you do homeschool…what are some of your philosophies? Are you a workbook-y family? Does that work for you? What do you think are the most important things for our kids to know?



  1. says

    What a sweet spirit there must be in your home!
    Our views are similar.
    There are many days that ‘work’ or our ‘home’ must come first. For example, my oldest son was instructed to go find out where the power steering fluid was coming from the other day. He loved it!
    There are other days that DH says, “Let’s go walk the track at the park”. We get exercise/P.E. plus we pick strange leaves and flowers and race home to see who can figure out what it is first.
    We’ve also taken a great deal of time having ‘purposeful interruptions’. (Ex.)Whatever is on the news that day may lead us into a 30 to 45 minute conversation about certain laws, what the Bible says, what we can find on the net which may also lead to videos on the subject. For example, we read through Revelation… Found out about some recent ancient discoveries (yesterday we read about some ‘gold, pearls, and costly array’, so to speak–that had been found). We also looked at youtube videos from Pat-mos. What a place it is now! (John would love what they’ve done to the place!)
    We use a 3R’s curriculum. When science comes up; we dig out a book, look on the net, check out a library book, etc. We’ve used ‘real books’ for history as well as science. My oldest son loved Faraday’s Lectures while my younger ones have loved the old Tuck Me In Tales to learn about animals. One of them just finished reading Part One of Washington’s Diaries. The ones who like military/war stuff have read Four Naval Heroes, Our Hero General Grant, etc
    Some of my kids like ‘workbook’ type stuff but all of them enjoy less structure because it allows them to study their choice of subjects more often.
    I’ve also taken a Moore Approach= Better Late Than Early. I’ve always waited on them, rather than force them to memorize something that they couldn’t yet understand. Some read early, some read late. I read to them until they were ready to read to me! :-)
    We do have a basic routine but it is not Law. Today, I had them leave their studies to do a one hour Bible study about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We stopped on the story of Jacob’s 2 sons that got revenge over the defilement of their sister. You remember that one? The boys thought it was hoot! Until I got to the reprimand from their father, of course. But they thought those 2 fellas were brilliant!
    But over and over, I’ve stressed to my kids that the most important thing they will ever read is the Bible and it is the main reason that I taught them to read. On the flip of that, I’ve also taught them that there is NOTHING that they can’t learn. Whatever you want to learn, whatever you want to do, you can! The information is out there, and the biggest lesson that I could teach is how to get that information and that they are capable of getting it themselves. I’ve ‘allowed’ them to teach themselves many things so that they could learn this principle. Some grab this idea and run, others have to have a little more push and accountability.
    But, I believe if my kids can leave my house a Christian, God can handle anything we might have missed along the way!
    Boy, you ask me a question and I just go on and on! You just might have to put a limit on my words and jibberish! :-)
    You should come this way for a visit! I have a big bathtub that you and me, and all the kids could fall into together!


  2. says

    I don’t “homeschool” yet (my little one is only 15 months old) but my Sister in Law does and she uses a curriculum where the teaching is on DVD’s and there are workbooks in the morning and then in the afternoon they do a lot of what it sounds like you are doing – it seems to work well for her, I think we’re going to try something similar.


  3. says

    Great post! You are right there are some things worth more to learn than others especially about serving others.

    This is our first year homeschooling. The children are used to workbooks, so we keep them with that. We have a schedule but it is flexible and we incorporate play, reading/quiet hour, devotion, family reading, etc. We also have incorporated an accountability sheet with family chores, attitudes, praising siblings, random acts of kindness, etc. :D


  4. says

    I don’t know what you would call our homeschool style. Mostly hands-on I guess. We typically do “real school” around 3 hours a day. Sometimes weekends, too. We take a lot of field trips, play games, make projects. We read alot of books, watch and discuss some episodes of Barney, blue’s clues, and other children’s shows (yes, tv can be educational), puzzles, playdough, etc. I emphasize school work so much because of her learning disabilities. She would not just “pick it up” like most children. But with her disabilities, she is also behind in social skills, fine and large motor skills, self help skills. We consider all this to be school, too. I guess we actually homeschool almost around the clock. Always taking the time to exlain, WHY?

    Only homeschooling one is an advantage to her learning style because I CAN teach her while jumping on the trampoline, read under the tree, whatever.

    I try to record her daily accomplishments at my blog 1. to help others that may have a similar learning style and 2. to meet our state requirement of a portfolio for homeschooling.



  5. says

    As someone who had kids in the regular school system, I can attest to one thing about facts and dates…the chances of anyone remembering them after they get out of school is almost nil, anyway! I was just telling my daughter the other day that there was a time I could name every president in order. Of course, there were fewer presidents when I was in the fifth grade (circa 1966).
    I have learned more about the ‘real’ people of history that is so much more interesting and inspiring than names of battles and dates someone signed this-or-that.
    I’d have to say that, if I were to start life over and go the homeschool route, I’d rarely use printouts. Spelling is important–your kid will have to write a resume someday. And we need basic math skills to keep our budgets balanced and not get cheated at the grocery. But history? I’d want more human interest stories than dates. Science? Hands-on does it every time!
    BTW, a friend who homeschools gives her two boys assignments and a deadline (I guess of about a week’s time) to finish them. So they can work at their own pace but still know there is a time limit.
    Speaking of time limits, I have to go to work now!


  6. says

    My first born just started kingergarten this year and boy have I had second thoughts on public school. It’s like the kids just pick up all the bad habits of the other children and bring them home with an attitude. My sister in law is a teacher and she is so anti homeschool but I’m curious what she will do when hers starts school. I feel overwhelmed just thinking about trying to homeschool. How did you all get started? angie


  7. says

    The beauty of homeschool is you decide. We have children in public school and have homeschooled on through high school also. Each kid is different and has blossomed under different types of teaching.

    I will second what some others have said: Math is a must, nose to the workbook, kind of subject when they get older. And being able to write is key to the work world when they are older. Plus, giving assignments with deadlines teaches real world (college) discipline also. Otherwise – trash them books if it works for the kids!


  8. Mrs. S says

    We just began our home school journey this year. Our eldest is in K. We have to cover a certain amount of material since we belong to a charter, but I can do that however I see fit! (Side note: do you feel like your boys are on “track” w/ out using an umbrella school? I am so afraid that he will fall “behind” if I don’t have someone overseeing my efforts. But what I am finding is that I “use” the charter very little so I am thinking maybe we would be fine w/out one??) Anyway, we make sure to do math and phonics everyday, and then everything else is just life. Kindergarten is pretty basic that way. We play w/ legos, play dough, color etc. We go to the park, the aquarium, the zoo, the library etc. Even the grocery store is a learning experience if you do it right. As far as books, we are using Saxon for math, but I am not crazy about it and might switch. Our phonics is awesome. It is a program called Ti & Mo. My son is very theatrical so it suites him. That is the BEST thing about home schooling (next to spending so much time w/ the kids), being able to find curric. that fits them!! My son begs to do his phonics…how cool is that?! Once he knows how to read well, we will stick to the 3 R’s for our core. I agree with you that facts and dates are important but not as important as life skills and character. I dowloaded your character chart. We are going to begin using it soon!


  9. Always thinking says

    What happens when your boys don’t know the required information on standardized tests for college entrance exams (for example the presidents in order)? Just a thought…

    Teaching about love and sharing is great but not very practical for the reality of life….

    I am an ACT Exam teacher and see too many home schooled kids do poorly because all they know is how to serve people.


  10. says

    As one who went to a private school as a kid, I like the idea of socialization in school. I think that home schooled kids (the ones I have met) have a need for group activities. They turn out really book smart, but are rather behind in social skills. I think the ones who also have church families have an advantage in that area.

    I also think that the schools in general are sadly deficient in actual education these days. Political correctness and lack of discipline have taken over the Reading, Writing and Arithmetic that were once the standards. I know several teachers; individual teachers have their hands tied by the public school system. Teachers are excellent, Schools are failing. Average High School graduates can barely balance a checkbook, can’t spell to save their dinners, and cannot speak eloquently because their vocabulary is so elementary.

    An educated person can educate a child. Teaching children to think for themselves, to research, and to read to learn new things gives them more education than any public school can give.

    At my private school, we did workbooks. That worked for me… A Beka books. But, it was boring and stressful for some other students. I never had to do homework, so I never understood the concept of organizing my time at home in the evening. I always worked ahead while others were struggling over the current lesson. I think that is part of why I didn’t like research papers in college. :0)

    I have friends who home school their son. They say “Learning is a daily adventure.” Learning does not always come from a book. Putting your hands in water helps you to understand currents. Watching the stars can show you patterns, as well as God’s awesomeness. Every thing they do becomes a lesson for their son. It is unique. It seems education needs to be tailored to each child. You know your kids best, and you are wise to ask these questions.


  11. Laura says

    To answer “Always thinking”…

    I tried to clarify in my post that we DO teach factual information…we just don’t spend hours drilling those facts that we don’t feel is relevant to everyday life. But, oh yes…we do learn about boring ol’ gerunds and past participles whether we like it or not. :)

    When I was in school (public)…I studied and studied those things and memorized the presidents, etc…got straight A’s…and then did poorly on the ACT test anyway. Beyond that, not once in my adult life have I ever needed to know who was president after Coolidge…except for maybe while playing a Trivial Pursuit game. :)

    We want our kids to do well on the ACT…and we feel like they’ll do fine. If they don’t score off the charts, that’s okay.

    I do have to disagree with your statement, “Teaching about love and sharing is great but not very practical for the reality of life….” On the contrary, I think that love and sharing is VERY practical for the reality of life…and very much what living a Godly life is all about. My boys could grow up to be “successful” CEO’s of a company…but if they don’t know how to love and serve…what does it matter?

    I do understand your concern and appreciate you sharing it…and I think in some aspects, it is valid. But we ARE educating our children well….just maybe in a different way than some.


  12. says

    I homeschool my 6th, 4th and 1st graders and I have a 3 year old and 2 year old. We hit it hard on math and english and other than that, we are very relaxed. I am constantly spending a lot of time correcting how they interact with each other or me, and I focus very diligently on their work ethic.


  13. says

    I love this post. I was homeschooled and my parents read all the Moore books too. My first two years were strict workbook years (although even with a stack of books to work on everyday, I still got it done in a few hours). I hated it and faught it all the way (especially the writing). Finally, they let go, gave up, and let me alone. One week later, I handed Mom a story I had written and asked for her to read and help me edit it! My parents were shocked and completely sold on the hands off schooling practice. I was an avid reader. We would go to the library and I’d get stacks of books that I wanted to read, but I always had to get a non-fiction book and a biography too. We took nature classes, went to museums of all types, traveled around the country, took piano and art, joined a band and a choir, played basketball, and took advantage of learning opportunities all around us. When I was approaching high school age, we pulled out the math books again and I enrolled in a high school biology class. All this time I was scoring in the 90th percentile of all the standardized tests I was required to take. I sometimes felt like I must be terribly behind since I hadn’t officially gone through the grades that my public school peers had. I think I was required to write one essay and one research paper in my home school life (although I wrote lots of letters, stories, poems, etc.). At 15 my parents enrolled me in a community college English class. My teacher gave me an A and kept most of my papers to share with future classes! My first college research paper was a defense of the effectiveness of homeschooling! By 19, I had an associates degree with a 4.0! I believe that letting children learn where their interests are, giving them resources to explore, and encouraging curiosity and creativity will lead to a life long love of learning. I work in a high school now and so many kids are just going through the motions. Life is exciting and interesting not to be squelched by too many worksheets. I could write more about my brother’s success in his hands on approach towards learning. I want my children to be raised with this. I do not want them in school being “socialized” by kids who cuss and know about preverted things. I want them by my side, ministering to others, working hard at home, and opening their eyes to an amazing world that God has given us to learn about (by the way TV and video games will be off and only a rare and special treat to share with Daddy). Thanks for listening. :)


  14. says

    Woo-hoo! You go Andrea! Wow!
    I just had to chime back in and say–I’m impressed!

    My oldest before 7th grade was scoring at high school levels except in math and there he scored in 1st year college.

    LAURA, Didn’t I read somewhere that you had been a public school teacher?


  15. says

    LOVE the discussion!

    Some of the most gifted individuals I’ve ever known have been homeschooled. As an educator myself, I have nothing by respect and admiration for their parents–and for you ladies.

    My children attend public school, but as a family, we do much of the same things you do. We take our role in their lives seriously, and want to ensure that the important things are learned well, and we tend to agree with you about what is important. Being a good leader takes a servants heart, no doubt there. We also feel strongly about teaching responsibility and community involvement. That part isn’t taught nearly enough in their school. It is a skill that is learned best by doing, not just studying.

    The blessing/curse of having an education background is that I feel no hesitation about revamping my boys’ assignments when I feel it necessary. For instance, at the fourth grade level in their school, book reports could be as simple as a small poster with the title and author. That doesn’t cut it with me, so I naturally require much more from them.

    I guess to answer your question about philosophy, it boils down to this. God has given to us our children to train up. (Thus, my blog name “Raise Them Up”) No matter where the children attend school, the ultimate responsibility rests on us as parents to see that they are taught Godly priciples along with everything else.

    Great post.

    God Bless!


  16. A teenager says

    I found this site accidentally while researching. I have to say, from this description I wish I were home schooled. In my high school, which is considered excellent, I often feel like most of the work (and there’s lots!) is busy work, and I wish I could focus more on science and math than the school allows me to. I am extremely fascinated with sciences like genetics, and have had to enroll outside school and use the internet and books to get enough information. Schools just don’t get detailed enough, they are so focused on testing. I wish I had the opportunities that home schooled kids do, where the learning is tailored to what you need and your interests! (by the way, if you know of any science programs with genetics/ bioengineering, post them for me!)


  17. says


    I really enjoyed reading about the way you and your husband are teaching your children. It sounds like you are raising children that will be kind, hardworking and intellegent adults.

    I don’t have kids, and as you know, that entitles me to talk about how I would raise my kids so they will be perfect. Just teasing, well… not really :)

    If I did have children they would be taught much the same way. While I certainly wouldn’t want them to be walking dummies, it probably doesn’t take 4 or 5 hours of sit down worksheet and study time. Raising a child to grow up into a lovely, pleasant, inteligent, God honoring human being involves so much more than cramming facts in.




  18. says

    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now and I find it SO helpful, especially recipes and menu plans, that I want to say a big Thank You for sharing!

    I totally agree with your homeschool philosophy and can’t wait to start in a couple years with my boys. However, I’m interested in how you get away with a less structured approach for state requirements? Here in NY we have such strict requirements for what they have to learn that there’s no time for all the fun “extra” stuff. Do you have more freedom in your state?


  19. says

    I’m weighing in on this late, mostly because I needed to process what I wanted to say.

    Our kids attend public school, mostly because I would eat one of my young if their entire education was left in my hands. The fact that my sons are in public education doesn’t mean I don’t home school. Once they walk through the door education doesn’t end. I may not have set curriculum, but I do have set agendas.

    First and foremost, I want them to learn about Jesus, not just the facts either. I want them to mimic his manner, his thoughts, and his ways as much as one can in order to be his servant. They also are learning ‘on the job’ how to be the light and salt to the world while living amongst them.

    My second major agenda is critical thinking and synthesis. I encourage my children to be curious, to explore and question what they’ve been taught at school. I promote critical thinking on all issues personal and academic. I allow them to take the lead. In order to accomplish this there is a great deal of dialogue that goes on in our home about current events, history, math, social studies, languages, language arts, and reading. We look things up on the computer, ask experts, and check out books from the library. I read to them from God’s word, and man’s (you know chapter books). My boys play instruments, play sports, are in scouts, swimming lessons, Gifted and talents programs provided by our local consortium, and they are involved in church youth activities. My boys are well rounded!

    I believe education is a personal decision, and may be different from child to child not just family to family.

    I have a friend whose a psychologist. He helps devise and update the ACT and SAT. Even they won’t confirm what the test measures. They believe what you know in your head doesn’t always translate to paper. Nor does it prove readiness for anything, or predict future success of an individual. It’s pretty much a money maker, and a way for universities to have a cut off point for applicants.


  20. Becki says

    I know I am very late on this subject, but have been reading this blog for a week or so and found this very interesting.

    I homeschool my kids, and then let them practice what they learn in public school. I hope that makes sense. They attend public school, and I count on their teachers to help me, but I consider myself as ultimately responsible for their education. They are very intelligent, one already in a self-contained gifted class, and I am grateful for the help that their classroom teachers give me. I find that they learn much more than facts in school. They practice how to be a Christian and serve Christ first when no one else is. Their morals and character are strengthened, not just because I have taught them but because they are tested, and I am right behind them, many times literally in their classroom, encouraging them and pushing them to work hard, even when they are not interested, to love people no one else likes, to learn to work with people that are difficult to work with, and how to do things that are boring and find the joy in serving Christ while doing them.

    All this to say, “Going Public” by David and Kelli Pritchard is a must read book for anyone on educating their children. It is available on Amazon, and is one of the best I have ever read. It describes their choice to send their kids to public schools, and makes a lot of points that are never mentioned. Please read it….it describes our philosophy perfectly.


  21. Heather says

    Interesting post to read. I myself am against homeschooling, but I am a teacher in Canada, so perhaps if I lived in America and knew more about school systems there, I would feel differently. I loved going through the public education system, growing and learning daily with my peers, and I wouldn’t want to rob my children of that. All though most of my character shaping was done in my Christian home, my brothers and sisters and I learned much about being a true Christian out in our public school world, loving and serving those around us. By the looks of a typical home school schedule, it doesn’t look like there is a constant daily interaction with those outside your home. Christ spent his days WITH sinners, adulterers, and thieves. Teaching them, serving them and loving them, and we do our children a disservice if we isolate them from this opportunity. As a stay at home mother, I would love to keep my close to me till the day they turn 18 and read to them from the bible as we go about our daily activities, but I don’t believe that’s that’s the way God intended it to be.


  22. Steph says

    Hello from Oklahoma! I haven’t started homeschooling my little boy yet (he’s only 3) but I am excited about the day I get to start. I was reading an article on homeschooling from a man…I am in so much trouble for not REMEMBERING his name! But he made an excellent point stating that how can our children be expected to be a light to other childern in public school when they havn’t been taught totally God’s way. Our kids PROBABLY won’t be strong enough to teach others if they don’t feel strong in their faith. I went to homeschool and graduated from public school and I can tell you that I had wonderful parents that taught me about Jesus and lived a holy life…but I wasn’t mature enough to share my love of Jesus and be consistant (which is the key in high school)with it to others. I have also graduated from college with a B.A. and was a substitute for a couple years…I saw it all. It’s getting worse and worse. Kids have NO respect for ANYONE in authority (even for peers). At my old H.S. they now have a GAY-STRAIGT club…and I am sure a little school in Kansas (where I grew up) isn’t the only school that has one. I always knew I wanted to be a homeschool family, but subbing just solidified it for me. It is a horrible, hateful and hard world out there. I want to be able to teach my son the best I can and prepare him until he is old, mature, and solid in his beliefes enough to go on his own. I know that is what mothering is all about, as well as being a good chirstian mom. I know this post is a little jumbled, but a calf got out during posting as well as a three year old that needed attention…but I hope you can feel my love of homeschooling through this.


  23. Lois says

    In response to Heather, who said: “Christ spent his days WITH sinners, adulterers, and thieves. Teaching them, serving them and loving them, and we do our children a disservice if we isolate them from this opportunity.”

    I have to address this, because as homeschoolers, we hear a lot from other Christians about being salt and light in the public schools. Christ was an ADULT when he hung around sinners. From his early childhood until he was 12, he spent in his parents’ home. He did not begin His public ministry until he was 30. God was using His childhood and youth for training. That is what our family does with our children, we are preparing them to face the world of sinners as mature adults who fear the Lord and walk in His ways. Walk into a greenhouse sometime and observe. What you see are seedlings and young plants being cared for and nurtured in a “perfect” environment for their proper growth. Once they reach a certain stage, they can be safely transplanted into the earth outside, to face the elements. My experience with gardening is, if I plant seeds outside, my success rate is very small of producing a plant that bears fruit for harvest. But, if I put in small tomato or pepper plants, they will thrive much better. With children however, we don’t have the option of replanting. It’s a one shot deal that I don’t want to botch. As a FAMILY we mingle with the sinners in various ministries, but our children are still under our care and protection.

    Thank you for your thoughts, and I have enjoyed reading the posts. I see it has been here awhile, but maybe someone else new will read it.


  24. Heather says

    Interesting comment Lori, I never thought of it that way. Thanks for the insight. I do have to say, however, insinuating your home is the “perfect” environment for growth is a very bold statement. Being an educator and a Christian, I see how much a school environment can enrich and enhance a child’s development and expose them to so many stimulating ideas and experiences with DIFFERENT people in a DIFFERENT setting without their mothers beside them. I adore my children, and being a stay at home mom, it is very hard to turn your child over for a few hours almost every day. I would love to keep them with me. But as Christians, I do believe we have a responsibility to stand up for what’s right and be a light unto the world. And how can our children do that if they spend nost of their days in the home? I do believe Christ’s first recorded teaching was at the young and tender age of 12, and his mother nor his father was by his side. Just food for thought. I also enjoy all the comments posted.


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