Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: HOMESCHOOLING

by monthly contributor, Ann Dunagan, of Harvest Ministry

This month marks the beginning of our family’s 21st year of homeschooling. It’s because of God’s grace that we’ve been in this adventure for over two decades; and it’s only by God’s grace that I can confidently say, “We’re still in it for the long-haul!”

On this theme, Lindsay had a few questions:

Q. LINDSAY @ PASSIONATE HOMEMAKING:  What was your original vision and goal for choosing to homeschool your children, and how have you kept that vision burning for over 20 years?

A. ANN @ MISSION-MINDED FAMILIES:  I became intrigued with homeschooling during college, as I was studying Elementary Education. During this time, as Jon and I were also preparing for marriage, I read a book called The Way Home, by Mary Pride, which challenged me — big-time — about God’s purposes for homemaking, motherhood, and home education. As I completed my student teaching, I observed how a student who had been absent (for even 2-3 weeks) could quickly “catch-up” with the rest of the class with only a few days of 1-on-1 tutoring, causing me to question the time-effectiveness of a typical classroom. Later, as newlyweds, Jon and I led several youth mission trips. On these teams, we observed a huge contrast between the peer-orientation (and worldliness) of many public (and even Christian-) school kids, compared to the parent-orientation (and spiritual depth) of many homeschooled kids. Sometimes, the homeschooled parent-and-teen similarities were so strong, it was funny; but it showed us homeschooling’s discipleship potential.

For our family, it’s God’s call.

As for long-term vision, “Whenever God CALLS, He gives grace to COMPLETE.” I love the song, “His grace is enough . . . ” and the hymn, “Though none go with me, still I will follow . . . ”

Q. LINDSAY: What have been some of your biggest homeschooling challenges? And likewise, some of your greatest delights?

A. ANN @ Mission-Minded Families: The decision to homeschool (especially through high school) has probably been the most “difficult” commitment of our parenting. It’s a seemingly unending job, with an ever-raising bar-of-expectation. As for challenges, I’ve dealt with condemnation, failure, loneliness, inadequacies, isolation, boredom, and outright fear. Yet this commitment has probably made our parenting “easier” than any other decision, and it has probably reaped the most fruitfulness –in terms of spiritual character, self-discipline, and vision for life. Similar to consistent training on a high-elevation mountain; our daily climbs are tough; but when we’re down on ground-level, we’re prepared for the pressure.

When our oldest son entered high school, I didn’t want to “ruin” him for life, but God encouraged me to simply continue on His path for us. Ironically, my hardest homeschooling hurdle probably came when this son graduated from university. He finished well; but at the time, our youngest was only beginning first grade. It felt like I had finished a difficult marathon; but as I crossed the finish-line, the starter-gun was going off again, and I had to immediately start over. As I looked at our littlest guy, I thought about all those tough subjects, and college scholarships . . . and I didn’t know if I could continue.

Right at that time, a friend (who’s oldest was in kindergarten) asked for advice about homeschooling. “Teaching a little guy isn’t hard!” I told her. “Just snuggle-up on the couch, read story books, and have him color pictures! Teach one letter a week, and let him help you in the kitchen. You can do it!”

After she left, I felt the Lord speak to my heart, saying, “Why did you make homeschooling so easy for her, and yet so hard on yourself?” I realized God would continue to help me, day-by-day, with His grace.

As for delights, a few photos share my highlights:

Q. LINDSAY: What encouragement can you offer some weary moms beginning a new year?

A. ANN: In summary: rely on God’s grace (here’s an encouraging SUPER-MOM vs. ABIDING-MOM chart) And if you’re feeling weary or out-of-FOCUS, this 5-video FOCUS series (3-4 minutes each) might help.

Q. LINDSAY: How have you practically incorporated a heart for world missions into your homeschooling environment?

A. ANN: Just as our biblical worldview influences every area of life, our missions-perspective “flavors” every aspect of parenting. For us, homeschooling provides flexibility for family travel, kingdom-focus for history and geography, and eternal purpose for diligence. As for practical ideas, here are a few mission-minded resources (mostly FREE):

  • Make a mission-minded PASSPORT
  • Take the 40-Day Mission-Minded Family Challenge (5-min-videos — with daily geography quizzes, mission-motto’s, verses, recommended resources, and a daily missions CHALLENGE).
  • Teaching With God’s Heart for the World – If you’re serious, here’s a FREE one-year curriculum for homeschooling (with individual units which can be used for a few days, or weeks), primarily for upper-elementary, presenting a mission-minded “whirlwind tour” of history and geography.
  • And here are my favorite MISSION books.


About ADunagan

Ann Dunagan is a longtime homeschooling mother of 7 (ages 11 to 25, with 4 graduates), an international speaker with Harvest Ministry, co-founder of orphan ministries in East Africa and India (caring for over 700 children), and author of several books including The Mission-Minded Family. With a passion for the Lord and the lost, Ann motivates families for world missions.

23 Responses to Q & A’s for Mission-Minded Families: HOMESCHOOLING

  1. Becky April 11, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Homeschooling Question: How can social development be incorporated into homeschooling? I love the idea of teaching my children at home, but not the “social awkwardness” that seems common in homeschooled children. Growing up, I was somewhat socially awkward around my peers and I do not wish that upon my kids. I think I was also spiritually inefffective around unbelievers and probably didn’t represent Christ well either. I was not homeschooled, but I preferred to hang out with my sisters and I didn’t spend as much time with other children. I believe it is very important to be socially comfortable and capable around believers and unbelievers since we are to be like Christ and He spent alot of time ministering to people. The only way I can consider homeschooling is if I can find a way to ensure that my children will be able to effectively minister to people (especially their peers). Do you have any ideas?

    • Mariah April 18, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      I’d probably enroll them in activities either the city offers or find other homeschooling moms and have “field trips”

  2. Tabitha Ferreira January 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    I loved reading this post! I have been researching different ways of homeschooling my four children in a well rounded way that emphasizes Academics as well as Christ and I love how you put this into perspective. Especially with all the traveling we do as a military family and with all the change that occurs it will be nice to have one aspect of our lives remain constant, even if the harder days are exacerbated by deployments. However, the most interesting thing is that I was on that Grinder welcoming home my husband from Afghanistan and I recognized the location in your picture immediately! I have asked my husband and he was in the same unit/place as your son for that deployment! What a small world!

  3. Happy Momma October 2, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    I appreciated the super-mom vs abiding-mom chart, and the focus chart and videos. Thanks.

  4. Amanda B September 30, 2011 at 8:15 am #

    Thank you! I’ve never bookmarked so many links in a post before – thank you, Ann! We have 3 homeschooled grade schoolers and 3 up and coming babies and preschoolers – this post is a wonderful help and encouragement to us. :)

  5. Amy September 28, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    Thanks for this article! I just started kindergarten with my daughter, and I find I have to remind myself a lot that I really can take the pressure off and do what I can each day. We’ve had a lot of “down-time” days lately but they seem really similar to the advice about snuggling up on the couch to read, learning letters, and getting in the kitchen. I’m sure by the end of the year I’ll be really excited about how much even the relaxed day have added up!

  6. bobcat September 28, 2011 at 1:09 am #

    One more question. (and I’m so sorry I spelled Lindsay wrong! my apologies!)

    I was wondering if you ladies also had advice about finding a church. Right now we go to a Catholic church, and I always have gone to Catholic churches, and I do appreciate the values. However, sometimes the parishoners can tend to keep to themselves, so it’s tough for us to make “church friends,” and I would like to have close friends who are Christian or have strong family values. I am interested in a change, trying something new, but I don’t know where to start, or what kind of denomination to look for.

    We will likely be moving to a new city soon (a very large city on the West coast). I don’t even know how to go about selecting a church. I am not sure what to type into google or Yelp.com, besides just “christian church.” We are looking for something where the people will be genuine, and interested in many of the values talked about here….like simple living, gratitude, embracing family, helping others, etc.

    What I want to avoid in our new town is making friends who are materialistic, don’t go to church on Sundays, etc.

    Thank you for any suggestions.

    • Ann Dunagan September 28, 2011 at 8:54 am #

      It’s very important to look for a church that believes and follows the BIBLE as the inspired word of God. Good words to search for are “Bible-believing” and “Christian.”

      Now, these are my (Ann’s) personal thoughts, not Lindsay’s, and this list is not an official church endorsement from Passionate Homemaking (and just to note, there are many other “good, Bible-believing” Christian churches that are not included in this following “starter” list):

      If I was in a brand-new city, and searching for a good church, I would look online and search for words like “Bible-believing” “Christian” “Evangelical” “Family-oriented” “Inter-denominational” “Non-denominational” “Spirit-filled” “Sovereign Grace” “Grace International” “Minister’s Fellowship International” “City Church” “Home Bible Studies” “Prayer” “World Missions” and “Worship Service.”

      Over the years, we have worked closely with many Christian denominations and churches, from a wide-range of backgrounds. I have close family and friends at churches in Baptist denominations, Assembly of God, Foursquare, Covenant, Presbyterian (although some are ultra-liberal and don’t follow the Bible, I know of a few strong evangelical Presbyterian churches), VFM (Victory Fellowship of Ministries), Church of Christ, Vineyard, CMA (Christian and Missionary Alliance), Sovereign Grace, Reformed churches, MFI (Minister’s Fellowship International), Grace International, and many other independent and non-denominational Christian churches.

      Several church websites will pop-up in the search engine, and you can tour their websites to get a “feel” for the heart of the congregation. Pray for God, by the leading of His Holy Spirit, to direct you to a good church, that will help your family to grow in your walk with the Lord. God is so good, and I know that if you ask Him to lead you, He will guide you and your family to just the perfect place.

    • mary-grace September 30, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      Hey Amy! I am also a Catholic who has struggled making “church friends!” I just want to encourage you not to give up- there ARE parishes out there with dynamics groups that offer great fellowship, with everything from Mom’s mornings to bible studies. And if you truly can’t find a church that offers that, I would suggest you prayerfully consider attempting to form a faith based woman’s group. Sometimes it takes one person to give that kick in the pants and encourage faith and fellowship. There are probably many women at Mass who also wish they had close friends they could share their faith with.
      It is so important to surround yourself with Godly friends who share your values and beliefs, good luck on the West Coast!

      • Ann Dunagan October 1, 2011 at 7:24 am #

        Mary-grace (what a beautiful name),

        I just want to thank you for your kind and loving comment (extended with such grace and tenderness), and your wise advice to encourage Amy to find a women’s Bible study, or to start a small group to encourage faith and fellowship.

        What a great idea.

        Just as a bit of background, I too grew up in the Catholic church (my dad was Catholic and my mom went from traditional Lutheran to Catholic after my parents were married), and my immediate family deeply loved Jesus all during my growing up years. Along with weekly Mass, we also received fellowship through several other avenues: at our home, my parents led a weekly Bible study and family prayer meeting (for people from many different churches, but mostly Catholic families), my mom always attended (or led) some sort of interdenominational women’s Bible studies (with Women’s Aglow and also with Women’s Bible Study Fellowship), and we had a Sunday night prayer meeting in a Catholic church basement that we went to every week. For that season in our family’s life, it was God’s perfect place for us.

        You have such a sweet heart, and I just wanted to BLESS YOU!!!


  7. bobcat September 28, 2011 at 12:54 am #

    Ann and Lindsey,

    I have been growing a lot from reading this blog. My husband goes to church with me, but is struggling with materialism and comparing us to others (like he is upset that other families in which both spouses work have more “things”). I would like to see him grow in Gratitude, and grow more with God, but I think he needs the example of a man, as his parents aren’t good examples and neither are mine.

    I was wondering if you had any blogs similar to this to recommend, but targeted towards men? Like how to be a godly man? And how to live simply, but from a man’s perspective? I think something that is more “real” and family-oriented/personal, kind of like this blog is, with heartwarming pictures, not lots of heady philosophy that seems detached, would attract and hold his attention the most. I see you ladies as role models for myself, but I think it would be good for my husband to read a manly-type blog.

    A million thanks! :)

    • Ann Dunagan September 28, 2011 at 8:34 am #

      A few men I would recommend your husband to “Google” for:

      Randy Alcorn (a very solid Christian writer)
      Gregg Harris (a homeschooling father of 7, homeschooling leader, and pastor)
      John Piper (a pastor, leader of many other pastors, and a godly man)
      David Platt (a young pastor of a big church, and the author of Radical)
      Francis Chan (an author, pastor, and Christian leader with many online videos)
      Dee Duke (a pastor, father of 8, grandpa, fisherman, hunter, and leader of pastors)

      . . . and of course, I recommend my own husband, Jon Dunagan (he doesn’t blog, but our family life and activities — from ministry to fishing adventures — can be followed on facebook, under my name, and our missions can be followed at Harvest Ministry).

  8. Karina September 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm #

    Thank you for this interview. It is very encouraging! I am going to share the link to this page on my blog too.
    We are heading overseas to Madagascar as missionaries with MAF and I have just started homeschooling my eldest daughter in Kindergarten. Being homeschooled myself, I often try to encourage other mothers with the fact that Kindergarten should be just as this mother explained, cuddling on the couch, reading books, coloring, learning a letter a week, and having fun in the kitchen together. – then I do the exact opposite of what I say and put immense pressure on myself to create this formal learning environment…. God’s grace, it’s what I need for myself, it’s what I need to extend to my family! Thank you again. :)

    • Ann Dunagan September 27, 2011 at 4:51 pm #

      Wow, Karina!!!

      May God BLESS you — mightily, with love and grace and peace and JOY — as you and your family GO to Madagascar as missionaries.

      Nate Saint has always been one of our missionary heroes, and M.A.F. (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) has been such a huge blessing to our family and to our ministry over the years, flying us and our ministry teams into remote and dangerous places. Enjoy the adventure, and the new season of homeschooling with a little one. Remember to give yourself lots of grace; God has so much for you.

      You are SOOO welcome!!!

  9. Angela September 27, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    I am so excited that you listed resources! I wanted to use a full year curriculum this year on countries and cultures, but our course changed and so did $$! My heart is rejoicing at this post! Congrats on “running the race”! You have many pictures that show the “prize”!

  10. Happy Momma September 27, 2011 at 8:29 am #

    I love the focus about God’s grace. We can do all things (that He calls us to do) through Christ’s strength! He wouldn’t ask us to do something without enabling us to do it.

  11. LaShanna September 27, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    Thanks so much for this post, Ann. My husband and I are looking to home-school our daughter. She’s only 9 months old, but we really believe that this is what God wants us to do, once she’s older. Although she’s still a baby, we are taking this time for God to prepare our hearts for this new season in our lives. This has encouraged me even more!

    • Ami September 29, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      It is good that you start thinking about homeschooling now. You are in no rush and it’s fun to learn and dream about the future! I spent my oldest’s first year reading every homeschool book on our library’s shelf, and it has paid off big time. Easing into homeschool has been relaxed for us (and we’re closely following The Well Trained Mind) because I was used to having my kids around and this has been a long-term goal and lifestyle for us. So enjoy learning about homeschooling now, try to get to know older homeschool moms, and you’ll really be able to coast into those early elementary years! It is so good to have those years of research to lay the ground work before you’re caught in the busyness of daily homeschooling!

  12. Angela Palmer September 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    Thanks Ann, I am homeschooling my first boy – this is our first year. Thanks for the encouragement!

  13. Amber September 26, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    I have been homeschooling for three years and it has been hard work but such a blessing. It is wonderful to see my children growing and to feel like I have a real sense of where they are at educationally and spiritually. We are not in an area with many homeschooling families so it is nice to hear encouragement. Thank You.

  14. Natalie September 26, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    Thank you for this post! I am just starting out with our first in Kindergarten. We’ve been surrounded by many homeschooling families of all stages/ages for several years, and I’m aware the day-to-day can be tough, but it’s the long-term commitment that makes me the most nervous! Thank you for speaking to that.

    • Ann Dunagan September 26, 2011 at 11:39 am #

      Thanks for your comment, Natalie.

      Homeschooling for the long-haul definitely takes daily grace, but He gives us just enough for what we need right now (it’s kinda like His provision, He keeps providing, little-by-little, and month-by-month. If we tried to figure out the whole $ amount we needed for the rest of our life, it would be overwhelming!!!

      My dad has this word of advice: “Inch-by-inch, it’s a cinch; but, yard-by-yard, it’s hard!”

      That’s so true. We don’t need to tackle a whole life-time of homeschooling all at once, just to keep walking with the Lord, and simply rely on Him to show us what’s next.

      Blessings to you!!!

      • Alisha M. September 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

        Love that saying “inch-by-inch……”
        Never heard it before. Awesome!!