Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Most Extreme.....Reasons This Mom Loves Home Schooling!

#10: It's just not NATURAL to start school the first week of August!! (Like they do down here in Georgia!)  With home schooling, my kids do a small amount of work each day throughout the summer so that we can extend our summer vacation......and get all the use out of that beautiful pool out back!

#9:  We like to wake up AFTER the sun has risen!  My kids get a good ten hours of sleep each night and they are rarely, if ever sick!
#8:  My weekday mornings with seven children DO NOT sound like this: “Hurry up and eat your egg…..drink your juice…..come on, it’s time to brush your teeth, the bus will be here any minute!  Have you even brushed your hair?  You cannot wear winter boots in September…it’s going to be 80 degrees outside.  I don’t know where your sandals are…..find something else.  HURRY UP!!!  The bus will be here any minute!  No, I don’t have money for ice cream, and tell your teacher I’ll have to pay for the field trip tomorrow instead.  Come on…..are you seriously still eating that egg???!!!  Just forget it….you’ll have to go without breakfast today….we have to LEAVE!!!!”  Did you even brush your teeth?  Let me smell.  No, your breath stinks…..I have to brush your teeth…let’s go….HURRY UP!!!!  Oh my gosh, is that the bus???  OK, come on….get your book bags!  No, I don’t know where your library book is!!!  That’s your responsibility.  Oh well, too bad that you won’t get to take out a new book today……come on….GO….. RUN…..THERE’S THE BUS….HURRY!!!!” Oh yeah, by the way, “I LOVE YOU!!”
#7:  No “Homework!”  When my kids were in school, they almost always brought home homework.  As if it wasn’t enough that they were gone from 7:15 until 3:15, they still had to come home and do more work!!  What is THAT??  Sounds a bit inefficient, no?  And on top of that, one of them always needed my help and we could be at it for two hours!  And the other two were just doing “busy work” for, I don’t know what reason.  With home schooling, we get more done in the day, and by the time the school-kids are home, mine have the whole afternoon free to play and be creative with their time.
#6:  They get what they need.  In most classroom settings, the teacher gives the same work to everyone.  With home schooling, I have my kids do only work that will challenge them and make them think…but not to the point of frustration….and no busy work to just pass the time.  They get extra practice on whatever they need, and they skip pages that work on skills they’ve already mastered.
#5:  There’s more to life than learning your ABC’s.  If I could only pick one, I’d rather teach my children how to sing and play the piano than teach them earth science or physics.  Things like learning God’s Word, learning music, learning Spanish, helping with chores, having undirected play time, getting lots of outdoor exercise, relaxing with the family, and learning to serve others, etc. are more important for a balanced life than many of the things stressed in a traditional school day.  Of course, the subjects taught in school are valuable, but when I think about taking up roughly 8 hours of a child’s day (from AM bus to PM bus) just to get in the basics, and then having homework to boot, it makes me want to cry for all of the valuable things my kids would be missing out on.  At home, we can cover the core subjects well in less than 3 hours and then we have time left for the other important things.
#4:  I like my kids more and can bond with them easier.  This may apply more to me than most moms…..possibly because all of my children (except for one) have been adopted as “older children” (6-13 years).  But you know that feeling of relief you have when the last child boards school bus?  The one that feels like, “Ahhhhhh, they’re gone!  Peace and quiet!!”  Well, for me, that feeling lasted pretty much ALL DAY when my newly adopted children were in school…….to the point that I dreaded 3:15 coming around each day!!   Because at 3:15. this. is. what. I’d. hear:  “Woo hoo!!!  Hi Mommy!  Hi Mommy! Hi Mommy!  Mommy, look what I made!!  Mommy, you have to sign this paper!!  Mommy, I did my homework on the bus!!  Mommy, I have a lot of home work!  Mommy, I didn’t get in trouble today!  Mommy, what did you do today?!  Mommy, I’m hungry!  Mommy……..Mommmy……..Mommmy……”  My head would be spinning as I looked around at kids and papers everywhere….strewn all over the living room floor.  Yes, I tried to arrange a routine, and orderly places for them to put their things, but it was to no avail.  And their hyperactivity was overwhelming.  It was like I couldn’t breathe.  I felt guilty dreading my kids coming home from school, but the experience was so unpleasant day after day.  These were newly adopted children, and I preferred them being gone!  The only pleasant times I had with them were on weekends and holidays.  Bonding was taking longer than planned.  When I decided to keep them home, I knew we would HAVE to like one another and mold to one another’s personalities… that was the focus behind everything we did.
#3:  To stop the nonsense!  It’s funny to me when people say things like, “Don’t you think kids need the socialization that they get at school?”  I mean, they’ll even say that about a four-year-old who isn’t going to Pre-K!  As if my four-year-old son would be better off spending 180 six-hour-days with a classroom full of other four-year-olds than spending his days at home with me and his older siblings.  It’s comical to think about!  WHAT VALUABLE THING can my four-year-old possibly learn from the other 15 four-year-old classmates???  For that matter, what can my eight-year-old learn from the other 22 eight-year-old classmates????  What can my eleven-year-old learn from the other 25 eleven-year-old classmates????  I’ll tell you what they learn…..FOOLISHNESS!!!   And then more foolishness the next day, and more the next.  And that’s if we’re LUCKY!!  Because when I used to teach first grade, almost every year there were incidents of one little six-year-old teaching another little six-year-old about sex….with hand-drawn naked pictures and all!
Proverbs 14:7 says, “Stay away from fools, for you won’t find knowledge on their lips.”  And Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child.”  And Proverbs 13:20 says, “Walk with the wise and become wise.”  If I want my kids to grow in wisdom and maturity, and get rid of the nonsense as soon as possible (I’m not talking about normal child immaturity) then the best place for them to spend their hours is with someone who is going to be an example of wisdom and understanding…..and someone who fears and honors the Lord.  It's not that my kids don't have friends....they do.......and cousins too!   But at their YOUNG ages, they will make better decisions with their friends and will BE better friends TO their friends when they have an adult guiding them.
 #2: To shelter my children.  Yes, I said it…..the thing SO many people have a problem with…..”you shouldn’t shelter your child.”  Oh really……even your elementary and middle school aged children?  You shouldn’t shelter them?  Is this a serious, thought-out belief or do people say it mindlessly?  I love the answer I heard Michelle Duggar give to a reporter once when he asked her, “Don’t you think you’re sheltering your children too much by keeping them at home?”  She answered, “When you plant a seed in the ground and the plant starts growing, you have to shelter it from the elements, or it won’t grow.  You wouldn’t put it out in the hot sun, or leave it in the cold, or in strong winds, etc.  Young plants need to be sheltered.  Then, when they grow big and strong they will be able to withstand whatever comes their way.  Children are like this as well.” (paraphrased)
You know, I’m sorry to say this, but if some parents would stop being lazy and would actually train and discipline their children, there would be less “sheltering” that other parents would be forced to do.  I mean, it starts at three-years-old at the Chick-fil-A Play Area.  I used to bring my son there to play when it was only him and me.  And.almost.every.single.time I was the ONLY parent in the play area.  The other moms were chatting with their friends, enjoying their chicken nuggets, while some of their kids were “socializing” AKA learning how to be BIG BULLIES with the other three-year-olds.  My two-year-old son would walk in to play and some bratty little girls would be telling him to get off the slide and that they don’t like him and that he can’t play with them, etc. etc……completely unprovoked! And then they’d do it to the next child who entered, and the next.  (And this was in a “well-to-do” neighborhood, in case any of you are thinking, “oh, yeah, those city parents just let their kids run wild.”)  Do you know how many times I had to rebuke a bullying child in the Chick-fil-A and threaten to send them out to their parents???  Almost every time!! I am NOT kidding. These were preschoolers!  Parents…..WATCH your kids and know what they’re doing!!  Thank God I was there to intervene and teach my two-year-old son that that type of behavior was mean spirited and unacceptable…..and also that I was there to protect his little heart from being hurt.  Of course, the little ‘monsters’ were not to blame….they had NO ONE there training them how to treat others.  So, do I want to send my children, some who have special needs which could make them prime targets for teasing, away all day to possibly be ostracized and made fun of or bullied?  No, that’s not appealing to me at all.  And what could be even worse would be for one of MY children to gradually end up being one of the bullies!  God forbid!

Now, lest I be misunderstood as a sleeping late, lazy mom who babies her kids, I'll clarify that I do NOT shelter my kids from hard work or personal responsibility!  I expect them to have a strong work ethic and be disciplined in their behavior, their manners, and the academic work they do at home.  No child understands consequences as well as mine do!  But in order for me to see the character I'm hoping to build in them, they NEED discipleship....and not the kind you get  from your childhood friends!

And finally............
 #1THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME……Our TRUE and eternal home is waiting for us in HEAVEN…..And we, as children of God, don't belong to this world's system or culture!  For my husband and I, the culture of this world is “strange.”  It’s “foreign.”  It has no attraction to us.  And it’s our first and greatest responsibility to raise our children with a Kingdom mindset….in the culture of follow God’s mandate in Deuteronomy 6, which tells us:
4" Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."
For me, honestly, it’s just hard to do this when I’m sending my kids off to school 180 eight-hour days each year.  I’m not saying it’s impossible, or that other families don’t do a great job of it.  But for us, when our kids went to public school, it wasn’t happening in our home.  The stress levels and busyness were too much for us.  And the worldly influence. is. so. subtle.  It creeps in silently, barely noticeable at first.  My 8-year-old daughter only wants to shop at Justice now........She  brings home a folded paper each day, telling who she’s going to marry, what kind of house she’s going to have, what kind of car she’s going to drive, etc........My kids are all of a sudden so into Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber--even though they don't listen to their music.......They're talking all the time about some Disney show that they don't even watch......Minor  things, I know.....but these kids are only in elementary school......and the  pride of life is slowly creeping in.   Is it any different in Christian school?…..well, I went to Christian school, and for me it wasn’t.  Unfortunately, as far as being deeply spiritually minded and wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord was concerned, that was never something that was instilled in me when I attended a Christian School. I John 2: 15-17:   Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.  The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
So, for me….this is the key…..even if I fail at everything else, if I’ve been a godly example and raised my children to love and honor the Lord with all their hearts, then I’ve done my job.  This trumps every single other “advantage” that they may (or may not) have by going to school.  I see the fruit of the training our children are receiving at home—how much they love and feel loyal to God; how much they know and understand God’s Word; and how they (and we the parents) are slowly learning to walk in humility and the meekness of Christ.  This is a huge blessing to our family and I’m so thankful to God that we have this opportunity.

………And even now, having said all of that, we are faced with a difficult decision regarding one of our boys whom we just brought home from Bulgaria two months ago.  Benjamin, 10-years-old, appears to have a significant learning disability…he never even learned his letters or how to write his name when he was in school in Bulgaria.  He’s learned a couple of our alphabet letters so far, but it definitely takes him a loooooong time to retain new information—especially that which is learned visually.  We’re having his vision issues addressed and we’re having him professionally evaluated, but we’re pretty sure he has dyspraxia, or something close to it.  And, while I’m sure I could learn strategies to do with him to help him learn, I really don’t know how I can do them while also home schooling six other children!  For now, he’ll be getting speech therapy at our local public school, and the special ed teachers will be discussing ways they could help him if he were to attend school.  I mean, I know I said that there is more to life than learning your ABC’s, but learning them IS important, and I want him to reach his potential academically.  So, for the next month or so we will continue working with him at home, and then we’ll have the difficult decision to make as to whether or not to send him to school.  He was teased an awful lot at his orphanage and at his public school in Bulgaria, and I could not allow that to happen to him here. So, we will just pray and have the confidence that the Lord will go before Benjamin….either keeping a hedge of protection around him at school, or giving us the ability and understanding of how to help him at home........

UPDATE:  January 2014:  We kept Benjamin home and he is doing wonderfully!  In four years of school in Bulgaria, he didn't learn any letters of the alphabet or even how to write his name.  But in only four months of home schooling, he knows almost every letter of the alphabet, along with their SOUNDS, and he is starting to sound out simple words!  He writes his name and is learning to write all of the letters (motor skills are the most challenging thing for him).  I observed the special ed. class he would be in if enrolled in school and it is completely inappropriate for him....he will learn so much faster just doing what we are doing here at home. Plus, when he overheard me telling someone that I didn't know how it would affect him not being able to pray aloud in school, etc. he adamantly told me, "Mommy, I don't want to go to bye-bye school.  They don't pray in bye-bye school.  I want to do school at home!"

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