Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Why Homeschool? Part 2

See Part 1- Intentional Influence here.

Our children do not belong to us.  They are on loan to us from God to steward for the time He gives them to us.

My heart has been softened to the immense responsibility God has given Paul and I in managing this great gift of our girls.  While I cannot control the outcome as my children grow and mature- they do have God given free will after all- I do have the choice to make the most out of the time I have with them.

It is our desire to homeschool in order to have a higher rate of 'success' in discipling our children.  Deuteronomy 6:4-9 outlines our Biblical command for the stewardship of our children.

"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (NIV)

Now, this is not a Biblical command to homeschool.  It simply declares the immense responsibility and joy parents have on the spiritual and I believe academic life of a child.  For the best chance of being the primary influence in our children's lives as exampled by this passage, we feel that the right direction (for now) is to train our children at home.

Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) says "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

We believe that the Holy Spirit has prompted us to bring our family together, keep our children at home in hopes that our children will benefit eternally and that we can obey the Biblical command in the way we feel God is leading us 'for such a time as this.'

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why Homeschool? Part 1

In an earlier post I mentioned how the plethora of good options made the decision to homeschool for the 2013-2014 school year a hard one.  I'd like to explain our reasons for making this decision, but first a disclaimer.  Every family has to make their own decision of what works best for them.  Our reasons may not be other's reasons to choose homeschooling.  There are great reasons to send children to public or private schools.  We have people in our sphere of influence who advocate for a variety of school options.  I respect each family's privilege to choose the educational path that works best for them.  I'm also aware that while we are making this decision for this coming year, we may change our minds.  My goal is to share our hearts where they are at now, not predicting where they might be in 2,5,10 years.
So, why homeschool?

#1- Intentional Influence
#2- Biblical Command
#3- Reaching Potential
#4- Common Core and the Federal Government

I'll write a little post on each of these eventually, but today I'll touch on #1.

About 10-12 months ago, I felt that God was leading me to a word that would transform every facet of my life.  The word was INTENTIONAL.  Perhaps He was trying to correct my lack of household organization, teaching me to not fly by the seat of my pants so much, or to simply be more on purpose with where He has me on each day.  It has seemed that ever since that word was brought to mind, the word has creeped into other aspects.  A recent parenting book (perhaps the best I've read) called Intentional Parenting offered great insight of what it meant to avoid auto-pilot as a mom, wife, and child of God.  My husband and I planned our vacations and times away with goals in mind so that activities, choices, and decisions would help us reach our desired outcome.

When it came to our schooling decision, God began to work on my heart on how I had the responsibility as my kids mother to be the primary influence in their lives (along with Daddy!).  If you look at the sheer math, we get very little time with our school aged children.  In reality, a handful of adults I barely know along with a room of 20 peers I know even less become the primary influence in my child's life.  I was becoming tired of getting her 'leftovers'.  She would leave our home each morning with a bounce in her step at 8 am.  She would come home tired and drained at almost 4pm.  Then, there was the hour or so of homework each night that we would have to try to do together (uphill battle for a 6 year old who just wanted to play with her sister!).  By 8 pm she was back in bed.  Weekends were helpful, but often she would still be playing 'catch up' from the week.  I want to enjoy my child at her best, not feel discouraged by dealing with her worst.  I know if I had a friend who only saw me from 4-6pm everyday they would think I'm pretty tired, cranky, and lack clean shirts!  It would be a very one dimensional view of who I was. 

In the end, Paul and I want to be the primary influence in our children's life.  We want to enjoy our kids at their best.  We want to discover who they are and who God may be forming them to be.  We don't want a school system dictating so many aspects of our life.  We want to be intentional and we feel that in order to have the highest probability for success, we should educate our children at home.

"Whether he is a mystery or more familiar, our job is to become a student- to seek to understand the work that God began and is faithfully completing in the lives of our children. Our job is to steward that, not change it." p. 18 of Intentional Parenting

Friday, June 14, 2013

When there are many good options

We have been blessed enough to live in a community where there are many great schooling options.  For us (well at least for me) it brought the paradox of choice into play- where too many choices end up paralyzing and confusing the decision maker.

Izzy has spent her first two years of schooling (Kindergarten and 1st) at the local public school.  It has been a great experience overall.  While there have been frustrations along the way, we have been content with the education she has received.  The district is conservative in its values and reflects the deeply rooted convictions of the community.  Families are flocking to the township or driving long distances in school of choice to give their own children a chance of learning in this district.

Within our community there also two great Christian schools and one charter school.  On the surface, all seem to provide a quality educational experience.  We also live in a hub of activity with regards to homeschool connections.  A homeschool building offering classes, co-ops, bookstore, sports teams, musical groups, and more is about 2 miles up the road.  Local churches offer classes for homeschooled children during women's bible study hours and many gymnastics and dance studios offer homeschool classes.

I feel spoiled by the number of good choices for educating our children.  Many are forced into making a decision by lack of options, having to choose the 'best of the worst'.  However, choosing the path to discontinue a 'good' option of public schooling and moving into homeschooling has been a little paralyzing.  How do we choose the 'best' out of all of the good options?  Why would we choose the 'harder' path of homeschool when so many options to outsource this part of parenting are available?

God laid on the heart of Paul and I independently to pursue the path of homeschooling our children.   The choice was overwhelming at times, a spiritual battle.  Many times I was discouraged by the options and wanted to just 'settle' and go back to public schooling.  I had a great idea of what homeschool could look like, but was paralyzed by the 'why' in an environment of too many options.  In time, clarity came and so did a faith that passes the need for having a perfect set of why's and how's.

We have committed to take each year as it comes.  1 year at a time.  We are have our reasons for choosing this path, but in the end it came to trust.  Trust in the Holy Spirit's prompting that this was the right choice for our family.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

And so it begins...

Yesterday was the last day of school, not only for our recent 1st grade graduate, but also our last day of public school for the foreseeable future.  Today begins our newest venture- homeschooling.  I decided to start this new blog to chronicle our journey for many reasons.

1) When the going gets tough (and I know there will be bad days) I want to remind myself of WHY we chose this adventure for our family.

2) Perhaps help someone else who is thinking about making the jump to homeschool from public school.  Hopefully they will be able to learn from my mistakes and be encouraged by our (hopeful) successes.

3)  To bring a 'real' example of homeschool to others.  I've been discouraged by the posts and websites of other homeschool moms who look like they have it all together in that perfect pinterest way.  I feel so inadequate to try to 'match' what they have done.  Hopefully my honesty of the highs and lows will encourage other homeschool families.

4)  To chart my growth over time as a wife, mom, teacher, and daughter of the King.  I anticipate God to do a mighty work in our family as we journey to be more intentional as parents, spouses, and a family.

Over the next week or two I will begin outlining our reasons for homeschooling and the decisions we've made thus far.  I hope you join us on this journey.  We will need encouragement, advice, and prayers as we open our hearts and home to more intentional influence through homeschooling.