Reluctant Learner Surprises Parents with Test Results

by Brenda McArthur

My homeschooling experience began when I started research in my public library for information. By the grace of God, I came upon the Moores' book, Home Grown Kids. This book, as I have told many, put in writing what I was not able to verbalize myself. It was such a confirmation to me on the things I was feeling about educating my son. From that book, I gleaned the philosophy of Better Late than Early and how important warm responses in a loving home are for children. I wanted to share this book with many.

Let me tell you a few things about my son and myself. Jared will be 11 years old in January. He is what I call a typical boy. He would much rather play outdoors than "do" school. I, by the same token, am a typical Mom. I do not see myself as a school teacher, much less one that excels. What I have learned is, I am the best teacher for Jared. I often tease my children and tell them I know them like a book.

I started Jared in school at home just before he turned eight in January. I signed up with the Moore Academy. From the onset, I received much support and knowledge from my assigned counselor, Ms. Betty Baylink. I had every reason to believe I would continue to receive the support I was seeking. In return, I hoped to put at ease family members and friends who could not understand why Jared did not start school until he was almost eight and why I was not teaching him to read. By their standards, he should be reading books by now! Betty fondly labeled him as "late bloomer," which I understood fully. Under her guidance, we got through our first year of home school. I still remember my husband's bewildered look when we headed up the street in our subdivision to the nearby creek for science. I answered that look by saying, "The Moores believe children learn science the best by being out in God's world.

Jared, 11, in the family's home based machine shop, McArthur Machine Tool, where Jared can use simple tools, like the vise he is using.
Jared, 11, in the family's home based machine shop, McArthur Machine Tool, where Jared can use simple tools, like the vise he is using.

My second year of homeschooling began by calling Ms. Betty. I explained I had a lot of curricula from the previous year that I would like to finish. I felt we could finish that and get in touch with her. She agreed. With her encouragement, I was into my second year. I had equipped myself with a few more "Moore" books, become a Moore Associate, and even attended a Moore seminar. I had learned the value of the program and embraced it. We completed second and third grade and it was time for the results of this program to shine and to put family members at ease. He took the Stanford test over a period of 2 1/2 days with a wonderful attitude, but was quite relieved to be finished. After receiving Jared's standardized test scores, which was a fulfillment of Georgia law (to be tested after the third grade), I was quite pleased and shocked at the same time. He scored an overall grade level of 6.2. His vocabulary and reading were above average! And yes the trips outdoors to study science also paid off. He scored an 11.6 grade level in science.

Editor's note: When Erich and Brenda enrolled their son in the Moore Academy, he was not very enthusiastic about anything connected with school. His father indicated that he was like Jared as a child-liked learning with his hands but was not much into academics. So Brenda involved Jared and little sister, Alisa, 4, in frequent field trips, Bible, hands-on projects and math. She also read to the children a lot. Jared especially liked the science experiments in the Science Activities books. He also had plenty of opportunity to explore outdoors, besides their nature walks. Brenda discovered that Jared had a good attention span for what he is interested in and sometimes even what he is not interested in.

To help his educational counselor understand him better, Brenda wrote her a letter about some early incidents. She said that when he was quite a bit younger and just able to sing, his sister tried to encourage him to learn the ABC song. His response was "I'm just not into ABC's" Then she told Betty Baylink that not much had changed, even though he was somewhat older. She also found that some of his agemates were going to public schools and they would be learning how to spell their last names, suggesting that it might be a good idea for him to know this also. She started easy with "M-c-A-r," and he interrupted her with "t-h-u-r- I knew that Mom, it's boring."

In spite of his reluctance to read, he was reading all five of the Level One Bible Stories for Early Readers in a few months, and it wasn't too long until he read a 61-page book on ponies. At that point Brenda commented that he read well silently and his comprehension was good, but his oral reading needed help.

Brenda feels that science was what she taught the poorest. However, her experience shows that if parents are willing to do the right things for young children, especially boys, while giving them a chance to grow up, they will succeed.