Monday, July 5, 2010

Missionary Monday - Homeschooling

A very popular quote when you are in the ministry is "Family first," and we are 100% in agreement. Part of my job of putting my family first is making sure my children get the very best education possible. I graduated from college as an elementary education major, so teaching is one of my passions.

I never want my children to feel like they "missed out" by being missionary kids, so keeping school interesting is a fun challenge I face (which is why we were planting seeds in cups to place in the windowsill before bed tonight!). Of course, the biggie they miss out on is the classroom setting and being among others their age. This must be one of the reasons so many homeschooling missionary families choose to have large families {smile}!

Davey - 3rd grade

However, think of all of the benefits of being a homeschooling missionary family:

1. Learning more than one language and culture
2. Living in circumstances most people only get to read about
3. Geography, geography, geography... what a cinch it will be for my kids! I mean, can you point right at Ukraine on a world map?! Have you traveled through nearly half of the United States (like we have on deputation or furlough)?! And how about all of the European countries we have had layovers in or have been to because of document needs?

We are planning a furlough from October to March... 5 1/2 months... for the birth of our baby. So, guess what my kids are doing this summer? You got it... homeschooling! One of the advantages to homeschooling is flexibility, and we love being able to make it work for our family's needs. I do prefer to keep them ahead, though, and not behind, so they are already working on the 2010/2011 school year.

Nate - 1st grade

We use the A Beka DVD homeschooling program from Pensacola, Florida. This program is excellent, and I cannot recommend it highly enough. And, I cannot recommend the DVDs highly enough either. The advantage of the DVDs is that my children feel like they are in a classroom setting, and there is so much more that they are able to learn than if they used the books alone. I feel like they get twice as much of an education with the DVDs.

Homeschooling (with DVDs) takes us about 5 hours a day (more/less with each child). This does not include breaks. Our school day usually goes from about 7:30am-12:30pm.

A Beka is a relatively expensive program, but this Christian program gives missionaries a break. We are able to buy our DVDs and keep them for our other children. Everyone else is required to send the DVDs back. This has been an immense help in allowing us to use the program from year to year, and we are grateful.

Brianna - K-4

For this current school year, a supporting church sponsored our children by buying their school books and the set of DVDs we needed for our oldest. We have never had anyone do this for us before, and I literally cried over the telephone when hubby called to share the good news! Thank you, thank you, thank you! (You know who you are)!

For some missionaries, the option of a Christian school is available. We do not have this option. Some mission fields (like Germany) do not allow homeschooling. And, some missionaries choose to put their children in the public schools of their field. We actually did this when our boys were in preschool. While they were still small and their minds were able to clearly soak in a second language, we chose to send them to a public preschool for half a day (we picked them up after lunch time). I will never regret making that decision. It was a sweet time in our lives, and our boys have wonderful memories (and better Russian skills) because of that phase. We all learned invaluable lessons about the culture here, and our boys were able to be a part of a "real class."

Yes, homeschooling keeps me busy because I check every paper with an eagle eye and frequently walk from room to room to supervise (I prefer having the children in separate rooms)... but I would have it no other way! My kids are receiving an outstanding education, and I am thrilled about that!


  1. I enjoyed reading your blog post. We also homeschool our four children.

    Let me share some words of encouragement: One of the strengths of homeschooling is monitoring which peers your children are "hanging out" with. This is not possible sending children to a public school. Endless troubles have been had even among Christian families when their children hang out with the "wrong crowd" or are bullied or emotionally abused by their peers.

    Others may claim that it isn't good to shelter a child from the world. I claim the opposite. I protect seedlings in the garden until they are mature enough to stand and thrive on their own. How much more precious are our children?

    An even bigger issue which cannot be addressed in public schools in most countries is character development. I rank this higher than academics. A Godly character will benefit a person much more in the long run than any academic accomplishments. A wise homeschooling family puts character development high on the priority scale.

    Rejoice in your homeschooling adventures! Our homeschooling is already reaping great benefits, and our oldest just turned 14.

    My sincere gratitude goes out to my wife without whom homeschooling would not be possible. Her daily sacrifices reap huge dividends in the lives of our children. I rejoice that others are doing the same!

  2. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Bohdan. I was homeschooled the last few years of high school and have now homeschooled 14 years. I have 2 girls doing great in Bible College and a 16 year old son that would go to work on the mission field with his Uncle James now if we let him.

  3. I agree with you, Jolene on the DVDs. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them and my girls LOVE the feeling of being in a classroom setting!

  4. Dear David and Jolene,

    We sure do enjoy your letters and updates. We have had our computer down for a while and are catching up on all the news. I love the school pictures. How fun. Jolene, you do make life so special for your children and husband in so many ways. I am proud of you. You are an example wife and mother. Keep up the good work. I know that you have so many watching you.

    God bless you and keep you. Love you all. The Benefields

  5. I enjoyed your home-school post! I loved the pictures. Is it possible that BABY Brianna is ready to start school? I can't believe it!!!!! Please pray for us...we are really seriously considering using DVD for Little Andrew for his 2nd grade. It think it will be a lot of fun.

    Have a great evening!


  6. We want to use the Abeka dvds this coming year. We plan to leave for the field in Sept. About how much did shipping to the Ukraine cost? Were you charged a tax or duty by the government when they arrived? Thank you so much, Beth

  7. Hi Jolene,

    It is so great to see the pictures of the kids. I love seeing them, but it amazes me how big they are getting. Are you ready for little one again? :)

    I just wanted to let you, and all the other homeschool parents, know that it is worth ALL the effort. I am a proud product of A Beka homeschool (1-12) and each day makes me more thankful for the education I was blessed to receive (Thanks mom and dad. You are both wonderful!). There is an excellence, richness of knowledge, and balance that the curriculum instills which carries far into your adult life.

    My social skills never suffered either:) In fact, I believe that homeschooling is helpful for more diverse social interaction because you grow up interacting with people younger and older than yourself instead of always being grouped with peers.

    So all that to say, "Go Jolene Go"!!! Your children will "arise and call you blessed" one day, and they will be wiser, sharper arrows for His glory.

    Hugs from Cali,
    Katie V.

  8. How wonderful...I still remember when you came to Querétaro and were so excited about Davey's dvds. We, too, are doing the dvds...Steven is starting 3rd grade, Abigail is starting 2nd grade and Elisabeth is starting K5. They grow so fast, don't they? Love you! ~Ruthie

  9. I taught this A Beka DVD program for 10 years. I like it a lot. :)

  10. Eric and I both read your blog quite often and always come away encouraged and more mindful of your work in the Ukraine. I especially appreciated your post about homeschooling as I am in the middle of trying to make some decisions about what we will be doing in that area starting this fall. Thank you for your insight and perspective.

    Take care and be sure to tell David "hello." We love you and appreciate you.

    Praying for you always,
    In God's hands,

  11. Loved reading your blog! Especially enjoyed your heart for the mission field. We also homeschooled (six kids). You can encourage others to pray for missionaries by posting the prayer request below to your blog's side panel.

    Many, many blessings!
    A Mom


Thank you for your encouraging comments! "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country." Proverbs 25:25