Friday, February 10, 2012
I've been thinking about this for a while. Just as my father-in-law knows exactly where his favorite radio station is and how to coax the signal until the static fades, God desires my heart to be so in tune with His voice that I hear Him through the static of my daily noise.
How easy it is to go about my day with all the chaos of a house that I am not listening to God's voice as He speaks.
How easily I get caught up in the other voices that I miss out on hearing His words for me. Many times, I expect Him to speak on my terms...
only when it is easy for me to listen...
first thing in the morning during my designated time...
on my walk or a solitary drive...
when the house is quiet...
when the children are all getting along...
when husband's tummy is full and the dinner dishes are all done...
Yet, I find that I miss His voice. Because I am listening only when I deem it easy to listen.
He speaks.... especially through the chaotic daily chores, during the stormy afternoons, beside the whimpering sickly child's bed, above the temperamental teenager's attitude, and against the tide of popular opinion. He speaks.
Am I truly tuned in when and how He speaks?
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
So,WHY do I homeschool?
I LOVE spending time with my children and I LOVE reading good books.
Several summers ago, I realized that the summers were going way too fast and I hated sending them back to school. I wanted to spend more time with them and really pour as much into them as I could. Schooling my kids at home allows us to really bond as a family and learn together. In addition, no teacher or school system is going to know my kids like I do. They don’t know his/her learning style, abilities, setbacks, or difficulties. They don’t have the time or energy to pour into my children one-on-one like I do. I didn’t want complete strangers to have such strong influence over my children’s lives.
Probably, the most important reason we homeschool is that God has given me the responsibility to nurture and care for my children right now while I can. I know that time is fleeting. The time that their hearts are open to hear and learn from us as parents is so vital. I have a small window of opportunity and I want to capture it for all it is! If I want my children to be well equipped to become mature and responsible adults who live their lives to glorify God, I have to do my best to help them along on their journey. Time taken to homeschool solidifies this primary purpose.
Have you always wanted to homeschool, even before having children?
I was homeschooled my senior year of high school and found out that it was tremendously helpful in preparing me for college level courses. So I have always highly admired moms and families who homeschool.
When we first had children, I homeschooled our oldest through kindergarten, and then we had a great private school that he attended for a couple of years. I began to homeschool again when he was in third grade. But that year I got pregnant with our twins. I was on complete bed rest and already had 4 kids under 9 years old. I couldn’t handle homeschooling two (K and 3rd)… caring for two preschoolers AND two newborns… so the two oldest went back to private school and then eventually all four went to a terrific elementary public school.
We moved a couple of times and by the time our twins were ready to go into kindergarten, I pulled them all out to homeschool… all 6 of them! Since then our oldest, now a junior in high school, is back at our local public high school. He’ll be a senior next year?!!! Yikes!
How do you teach 4 different age groups all in one day? How to be structured enough?
Since I do teach 4 different age groups all in a day, I have to maintain order. We have a semi-structured school day. I have found that my children function best when they are fully aware of what is expected of them. With few exceptions, we do schoolwork Monday-Friday from about 9:30ish until whenever we get done. We do group stuff first thing in the morning and then more group reading just after lunch. And in between times, I make my rounds helping each child with whatever subject we need to focus on… math, grammar, spelling… We do lots of our writing, history, science, and art together… and reading out loud together. The kids LOVE our read-out-loud times. We fit other stuff into the week as we can.
We use a check-off sheet system. Each week, I print off our check-off sheet and we fill in the work that needs to be accomplished for each child. That way they know what I expect and we have an accountability system.
Structure can be hard. Grading for me is even harder. I figure, though, that since their education completely rests on my shoulders, I better do a good job. We homeschool five children ranging from 8th grade to 2nd grade, so… yeah… it can be crazy some days…. That’s what grace is for.
Do you plan field-trips, etc and how often?
Of course! What is learning without experiencing? We pack lots of good field-trips into our year… 10 or more for our family. I believe that children retain more if they are able to actually see and experience what we are learning, so our classroom is anywhere that we can learn.
Do your kids have other opportunities to be in sports or other extra-curricular activities, especially when they get older?
Yes, actually they do. Even though we live an hour away from the city, we are involved in homeschool groups that have sports teams, music lessons, science labs, debate teams, 4-H clubs, boy scouts, home economics, theater and drama clubs, speech, equestrian clubs, and many other fun opportunities. We also have co-op classes for higher level mathematics and science. Some homeschool kids also take dual credit classes from our local junior college. I know many homeschool kids who balance busier schedules than public school kids.
Will your kids have a choice to go to public schools when they get older?
In our family, we feel that eventually, our children are going to be exposed to the “outside world.” (that sounds so spooky), so why not prepare them for it as they go? As responsible parents, we want our children to be able to experience growing up and maturing with us at their sides to help guide them. I don’t want my kids to live such sheltered lives that they are dying to get out on their own. Then once they go off to college or something, they have no idea how to deal with the social pressures. So, depending on the maturity of each child, we allow them to help make decisions about their high school years.
In your opinion, what are the benefits of homeschooling over public schools?
The time we spend as a family. We spend all of our time together, so we really know one another well… To quote my husband, “our boys are our friends.” Who better to have as close companions than your family? Our children are close to each other as well. They are growing up with their siblings as their friends. Not many families in our society are close knit. This is a tremendous benefit to schooling our children at home!
Also, since we school our children at home, they are able to study what we want them to know and at the pace in which they progress. In a public school classroom, all the students have to learn at the pace set by a teacher. Children in public school don’t have as much individualized instruction or personal attention as what my children are able to get at home. Some areas of study are more fascinating to my children. Homeschooling allows the child to veer off a little and explore more that area without the pressure of fitting into a classroom study. If my child understands a concept, we can take less time on that particular concept and move on to others that prove more challenging. They can progress at their own pace. I love the fact that curriculum can be chosen for each child based on their learning style. Another thing about choosing your own curriculum is that I can choose books and supplies that reflect the foundation of Godliness that I want my children to be grounded upon.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. I don’t believe that God requires mothers to homeschool their children. I don’t feel that just because I homeschool, I am any better than anybody. (This thought is even laughable! I make more mistakes than I probably do things right.) Many strong, faith-filled families have raised their children to love God and honor and respect others, and their children have attended public schools. I respect them! I just feel that this is the journey my family is supposed to take right now….
So I homeschool.
Friday, January 27, 2012
Friday, January 20, 2012
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Yesterday morning as I read my devotional, I thought again of the importance of reaping and sowing. The character traits that we choose to instill in our lives, are going to be evident. If I choose to focus on being merciful with others, then when the time to give mercy comes along, I will choose to be merciful. Self-control is not easy, but controlling my own selfishness is possible. It is a choice. Loving others who aren't lovely is simply a matter of choosing to show love.
Being gentle in my words and actions can happen even in a time of hostility and confusion. Honesty and truthfulness are purposeful traits. Perseverence and determination come because in a moment of weakness, we must choose to stay strong and push through life's difficulties. Choosing humility over pride isn't ever an easy choice, but an essential one to true contentment.
Contrary to popular belief, it isn't a matter of praying for character qualities, it is a matter of purposefully choosing them. Every day, opportunities will always reveal themselves to evidence the fruit of what we have planted.
I ask myself today, "What Godly character qualities am I choosing to evidence in my life?"