Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home School, Government School, Christian School and Everything In Between

The older I get the more I realize I live in a world of preconceived notions. I live in a world of “No Way” (see blog below). I live in a world where the older I get, the more I realize I haven’t given ALL decisions to God.

We grow up as babies, programmed by the world around us. It’s only as we get older (and older and older) that we realize how many times we pray, yet leave out an answer. It would be like having the following question posed to you.
1. What shape has four equal sides?
a. circle
b. triangle
c. rectangle
The answer isn’t there…the closest is probably a rectangle. They look the most similar, yet a triangle can have three equal sides, which a rectangle can only have two. There just isn’t a perfect answer.

We often pray, while in our mind thinking, “I know God won’t ask me to do that…no way, it’s just not possible.” That we are praying is WONDERFUL. That’s the first step, but we’ve kept the missing answer locked firmly behind the door labeled, “No Way”.

The other thing I’ve found that I do is just make a decision. I make a decision based on what I’ve always known, based on the preconceived notions from the world I live in.

I praise God daily that he has whacked me over the head with a 4x4 so many times!

A couple of years ago God started really working on us. He made us see where blinders sat over our eyes. He made us see things we had always accepted, but never questioned. He made us see the value of letting God number our children. He let us see the value in letting God truly decide where our children went to school. There were so many things we hadn’t been giving to God, but assuming that we knew the answer. I can’t tell you how many times I said, “I could never do that.” or “ I DO NOT have the patience.” came out of my mouth (referring to SO many things).

Note the key word, “I”. What should have been coming out of my mouth was,

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

and then taking EVERYTHING to my heavenly Father. I do believe that God has led us at times without prayer, but I feel if there’s ANY chance I can do better….it will be WITH the doors of communication WIDE open.

How did that have ANYTHING to do with home school? It had EVERYTHING to do with home school.

Let me tell you about how I was just about four years ago. I would not judge others that home schooled…in a way. I thought they were neat people, but thought that maybe, just maybe, they were putting their child’s academic and social lives in jeopardy. On those rare days where I thought, “Maybe this idea isn’t all that wonky.” This would be followed by the thought, “There is NO WAY I have the patience for that.” I was also sure that because I knew one or two people that home schooled and went WILD when they moved out on their own, that meant that happened to most home schooled children. I thought (mistakenly) that was the rule instead of the exception.

That’s was before
1. God started working on me.
2. Before I started educating myself on home school AND talking to adults that were home schooled as a child.

Keeping God in every hour and breath of our kids lives has always (as many) been a priority. Do we believe that God can lead parents to every aspect of education? Absolutely! We don’t believe we have the only right way! I have many government school teachers that I admire and am in awe of. Any child that had them would be blessed. They are wonderful. It’s just that many parents will pray over EVERY aspect of their child and are astounding parents (probably WAY better than I am), but don’t take their child’s education to the Lord, or they ask him the question while putting limitations on what they are willing to do. God leads in so many wonderful ways. He very well may have led your heart to a decision about your child’s education, but did you pray about it with every door being opened?

This is how God led us. It took A LOT longer for us to figure out than it did many. It took a long time. When we FINALLY opened up the door…God led us through the one door we had closed….home school.

I want to share with you some of the answers to the “Are they crazy?” questions I’ve heard, questions I asked repeatedly a few years ago. I know I’ve thrown a lot of jokes out there in the past, but I will try to answer somewhat seriously those nagging questions.

What about socialization?
It used to be that children were educated with their brothers and sisters. Many very well rounded and educated people came out of those generations. They very successfully socialized with other children on neighboring farms, in neighboring homes. They socialized after school work was over. They socialized after harvest was over.

This generation is taught that our children will be odd balls though, outcasts if they don’t join the school system…they won’t know how to function in every day society.

Those are very easy statements for me to reply to. My children (with many hopes and prayers) are not going to be like the world. They will view the world from a different light. They will not fit in to what the world views as the norm. My children ARE odd balls, but that is because their parents are weird (poor kids) and not because they are home schooled.

With five children I have quickly realized that some children innately get along with everyone. There are also always children that have more of a struggle to fit in and are blessed elsewhere. They are innately different and think differently. They may not know how to be casual. This has nothing to do with government, private, or home schools. This has to do with how they are put together. It is actually, as an adult, more normal to be around people of every age…instead of just our own age.

There are many opportunities available to home schoolers now, depending on the area you live in. There are often home school associations. These groups have classes (often taught by HIGHLY certified teachers) where a child can take a class there one or two times a week. They receive instruction and have parent guided work at home. The teachers are easy to reach/call if a parent is stumped on how to successfully maneuver a problem. These same groups have field trips, proms, graduations, great athletic teams, and many other activities.

We have developed a home school group of local home school families. We have play dates, “class” parties, and educational field trips. Our children are also involved in sports and very involved with Youth Groups. Many businesses are even getting on board too! Often zoos, fairs, and water parks will have Home School days at lower rates.

Today, socialization doesn’t have to be a concern, you might have to get creative….but it’s there to be had.

“I do NOT have the patience for this!” came out of my mouth many many times.

This one should very well apply to me. There are days where I talk VERY quietly and those are the days my kids KNOW that they must behave. “Alert! Mom on the edge!”

No one has 100% of patience for five bickering children….all days are not like this, but there definitely are some. I always have a discipline plan for school days (much like those of a normal teacher…though I refuse to be called normal). EVERY teacher…government, private, or otherwise has “those days”. If your following God it will amaze you the creativity that will bring you through “those days”.

Why did we personally make this decision?
It’s kind of a drawn out story, but since I’ve already written a book (this blog) I will try to share it with you. Please know that God led our decisions and we don’t believe He leads everyone in the same way or that other decisions are wrong. This is no judgment or indictment of others who God has led down another path.

Since Thomas and I married (see I told you this story was LONG) we knew that God had to be in every moment that we could provide for our children. We wouldn’t hide the world from them, but strengthen them as long as we could until they could totally stand alone with God. We promised each other that we would send our children to Christian schools as long as we could afford it, no matter how much it took. Home school was not an option then, or so we thought (Ok, we thought it was insane!). Yes, we occasionally had our children come home with some different ideas that we did not agree with, but they were well grounded and always talked to us about it.

As our children grew they spent many years at some WONDERFUL Christian Schools. God really provided. When one of our children hit middle school bullying started. Not any bullying, but rocks being thrown at them (I happened to witness this). It was getting physical and at the end of struggling month after month to get this resolved at the school and our child finally starting to get physical back, we decided to go another route. We moved our child to a Christian University Model School mid year. This is a school where the child will attend Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and be teacher led home schooled on Tuesday and Thursday. The following year we moved all our children there. It was the best of both worlds. As a parent we could have more influence, while also knowing what our child was doing at school. After one of our children went through first grade there we started looking at finances. We had just adopted the second time and had to reevaluate our finances. I knew I could teach the kids, that would be no problem, but I had yet to realize how to handle the socialization aspect. My husband (thank you Lord!) seemed to just know home school was the answer for our youngest three. He pointed out some wonderful people in our lives that home schooled (thank you to especially Smiths!).

After a year of successfully home schooling our youngest three and seeing them test right where they should be….well, I thought it couldn’t get any better. Except…sigh…our oldest daughter would come home with stories. She LOVES everyone, but was really concerned about some things she was seeing. Many of these children are from WONDERFUL families, but everyone has a different parenting style. Some immerse their children in the world feeling that they will at least have to deal with it under their own roof. The problem then was children (Yes, these were children) being bombarded by the world, but being told by their parents that these things weren’t ok. These ideas were contradicting themselves and leading to very confused kids.

Sidebar: We don’t shelter our kids from everything, but make sure it is VERY age appropriate and that the kids were taught why we had issues with some things Biblically. When they are old enough they make their own decisions, with a strong foundation on the Biblical principals behind the way they’re raised. Our current 14 year old is allowed to make a ton more decisions than our 12 year old. Responsibility comes with age and judgement and NOT by the age that the world says in “normal”.

Finally, after a lot of struggle and prayer, we decided to home school our 12 year old this year. We struggled because we did want her to be there to influence others positively. Yet, we needed to also allow her to be a kid when she wanted to be instead of growing up too fast.

Four kids home schooling, wow….I knew God led us and it would be ok, but high school was beyond me. It was almost wrong. After all they needed to be able to get into a good college! After a roller coaster year in 8th grade (who doesn’t have one in 8th grade) we actually did registered him in the University Model School. Yet nothing would fall into place…nothing. We had closed a door that God wanted opened. We finally took a step back and said, “Ok God, is this, home school, what you want us to do?”. Miracle upon miracle, when we made the decision to home school everything fell into place overnight. I started talking with a wonderful woman named Teri who explained how transcripts work. I researched and started finding home schoolers graduating from Ivy League schools. I started finding that many colleges were actively pursuing home schooled students. I found home schooled students (during University testing) were testing great, along with students from other forms of schools…but were testing lower in one area…an area that I LOVED…. stress level.

THAT is the story of how we are now home schooling five children, with the help of our home school association for some high school classes. With God’s leading and doors opened AND with a lot of continued prayer our journey has just begun. There’s our book.

Ok, now to one last question I’ve received recently.

Why do you call public schools “government schools”?
Every school, whether home school, private school, or government school has a purpose to impart what it wants you to know. Home school will impart what you want your children to know. Private school will impart it’s Christian values with it’s Christian based curriculum. None of these are perfect. I do not use the word “public” school, because the school does belong to the government. It just does. It is open to the public, but belongs to the government. It will impart what the government tells it to. It’s curriculum will reflect the governments teaching. It’s morals will often also reflect those in power. We are blessed with MANY wonderful Christian teachers that will try to convey the beautiful example of Christ, morality, life…but they only have a limited say…thus “government” schools. I am so thankful for these Christian teachers though and (as I said before) ANY child would be lucky to have many of them. I do believe God leads people into every different avenue…and wherever He leads will be blessed. It’s a fair question. It’s just that every school belongs to someone….

You may be nodding off as I finish this blog. You may not even make it down to the end. No one may ever read this. I wanted to write this though, not to push home school, but to let people know it IS a viable option and that no matter what avenue God leads…take it to Him in prayer, open all the doors, and feel the blessings roll in.

1 comment:

  1. I thought you would like to know that I read your blog with great interest and I agree with you that God guides us all to do different things - sometimes we can't see what the point is, but down the line you will see a 'Ahhh - so that is why I did that!'... just keep the faith and all will be well!


In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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