Let’s head down to Florida and meet the Scott family: homeschoolers and musicians extraordinaire.
But first, let’s pay a visit to their website, TheScottDuo.com.
Here we find two musicians, Rosa and Marion Scott, who sport a list of awards and honors that will blow the reader away. They’ve attended various universities, including the Julliard School in New York, have won degrees, honors, and numerous musical competitions, and have worked as professional musicians in myriad capacities, most recently in churches.
Yet, when I first spoke with them by phone about homeschooling, neither of them said a word about these achievements. If there were a national award for humility, the Scotts would win hands down.
Now, the Scott duo appears to be headed toward becoming a quartet.
A Brief Family History
Marion is a native of North Florida and Rosa grew up in Lima, Peru. They met while in school at Julliard. Today, they make their home in Miami, where they’re homeschooling their two daughters, 8-year-old Marianne Rose and 5-year-old Faith Eugenia. Taught by their parents, both girls were playing the piano before they were 4 years old, and are also now studying the violin with concert violinist Mari-Liis Pak. Like Mom and Dad, they’ve competed in various competitions and received awards for those efforts.
In addition to their musical instruction, Marianne Rose and Faith are also educated at home.
In their younger years, Rosa attended Catholic schools in Lima, and Marion was a homeschooler. When the time came to decide about the education of their children, they chose homeschooling because of the freedom it gave them to select their children’s educational materials and because they wanted their daughters to grow up imbued with their religious faith.
“The primary thing was we knew we could bring up our daughters in the church,” Marion said, “They can explore their God-given talents without social pressures, free to worship God and follow their gifts.”
Rosa added: “We really emphasize that God has given them a mission and that he has given them a gift to develop and serve others. We tell them their lives will be fulfilled by serving God and others with their gifts.”
Both parents mentioned the flexibility that home education allows them in their work. Depending on the obligations of the day—Marion and Rosa both work as musicians for different churches, perform in a variety of musical venues, and teach piano lessons privately to students, including virtual classes online—they shift back and forth in their responsibilities at home.
“We’re able to spend every minute of their lives with them,” Rosa said. “Each day is a little adventure, and we can schedule learning in different ways, like going to the Everglades or the zoo.”
Marion stressed the family bonds that homeschool creates.
“The homeschooling families I know are very tight-knit. The education is centered around parents and children, and the schedule gives the family time to worship and pray together.”
Rosa noted that homeschooling requires fewer hours of academic work than a regular school, and Marion said, “Friends who haven’t had a background in homeschooling realize it’s more doable than they thought once they try it.”
“I don’t think until parents experience it they understand it. The more families do it, the more they like it,” Rosa said.
Both Rosa and Marion hope to continue to educate their daughters through high school, taking advantage of the dual enrollment opportunities in their local community colleges and helping the girls continue their musical pursuits.
The Way It Works
As for a typical homeschooling day, school starts immediately after breakfast.
Marion said: “We start the school day around 10 a.m., and after lunch, we do more school and sometimes take a walk. During the day and the evening, we usually do two or three short practices on the piano. We’ve found their attention span is better with the short practices. The girls focus better in the evening when it comes to music.”
The family uses a full-curriculum program, Seton Home Study School, which supplies books, other supplementary materials, lesson plans, tests, a grading service, and counseling. This helps keep them on track in terms of academics.
“Seton covers all the subjects,” Marion said, “which means I don’t have to put together other programs. Plus, I like the fact that Seton is accredited.”
Both parents commented on the importance of limiting time spent watching television and playing on computers. Though the girls do some online supplementary programs for subjects such as math and spelling, and they watch a few shows like “VeggieTales,” Rosa and Marion schedule plenty of time for their daughters for reading, exercise, and the pursuit of non-academic interests. Marianne Rose, for example, enjoys drawing, and her sister loves to be in the kitchen cooking and baking.
“When we turn off the screens, it’s like a detoxification process takes place,” Marion said with a laugh. “Those screens are like a sugar high for the brain.”
Obstacles and Inspiration
Not everything about homeschooling is easy.
“Sometimes our scheduling is hard,” Rosa said. “And sometimes when they take their breaks from schoolwork, the breaks go on a little too long. So we try to keep a balance between their studies and time for play.”
In their homeschooling journey, Rosa was inspired by a mother from her church who’d taught her children at home. She’d see the mother and her two daughters, both of them now grown now and with advanced degrees, arriving at the music center of the university where Rosa then worked. She noted the closeness of the two girls and their mother both there and in the parish, saw that the father too was very involved in family life, and found in this woman an example for her own choice of education.
Rosa and Marion Scott should inspire all of us who are parents, grandparents, and educators—and not just those who are homeschooling. They’re giving Marianne Rose and Faith a love for classical music and a fine academic education, but just as importantly, they’re instilling in their children a sense of mission in the world. So many of our young people need to be made more aware that they have a purpose in life and that they possess the ability to fulfill that purpose.
These two girls, and so many others like them, also remind us of the great potential existing within our children.
“I believe kids can handle more than some of us think,” Marion said. “I’m glad we have a demanding academic curriculum. Some of my colleagues from places like Russia and China are shocked by how few demands we make of children [in the U.S.].”
Mission, discipline, knowledge, passion, and love: Those are surely among the greatest gifts we can give to our children.
Jeff Minick has four children and a growing platoon of grandchildren. For 20 years, he taught history, literature, and Latin to seminars of homeschooling students in Asheville, N.C. He is the author of two novels, “Amanda Bell” and “Dust on Their Wings,” and two works of nonfiction, “Learning as I Go” and “Movies Make the Man.” Today, he lives and writes in Front Royal, Va. See JeffMinick.com to follow his blog.