An interview with Jessie Strawser
Tell us a little about yourself and your children. How long have you been homeschooling?
My husband Todd and I have seven children, ranging in ages 2 to 14. We’ve been home educating from the beginning! We believe that “schooling” starts at birth, not at a predetermined age.
What first inspired you to start homeschooling? Has that changed at all through the years?
We started homeschooling because we felt it was best for our military lifestyle at the time. We were moving about every 18 months, and it just seemed to us that keeping schoolwork consistent would best be done by homeschooling. We knew a few families who were homeschooling, so I had knowledge of what homeschooling was. I didn’t really know much else about it. It seemed fun, and I thought it looked relatively easy! I was able to visit with these families, ask questions of the moms, and just observe what it meant to “homeschool.”
Over the years, the Lord has given us a completely different view of home educating. What started out as a means to an ends has become a worldview and lifestyle change for our family. We no longer educate our children at home just for educational purposes, like teaching reading and math, but it has a much deeper meaning in that we are directing and training our children in the ways of the Lord.
We firmly believe that teaching our children God’s Word is foundational to all other pursuits. Incorporating the Bible and prayer into all aspects of our schooling is not only a blessing, but we feel is the best way to fulfill what is said in Deuteronomy 6:6-9:
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
We now see this as keeping God’s Word front and center of all we do, whether that’s chores, coloring, reading, algebra, building, or baking, God’s Word is before us always. Our goals for our children are first that they fear and love the Lord and second that they serve and love others.
What things help you to keep up the momentum throughout the year?
Winter time seems to drag for everyone. Getting back into a normal routine after a long Christmas break can seem torturous to some! As is with most things, I have found that my attitude has a lot to do with the kids’ attitudes. Keeping my eyes focused on Christ, having a cheerful outlook and my arsenal full of encouraging words, can have a profound effect on my children’s attitudes.
Remembering why you are home educating and why your family has made the necessary sacrifices and changes in order to keep your kids at home should continue to motivate you.
Take time to look back, even to a few months ago, at the progress of your children, both spiritually and educationally. What growth have you seen? What new concepts were not only learned, but also caught? Focus on those things, thank God for what He has done and will continue to do. Look with expectation and hope at what He will do in the coming months as you continue to teach your children.
Do you have any suggestions for keeping children engaged and interested in learning throughout the year?
- Keeping a good schedule has helped our family. Everyone knows what is expected, when, and for how long.
- If “school” becomes much more than just “school,” checking off complete boxes, finishing workbooks, etc., then the desire to learn will be there. Reading good books about real people in the past, church history, revivals, and missionaries engage all the minds listening.
- If you have room and time in your school schedule, you could add in a special unit study, read about a missionary and study where they live (or lived), or take the time to deeper study the Bible. Study and map the travels of Paul, study measurements of Noah’s ark or Goliath’s height and armor.
- The winter months are great for visiting museums. We have found that the best times to go are early morning or later in the afternoon (around school field trips). There is so much to see, talk about, and even write about the day after a museum trip.