several other homeschooling moms
within an article":
Do I Begin
a Lifestyle of Learning
Child who is Half-way
section is about
half-way down the page!)
you are considering homeschooling a high schooler starting
"midstream," you are
probably in at least a little bit of turmoil right now. This page
is packed with a lot of encouragement, inspiration, and practical
help! I hope that if you are in this boat, you will thoroughly
read everything on this page before making another move or
spending another dime as what's presented here is going to be life-changing,
pivotal, and foundational for you. How do you spell
NOTE: Everything written by me (Barb) has the
next to it; everything written by
is inside a text box with a seed packet
am occasionally contacted by homeschool moms wanting to take their child
out of high school "midstream." They are almost invariably
"desperate, in panic, overwhelmed!!!!" ~ which actually happens
to be the exact title of an email I recently received. Because I know
many others are in similar shoes, I want to first share an excerpt from her email, and then my response, in hopes that it will be of encouragement to others needing to hear the same thing... (I have slightly changed a few things to protect her privacy and to make it make more
sense to you.)
I am so discouraged. I am in panic too because I have
middle school and
high school children, and I am losing time. I can't afford a trial and error program. Your book
Form+U+la, which I have learned about today in the internet, seems to tell me that I am too late to read it because I haven't read it 2 or 3 years earlier before I started homeschooling. I would like to change my whole approach to homeschooling, but am I too late? Please tell me what to do from
the place this mom probably got the idea she is too late was from a
multi-authored article here at my website called When to Read
Form+U+la? That is for those with younger children wanting to
know when it would most benefit them to start reading Form+U+la; but
it doesn't mean that mid-high-school is too late!
to speak to this mom, and anyone else in her shoes... My heart goes out to you. I pray this will be a time during which you'll draw close to the Lord like never before. Not that you haven't! Just that I think this is what "going from glory to glory" is about.
(It only gets better!)
... And I pray, too, that you'll receive comfort, direction and practical steps to take. You are in a very good place already!
My advice to you as we begin to delve
into this first, relax, take a deep breath. Be still and know that God is God, and that He has a perfect plan for you...
And He will take you from right where you're at!!! If your life is
not yet in His hands, that is where you will need to start, as this is not
a "do it yourself" approach.
My book is not going to be a program that either works or doesn't work; it's going to help you focus on what GOD wants you to focus on. It would have greatly behooved you to have read it even five years ago; but you didn't, and so God is going to help you right where you're at, and take you from here. It is NOT too late; it's just going to take a lot more focusing and undoing is all. Get the book ~ the latest edition, not one with the gold and black cover; the one with the pictures of our family on the cover ~ and start reading it from cover to cover, and then start over again. There is a jumpstart plan you can use with your kids at the beginning of it, right before the first chapter. That will help you help them get going on a "lite" plan that will not be overwhelming.
In the time before the book arrives I suggest you get your kids occupied, the fix yourself a nice pot of your favorite beverage, set yourself down at your computer, and PLANT yourself at my Homeschool Oasis. If it's pretty much all you do for the next four days, it will be WELL worth your time!!!!!
I have spent many many hours creating for people EXACTLY in your shoes. There is
much to think about and consider where you're at; it can feel very overwhelming. But just keep pressing into God as you continue reading. He WILL show you the way through this. If you come to an article (at the Article Chart, which is where you'll want to spend a good portion of your time) that's just not making
sense, skip on to the next one, but consider coming back to it later, as it will probably make more sense at another time. Maybe even print out the Article Chart and check off articles as you go. There will be very FEW that will
not apply to you, but some will be more helpful now than later, and visa versa.
"Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him to act." God is wanting to pour out abundant GRACE on you right now. Let Him minister to your heart. My
pastor recently spoke on "Being Desperate." The BEST place we can possibly be is DESPERATE. If we are not desperate, God does not have free reign to move and work and redeem. That's all you need right now ~ for God to REDEEM. You have already made it to the starting line, where many never even get! They just float along, oblivious to the fact that God has something better for them.
One gal who wrote to me had a good way of putting it ~ that it's not another program, but something very different...
"Thank you so much for your courage in presenting a message which seems so
eccentric to the masses who have been deceived for so long. God has laid it on my heart to pray for you on a regular basis. I believe He has chosen you and Marilyn (Howshall) to draw families back to Himself. Your vision for the generations is one of the things God had been showing my husband and me over the last few years. It is so exciting to see that God is working in many ways to get that message out to His people. Your ministry carries with it such huge responsibility. As I was teaching my little group of 10 or 11 moms, it was almost frightening to realize they were actually listening to me and would very likely change their methods of education based on what I said. I became very aware of how important it is to stay close to the Lord, so that it is His message and not my own that is going out. Your writings are such an encouragement in that area. Always pointing me to God and His ways not just to some new educational philosophy."
And here's what another dear homeschool mom (Twila) recently wrote to me.
She, too, is in the same shoes.
"The Lord began my undoing about
five years ago. It has taken every bit of that time to do an un-religion work on me and now it looks like He is beginning an un-schooling project on me. It is all truly a paradigm shift in my way of thinking, but brings joy and peace. I have a 16 and a 12-year-old. There
have been many tears and much conflict in my efforts to school at home the last 5 years. That small still Voice has tried to tell me to do things differently but I just didn't get it."
Back to me (Barb) talking to the
Senior High Form+U+la List... I think the reason she thought it was too late was because of this article at my website called
"When to Read Form+U+la."
I don't think it's ever too late; it just may take a lot more to redeem a situation. The more hardened a heart, the longer it may take to soften it. The more bad fruit in a life, the more cleaning up and cleaning out will be needed. The more off-target our thinking, the more it will take to get it set aright. But I don't think it's ever too late, until your children leave home.
I want to share a letter from Donna Heck, my Senior High Form+U+la list
shepherdess and online secretary. (She had been sharing much wisdom and
experience from her heart for a couple of years, so I finally nabbed her
and gave her a couple of official titles!
answered the question
"Is it too late to start?"
to one who was asking it on the list, but if you are asking the same
question, her answer is directed to you too!
You were wondering if by beginning this late in
school (age 16) you will be able to complete the requirements and graduate on
time. Part of this question/answer will change as you read Form+U+la and
you come to realize whose "requirements" you are questioning. But let me
say this; my older son came home to homeschool at the same age as your son. He is
ADD and was being passed simply based on his age ~ not his ability. The
years we homeschooled him were the best years of his school life!
(Those were HIS words!)
only did the Lord equip him with the knowledge that He wanted for my son,
but we had the most wonderful discussions and time together! I saw his
anger and frustrations drain away. He had absolutely NO self-esteem when
he left public school and that began to come back as we spent time together.
Here was a boy that felt he could NEVER go to college... but he did!
So, is it too late? Well, I guess that depends on what you're measuring
against. God "redeemed" the wasted years in my son and gave him so much
more than we ever dreamed he could achieve! I hope you will choose this
up next is the response I received from another homeschooling mom when I
asked on the Senior High Form+U+la List if anyone had any experiences with
taking a child out of public school part way through. This gal,
Sheilah, welcomes email from anyone in a similar situation who would like
to talk to someone who's "been there done that". Having
started homeschooling our kids when they were 4 and 5 years old, I don't
have this experience. I can encourage, but I can't help as one who
has done it and knows what's it's like from the inside.
In response to taking a "mid high-schooler" out of public school, I can only
see great results from my situation. My 17-year-old son got into a little trouble
at public school and I had already taken my daughter out for the same reason
four months prior to this. I was "told" that I couldn't take him out at that
point, but I was so desperate to rescue him from the school, his "so called
friends" and other outside influences, that I listened instead to God. I
really figured if all else failed, he could at least get his GED. I didn't
opt to go that route, as I wanted him at home to finish his high school. I
also wanted to take advantage of the dual enrollment program at the local
community college. I signed him up for the next semester and he started
with just one class. I knew (or felt very strongly) that he would not have
chosen to go to college or make much of his education or training if he
continued on the route he was taking while attending public schools. He
finished his first college course with a 93 average, Praise God! He is so
awesome to help us in our time of need! My son does pretty well with his
homeschool work, but he is like every other boy who has to be reminded of
what is expected.
Most of all, I see "good fruit" in him because we have more time together as
a family, we can talk much more, the "bad" influences are gone, he is
getting much more training in what's most important in life, and we have
quite a bit of support at our church for homeschoolers, so he doesn't feel
alone. The Lord has brought each one of my three children home, one at a
time and I am so glad He did! He didn't overwhelm me, He gave me each day
"one step at a time".
finally, last but certainly not least, we get to the "meat 'n'
potatoes" of what I have to present to you on this topic. Not
what *I* present, actually, but I present to you what Marilyn Howshall has
to say on this. It is long. Please do not let this keep you
from reading the whole thing! Of anything on this page, this is
going to make the most impact on you ~ and be the most difficult to
receive if you are in a very different and difficult place. This is
not to in any way devalue anything else I've presented to you here! (which
includes what I myself have written!) But only to say that what's
coming next (an article within an article!) is going to make the most difference
in your life.
Howshall answers the question...
Do I Begin
a Lifestyle of Learning
Child Who is Half-way
You probably feel like you need your teenager on a crash course of some
sort, however your approach will depend entirely upon how long you think he
will remain at home. My suggestions can be applied no matter how much time
you have, but the benefit to your child will be greater if he chooses to
submit to a season of vocational preparation until he is truly ready to go
out into the world on his own. A "leave home at age 18 mentality" whether he
is ready or not will surely lend to your stress level and not allow you to
accomplish very much with him. The quality of your relationship will be the
measuring rod of how far you are both willing to go with his preparation for
For instance, a happy, contented child will not be in as much of a hurry to
get out there by a certain time unless he has definite direction that you
both agree upon. If he does not though, he should either be willing to
submit to ongoing preparation no matter how long that takes or he will end
up choosing to go his own way whether or not he has strong and acceptable
direction. If you are willing to allow your child what he truly needs, the
down or debriefing time away from superfluous academic requirements then you
will have the time to focus on the most important areas of his development.
Focusing on what is really important will redeem time.
Important Training Objective:
Self-Motivation Toward All Disciplines
Self-motivation toward learning what he needs to learn is probably your most
important training objective and should be approached immediately. This is
what I began doing with Jennifer. She has always been schooled although
never really instructed. She is basically behind in everything. I am
concerned with developing her character, heart motivations, skill quality,
etc. She also does not know what she likes to do but seems to know quite
well what she does not like! - in short she possesses the condition of
boredom in her soul.
One of the first conversations I had with her was regarding boredom,
explaining what it is, what it does, and what is and is not healthy in her
line of thinking and choice of activities. She did not like this. She
thought I was describing a dread disease she had! I told her she was right
but that it was done to her and was not her fault, but she had a choice now
to learn to overcome it. I told her that boredom is a dread disease of the
soul that will rob her of her life. It was nearly two months later when she
finally saw the truth of what I had told her and admitted she needed
discipline in her life to overcome it!
Next, I simply observed her for a few weeks to see what types of activities
she was motivated toward. This helped me to see what to further develop and
it also showed me the voids in her life. She was not motivated to do
anything and she is almost completely self-absorbed. I spoke with her about
self-motivation and how we live by grace which means that we do not always
adhere to a rigid routine but that we choose to do our disciplines at other
odd times whenever the opportunity presents itself, and that we also choose
to do more than what is required of us at times. I set up a few very basic
disciplines for her life that we could build upon once she got more adjusted
to her new lifestyle with us away from familiar school lifestyle
I found that most children in the system no matter how old they are are very
much still like children unless they have had a unique parental involvement.
Children need real responsibilities to develop life-skills, common sense,
and maturity - something lacking in today's teenagers.
I feel it necessary to get children no matter what their age to be
contributing toward the daily management of the family's needs. They need to
develop as much responsibility as can be handed to them. Boys should be
doing some form of manual labor and working with their dads in the adult
world as much as possible. The important traits of common sense,
resourcefulness, concern for another's welfare, self-initiation toward
life's responsibilities, etc., are a few of the qualities that make the
difference between children and adults.
I put Jennifer in charge of the kitchen dishes, sweeping the floor, dusting
and vacuuming so that she could contribute to chore time. This does not
sound like much but she could not do a good job with anything that was given
her. Both Kathryn and I have had to follow her around and make her redo her
work or show her how to do it right or a better way of doing something.
Training in household responsibilities will help to mature her character and
help to draw her out of her self-absorption and prepare her for working for
someone else if the need arises. She now initiates the morning routine but
still needs to learn self-motivation for the evening chores. If your child
cannot initiate household responsibilities how can he manage his life away
from home? Training for life begins in the home.
Basic Academic Skills
Next I determined Jennifer's skill level by reading a couple of letters
she had written to friends (all letters get editing attention and a copy is
made before they are sent out). It was easy to see at a glance that I would
have to back her up to third grade skill level in her writing skills as she
had been allowed to develop several bad habits all of which made it hard to
read her writing. Since she had never heard anything about God before, I put
her to copying the Psalms in cursive. At first she did not like the
continual erasing but I regularly reminded her that handwriting was not the
only thing being developed during this activity. Her character was being
challenged to pay careful attention to detail for the first time in her
life. She eventually enjoyed it and initiated this activity on her own.
Three months along and she was initiating helping her little brother to copy
the Psalms and teaching him how to memorize them as well!
I am now using the copies we made of past letters to show her how to
structure her thought and break it into paragraphs. (She had never been
taught this; her letters are one long paragraph with confusing, mixed-topic,
sentences, yet she is fifteen and has never been set back a grade in
Next, I backed her up a bit in math as I determined that she had been pushed
through assignments too fast and really did not know what she was doing.
She, at the age of fifteen, still did not know how to arrange numbers in a
column, yet she was made to do fractions and complex seven-step word
problems where she had to work problems on scratch paper (in columns!) to
come up with the answer. Basic skills were not learned well enough for her
to be doing that kind of math! She also could not address an envelope! How
do I know? Five letters she sent out the first two weeks after she was here
came back undeliverable. She had made mistakes in addressing and the
mistakes were not even consistent with each other. She really did not know
how to address an
envelope nor even understand the components of an address. We are learning
that she also does not know how to listen to instructions. We have had to
repeat and redo many things including projects, chores, and table-time. Is
she ready to go out and support herself or run her own household? Ask these
questions of your own child and you will know which disciplines on which to
spend your time and energy.
So, the guiding rule of thumb I believe when attempting to redeem some time
and equip practically for life would be to determine what immediate basic
skills need to be polished up and refined before adding to them. If the child begins to enjoy improving her skill with regular household activities
and basic table-time work then a desire may be growing in her heart to learn
something new that springs from an interest deep within her, such as
singing, writing a song, playing a piano, etc.
Next get the child reading as many good books as there seems to be time for.
Jennifer's soul condition hindered her from embracing any reading time on
her own except for the trash she had brought with her. I shared with her how
would be having her read lots of good books that would educate her mind and
her spirit and that I would be having her keep a record of books read. She
was not thrilled. I made her read for thirty minutes a day at first. After
about two months and several more "mildly intense moments of fellowship"
with her she began and is still choosing today to read for larger blocks of
time on a daily basis. I had told her that with the lack of proper
education, correct thinking and void of truth in her life up until now, that
she could not read too much at this season of her life. After three months,
she has read several books now including the set of six books by Hannah
Hurnard, Hind's feet on High Places. I recently just gave her the record
book I wanted her to begin using to document all the books she was reading,
and she received it with a joyful spirit and even a little eagerness to do
the required recording.
In conversations I have had with Jennifer, I helped her to see her life on
paper in four divisions to show her how off balance it was and in what are
as I wanted her to spend her time. The four areas I discussed with her are:
chores, topics of interest, productive use of topics of interest, and
diversions (moments of fun or rest). The diversions category had up to that
point received the most attention in her life as demonstrated by the
immediate gratification she seemed to need for every activity, pre-planned
event, etc. that came up and the fact that she only seemed happy at those
times and overly somber and withdrawn during times of routine disciplines
like chores, table-time and reading-time. I told her that while diversions
were a necessary part of life they would not help her develop vocational
direction, and that chores
would help her to overcome laziness and teach her a work ethic and
responsibility. I encouraged her to be thinking about an animal she might
like to own so that we could help her to care for something other than
Next I asked her to meditate on some topics that might interest her and
helped her to see how I would be directing her interests toward possible
vocational application. I conveyed the importance of spending most of her
time in this area of developing interests and gave her examples from
Kathryn's and John's lives as to how the interests can be more fully
developed, thus developing both her learning ability and vocational
direction as well. This will be some time in unfolding in Jennifer's life
because of her lack of education. She still needs a few years of heart and
character training and routine disciplines.
Your child may already have some of the correct tools in place in his life
which will make it possible to move ahead at a faster pace. All children are
different, go with the peculiar needs of your child and most importantly,
emphasize your relationship with him and his with God. Without teachableness
you will not accomplish a thing! Jennifer is teachable and even though she
has a lot of worldly ideas in her head now, because she is developing a
heart-to-heart relationship with God, I know that there is a lot of hope for
the needed changes and at this time I believe she will allow herself to stay
with us as long as it may take for her growth to catch up to where it needs
to be before "leaving home."
Copyright 1999 by Marilyn Howshall
where to start at this point? This totally depends on where you're
at right now, whether or not your child is already out of school, how
imperative it is that they get out now (if still in), and what your most
immediate needs are. Since I don't know your specific situation, the
"one-size-probably-doesn't-really-fit-all" answer I'd give would
be to start by getting Form+U+la (the latest edition, with the
pictures of our family on the cover; that's the only "latest
edition.") The very first chapter of that has a "Jumpstart
Plan" that you can get your student going on today! That
will get your student occupied ~ without spending a mint on curriculum ~
and free you up to start getting some vision and understanding. I highly
suggest you not buy any curriculum until you have read Form+U+la from
cover to cover! You will save yourself a wad of money!
Just start at the beginning of Form+U+la and read all the way
through, not skipping a single thing. Pray as you go and let things sink
in. Don't allow the enemy to get you off-track with making you feel like
this book is a bunch of stuff to do! Form+U+la is not "one more thing to do" ~
which you do NOT need! It frees you up to HEAR GOD for your own
family!!! Here's what one homeschool mom said:
"This is the re-education in my thinking that had to take root to
relieve the "pressure of doing it all." Even though it took several
years (I'm a slow learner...it didn't have anything to do with the way Barb communicated it), realizing that Form+U+la is not
"one more thing to do" made all the difference in my attitude towards high school and what we were trying to accomplish
in these last years of homeschooling. It was freeing for us and I pray that those who read Barb's material will see that up front!
do realize, I hope, that home education is more about the parents than it is the kid. Kids, yes; but what's going on in the mind of the ONE bus driver is going to impact the entire busload of people.
So it is vital and non-optional that your focus start with renewing
your own heart and mind!!!
jumpstart plan isn't all your high schooler needs! He needs a
new mindset too! (And, by the way, "he" covers both guys
and gals!) Coming out of the system is one thing ~ and a very good
thing! But getting the system out of your student (along with you)
is just as important! Intersperse your own reading with talking with
your child about the changes taking place in you and the new ideas you are
learning, which will help the needed changes start coming about in your
child's thinking. Otherwise you'll just end up falling into the
"school at home" trap! And, believe me ~ and hundreds who
have walked that path and "crashed and burned" ~ it is a hard
path to get OUT of!
your child's walk with the Lord as the focal and motivating point. Does he love the Lord?
If not, that's where you need to start, by lovingly bringing him to the
Lord. If he already does, then he's going to want to follow
God and seek His way. You, as the parent, have been placed over him for this season of his life for a reason
~ a GOOD reason. Be assured that what you are feeling in your heart did NOT come from the world, but from God.
Talk about what he wants in life and how he thinks he's going to get there. I'm not just talking about "submission to parental authority"
here. This is important, but you want to engage is HEART AND MIND; not just "righteousness."
God will honor that, but your child needs to be discipled and gain understanding, not just walk in what he feels he wants. I don't remember if you've read
Wisdom's Way of Learning but that, along with just about ALL of
Marilyn's other books will help you tremendously in gaining the
understanding and vision you need at this point. "Without a vision,
the people [homeschoolers] perish."
You might also have your child read our daughter, Sharnessa's Letter of Encouragement from Sharnessa at my website.
She wrote it to a boy who did NOT want to homeschool anymore.
first and foremost, seek God and His perfect will for you and your
student! He has a plan for
not only your life, but for
to homeschool and make the most of these precious
years! He will
redeem "the years that the locust has eaten" ~ but only if you let
Him, and let Him lead you! We
don't get to do it "our way" and expect to have God's blessings
and peace. And that goes for the education of our children as much
as ~ if not more than ~ anything!
to get back to the original question... "Is mid-high school too
late to start homeschooling?" ... My final answer is: It
depends a great deal on how teachable your student is, but probably even more
on how teachable YOU are!