Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Our Reasons

As we take a serious, evaluative look at Caleb and all of his educational needs, and combine that with our biblical goals for both of our children, we believe that we are being called to Homeschool, beginning this year with Caleb: Kindergarten.

While coming to this decision, we started making a list of OUR reasons.  This list reflects our own personal beliefs based on prayer, research, and Caleb's needs right now. It is, in no way, meant to imply that any one educational choice is superior to another...

Although, I will go on record as saying: I believe an intentional Christian education is what God wants for our children.

Our Family's Reasons for Homeschooling:

Dedication to Character: We decided, just after the birth of Caleb, to devote ourselves tirelessly to focusing on and training up our children in their characters. Developing character virtues {such as truthfulness, kindness, doing your best, good manners, forgiveness, patience, thankfulness, making friends, sharing, love, obedience, and joy, -among others} does not happen accidentally, but intentionally. We believe that character issues are best handled at the moment that an issue arises, and homeschooling will afford us the time to address the issue the moment it arises, the ability to address it one on one, the time to teach him until he understands the concept, and the flexibility to adjust our lessons to address it further. Since character development is the top priority for our family, we can interrupt our academic learning if necessary to address a character learning issue. For example, if Caleb were displaying a bad attitude about something we were working on, I would be able to pause our academics, research a scripture verse that would encourage a good attitude, put it on our chalkboard, sing a fun song {I know one that sings the verse: “Do everything without complaining, do everything without arguing...”}, and then instruct Caleb in ways that he could display a good attitude. Then, we could continue to integrate this point into all aspects of our learning. In this way, we can immediately address the issues of the heart, which are far more important to lifelong wisdom than factual instruction.

Biblical: As God began to press thoughts of homeschooling on my heart, I was forced to ask (albeit, reluctantly): Am I being called by God to do this?
God has answered this through a variety of circumstances and the support of individuals and research, but as often is the case, His underlying truth came to me through His Word:

Matt and I want the greatest opportunity to fulfill our calling in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 {also known as the Shema; this is the very verse that we used to dedicate Caleb to the Lord in his hospital room after birth, as well as the main verse that God used to tug my heart toward homeschooling}:
“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 upon 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.” I found myself resonating with another homeschooling mom who said, “how am I to teach my children when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up if they are gone all day long? How can I hide God's word in their heart if most of the opportunities happen when they are at school? How can I truly impress upon their hearts if I only see them at dinner and at bedtime?” -ConfessionsofaHomeschooler.blogspot.com
Also gripping are these verses:
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” -Proverbs 22:6;
“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.” -Proverbs 24:2-3
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." -Ephesians 6:4
"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." -Deut. 4:9
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge."-Proverbs 1:7 

Academic: There is so much to say in this area, and a lot of research has been done to favorably support homeschooling. For example, homeschoolers typically rate 37 percentage points higher than public school students. The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study). For more impressive stats, check out this article on Academic Statistics in Homeschooling: http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200410250.asp ; and this article: http://www.homeschool-living.com/homeschooling-statistics.html

We know that each child is “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and therefore has his or her own individual needs:
So, based on basic and common sense, what in the world could academically top a one-on-one tutor that can move at your pace, spot and address shortcomings immediately, and push you to do your very best through every subject?  What could top the opportunity to make sure the student has a mastery of the subjects, to go at the right pace for each child, to tailor the curriculum to their needs, and have one-on-one (not one-on-twenty) teaching? And not only that, but that one-on-one teacher just happens to be one of the people who know and love our children the best {their parents}; and are the ones most motivated to help them succeed. We have much reason to believe that they will thrive academically.

Because Caleb needs more time to grow with his small motor development, and he is not quite sitting still in the classroom {what 5 year old boy does?}, it has been recommended that he go to Prek5 to afford him that time to grow. I don’t disagree with this choice within a traditional school setting. However, Caleb is already reading at a Kindergarten/early 1st grade level and doing Kindergarten level math. Homeschooling will allow me to continue to challenge him academically and to continue to foster his love for learning, while giving his little body time to catch up –no pressure to fit a mold! And, in less than 3 weeks of informal mommy-school I have seen great improvement in his small motor development.

Standardization is a necessary tool in traditional schooling, but customization is the gift and blessing of homeschooling!

Being in the Know: We found this past school year to be difficult, especially since Caleb did not communicate with us at all, and our communication with Caleb’s teacher was limited due to the traditional school set-up. In addition, we did not have access to his classroom setting. Because of this, we did not know if his needs were being met, if he was interacting well and kindly with other students, or if his character needs were being addressed in class. We looked up to, appreciated, and admired his teachers –and in fact, we had great confidence in their genuine love for Caleb and in their abilities- but this did not satisfy our deep desire to be more integral in their growth and education. ‘Being in the know’ will allow us, as a family, to attend to all areas of our children’s developmental and educational needs. We will then be able to provide them with a tailor-made education, following the ebb and flow of their growth. This will also help us to make learning a 24/7 thing!

Social: I look forward to giving Caleb more well rounded opportunities to socialize. Instead of socializing with only children his age (which is actually not an accurate model for his adult years), he will have the opportunity to interact with people of all ages (including his own age group), occupations, and interests. In addition, with weekly Classical Conversations group lessons (www.classicalconversations.com), and the weekly co-op that I plan for Caleb, as well as sports activities through our school district school system (yes, he can participate) or our township leagues, Caleb will have plenty of exposure to a regular group of friends –both his age and older and younger. We also aim to be at the library once a week. Other opportunities are endless: group music lessons, 4-H, church youth group, scouts, etc. Lack of socialization will not be an issue if we commit to this area.

Consider a few things that the Bible says about socialization:
"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching." -Heb. 10:25
"Do not make friends with the hot-tempered, do not associate with those who are easily angered; or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared." -
Proverbs 22: 24-25 Do not be mislead: "bad company corrupts good character."-1 Corinthians 15:33
One other strong motivation for me, socially, are the benefits that I have witnessed in other homeschool children, particularly in how inclusively they treat their siblings, how pervasive their kindness is, and how well they play together with mixed age groups. We found that, in comparison and –
I emphasize- in general, many [read: not all] children who are traditionally schooled within their peer group quickly grow 'jaded' with the wonder of being a child.

Opportunities: The opportunities for spiritual, character, academic, social, and family time when homeschooling are limitless.  With the world wide web, we have access to nearly anything you can imagine. We will have access to any and every textbook. We will have constant access to libraries. In fact, with the endless curriculum choices, it will actually become a challenge to decide from all of the awesome programs! We will become members of an organized field trip group, which will provide us with more educational field trip opportunities than we could possibly attend. In addition -with the gift of time- our creek, our backyard, our historical property, our field trips, our trips to visit family, and our family vacations call all become amazing parts of our learning experience. 

Monetary/Stewardship: As far as wise stewardship is concerned, we have no qualms about spending a lot of our resources on Christian School if we believe that is what we have been called to do. We feel passionately about the impact Christian schooling can have in the life and eternity of a child.  However, we believe that we have been called to Christian Education, not specifically Christian School. Therefore, we have had to seriously question our options as to whether or not it is wise for us to spend thousands/year on schooling when we could potentially serve our children well, or even better, at home. And, we began asking that question more seriously.
In addition, we do not want to give up family vacations, taking care of our historic home, or college savings in order to provide a private school education when we have other choices
that work. We believe there is another way for our family. If homeschooling ceases to be the best choice, then we will reevaluate.

Child Driven Choices: It is very important for us to point out that we are going to take this experience year-by-year. The main impetus that drove us to investigate homeschooling was Caleb himself. Our decision was based on ‘What is best for Caleb?,’ and it will be the same for Christian. We will continue to reevaluate this question each year and reevaluate what is best for our child now. Our children’s needs, brought before God, will drive our decision making processes.

“I truly believe the traditional American family is disintegrating. Its too easy to get caught up in the business of this world, running from one activity to the next ... or whatever takes up our time. We can become so busy running around we forget to actually spend time together. Homeschooling affords our family the precious commodity of time. Time spent together, and frankly that's really what our kids want from us, our time. It breaks my heart when I hear people say they can't wait for school to start again, as if their kids are burdens. I sometimes feel that if my kids were in school I could get so much done! But I'm quickly reminded that 'me time' isn't in the Bible, well it is, its just referred to as 'selfishness'. Then I am reminded how quickly time passes, and how few years we have our children with us before they move on to their own lives. If the average person lives say 85 years, then the 18 years our kids spend with us is less than 1/4 of their lives. I don't want to look back and think I didn't spend enough time with them, and 3 hours a day just isn't enough for me.”

Lastly, and on a more selfish note, we can protect their innocence a tad longer. We don't have to deal with peer pressure... They don't wear suggestive clothing or makeup because everyone else does, they don't beg me for a wii or an iphone, and they don't look down on their younger siblings because they aren't cool anymore. We don't have to worry about car-pool, unhealthy lunches, or bad teachers. And my personal favorite, we don't have to get up at 6am everyday to get out of the house for school! (This alone is enough to keep me homeschooling!)”
- These quotes, which resonated with me, are taken from: “ConfessionsofaHomeschooler.blogspot.com”

4 friends had a thing or two to say...:

Angel said...

Excited for you on your homeschooling journey!!! Angel

Melanie said...

I came to your blog from the MFW Blog Roll. I have really enjoyed and been blessed by what I have read. We have been homeschooling for 10 years, it really is the best thing that ever happened to our family. God's grace, that is what it is, I see it more clearly as I ponder what our life could have been like had it not been for that step toward homeschooling.


Flamingo Mama said...

very well written post! i love it! i'm already being haunted with the new school year approaching. I get teary eyed thinking about it all starting again. My kids have changed again back to their normal selves. It takes almost 3 weeks. They are wonderful friends again. I hate that it's going to to be all messed up.
I couldn't agree more with your quotes. I've read her blog and those resonated with me too. I totally struggle with having the time to teach them. And yes they are gone all day.

I'm so proud of you! I can't wait for you to show me the ropes!

Dina said...

I'm visiting from the Hip Homeschool Moms blog hop. LOVE your blog! I'm looking forward to reading more. Blessings!