A conversation I had yesterday with someone who is close to me has prompted this post. I knew homeschooling would be an area of conflict with some people who are close to me. I had put off telling our news of continuing to homeschool next year until it came up yesterday. I feel the Lord had prepared me with what to say although it hurts that our relationship may change because of our decision to homeschool.
I was asked yesterday if I was sending Reece to school next year. I said no. This prompted an hour long debate which I felt totally secure in discussing. The discussion has started a fire in me...passion to discuss this topic more with others. I won't lay out the conversation by a "he said, she said" but rather use what we talked about in this post to share my viewpoint on homeschooling and what opposers are saying. The things in this post were discussed with a person I am close with.
First, the only reason we started homeschooling last year was the prompting we felt from the Holy Spirit. If you don't believe there is a Holy Spirit, this may be difficult to understand. Homeschooling was not on my radar at all. You'll remember my post about it last year found Here. But I felt that the Lord was saying to do this and I wanted to obey, even though I did NOT want to homeschool. My husband was really on the fence and didn't see us doing it either but also said we should obey if I felt that strongly about it. We have both come full circle since then and know this is what she should be doing at this time. Is it a forever thing for our family? That I can not say because I don't know the answer to that.
During the year, my thoughts on homeschooling have dramatically changed. Was it this blissful picture of flowers blowing in the breeze in a meadow? No, absolutely not. We had days like that, but we had a lot of days of establishing authority and control, tears, and learning things that were difficult. In the end, we have made great progress. We have grown close together as a family and watching her learn things that a school might say is impossible, is priceless.
I have discovered another big reason to why we choose homeschooling. Unfortunately, in today's world, a lot of parents have chosen not to parent their child. How can I feel comfortable about sending my child to be around tons of other kids who haven't been trained/disciplined the way I have trained mine? Not that my parenting record is perfect...it is far from that. My children are expected to obey and there is a consequence when they have not. Most kids are bribed to obey and have no real consequence when they don't do as they are told, so the sin or the misbehavior, seems like a better deal to them than the consequence. Why not mess up if all I am going to get is a time out? Now my child who is only 5 or 6 is suppose to be able to stand on their own two feet against many other kids who are disrupting class, getting in trouble, etc and make a good choice on her own? She is just now at the age when we can talk in depth about those issues and I'm suppose to send her away to spend more time with a bunch of others who may not share the same values, morals, discipline that we want her to know about and expect from her. I feel she is too young to handle those situations on her own. Yes, we would have evenings to discuss things, but there isn't a lot of time to do that when they have homework, extra curriculars, bath, dinner...not to mention how tired they are. And what if you have a child who just doesn't tell what happened in their day? No where in the bible does it say "A child at the age of 5 must leave their parents home and cleave to the state". So a 2nd reason for me to homeschool, would the be the lack of control in others peoples parenting choices. It's not the schools...it's not the teachers...there are wonderful schools and teachers...it's those parents who have given up on parenting. You have to admit there is a new dynamic in parenting. We aren't living in a world of obedience and respectfulness seen in the children around us. If you need evidence, just go to a McDonalds Playland.
While we are on the topic of parenting choices and bribery, I want to share something I read about bribing children. This leads to a sense of entitlement...it leads to good behavior with a question attached: What are you going to give me? "The obvious danger is training the child to obey for selfish gain rather than to just submit to God and their parents. Children of bribing parents tend to develop self-oriented tendencies and learn to manipulate others. Because they seek to be rewarded, they limit their ability to serve others unless they receive gratification." (Gary Ezzo) Is that what we want our children to be - manipulators? I witnessed it the other day at swimming lessons. The child was not doing what the instructor was asking her to do in the pool. Her mom who was sitting next to me says "I guess it's to for a bribe". She got up and whispered something in her ear and the child did what was asked of her. In short term it worked but how will it effect them long term? Okay...enough of my side tangent :)
Let's talk about academics. Most schools are missing this essential part to a child's learning in the foundational stage of their life. When you think about your education, what is the one thing you know back and forth, inside out by memory? Your ABCs, right? You can sing that all day long. So we do that with our letters but what about everything else? Schools teach to get you to know stuff for a test....you study for a test, take it, and then you forget, right? I mean, who really remembers what happened in the war of 1812? In classical conversations, they teach the foundations/knowledge stage of information from 4-10 or so to where you master each subject before moving on to the understanding and wisdom phase of knowing each subject. If you memorize all the laws of math, places and time in history, English rules, etc, when you come to the understanding and wisdom phase where you apply and put the information into use and practice, it will be a lot easier. Take math for instance...kids fail to love math because they never learned the "grammar" stage of math. Classical Conversations uses the classical method of teaching. You start at the knowledge phase. You learn all the grammar for each subject and soak up the information like roots on tree. God designed us in this way as he knew it was the best way for us to learn. The 2nd phase is understanding or dialectic. In this stage, you put your knowledge to use like a tree uses its trunk and branches to transport its nutrients and uses them to grow. And the 3rd stage is wisdom or Rhetoric. In this phase you produce fruit...put your wisdom into practice. Here is kind of the run down of what Reece will be learning in 1st grade at Classical Conversations/home. She will be learning the "grammar" phases of 6 subjects: History, Latin, Geography, English, Math, and Science. This is all memory work that she is required to learn. She learns by memorizing all the laws and operations of math, all the basics of the English language (verbs, nouns, linking verbs, prepositions, etc), the world history timeline from creation to 9/11, and more. She will do her science projects there and have to do presentation in front of her peers EACH week. This helps them to be able to speak comfortably in front of others for the rest of her life. In Arts, she will learn the fundamentals of drawing...she do 6 weeks of oils. She will learn how to play the tin whistle (notes and harmony). She will learn about great artists and about great composers/Orchestra. This is all stuff that will be memorized and in her head forever. At home she will have to do a 1/2 hour of the memory work which is on a cd. We will also be doing her writing, spelling, language arts lessons/worksheets, a reading program, and of course math. Currently she is reading at about a 2nd grade level and just started cursive. She went to a 3 day CC camp and learned by memory all of the continents, oceans, European Mountain Ranges, and the rivers in Europe. She is also able to draw the continents on her own on a map....at age 6. Maybe she doesn't need to know all that at 6, but this goes to show you what they can learn...without a "real school" (GASP!)
One thing that seems to always come up in discussion with those who oppose homeschooling, is the topic of tests. I was asked "how will you ever know where she stands against her peers if she is never tested?" I ask why do I need a number? I can see how she is doing because I am doing the work with her each day. She is not a product to be sold...she is a person. I would put my little "product" up against anyone her age and I feel confident she would be up to par or fair better. But tests do not necessarily show accurate results. A good example of that is me. I scored an 18 on my ACT which is horrible if you did not know. I graduated college with a Business Management degree with a 4.0 gpa. The results are not the same.
I was told that homeschooling is a form of isolation. If I was isolating my child we would stay home all the time and not associate with others, let alone others who do not homeschool. We have many friends that we see on a weekly basis. I'd say more friends that do not homeschool verses ones that do. We go to the library, pool, garage sales, play dates with friends, play in the yard with neighbors...and even others who do not so called Believe (gasp!!!). They are enrolled in swim lessons, dance, gymnastics, etc. My kids are very social and the love to be with their friends. We are doing Classical Conversations so that we can enjoy the social aspect more and she can get the classroom feel and have interaction with peers. Mommy needs that too :)
I was asked what happened to me in school (bad) that I choose to homeschool. Nothing happened bad to me in school that would make me choose homeschooling. I had a pretty good school experience overall. I loved all my teachers and did pretty well academically. I had a lot of friends and actually enjoyed going to school. I am pretty sure that I had the perfect attendance record.
The fact that others are "saddened" that I won't allow my child to experience school the way society says is normal is another thing I hear. To me that comment indicates that you care more for or love my child more than I do. I care and love my child more than anyone does...I would never want to harm her education or life in any way. I only want the best for her and right now, I think homeschooling is best for her. Its only "normal" to go to school because that is how society has made it. In the past it was normal for people to do school at home.
Now, there is the question of how I feel about people who don't homeschool. The bible does not tell us whether we should homeschool or not. But I do feel it is my God given right as a parent to choose how I want to educate my child. Is it for everyone? No. Would I send my child to a public school? Yes, possibly one day.
I would ask for prayers over this matter....this could be a right that is taken away from us as a parent. Just as a woman can choose life or death for her unborn child, we should be able to choose how we want to educate.