Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why we are choosing homeschool: A reminder for myself

So, lately I've been so into the curriculum, planning, schoolroom makeover mood that I have had little time to just sit and simmer on the idea that we will soon be taking full responsibility for our children's education. The overwhelming nature of this task has somehow evaded my thoughts until this week. And then I panicked. Well, not really panicked in the sense of running around, panting, breathing in a bag, but more along the lines of second-guessing our commitment to this new chapter in our parenting adventure. After talking with David about it, he agreed that things will be tough but then he reassured me of our decision by reiterating why we chose this for our family. So, for my own peace of mind - and to have a post that I can always go back to for a reminder- I have decided to write this post to remind myself of the reasons we set out on this adventure to begin with.

1 - We feel that God is calling us to be a homeschool family. The circumstances which led up to this decision, which you can read about here, left us in a survival mode. After Dylan was suspended from school, we knew we did not want him to be in a reform school (because, well, he doesn't belong there). We also knew that because of the crazy new blemish in his school file, many of the private schools in our area would have declined him as a prospect for their school. Our only other option seemed to be homeschooling, which I refused to consider at this point. But God has a way of turning you around when you're headed in a direction that is contrary to His Will for your life (and I mean that in a very literal way, like with Jonah & the great fish). And that's exactly what He did in our situation.

Dylan was suspended on March 2 (a Wednesday) and on March 3-5 (Thursday - Saturday) there was a major homeschooling convention right here in our city. When I say major, I mean mega-HUGE! I mentioned it to David in passing and we continued on about our business, neither of us really pushing the homeschooling idea at this point as we were both still hoping to have Dylan's suspension overturned and to get him back in public school. Friday night at midnight, David and I were sitting together and we decided to take a look at the website for the convention being held in our city. When we got there we noticed that Ken Ham was one of the speakers and, out of pure excitement at the idea of meeting Mr. Ham in person, we decided to go to the convention the next morning at 8am.

The next day, we met Ken Ham in person and sat front & center for his presentation. And then it happened. Everything that Mr. Ham said was as if he had been in our home for the past 3 days and knew everything about our situation and he had scripture to support a decision to homeschool as opposed to allowing the state to teach our children. It was incredible. David and I left the auditorium and got back in the car to go home without speaking barely a word. And the minute we got in the car, the floodgates of conversation opened and we both began pouring out our thoughts on the presentation we had just heard and how it impacted our thoughts on the whole situation and the idea of homeschooling in general.

After the convention, we began researching and asking friends and church members all kinds of questions about homeschooling and the more we learned, the more our hearts began to align and the more opportunities we saw God opening up to us in order to make homeschooling our children possible. We now both feel that God is leading us towards homeschooling our children and we fully intend to submit to His Will for our lives no matter how hard the journey may be at times.

"Feed the flock of God that is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but voluntarily according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness, neither as being lords over God's heritage, but proving to be examples to the flock." ~1 Peter 5:2-3

2 - We like the idea of being in control of what our children are presented to learn, knowing that we can teach them truth as truth and error as error. Of course while we would love to teach our children nothing but truth, we understand that at some point in their life, they will be exposed to filth and untruths and we don't want them to be caught off guard when those situations arise. Therefore, we have decided that it is important to teach them things that they would have otherwise been learning in secular school ( i.e. evolution, age of the earth, big bang, creation myths, etc) so they are not unwise to the ways of the world, nor the teachings of the world. The great thing about this is that we can debunk these teachings as soon as they are introduced so that our children are not influenced to question the Bible's inerrancy or infallability. We can show these faulty teachings to our children and then teach them how to search the Scriptures to find for themselves how they are contradictory to what the Bible teaches us about God's creation. Not only will we be able to teach our children science, but we will be able to incorporate apologetics into the curriculum, further developing their faith and confidence in the Lord.

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." ~1 Peter 3:15

3 - Our kids crave and need quantity over quality. And yours probably do, too. Do you remember that old addage "quality is better than quantity"? Well that's a bunch of bologna! We moved to a 3,500 square foot house abotu two years ago because we thought we were cramped and do you know what we learned: we are still cramped! Because where ever we go, the kids follow. They crave our attention. And 15 minutes of "game night" or "movie night" just isn't enough for them. So, what better way to ensure that the children get as much attention from us as they need than by being their parents and their school teachers! It's a win-win! We get to spend lots and lots of focused time with the kids and at the same time we are accountable for teaching them their studies. No more evenings wasted in front of the tv with minimal conversation! We are incorporating 'quantity' family time which is bringing with it 'quality' family time, and in the end, our children will walk away with something much more valuable than just 'good family memories'. (Although we hope they have a few of those too!)

"Hear, my son, your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching; Indeed they are a graceful wreath to your head and ornaments around your neck." ~Proverbs 1:8-9

4 - We, as parents, need quantity over quality. Our kids are not really 'ours'. They are God's children. We have just been afforded such grace, that He has entrusted them into our care for a little while. We will not be here forever, and sooner than we are ready they will be headed out on their own to embark on whatever journeys God has in store for their lives. Knowing that, I look back on our children's life and see that their short little lives have flown by so quickly. So many nights we have all sat on the couch, side-by-side, watching tv, being lazy, and I have lost out on those opportunities to really get to enjoy these children that God has blessed us with! Homeschooling our children will enrich our family time and afford us many more opportunities to recognize, embrace, and help shape their thoughts, ideas, strengths, weaknesses, emotions, uniquenesses, and so much more!!

"Children are an heritage of the Lord; and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them." ~Psalm 127: 3 - 5

Tonight, at church, our pastor preached from Genesis 13. The message focused on choices. In his message he made one statement that hit me like a ton of bricks. He said (and I paraphrase) "The choices we make will affect the direction of our lives and those of our children and our grandchildren. Therefore, we must be sure to make good choices based on God's Word."

Homeschooling is our choice but, as I wrote earlier, it is a decision we made because we felt God leading us in that direction. We have searched the Scriptures and we believe our decision to be one that was made based on God's Word and we are very excited to be leaning on Him for guidance, wisdom & strength as we follow His lead for our family.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

SONday Snippets: March 27

Happy SONday to you! Today we celebrated the Lord's day by:

  • Going to church, Dylan had "Sundae Sunday" in his Sunday school class this morning, so he was pretty excited about that!

  • Participating in Bible drill! Dylan did great for his first time ever. He "passed"! And he knew so many verses & key passages. We are so proud of him!

  • Rewarding Dylan's hard work with a trip to TCBY! (his choice)

  • Working on the rearranging of our home in preparation for the new schoolroom.

  • Moving Bryan into his very own bedroom!

  • Reading about Abraham's journey to Canaan and discussing how God's promise to bless all the nations through Abraham points forward to Christ.

  • enjoying a home-cooked meal made by Daddy.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This week in review

So I've become completely obsessed excited about the upcoming school year. This week on Wednesday, our Math curriculum came in the mail. We bought the Alpha, the Beta & the Primer for the kids. I'm hoping that Elysa can handle the Primer so that she can hop right in on the learning with the rest of the kiddos. Then on Wednesday night, we got some boxes of curriculum, classroom materials, and a dry erase board from some friends at church. David and I had a great time going through all these goodies and it was definitely a big help on deciding which curriculum we would be using for Spelling, English, and Reading!
We have not yet decided what curriculum we will be using for Bible. So we are open to any suggestions, ideas, websites you might have to offer on those.

And from Thursday until last night, I spent hours putting together our geography curriculum, which is going to be a compliation of different ideas/activities I have found along the way, but the core of it will be based around Expedition Earth: A Journey Through God's World which I downloaded from Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler. I am truly, truly like over-the-top-school-geek excited over this curriculum! It looks like it is going to be so much fun!
So today, I decided to take a break from the curriculum and spend a little time focusing on the actual room that is going to be our schoolroom. We will be taking the large room over the 2-car garage (which is currently the boys bedroom) and be making it our schoolroom. I am headed today to pick out a color to paint. We are trying to decide between a light yellow or a light blue and I have probably been over-analyzing gone overboard on this decision as well. I have been researching the effects certain colors have on moods/learning/attention/etc. for a majority of the afternoon. So, that's where stand on our preps for homeschooling. And since I'm such a fan of before/after pics, this is a sneak peek of our schoolroom in it's "before" state. Wish us luck as we begin the schoolroom makeover!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The View from Here:

We're still trying to decide on curriculum. This is just a tiny bit of the literature that we collected from the Homeschooling Convention we went to last weekend. We have our Science and Math curricula pinned down, now we're just trying to decide on the other subjects. We are so thrilled to be able to teach our children what is important to us!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Suspension suspense

D is for Dangerous~How they describe my baby boy.

Y is for Year~The punishment for disassembling this toy!
L is for Livid~My reaction to this.
A is for Absolute Ridiculousness!

N is for Never again~which will be the next time
Shelby County Schools will wrong this baby of mine.

If you're not on facebook, first let me say: "Get out from under that rock!" ;) J/K, J/K. But if you have somehow missed our situation, the short version is this:

Our 8-year-old was suspended on March 2 for "Possession of a Weapon on School Property". His weapon of choice: A broken pencil sharpener (since when the pencil sharpener is broken it contains a tiny "blade" that is used to sharpen the pencil tip). Dylan was never seen nor caught with the blade, but the little boy who was caught with it, told the teacher that Dylan was among many students that passed it around the room that day. When questioned about it, Dylan did admit to having had the pencil sharpener pieces in his desk at one point in the day and was therefore suspended for 180 days for a "crime" he was never observed committing. The lesson my baby boy learned in all of this totally contradicts everything his father and I have taught him about telling the truth. He has learned that it doesn't pay to be truthful. Another student who was observed by a teacher with the "blade" was suspended but her parents have since had some political connections argue on her behalf that she "was never in possession of the pencil sharpener pieces" and her suspension was reversed the very next day. It was expunged from her record and she was allowed to go back to class! We refuse to take the dishonest route. God's Word tells us in Psalms 34:13 to "Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies". Honesty has always been a basic principle in our family and it will continue to be. Since this school system rewards dishonesty and punishes those who are truthful, we have decided to take over schooling our children ourselves. We have worked very hard to instill biblical principles in our children's hearts and we do not intend to send them off to be taught otherwise by the government for 8 hours a day. I will do my best to update this blog regularly as an advocate for homeschooling and as we transition from a government-run, secular education to a God-fearing, Bible-centered education. We appreciate your encouragement as we make this enormous transition.
All for HIS glory!