From Hollywood to Homeschooling
Lisa Whelchel's Journey
By Tricia Goyer
Lisa Whelchel, best known for her part as the uppity Blair
Warner on the television series, The Facts of Life ,
has experienced success according to the world's standards.
In 1976, Lisa, at the age of 13, started out in The
New Mickey Mouse Club. From there, Whelchel (who
now goes by Cauble) went on to star on stage and screen - she
even received a Grammy nomination for her solo album "All
Because of You."
Today as a mother of three, Lisa has an entirely different
focus. She calls it "God's upside-down version of success." Lisa
has gone from standing in front of the camera to standing
behind the scenes as a pastor's wife and a mother in her
fifth year of homeschooling.
Lisa, who lives in Santa Clarita, California with her
husband, Steve, never intended to homeschool in the beginning. "I
started my son, Tucker, when he was four, basically teaching
him reading and math. It was all very casual," Lisa says. "I
always assumed I'd put my kids in private school, but with
having three kids in three years and living on a pastor's
salary, that wasn't possible."
Lisa believes starting out casually was the key to having
such a great homeschooling experience. There wasn't a lot
of pressure and it didn't take much time. Now, with her
youngest daughter's foundational year behind her, Lisa
is enjoying teaching Tucker, now 8, Haven, 7, and Clancy,
6, even more. "I get to enjoy the benefits of homeschooling
all three together. They love it, and I love it because
it's efficient," Lisa says.
While Lisa's school schedule covers all the basic subjects,
she says her biggest goal isn't academic success. Instead,
she's more concerned with determining God's plan for each
of her children. "My kids are bright and if they lean toward
advanced academics I'm certainly going to support them,
but I don't necessarily feel that they have to have a college
degree in order to be everything God wants them to be.
I want to be sensitive to what the Lord desires for each
of them, whether it's being a mom, or even a really good
For now, Lisa says her main goal for homeschooling is
character development. "I have to continue to search the
Scriptures to see what's important to God, so I can mold
that in my children. Since the world's messages are screaming
out at all around us, I have to be focused on God's priorities
and make them my priorities in teaching."
One of those priorities, Lisa feels, is something she
learned after she became a Christian at age 10. "The Bible
is almost completely upside-down from what we've been taught
in the world. I want my children to learnt he upside-down
version first. I want them to know 'the last shall be first.'
When they have a conflict with each other, I never say, 'Okay,
who had it first?' My standard line is 'Who wants the blessing
here on earth and who wants the blessing in heaven?'"
These and other biblical truths, Lisa believes, will teach
her children to see things in relationship to eternity,
instead of just thinking about the here and now-and she's
willing to spend time away from the books to deal with
these types of issues if necessary. "If a worksheet doesn't
get completed because we have to take the time to discuss
good behavior and God's Word, that's okay. I look at the
Homeschooling fits into Lisa's priorities because she
has 24 hours a day to train her children. "Those are pretty
lofty goals," Lisa says, "and with teaching my children
at home I feel I have more of a fighting chance to teach
them character issues, since I have more time with them.
Also, I'm not retraining them against the things they've
picked up at school. We're not taking two steps backwards
and one step forward. If anything, we're inching forward."
And though most homeschooling parents deal with many of
these same challenges, because of her success, Lisa is
more closely watched than other mothers. But she doesn't
mind. In fact, she says she's used to it and welcomes it. "I've
been a role model in different arenas since I was young.
I'm not too confident in myself because I know that is
a very dangerous place to be, but as long as I depend on
the Lord, I want to be used by Him in any way I can, Right
now, I believe that's homeschooling."
So what does the media think of her decision to put her
career on the back burner and become a stay-at-home mom?
Amazingly, Lisa says, she's received a lot of encouragement. "I
think the world is really, really wanting to see a marriage
last and kids who are fun and well-mannered. They're rooting
Thought the popular prep school on The Facts of Life wrapped
up its nine-season run 10 years ago, Lisa has not strayed
far from the classroom. But instead of dealing with problems
that are solved in 30 minutes, this homeschooling mom's
eyes are focused on the eternal perspective-and that's
the fact of life that matters most.