Trust The Children

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

How Not to Quit Home Schooling

Hi, I'm Cyndy, wife of Mark and mother of eleven, writing my first article for our blog. I am hoping to convince you to take the time to write your own vision statement about home schooling. Something that comes out of your heart and if possible the heart of your spouse. Writing a vision statement has helped me "stay in the game". The blessings of home schooling become unavailable to children when parents get discouraged, quit and send their children back into the system. Remembering the WHY of this commitment to home school is essential in maintaining the enthusiasm through the ups and downs that are part of every year of home schooling.

Really pondering about "WHY do I choose to homeschool?" will give you something to hold onto when you feel your knees go weak. Writing those thoughts down and keeping them handy is some of the best advice I can give you.

We have been homeschooling for 27 years.
My youngest is now 12, my oldest 30. Our eleven children have all "turned out" exceptional. (I'm not prejudiced, just ask our friends!)

I sat down the other night to prepare for local Home Educators Association Conference and this is what surfaced as I reflected on my quarter century plus of "learning by doing".

Do age and experience bring wisdom? I'm not sure, but note how my "philosophy statement" has changed over the years:

• The baby steps (Years 1-10)
(We kept our children home until age 8)
I will keep my children home in a safe environment until they are 8 years of age, have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and are capable of discerning between right and wrong.
I don’t want them to ever lose the innate curiosity with which they have been blessed.
My job it to provide an exciting, stimulating environment and nurture that curiosity.

• As I got braver (Years 10-15)
(We kept our children home until age 10, using community resources and “cherry picked” the public system for music, lab sciences, and foreign languages.)
My desire is to create an environment conducive to spiritual, emotional, and intellectual growth for my children I know my children are safe and well treated in my home. I am free to teach them what I feel is important. I can control the quality of my children’s education. I am free to combine my spiritual beliefs with everything I teach. Children naturally want to learn and do the things they see their parents and other people doing. Perhaps my most important role is to continually model “seeking” and “love for learning”. I want them to internalize this message: “I am loveable, I am capable, I am a child of God. I like myself, I like myself, I like myself, I like myself, I like myself.”

• My confidence grows (Years 15-20)
(We kept our children home until age 12-14. We went through hoops necessary for high school diplomas.)
I believe that the environment I can control and create is superior to that in any public or private setting. I choose not to involve my children or myself it too many outside of home activities. My children will be strong enough to withstand negative peer influences before I will place them in public school settings. I must feel that they have internalized our family values before I will allow them to be transplanted outside of our nurturing “greenhouse”. I trust my children will learn what is important without so much structure. All children are exceptional in their own unique way. I believe that if children are given a nurturing, loving environment where they learn what they want, in their own way, at their own pace, they often look and act exceptional.

• Currently: (Years 21-27)
(We keep our children home until age 14. We begin using internet on-line classes. High school diplomas are optional. Good scores on SAT/ACT expected. We encourage our married children to homeschool.)
I know that the environment in my home is the best place to custom make moral armor sufficient to protect my children from negative outside forces. I know that my children will be leaders in their social groups. I trust that the Holy Spirit will guide them in the choices they make because I can see the influence of the spirit in their daily lives. It is more important to me that they be morally clean (of mind, heart, and body) than they be educated according to the world’s standards. I try to keep out of their way and allow them to grow in a more open, free environment and pursue their interests to the point of excellence. All children are exceptional in their own unique way. If my children can experience the joy and satisfaction of “seeking” and “finding out” in their fields of interest, they will make their way in today’s society without problem. I am a facilitator. I pray that my grandchildren will be homeschooled.

How have I changed in 27 years of homeschooling:
From tentative to confident that homeschooling really works.
From moderately structured to increasingly unstructured.
From “teach them before they leave home” to trusting that children can learn what is important when the time comes.
From “What do others say I should be doing?” to “What works best in my home with my children?”

It has been a great ride…and I am still learning, but I do believe President Boyd K. Packer, LDS Church Leader when he states:
“No teaching is equal, more spiritually rewarding, or more exalting than that of a mother teaching her children.”
Boyd K. Packer Ensign, Feb 2000

Cyndy and Mark Weiss are from Vancouver, WA. You can learn more about their home schooling experience at Their exceptional children are Allison, 30, currently University of Chicago, completing 2nd masters program (musicology and Latin American studies), Fulbright Scholar; David Weiss, 28, Team leader at MacBusiness Unit at Microsoft, father of 3; Tamarah Bartmess, 27, Linguistics major turned mom of two, finishing General Studies coursework through BYU Independent Study program; Christine, 25, graduated BYU-I, now in Masters of Public Health program at BYU-Provo, Jennifer, 23, working on degree in family Therapy at BYU-Provo, teaching Mandarin Chinese at the LDS Mission Training Center; Deborah, 21, serving mission in Quito, Ecuador; Jonathan 20, serving mission in Berlin, Germany; Samuel, 18, doing CNC work for local company that he learned in "Pre-engineering and Design" courses at Skills Center; Benjamin, 16, part-time employed at bike shop, doing internet classes and Physics and Art class at High School the rest at home; William, 14, doing Science and Spanish at High school the rest at home, internet English and Saxon Math; Joseph, 12, homeschooler extraordinaire and skateboarder.

Seven children so far have served missions (Chile, Brazil, California-Spanish, Ecuador, Taiwan, Ecuador, Germany) 4 more young men to go, Three did running start program (early college--simultaneous High School credit), 5 received full or part tuition scholarships to college, 2 Eagles (2 more in the works)-5 YW Recognition Awards, 10 have been Quorum or Class Presidents in Young Men/Young Women church programs.