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Homeschool Civics Through Imitation

in Culture

Homeschool Civics Through Imitation

in Culture

Politicians have been talking more than usual about education in the past few weeks.  President Obama unveiled his plan to give away 2 years of free community college to students earning a 2.5GPA or higher.  158 governors, mayors, and county officials issued proclamations to recognize last week as National School Choice Week.  Following Arizona’s lead, ten states are considering legislation that would require students to pass a federal citizenship exam before graduating high school.

Obama’s plan would change the financial landscape for high school graduates, including homeschoolers, attending any college, not just community colleges.  National School Choice Week had a better showing from homeschoolers in 2014 than 2013, and with 2.2 million U.S. students now being homeschooled, homeschooling is a growing minority choice for parents across the country who are fed up with overtesting and poor academics in public schools.  New Hampshire is backpedalling and introducing an amendment that would exempt homeschoolers from its proposed American citizenship exam requirement.  This move makes sense when 35% of U.S. adults consider politics and government too complicated to understand, compared with 4% of homeschool graduates.

Each of these issues impacts homeschoolers, but what about the broader issue of teaching civics to homeschool kids? How can parents best equip their children to interact with the culture through the vocation of citizen? How can homeschool parents nurture students who will have concern for their communities and understand the weighty responsibility each vote holds?

As public school graduates and busy, hardworking Americans ourselves, most homeschooling parents may be personally disengaged from politics in ways we don’t realize. After all, elections happen only every now and then. Who has time to lobby their city council? Isn’t that just for Crazy Joe Activist who writes a letter to the editor every week? What can one person really do to change things?

I know I use these same excuses. But mostly, I never really did it before, so setting up a meeting with my congressman is intimidating. For a 30-year-old, college-educated person, that’s just embarrassing.

In fact, most of us likely completely shirk our responsibility to research candidates before election day (and beyond what the major networks show on nightly news). We may never call or email our representatives, let alone show up in their offices to voice our concerns. We may never attend or even read a newspaper article about the city council meeting.

This civic laziness doesn’t absolve us from responsibility for the actions our representatives take. After all, even ignorant votes elect leaders. Our own civic disengagement is what we should address if we want our kids to learn how the government works.

So how do we teach our kids to carry the weight of their responsibilities as citizens well? We should take a page out of the 4H handbook and “Learn by doing” because our kids will copy what we do.

It’s a law of nature. Like osmosis.

Horace Bushnell, in his 1861 book Christian Nurture, beautifully elaborates on how inescapable this fact is:

“The spirit of the house is breathed into [the child’s] nature, day by day.”  The anger and gentleness, the fretfulness and patience—the appetites, passions, and manners … not because the parents will, but because it must be so, whether they will or not” (100).

To parents who try with their words to counteract the influence of their actions, (we’ve all been there, haven’t we?) Bushnell says:

“Your character is a stream, a river, flowing down upon your children, hour by hour.  What you do here and there to carry an opposing influence is, at best, only a ripple that you make on the surface of the stream.  It reveals the sweep of the current; nothing more.  If you expect your children to go with the ripple, instead of the stream, you will be disappointed” (118-119).

Yet this unstoppable formation of our children’s characters does have power for good:

“Understand that it is the family spirit, the organic life of the house … working as it does, unconsciously and with sovereign effect—this it is which forms your children to God” (111).

In the matter of citizenship, our kids will benefit far more from seeing us engage in democracy—not just on election day—than going through a civics curriculum.

Yes, please, let’s teach them history, the functions and forms of government, and all the academic subjects that are relevant to the life and vocation of a citizen.  Maybe it’s even okay to force them to pass the American citizenship exam as part of that coursework.

Whatever curriculum you choose, homeschooled kids are more likely to engage in the culture simply because they’re homeschooled.  Homeschooling is really the epitome of individual Americans asserting their human right to raise their children as they see fit, so our children are already seeing us in action.  But if we really want to be intentional about helping our kids learn how to make a positive impact on the culture around them, we must set the books down and go do it ourselves.

Rhiannon Kutzer

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Nice to meet you!

I’m Rhiannon.

You can call me Rhi for short (as in “rejoice”). I’m a fiercely independent homeschooling mom of five, a Navy wife of 13 years, and a creator of various things: articles, a semi-regular newsletter, quilts, furniture, and the occasional knitted scarf. This is the site where I write about our homeschool journey and news and happenings in the homeschool world. more about me.


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  • One of the things I most love about #homeschooling is the freedom it allows us to love books. It is 9:30am. We just finished breakfast after getting up late because last night we had troop meetings for our scouting groups. The kids are all well-fed and well-rested. But before we start on reading the books I’ve assigned them, we’re taking some time to read our own choices.
When I was a kid, we had plenty of books in the house, but I never really read for pleasure. It didn’t matter that my mom was a librarian and teacher. I wanted to be outside. I thought reading was for school hours and school work.
I carried these thoughts through high school and college, where I read a lot of really great books, but not many that I chose for myself.
My kids will have a totally different experience. Not saying mine was bad, but I am saying that I missed out on worlds or great books and thoughts from great authors in my younger years that I am only discovering now as an adult: the middle books of Narnia, Anne of Green Gables, Arthur Conan Doyle, Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter, Harry Potter, and many more.
My kids have the TIME FREEDOM to get to know the thoughts of authors they CHOOSE. I don’t care how you school, all kids deserve this opportunity. All kids DESERVE to believe that books can be FUN and INTERESTING and MYSTERIOUS and LOVELY.
What can you do today as a homeschooling/private schooling/public schooling parent to help your kids love reading? Make no mistake: if ALL our kids take from their educations is a habit of reading widely and enjoying it, they will stand a great chance of becoming great adult humans.
#amreading #readaloudrevival #bravewriterlifestyle #homeschool #schoolchoice #charlottemasonirl
  • FINALLY! Everyone is well (enough) that we are back to school. No one is in bed with a fever #winning . Instead, we get to spend our morning with the Scottish Play. I 💛 me some Shakespeare and #MorningTime !
#homeschool #homeschooling #family #amreading #shakespeare #bravewriterlifestyle
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Fact: That support will almost 100% of the time be the females around you.
Fact: Our whole family got the flu literally THE DAY Jake’s boat pulled out.
Fact: This little @theglorioustable ditty about crashing our proverbial banana trucks posted the same day. God has a sense of humor. Link also in profile. (
The fact that I am just now getting around to posting about it tells you the extent to which the flu knocked me on my ass. I was in bed for three days straight. I am NEVER this sick.
Fact: If it weren’t for strong, kind, generous WOMEN around me, I probably would have ended up in the hospital and my kids may or may not be alive. The menfolk care too, they just weren’t here. Couldn’t support. Had their own work to do. The mission does not stop for sick families.
Find yourself a tribe if you want to survive. You HAVE to have someone to call. Even if, like me, it’s your mom (who will--wisely--tell you to ask for local help even though you don’t want to be a bother.) I needed prayers, sure, but more than that, I needed local people to literally come to my house and feed my kids and put food in my fridge, be here while I went to the doctor, and put my kids to bed when I was too sick to stay awake a minute longer. A virtual community CANNOT do those things. It can try, but a local community has power a virtual community will never have.
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  • Morning Time Details! E. (12), S. (almost 8), and L. (6). Our Morning Time morphs as the kids grow and change. It usually includes a combination of memory work and reading aloud. We try to cover a WHOLE LOT of things: Shakespeare, Bible, poetry, catechism, hymns, timeline, art study, composer study, and Ambleside selections for nature study, tales, and church history. This term I’m adding Plutarch.
The hard part is figuring out where I want to aim, with the 5-year gap between E. and S., and then L. being a newbie to full-on school. Having moved twice in 2019, I nixed MT and just focused on individual work. That came with costs. Shakespeare, Plutarch, art study, and composer study suffered. Memory work barely happened at all. I was BUSY. We missed out on discussing things together. Now that we’re settled, it’s time to restart MT.
This term I’ve decided to aim Shakespeare and Plutarch at the oldest, while the girls listen in and do handwriting/drawing/fine motor. I won’t ask them for much narration. Our reading schedule for these is AMBITIOUS. Maybe crazy. Then we’ll do all the memory & read aloud stuff that suits everyone. These lessons are SHORT. Then E. will go do his individual work while I read aloud w/ just the girls.
Also, “Morning Time” is a misnomer, considering we break it up throughout the day. It should really be called Morning/Lunch/Nap Time. I need a new name. Circle Time? Except we don’t sit in a circle. Together school? Except we’re together doing school all day. I don’t think English has the word I’m looking for. Maybe Tertulia or Salon?
Our actual coursework is: the Scottish Play, Plutarch is Alexander the Great’s life, our artist is Gustave Courbet, composer is Paganini, Bible memory is Psalm 46, Hymn is Jesus, Savior, Pilot Me, read alouds will rotate from Burgess Bird Book, Trial and Triumph, Blue Fairy Book, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Vanderbeekers, & picture books. Timeline is from Classical Conversations. Poems are Charge of the Light Brigade, Winter Night by Teasdale, and The Land of Nod.
Whew! It’s gonna be a fun term! What do you guys do for Morning Time?

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