Israel Wayne: In what year did you begin homeschooling, and what was your initial reason to start home educating?
Susan Beatty: The Beatty family began homeschooling in 1982. The catalyst to begin homeschooling came from the radio interview between Dr. James Dobson and Dr. Raymond Moore concerning sending children to school later when they are more mature. Of course, as soon as we realized God had something to say about how we educate and disciple our children (duh) and studied the Word, we became convinced that private homeschooling was the best (and for us the only) way to train up our children. It was no longer about academics, but about training our children in the Lord.
Israel Wayne: What obstacles did you face in attempting to homeschool (resistance by family, legal threats, lack of access to resources, social stigmas, etc.)?
Susan Beatty: In the early days we had little resistance from family or our church, but neither did we have a lot of support. Curriculum and other resources were almost non-existent. We did not personally have any legal threats, but we knew there needed to be a concerted effort to show state and local leaders that homeschooling in California existed as private schools and were protected by our education code.
Israel Wayne: In what ways were/are you involved in serving the homeschooling community?
Susan Beatty: I am the co-founder of Christian Home Educators Association of California, established in August of 1982 (a few weeks prior to the Beatty family’s official start of school). We established ourselves as a statewide Christian private home-based education advocacy organization in order to first have standing with state and local leaders in which to educate them on our rights and second to provide information and support to families to begin homeschooling and to help them in their journey. With help of our attorney J. Michael Smith, now president of HSLDA, the first several years were dedicated to traversing the state with this message. I then co-authored the how-to-homeschool in California resource, An Introduction to Home Education. I have continuously remained on the board and held many positions. I am currently the general manager and events manager, as well as a member of the board of directors. I continue to speak and write on the subject of homeschooling.
Israel Wayne: What do you wish had known when you first started homeschooling? What would you do differently?
Susan Beatty: I wish I had known how fast my children would grow up and really how little time I had to train them. I would have spent less time on the homeschool ministry and more time actually discipling my children. I wish I’d had all the resources available to home educators today! (On the other hand, lack of resources made us very creative in those days.)
Israel Wayne: What trends have you seen in homeschooling today that concern you? Do you see new things about homeschooling today that you appreciate?
Susan Beatty: Where to start here? I don’t want to be overly negative, but I am concerned with the over-reliance on outside opportunities (classes, groups, Internet, etc). While these resources are valuable, I am concerned that homeschool parents rely so heavily on them, they have lost one of the most important parts of the homeschool equation–being at home together as a family. Many of the groups and classes I have seen insert the same dynamics that many of us kept our kids out of school to avoid in the first place. For example, over-abundance of peer pressure, assembly line education, replacing the parents as the authority, etc. I am also concerned about the trend toward charter school enrollment because of the relinquishment of authority to the God-less public school system, parent’s loss of control, and the legal inability to base all teaching on the Word of God.
I do appreciate the availability of so many of these and other resources, the sharing of information through many media sources, seeing so many young families loving the Lord and wanting the best for their children, and the knowledge that this nutty idea we had 33 years ago of teaching your own children at home is still going strong. Praise the Lord!
Israel Wayne: What advice would you give to young families who are just starting out of the homeschooling journey?
Susan Beatty: I encourage new families to search the Scriptures to know the biblical basis of homeschooling and use that as a foundation for all they do; to seek understanding of the processes of education (a journey, not a quick goal); to put God first, then family; to balance their family time with outside involvement in educational and ministry opportunities; to remember that homeschooling will not be easy, but always refer back to knowing why they’re homeschooling and persevere; and have fun. Homeschooling our children is a gift from God and should be enjoyed.
Israel Wayne: Please tell us what life is like for you today, and give us an update on your family.
Susan Beatty: I graduated the last of my three children in 1998 and continue to work full time within CHEA and the greater homeschool ministry nationally (although my husband and I just retired from the board of the National Alliance of Home Education Leadership). Our children are wonderful Christian adults, all married (those with children are great parents), and gainfully employed. Our challenge is our 37-year-old daughter’s second bout with breast cancer. She is in stage IV, but the doctors are optimistic about the outcomes of chemo and surgery. We are spending as much time as possible to participating in her recovery process along with her very supportive husband and her delightful seven-year-old son (as his grandmother, I’m required to tell you how wonderful he is, right?)
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker and Director of Family Renewal, LLC. He is also the Site Editor for www.ChristianWorldview.net.