Two Articles by Jill Evely
How Living Books Teach
The following links will allow you to hear my September 2009 talk on "How Living Books Teach." This one hour talk has been broken into five parts to keep the files sizes down.
When Family Disapproves, by Jill Evely © 2003
I come from a family of teachers, in fact I have a teaching degree but chose to stay home and have a large family (5 children) instead of working. My parents were opposed to homeschooling from the start---and that was in 1990. We treated homeschooling as the proverbial "Elephant in the Room" -- we didn't talk about it. My dad did teach the boys drafting and woodshop, but my parents felt the kids needed a classroom setting in order to be able to go on to college, etc. At that time we were in a church of about 3000, and we were the only home educators in our church.
I was raised with the premise that education is your salvation. It is how my dad pulled himself out of poverty, so it is no wonder they were skeptical. Although Christians, they did not understand any of our convictions for educating our 5 children at home.
After SEVEN YEARS, my dad came and sat at the table where I was checking over some math papers and said, "You know we never approved of you homeschooling the kids. (Long Pause) But I see what great kids you have, and the closeness they have, how well they are doing and want to tell you your sacrifice was worth it. You have done a great job and you made the right decision."
Sometimes you just have to live it out---you can't talk it out or prove it with statistics, you have to live it out, just like your faith---day by day. My dad died a few years later, and oh what a sweet memory the above is for me. How glad I am that we stuck to it, that we lived it out, that we were kind and gentle with scoffers. Hopefully you will be able to tell your own stories of acceptance in the years to come.
The Whistle, by Jill Evely © 2003
My son was looking poorly. He had stopped whistling and his shoulders were hunched as I picked him up from school that fall day. It was hot--it was hot most of the time in our Florida community. He looked so small coming out of that big school, so slender and vulnerable.
He was trapped. We were all trapped. Since school started a few weeks before, Cris had been sick with asthma one day out of every three. Threatened and pushed around by the bigger boys because he wouldn’t fight back, his health was deteriorating. There were gangs and he was an easy target. Even though he was 12 years old, my husband and I couldn’t let him walk the 1/2 mile to and from school every day. It wasn’t safe. The neighbor boy had been badly beaten doing that very thing only a year or two before. It was one of the hardest times in our lives.
We tried getting him transferred which required a special permit. Dead ends. All dead ends. We had four younger children at home and my husband was the sole bread winner. We couldn’t afford a private school, and we were losing Cris to discouragement. The asthma was draining the very breath out of him.
A friend of mine mentioned homeschooling. This was in 1990 and I had never heard of it before. Was it legal? Would it work? Did I have the time? Were we crazy to even consider it? In no time my friend had put me in touch with a friend of hers, and before I knew it I was sitting in a park with my two preschoolers and several moms, perusing math books and scope and sequence charts. I had graduated from college years earlier with a teaching degree, but to teach all subjects with two little children under foot seemed daunting.
Still, it was worth a try. My husband and I felt God leading us in this direction, and Cris was willing, so I ordered 7th grade text books and waited for the mail man. In no time the books arrived. With warnings from the superintendent that he could probably never go to college or get back into public school again, we withdrew Cris from school, and began homeschooling.
My parents, and especially my dad, were really against the whole thing. A retired public school teacher and college professor with a Ph.D., Dad worried that Cris would never get into a college, and he wouldn’t learn what he needed to know.
Meanwhile, Cris began to flourish. Within two weeks I heard the sound I had prayed to hear for a long time ... Cris was whistling! He wasn’t so pale, he was standing taller and his asthma was practically non-existent. As we finished that year we looked forward to the next.
Our second son Dusty was supposed to go to the same school
the following fall. I knew what we had to do, but I felt unequal to
the task. “Lord,” I prayed, "I don’t want to homeschool them all. I am
not qualified. How will I find the time? Can I do this? ”
But God was faithful and I remembered His promise to be with me
always. So the next fall I had an 8th grader, 6th grader, 4th
grader, Kindergartener and a two year old in my homeschool. Could I do
it? My husband Bob, my biggest cheerleader, was behind me all the
way. The curriculum came and school started.
My parents were still against it, but Dad volunteered to teach the
boys drafting and woodworking. He was such a good sport, even though
he disagreed with us. We never really talked about homeschooling ... it
was the elephant in the room. We all knew it was there, but we
avoided talking about it. We agreed to disagree.
Years passed and after seven years my dad was visiting us
lived in Kentucky). I was busy correcting papers when he came in and
sat at the table with me. “You know I never approved of your homeschooling.” Then there was a big pause. “You have done a good
thing. When I see your kids, their character and what they know, I
realize that the sacrifice you made was worth it. You have done a
My dad died three years later, but that moment stays with me in my
heart and mind. The sacrifice God had called me to WAS worth it. My homeschooled kids have been a joy and a blessing to my husband and
I, to each other, and to the community.
Sometimes the hardest times in our lives lead us to the best
decisions in our lives. Sometimes it takes years to see our
sacrifices pay off. Sometimes we never see them pay off. But always
God is with us; leading, guiding, helping us do what He has called
us to do. Helping a little boy to whistle again.
As a note: Cris graduated from Asbury College in 2000 with a degree in Physical Science, and the College of Engineering at University of Kentucky in 2001 with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He is married and lives with his wife Jen in Lexington, KY. Dusty is married, and he and his wife Sharon also live in Lexington, KY. Dusty has recently gone back to school at University of Kentucky to complete his degree. Chad graduated from the University of Kentucky majoring in computer science and math. He is currently a computer programmer in Lexington. Kari graduated from our homeschool in May 2004 after spending her 10th and 11th grade years in public school and is currently working on her degree at University of Kentucky. Kari is studying to become a high school English teacher. Scott has just completed and has graduated from our homeschool high school. He plans to attend Eastern Kentucky University in the Fall (2007).
*Photo From left to right: Bob and Jill with Grandpa Paul in front,
Cris with wife Jen in front, Chad with Kari in front,
Dusty with wife Sharon in front and Scott on far right.
This is a small brochure that I worked on with two other ladies. We combined what we thought were the most important things you need to know to get started in homeschooling. Sonlight published it and they offer it for sale for a reasonable $3.50.
What you need to know about homeschooling before you start. Is
homeschooling right for you? What are the pros and cons?
A great interview with a veteran homeschool Mom (on a CD). Lots of
information for you, or someone you love. (Maybe even for family and/or
friends who don't understand why you homeschool or why you want to
Check out Jill's blog at
Here you will find Jill's thoughts on parenting, homeschooling, baking, soapmaking and lots more.
And Jill's web page can be found at
OUR COTTAGE INDUSTRY
Our Cottage Industry: I make homemade, old fashioned lye soaps, soy and beeswax candles and other healthy products. My soaps are very moisturizing, made from food grade and essential oils and the candles are not made from petroleum based products like most candles, but from American grown soy and beeswax. Come see my other homemade products too. Homeschooling Answers