Israel Wayne: In what year did you begin homeschooling, and what was your initial reason to start home educating?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: 1985 – We were impressed by the poise of the kids in a homeschooling family we had met. And most impressed by their un-self-conscious willingness to interact with other children of differing ages, and most unusual – with us as adults.
Israel Wayne: What obstacles did you face in attempting to homeschool (resistance by family, legal threats, lack of access to resources, social stigmas, etc.)?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: In Virginia, we sought a religious exemption from the requirements that we homeschool under the supervision of the local public schools and submit to their regime of testing and evaluation. That required an appearance before the Fairfax County School Board, along with our HSLDA attorney, Mike Farris! They denied our request and Mike was eager to appeal the decision, but we moved to Tennessee before it became an issue, so the issue was moot.
Never did face any other legal threats. A few raised eyebrows from family members and grandparents, but they already knew we were eccentric. After all, we had used a midwife rather than an OB/Gyn and had two of our first three born at home.
Israel Wayne: In what ways were/are you involved in serving the homeschooling community?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: We started a homeschool support group in our county in Tennessee almost as soon as we moved here. For many years, the group met monthly at our home. When we discovered, republished, and wrote some good resources for teaching history, we began selling those at homeschool conventions in 1989. We traveled to a number of conventions through the 1990s, but came off the road in 2000. Greenleaf Press is still going strong, and I hope (God give me the time!) to finish the final three projected volumes in the Famous Men series.
We started teaching homeschooled, high school students in a one-day a week co-op in the late 1990s, and founded our own hybrid tutorial program for high school students in 2003. The Francis Schaeffer Study Center has graduated over 100 high school students and we’re now in our 14th year. We offer a comprehensive, chronological approach to history, literature and art from ancient to modern over grades 9-12. We also offer a full four years of high school science, taught by a DVM from University of Tennessee and a Physics Ph.D. from Vanderbilt.
Israel Wayne: What do you wish had known when you first started homeschooling? What would you do differently?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: I wish we had been more quickly confident to abandon the public school scope and sequence. I wish I had read more good books to all of my kids.
Israel Wayne: What trends have you seen in homeschooling today that concern you? Do you see new things about homeschooling today that you appreciate?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: I am concerned that many of the freedoms are taken for granted. I am concerned that people are too quick to delegate curriculum choices to someone with a complete box. I am concerned about the emphasis on workbooks and checklists and the lack of focus on biblical knowledge, historical knowledge, and an introduction to the classics of literature and art. I do appreciate the increasing diversity of the homeschooling community, and that there seems to be a little less performance anxiety and that more and more homeschoolers see the value of relaxed homeschooling and letting children be children.
Israel Wayne: What advice would you give to young families who are just starting out of the homeschooling journey?
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: Relax. Read some good books before you start. Read For the Children’s Sake and For the Family’s Sake. Don’t worry about the government school curriculum. Concentrate on raising your little ones up to be godly men and women. Help them appreciate the wonder of the natural world. The business of young children is play. Let them do it!
Israel Wayne: Please tell us what life is like for you today, and give us an update on your family.
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: We have 3 sons and 9 daughters, and 3 daughters-in-law and 3 sons-in-law (and five grand-children). Our youngest three will graduate high school over the next two years, but our oldest grandchild has already been homeschooled up through 7th grade, and we’ll soon have him in our high school classes. Cyndy and I each teach 3 days a week. We do high school classes together on Wednesday. On Tues & Thu, she teaches in the Charlotte Mason Elementary Tutorial which she has started. On those days I teach high schoolers online through Veritas Press Scholars Academy. On Mondays and Fridays, I run Greenleaf and write! I (Rob) am a man who has been very richly blessed and I am enjoying my days immensely.
Israel Wayne: Please share anything else that you think might be of value to our readers.
Rob & Cyndy Shearer: God didn’t call parents to be perfect, exemplary homeschoolers – he calls us to raise up godly men and women; to make disciples of our children. I still believe that homeschooling is an outstanding tool for accomplishing that end. But homeschooling is not the end in and of itself. Love your children. Read to them. Talk to them. Have family meals together. Go on walks and bike rides together. Invest your time and your money in them and in building lifelong memories with them. Almost everything you spend money on will rust and decay. But what you invest in your children will yield an eternal reward. I don’t say that to sound pious. It’s the most practical advice I can give.
For more information:
www.greenleafpress.com <- our publishing company
www.schaefferstudycenter.org <- Cyndy & I are co-directors and teach high school classes on Wednesdays
www.redhatrob.com <- my blog
www.veritaspress.com <– where I teach online on Tues & Thur