Today’s Ask the Grad profile features Katherine Loop, founder of Christian Perspective. Through that ministry and HEAV, Katherine encourages countless families in their home education efforts. Here she shares her own home education story with us, giving us a glimpse of the very normal struggles the homeschool leaders of today face as children just yesterday. Enjoy her story … and the free gift at the end!
When my parents first began homeschooling me back in 1991, they had no idea where this journey would lead. In fact, we began it on “probation”—my dad gave us three months to prove this crazy idea would work. When it didn’t, he planned to send me to a Christian school.
That was the beginning of our homeschooling venture. God blessed those three months incredibly. Eventually, it got to a point where first my mom, and then my dad, would not consider a different educational option for my brother and I.
We started homeschooling very tied to textbooks and a school-hour schedule, mimicking in many ways traditional school, but in the home. I had gone to kindergarten in the public school, and had my own set of expectations of what school should be like. Looking back, I can see how pressure to “succeed” and look good also affected the way we schooled.
When I was 11, the Lord got a hold of Mom’s heart in a fresh way and things began to change drastically. She realized that, while she thought she’d been homeschooling us for the Lord, she’d been striving in many ways for other goals, such as academic success and for us to “get it right”—have the correct behavior, say the right things, etc. As she began basking in Christ’s unmerited love more and more, our focus in school began to switch. We still did the academics, but the focus shifted more and more to seeing and worshiping Christ. (Parents, know that your heart and attitudes trickle down to your children! As Mom’s priorities changed, we definitely felt the difference.)
Our homeschool looked very different each year, and was often a mix of many different methods all at once. Mom never focused on identifying a “style” or “method,” but rather on listening to the Lord and seeing what would or would not work for each of us. For my brother, she let him do his schoolwork while wiggling or hiding under the table when needed to release his boyhood energy—with a run around the yard thrown in here and there for good measure. At the time, I could not understand why my brother was allowed to wiggle—and why Mom didn’t stress the same things with him that she did with me. I can see it now—and am grateful she dealt with us as individuals and sought the Lord for how to communicate to each one of us.
We often had a move mixed into our school curriculum for the year, which made things rather interesting. Sometimes moving meant homeschooling in the summer—or in the car. We learned a lot of priceless life lessons from the moves themselves that books could never have taught us. We came to realize that those moves, though apparent “interruptions,” were really part of God’s lesson plans. I look back on each one as a precious “school” of God’s choosing. His plans are much better than our own!
Our homeschooling was not always clear sailing. There were hard days—days I decided to cry for three hours over reading a chapter or learning my spelling words. There were rebellious seasons where I set out to test my mom or to convince her she wanted to send me to school. There was a time I told my mom I wanted nothing to do with the Lord. There were days where our family interactions were—uh—less than ideal. There were years where my dad did not know the Lord and was pulling a different direction. But the Lord faithfully led and worked through it all! I’m so grateful my mom chose to keep following Him and obeying Him even during those periods where it wasn’t popular with me. I needed her to make me do those spelling words or read that chapter to learn submission to authority. It made for a hard day, but much more was at stake than a spelling lesson. My mom and I are now very close and have a wonderful relationship we never could have had if she hadn’t been faithful to the Lord even when I did my best to make it difficult.
When I graduated in 2003, I really didn’t know what the Lord had next for me. I pursued a few avenues and watched the Lord solidly close some doors and open others. I ended up teaching piano for a few years while starting Christian Perspective, an online ministry to homeschool families. I’ve since written two books on teaching math from a biblical worldview, as well as several holiday devotionals. I currently live at home with my parents and brother; work for my state homeschool organization, HEAV, out of the home; and continue to write and operate www.christianperspective.net.
Grateful in So Many Ways
I look back on my homeschool years with gratitude. We didn’t do everything perfectly at all—but the Lord works through even our imperfections to mold and shape us. I’m sure if the Lord blessed me with a family and the opportunity to homeschool, there are things I would do differently—after all, we did things differently every year. My hope and prayer would be that I would seek the Lord for direction and for His grace, for only He knows perfectly each child’s needs.
One of the things I appreciated about homeschooling was how it allowed us to learn to learn rather than just to be spoon fed information. Because Mom didn’t know all the material cold, we got to learn alongside her! This did so much toward teaching us the skill of acquiring information—and of running to the Lord and seeking His wisdom. I will never forget watching Mom bow her head over one English lesson and ask the Lord to help me understand because she didn’t know the answer. We opened our eyes, and I understood. God had faithfully taught me what I needed to know. I watched Him do this over and over again—not always instantly in such a direct way, but in one way or another.
When the Lord led me to start a business to encourage homeschoolers and write a book, I had no idea how to start a business, develop a website, or write a book. But I knew how to learn—and I knew that if God called me to something, He would show me and help me each step. God had used homeschooling to prepare me for life by teaching me to learn and, above all, to run to the Source of all knowledge.
Through homeschooling, I also learned to develop the one relationship out of which all the others flow—my relationship with the Lord—as well as relationships with my family members. Because we spent a lot of time together, our family had lots of practice getting to work out differences and struggles—all important, real-life social skills. Because we went with mom to different appointments and had the time to talk with her about different relationships we developed with others, we got trained in relating to others of all ages by our mom rather than our peers.
The thing I’m most grateful for, though, is the spiritual foundation developed during those homeschooling years. I am so grateful that my mom didn’t just teach us the academic or social skills, but that she sought to base our understanding of everything on God’s Word. I’m grateful I got to watch her struggle and be real before Him, showing us His faithfulness and putting our hands in His. It is these eternal lessons, not the facts and dates, that I carry with me every day.
If I could only say one thing to parents, it would be to focus on Christ in everything—to seek Him at every turn. He is the One who knows perfectly what you and your children need—and knowing Him is, above all else, what really matters.
“Seek the LORD, and his strength: seek his face evermore.” (Psalm 105:4)
Our Ask the Grad question comes from Jenny in Michigan, who asks:
While you were homeschooled, what was the worst thing? And now that you look back, what is the worst thing?
I had to think on this question, as nothing came instantly to mind as being bad, let alone “worst.” If you had asked me as a child, my answer would probably have depended on the year and my own mood. During periods of rebellion, I’m sure I would have told you the worst thing was being home all day with my family or being told what to do…other times I might have answered “spelling!”
Overall, though, I think what I struggled with most was not having as much structure to my day as I thought I wanted. Don’t get me wrong—my mom was very organized and we did have structure (my brother would have said we had too much structure). I just sometimes felt frustrated by not having a set time, deadline, and plan for everything.
I’m glad now I didn’t have the structure I thought I wanted, as it taught me to take responsibility for structuring my own days, something I’ve found invaluable as a self-employed individual. It also helped me learn time management and a bit of flexibility—life doesn’t always fit our plans.
Looking back, I’d say the worst thing would be time I wasted—those days or years I viewed school as something to be survived instead of doing it with all my heart as unto the Lord. There are subjects I wish I had paid closer attention to rather than merely checking the box.
Want to know more about Katherine Loop and Christian Perspectives? Contact her by email or visit the online store to browse homeschool items. This week only, download Short and Sweet II, an e-book of short read-aloud stories Katherine wrote, for free! Visit www.christianperspective.net/temporary/hsblog10.html for the download! Then, take 10% off any order with coupon code HSBG10 (valid through Tuesday, October 12).