As we climbed the cement walkway to the newly finished, red brick building, our little seven-member entourage drew the attention of all passersby. Since 6 out of 7 of our group were not the “normal” ages of its attendees, we were, in essence, bringing attention to ourselves. In fact, only one of us, myself, as the mom, had yet graduated from highschool. Half of us were proceeding with a mission. The other half came along for moral support, or rather, for lack of a baby-sitter.
Immediately upon entering the building, we all searched the walls for signs indicating the direction to Room 214. Fortunately, the Welcome Desk just happened to be at the entrance and the obliging receptionist pointed us to our destination. As we made our way around the bend, following the hall to the left, and then the right, we happened upon a quiet room, filled with somber, serious people. Some were seated around the rectangular perimeter in little cubicles, staring intently at a computer screen. Others, with pencils in hand, occupied the long tables at the room’s center. They, also, were equally engrossed as they filled in grids on the answer sheets.
“You must be the homeschoolers,” the receptionist stated, as she saw us approaching. With a quick swing of her swivel chair she reached for the list resting on the edge of her desk. I promptly noted my children’s names in the middle of the page. They were the only ones with a large asterisk in front of their signatures.
“How old are your children?” the woman asked.
“Seventeen, fourteen and thirteen,” I replied, as she hurriedly scripted it next to each asterisk.
“This is for my own benefit,” she said. “We’ve never had ones this young take these tests, and I want to see how they do myself. They’ll be finished in 1 1/2 hours.” At this, my children were speedily ushered into the testing room.
My youngest offspring and I, having now been left alone, turned and set out to explore my old alma mater. In one sense, 25 years seemed like long ago, but walking the halls made it seem like yesterday to me. And now, ironically, my “middle children” were being tested at the same college from which I graduated.
We had initiated our journey down this path just six weeks earlier, after attending a summer “CLEP Camp” hosted by David and Laurie Callahan. A three day, nine hour teaching session, intermingled with family recreation proved to be a pivotal point in our homeschooling strategy.
A number of years earlier, when my oldest three (now ages 23, 22, and 20), were of high school age, I had sought to pursue this direction. However, not knowing anyone personally who had gone this route, and lacking the ability and time to initiate it, my desires for this “alternate, academic avenue” remained on the “back burner”. Schedule wise, I was also too busy to deviate from my acquired routine. At one point, I was homeschooling three in highschool (grades 9-ll-12), endeavoring to fulfill each of their state requirements of a 2500 word research paper, a public speech, a number of compositions and the reading of 25 books, along with various levels of math, science and electives. Add to this teaching 3rd, 5th and 6th, grade, combined with supervising a 5, 3 and 1 year old, and I was one busy mom! To deviate from a “tried and true” schedule would have been more disastrous than advantageous. It was definitely not the Lord’s timing.
My older children, upon graduating from homeschool highschool, attended Community College for their freshman year and even took advantage of a few “distance learning” courses. After taking the basic required liberal arts, my two oldest then transferred to the college that was strongest in their major, taking with them all their attempted and earned credits. God was extremely good to us, financially, in providing our children with a large amount of academic and need scholarships. A lot of hard, studious work on my children’s part, along with being the oldest in a large family with a stay-at-home mom and many dependents, proved to be an asset. God honored my husband’s and my willingness to receive His blessing of “many children”, even to the point of providing for my children’s continued academic needs. Attending college the traditional way was also very beneficial, if not necessary, for the pursuits of their majors of music education and chemical engineering (another story of God’s blessings, struggles and faithfulness).
Now that the traditional way had served its purpose, I sensed the Lord gently opening the door for me to “accelerated learning”. With no more babies, and the older three now independent, my responsibilities had lessened. It was no longer stressful to venture into uncharted waters. And I found that when I rest in the Lord’s timing, then HIS leading is no coincidence.
Returning home from our summer “CLEP Camp”, my three new college bound students and I hit the books. We made “Introductory Psychology” our priority. For the following six weeks, 2-3 hours each school day were designated to this course. I sat with them, read with them, reviewed with them and highlighted information with them. We tested, drilled, discussed, and refuted all theories secular theorists and their “schools of thought”, in light of Biblical truth. The spiritual benefit of tackling this course in a homeschool setting cannot be overstated. “Beating the system”, in this case, was the blessing of being able to battle secular thought with a Christian worldview, using the Bible as our Source.
At the end of the one and half hour session, I anxiously returned to the testing center to wait for my brave, pioneer students. As all three exited the room, they were accompanied by the ever-watchful monitor. I quickly scanned all the faces of my offspring, looking for signs of exhilaration or dejection. Throughout the entire course, I had continually prayed, that if we were in the Lord’s will, that He would bless our efforts and my children’s hard work. Having revealed that we were homeschoolers also added the stress of being a testimony.
“What is the age order?” the woman asked, when we had made eye contact. I quickly pointed from youngest to oldest.
Then, with a huge, wide grin and an almost incredible look of disbelief, she replied, “They all passed,” as she immediately told each their score, again going from youngest to oldest.
As their mother and tutor I could hardly contain myself. I resisted the urge to hug and kiss each one, not wanting to embarrass them in such a “mature setting”. After all, they had just crossed over into the threshold of “college student”. Inwardly, I praised the Lord for His goodness and mercy, in not permitting even one to be disappointed.
At this point, I don’t know where this road will lead. But I am excited at the possibilities available to us. As long as we keep our eyes on the Lord with a pure heart, seeking His direction, I KNOW that He will guide us.
(If you want more information about this ‘Alternative Academic Avenue’, visit David and Laurie Callahan’s website at www.davidandlaurie.com or www.clepclasses.com. These brave, homeschooling pioneers are venturing into this as a full time ministry to other homeschoolers, traveling the country, giving classes on a number of CLEP courses. Speaking from experience with their own children, gives them their credibility)
Maribeth Spangenberg is a homeschool mother of nine, whom she and her husband, Steve, have always educated at home. Her three oldest children have graduated from homeschool highschool. She continues to teach her remaining children at home.