real encouragement for real homeschooling moms

discovering the old paths of home education: bringing back Raymond and Dorothy Moore


“Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.” ~ Jeremiah 6:16

My first real introduction to homeschooling came one morning nearly 28 years ago when I stood in my kitchen mixing up a batch of cookies and listening to Dr. Dobson on the radio. Had I known then, as I was listening to him interviewing Dr. Raymond Moore about the value of teaching your children at home, what was ahead for me, I might have been overwhelmed. As it was, I remember thinking “This is a great idea. I hope someone does it.” But the hidden longing in my heart to teach my own children had been touched that day.

Dr. Moore was sharing the findings of his early childhood education research on this particular broadcast and what he said made complete sense to me. I had spent enough hours in both teacher education courses and substitute teaching in any number of schools to understand on a very real level all he was saying.

The most successful classrooms I had seen were a puzzle to me because they were made to look like someone’s home with cozy couches and stacks of “real” books for browsing when the “real” curriculum had been completed. Tables were full of art supplies and amazing treasures from nature lined window ledges, though taking turns to enjoy these things with a classroom full of children meant a lot of standing-in-line time for most of the kids. It didn’t take much convincing that hands-on learning would be simpler and more effective with 2 or 3 children than with 30.

I also personally understood the truth Dr. Moore was sharing that morning about readiness for school and delaying formal instruction for children, especially for boys.

Let me share my own story.

Clayton, my four year old, was a bright and witty little boy, more interested in He-Man action figures than connecting the dots on endless kindergarten paperwork.

During the spring Kindergarten Round-up, the preschool screening program in our public school district, the evaluators had encouraged me to place Clayton in kindergarten that fall, though he would not have his 5th birthday until mid November. The cut-off birth date for admittance was December 1 at that time and I was hesitant, in part because I was enjoying him so much at home. I also knew that he was more interested in playing than in seat work unlike his older sister had been when she went to school two years earlier.

Those first weeks of the school year, I watched as the little boy who had been so full of energy and curiosity that summer, would drag his dinosaur book bag behind him when he got off the bus at noon, exhausted and unmotivated. He hated school and hated learning. He had even lost his appetite. I knew in my heart of hearts that he should be home with me, that he was too young to spend sunshiny mornings at a little desk, drawing silly circles and listening to stories that I could easily have been reading to him. But I listened to the experts; I was just a mom.

Then in mid-October, I received a phone call from the teacher. She asked us to come to a conference where she outlined all the reasons she felt that Clayton should be taken out of kindergarten until the following year. On one hand, I was greatly relieved. My gut feelings had been validated. Maybe a mother knows something after all. But I also felt a sense of failure. Had my child, my smart, extremely articulate child who talked in complete paragraphs at 18 months of age, flunked out of school?

Mother guilt set in and I labored over a decision given to us to make. My only thought was “How can I least scar this boy for life?” We brought him home at the end of that week, accompanied by stacks of “remedial” mimeographed papers from the teacher, which, as I recall ,made great paper airplanes. He instantly became his delightful self, running and leaping through the yard with his younger brother close behind. He chatted to me nonstop about the squirrels he could see in the trees outside his bedroom window and he ate three tacos for supper that night! For Clayton, life was once again good.

I had learned a very valuable lesson. Mothers are the best students of their own children. It took me three more years before I would realize that mothers are also the best teachers of their own children.

This week I began the first of several podcasts featuring Ellen Dana who worked closely with Raymond and Dorothy Moore during the early years of modern homeschooling. As their assistant and a specialist in reading and speech pathology, as well as both being homeschooled and homeschooling her own children, Ellen is a wealth of information and encouragement to moms. She currently works with the Moore Academy and I would encourage you to check out what they have to offer.

Following the podcasts with Ellen, I will also spend several weeks talking with Kathie Kordenbrock who is the daughter of Raymond and Dorothy Moore and a long-time homeschool mom herself.

I am hoping that this series of podcasts will help take us back to the heart of homeschooling and will help us sort through the many aspects of relationship homeschooling that seem to have fallen by the wayside within much of the popular homeschooling culture. Please join me as we travel some of the old paths and think about what it really means to disciple and teach our own children.


1 Comment»

  amanda wrote @

I enjoyed the podcast and am looking forward to the others in the future.

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