While many schools are starting across the country this week, we are entering our third week of school. It's no secret, we've decided to homeschool our children this year. Honestly, I've been reluctant to blog about this decision for a long time. There are many reasons we have chosen homeschool and like most homeschool families our reasons are personal and complicated. I'll try to simplify and explain here.
We never planned to homeschool before having children. My husband and I grew up in public schools and we both ended up with Master's degrees. We imagined our children being part of a school like we grew up in, where they can learn, having nurturing teachers, and a find a best friend. Our oldest son went to public schools from Kindergarten through third grade. He attended four different schools during that time (Louisiana had a different school for every two grades). Our youngest son went to private Christian prek and attended public Kindergarten last year. One reason we chose homeschool is that we had grown disappointed in the education they were getting in pubic "government" schools. I'll spare you all my concerns about Common Core, they are many and have already been documented by countless others. Academically, we felt like they were not getting a well rounded education that includes languages, fine arts, history, and science. Instead they were primarily being trained to perform well on the end of grade test and complete a few unit studies on history and science throughout the year.
We take our responsibility as parents seriously and strive to give our children the best education we can from cradle to college. We don't believe in delegating that responsibility to anyone else. However it began to feel like that was happening. The schools tell parents how many minutes to read to their child but when we tried to teach cursive handwriting to our son because he was interested in it, he was corrected on his classwork and told he couldn't write in cursive because that was a 4th grade skill. Also, we observed that schools were taking more liberties in labeling children with what used to only be a clinical diagnosis of learning disorders. In more than one school is was suggested that our child might need medication to help him focus, even when he showed no signs of hyperactivity and maintained honor roll status. Thankfully, we know our child and recognize he doesn't have a learning disability but simply a different learning style. Schools tend to only teach to one or two learning styles and don't have time to nurture students who don't fit that mold. Similarly, our youngest was reading well above grade level but not given harder assignments and we felt wasn't being challenged to his full potential.
For us the advantages of homeschool are many. We love spending time with our boys. We love teaching them from God's word and giving them a Christian worldview. We have chosen to be part of a Classical Conversations group in our community. This helps direct our teaching of history, science, math, grammar, Latin, Bible, and fine arts. They meet once a week for 24 weeks with our community group and practice what they are learning at home with a trained tutor. We started a few weeks before our group starts because we wanted to get a routine down before we started the group. Already I'm amazed at how fast they are learning. We don't sit in desks for 8 hours a day and they are learning more than ever before. We use ABeka for Math and Language Arts/Reading and are loving the depth at which their lessons teach them. They are learning phonics and spelling rules, reading, and the Bible is tied into every lesson.
There has also been a relief for our family schedule. No longer am I spending hours in carpool line and helping with hours of afternoon homework when they are tired and restless from being at school all day. Now we have time to visit the library or go to the park in the afternoon. We cook dinner together most nights, and easily have time to make it to ball practices several nights a week. Our children play with kids of all ages and all walks of life (unlike school where they are isolated to a class of 30 kids their same age). We are able to serve in our community more than we had time to in the past. When we need to travel we can take school with us or rearrange our lessons to accommodate without having to write extra reports about our trip or having to rush to finish missed assignments. It feels like we have a more balanced life homeschooling.
It's hard for many to understand our reasons for homeschool, and some will just flat out disagree. I realize it's a personal choice and am ever grateful for the freedom we have to make that choice. As my children get older I find myself wanting to protect their privacy more. They are already in the spotlight quite a lot as Pastor's kids, now they are very aware when mom makes their picture that it might end up on the blog for the whole world to see. Ironic, that's the main reason I don't do Facebook - because I want to protect my family's privacy. Lately, I've had to do some thinking about whether to continue the blog at all. It's been five years of posting mostly about our kids and there are only about five followers. The conclusion I came to was that the purpose of this blog is to show the reason for my life's joy which is Christ in my life. Without Christ I would not be the person I am today and our family would not be what we are. We are just a normal family doing life together striving to know God and make Him known. If someone out there stumbles across this blog and reads something that encourages them to keep the faith, then I consider this blog worthwhile.
That being said, you might see some changes to the blog in the weeks and months to come. As my career has changed to homeschool mom, I have to take some time to find my own balance between my roles as wife, mother, teacher, homemaker, trainer, etc. etc. etc. I'm not sure where blogger fits in the priority list yet. I enjoy writing, but I also want it to be purposeful and God directed. We'll just have to see where life's journey takes us next.