Saturday, November 19, 2011

Into Every Life, A Little Snow Must Fall.......

.......and when it does, take the day to update your blog! Our first big snow of the season is flying outside. Keil has the kids bundled up and they are heading out to play. There are plenty of things I could be doing, but I'm choosing to blog! It's been over a month since I've updated, so I feel justified in my choice!

When I was little, I went through an extended period of wanting to be an astronaut. Obviously, that didn't work out. But, I still love to gaze at the stars. When Keil and I were first dating, we would take long walks at our local state park under star-filled skies. He was the one who taught me how to locate the North Star, and now all of our children can find it immediately. Quite often after sending Little Louie to bed we will return to check on him and find him gazing out his window at the North Star. What none of us has ever been totally clear on though, is how the North Star always stays in the North, while all the other stars rotate around the sky. What a mystery! Or....not! A recent science project taught us that there is really no mystery at all. The North Star happens to be located almost directly about the axis of the Earth. So, it appears to stay still while the rest of the stars rotate around it. Our older boys were quick to point out that when God placed the stars in the sky He must have put the North Star there on purpose, in order to keep us from getting lost. God is awesome!

Here's Keil and Buggy working on the science experiment together. The boys used gold and silver star stickers on black paper to diagram the Big Dipper and the North Star. Then, Keil held the paper directly over their heads and walked around them, keeping the North Star still , and only rotating the Big Dipper. It was such a simple project, and the whole family learned from it!

Okay, so after all my raving about that science project, I have to admit that not EVERY project has gone quite as well. In History a couple of weeks ago, we studied the Wampanoag Indians. The art assignment for this unit instructed me to give the kids clay, sticks, and string, and have them recreate a wigwam. I decided to have the boys work together. Here's a picture of what a wigwam really looks like:

This is what we ended up with:

Yeah, not so great. About a week later, a mom in one of my Heart of Dakota groups linked to this awesome idea from Almost Unschoolers. I haven't gone back and had the older boys redo this project, but we may still. Either way, I will definitely be saving this idea to use when the Littles are ready for it!

I've been working at about half speed with the Littles through Little Hands to Heaven. We are having so much fun! And, it's not just the kids who are learning. I'm finding that I am learning to be more relaxed, and let the kids get more hands-on and involved physically in the lessons. A couple of weeks ago, the Littles used finger paints to fill in the letter 'B.' I was so amazed at how well they did at keeping the paint inside the lines. They were so proud of themselves!

By the way, if your husband happens to be a mail man, old postal shirts make great paint smocks!

And finally, I just have to show off my beautiful kiddos. We have made it a family tradition that every fall we take outdoor pictures of the kids. This year, we decided to use real apples as props. After I get this posted, I'm going to spend the afternoon peeling, coring, cutting, and freezing apples for pie. Lots of pie!




Sugar Biscuit

Our whole little crew!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Edible Maps

Last week, the older boys had a geography activity to help them learn directions and the continents. The instructions were to bite the shapes of the continents out of graham crackers and then use them to make a map. This was a fun project! The graham crackers kept breaking in half, and weren't really wide enough to get the true shape, but the boys had a great time working on it. Of course, the map only lasted long enough for me to take this picture. Oh, and South America broke in half and started to float into the ocean. I would have had them fix it, but we were out of crackers.

 One of the things I love the most about our curriculum this year is how 'hands-on' it is. Just in the first month of this year, the boys have done MANY more art projects and science experiments than they did in all of last year. In History last week, we were studying Pocahontas. For art, the boys made 'Indian Blankets.'

 Our science experiment this week was to show why soap and warm water are best for getting rid of germs, and therefore, why germs spread so easily and so many people died of illness in Colonial America. I sprinkled gold glitter all over the children's hands (even Louie wanted in on it!) and then had them try to wipe it off with a paper towel, then try to wash it off in cold water, and finally wash it off with warm water and soap. The boys were amazed, and I predict that for at least the next day or two they will be better about washing their hands.
Just in case anyone is wondering, the kids ARE also studying Math, English, Spelling, and Reading; those subjects just aren't as interesting to photograph. Punky has started Dictation this year, rather than traditional spelling, and I have to say that I really like this method. He studies a passage of well-written literature, and when he's ready, I dictate it to him and he writes it down exactly as he studied it. He continues to work on the same passage each day until he is able to write it with no mistakes in spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. So, he's learning a lot more than just spelling. When we started the year the passages were very easy for him. Fortunately (he may disagree with the use of that word) I was able to find the upper levels of the book as a free download on google. Win!

We took Columbus Day off this week because Keil had the day off, so we will be doing Saturday School tomorrow. I'm still not ready to break up a 5 day unit. See, my brain is itching just from the thought of it!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

God. NOT An Australian Marcupial.

Last week I started Little Hands to Heaven with Louie and Sugar Biscuit. So far I've gotten mixed reviews. I'm loving this program! It's so simple, and yet thorough. If the Littles are feeling cooperative we can finish the lessons for the day in about 30 to 45 minutes. After just the first day, both the kids were easily able to tell me the sound the letter 'A' makes, they recognize the letter 'A', and they know that God made everything in the world ("even Barney!!") Sugar Biscuit LOVES school. She runs to the school room when I tell her it's time, and she begs for more to do when we are done. Louie takes a bit more convincing. He likes to pout and pretend that he's not at all interested. However, when we are working on art projects, or listening to a story, I have caught him smiling, and I know that he's learning and enjoying it.
Their first art project involved black paint. It was a great concept, but unfortunately my little ones sort of missed the point. They soaked their paper with so much water and paint that the white crayon underneath never really appeared as it was supposed to. 

 So, mommy did a quick drawing of her own, and covered it lightly with black paint so the Littles could see the picture appear from under the blackness. Isn't it a stunning masterpiece?!
 When we finished, I walked outside to set our pictures out to dry and when I came back, this is what I found:
Could a happier moment ever be imagined? Seriously, I love this child!

Today the lesson plans instructed me to hand these smallish children each their own bottle of glue and have them attach dry beans to a piece of paper with capital 'A' written on it. I admit, this terrified me just a little. But, the Littles did amazingly well! I was so proud when they each carefully went about placing small dots of glue on their A's and attaching their beans. They did so great, and were both so proud, which of course made their momma proud!

Today we read the story of how God made Adam and Eve. I read from the book that in the picture, Adam and Eve were "looking up to God." When I held up the book so the Littles could see the picture, Sugar Biscuit lurched forward on her knees, pointed with her finger, and squealed, "GOD!" I had to admit I could understand why she was confused.
 The book did say Adam and Eve were looking up to God, and they certainly look concerned about that Koala in the tree. My older boys were working across the room from us, and couldn't see the picture but when they heard me inform Sugar Biscuit, "No, that's not God, that's a Koala Bear...." they nearly fell off their chairs in fits of laughter. I think the moment instantly became one of those "remember whens." I love having all these kiddos home together, learning and sharing fun times. The family bonds that develop during home schooling are like none other, and I wouldn't trade it!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Best Way to Eat a Pumpkin

The cooler weather and the changing leaves has led my children to begin begging for their all-time favorite cookies. I only bake them in the fall, so the kids wait all year for them. They are super, super easy; and now I will bless you with recipe. You should bake lots of them, soon.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 (15 oz) can of pure pumpkin (NOT pie filling)
1 Spice Cake Mix (do NOT mix according to directions on the box)
1 package chocolate chips

Blend the pumpkin into the powdered cake mix, and then stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet, and bake at 375* for 12-15 minutes. These cookies are lighter and fluffier than a normal chocolate chip cookie because of the cake mix. Bake them until they change to a very light orange color. It is easy to underbake them, make sure they are firm to the touch. That's it! This recipe makes about 2 dozen cookies. 

The best thing about this year is that I was able to find a spice cake mix that my corn-allergic, wheat-allergic baby girl can eat. She's never gotten to share in our fall cookie tradition, and I was so excited for her tonight! It's the little things. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Canyon in the Fall

You cannot live in the Black Hills of South Dakota without visiting Spearfish Canyon in late September. Well, our family can't anyway! Yesterday we packed a picnic lunch and headed for the Hills. Or...the gap between the hills, as it were. 

Some of the best lessons our children learn occur spontaneously on trips like these. Over lunch, Punky noticed that the grass around us was still very green. This led to a discussion about how different factors such as altitude, shade, and proximity to running water can benefit plant life. Science--check! Next, we headed up the road a ways until we noticed an aspen grove that I wanted to photograph. The Littles played in the dirt and then took a snack break, while the older boys took up target practice with their BB guns.
Gun safety--check! Hand-eye coordination--check! Nutrition--check!

The road we were on crosses private property, and there were many cows out to pasture. Some of these poor momma cows were SO pregnant. I thought about stopping to pass out some labor-inducing tips, but they didn't look the type that would appreciate my advice. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent just enjoying the scenery and each other. Spiritual growth--check, check!! I'm telling you, the beauty can't be denied:

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Why We Homeschool

Ever since we made the decision to homeschool our children, I am often questioned by friends, family, and even strangers, as to why. Lately though, it seems as if the questioning has become more frequent. Keil and I have strong reasons for our decision, and we didn't make that decision lightly. And yet, when questioned about it, I often find myself feeling defensive, and stammering for an intelligent answer that won't offend anyone. Today it occurred to me, "these people are questioning my very personal decisions regarding how we raise our children, and I'm worried about offending them?" Something is not right about that. And so, I began to write. And write. Aaaaaand......write. Following is my answer to the question, "Why do you homeschool?" (And other questions of that nature.)

Why We School at Home
            Last year, Keil and I made the decision to begin schooling our children at home. When our oldest son first started preschool, we knew we wanted him to attend a private Christian school. We wanted to know that he was being taught God’s word, that new ideas and concepts were being presented from a Christian perspective, and that our son was in the care of God-worshipping teachers. Both of our two oldest sons attended Christian schools through 2nd grade and Kindergarten, respectively.
Throughout that last full year, paying their tuition and the cost of commuting began to take its toll. I had never considered home schooling our children, but the idea began to roll around my mind. At Christmas time, we had made the decision that we had to pull the boys out of school, and that I would home school them. I was not convinced that we were making the best decision. After attending the school’s Christmas program, Keil and I left believing that the school was the best place for the boys at that time, and that we would find a way to continue to pay the costs. The staff is amazing, and we know our boys were so very loved and cared for by everyone there.
A couple of months later, we were again feeling the financial strain of our private school decision. I was still not convinced that I was personally in the right place---mentally, spiritually, and emotionally---to take on the task of home schooling. I had given birth to our younger two children within 15 months of each other, and looking back now, I know that I was struggling desperately with Post - Partum Depression.  But, we were in a financial situation that we could no longer deny. After much prayer, I went to the principal of our school and told her, through tears, that we would be pulling the boys out of school. A few days later, the principal called me aside, and offered our family a scholarship to help defray our costs and allow the boys to finish out the year. She told me that the scholarship was donated by a friend of hers. This friend was raised by a father who was a minister, but the friend had since become agnostic. At that time, the friend was in the process of trying to find his way back to God. The scholarship had previously been offered to three other families, but all three had, at the last moment, found other funding to help them pay their tuition. It was at that moment that I truly felt God working in our lives. He knew that I was not ready for the responsibility of homeschooling our children, and that this Christian school was the best place for our boys at that time.
But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  - Phillipians 4:19    
That summer my depression finally reached a breaking point, and I was finally able to reach out for the help that I needed. After years of barely keeping my head above water, I was suddenly swimming again. I felt more confident in myself as a person, a wife, and a mother. My children are very young, and they needed me to be whole again. Often, admitting we need help is the hardest thing we will ever do; but it is also the most important.
As the school year was beginning again, we were in the process of refinancing our home. Our payments were expected to be significantly lower, which would make paying tuition much easier. We enrolled the boys in their private school. They were in 3rd and 1st grade. About a month later, we were informed by our banker that because of the turn in the economy, the appraisers were being particularly conservative with their valuations, and our appraisal had come in just short of what we needed for the refinance. Once again, we were faced with not being able to afford tuition. But this time, I knew that I was capable of educating our children.
The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.     Proverbs 29:25
Our initial plan was to home school the boys for the remainder of the year, and possibly the following year. We needed to pour all of our extra money into building a garage and finishing the basement in our new home in order to guarantee a higher appraisal when we went back to again apply for a refinance. So, for that first year, the easiest decision was to continue to use the curriculum the school was using. The boys were familiar with the books, and we had already purchased much of it anyway.
Looking back, I can say with confidence that I learned as much and possibly more than the boys did. Working with our boys every day to complete their studies taught me so much about their learning styles, and the way that they study and complete tasks. Our oldest son is very intelligent. His strongest subjects are reading, English, History, and Science. He is also a dreamer. He is very easily distracted, and I have to work very hard to help him stay focused. Our second son is also very intelligent, and his strengths are in math, comprehension, and spelling.  He is very self-disciplined and is always looking for a challenge.
I discovered throughout the year that the curriculum we were using, while Christ-centered and academically superior, was not the right fit for our family. I began to spend anywhere from 3 to 5 hours a night writing lesson plans. During the day I felt more like I was just handing out worksheets rather than really teaching the boys. There was no flow or connection between subjects --- we just spent the day jumping from one thing to the next. I began to see the areas I could improve, and finally the true potential and value of homeschooling our children became clear to me. I can teach them all at the level they are ready for. I can base their lessons on their interests. If they don’t grasp a concept right away, we can take as much time as we need until they understand it fully. These are our children, and no one knows them better than we do.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8
So, that is how God led us to home school our children. Maybe the better question now is, “why do we continue to homeschool?” After all, initially, this was just supposed to be to finish out one year.  As our journey through home schooling continues, my faith grows stronger every day that we are following God’s plan for our family.
I know, O Lord, the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. – Jeremiah 10:23

You might think, based on my story above, that our main reason for homeschooling is financial. Initially, that was true. Now, financial reasons fall much lower on the list. First and foremost, we home school our children so that we may ensure their Godly instruction. We believe that this is the most important thing we can do for the futures of our children. I would ask any of you who are Christians if there is anything in this world which is of greater importance than our Eternal Salvation. We believe not. We live on this earth for such a short amount of time, and yet it is where we are to prepare to worship our God for all of eternity. All of our studies are Christ-centered and God – Honoring. This would not be true in public school. “Yes, but they can go to Sunday school and Church to learn about God!” Of course they can. But, what are we teaching our children about the importance and superiority of our Father by limiting His teachings to one day a week. Should not all that we live and breathe be for His glory?
Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

Secondly, we homeschool because we want to educate our children wholly. We seek to train up their minds, their hearts, and their souls. Academically, this is rarely accomplished in a classroom with 29 other students. Every person is an individual, with distinct ways of learning, unique interests, and their own set of needs to be met. Even the very best teachers placed in the best supplied classrooms cannot possibly know and care for our children as well as we do. Teachers, by the nature of the way the school system is built, are required to meet the needs of the majority. Children who don’t learn as quickly will fall behind, and children who learn faster will be bored. Children in a classroom setting are all provided with the same books, and the same uniform education. Does this make sense? Do you watch your news on the same channel as your neighbor? Do you read the same newspapers, magazines, and books? Do you share the same interests as your co-workers? Are your families and home life the same? Do you enjoy the same level of physical activity as the person sitting next to you in traffic? Of course not. But this is what we expect of our children. Public school places them in a classroom together with strangers for 35 hours a week and teaches them all the same things, in the same way, and presumes to believe that is what’s best for them.
We want our children to love learning, and to become life-long learners. We want them to be amazed at the world, to be encouraged in their belief that people are good, that heroes are real, and that boldness in the Lord will be rewarded. Christopher Columbus’ main reason for seeking a new route to India was that the Lord had placed it on his heart to travel to new lands and spread the word of the Gospel. Our children know this now---the true story of Columbus. It is a much greater story than was ever taught in the public schools I attended!!
Our educational reasons are two-sided though. It is not just about the things we want our children to learn. It is also about the things we don’t want them to learn. As our society grows more and more liberal, so do our children’s education. Especially if we include the education our children receive from their peers! Some schools are teaching sex education in first grade. They are educating children about homosexuality and birth-control. Is a cold classroom full of strangers with a teacher whose religious views we do not know, the place where we want our children to learn about sex? Public schools are now also teaching lessons regarding things such as grief and politics. Is it not both the rights and the responsibilities of us as parents to teach our children these personal lessons, when we know that our children are mature enough to handle the information? Are 100% of 4th graders both ready (emotionally, mentally, and physically)and in need of “the puberty talk”---on the exact same day and time that the administers of the school deem it appropriate? We believe not. We believe these conversations are better handled by us, as parents, as they naturally occur in our home.
Other children in public schools are one of the greatest influences on our children. These little people who have no more life experience than their classmates are advising and teaching our children regarding their thoughts and behaviors. Even Christian schools are not exempt from this fact. I will never forget the day that our 1st grade son loudly, and in front of all his siblings, asked his father what a “bagina” was. Of course, he was referring to a female private part, but the other children who had taught him this word (and had quite a long and misinformed conversation) had apparently, and not surprisingly, gotten the pronunciation wrong. After a long, honest conversation with our son, we made a phone call to his teacher. She was horrified and deeply apologetic that she had been unaware that the conversation was occurring. She spent the weekend phoning the parents of the other children involved. None of the other children had mentioned the conversation to their parents. To this day, I give thanks to God that our son trusted us enough to ask the question on his mind, so that we were able to guide his thoughts on this subject.
Laura Ingalls Wilder once said:
“I believe it would be much better for everyone if children were given their start in education at home. No one understands a child as well as his mother, and children are so different that they need individual training and study. A teacher with a room full of pupils cannot do this. At home, too, they are in their mother’s care. She can keep them from learning immoral things from other children.”

Our third reason for home schooling our children is for socialization. Huh? What? How can that be?? Homeschoolers are un-socialized nerds who won’t possibly be able to function in this world! I must have it backwards --- socialization is a reason NOT to homeschool…..right?!
Well, that’s not the way we see it. First and foremost, we do not believe that young children are the best teachers for other young children. Fun playmates for brief periods of time? Sure! Teachers and influencers for more than 35 hours a week? No way.
Here’s a question: In your lifetime, other than in school, when was ‘where you spent your day’ determined by your age? In what other real-life situation are people segregated by age? When you are 27 years old, and go to work, do you ONLY work with other 27 year olds? Or rather, do you work with 22 year olds, 34 year olds, 46 year olds, 51 year olds, and 60 year olds? Do the people with whom you spend your day have different levels of life experience?
So why then, is it considered “normal” to place children into a completely artificial social situation that they will never again experience, ever in their life? Is this a realistic way to prepare our children for adulthood? Or, rather, is it the most convenient way for the bureaucracy to organize the classrooms and curriculum? Is the social setting of our public schools designed to help children thrive, or is it designed to make it easier for the adults to maintain control?
Since beginning our homeschool journey, I have been absolutely amazed at the social opportunities available to our children. Our local homeschool organizations have incredible calendars filled with co-op classes, skiing lessons, swimming, tennis, chess, field trips, ice skating, P.E. classes, pottery classes, art classes, engineering classes, speech and presentation groups, multi-cultural evenings, and on and on. It would easy to become completely consumed with all of the extras that are suddenly open to us as a homeschool family. These groups are always attended by a wide age range of children---from infants to teens, and all are accompanied by parents who are there to guide their children’s experiences.
Our belief is that our family should be the center of our children’s world. This was God’s original design. Siblings of various ages and genders provide the best opportunities for children to safely learn how to get along with others. Children must negotiate with their siblings through real-life situations, but are able to do so in the safety of their own home and with guidance on conflict resolution from their ever-present parents. Is this not an ideal situation for our children? Why would we seek to replace it with an unrealistic simulation of life and only one guide for every 30 children?
The family is the basic building block of our society. Why do we seek to push our children out of the safety and security that family and home provide as soon as they can walk (or sooner?!)
“The only rock I know that stays steady, the only institution I know that works is the family.” –Lee Iacocca

Our fourth reason for keeping our children at home to be educated is to protect them. *Gasp!* Did I actually put that in print?! Society today seems to want to push our children out into the world at a younger age. Children are exposed to highly inappropriate (in our opinion) material on television, in video games, in magazines, “children’s” books, on billboards, etc., etc. That list also includes ‘in public school curriculum.’
I think it is a rare person who would disagree with me when I say that children can be very mean. Bullying in schools is rampant. If our children spend their days in fear, are they focusing on their lessons? I have heard the argument made that children have to learn to face this at some point, because it’s part of “real life.” Really? Are you afraid to go to work because of a bully? Do you spend your day in fear, wondering what harassment you will face next? Are you in constant worry over your physical safety? There are laws in place to protect us from this type of offense. As adults, we know who to go to if we are being mistreated. Can we say the same thing for our children? Do they know who to go and who to trust? Are they 100% confident that they will believed if they report the bullying?
Bullying is a potential danger our children face from their peers. What about the dangers they face from the adults with whom they spend their day? Could you imagine sending your child off to spend the day with someone you had never met? Absolutely not. We “know” our children’s teachers. We’ve shaken the principal’s hand, and we’ve had interactions with the secretaries. We feel confident that our children are safe. But are they? Have you met the librarian at your child’s school? How about the janitors? The cafeteria workers? The PE teacher? The music teacher? The computer teacher? The teacher’s aides? The teacher’s in the other grades? The parents who are volunteering in the classroom? Our children spend time with all of these people every single day, and yet we probably wouldn’t recognize many of them on the street. Keil and I are personally not comfortable with that idea; especially while our children are so young, impressionable, and easily manipulated.
I have heard horror story after horror story from parents who send their children to public schools. Not all of these incidents involve malice and forethought. But, they do show how teachers who are overburdened with large classrooms full of children with special needs and behavior problems can make poor decisions.
·         One blogger reported that her child’s entire class was denied a drink of water following recess (in May, in Texas). The reason for this denial of a basic need? --- According to the teacher, the children had been too noisy on the playground.
·         One child who was on medicines for both ADD (in the morning) and to help her sleep (in the evening) realized during class one morning that she had taken the wrong medication before school. The teacher refused to allow the child to visit the school nurse, or contact her mother. By the time the mother picked the student up, the child could barely walk to the car.
·         Another child was suffering from bouts of diarrhea. The school worked very hard to convince the parents that the child was just suffering from a case of “nerves” --- despite the fact that it was the 7th week of school and the child had been fine up until then---and refused to let him call home to his parents. The child eventually ended up in the hospital with a severe gastrointestinal infection. When the child had recovered, he was (understandably) hesitant to return to the school that had denied him access to his parents in his time of need. When the mother asked if she could spend time in the classroom, or even just somewhere in the building assisting the staff so the child would know she was near, she was rejected. She was informed that parents are not allowed to be in the building.
·         The news on this very day is reporting that a teacher’s aide is “at risk” of losing her job for having placed masking tape over the mouth of an overly-chatty child.
All of the children in these examples were elementary age.
Is fulfilling the societal belief that our children “must” attend public school in order to be “normal” worth the risk?
Even if our children are not at risk physically, what risks are we exposing them to spiritually, and emotionally?  Do you know whether the staff members at your child’s school share your religious beliefs? Do you know their political views? How about their beliefs regarding homosexuality? Abortion? Climate change? Evolution vs. Creation? Are you certain that these teachers will teach only neutral information on all subjects and won’t impart their own personal beliefs onto the young hearts of your precious children? Are you even more certain that if your child IS exposed to a belief which is contradictory to yours that you will hear about it, and that your child will value your opinion as highly as he values that of the all-knowing TEACHER?
I have absolutely no shame in saying that I am passionate about protecting my children. I don’t buy the theory of letting the child deal with these issues on his own in order to prepare him for real life. Surely we would not take a child who could not swim, throw him into the deep end and hope he figures it out. We would not allow a child to lay his hand on a hot burner in order to teach him that the burner will indeed burn him!
Our job as parents is to protect our children. We are to keep them safe in our arms and provide them with the tools that they need to venture out safely in this world. When they are ready, we keep a close and watchful eye. At some point in every child’s life there will come a day when they must begin to take some steps on their own. When that time comes, we know that they will be ready. They have been nurtured and have learned about life from our guiding wisdom. We will cover them in prayer and trust that God will protect them.
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. –Ephesians 6:4
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. –Deuteronomy 4:9
I’ve listed our four major reasons for choosing to home school. Yes, financial aspects are one reason that we no longer enroll our children in a private school. However, if that were the ONLY reason, we would simply send our children to the local public school. We want the very best for our children, and we believe that as their parents, we are in a unique, God-given position to provide that for them. We are not alone in our journey. The number of homeschooled children continues to rise steadily. According to USA Today, the number of homeschooled children in 2007 was 1.5 million, up 74% from 1999, and up 36% since 2003.
In short, we homeschool because we believe our children are a gift from God. We have been commanded to raise them, protect them, educate them, and lead them to the Lord. We take great joy in learning alongside them, and in growing together as a family.
“An eternal question about children is, how should we educate them? Politicians and educators consider more school days in a year, more science and math, the use of computers and other technology in the classroom, more exams and tests, more certification for teachers, and less money for art. All of these responses come from the place where we want to make the child into the best adult possible, not in the ancient Greek sense of virtuous and wise, but in the sense of one who is an efficient part of the machinery of society. But on all these counts, the soul is neglected.” - Thomas Moore

Questions We Are Often Asked
“Why home school?”
            See above.
“Are you worried about your kids being socialized?”
            Nope. See above.
            “The idea of learning acceptable social skills in a school is as absurd to me as learning nutrition from a grocery store.” –Lisa Russel

“Aren’t you worried they won’t learn what they are supposed to?”
          Nope. I’m more worried that if they attend public school they will learn things they AREN’T supposed to. The following quotes, and who said them are very eye-opening regarding the idea of public school and what children “should” be taught:

            “A totalitarian state will give its youth to no one but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
–Adolf Hitler
            “The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.”
–Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto
            “That state will take youth and will give to youth its own education and its own upbringing. Your child already belongs to us….What are you?”
–Adolf Hitler
            “The battle for humankind’s future must be won in the public schools by teachers who correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new, the rotting corpse of Christianity with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith.”
John Dunphy, The Humanist magazine
“Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school.”
            -Melinda Harmon, U.S. Federal Judge, 1996

“Aren’t you afraid that your kids will miss out on all the fun aspects of school?!”
            Uh, no. Our children spend, on average, approximately 3 hours a day completing school work. We rarely use text books. Instead, we read from living books, which are exciting, engaging, and leave our children literally begging for “MORE!” When those 3 hours of ‘school’ are done, our children head outside to ride their bikes, work on their garden, play on our huge jungle gym, investigate the insects and wildlife on our five acres of land; or they stay inside and play a board game together, build with blocks, create new games with their action figures, watch a movie, or help me to bake a snack. Together, we are building true and lasting memories with the people who will forever be a part of our lives. Our family is strengthened every day and our children know that home is a safe place to explore, to be themselves, to have fun, and to learn. Those are things that no institution can ever replace.
“Learning….should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life’s greatest adventure; it is an illustrated excursion into the mind of noble and learned men, not a conducted tour through a jail.” –Taylor Caldwell
“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom.”
–Albert Einstein

“Aren’t you worried that you won’t be able to give each child enough attention?”
            This question is laughable to me, when taken in the context of comparing homeschooling to public schooling. The implication here is that we, the parents of these children, could not possibly divide our time equally in order to adequately provide for and educate our FOUR children, and therefore we should ship at least the older ones off to a teacher who is a stranger trying to provide for and educate THIRTY children.

“What about friends? How do your kids meet friends?!”
First of all, I will point out again, the NUMEROUS opportunities that we have for social exposure and the introduction of friends. My boys have a great friend that they met through a homeschooling PE class last year. They go to play dates at least once, and often twice a week with this child.

Second, and more significantly, our children have been blessed with forever friends in their siblings. If you ask either of my two older boys (ages 9 and 7) who their best friend is, they will answer with their brother’s name. When the older ones leave for a play date, the younger two are sad and ask frequently “Can we go get the brothers now?!” Just like friends who are not related, our children have different interests, different levels of maturity, and different personalities. Conflicts arise, but these conflicts don’t leave our children worried that they may have potentially lost their friend forever. As a family, we will always be here for one another. These are ties that cannot be broken. Our children laugh, play, eat, pray, cry, learn, and grow together. They share secrets and provide comfort. Our children will have their whole lives to ‘meet’ friends. Their time at home is very short, and these years are for the purpose of building strong family bonds.
            “Siblings – the definition that comprises love, strife, competition and forever friends.” – Byron Pulsifer

“Are you going to home school ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL?!!”
Okay, so the more honest answer is, “maybe.” Right now, this is the right decision for our family. I do not know what the future holds. Through this journey, I have learned that one should never think of decisions as absolutes. At one time, I made the statement that I could never homeschool our children; and look at me now. All I can tell you is that every day I work to remember that I need to surrender my life to God. Only He knows His plans for our family. I know that all of our decisions will only be made after prayerful consideration.
So, will we homeschool all the way through high school? I don’t know. Only God knows that right now. Ask me again in five years. And in the meantime, we appreciate all prayers for our wisdom, for God’s plan to be revealed to us, and for our strength and courage to follow Him wherever He leads us.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. –Jeremiah 29:11