- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

Focus on the Family, after 30 years of radio broadcasting and print publishing, has developed a substantial presence on the American scene as a supporter of pro-family initiatives. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the organization has been an early and consistent supporter of home-schooling, and played a key role in promoting and safeguarding family education in the public arena.

According its official statement, “We believe that homeschooling provides a valuable option for parents who desire an education unencumbered by the limitations in public schools.”

The group goes on to cite academic excellence, passing on Christian values, familial bonding and secure emotional development as important reasons why parents should be free to educate their children, unimpeded by government controls (www.citizenlink.org/FOSI/education).

More than just advocating for the rights of family educators, Focus on the Family provides numerous practical tools for home-schoolers.

It has assembled hundreds of books, videos, newsletters, recorded interviews and periodicals on topics pertinent to educating one’s children. For fathers, there are books such as “The Home Schooling Father,” and “Help! I’m Married to a Homeschooling Mom.” An audio recording, “Why Dads Should Get Involved,” tells the stories of dads who found that home-schooling allowed them the deepest and most important experience of fathering.

Other materials help people understand the benefits, make the decision to home-school, and get started.

Guidance for those who are already educating their children includes book reviews, assessment tools, newsletters and audio CDs. Children’s books with positive content are available; textbooks can be purchased on history, science, biblical themes and issues faced by today’s families.

Advice and encouragement on handling the financial challenges, avoiding burnout, finding or developing a support group, and overcoming other hurdles are covered by talk show guests who have developed strong skills in these areas.

Focus on the Family’s network of home-schooling experts includes legal experts, academicians, parent advocates, legislators and religious leaders. Dorothy and Raymond Moore, Mike and Elizabeth Smith, Mary Orr, Lisa Whelchel, Kevin Swanson, Brian D. Ray, Rebecca St. James and others shared their insights over the airwaves.

Informing listeners about judicial and legislative issues that affect home-schoolers is an important function of Focus on the Family. Equally important is publicizing the facts on the academic achievements of home-schoolers and other evidence that home-schooling works.

Finally, by highlighting the outstanding accomplishments of individual home-schoolers, the group has built public recognition of the value of family-based education.

This is such a great model for “good news” media. James Dobson’s organization has truly provided families crucial information and positive guidance as well as real-life tools to build great families.

After years of catching the occasional Focus on the Family broadcast, I’m only now grasping the significant resource the group has been — a steadfast ally in the process of raising children to become mature men and women of integrity and wisdom, compassion and service.

For more information, check out its Web site (www.family.org).

c Kate Tsubata, a home-schooling mother of three, is a freelance writer who lives in Maryland.

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