We lived in a small town in Michigan. At the time, four of our six children had been born. Just like all of our friends, we enrolled our oldest son in public school kindergarten when he turned five years old.
Well, you know, “kindergarten,” not much going on there. The early signs for how your child is “doing” in school do not show up until the first grade when a child begins reading lessons. However! Well, wow! When Jimmy entered first grade, did we get an education!
I had no idea that phonics was no longer used in the school system. Oh, I knew that there were other methods of reading going on in the classroom, but I always believed that phonics was at the foundation of those methods. Duh! I was so dumb!
No! What I really mean is: I was misinformed. I had learned to read with systematic phonics, so I assumed that my children would learn to read this way, too. After all, wouldn’t our government schools insist on using the educational methods that actually worked?
We found out that “phonics was out” when after 6 months into the first-grade reading curriculum our little Jimmy could only read three words: a, an, the.
I asked Jimmy to “sound out” the words we encountered together, and he said, “What are you talking about, Mommy?”
Of course, when I discovered that Jimmy was NOT learning to “sound out” words, I immediately went to the teacher and asked her why Jimmy was NOT learning to “sound out” words. She said, “Sounding out” words is NOT something we do anymore. There are other, better, more efficient methods to teach reading than phonics.”
Sadly, things got much worse!
At the first parent-teacher conference, I also discovered that our dear, little, precious Jimmy had been placed inside a refrigerator box so that he could “focus” more on his studies and less on what was going on around him. That was all I needed! That was going to stop!
Jimmy was in an open-classroom school at that time, so we switched over to a standard, structured, public school classroom where a 20-year veteran X-Nun was the teacher. Jimmy gained a tiny, itsy-bitsy, miniscule more in reading that second semester of his first-grade year simply because this X-Nun did use “some” phonics.
However, at the beginning of second grade, Jimmy was assigned to a teacher that believed exactly the same way as his first teacher in the open-classroom school, except that she brought all of her non-phonics methods into a structured classroom. Jimmy just couldn’t cope with these ridiculous reading methods. In addition, by the end of second grade, we had also enrolled our second-oldest son in the 1st grade.
To make this long story shorter, soon after talking with Jimmy’s principal and after our second-oldest son was assaulted on the school bus, I talked with a woman in Indiana who owned a teacher resource store who emphatically informed me that “homeschooling” was an option.
I’d never heard of “homeschooling” before; I didn’t even know it was possible. This lady told me that it was “very” possible, and that parents make the best teachers for their children.
So the following Monday I refused to put my children on the school bus. I ordered a satellite homeschooling program and proceeded to homeschool my children thinking I was going to “get away with it!”
Moms do strange things when they’re desperate!
Little did I know that Michigan was one of the worst places to try to “get away with” homeschooling. We had no laws to protect us, and we were running out of steam living only with an Attorney’s General’s “Opinion” about homeschooling. As a result, tons of homeschoolers in Michigan were being taken to probate court as a direct challenge to their choice of education.
Wouldn’t you know it, some lady in our church turned us in. What was I going to do?
I contacted one other mother that I knew was doing homeschooling. She gave me the name of an attorney who was taking up homeschooling cases in the state of Michigan. We hired him, wasted $200, provided all of our own documentation, and yet, he didn’t intervene for us with the school officials at all.
Within two months after we began homeschooling, I received a phone call from a man who turned out to be the Chairman for the Homeschooling Investigating Committee for the whole state of Michigan. He was the man who was taking all the homeschoolers to probate court. When he called me, I told him I had hired an attorney to defend us, I refused to talk to him, and I hung up on him.
That was back in my immature Christian days. Can you even imagine Jesus Christ hanging up on anybody?
I do not mean this as a defense to myself in any way, but, moms do strange things when they’re desperate!
Some friends from our church were visiting with us shortly afterwards, and we began discussing what the Bible says about how to respond to those in authority. We specifically went over Romans, Chapter 13, where God tells us:
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”
Needless to say, I was under conviction!
When “that man” called me back, I apologized, and I explained to him what I had discovered in the scriptures. We began to talk. He listened, I talked. He questioned, I answered. I was honest. I told him all of my fears about the public school system and the fact that I would not, could not, tolerate what was going on there. He listened. God worked!
GOD IS SO AWESOME!
This man ended up telling me, “I will never take you to probate court. You are the only homeschooler that has been willing to talk to me. You have also told me about your beliefs, and I want you to know that I have been listening, because my secretary is also a Christian, and she has been telling me some of the same things that you have stated. I give you permission to do homeschooling, and what’s more, if you need any curriculum, you just let me know, and I’ll show you how to order it for yourself, or I will personally get it for you.”
YEP – GOD IS AWESOME!
I began homeschooling and tutoring phonics to children all around me. I grabbed onto every book on phonics that had ever been written. All of my “teacher” friends, suddenly anxious to help me out, gave me all of their methods classes textbooks; coupled with my own learning experiences in phonics, I began to put together a systematic phonics curriculum based upon what was taught to children in the 1950’s who had struggled with the Dick and Jane, Look/say Reading series. (Can you believe I put that all in one sentence?)
The results I obtained were outstanding!
About three years later, I began teaching phonics part time in a Christian School.
I came across all kinds of reading problems, and I soon discovered that linguistic, synthetic, analytic, systematic phonics solved the problems of every student I encountered except for the students who were diagnosed as EMI. Oh, each child had a different time table for learning, depending upon his shortcomings and his talents, but given enough time, systematic phonics worked.
Oh, by the way, do you remember “that man” that I had originally hung up on? You know, the Chairman for the Homeschooling Investigating Committee for the whole state of Michigan? Well, he gave our Christian school permission to set up a homeschooling umbrella program under my direction for other families considering homeschooling.
When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. (Proverbs 16:7)
In summary, we continued homeschooling all six of our children all the way through high school.
They have become successful as business owners, in engineering, as ministerial directors, with two still in college studying pre-med and early childhood care.
And, of course, we established the Candy 4WAY Phonics Program, a program based upon the true story of a little girl named, Candy, in order to make a complete systematic 4WAY Phonics curriculum, lessons, readers, multisensory phonics helps, phonics charts and flashcards, phonics resources, and phonics games affordable for everyone!
YEP- GOD IS AWESOME!
Carol Kay, President
Candy 4WAY Phonics