Category: homeschool

Doing School

A few weeks ago (or maybe a few days ago?), I started to panic a bit about our homeschooling schedule or lack thereof.

Life moves at breakneck pace around here. ..I know this is the same for most households with kids and working parents and so forth. Our work-at-home, school-at-home structure is still very new to us, and calling it a structure at all might be a stretch. It usually involves the girls waking us up around 8am – which I know is L-A-Ate compared to the time some other toddlers wake up, or compared to people who actually have to get the kids somewhere in the morning and be off to work.

However… it is also our propensity to stay up late, usually working. And lately, the kids have been staying up later, probably because we end up finishing dinner around 7:30. It’s a cycle we’ve yet to break, or even really try to, because when we’re on the road, we eat and go to bed even later.

So anyway… Rod and I have worked out a tentative sort of schedule, that Mondays will be a family day off as much as possible (Don’t be hatin’… Sunday is typically a big, long work day for us and Saturday is spent traveling). For the rest of the weekdays, we take turns working and being with the kids. That’s about as structured as we got…

And the school stuff is…fitting in…which is what started my panicked rant one (hot) afternoon (when Rod had turned off the AC). I started to check with Paige on how she was feeling about her assignments because we weren’t taking more structured time to DO school.

Apparently, when i said “do school,” I clenched my fists and had the Crazy Eyes.

Paige laughed at me, and in her not-quite-17-years-old simplified wisdom, reminded me that part of the reason we have chosen homeschool for this season of our family’s life is because we don’t have to follow a schedule.

OK. Fine.

A few nights later, I had dinner with BFF-Jen, with whom I endured student teaching *5* years ago (unbelievable) and who is still teaching, now tenured and Master-fied, high school English, drama, and journalism. She was talking in passing about traditional block scheduling, which involves students taking certain subjects over one semester, and the other subjects the next.

Can you hear the ‘DING’ ? I did.

So… after discussion with Paige, we decided that right now, she will work hard on her Thinkwell Physics and Pre-calc classes. We will continue with Bible study, Spanish, writing, and ACT prep. But we will hold off on American Lit and history until she finishes the math and science.

We like that idea.

Meanwhile, we just built in a stay in St. Augustine, FL (Even I remember this from grade school social studies… The country’s oldest city! Ponce de Leon!) during our upcoming Orlando vacation… So we *will* use that to study some early American history.

Because. We. Can.

I am still nervous about homeschooling – next post will be about Miranda and Kaity’s foray into Kitchen Table Pre-K. But there are moments that remind me why and how it works for us. Paige is in the kitchen taking her first Physics test right now; I asked her if she wanted me to pray with her beforehand, she said yes, and so I did.

I mean, wow, we have so much freedom to learn and explore and balance and discuss and honor our faith in this school…  That won’t just show up on an ACT score. It will show up in life!
Photo: Paige & her friend E during our ‘back to school’ dinner!

Schooled

I have great memories of going to school. I remember all of my teachers’ names. I remember many of my classmates’ names (thank you, Facebook, for showing me how many I have forgotten). I love school supplies. I love taking notes. Even now, I miss being in class.

Oh yeah – and just a few years ago, I got my teaching certification for high school English.

So..why, exactly, have we decided to homeschool Paige this year?

The funny thing is that not many people have asked. Most people assume it is because of our life – namely, all the travel. For some part, that is true. However, we value Paige a lot more than our “work,” and so there is no way we would “yank” her out of public school after 11 years just to support our lifestyle. We have too many other options to make a decision solely based on that.

Back in the spring, a few days after a particularly stressful road trip with Rod, the little girls, and me, I was walking through the house wishing: “I wish we could find a college-aged person…who would be comfortable staying on the bus with us…who would work for food…”

And the next minute, Paige was standing in front of me, waving her hand…

I actually resisted for awhile. Paige has the ability to Absolutely Shine in a variety of situations, but like many American Teenagers, she is also very astute at staying in her room with the door closed for inordinate amounts of time. I worried worry about her growing stagnant, lazy, apathetic…

And then slowly, we realized together that the risks of bad habits developing “because of homeschool” are the same as those that might develop “because of public school.” The real connecting piece, in any of it, is how involved we stay as parents.

So you will not find me shouting from the rooftops, or from Twitter, that public education is bad. I still have my teaching certificate, and I don’t discount using it again someday. I am the product of a public school system that even 15 years ago was considered “not good enough,” and not once was I unable to accomplish something due to a lack of education or sense.

You will also no longer find me saying that homeschool kids are weird, awkward, overly pale, or most likely to live in a van down by the river. I have been absolutely blessed to have marvelous families in my circle of friends who for various reasons have chosen to homeschool – Renee, Sharona, Julie, Maureen, Martha, Deanna, Sarah, Amy… I’m talking to you… and I adore all of their children. None of them are any weirder than mine…

And finally, you will not find me discounting the “secular” educational resources that are available to us because we are a Christian family. That particular bandwagon is one I was very recently introduced to…and one we have immediately opted to stay away from. I cannot discount the existence of dinosaurs because I believe in the Bible. I have been to the Field Museum. I have seen Sue’s skeleton. I believe God made a huge, intricate creation with a history that cannot be summed up in a Bible story. That is one of the reasons why homeschool is becoming a real, appealing vision to us, rather than a solution. Why not combine the best resources – classical information, scientific facts, and the Bible – to give our kids all the knowledge we can? If we train their minds and their hearts, they are going to arrive safely at a Good Place. We cannot force our faith on our children anyway… what we can do is safely and sensibly provide them with all the resources we have and encourage them in their educational journey.

Oh yeah… and we can pray for them.

During Paige’s first school life, she played the viola and the clarinet,she sang in several choirs, including the one that took her to Europe a few months ago, she learned Spanish, she volunteered, she made the honor roll repeatedly, and…

She decided there are now other things in the world she wants to see and do.

Paige’s junior year of high school will include more Spanish (which she would not have had ‘schedule room’ to continue with in public school), more music, more volunteer work, Bible study, more writing, website design, on-the-job training with Branson Gospel Music Revival, fine-tuning her skills as the Best Nanny Ever, as well as college prep classes in English, Physics, Pre-Calculus, and U.S. History. She will have physical education. AND…she will travel extensively as part of our ministry team.

I am taking a deep breath. I cannot convince myself it’s the right thing. But I can see with my eyes of faith how good it will be for Paige and for our family. And seriously, looking at it on paper – and considering I wasted a lot of my junior year of high school on a Dumb Boy, I think she’s in for a great ride!