Israel Wayne: In what year did you begin homeschooling, and what was your initial reason to start home educating?
Michael & Gayle Back: Technically in 1980 and officially in 1986. When the idea was presented to us (by Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Raymond Moore) we couldn’t do anything else. It was a decision made in an instant. We knew it as the Lord’s direction for us.
Israel Wayne: What obstacles did you face in attempting to homeschool (resistance by family, legal threats, lack of access to resources, social stigmas, etc.)?
Michael & Gayle Back: No one had ever heard of homeschooling back then, especially the school system. We only knew of one other couple who was doing it and they didn’t live near us nor did we know them personally. Many of our friends and family just went along with our ideas. We were blessed that we had no opposition there. We educated our superintendent about what we were planning to do and he gave his “permission”.
Israel Wayne: In what ways were/are you involved in serving the homeschooling community?
Michael & Gayle Back: We started the first support group in our area after we had been homeschooling for a couple of years. Very shortly after that we were asked by our state organization to become Regional Representatives for our area, a position we held for 20 years. A year or so after that we were asked to serve on our state organization’s board of directors and were there for 20 years as well. Michael was Vice Chairman for 10 years and Chairman for 5. We helped many support groups get started and held “Beginning Home Schooling” workshops in our home and elsewhere. We have spoken at many conventions and support groups over the years. We also have written many articles for various publications. Now we serve as state directors for “Grandparents of Homeschoolers“, state ambassador for “The Homeschool Foundation” and on the board of directors of “Lifework Forum“.
Israel Wayne: What do you wish had known when you first started homeschooling? What would you do differently?
Michael & Gayle Back: How fast time flies! We homeschooled for 28 years and it flew. We don’t think there is anything we would have done differently.
Israel Wayne: What trends have you seen in homeschooling today that concern you? Do you see new things about homeschooling today that you appreciate?
Michael & Gayle Back: There doesn’t seem to be the “mind of an explorer” today among parents. Many want everything done for them. When we started there was no internet, no email, and no networking that we could find (at first). We wrote a “Philosophy of Education” to present to our superintendent and it worked! We had to find curriculum publishers without the internet! We had to write them letters or call them on the phone to get catalogs. We ordered lots of extra catalogs to give to others who were interested in homeschooing. We were data miners! Many today want someone to tell them which curriculum to use, how to be legal, how to meet requirements, etc. without looking for the information themselves. It’s soooo easy today to find what you need!
We appreciate the wealth of resources available and the fact that homeschooling is now legal in all states and many countries.
Israel Wayne: What advice would you give to young families who are just starting out of the homeschooling journey?
Michael & Gayle Back: Commit to the “long haul” from the beginning and enjoy the ride! It’s a great adventure!
Israel Wayne: Please tell us what life is like for you today, and give us an update on your family.
Michael & Gayle Back: Life is very different but good. We have 6 children and most are entrepreneurs. We are very close and keep in great contact. Four are married and we have 6 grandchildren. We spend a lot of our spare time helping the entrepreneurs with anything they need from encouragement to being a “gopher”. We also help teach our homeschooled grandchildren. This year we are teaching Spanish lessons via Skype (four of them are two states away). We stay abreast of the homeschool community through various means and enjoy still serving them.
Israel Wayne: Please share anything else that you think might be of value to our readers.
Michael & Gayle Back: Stay plugged in. Pay attention to what HSLDA is doing so you will be current on legal issues. Go to conventions whenever possible to keep current on all things homeschool. Enjoy this time with your kids. It’s gone so quickly.
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