Contrary to popular belief, many homeschooling families never intend to shelter their children. Sheltering never entered our minds when we decided to embark on our homeschooling journey over ten years ago. In fact, one of our main goals was exactly the opposite. We wanted to raise our children in a global environment that was fully Christ-centered. Both Scott and I love to travel and have always been interested in missions and in how God was working around the world. We want our children to also be aware of the enormity of God’s world and the many varied ways He uses His children everywhere.
How we have done that has changed over the years as our children have grown. Before going global, we learned about our nearest neighbors. One of our boys’ earliest accomplishments was learning the states and capitals. By the time they were 4 and 5, they could rattle off all 50 states and capitals as easily as most preschoolers sing the ABC song. Along with drawing the states and memorizing the capitals, they also colored the state birds and state flowers. But more importantly, they learned about people in each of those states. We sent out a plea for postcards from each state, and as we received those treasures, we prayed for those people and discussed what life might be like for people in each of those states. Our boys understood that life in Hawaii and South Dakota and New York looked quite different from our lives in Waco, Texas, but they also knew Christians lived in each of those places, worshiping and serving the same God we did.
The following year we continued our postcard plea, desiring to go global. As our kids received cards from around the world, we pulled out the atlas and traced the origin countries and went to the zoo to see animals native to those countries because, of course, learning is not limited to the classroom. We discussed how the people in those foreign countries lived and what they believed and how God was at work there. We read books about various countries and created scrapbooks for many countries, recording our “visits” to those amazing places. Throughout the following years we continued to supplement our geography curriculum with missionary friends’ newsletters and blogs, learning not only about the countries of the world and their cultures, but also about their religions and how their beliefs differ from our own.
As the kids have grown, their learning has gradually become more formal, but global Christ-centered education is still our goal. Not surprising to any who know our passions, our children really enjoy history, and we’ve discovered that studying history allows us to be more globally minded. Through the careful selection of curriculum, we’ve “traveled” through ancient civilizations and read our way through the middle ages. As we journeyed through the Renaissance and Reformation, we tried to learn facts and tidbits to impress “Daddy” when he came home each day. Entering the modern world, we’ve focused more on politics and understanding how world leaders influence and shape each other.
One of my favorite perks of homeschooling has enabled us to explore this global political realm beyond the textbooks and online speeches. The flexible schedule of homeschooling allows us to travel with Scott to various conferences, and that sparked a goal of trying to visit as many of the presidential libraries as possible. Our kids’ first written research papers centered around this goal, as well. They each chose a president at random and we spent a month learning how to research about that president, his early life and his political life and his goals and his accomplishments and his legacy. They then organized that information and wrote simple term papers. We now call those “president reports,” as it became an annual project. I realized at some point that if each of our three children chose a different president each year from then until they each graduated, we could create a complete Culpepper tome of the presidents’ lives. Investing research in the lives of these global figures has taught us so much about our world and how intertwined countries have become and how much smaller the globe seems to get in the modern age.
Of course, the Internet has made the globe smaller for everyone, and it has also aided our school experiences. Our kids use the Internet for researching and creating projects and presentations for our weekly co-op classes. The Internet has also allowed us to expand on that early love of countries and cultures; our kids have made contacts with other home-schooled students in France, New Zealand, and Thailand, getting to learn through friendship.
They’ve also been able to build friendships with international students through our college connections, another great perk. We’ve always been drawn to international students, so we often try to invite students over to play games and eat and share life together. Because the schedules allow, the kids and I have occasionally been able to visit a college class and to develop relationships with all kinds of college students.
Although our children have never been fortunate enough to get a passport and really explore another culture, they are very globally minded. We set out at an early age to instill in them a love for Christ and his world. Their learning expands beyond the textbooks and kitchen table to include relationships that cross age and culture, which continually increases and deepens their fully global Christ-centered education.