Saturday, April 9, 2011

Home School; Exposed

I'm a realist, by nature. And when I say "by nature" I mean, By God's design. I'm still uncovering why He created me this way, (because I still battle it) but am ever fascinated as it is revealed to me. Most often we look at others and think ‘Wow, I want what they have’. I too have sat in that very same seat up until this weekend; where I had a wonderful awakening to embracing a quirky life full of unique perplexities.

It’s still a bit frustrating to me that in our society there seems to be a strong urge to meet a certain standard in life; a goal that seems are only attainable for the elect. Where does this idea come from? I’m sorry to reveal I too cannot answer this question. But even more so, I am excited to divulge, none of that matters. What matters is one day we will stand before a sovereign God, weather we believe this to be true or not, and account for how we lived our short existence on this place called earth.

Now, since I’m a realist I find a lot of things in our day to day lives a waste, just by my sheer nature. My mother can attest to this (and has reminded me several times) I am the only child out of five that found watching television a waste of time. This is but a small example of how I easily find time wasters in normal daily living. This pattern of activity has brought me to a point in life where I have become to hard on myself. As a home school mother, being hard on yourself is a normal occurrence, but I am that way times 1,000.

If you ask my husband he will concur, I have no imagination. For those of you with an imagination I’m sure it’s hard to conceive. But I am living a life that requires me to be imaginative and I literally see a white wall when I am forced to come up with something new.

When we first heard of the home school expo that was bound for Montgomery, Al (where we are currently stationed) I signed up immediately. Of course, because of my lack of imagination I had no expectations whatsoever. This is normal for me, to have no expectation on upcoming events. My husband, in all his wisdom, had the foresight to take this Friday off of work and spend the day learning with me. When we checked in we were given a pamphlet full of all the 5 different lectures offered each hour and half between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. I didn’t want to choose wrong so I was determined just to sit in on the ones that my husband shared an interest in.

With our first choice, we couldn’t of selected any better. The first speaker, Rebecca Kelliher Homeschool mother of 5, who runs a Family magazine with her husband spoke the most revealing words I had ever heard on the topic of homeschooling. She spoke on getting out of the rut of thinking a ‘home school’ day had to look a certain way. Why hadn’t I thought of this? Each family is more unique as the next, so of course what work for one won’t work for all. Home school is NOT what makes up the life of a family that has chosen to home school. It is but one aspect that paints an entire picture of a family that is living a life in accordance to Gods’ will.

Since our kids are significantly younger than hers, I was able to piggy back on some of the trials she had endured through her younger years. One of them was the importance of recognizing the gifts our children have been given and encouraging them in that area. Since home school is just one aspect of our lives as nurturers for our children then there are other aspects of life to consider. Being a good wife, managing our homes, building character in our children, educating our children, molding our children in to the people God has intend them to be, serving others and the like. These are the main aspects of living a life pleasing to God, while we are raising children. With that said, the most valuable lesson I learned this weekend is having the confidence in the unique qualities that make up our family and accommodating our lifestyle to that uniqueness; which includes embracing these qualities. Whether we like it or not, our life is NOT going to look like our neighbors. Even if their beliefs an understandings line up. This is where an aspect to the mysteries of God comes into play. Be bold in your uniqueness. Not in a disrespectful way, but in a way that brings confidence to what God has brought you to discover.

The second speaker we encountered was Debbie Strayer Her lecture intrigued me because of her background. She is a former educator in the public school, home school mother and now works for the state of FL to access home school families progression. This interested me because I had been coming to the home school table with a defensive attitude. My thought was to ‘prove’ my stance as a home school mom by proving my kids were smarter and more advanced than their public school counter parts. After listening to Mrs. Strayer, a dear friend of the Tebow family, which we admire, as well as a government home school advisor; I realized I could now bring my defensive walls down. As she, honestly, explained that we are unique as a family and to exploit that within the confines of our home, we are more on the right track than that of our government placed, school aged kids counterparts. Her encouragements were much like Rebecca Kelliher’s in that we are distinctive in the inner workings of our family and that we are to do what works best for us.

Because of our devotive love for our children, in time we will be able to prove that our choice to home school will far surpass what the public school system has to offer. It’s just a matter of staying faithful in the task we have been given. Yes, we get talked down to. Yes, we get scoffed at. Yes, it seems as though we are in it alone. Although the first may be true the last is not. I am here, learning as I go and gaining confidence through the opportunities my Lord has put before us.

Although this may seem a tad off topic it is actually at the heart and soul of where we stand as homeschoolers in this country of America. We were honored to meet David Gibbs, who has carried on his father’s work with HSLDA (Home School Defense League of America) and who, to our surprise, had defended the parents of Terri Schiavo in the case to save their daughter from a premature death. Mr. Gibbs revelation, into a fear that drove my force to keep a rigid school life at home, helped calm my nerves by showing we have much more rights as home school parents than may be fed to us within our communities. It is our right, and not just our privilege, to teach and thus mold our children outside of the government run school system.

Lastly, I’d like to speak a bit about curriculums. This was one area of the expo Dan and I thought was lacking. Although there was a plethora of curriculums available through the vendors present we felt a bit overwhelmed to what worked best. Since whole grade packages are offered we feel if we choose one we will be missing out on one we didn’t otherwise choose? Since there wasn’t much guidance here we held fast to the confidence we had gained earlier; To be cognizant of what works best for your family. We have decided to experiment (and don’t feel bad about this). We have found that Horizons math works great! This was reinforced in the math seminar we attended with Randi St. Dennis. Since the Horizons math has proven to be a trustworthy program we will now adopt their language arts workbook as well. We have since decided to add science in a more hands on kind of way. We have a garden and own chickens, plus we read a lot on the subject. The point is, you don’t have to pick one and stick with it. Don’t be afraid to try a curriculum. If it doesn’t work move on and learn from the good and bad. If it works; don’t fix what isn’t broke. The point is to mold your children in to unique beings that are rich in character. News Flash: Stanford (for example) no longer wants students with a 4.0 average that gets 1300 on their SAT’s. Why? They have regurgitated date, but can’t think on their own. The world, believe it or not, is hungry for strong thinkers; movers and shakers, if you will. So stay encouraged in your decision and know it’s tough because the results will be OUT of this world! Just be sure and fan the desires of your children not snuff them out, God will take care of the rest.

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