Megan's Homeschooling Ministry by Sally Corrigan
Charlies Criniere was a public school teacher, but his wife Megan homeschools their children. Curious? Not really. Charlie grew up in the inner city of Chicago. He came from a very difficult family situation. His mother left at age 5, and for most of his early childhood, he was raised by his father, who worked long hours as a machinist. Charlie quickly found himself running the streets of Chicago and was never pressed to apply himself in school. He ended up in and out of trouble and dropped out of High School. Long story short, he became the poster child for a juvenile recovery program that helped him finish his schooling and go through college. After Charlie found Jesus and he wanted to pour his life back into troubled youth. Doing Christian ministry and teaching in public schools was the perfect platform for him to do this. Charlie was on a mission to bring change to the next generation - this is why he was a teacher.
Charlie always wanted a big family, and the Lord provided the perfect wife to make this a reality. Megan and Charlie always prayed fervently for their children, and very early on, Megan felt called to homeschool their children. Many people don't understand the extreme commitment, and responsibility required for homeschooling - although homeschooling can be tough, Megan has the perfect determination and temperament to be a great homeschooling mom.
The main reason that Charlie and Megan wanted to homeschool their children was to see God's intent for family manifested in their home. Peering into the scriptures, we see that at the very beginning, God called humanity to spread His kingdom throughout the earth and in and through the family. The command was simple:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it…” - Genesis 1:28
Charlie and Megan took this scripture literally! What could God do through a family that was very healthy, very skilled, and very equipped? Well, Jesus changed the entire world forever through 12 men, so what could a family of 12 do today? This was the driving motivation behind Charlie and Megan's zeal for family.
When we look at the core of all society, family is at the very heart. Healthy families cannot protect children from the pains of life, but healthy families can train children how to navigate through the various trails of life. Healthy children grow up to be healthy adults. Healthy adults have the capacity to bring healing and restoration to the broken. The old saying is true, "Hurt people hurt other people, but healthy people can bring health to other people."
Today, the average parent only spends 5 hours of face-to-face time with their children each week¹. Each day children are rushed off to school and then rushed off to a plethora of after-school activities leaving parents with less than one hour of meaningful time with their children each day. Many well-meaning parents are seeking to create amazing childhood memories for their kids, but sadly, those memories don't include regular family dinners where parents connect with their kids. Charlie and Megan made mealtimes a priority. Their mealtimes are a time when their family can connect with each other and discuss other events or topics.
There has been what many call a homeschooling revival since the 1970s and especially in the last 20 years. Homeschooling curriculums have exploded since the year 2000², giving moms an overwhelming amount of material to choose from. At the core of this movement is the belief that parents can be equipped to be the main educators of their children rather than a stranger who may or may not hold to their same values. Many say that because of the sheer amount of time children are spending away from their parents, the most influential people in their lives are their peers at school. It is frightening to think of teens leading other teens while the majority of parents are disconnected. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
Pretty much everyone born prior to 1830 was a product of homeschooling in one form or another³. Prior civilizations were much more family-centric than what we experience in the United States in the 20th century. Life is much more complex today, and thus, education at its core has also become more complex. The emphasis in our modern era on performance in the marketplace greatly outweighs character development and has produced a society that defines success in a way that militates against the centrality of God's intent for humility, love, and servanthood.
Our public school's teacher-to-student ratio is about 15:1, which has dramatically improved since 1955⁴, but still many students still slip through the cracks. Parents are so busy, they have become disconnected from the experience their children are having away at school 8 hours a day.
Many people point to how superior our modern era is because of technology. Technology obviously has enormous benefits, but in so many ways, we now have a lazy culture where youtube tutorials are the norm, and real skills like reading, writing, spelling, arithmetic, logic & reason are a distant memory from the victorian age. Yes, more people have access to more knowledge than ever, but are we really smarter? Children are becoming more and more addicted to all the various devices. They are asking Google and Siri all the questions of life instead of their parents (or looking to a book to find answers.) When their parents give them a different answer than the computer-generated voice, they tend to believe the device in their hand as the final authority. This is puffing up the youth with so much knowledge (devoid of maturity) that they think they are smarter than their parents. Self-righteous defiance and disrespect are now normative. The way young people think and talk about people in authority is shocking. What happened to chivalry, civility, honor, and proper manners?
Charlie and Megan knew that if they were going to bring lasting change to the next generation, it had to start in their own home, and homeschooling was what they felt led by the Lord to do.
Megan spends hours and hours of time each day with her children, and it shows! The Criniere children are smart, generous, kind, loving, and tenderhearted. And most importantly, they have a deep, deep connection with their mother. The Criniere kids are the furthest thing from the 'typical homeschool kid' stereotype. They are involved in part-time jobs (the older kids), sports, and church. They are socially adaptable and carry the traits that most parents would love to see in their kids.
Watching Megan interact with her nine kids at home is simply amazing. She has a keen awareness of what is happening around the house and, more importantly, what is happening inside the hearts of each of her children. Women of old like Susanna Wesley, who raised the world changers - John, and Charles Welsey, have brought Megan great inspiration. Homeschooling done right is far more than educational training but is one of the very purest forms of Christian discipleship.
As a homeschooling mom myself, I can attest that this 'job' is probably the hardest on the planet. I have seen many homeschooling families find limited success, but Megan has an uncanny ability to find what works for each of her children. She has found what motivates each child, and with the help of a couple cups of coffee, she makes it look easy. I have always admired her ability to go through life with her kids with such a steady gaze. Megan is simply amazing at being a homeschooling mom. She is steady, kind, unwavering, encouraging, and intentional.
Now that Charlie is gone, Megan is more determined than ever to continue building a family that will have a real impact upon the earth. She has her face set like flint to continue to build an enduring foundation for her children to stand upon. I truly believe that the Criniere family will shine like bright lights in a dimly lit world. And I know that the testimony that is being forged in them will bring real transformation to many families for decades to come.
We have a saying at the church I attend that "Revival is family." If we are going to see God's purposes come forth, we must focus our attention on the restoration of the family.
Something amazing is happening with the Criniere's home - inside and out. There is an extensive home remodeling effort happening, including making a new homeschool room for Megan and her children. There is also a huge renovation happening on the outside of their home. I believe this is an outward sign that what is happening inside their home is going to be put on display for all to see.
The Criniere family is going to shine because Megan and Charlie have put so much time, effort, and prayer into their children and family!
- Sally Corrigan