Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Method behind the Madness: Why we chose to Home School.

If you had told me ten years ago, I would even consider homeschooling my child I’m pretty sure I would’ve laughed in your face.  I attended public school as a child.  My college experience included earning a degree in Computer Information Systems. I loved school. I have fond memories of elementary and high school.   But, somewhere along the way I have begun to feel uneasy.  I do not like what is happening in our country in a lot of areas, and I really do not like what is happening in our schools. I may not be able to control what is happening in our country, but I can control what is happening with my child’s education. There is no way we can afford private school.  Public school just isn’t doing it for Abby. Josh and Phillip have done ok and if I could turn back the hands of time I would home school them also.  
First and foremost there is God. 
It is like once homeschooling entered my mind, God started working. Yes, He did.  He has brought all kinds of amazing people and books and resources into my life.  I began to seriously ponder whether I could actually undertake this difficult task of homeschooling Abby. After studying and praying, I knew without a doubt, I have to do it! God has called me to do it.

Here are just a few of the reasons why I(we) have chosen to home school:

Life is short!
I don't know the length of my life, or Mike's life, or Abby's life. Will we be around one month from now?  Fifty years from now? Life is short, times moves quickly! Already, eight years of Abby's life has passed. I can not rewind time and I can not get it back, but I want to make the most of what time we do have together.
A portion of my mission statement says, "I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ and glorify Him by shepherding to the hearts of my children." It also says, "I will be a whole-hearted follower of Christ by stewarding wisely the time and resources God has entrusted to me."
At this point, we believe we must invest the precious time we’ve been given and give Abby a firm foundation.  Yes, I will have to “sacrifice” many things I’ve wanted to do.  Yes, I would love to have more time to myself or maybe even go back to school but as we all know, once you have children, your own wants get put on hold. We are not first anymore! God entrusted us to raise our children to the best of our ability.
BUT…I don’t have all the time in the world. I have right now.  And I believe I’m called to pour myself out for my husband and our family.

Homeschooling invites me into a relationship with my daughter.
I was torn on whether to put this in here, because I’m afraid it might be misunderstood.  Please don’t read this the wrong way.  I love and care for my all three of my kids…it’s not like I have to be forced into loving them.  There are just moments when relationships are hard. And when parenting is hard. For instance, I butt heads constantly with one of my kids.  Some days I wonder if I will be able to do this.  It’s at these moments I realize how valuable homeschooling is for mine and Abby’s relationship.  If Abby continues to be away from me for 8+ hours a day, I’d miss the character and heart issues that need dealt with (in her AND myself).  Being with her 24-7 means we have to find solutions and grow together!  We’re *forced* into building a strong relationship with each other and with God. I am not saying we will be perfect or that we will not have bad days. I expect that. But, we have to learn together to overcome these obstacles. Dr. William Sears says,   “According to this idea, the more time parents and kids spend apart, the less parents know and understand their kids; the less responsive, respectful, and communicative both parents and kids become; and the more time both need away from each other.” I don’t want that to happen to my relationship with Abby.  All too often, I’ve seen the change in children as they go away to preschool, elementary school, and middle school.  By the time they are teenagers, they want nothing to do with their parents.  We are experiencing this first hand as I write this. I don’t want this for Abby and I.  Yes, I want her to have friends and spread her wings but as well as being her mother; I want to be her best friend. I want her to come to me with anything and everything. I know this may not happen, but it will not be because I didn’t put forth every effort.
I’m thankful that homeschooling will invite us to a deeper relationship with each other and I’m grateful for the time that we will have to work on it!
God has been taken out of schools. We wonder what is wrong with our schools today. This is why! I will be able to incorporate God and the Bible into our daily curriculum as I see fit. I won’t have to worry about offending someone or breaking a rule! God will be the principal in our classroom. We will start every morning with a word from Him.
I’ve been given a great gift.
Almost three years ago, I became unemployed. At the time, I was devastated and had no idea what was going to happen to us all. We were a two income family. We HAD to have two incomes! Then after I decided to let go and let God take control, wonderful things began to happen!  I realized I was being given a chance to be a stay at home mommy. Something I had always wanted to do! The position of custodian at church was offered to me, I snagged it up.  Then an offer of being a pre-k teacher in our church’s “mother’s day out” program was presented to me.  I took it!  I was able to be a volunteer in Abby’s school during her kindergarten year. Yes, we as a family made sacrifices but we survived and are still surviving!
Then, first grade started. Abby did not like school as much anymore, like she did in kindergarten and the story progresses from there. It was not her teacher or administrative staff directly that she didn’t like. It was a lot of factors rolled into a big ball that caused her to begin disliking school. I am ashamed that when God put homeschooling on my heart a year ago that I didn’t proceed then.  But the important thing is I am going for it now.
Mike was not fully on board at first. He is a teacher and employed by the public school system, so it is understandable. He did not have a good experience of home school with Phillip several years ago. Again, that is understandable. He has since had a change of heart and with both of us on board and putting God first in our decision, we are proceeding.
Would we loan our brand new car out to a person we had not known for longer than a few minutes of introduction at an open house or orientation? No we wouldn't so why would we turn our child(ren) over to a teacher we've met once and let them be influenced and molded by them for hours each day?
Now, do not think for a second that I am bashing teachers!!  I know there are excellent teachers in my community, and there are excellent teachers all across the nation.  I know how challenging it is to teach and the rewards are often few and far between.  I also know that there are many teachers whose hearts are not in it.  They’ve grown cynical.  They crush instead of inspire.  More than that, they don’t share my values — and even if they do, they can’t teach them outright in the public schools. My daughter can pray if she wants to but why would she want to if the other kids are going to make fun of her for doing it (that has happened to her). Children are gifts. They are little sponges. I can not stand the thought of Abby losing the curiosity she possesses and the desire she has to learn and create. I know what she loves. I know what she struggles with. I love my kids more than anyone else ever could. Ultimately, God has made me responsible for training and discipling them. Am I perfect? No! Will I make mistakes? Yes! But with God directing me, we both will flourish! I do not feel I should give that responsibility to someone else for hours and hours each and every day.

Schools are not a good fit for "most" kids.
 I personally loved the "school" part of school. I was good at it. It fit my learning style. But I would say that I am the exception rather than the rule. Many schools I have seen, attempt to make cookie-cutter people. They desire uniformity. They stomp out creativity. They have an agenda. They have a certain test score to meet. They leave children with wounds. I have seen kindergartners go to school excited and exuberant. Nine months later, the leave hating school and learning.
It's extremely sad. Unfortunately, there are plenty of other reasons schools are not a good fit for some kids:
  • Bullying
  • Violence
  • Peer-dependency
  • Early exposure to alcohol & drugs
  • Sexual experimentation
  • Disrespect for adults
Children are growing up too fast, too soon.
I will do what I can to guard my children’s hearts.  I love the analogy that children are like newly-sprouted plants in a greenhouse, they need special care right now.  I’m not going to stick Abby out in the elements and expect her to be able to survive.  She needs time to grow deep, strong roots.  It’s my job to nourish those roots, to protect them, to give them the guidance they need to grow.  Soon enough, she will be transplanted outside of our “greenhouse!”  Right now, Abby loves to learn.  She feels safe.  She talks to me about everything.  Home is a pretty good fit for her.
We teach as we live.
When you are one on one with a child, you can accomplish "school work" in a shorter amount of time. We will not have to wait for the other kids to finish their work. Or if we need to take longer on an assignment because she "just doesn't get it," then we can do that also. We will not have to spend time moving from one location to the next. We will not have to go at the same speed for everyone. We will not have to deal with tons of discipline problems (only Abby's). Our on-task time is probably more in just a few hours than what children in schools accomplish for the whole day!
This frees up our time -- time for music, cooking, playing outside, visiting, serving, or other creative pursuits! We will be involved in local classes, sports, Girl Scouts, and various other community activities. When family members or friends visit, we can take off and enjoy their company while still learning. We can "do school" in the evening if necessary, or even on the weekend.
Then there is question of socialization.
One thing to stop and consider is the "socialization" that children are getting in the public school setting. Most children in the public school setting get straight out of bed, get ready for school and arrive at school between 7:30-7:45 a.m. still groggy and grouchy, and get home sometime between 3:30 and 5:00 pm. Some adults are not even gone from home this long each day. They spend all day with other kids who are basically the same age, same socioeconomic status, and sometimes even divided into the same gender. They have to spend their day around people they may or may not like and may or may not have any common interests with, all without any consideration for their personal choice. Their day is full of "hurry up" and "wait," having to sit in assigned seats and being quiet even when they have something to say. They have to learn what, when, and how they are told, even if it is something the family does not agree with. They can not even go to the bathroom at their own leisure. They are in an atmosphere where it is either be part of the crowd, be left out, or even worse, be singled out of the crowd. When the children finally get home from school, most of then have an after school activity and are completely worn out, do their homework, shower, eat and go to bed. They are running so fast and furious that they don't have time to relax. Where is their social time? Let alone time to spend with family.

Please do not take our personal reasons as judgment on what your family chooses to do. Again, lots have asked and I just wanted to share why WE are choosing to home school.

Truthfully, I know there will be hard days. There will be days I want to give up. There will be days I think I am just about to go crazy. There will be days that I blow it! However, I really feel the blessings will far outweigh the hardships.

I can not imagine my life without my family with me most of the day now. And, like I said, ten years ago I would have thought you were crazy if you had told me I was going to be homeschooling my child. I would have thought you were crazy if you had told me I would be a stay at home mom/teacher.

But, guess what?

I am happier now than I have ever been. I love my life and I want to share that love and excitement with Abby as she grows and learns! God has given me an opportunity and I am going to take it!

Love to you all!

Stay tuned! You can follow along as we begin this WONDERFUL ADVENTURE!!!

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