It is an honor to feature homeschool graduate, author, speaker, and homeschooling father Israel Wayne on this week’s “Ask the Grad.” He shares with us what it was like homeschooling in the movement’s early years, how his single mother taught him and his siblings at home, and why home education means more to him than academics. Be sure to check out the free sample at the end!
Ask the Grad – Israel Wayne
My mother began homeschooling my older sister in 1978. I jokingly say that homeschooling hadn’t even been invented back then! My older sister had endured about a month in a government-run kindergarten and she was complaining about her stomach hurting all the time. She hated going to school. To make a long story short, my mother eventually decided to pull her out of school, which she quickly found out was in violation of our state’s compulsory attendance laws. We ended up in court facing truancy charges. Through the sovereign intervention of God, the case was dropped and my mother continued to homeschool my sister, and then later, myself.
At first, homeschooling was not something my mother was doing for religious reasons. It was simply a reaction to a bad teacher in a bad school system. I think that is true for many parents who are home educating. Over time, however, our family began to learn about God’s purposes in family discipleship. In 1988, my mother began publishing the Home School Digest magazine, which has been serving homeschooling families ever since.
Conviction or Preference?
When you grow up in a home where your mother is the editor / publisher of a national homeschooling magazine, it is assumed by most that you are going to be sold on homeschooling yourself. However, while I appreciated being homeschooled personally, I didn’t really view home education as a conviction until my mother challenged me, as a young teenager, to seek out what the Bible taught on education. In a conversation one day I had told her that I thought that all forms of education: Public, Private and Home Education were all equal and valid. She told me that if I could show her one verse in Scripture that indicated that God had ever intended for the education of children to be delegated to the government that she would stop publishing her magazine and would let me go to public school.
I didn’t really want to go to public school, but at that stage in life I always enjoyed attempting to show my mother that she was wrong! I studied every verse in the Bible that had anything to do with parenting, child training, and education. I even looked them up in the original Hebrew and Greek. By the end of my study, I was a converted skeptic on the issue. From that point, over 20 years ago, I have gone from being rather neutral and ambivalent about homeschooling, to becoming one of the biggest proponents of home education that I know. My research and Biblical study helped form the foundation for my book entitled, Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview.
Homeschooled by a Single Parent
One thing that made my home education experience unique was the fact that for most of my teen years (and my younger sisters’ elementary and secondary years), my mother was homeschooling myself and my five sisters as a single parent. One of the most common objections that I hear against homeschooling is, “Well, homeschooling isn’t for everyone. What if you are a single parent? What then?” While it is true that some single parents may not be able to homeschool, at least not immediately, my mother was absolutely convinced that God had given her the responsibility of teaching and training her own children. Since sending us to a government school was simply not an option for her, she believed that God would provide a way for her to stay at home and teach us herself.
She used to say, “God will never call you to a task and then not equip you with the means to be able to fulfill it.” My mother had many obstacles to keep her from being able to homeschool her children. Ever since I was young she suffered from many various (life-threatening) health issues. She never graduated from high school (she dropped out in the 9th grade), had no job skills or work experience, was dyslexic, and had no support from friends, family or church. In the early days, she couldn’t even find curriculum companies who would sell to her. There were no homeschooling magazines, conferences, legal defense associations, support groups, etc. The thing that motivated her was the fact that she was convinced that teaching her own children was something that God required of her.
Because of her faith and obedience, she was able to successfully homeschool her six children, and found Wisdom’s Gate, an international publishing ministry that has helped to train and equip tens of thousands of homeschooling families around the world. So while I wouldn’t necessarily say, “Where there is a will there is a way,” I would say, “Where there is a living God, there is a way.” You can do what God calls you to do if you will trust and obey.
Did Homeschooling Work For Me Personally?
For me personally, homeschooling probably completely saved my life in an academic sense. I was a tough student to teach. I was a bouncing-off-the-walls ADHD kid who had no interest in formal learning whatsoever. I was also dyslexic and didn’t learn to read until I was about ten. In a classroom setting, I was always far more interested in causing a disturbance than I was studying a lesson. Home education gave me the ability to focus with minimal distraction and to learn in my own style and at my own pace. In a traditional school, I would have been one of the many students who simply falls through the cracks and gets left behind because he isn’t on the same page with everyone else. Had I been sent to a remedial education class, I would have simply given up and failed to try. So I am quite thankful for the education I received at home.
My mother’s philosophy of education was not to cram our heads full of facts and details and information. Rather, she wanted to give us the tools we needed to succeed in life. She used to say, “If you can learn how to read, learn how to reason and learn how to learn, then you will have the keys to learn everything you need to learn in life.” She knew that, especially in high school, we would be studying subjects that she herself had not learned. Not a problem from her perspective. If we knew how to read the lessons, and had the study skills and habits we needed to be able to learn, we could teach ourselves, using the curriculum as a guide.
I think this was one of the great gifts of my home education. I certainly don’t know everything there is to know, but I have a confidence that I can learn anything that I want, or need, to learn in life. I have the tools I need to succeed.
Training the Third Generation of Homeschoolers
In 1998, I met my wife, Brook. We were engaged two weeks later and were married 4 ½ months after that. Her family had begun homeschooling in 1983 as a result of hearing Dr. Raymond Moore on Focus on the Family. We have six children, all under the age of eleven, and we are, of course, homeschooling each of them.
It is so much easier to homeschool today than it was when we were growing up. In most places there isn’t an imminent threat of being arrested for truancy. There are hundreds of excellent publishers who produce thousands of wonderful books designed specifically for homeschoolers. Home education is welcomed and even applauded in many corners of our society. I am very thankful for the price that was paid by the previous generation who paved the way when it was difficult and arduous.
Our children have many great advantages that we did not have. Our goal is to help launch our children farther than we have been able to go, spiritually, emotionally, physically and culturally.
Since 1993, I have served as Marketing Director for Wisdom’s Gate, the publishing
company founded by my mother. I purposefully decided NOT to attend college because I didn’t need it for the career I had chosen. I felt that it would be a waste of money and precious years of time. As a result, I was able to begin marriage with six years of business experience and no debt. This has been a blessing to our marriage and I have never regretted the decision to skip formal higher education.
I am a published author and speak at conferences and seminars around the world. It has been a great adventure and I have been given many phenomenal opportunities, including being featured on national TV and radio networks, periodicals like TIME Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, and much more. It is a blessing to have an opportunity to give back to the home education movement, from which I have personally benefited so greatly.
Many people have a perception of homeschoolers that we will not be able to communicate well or relate well to others. My entire career has been spent communicating and interacting with people in the “real world.” I believe that far from being a hindrance, home education helped me to be able to relate to people across a broad spectrum of ages and backgrounds, rather than traditional schooling that teaches you to interact almost exclusively with people your own age.
Homeschooling has become far more than an educational alternative for me and my family. It has become a way of life. It is a commitment to continue learning throughout all of life. It is a means for being able to pass on our beliefs, our convictions and our values to our children. It is a way for us to share our lives with them, giving them the best of our time and attention.
I know of no better way to equip them for the future than to personally invest in training their hearts and minds to know, love and serve God, and to love and serve other people. All of the academic training they are receiving is ultimately to help them fulfill that purpose. At the end of my life, I know that I may regret many things, but I am certain that I will never regret one moment of time that I have invested in the lives of the children God has given to my wife and I. It is the highest calling that I have received.
Israel Wayne is a homeschooled graduate and father of six. He is the author of the book Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview. Israel is a regular columnist for Home School Digest and Brush Arbor Quarterly, published by Wisdom’s Gate (www.WisdomsGate.org), where he currently serves as the Marketing Director. He is also the site editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net.
To order a copy of Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview, visit this link: http://www.wisdomsgate.org/homeschoolingfromabiblicalworldview.html
To receive a free sample issue of the Home School Digest ($5.00 retail value), go here: http://homeschooldigest.com/hsdsample.htm and enter Promo Code: HSGRAD .