June 2, 2023

KEYSTONE Vol.IV No.III November 1998

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  1. […] https://hef.org.nz/1999/keystone-voliv-noiii-november-1998/Feature Family Craig & Barbara Smith We met in Christchurch where we were being trained in Christian discipleship by the Navigators, got married in 1979 and have lived in Palmerston North ever since. Barbara grew up on a 3,500 acre high country sheep station in the Hakataramea Valley, 10 miles down a gravel road from Kurow which is 60 miles inland from Oamaru. Highlights of her early days include handmilking the cows; being isolated for weeks at a time when the river would wash out the road, phone and power, leaving them to cook on an open fire; and jumping from a helicopter into freak snow drifts on the back blocks to look for buried sheep. In Palmerston North she became the Rawleigh products dealer which brought her into contact with many people. I arrived in NZ on the 1st of January 1973 as a 21-yearold from the vineyards near Fresno, California. After 9 years with NAC and Air New Zealand I joined Barbara in the Rawleigh business. The Lord’s blessing on that business was such that it allowed us to devote our entire mornings to the children. Because of this, I did most of the formal academic training with the children while Barbara looked after our babies and our many foster children, so we did not fit the typical pattern of dad away all day and mum managing EVERYTHING at home. The Scriptures had convinced us of the need for Christian education, and since there was no Christian school in the area, we joined with others to get one going. But when Cornerstone Christian School opened its doors for business, we had experienced so many benefits from teaching at home, we never did send them to the school! The flexibility, tailoring subjects to the children’s interests and learning styles, a closer family unit, learning afresh ourselves, the freedom from the school-culture peer pressure — though mixed with weird looks and persecutions from friends, neighbours and relatives — were all too good to give up. In fact, we felt compelled to share the good news with others. In early 1987 we held the first Christian Home Schoolers of NZ National Conference. It was amazing! People came from Invercargill, Hokitika, Tokomaru Bay (East Cape) and Opononi in the far north as well as points in between, many of them thinking they were the only ones in NZ home schooling. What a thrill it was to meet so many like-minded people! An informal national network was established which has continued to operate to this day. None of our children have ever been to school, although Genevieve and Alanson have coached and played for state school T-ball teams. Genevieve was on the Manawatu Rep softball team several years running and Alanson is currently 2nd baseman for the under 15 Reps. We made the classic error of changing our home into a school, and wondered why the children’s attention span was only 10-15 minutes in the “classroom” but would expand to an hour and a half when being told stories while cuddled on the couch or when doing something WITH us that we like doing ourselves. Out went the workbooks, and in came an eclectic system of delight-directed learning….directed by what delighted one of us parents, usually Craig, and could involve two weeks solid of doing nothing but nuclear physics with all three of the older children together, ignoring the different “grade” levels they were supposed to be in. Having six children has provided them with a good environment for being socialised across an age range, and has allowed the four oldest to become personally and intimately familiar with the messy, inconvenient and non-stop requirements of child rearing. A statement by Raymond and Dorothy Moore guided the balance of our curriculum: a challenging academic programme; doing lots of hard, practical work with their hands; and performing service for others. The children always helped with the business. Barbara got them to count the items of stock out of the box when they arrived, to check them against the invoice, to arranged them orderly and attractively on the shelf. At shows such as the local A & P, they had the opportunity to wait on customers, add the total, give correct change, package and thank them with a smile….and keep a percentage of their personal sales. Genevieve could add the figures in her head and get the correct change out before the customer had finished fumbling with the crumpled up $20 note. After 13 years, big changes in the market place meant that the Rawleigh business could no longer support us. We took up market research for three years, as it too can be done from home. All this time the local support group Barbara founded and co-ordinated for 12 years was growing and becoming more sophisticated, demanding more of her time and expertise. The work and the projects that were crying out to be done for home educators on the national scene demanded more and more of my time. We began to realise we had accumulated quite a store of knowledge and experience over the years in running national conferences; publishing periodicals and booklets; marketing resources; giving advice and counsel on all topics to groups and indivuduals, by phone, public speaking, correspondence, lectures, essays and personal visits; and in lobbying officials at all levels. But still, at age 45 I realised that in the world’s eyes I had no qualifications and no career prospects….it dawned on me that I had unconsciously given those up when I determined, at age 31, to teach the children myself every morning. A friend shared how the Government actually pays old buzzards like me to retool at virtually any tertiary institution, so I took on full-time studies at Massey. Barbara took on the full responsibility of tutoring all the children. The work load on top of Rawleighs, market research and CHomeS was more stimulating for both of us but very Keystone Page 9 November 1998 heavy. At the end of two years, we were on the verge of total burn-out. When we shared our situation with Keystone and TEACH subscribers in September 1998, praise God, the responses indicated His people wanted us to carry on serving the home education community in a full-time capacity. What a humbling experience. But we are so excited about being totally focused on home education. As the older children approached the high school years, we felt they needed more discipline and greater challenges. That was very ably provided through the Carey College Correspondence Programme out of Auckland. The work was difficult, there was a lot of it, the standards were very high, and they graded really hard as well. Our first year was a disaster! But through it Genevieve and Zach learned to motivate and set targets for themselves. Today they are not concerned by huge tasks, for they know how to break them down into managable bits and complete them on time and at the required standard. We also found ABeka great for literature and history, Bob Jones for science, Saxon for maths and Scope for grammar and composition. Frequent trips to the library are a must for general knowledge. It has been good in these latter years being able to leave Genevieve and Zach to organise their own studies, but they were able to do that because they had had our undivided attention all during those early years. Alanson and Charmagne not only need the one-to-one tutoring to keep them on track and motivated, it would be a crime to miss out on the once-in-a-lifetime golden opportunity to daily personally build into them those character traits, habits, attitudes, values, widom and knowledge we want them to have. We went through a period where we just about lost it, becoming so tied up with organising and doing things for others, but by God’s grace and the generosity of His people, we are back on track…I’m loving the two hours I now give to Alanson each morning. It seems to us now that until 12 or so there are basic skills which must be MASTERED: reading and listening comprehension; penmanship, spelling, grammar, composition and oral communication; and arithmetic. These seem to require intense one-to-one time, not necessarily in a formal way, but they all require disciplines and high degrees of exactness which simply do not happen by themselves. History, art, music, geography, literature, science and more can be lumped into general knowledge and imparted to a range of ages at once through story reading, games, projects, etc., etc. Barbara is currently reading biographies of the great composers to Charmagne (11) and Mitchell (6) while they do the dishes each morning. All three are learning a lot and enjoying the time. Mitchell joined us when he was five months old, was adopted into our family, and five years later his full sibling, Patrick Jedediah James Strong Smith, came on board. These two may well get quite a different form of education, as we are looking into Classical Christian Education, utilising the Trivium of Grammar, Logic and Rhetoric. We are really excited by what we have read about this approach thus far, and Barbara has begun her and the children’s first lessons in Latin! This is another thing that makes home education so wonderful…we parents are learning and developing as well! Genevieve, Zach and Alanson are all members of the Air Training Corps, the first two being senior officers. They prepare and deliver lectures in classrooms, at camps and even on tramps in the snow-covered bush. You should see them bark orders to junior cadets on the parade grounds or take one aside for some individual tutoring, encouragement or a dressing down, as the situation requires. They are regularly co-oped for various civic and military projects such as Guards of Honour at ANZAC Day parades by Ohakea Air Force Base and Linton Army Camp. Zach is pursuing a career with the RNZAF. The children sometimes have more Biblically oriented minds than we do, not being trained in humanistic thought in public school as we were. Genevieve brings us books on Biblical courtship and chaperonage and suggests we had better read them. She was always keen on politics and law. When she was nine years old, she wrote a scathing letter to Finance Minister David Caygill, who was proposing to tax the interest on bank account deposits, advising him to “calm your greedy fingers down a little”. Opposition Finance Spokesperson Ruth Richardson was so excited by her copy of the letter that she got Genevieve down to Parliament for the day and onto that evening’s national news! At age 13 she began to ask our lawyer for study tips for a career in law. When he began an independent law practice, he immediately thought of Genevieve, and she has been full-time law clerk for him ever since, doing a Legal Executive course at nights. Charmagne is into Highland Dancing which provides a good measure of training, fitness and discipline…. and old-fashioned competition for medals and ribbons. At a recent lecture Genevieve and I delivered at the local College of Education, the temperature and ferociousness of the students’ comments and questions increased as we dwelt on the nonconformist benefits of home education socialisation….that parents would have the major input into their children’s development of values, attitudes, etc. Those students thought THEY and the kids in their classrooms had a socialisation programme better than any family. The state system is anti-family to the core. Home education is definitely on the right track. […]