The Rices: A history of home-schooling
Source: Asbury Park Press
By: TOM SPADER
May 10, 2012
Daniel Rice, 57, Mary Rice, 53, have a relatively long homeschooling history. They homeschool their 18-year-old daughter, Ellen, and their 14-year-old son Ethan, in their Keyport home. They also have four grown children, David, 31; Emily, 30; Sarah, 28; and Laura, 22, all home-schooled. The three oldest graduated with high honors from Rutgers University, and Laura is finishing her fourth year there.
It is the parents' duty to educate their children. If that duty is delegated to the public education system the responsibility still lies ultimately with the parents. We chose to carry out our responsibility personally. We believed they would get more personal attention, and we would be able to be more directly involved in the oversight of their education. We also were concerned about peer pressure in public schools and the content of the curriculum being based on a secular and religious humanism. We felt they would benefit more from being educated in a Godly home.
Religion was a significant factor. I (Daniel) am a pastor and much of their religious instruction is through church and family channels. When homeschooling, the dividing lines between teaching as a homeschooling parent and teaching as a believing parent are not so clearly marked as when someone else has the “education” piece. The curriculum we use is faith-based and incorporates religious elements into various subjects. Science is based on a Biblical creationist view, history includes the religious aspects of the past, and Bible verses are used throughout.
We progressed naturally from having inquisitive children who learned to read at early ages, to buying preschool workbooks for them, and then on to looking in to available home school resources. When we began we were not in contact with any other homeschooling families the first few years. Our decision to begin and continue was not from outside influences from either direction.
The early experiences with our first child's learning and development were exciting for us, and it seemed a natural progression to continue into his formal education. He learned to read by age four and wanted to write even before that. Looking back on our own public school experiences, we realize teachers must teach to the slowest in the class. It can be a waste of time to a quick learner to wait for others to catch up. We also believe that the public school environment is somewhat artificial. Where else in life do you go through the day with two dozen other people all your own age?
As to how our children compare to the current public school graduates I can tell you how our children have done so far.
David graduated with highest honors from Rutgers in 2002 with a combined major, Political Science/History and a minor in Philosophy. He spent 14 months in Guatemala as an international observer for the Guatemalan Accompaniment Project. In 2004 he began a post-graduate program at Duke and recently received his PhD in Political theory from Duke University.
Emily graduated from Rutgers in 2004 with highest honors, as a Henry Rutgers scholar and Phi Beta Kappa with a major in Sociology and two minors, Psychology and Chinese. Her studies abroad included a summer program with Rutgers to mainland China and a summer in Taiwan at the University of Taipei. She continued in the Rutgers School of Social Work and received her Masters in 2006.
Sarah graduated from Rutgers with highest honors in 2006 with a double major, History and English, and a minor in South Asian Studies. She studied abroad the first semester of her senior year at St. Stephens University in Delhi, India.
Laura is finishing her fourth year at Rutgers. She will graduate with highest honors She also is a Phi Beta Kappa student. She is in a five year education program and will have her Masters in Education by next year.
Ellen has been accepted to Rutgers but plans one year at Brookdale Community College followed by two years at Jefferson Community College (SUNY) in Watertown, NY to get an Associates in Animal Management degree. This is a program geared to students who want to work with exotic animals in a zoo or animal park, or perhaps an aquarium.
Ethan is finishing 8th grade. I think he is still saying he wants to be a paleontologist. That's what his brother said too, so it's a little soon to tell.
They are graded pretty much like public school students. They mostly get A's. They take the SAT in their Junior year. The last two years we enroll them in a satellite school program administered by an accredited Christian School in Pennsylvania for home schoolers. They get a diploma issued by that school, and we also give them our own diploma. They chose our school name, Keyport Family Christian, because of the initials KFC!
For the past five years our family has been involved in a square dance club, the Rutgers Promenaders.
Ellen volunteered for two years in a local after school program where she helped children of immigrant families with their homework while the parents attended English language classes. She was presented an award for her participation at a Keyport Board of Education meeting.
Our family has also been active in Scouting. David is an Eagle Scout, Emily, Sarah and Laura earned Girl Scouting's highest award, the Gold Award; Ellen is finishing her Gold Award project. Ethan has advanced to the Star rank and is active in his troop and in the Order of the Arrow, an honor lodge within Scouting. He also helps the Cub Scout Pack every week as a Den chief.
All our children have done volunteer work for the Monmouth County Park System, primarily at the
Longstreet Farm in Holmdel. It gives them the opportunity to learn about the lifestyle of people in the 1890's and teach this information to the visitors
(Our homeschool group that meets at YMCA) is called “Homeschool Gym and Swim”. We are a Christian group with families attending from many different churches. The program has existed for 17 years. Throughout the year, we focus on three different sports: soccer, basketball, and volleyball. The last couple of weeks, we introduce other activities such as baseball, etc. We have a certified swim instructor teaching in the pool.
What works for us
Mary does most of the teaching. As they grow older much of it is self-pace curriculum. I (Daniel) have taught some subjects.
We have used a variety of curricula over the years. Right now we are using Accelerated Christian Education self-pace program with Apologia for high school sciences, Saxon Math, A Beka, and Rosetta Stone computer language courses. Our school days are flexible. They have an art class on Mondays, Gym and Swim on Fridays, but typically each child must complete assignments scheduled so as to finish each subject by the end of the school year. We take summers off , but learning doesn't end there. We often visit historical sites. I believe we have gone to every major Civil War battlefield.
We have teamed up with another family for chemistry and biology when doing lab work to share the expense and allow the students to work together on experiments, dissections and so on. Also we have taken advantage of group classes in art, composition, Spanish, Greek, and Latin where other parents did the teaching. We have used computer programs for typing and language instruction.
Our children are our responsibility. Even if we were to delegate their formal education to the public school system, it is still our responsibility. We did not take it; we were given it when we were given them. They are God's children entrusted to us. They do not belong to the state. One might ask, “What qualifies anyone else to take the responsibility to teach our children?” Would it be an education coming from someone who loves them and has their best interest at heart? Would they really be sensitive enough to the needs and aspirations of our children to nurture them? Would they always be there for them? Are they even allowed to address my child as a whole person; mind, body and spirit?
I (Daniel) know there are many good, even great teachers out there. But even if you always got good teachers, you get them for a year at a time, mostly during school hours. Being schooled by parents is an entirely different level of commitment.
Learning something new every day
Every child is unique. Every year is somewhat different. Every day is somewhat different! We never know what to expect. After 27 years or so I really don't remember what expectations we might have had then. At that time we were on our own. After some years we came in contact with a home schooling group. That group led to other connections and to the Gym and Swim program. It's like life; it flows and is unpredictable. The best you can do is wait and see, stay flexible, learn and adapt.
We thank God for our children and give Him all the credit for their success.