Many know Luke 8:4-15 as the "Parable of the Sower."  Perhaps it is familiar to you as well? There are four different types of soil into which seeds are sown: thorny, rocky, shallow, and good.  A,B,C, & D.  The difference is not in the methods of the sower nor the type of seed, but in the condition of the soil receiving it.  For this reason, some have suggested that it should rather be called the "Parable of the Soils."

If not for the disciples' questioning, we would have to guess at the deeper meaning of this farming tale; but Jesus explains each metaphor.  The seed is the word of God. The birds that eat the seed that fell on rocky pathway represent the devil.  The thorns are the cares, riches, and concerns of life.  The soil is the heart condition of the listener. The usual exposition of this passage, after describing the four scenarios, asks us to look at our own lives to see how it may apply. Which type of soil are we?  As parents, however, this parable has additional and powerful applications.  

The job of rearing children is unique and wondrous.  Parents plant seeds, of course.  But more importantly, we have the responsibility to affect the soil - the environment into which the seeds fall. What a sacred responsibility.  Let us consider the significance of parents in each case or soil type:  

A. Consider the thorns.  These are the cares, riches, and concerns of this life.  Parents have direct control over their home environment and the influences and distractions they allow in their children’s lives.  Homeschooling parents are an extreme example.  Most homeschooling parents are Christian people seeking to remove their children from the degraded social and academic environment of the public schools. [1] But any attentive parent will see bad influences on their children.  It is our solemn responsibility to pluck these weeds out before they come to full flower and choke out planted seeds of faith and virtue.  Is this not an essential part of parenting? 

Parents play a big role in a child's allocation of time.  In a fixed lifespan, time is a zero sum game.  Any wasted time is not neutral, it is negative - displacing productivity. Many academically successful home schools, recognizing the limitations of time, allow no television or computer games. Every now and then, a child from one such family will make headlines. [2]  The media promptly labels them a genius as the general public assures themselves that this is just not normal.  Truly, such a home environment isn’t "normal," but it is simply not surprising that children with twice as much free time dedicated to reading and learning do better than average.  How belittling it is to attribute the success of someone's hard work to them being "smart." This is not a compliment.  The range of human potential has so much overlap that very few differences in academic outcomes relate to anything other than effort.  To recognize this effort, diligence, and sacrifice it takes to weed out distractions and unproductive pursuits is a true compliment.  To chalk up the results of hard work to some genetic factor is to downplay the effort and justify a lower standard.    

In life, all we really have is time. Money represents time.  Time invested in learning increases the value and impact of future time. But in the end, all we have is the cumulative value that our time on earth has added to the Kingdom of God.  Money, like any resource, is just time materialized.  With regard to riches, a child will learn from the parent’s attitude toward money, and be blessed or bound by what he carries from this hidden curriculum into his adult life.  Does the parent understand debt as slavery to be avoided, (Prov 22:7) or do they pursue it as a desirable sacrifice of future time to the ever-present god of leisure and pride?  Has the master of the house dedicated what he has to the Lord, recognizing his first fruits - as well as title and interest in all things - are Gods for His use? (Ps 24:1)  No matter the answer, the child will learn from the example and be either blessed or bound by the lesson learned.    

We take care of our children’s physical needs so that they can focus on what they are called to in this stage – learning – in all domains of knowledge.  We do this because of the multiplication factor that knowledge has on value of future time.  Parents give their children this good gift, and sometimes even look back at the lost opportunities of their own youth wistfully saying “youth is wasted on the young.”  The idea of “lifelong learning” is a great mindset, but never again - after entering upon marriage, career, and/or family life - will a person have such unrestricted amounts of time to put into learning.  As parents, of course, we understand this, and we must make our children aware of what an opportunity they have.  This opportunity should not go to waste!  Our job is to remove thorns from their soil.    

B. Don't be Careless with Spiritual Instruction.  Consider the casual listener from whom the devil (the bird) steals the seed of the word after it is trampled underfoot along the pathway.  This is, of course, Satan’s ideal situation – if the seed is gone (trampled underfoot and then eaten by birds) there is absolutely no risk that any fruit will develop.  The idea here is a casual, careless, even contemptuous listener without respect for the word of God.  To affect this type of soil, parents train their children to listen and respect the word, and “as they get up or lie down or walk in the way.” We must explain how it applies to all aspects of life!  We must point out the hand of God at work in our lives as adults. The knowledge of God is profitable for all things pertaining to life and godliness. (1 Pet 1:3) The word of God does not contain an abundance of facts in all subjects, but it includes the source of all facts in every subject. [3] If we meditate on the unchanging principles and justice in God's law, we are promised success and great reward.  (Joshua 1:8

Imbuing respect for God's word is also done through the teaching of sound principles of apologetics and Biblical authenticity.  How many children have been drawn away, as the Devil tramples on the seeds of faith and insists, beyond all rational inquiry, that scripture is not historically accurate for one reason or another?  A study in apologetics will prepare a student to consider carefully the claims of the skeptic.  At the high school level, a course on sound hermeneutics – principles of interpretation – is foundational for our times.  A young Christian adult will soon hear the phrase “don’t judge.”  This is, most often, ripped form context, and mis-applied.  The first principle of hermeneutics is that of internal consistency, or “scripture interprets scripture.”  Will not a working knowledge of scripture bring to mind other scriptures such as “Judge with righteous judgments” (John 7:24) or “test all things and hold fast to what is good” (1Thes 5:21)?  These indicate immediately that a blanket interpretation of this verse is wrong.  In fact, it is exactly backwards.  The self-same “judge not” passage (Mat 7) goes on to say “remove the beam in your eye, SO THAT you will see clearly to remove the spec in your brother’s eye.” While admitting our own sinful nature and the clouded subjectivity of our perspective, we can certainly call out what is sin by the objective measure of scripture.  

Training our children in apologetics and hermeneutics is training them to take scripture seriously.  They should know how to reference a concordance, expository dictionary, and commentaries. Research is a life skill as well as a spiritual discipline.  They should be well versed in basic Bible interpretation through courses in Biblical Studies - not so that they can read scripture like any other textbook; but so that they may understand the power and application all of scripture has to all of life.  Thus they will not be easily confused by the careless logic and scornful counsel of the unbeliever.  (Psalm 1)

C. Cultivate a Diligent Kingdom Mindset.  The third type of soil represents one who has an initial emotional response but is subsequently tempted and led astray.  There is no patience or perseverance through trial or temptation.  When hard times come, the subject reveals their hypocrisy and lack of commitment.  Underlying their unbelief is a shallow, emotional understanding of God, not a deep root. 

We live in spiritually dark times.  There is strong delusion to believe the lie.  Yet our children are destined for the service of this generation. That’s a hard job! It will require diligence.  Do we teach our children the reward of diligence and the value of hard work?  Certainly, and practically, we must consider what abilities God has given them for the work of their hands, and not frustrate their gifts. Teach them to work, not to be slothful as they worship the Lord with their strength!  When scripture says "redeem the time," the measure of successful productivity is not money, but impact on the Kingdom of God ("for the days are evil" Eph 5:16).).  Money may be a resource to that end, but let's not miss the point.  

Our example to our children is of utmost importance.  In a world of fear and anxiety, our children should be attracted to the spirit of power and love and a sound mind within us.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Tim1:7)!  That is the spirit of the politically-minded, the talk show hosts and talking heads with ads to sell by tickling our itching ears between commercial breaks (the real point of the broadcast).  By contrast, we are grounded, anxious for nothing, equipped, not tossed about by every wave of doctrine. (Eph 4:14) Kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall.  We are strangers and pilgrims, not citizens of any earthly Kingdom (Phil 3:20).  We work at what our hand finds to do - diligently and as unto the Lord, justifying our calling in terms of the Kingdom of God.  (Ecc 9:10) Will our children not learn from such an example of patient perseverance?

D. Patiently Persevere in Family Harmony.  Lastly, the good soil. Scripture describes an honest and good heart bearing fruit with patience. How do we cultivate this soil environment in our children?  The answer: the biblical model of discipleship within the natural family. Considering the change in public opinion on abortion, it is hard to conclude that pro-life attitudes of large, Christian families will not win in the end simply due to birth rate and parents passing on the knowledge of God. We have a sacred trust to pass on to the next generation.  (Deut 6:7

God is the author of families; this is His design, for He saw it as good that man should not be alone.  When it comes to homeschooling, we can also consider the corollary: it is not good for woman not be alone. God says he chose Abraham "that he will command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the Lord, to do righteousness and justice" (Genesis 18:19).  The very foundations of the Christian faith are from a single household, and family continues as the primary opportunity for discipleship of the young.  He desires godly generations.  (Malachi  2:15) Our houses must be like Bethel, a house of God, not a Bethaven, a house of vanity and iniquity. There's a term in use today - a "latchkey kid."  These are young children who come home from school to an empty house, and unlock the door themselves.  This is not what God designed - children growing up on their own, the subjects and dependents of the state!  The state is a bad parent by anyone’s definition, but especially by God’s standard!  Their education is godless and profane.  They stopped teaching God’s laws, [4] and even abandoned it's derivative “natural law” in favor of blatantly glorifying sin.  Public education is undeniably religious in nature.     

Throughout our communities, we once had laws that recognized the family as the basic unit of society.  In that sense, at least, we were a “Christian nation.”  Even something as simple as real estate law formerly treated the husband and wife as a single legal entity with “Tenancy by the Entirety."  Tenancy in Common is not the same thing. Spousal privilege and immunity is another example.  This vestigial law recognizes the sanctity of marital harmony by preventing someone from being called on by prosecution to testify against their own spouse. This is still recognized in some states.  In general, however, the family is no longer a legally recognized unit as the doctrines of statism take over.  In full-fledged Communism, the family is outlawed altogether.  The communist manifesto makes it clear that family is a threat to their agenda.  So too, we see a spirit of individualism pushed by the progressive education establishment in America.  We now have to sign special power of attorney documents to be recognized to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated spouse at a hospital in the name of "privacy"!  And this is a minor illustration of the perversion of the natural family in our laws. How different we have become from the world God ordained in which every child has a natural family – their biological father and mother - to disciple and nurture them!  How different the world can become if Christian parents take their marriage vows seriously.  

To those reading this last essay whose family is broken, I say: do not be discouraged, but do consider what God intended.  Surely, we must lament over the children of broken, abusive, or dysfunctional families who may not even know what a loving father looks like!  How many metaphors in scripture can be obscured by Satan spitefully stealing this knowledge from a child! Let us recognize what God has ordained, and renew our purpose in the opportunities we have to disciple our children.  So too, let us bear one another’s burdens for the benefit of the children from broken families.  The church can stand in the gap here as each family in Nehemiah’s day rebuilt the city walls, while armed jointly to rise in defense of the whole.  God is a father to the fatherless, and he works supernaturally - often in very natural ways through other people.  May we be His hands and His feet.  

Lastly, we cannot guarantee that our children will continue in grace.  The race is not always to the strong, but let us be found faithful in this one endeavor if we are faithful in anything!  Father God, help us to be hearers of this word and deal faithfully with this seed sown to our own hearts.  May it fall on good soil, may it bear much fruit.  For our children’s sake, let us pursue this good work that we are called to with daily diligence.  Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we faint not.  Thank You for that promise.  In the name of Jesus, Amen.


References - 

[1] This observation follows on the observation of Art Robinson, a dad who continued homeschooling his six children after his wife died.  A YouTube video with his incredible story, remarkable results, and sagacious points on educational philosophy can be found at 

[2]  In their book Homeschooling for Excellence, the Colfax’s point out the average child at the time watched 15,000 hours of television, while only schooling for 11,200 hours. Colfax, David, and Micki Colfax. Homeschooling for Excellence: How to Take Charge of Your Child's Education and Why You Absolutely Must. Grand Central Publishing, 1988.  

[3] Rushdoony, R.J., The Philosophy of Christian Curriculum.  Ross House Books, 2001.  As described in Chalcedon (Chalcedon Podcast RSS).

[4] On June 25, 1962, the Supreme Court of the United States banned school prayer and Bible reading in all public school systems.  The god of humanism reigns, and as time goes on the humanism becomes more overt.  The academic decline is predictable.  It is not a failure of the system, it is the very design of the system: mankind is becoming more and more conformed to mankind.  All value systems are relative, there is no bottom when eternal virtues are disallowed.  


It's big news: homeschooling is a growing movement.  North Carolina adopted common core, and homeschooling grew 14% - reportedly in response.[1]  Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) responded to the recent SCOTUS marriage ruling, pointing out that public schools will have "legal and social pressure" to be "philosophically compliant with the decision" - teaching only the unnatural, pluralistic definition of marriage.  The ultimate result? "Consequently, homeschooling will grow."[2]  A recent law passed in California disallows students to attend public schools if their parents do not vaccinate exactly as the government prescribes at the moment. The prediction is familiar: the vaccine law pushes parents into homeschooling.[3]  It's a safe prediction.  Homeschooling will continue to grow.  

It's not really a surprise.  As the humanism in the state education system becomes more overt, all parents are marginalized. Educational content they care about is crowded out, and propaganda becomes easier to recognize. Christians have long recognized the great academic and moral decline steadily progressing since John Dewey and company instituted their religion as the central philosophy of public education. All education is fundamentally religious, and secular humanism is the new state religion preached through public school. [4]  Dewey was an ardent secular humanist, atheist, and original signer of the humanist manifesto; and he makes no bones about the religious nature of his designs for public schooling calling it "a common faith" [5]. He and his followers, replaced the teaching of history with "social studies" - treating the current social consciousness as an ethic unto itself.  Parents of all other faiths are left out, while still being forced to fund the institutions whether they patronize them or not.  Dewey's followers call their philosophy "progressive education," meanwhile C.S. Lewis pointed out, "If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man."[6]. Strikingly, the undisciplined and increasingly ignorant products of humanistic education are not an evidence of the failure of the system; they are evidences of  it's own realized objectives.  Students are increasingly conformed to the relative image of humans, and less conformed to the image of God.  A recent book "Crimes of the Educators" points out, by using the words of Dewey himself, that this dumbing down of the American education system has been purposeful - a stated objective - a crime against children.  The case is solid and condemning.[7]  The statist educators have also been a smashing success at masking the downtrend by redefining achievement relative to a declining standard.  But the decline is obvious when comparing results across generations - each one further removed from the influence of absolute standards and Christian thought.  In the absence of other options, whether they understand the whole picture or not, parents are flocking to homeschooling.  

But the continuing exponential growth of homeschooling is a concern for homeschool freedom.  Recent additions to the movement are "refugees" from the failing public system.  A marked difference in these newcomers from their earlier counterparts is the lack of a cohesive philosophy of education.  Often, these new refugees are characterized by little more than their reaction to the failing public schools.  The reaction is often sudden, kneejerk, not informed by a distinct positive vision of any kind.  Naturally, these newcomers find comfort in their status as members of the movement that has previously evidenced good results.  But how can these results continue when the positive vision of the homeschooling pioneers is jettisoned?  With great freedom comes great responsibility.  Are we organized around "play dates" in the park or around parents - including fathers - deciding together and dedicating themselves to training up their children with humility, fear of the Lord, and some trembling over the gravity of this momentous and counter-cultural task? A homeschooling movement that only looks good in comparison to the drastically degraded and continuously declining state system, is missing the much greater Christian vision - that our children would dominate life and thought in the area of their giftings, justifying their calling in terms of the Kingdom of God.[8]  

But aren't Christian homeschool groups standing by to help people get started with this positive Christian vision of academic excellence?  Not really.  First, there's so much information it's overwhelming.  Precious few groups make specific recommendations.  Advocacy groups share some general help and motivation for getting started.  But for all practical purposes, you're very much on your own.  So people adopt what their friends are doing - usually the trappings of education similar to the schools they rejected.  They select curriculum and gauge progress against the grade-level criteria that the degraded school systems use. At the recent homeschooling conference put on by Texas Homeschool Coalition (THSC), attendees were given nametags on a lanyard promoting TTUISD (Texas Tech University Independent School District) - an online public school!  We have so lost our way that even groups with Christian "statements of faith" promote homeschooling of any ilk, including schooling at home with humanist curriculum.  Devoid of a clear philosophy of education, we have come to call anything "good" that claims the name homeschooling.  We find safety in numbers, and bigger numbers are better.  We ignore the internal threat and even our own calling, as we focus on the external bogeyman.  Is this a cause we should serve?  Let me ask it another way: what does the total number of homeschooling parents have to do with the education your child will receive if you homeschool them?  Nothing.  What does being a part of this "movement" or inclusive groups profit if we do not repudiate lackadaisical, irresponsible approaches to education?  Are field trips and socialization good?  Park meetups and co-op groups?  I'm going to call the emperor naked, and say there is not as much value in organizing around events as one might suppose. Even the field trips are often opportunities a single family could enjoy - and get more out of - by themselves. 

What is the point?  What is the answer?  First, effective Christian homeschool support starts as a function of the local church, not para-church advocacy groups.  Surely, there is value in organizing at county, state, and national levels. There is still much work to do.  It should anger all of us to hear of Christian families who pass up a good book or curriculum because they can't afford it, while paying thousands in property taxes to a school system they are actively choosing against. This is a great systemic evil!  And there are other reasons besides politics (can a single church organize a sports league?).  But it is the very purpose of the Christian church to "not forsake the fellowship" SO THAT we may "consider one another how you may stir each other up into love and good works." (Heb 13)  Responsible Homeschooling is just one good work that God has prepared beforehand for some of us to walk in (Eph 2:10). It is the good work of Christian Education, and it's one that many of us were not prepared for. The church must have the discernment and vision to recognize, reject, and expose the idolatrous, state-funded, humanistic religion that hides behind a pretense of neutrality and supposed objectivity (Eph 5:11). And not only to expose, but - even from our disadvantaged position - to support and raise the standard of Christian education high.  Lastly, we parents - especially fathers - must cast a vision of excellence and provide Christian education to our children.  We must recognize that irresponsible homeschooling is just as unproductive to the Kingdom of God as public schooling. We must stop thinking about ourselves as a movement of homeschoolers, and think of ourselves as Christians - serving our children and our brothers and sisters as unto the Lord. As R.C. Sproul Jr. recently stated in his list of concerns about homeschooling, "The church exists for a reason, and too often too many homeschoolers have forgotten that reason."[9]  

If we focus on our responsibilities as Christians, the movement will thrive without much attention.  Christian Education will shine and dominate.  If we do not do this, we will find our advocacy groups defending a sham of godless freedom by parroting dated statistics without the benefit of the Christian responsibility that caused the reported results. We should not defend or enable irresponsible homeschooling. No one has a God-given right to homeschool in a godless fashion.  Think about it!  


References - 

[1] Chiaramonte, P.  (2014, November 30)  "NC common core spurs homeschooling growth."  Fox News.  Retrieved from

[2] Farris, M.  (2015, June 26)  "Supreme Court Marriage Ruling."  HSLDA. Retrieved from

[3] Szabo, L.  (2015, June 30)  "California governor signs strict law requiring vaccinations for most kids"  USA Today.  Retrieved from

[4] Rushdoony, R. J. The Messianic Character of American Education. P & R Press, 1963. 

[5] Dewey, John; A Common Faith.  Yale Press.  1935.  Retrieved from

[6] Lewis, C.S. Mere Christianity. New York: Macmillan, 1960.

[7] Blumenfeld, Samuel and Newman; Crimes of the Educators.  WND Books, 2015

[8] Rushdoony, R.J.; The Philosophy of Christian Curriculum.  Vellacito, CA: Ross House Books, 1981.  

[9] Sproul Jr., R.C.; (2015, June 23) "Ask R.C.: What are Some Concerns You Have With the Homeschooling Movement."  [Blog Post]  Retrieved from


I manage a home with five children in it.  Our oldest is 9 and our youngest is 8 months.  Two children are students, the middle child vacillates between an aspiring reader and a toddler with emotional fits (she is four!)  As I write this my toddler is fishing around in his glass of milk for the piece of cheese he dropped in there while I was pouring my coffee.  Yeah.  It’s like that.  Excuse me one moment!

Toddlers need direct supervision.  There are many days I feel torn between adequate attention to education and cuddling with my littles on the couch with their favorite story, or training them properly. (We do NOT put our hands in our milk!)

Old ideas are not always best.  

Recently, I have been bound by an old idea about our homeschool lunchtime.  My planned schedule is tight, if we miss a move, the whole thing goes downhill very quickly.  I know you can relate to this!  Since I have a nursing infant, our “schedule” is interrupted as her naptimes constantly shift based on her body’s needs.  Our schedule says that my older students should complete math lessons before lunch.  Some days I would push lunch out late because we had started our day late.  This upset the toddlers.  Toddlers appreciate a regular and predictable schedule.  By the time I got them fed they were an emotional wreck.  They should have been laid down for naps an hour past… but… but… home school schedule is paramount, right?  We have done this so often I begin to feel defeated the moment I know our schedule was going to be “off” for the day.

But God is faithful! Take your problems to God for help.  He WILL give you solutions!  I have been griping about this conundrum to my girlfriends.  Today I sent up a desperate prayer.   Lord!  WHAT do I do?

Like a ray of light in the fog of my mind, it dawned on me:  Why do we have to eat lunch all together?  Somewhere in the foundations of my homeschool, with only toddlers to serve, I had decided that was important.  Now, mind you, I OFTEN throw lunch at my kids and rush around madly doing dishes and laundry, throwing random glances at the table to make sure things are in order. (They usually aren’t!)  Lunch, quite frankly, is not a “break” at our house, not for me.  It is instead the utter chaos of messy children and frazzled Mama attempting a level of multi-tasking that has YET to be achieved with any success.

“Why,” asked the Thought, “shouldn’t you feed the toddlers an hour earlier than the school age children?”  Ohhhhhh, my frazzly self grabbed onto the Thought eagerly, and immediately arrived at a flood of reasons why that would be SO. MUCH. BETTER!  Reason number one:  managing two or three messy children is a LOT easier than the pressure of pulling it off with five.  That sweet, quiet, well-mannered group of kids may someday appear at my kitchen table, ready to enjoy this week’s read aloud while they munch.  Maybe when they are older?

While my older students enjoy a quiet room free of distractions as they study Math, my younger ones enjoy a supervised lunch with Mama.  Where I used to be entertaining toddlers and adjudicating disputes while waiting for the others to finish (full of stress that they wouldn’t be timely and my day would be RUINED.), I now have time to tuck wee ones into naptime before my older children, studies completed, come down for lunch.  Now I get to enjoy a QUIET lunch with them, and I might even get to share a read aloud, or wash up dishes without worrying about what my toddler might be drowning in his milk this time.

I am elated. 

But listen, the point is not about this specific solution that works for me at this point in time.  Rather, the Point is that when you seek God’s wisdom for your situation, He will give it to you.  (James 1:5)

Gods Wisdom, in His time, for my immediate need.  This was JUST what I needed.  Next month, the dynamics of my life will shift; and I will need new ideas, more wisdom and always Peace.  I hope I am learning to go more quickly to my Father for His help.  His hand is not too short to save, nor His ear too dull to hear.  (Isaiah 59:1)

There is no one right schedule, but there is ONE solution: Take it to the Lord in Prayer.  


Post by Charlyn W. 


Jackie, Andrea, Kristi, Genevieve, Dawn, Becca, Luci, Heidi, Laura, Debi - these are the first names of the last ten people posting on a local Homeschooling group's page. Notice anything?  They're all women.  If you've been around home schooling for any length of time, this is not surprising. 

In the book Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement, author Mitchell L. Stevens makes the same observation.[1]  Stevens spent ten years researching homeschooling culture from the third-party perspective of an interested sociologist.  When it came to Christian homeschoolers, he found it striking that - in this one area only - from idea to execution the wife leads the family, and the husband just plays along.  The reason?  He proposes that this "renovated domesticity" adds respectability to the role of "stay-at-home mom."  He supports this claim with many quotes from an extensive number of interviews.  Is it true that the philosophy driving the Christian home school is a matriarchal feminism?  

It's a startling thought to consider.  Homeschooling is usually accused of the opposite - patriarchy - and certainly, whether the initial intent or not, most homeschooling households are a traditional, single-income family where the mother stays home. First, we must concede that homeschooling parents believe that they have their children's best interests at heart.  They use the language of child development to justify their various approaches - no matter how irresponsible their philosophy may be.  They certainly don't do it solely for personal fulfillment; there is no case to make there.  We should, however, consider the cognitive dissonance. The stereotypical Christian homeschooling father leads his family in every aspect of family and home life except this one. 

It's a common claim: dad is the principal and mom is the teacher.  As Todd Wilson points out, some fathers SAY they are the principal so that they don't have to do ANYTHING.[2] Ask them about their philosophy of education or the design of their curriculum - questions normally associated with the role of a principal.  The blank stares and dismissive answers are telling.  Homeschooling is women's work - all of it.  And the blame isn't all on the lazy, disinterested dads of this day and age.  More than one father has taken an interest, stuck his nose in, and got bit.  Once bitten, twice shy.  Homeschooling is the woman's domain, where men and angels fear to tread. [3]

I was a young dad on my way into a homeschooling conference in Richmond, VA, when I first came to understand this cultural oddity.  I've always thought of curriculum selection as a father's role.  Halfway through my own Kindergarten experience, my dad pulled me out of a small Christian school and enrolled me in another.  On the day before the switch, the teacher informed the other students they should say goodbye to me at recess.  One little boy asked "Why is he leaving?"  The teacher turned to me, not really knowing the answer; and I innocently proclaimed "My dad doesn't like the curriculum!"  I do not recall the exact response of the teacher, but it was flustered enough that I remember the incident to this day. I knew I'd said something damaging.  But that was my experience - that Dads care about what goes into their children's head from philosophy of education to curriculum scope and sequence.  My dad went on to be homeschool teacher for many high school AP courses for his six children.  My perspective is also unique in that my wife is a second generation homeschooler and not insecure or averse to new ideas.  We have longstanding debates on the merits of different curriculums and approaches.  May the best plan win! 

So there I was, in the long registration line at the homeschool conference and book fair.  Directly behind me, I heard a young couple talking.  They were newbies - first year homeschoolers!  He had yet to learn about the Kingdom of Women.  He was looking at a map of the exhibit hall and said, "Oh this is like a trade show, I do trade shows all the time for work... we should make a first pass and visit all the vendors quickly and then go back and re-visit the one's we're interested in..."  His wife disagreed.  It wasn't a trade show at all, it was a "homeschool conference" - with all the dreamy aura of child nurture, breast feeding, and love.  But he convinced her: by definition, the exhibit hall was a trade show.  Still, she could not accept his ideas of how to conquer the trade show.  They should be selective and visit the vendors that her girlfriends were talking about.  "You haven't done all the research I've done," she said.  I felt his pain.  He was learning what most homeschool dads seem to already know: from idea to execution, homeschooling is a women's project.  She will do what her girlfriends are doing because it sounds easy, breezy, beautiful, and fun.  None of their husbands care, and your way sounds hard. The sad piece of irony is that many wives initially rejecting their husbands help eventually come to complain about his lack of involvement. 

So what is the answer to all of this?  The picture of husband and wife walking together in this tremendous undertaking is very different and beautiful.  From a strictly resource standpoint, you want both parents involved.  From a Christian perspective, the complementarity and diversity of giftings in a husband and wife is foundational doctrine!  Can two walk together unless they be agreed?  Avoiding conflict is not agreement!  Sparks fly when iron sharpens iron.  Homeschooling is just Parenting on Steroids

Lord, help us walk together!  Help us make homeschooling a joint effort.  Help us husbands live with our wives in an understanding way.  Help our wives to accept our leading and help us craft the right strategy.  Help us rightly divide the Tasks of Homeschooling as we consider this tremendous undertaking.  Help us take seriously the idea of a Homeschool Dad Job Description.  Help us develop a philosophy of education that not only pursues excellence, but is thoroughly Christian.  Help us form the right tactical plan that makes it easy on the parents and rigorous for the students.  Help us select the right curriculum.[4]  Help us craft a family mission and goals and put the right plan in place for each child.[5] 

[1] Stevens, Mitchel L. Kingdom of Children: Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. 
[2] Wilson, Todd.  Help, I’m Married to a Homeschool Mom: Showing Dads How to Meet the Needs of Their Homeschooling Wives. Moody Publishers; April 1, 2004.
[3] Wilson, Todd.  How to be a Great Wife Even Though You Homeschool.  Familyman Ministries; 2008. 
[4] Elijah Academy: Getting Started Handbook
[5] Elijah Academy: Helpful Forms

Parenting is hard, but homeschooling is BRUTAL!  This is true.  But it’s also true that what makes homeschooling difficult is exactly the same as what makes parenting hard.  People who don’t homeschool may not understand this.  They think curriculum selection, teaching, or finding opportunities for social interaction are the hard parts of homeschooling.  No.  For us, the REALLY difficult part is keeping the peace with a house full of family members that see each other all day long every day!  You know, the normal parenting issues — TIMES TEN!  We’re less respectful of family than we are of strangers, and the homeschooling environment brings out the worst in our kids.  It brings out the worst in their parents too.  Truly, there is no temptation taken us (homeschoolers) except those that are common to all mankind! ( 1 Cor 10:13). Homeschooling is just parenting on steroids. 

I recently attended a dual-credit information session at our local Community College (North Central Texas College, NCTC).  My full notes are HERE.  Whether or not this specific option is for you, it is good to know how a home schooled student can get a jumpstart on college courses and credits. If you are interested in going the NCTC route (dual or early enrollment), there are strict deadlines (and dual enrollment is earlier than normal admissions).  You need to start talking to one of the friendly dual credit administrators ASAP.  There are a few ways to gain college credit on courses you take in high school. 

1) Dual Enrollment. College courses taken during high school through a dual enrollment program are cheaper than normal college courses, but there are limitations to the number and selection of courses allowed.  One required course in “Learning Foundations” is all that NCTC allows the first semester of Jr. year, and 2 "core" courses second semester if student did well in foundations.  In Sr. year, a typical dual credit load is 2 courses each semester, but up to 4 may be allowed with qualifying good performance.  Students in public high school programs are additionally limited by what their high school program allows, but homeschoolers have the flexibility to take full advantage of what the college allows.  Unfortunately, foreign language is not on the list of core courses allowed for dual enrollment credit at NCTC.  Dual enrollment also opens up scholarship opportunities for students transferring within the Texas state college system.

2) Early Enrollment.  Interestingly, if the student gets a GED or chooses “early enrollment” option as a high school senior, then all courses open up to them but not with the lower tuition cost of dual credit.  NCTC has a 13 year old student there that has taken the GED route to qualify for enrollment.  This is a similar route to what the Harding Family describes in their book:  The Brainy Bunch.  (We have this book if anyone wants to borrow.  It’s certainly an interesting idea!).  There are other potential benefits available through NCTC that I’ve noted, such as transfer student scholarships and CLEP testing services for college credits to transfer in.

3) Testing Options.  The above options fit into the recommended approach in our College-Prep Homeschool Guide.  In general, (1) you can’t go wrong with a solid high school program and transcript, and (2) a few additional steps, tests, and deadlines can be rewarding.  For those wishing to get a jumpstart on college credits, it is certainly good to understand the NCTC option.  However, gaining credits through AP or CLEP test scores is still cheaper and more flexible than this option (transferable outside Texas, fewer limitations). while you homeschool.  You don’t have to take a certified course to take AP exam for college credit, but to have “Advanced Placement” marked on your transcript, the course materials must be audited and approved by the College Board. 

There are multiple reasons to recommend that students wanting to go to college consider these options for getting a jump start.  One good reason is the opportunity to avoid the garbage they teach in certain college courses by testing out of them.  Another is cost.  My wife and I both earned college credit through AP tests on homeschool courses.  Those were the cheapest college credits we ever earned.  These credits helped me to graduate with an engineering degree in 7 semesters with summers off, and start working sooner – a significant multiplier on the initial savings.  I also received a significant scholarship from the Elk's foundation that took many hours to apply for in high school.  But to this day, the equivalent wage from those hours is much higher than any I’ve ever earned since!  I bring this up to say that opportunities are there, and homeschooled students are not limited.  Indeed, they even have certain advantages over schooled students.  

God, Bless our students!