In December 2020, our 2 oldest daughters Tiffany and Odelia had successfully completed their undergraduate degrees. What is amazing is both of them were able to finish the bachelor degree in 3 years before they turned 20 years old. All our children are home educated and none of them has set foot in a public school.
I thank God that we still have that kind of freedom in Ontario, although much of our liberty has been taken away since the covid restriction.
I remembered that 10+s years ago when we declared to our parents and friends that we would be homeschooling our children, the doubt and negative feedback were overwhelming. However, we felt that God was calling us out of the public school system and to teach them based on biblical principles and values. Academic achievement was not our main focus. Our primary goal was to lead them to Jesus Christ and teach them to trust Him who holds all the wisdom, power, authority and riches of this world.
My wife Kay was the primary educator and she had spent countless hours in teaching our children everything she could possibly pass on: Bible knowledge, reading, math, science, drawing, singing, piano, photography, etc…. You may ask, any Christian school teacher can teach the same subjects so why bother?
The “magic” lies in the bonding between a parent and a child, with everything done in a loving and forgiving environment. Children thrive naturally when their parents are “there” for them every single day, watching and encouraging their every step along the way. Homeschooling provides the opportunity for parents to tailor-made a unique curriculum for individual child; whereas it is impossible to do so in a public or even private school system.
It was a long journey that finally bears its first fruits.
As some families are interested in knowing more about the children’s homeschooling experience, my wife has asked Tiffany and Odelia to share their side of their education journey. Here they are:
I’m Tiffany, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Chan, and the oldest in a family of 10 (8 children). I was homeschooled from day one and all through high school by my amazing parents. Last year, I graduated with a BA in Music and an AAS in Criminal Justice from Thomas Edison State University. Currently, I am teaching piano to local students. I am also teaching English online with a company called Home 2 Teach.
One of the most important things my parents taught me early on was how to learn by myself. In the process, they instilled in me a great love of learning, for which I am immensely grateful. My parents gave me the tools of self-learning by teaching me how to read, to write, and to think with a clear mind. They encouraged me to always press forward, even when things got hard.
In elementary and high school, I did science, English, history, and math… the usual core subjects. We used textbooks from various publishers. My mom made learning about the Bible a mandatory part of our schooling as well, and would tell me to copy Bible passages, memorize verses, and read it regularly. As I was interest in music, I also practiced (and still practice) the piano, and took violin lessons for a few years.
When I was in Grade 11, I took an AP English and Composition class from PA Homeschooler, and completed the exam as well. It was an amazing experience. Taking the class forced me to think critically, and taught me how to present arguments in an effective way. And best of all, the exam was really, really fun (well, to me, anyways).
While I was taking the AP class, I also started taking some college-level courses from Lumerit (here-it was different back then. Update: Since Pearson Education purchased Lumerit Education, the more similar program is here) . They were fully online, and self-paced. I like self-paced courses because it means I can finish a 2 month course in a week if I wanted to. I had decided to major in music, and since Lumerit did not offer any music courses, I took some online music theory courses from other universities. I then enrolled at my target university, transferred all the credits I had earned to that university, and took the rest of the courses I needed in order to fulfil the requirements of the degrees. Then I applied for graduation, and I was done! This journey took me almost 3 years to complete.
Some of you might be asking, how did I complete a music degree online? First, I got a Bachelor of Arts, and not a Bachelor in Music. A BMus would focus much more on music itself, while a BA would require more general education courses. You can find music history and music theory courses that are offered as online courses. As for the practical part of music playing, I continued to take lessons during these years from a local piano teacher with a PHD who once taught at Universities. I also utilized local music festivals, musical, and recitals opportunities to get performing experiences. All these helped me to create portfolios to showcase my performing abilities. This was one thing I liked about TESU; as far as I know, you can only do a completely online degree and major in music, if you go with TESU. Anyways, for every portfolio, I had to write about 5 pieces of music. For each piece, I had to write about its history, its form and key, and some key points on things to look out for when practicing and performing the piece. Then, I also included a link to a video of me playing that piece. As the purpose of the portfolios is to show the university what you have done, I was able to use videos from previous years. (If anyone is interested in pursuing this same path, I’ll always be ready to help!)
I am satisfied with the path I took in regards to higher education. Online university allowed me to be at home almost all of the time, and it also enabled me to complete in 3 years what would have probably took 4 if I had gone to university in person. With Lumerit, I was able to start taking university courses before I finished high school, thus saving me even more time and allowing me to graduate before turning 20.
I hope this narrative is beneficial for some of you. I want to encourage you to always keep learning. You never graduate. There are always more things to learn. However, I do want to caution against learning for the sake of learning; learning is not about being the smartest person on earth. Our purpose in growing our knowledge should be that doing so will allow us to serve God and others even better. For example, knowing more about the Bible will enable us to know more about God’s will for us, and thus we will be more able to live according to His will.
Odelia mentions below that it is most important to have a solid foundation in the Bible. That is true. The world is a battleground, and you must be armed with God’s Word in order to not be swayed by the ideas of the world.
Let me know if you have any questions.