Why Did You Homeschool? Part I

I could just as easily have named this post “what about socialization?” as these are the two biggest questions I have been asked over the past 13 years of homeschooling my two sons.  I don’t think every child should be homeschooled – I absolutely believe that public school serves a purpose.  But I also believe that every child deserves an individualized education and it is up to us as parents to decide what that means for our children.

Our oldest son, Boo started kindergarten at the public school down the street from our house.  I had already started thinking about homeschooling, but my husband, Art, was not convinced, so we agreed to see how Boo did in his first year of school.  The biggest problem was that Boo was more advanced intellectually than the average kindergartner.  He had already memorized most of the flags of world countries and had begun memorizing the periodic table of elements (for fun??) There was just no way that a teacher dealing with 20 other kids could keep up with him.  I also wanted him to be able to stay a child as long as possible.  That year, on the playground, Boo had been teased by other kids in his class for wearing a Winnie the Pooh sweatshirt.  There had also been an incident where a 1st grader found a gun in the field during recess (thankfully she brought it to a teacher – it was not loaded – and no one was hurt).

My cousin was homeschooling her children through a program which is now called Pathways Charter School.  In this program, the parent and child meet with an IST (independent study teacher) once a month to set up learning goals, review progress, and do some standardized testing.  We decided to meet with the IST for our area to discuss our expectations and see if the program would meet Boo’s needs.  The IST, Glenda, was very personable and got along well with Boo.  She explained that the school allocated a certain amount of money for each student and the parents could choose the curriculum which was best suited to their child (within the state’s standards and from the school’s approved list of vendors).  Boo’s first grade year would be our trial year. In fact ever year we homeschooled we said it was “just for this year” and we would re-evaluate at the end of the year to decide if we wanted to continue.

That first year was definitely our most awkward as we figured out what Boo’s strengths and weaknesses were and developed our schedule.  Pathways is a state charter school, so nothing religious could be included in the graded curriculum,  but we had devotions every morning and read a chapter from The Children’s Book of Virtues or others.  The boys took taekwondo and participated in AWANA (a children’s Bible club) every Wednesday night.  Boo had an evaluation by a specialist and was able to get an IEP (individualized education program) for speech therapy.  We took field trips on our own and with other kids from the school.  We were learning and growing and it was fun!!

Boo continued to homeschool through the 6th grade.  At that time he chose to transfer into public school for middle and high school.  He competed in the state geography bee in the 8th grade, sang in the elite choir in high school, and graduated with a 3.5 GPA and 3 advanced placement classes under his belt.  I guess you could say our homeschool experiment was a success!!

why homeschool
Bud and Boo on field trip to Apple Hill

Check out the next blog post to find out why we homeschooled Bud and how his journey has progressed thus far.

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No Punishment; No Fear

no punishment no fearIt’s no secret that my family has been through some rough times over the past couple of years.  We have dealt with the failure of a business, bankruptcy, unemployment, cyberbullying, and other issues which I hope to deal with in future blog posts.

Through it all I have managed to hold on to my hope.  I remember Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you — not to harm you.  Plans for hope and a future.”  Sometimes I wonder how long I will have to wait for God’s promises to come true, but we can talk about my lack of patience some other time, LOL.

For a long time after events took a bad turn I have wondered what we were doing wrong and why was God punishing us? I felt almost paralyzed with the fear that if I did the wrong thing we would never get out of the mess we were in.  Maybe we would wander around stuck in the same loop like the Israelites did on their way to the Promised Land.

Then, while reading Renee Swope‘s A Confident Heart, I was reminded of the story of Simon Peter.  As Renee says, “His biggest failure came the night of Jesus’ arrest, when Peter denied he even knew him, three times.”  But despite Peter’s failures, He was also “the rock” on which the early church was built.  “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1)

I slowly came to the realization that if I never tried a new direction, I would never be able to move on.  That God was not punishing us for our mistakes, nor does He judge us by them.  Through God’s grace and the resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ, we are redeemed.  If we sin, or try and fail, God forgives us, and helps us to see the way to make things better the next time.  His love is unconditional and He would rather have us try and fail and try again than to hide our light “under a basket” (Matthew 5:15)

In the past few weeks I have had the courage to commit to this blog.  I hope that it has helped my readers as much as it has helped me.  I finally feel like I am able to “let my light shine.”

How are you letting your light shine?  Please let me know in a comment.

no punishment
Photo Courtesy of Emmanuel Huybrecht (Manu_H) on Flickr Creative Commons

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