Tuesday, July 30, 2013

When Doubts Creep In

While we are confident in our decision to homeschool for the upcoming school year and feel at peace with the "why's" of our choice, it is inevitable for doubts to creep in.  Here have been my doubts as we have travelled this journey.
  • I often 'fail' at motherhood, how can I be a good mom and a good teacher at the same time?
  • What if I don't like it?
  • What if the girls don't like it?
  • What if it makes the girls bicker more instead of less?
  • What if homeschooling puts Izzy behind her peers academically?
  • My kids won't turn out weird, right?
For the most part, I have been able to have peace to get past the attacks of the "what ifs?" on the doubt list.  Taking each day, week, and year as it comes allows for an open invitation for God to lead us into the best educational decision for our family.

It's the first one I still struggle with often as we approach our 'start' day for homeschooling.  I don't have pinterest worthy projects lined up.  My house is a minefield of toys and crumbs.  My children are not bathed as regularly as they should be.  I hate craft time and do not enjoy having my kids bake with me.  But, in the end, I'm a good mom.  My kids are fed, clothed, and loved.  

I love teaching.  But if I 'fail' so much at motherhood, how can I possibly be a good mom and a good teacher at the same time.  Will I be able to distinguish between the two roles?  Should there be a distinction?

As we travel this journey, I anticipate daily struggles and doubts.  Thankfully, I have the Master Teacher on my side.  God has directed our path to this moment, and will continue to do so.  No matter what doubts I have, God is greater than all of them.  If I am willing to listen, He will be faithful to put the pieces into place.  He will give confidence, skills, and ability to be successful in this journey.

Give ear, and hear my voice;
give attention, and hear my speech.
Does he who plows for sowing plow continually?
Does he continually open and harrow his ground?
When he has leveled its surface,
does he not scatter dill, sow cumin,
       and put in wheat in rows
and barley in its proper place,
and emmer as the border?
For he is rightly instructed;
his God teaches him.

-Isaiah 28:23-26

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Why Homeschool? Part 4

The previous 3 parts of sharing why we have chosen homeschool for at least the next year were desired outcomes we are running towards.  We believe that with those end goals in mind, homeschool will give us the highest probability if getting there.

Part 4 is a little different because it focuses on more of something we are looking to avoid rather than attain.  We are not running out of fear, but stepping away due to concern.  While not all of the details are fully known, and some of the items I'll discuss are plausible results of decisions being made now, we have decided to be pro-active for the time being for the best of our family.

Why have we chosen homeschooling?  The increasing role of the federal government in education through Common Core State Standards.

We Believe:

  • Public Schools are the responsibility of the local government, locally elected officials, and partnerships between teachers and parents to decide what and how best to teach the children of the community.
  • "How" usually precedes the ability to understand "Why" especially in math at the elementary level.
  • Worldview and political issues do not belong in most classroom environments (especially at the elementary level)
  • Standardized Testing is inadequate, unfair, and one dimensional in its evaluation of students, teachers, and schools.
The New Common Core State Standards (CCSS):
  • Were developed primarily by politicians, lobbyists, curriculum developers, and testing services.
  • Were not actually developed by the States.
  • Are falsely advertised as voluntary as the Federal Government as linked qualification to grant money to one's participation in CCSS.
  • Decreased emphasis on mastery of skills to conceptual thinking which leads to downgraded standards but raised expectations on standardized testing.
  • Focus on the "Why" rather than the "How" (example- a student should understand why 2+2= 4 before they learn that 2+2=4)
  • Require 'broad' worldview that must include things like the liberal definition of marriage, climate change, and evolution but cannot include items deemed Christian in viewpoint.
  • Equates public opinion articles and government papers on the same level as time proven classic literature.
  • Takes away local control of education and puts it onto path for a national school system:  Federally mandated core standards ---> decreased curricula choices ---> limited approved pedagogy (how a concept is taught) ---> National Education System
  • Zaps teacher creativity and freedom
  • Will lead to government dependency
  • May destroy ingenuity and entrepreneurial vision
  • Track students preschool-grade 12 in a massive database system accessible to all government agencies with data points such as blood type, religious affiliation, dental records, voting record, detailed transportation data, behavior, diseases and health history, and home status.
  • Place students early on into 'tracks' for vocational training, college prep, etc.  Dreams, desires, freedoms of children will be squashed before they can even be old enough to drive a car.
  • Force hand of private institutions to change curricula despite beliefs to maintain accreditation and and align with national testing

I will be the first to admit that a lot of these details are still sketchy as CCSS has yet to see full implementation, but the patterns are in place and the expressed desire of this government administration is well known to be on the side of 'big government'.  So, we are being pro active and taking a step out of the public school system for the time being.  Perhaps these root problems will be worked out and we feel that it is once again the right choice for our family to be in the public school system.

For some great information on CCSS (and the sources for my post):
Michelle Malkin has been doing great work on researching CCSS

Common Core Math Issues

Truth in American Education

The Federal Government Stepping into Schools

CCSS Not State Led

CCSS Testing

Problems waiting to happen

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Why Homeschool? Part 3

Every parent aches with the desire for their kids to reach their God-given potential.  We want to see them succeed in life, wherever it takes them.  Their talents and skills are uniquely ordained but often need to be fostered in order for them to come to full fruition.

As a trained teacher myself, I understand first hand the immense responsibility and even unfair expectation on any given teacher for them to shepherd 25 little children through a 9 month school year and have each one of them reach their fullest potential for the time.  Teachers face an uphill battle of administration, politics, learning styles, cookie cutter curriculum, hands on parents, hands off parents, behavior issues, incessant labels, IEP's, and often underpaid and appreciated as they attempt to help their class of little learners prepare for the next stage in life.

It is our belief that our children will have a higher rate of success in reaching their potential if their unique personalities, skills, talents, desires, and intrigues are fostered in an intentional environment at home.

This came about after many nights of frustrating math homework and writing assignments were done at the kitchen table.  Yearning to simply master 2+3, Izzy was paralyzed by confusing conceptualization techniques to 'help' her understand why 2+3=5.  Instead of building fluency of each writing step at a time (sentence structure, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling, details, etc) she was stifled in her creativity out of fear of what to focus on and to do it right.  We realized our first grader's potential would not be met under these conditions.  She was not designed to learn this way and it is our God given responsibility (and joy) to help her find what works best for her.

Even if just for the next year we help build confidence on her educational journey towards becoming the woman God has designed her to be, I will consider it a success.

Why Homeschool?
Part 1
Part 2