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Home schooling best option for many seminary families


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Thomas Edison, Patrick Henry, John Quincy Adams and more than 76 children at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., all share one commonality. All have enjoyed the educational benefits of home schooling.
And for the 26 seminary families formally participating in the Christian Home Educators Association, home schooling has become not only an educational option, but also the best option for their children.
“I’m not going to say it’s best for everybody,” said Lynn Kearnes, who heads up the association. “But for our family, it’s the best. I can teach them our beliefs and our worldviews. I’m discipling my children at the same time they’re getting an education.” In the home school association, seminary families share curriculum, ideas and encouragement in a movement that has created both optimism and skepticism.
Critics continually raise concerns regarding home schooling, but Kearnes points out that the overall performance of home schooled children belies these concerns.
“I think the statistics show it’s an excellent education,” said Kearnes, who plans to home school her four children K-12. “They’re doing very well in the testing. And on the national level, they’re exceeding in every area.”
Further advantages for Southern’s home schooling families range from low costs (less than $500 per year for the average family) to more personal and intensive instruction to avoiding negative socialization.
But Kearnes sees the greatest advantage in the capacity to spend quality time developing not only the intellectual but also the spiritual life of her children.
“I’ve had every impact on my children,” Kearnes said. “I’ve taught them to read. I can see when the light dawns, and they get an idea. I get to walk spiritually with them. I see when they fall and when they make mistakes. I’m there to say, ‘Isn’t this just what you’ve just learned in Scripture?'”
“I like the fact that I can spend more time with our kids getting to know them and teaching them our values,” added Diane Schreiner, wife of Southern professor Tom Schreiner and member of the home school association. “I like the less hectic pace we have to spend time reading and doing things together.”
Though required by law to provide 185 days of education, Kearnes said many home school families exceed this amount. Every bedtime story, ride in the car or family meal provides teaching opportunities.
“You’re constantly in the mode of helping your children learn,” Kearnes said. “You don’t just turn it off.”
The home school association supplements these opportunities with activities designed for a larger group such as crafts, music, science and art fairs and spelling bees.
“The association has been a great asset to us as we have just begun home schooling this year,” said Jamie Christian, wife of Richard Christian, an M.Div. student from Clarksville, Tenn. “Not only have we enjoyed the obvious assets like ‘Discovery Day’ and field trips, but it gives me the opportunity as teacher to my children to gain information from others who have been home schooling for years.”
And each association and home activity — whether a science lesson or a trip to the park — focuses on God. “I believe education is of God,” Kearnes said. “All of our wisdom and knowledge is from God. The Scriptures constantly show the responsibility parents have for godly education. God never said, ‘Make sure they know their math and science.’ He said, ‘Make sure they know me.'”
While many educational alternatives exist to achieve this God-centered approach, Kearnes and the other families believe home schooling to be perfect for their children.
“I see no disadvantages at all, only advantages,” Kearnes said. “But I know there are reasons why other people choose other things.”
Fear of providing children an inferior education should not be one of these reasons.
“I think a lot of parents are afraid they’re going to mess up their kids if they teach them themselves,” Kearnes said. “But no one is going to love and care for my children like I will. I’m probably more strict on them for that reason. I don’t want them to come out at the end of school and not know what they should have.”
This commitment does require sacrifice, Kearnes said. “Whatever else you were thinking about doing, you are not going to do for a while,” she explained.
But, according to Kearnes, the rewards far outweigh the costs.
“I think any Christian family who takes on this sacrifice will have disciples for Christ out there later who have strong walks with the Lord,” she said. “I just praise God that he’s allowed us to do it.”