- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 11, 2006

Michele Humble traces her decision to home-school to watching a TV newsmagazine about a woman who home-schooled her six children while running a family store. The children completed college before most students finished high school.

“That’s what I would like to do,” Mrs. Humble remembers thinking, “and that was before I had any child of my own. I always wanted to be a teacher, and I felt that I’d be the best teacher of my children because I would know their strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else.”

Today, Mrs. Humble and her husband, Carmichael, are parents to four girls, ages 10, 8, 6 and 2 weeks. While their dad goes to work every day for the D.C. government, the three oldest girls study at home with mom using the Robinson curriculum, Saxon math and a number of other resources. Mrs. Humble has home-schooled the children since her oldest was 5, and she hopes to do so until they graduate from high school.

“Some people say to me, ‘Are you going to do this until they’re grown?’” Mrs. Humble says. “I tell them that is my plan right now. I enjoy that I’m the one teaching my child. It’s the desire of my heart.”

The Humble family is part of a home-schooling cooperative, the Christian Home Educators of D.C. Together with 15 to 20 other home-schooling families, they go on field trips, do special study segments on topics such as the rain forests or the Civil War and celebrate the students’ accomplishments with a closing ceremony and potluck dinner.

Although the family enjoys trips to the Smithsonian museums, the library and other places where they can learn about interesting topics, Mrs. Humble’s rule is, “No stress, no strain, no struggle.”

“I’m a great believer in ‘less is more,’” she says. “If I’m getting too stressed out and frazzled, it’s not good for the kids. Kids are like sponges. I have to have peace, so if something is too stressful, we don’t do it.”

The three older girls take ballet classes each week, and each one is learning piano or violin.

“This is the time of all the recitals,” their mother says. “I’ll be happy when they’re over and we have more time.”

Balancing the demands of motherhood and education isn’t easy, but Mrs. Humble says she draws her strength from her faith and the impact she sees on her family.

“Every day, I think, ‘God, please give me the wisdom to do this,’” she says.

“I enjoy seeing my child ‘get’ something, really understand something. For Black History Month, I teach about a different historical figure each day, and I was telling my oldest daughter about Frederick Douglass and the Underground Railroad,” Mrs. Humble says. “Her younger sister was just lying on her back, feet up in the air, and seemingly not paying attention. But when I asked the question ‘Who else was helping with the Underground Railroad?’ and my oldest daughter didn’t respond, the younger one said, ‘Harriet Tubman.’ That really makes me happy.”

Mrs. Humble treats a trip to the doctor’s office or on the public bus as a “teachable moment.” People remark on the children’s calm and polite deportment and their ability to focus.

“I used to get really offended at comments people made that I was being selfish or overprotective, but now I realize that it’s my job to protect them. If we’re on a bus on Georgia Avenue, they’re being exposed to all kinds of things. It’s my job to instill in them the right values,” she says.

To parents afraid that they aren’t experts in every subject, she advises, “You are more qualified than any teacher, and you can do a better job with your children than anyone else. People get lost in the shuffle. Children do act out. But the teachers are not able to espouse the same values we teach in the home.”

D.C. residents interested in home-schooling can call Salanda Thomas of the Christian Home Educators of D.C. at 202/829-5041.

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

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