The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool
Book Review by Suzanne Reid
"Next to our faith and our marriage, taking the path of home education has been the most rewarding part of our lives. We simply cannot imagine doing it any other way." David and Kim d'Escoto.
This view of homeschooling was not one that the d'Escotos originally held. In fact, like many of us, before we escape from under the "spell" of the local public school, the d'Escotos felt homeschoolers were a "scattered few, treading off the beaten path into the unknown." In their opinion, homeschoolers were the "religious zealots." Over time, however, they noticed the beautiful fruit of many homeschool families. They watched older siblings of homeschool families gently helping younger siblings, and teen-aged children actually speaking kindly about and toward their parents. The d'Escotos began praying for God's direction for their children's education and attending their state homeschool conventions. In seeking God's will, it began to dawn on them that homeschooling was a part of His plan for their family.
Ten years now into the "experiment", the d'Escotos love homeschooling and want to share their experience with others. Their goal is to promote the vision of homeschooling as it relates to building up the family and the Body of Christ. With that as the objective, David and Kim have just completed The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool and the Companion Bible Study.
The title of the book accurately describes itself. Small in size and length, it delves into serious, "big," matters regarding homeschooling. Because of its size, it is a quick read and a great resource to answer the questions of a friend who is considering homeschooling, or a family member needing an explanation for why you homeschool. In 69 pages, David and Kim discuss the values of homeschooling more adeptly than similar books five times the length. Drawing from a depth of knowledge, the d'Escotos present compelling reasons for Christians to consider home education. They support their conclusions with logic, statistics, Scripture, and quotes from leaders in the homeschool movement.
The Little Book consists of four main sections: "History of Homeschooling," "Benefits to the Mind," "Benefits to the Body," and "Benefits to the Soul." Although the titles are self-explanatory, I will feature some highlights of each section.
The book begins with a thought-provoking, Biblical worldview. The first idea is that "children are a gift of the Lord" (Psalm 127:3). This is radically different than that "affectionate" term our culture uses to describe children-rug rats-a term that likens our children to dirty, unwanted pests that get under our feet and keep us from dealing with what we really matters.
The next idea that the d'Escotos present is the Biblical command to fathers to "bring children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4). This command is challenging when considering how to live it out. Following it takes dedication and commitment. It calls us to be on our knees praying for Godly wisdom. It necessitates examining our children's teachers and the materials to which they would expose our children. It requires daily personal repentance and discipline. It demands courage and obedience to proceed with the best educational choice.
Homeschooling has been that choice for families since the beginning of time, and the results are astounding, when compared to the compulsory education of today. In the "History of Homeschooling," the d'Escotos show that prior to compulsory education, America's literacy rate was 90 to 98 percent. Today, "44 million of the 191 million adults in the United States show incompetence in the lowest level of reading, writing and mathematical skill." The current public school model of education fails to teach our children the basics.
In "Benefits to the Mind," the d'Escotos show that homeschooling is the best way to tailor our children's education to their abilities. According to psalm 139: 13-16, each of our children is uniquely created. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made." Through homeschooling, we parents can "tune in to our children's unique qualities, address their individual needs in learning styles, pace, and interests, and encourage them to follow their divine appointments in life."
By studying how God has made our children and working with those gifts, we homeschoolers have raised the educational bar. Studies compiled by Dr. Brian Ray of National Home Education Research Institute show that "homeschool students consistently outscore their public-school peers by 15 to 30 percentile points on standardized achievement tests." Colleges that would not consider a homeschool student for enrollment in the 1980s now prefer them. They find homeschoolers have a high degree of "intellectual vitality."
The d'Escotos remind us that we parents are the professionals of our children. A public school teacher cannot understand the unique God-given abilities of a child like the parent; nor does a teacher have the time to find the appropriate educational course to meet the individual needs of a student in a class of several. No one is as finely tuned to a child as the mother and father. What we lack in teaching experience, we can learn from Scripture and from the abundant amount of curriculum resources available to homeschoolers today. The d'Escotos provide a list of some of the best homeschool resources in the back of the book.
In "Benefits to the Body" the d'Escotos ask the question: "Which setting is better for our children-the student body or the family body? That infamous word, socialization, raises its head once again. Do we really want our children to look to their peers for the answers to life? The home is where moral values should be taught. Our children will not learn to value Christianity in a public school culture steeped in moral relativism. As homeschoolers we have the privilege and opportunity to weave our Lord, His Word, and our Christian heritage into our curriculum.
The eternal perspective is the topic of "Benefits to the Soul." The d'Escotos say "the choices we make today in shaping our children's future can lead them down the path of their eternal destination." While the objective of the public school is to train a student in the worldview of the society in order to contribute to the social agenda, we homeschoolers can focus on training our children with a Christian worldview for the purpose of serving and glorifying God. Additionally, these children will grow to be the leaders of the next generation. Our work today will leave a lasting legacy, affecting the future body of Christ. What an awesome calling!
In the "Afterword," the d'Escotos encourage the reader to pray fervently and ask for God's direction regarding the education of our children. They remind us that raising our children is a privilege. One day we will stand before God and give an account for how we handled the nurture and training of "His lambs." What will we be able to say?
The Little Book of BIG REASONS to Homeschool, Companion Bible Study
The Companion Bible Study starts where the The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool ends. Intended for individual or group study, the Companion Bible Study follows the structure of the book and guides the reader through thought-provoking questions, which refer to the original text. A sample question is the following: "How would you explain the dichotomy between what parents say they believe about their role as spiritual trainers of their children and what they actually do? The goal of the study guide is to help participants examine homeschooling in the light of Scripture.
The Companion Bible Study is full of wonderful quotes from great men of the faith and giants in the homeschool movement. The authors introduce the reader to Mathew Henry (1622-1714) and refer to his commentaries on the Bible. An inspirational Christian theologian and homeschool student, Henry is an example of what can happen when we home educate. The result can be anything, from a businessman who honors God in his work, to a scientist who impacts the world, to a remarkable Christian preacher whose influence spans the centuries.
The Companion Bible Study ends with a commission to reach out and share the vision of homeschooling. The Little Book of Big Reasons to Homeschool and its Companion Bible Study are wonderful tools to encourage those beginning or continuing homeschooling. The materials are available directly from the d'Escotos at www.dexios.info, where you can read more about the authors and their resources.
Suzanne Reid resides in northern Idaho with her husband Brian and her two children. The Reids are board members of the Idaho Coalition of Home Educators, which exists to protect the right to home educate within the state of Idaho. The Reids are in their eleventh year of homeschooling.