Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Lessons from a Five Year Old

This semester, I have been teaching my son, Joshua, the Beattitudes in school as part of his Bible lessons. Each week we would learn and study about the next beattitude, memorize the verse, and discuss it's meaning. But, with 5 year olds, you never really know how much they are paying much attention and if they are truely understanding. A few weeks ago, I received my answer and more.

I was having a particularly rough time with his younger sister, Emily. Her strong will was at the top of it's game this day and we were not getting along. This all happening during school time with Joshua, nonetheless. Once I felt Emily was calm enough that I could focus my attention on Joshua once again, Joshua asked me, "Are you having an angry day?" With my heartbeat still racing from dealing with Emily, I relpied, "I am a little angry with Emily." Joshua made a suggestion. "You need to ask God and Emily to forgive you," he said.
(Blessed are those who mourn, feeling sad for doing wrong and seeking forgiveness-for they shall be comforted.)
Already feeling the anger leave and guilt settling in, I stated to him, "Joshua, Emily was acting in a way she shouldn't and being disrespectful. I have to do something." "What do you think I should do?" With just a moment of thought, he replied, "You need to show her mercy, Mom, and not give her a spanking."
Mercy-forgiveness and compassion especially when undeserved.
(Blessed are the merciful-for they shall obtain mercy.)

With my heart filled with love, pride, and even mercy, there was no more room for anger. "That's a good idea, Joshua." A few minutes later, I went back into Emily's room and sat on her bed, pulling her in my lap. I did all that Joshua suggested. I apologized to her for getting angry. I asked if she was sorry for her behavior, and she was and I immediately forgave. We prayed together and asked God to forgive both of us and thanked Him for His mercy. I told her I loved her. We had a much better time with each other for the rest of the day. Because of a 5 year old's insight, peace was in our home, once again.
(Blessed are the peacemakers-for they shall be called sons of God.)

I don't think Joshua understands all of the beatittudes yet, but he has an understanding far above what I thought. He is paying attention. He is understanding. And he displayed it in a way that would humble the most studied theological scholars. He sure did humble me.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bullying & Being Bullied...

I just recently shared scarring experiences of my childhood in my article on home schooling and socialization. My belief was that being teased, humiliated, and left out, among other things is absolutely not a neccessary part of life. Today, I received an email from Focus on the Family with review of Frank Peretti's new book, 'Wounded Spirit.' Wow. My experience is petty compared to his, but his point is the same as mine. It's not neccessary and it does effect your life long after the bullying is done.

Here is a link to the article I read. This kind of torture happens everyday.

Friday, September 11, 2009

HomeSchooling: To Answer the Questions #3: What about socialization?

Part three...

3) "What about socialization?" I believe this is the most asked question and the 'issue' that is made the biggest deal about concerning home schooling. Honestly though, I believe this is the least important issue. I'm not saying that 'socialization' isn't important. I just believe it's not as big of a deal as others make it out to be. I'll explain myself.

The definition of socialization from is as follows: "noun 1. a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position."

Based on this definition of socialization, do I want the current public educational system to be the standard for which my child acquires his personal identity, norms, values, behavior, and social skills? Not really. Except for a few individuals within the government and political arena, our government of today is void of standards and values that reflect my worldview. (I'm not saying they have no standards or values.) Even with all of the Christian teachers and leaders that are in the public school system, their hands are mostly tied behind their back when it comes to bringing any of their worldview into what they are teaching. I personally don't want my children learning to base their identity, norms, and values on a system void of any reflection of Christ.

I have the wonderful opportunity to show Christ in all parts of my children's education. That Christ is part of it, not something separated from it. The study of Christ isn't something we should just be learning at church or aside from school work. It should be integrated into all parts of it. I can't force my children to choose Christ. Ultimately, that is their decision alone. But, I can show them how Christ is in everything we say and do, every part of our world. In the public school system, evolution is taught as the norm, as if it is fact, not theory. Christian parents, then have to 'undo' what is taught to them, tell them their teachers are wrong. Homosexuality is also being pushed in the classroom as something that should be embraced, not as a sin. In fact, this year in Knox County public schools, (I'm not sure about the schools in Tennessee overall), they have to now allow students to look at homosexual websites. Although these are educational sites, (non-pornographic), I don't want my child to over look another child looking at these sites and then have to explain something to them that I didn't want them exposed to yet. How many more values and norms do I need to list that are being taught in the public school system then has to be 'undone' by parents at home? What message then are we sending to our children when we send them to an 'expert' to educate them, but then tell our children later that they are wrong on so many aspects? No wonder children don't have a firm foundation on who they are or what they believe. Perhaps I home school because I don't want my child 'socialized,' not in this way.

What most people mean by the word 'socialization' is the interaction with others and opportunity to make friends with others. Most people want to label home school kids as 'weird', or 'loners', 'socially inept.' I dare you to take a walk in any public high school hallway, or even a junior high school for that matter, and see how long it takes you to spot the 'loners' and 'weirdos'. You can even spot a few already developing in elementary schools. I would be willing to wager money that it won't take you very long, and I don't bet. I believe home life and/or school peers have more to do with being a 'loner' or a 'weirdo' than where or how a child is educated. School shootings and killing sprees are evidence of that.

That thought brings me to the next point. I'm far from convinced that it is necessary for children to be forced to deal with bullying, teasing, and being stereotyped into a specific group, which often stays with you through the rest of your graded school years, as a 'normal' part of school and of growing up. In my own experience, it has no positive benefits. I was a skinny, buck-toothed girl growing up. Though my parents loved me very much, I was often made fun of by my school peers for being so skinny, among other things, to the point that I remember crying both during school and after school and it only got worse in the junior high grades. Once I hit high school, it wasn't so bad. But, because of the ridicule and rejection I had experienced for so many years, I constantly doubted myself and what others saw in me. I carried these feelings all the way through college. In fact, it made for a rocky start when I first started dating my husband and through his efforts and the wonderful grace of God, I have been finally able to shrug that lack of confidence and self doubt. I don't believe for a minute that any of this was necessary, except that I might have more understanding for others in that situation.

One of the frequently asked questions on the Focus on the Family website is, "Do you think home schooling might negatively impact the socialization process?" James Dobson had a lot to say on this issue, but this sums up my feelings on the current matter, "If acquainting them with ridicule, rejection, physical threats, and the rigors of the pecking order is necessary to socialize our children, I'd recommend that we keep them unsocialized for a little longer."

For the most part, (just as there are 'weirdos' in the school system, there are a few being home schooled too,) home schooled children are very well rounded and adjusted among their peers. Home school students are privy to all kinds of activities where they can learn to interact and become friends with others. They are usually busy with some kind of sport activity, music, dancing, 4H clubs, Boy/Girl Scouts, name it, they do it. Home school kids are exposed to a wide variety cultures, backgrounds, family dynamics, and other situations that will help expose them to the wide world we live in. There are home school cooperatives, known as 'co-ops', that many home school students attend with others in a class-like setting. In fact, studies conducted over several years are now showing that home school students are actually more confident with themselves, more socially adjusted, and less peer dependent than their traditionally schooled counterparts. Contrary to popular opinion, home school is more than just sitting at the kitchen table. It is a very busy and active lifestyle that takes education out of the doors and into the real world. While traditionally schooled students are put in a class, behind a desk, for several hours a day with same age peers and not given much opportunity to interact with different ages, home school students often take classes and participate in activities with many different ages, giving them the social advantage of learning how to interact with peers of different ages and interests from early on, which I'd say is better preparation for the 'real world.' (I've yet to work in a job where they separated us by age, have you?)

I am in no way saying any of this (regarding parts 1,2, or 3) is true of EVERY public school student or EVERY home school student. There are always exceptions to the rule, both for the good and the worse of the situations. I just want you, whoever you are reading this, to know that there is more to home schooling than what is on the surface. It is hard work, but, so is everything worthwhile in life. Even if you don't feel a calling to home school, educate yourself on it. There are a ton of good books out there on the subject of homeschooling. I will try to post a list of some of my favorites that you may find helpful to understanding this way of life. I'm sure you can find them in your local library, or from a friendly home schooling parent, so you don't have to purchase them.

I hope you have found this interesting and useful. And again, feel free to leave comments, tasteful, thought about, disagreements, and yes...agreements are welcome too.

HomeSchooling: To Answer the Questions #2 - Aren't my children missing out on opportunities?

Part two...

2) "Aren't my children missing out on opportunities?" In my own mind, this is probably the most valid question and concern about home schooling that one can ask. It is definitely something not to be taken lightly when deciding on how to educate your children. Ultimately, there are advantages and disadvantages to both sides of this issue. In the end, you have to decide what opportunities are worth giving up for the other opportunities, and which ones are not optional. Obviously, this is a very personal decision because each child and each family are going to be different, have different goals, values, etc.

One of the biggest opportunities that parents are often concerned about is sports. If I home school my child, then he won't have the opportunity to play on team sports and he also might miss out on a scholarship. I will admit, this was a concern within my own household. However, if you know myself or my husband, then you know that neither one of us went to college on a sports scholarship. I would actually much rather my children go to college on an academic scholarship because, in my opinion, intelligence is more profitable than physical ability in the long run. Just to be noted, many Ivy League colleges and universities and other very elite schools are specifically seeking home schooled students out and recruiting them to attend their schools. This is because on average, home school students are mature, independent thinking, creative, and oh yes, perform above the national averages on the ACT and SAT.

There are also other venues to play on a sports team than just through a traditional school setting. Upward Sports is a great way to get your young child involved and their are leagues and other teams for the older child. Home school children are often eligible to play on private or public school teams, as well. (We do still pay taxes for public education, so I don't feel a bit guilty about this.) Tim Tebow was home schooled all the way through high school. A local private school allowed him to play on their football team, he was recruited by University of Florida, and achieved the Heisman Trophy as a college sophomore.

What about band, homecoming, and proms? Home school students have all of these. Well, maybe not homecomings. But, they have winter formals and other alternatives.

Home school students also have opportunities that their traditional schooled counterparts may not have. Did you know that many local community colleges welcome home school students to take part in their classes, as well? A high school level home school student can graduate from high school with an associates degree, at the same time!! (We happen to be friends with one such young lady!) They can also take their dance lessons, music lessons, swimming lessons, and other lessons during the day, instead of trying to work them around after school home work and other after school activities. It is part of their education, not something thrown in extra, if you can manage the time. The world is their classroom! Every outing can be a field trip, an educational experience. Oh, yeah...and way too much fun!

Because we are home schooling, we didn't have to fit our vacation somewhere between June and July, when everyone else has to fit there's in. We are actually on vacation right now, the week after Labor Day. Since President Obama recently went on what he called a 'working vacation,' I'm going to call ours a 'schooling vacation.' We took Joshua's basic school lessons with us, then used the great out doors and our other visits we decided to take as hands-on learning time. (Our "sit down" lessons only took about an hour, so don't feel too sorry for Joshua.) We observed a turtle in it's natural habitat, went to a museum about the local history of Waynesville, NC, then we spent a whole day on a 'field trip' to Cherokee, NC to learn about the history and culture of the Native Indians. Who knows where our 'schooling vacation' will take us before it's all over!
What student is going to complain about a week of school like that?

I could go on, but I hope you get the idea that home schooled students may miss out on a few opportunities, but there are so many more opportunities out there for them, they really aren't missing anything at all.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

HomeSchooling: To Answer the Questions #1 - Am I qualified?

Inevitably, when I first tell someone that I home school, they usually start asking all sorts of questions. I really don't mind them, though, because how do any of us learn about something if we don't ask? As I stated in my first article on homeschooling, I asked myself some of these same questions before making the final decision.

There are almost as many questions about home schooling, as there are home schoolers. But, I'm going to focus on what I feel are the most frequently asked questions. You also have to remember that these are my answers and my opinions. Although many of my answers are based on a lot of studying I have done to prepare my heart and mind for this mission, (my basis for answers are not just random and made up), and there are many who share my thoughts and views, ultimately, I'm only speaking for myself.

I also want to share something with you up front. Although I choose not to use the public school system, I do not believe that everyone, especially Christians, should pull their children out the public school system and start home schooling. I sincerely believe that as a Christian, home schooling is a calling from God. I applause the Christian teachers that are out there in the class rooms every day, teaching and guiding the leaders of tomorrow. I also support the children that are in these classes as well. I shudder to think about a public school system void of all Christians. Schools are a wide open mission field, ripe for the picking. If all the Christian teachers and students would consistently stand firm in their faith and live out their faith for others to see, we would see a change unlike no other. So, the answers I give are not necessarily against those going and working in public schools. It's just perhaps, a view to the other side of the spectrum. An understanding of the other side of the story.

The questions I'm going to try to bring understanding to are: 1) If I don't have an education degree, am I qualified to do this? 2) Aren't my children missing out on opportunities? 3) What about socialization? I am going to break these subjects down into different blogs so the articles won't be too long. Comments and even tasteful and thoughtful disagreements are welcomed. (Agreements are welcome too, of course.)

1) "If I don't have an education degree, am I qualified to home school?" We could even take this further and ask, "If I don't have a formal college education, am I qualified to home school?" I'm sure these questions alone have brought doubt and confusion to many home schooling parents, and perhaps, have caused a few to not do it at all. Therefore, I think this question is worth addressing.

Education degrees are vital and important and not to be taken lightly. The overall purpose of an education degree (but not the only one) is to prepare the teacher to instruct several students at a time on a specific subject, in a designated amount of time. A degree does not mean they have to be an expert in all areas of education. Let's say the average teacher has 20 students per class. At the beginning of the year, she (and I'm going to use She to make it easy, but the He's are not forgotten) probably doesn't know much more about the students than the names on her list. And each of these students are beautifully different than the rest. They have different interests and learning styles, not to mention how different each family and home situation is. The government and school system tell the teacher what must be taught throughout the year, (not to mention they decide when/what grade levels certain things are to be taught and what curriculum to use), and each lesson is given a specific amount of time to go over. This teacher also has to keep in her head that the test results of her students at the end of the year are seen, not only as a reflection of the student, but of the teacher, as well. This my friends, is not an easy undertaking, and that's just the "tip of the iceburg" of teacher responsibilities. This is why I support teachers and feel they are among the most underpaid professions in our world today. This is why they need an education degree.

So, what about the home school parent? Let me ask a you a couple of questions. Why do parents concern themselves with the student/teacher ratio of the school their child is to attend? It is because the less students there are, the more time the teacher has to give attention to each student, personally. When asked of teachers what they wish they had more of, one of the most popular answers is more time with each student. We all know that the more one on one attention and assistance a child receives, the better chance they have of truly understanding and grasping the concept or subject. I have never met a parent that seeks to put their children in the largest classroom with the most children in it. We all know that if that child needs help, they will get very little time devoted. Often, children come home struggling with what was taught and it is the parent who helps the child come to a full understanding of the subject or problem. And if the subject becomes to hard for the parent, they can arrange for another student or an after school tutor to help their child. It's all about one on one, which is what home schooling is. You don't need an education degree to tutor your own children. You know your children. You know how they learn, what their strengths and weaknesses are. Therefore, the parent can tutor their children in a way that their children will fully grasp the subject, not just to know enough to pass a test and forget about it afterwards. In a class room, if your child does not fully understand the subject being taught, the teacher cannot wait for them to understand when the system says it's time to move to the next lesson. At home, if my child isn't ready to move on to the next lesson, I don't have to. I can wait until I know my child fully understands before adding something new on to that. And what about the child that catches on quickly? They are often bored in class because they have to stay on a subject longer than necessary. It is said that the level of teaching in a class will be geared to the least of the students. (That's putting it nicely.) So, my bright child, who already understands something, has to sit and wait until the system says they can move on to the next lesson. This often makes learning a chore, especially for those that might also have ADD or ADHD. Their minds are ready to go go go, and they have to wait wait wait. At home, when I know my child fully understands and grasps a concept, we can just keep on moving at his speed, not someone else's, or someone else's system. It doesn't take a college educated person to do this. Just a parent, that knows their own child.

I know many college educated people that don't have any sense to them. I also happen to know several people, who never earned a 4 year college degree, who could better teach than some others. My parents and in-laws, for example. None of them have 4 year degrees. But, I believe they can teach my children how to learn many necessary concepts, such as math, spelling, reading, writing, history, etc. They are among some of the smartest people I know. My parents helped me with my homework and come to understandings that I didn't grasp in the hour of class at school designated for that subject. I can say for certainty that my in-laws are no exception to that. I have even witnessed them helping grandchildren learn. Teaching your own children doesn't take a degree. It takes understanding your child, a willingness to help them be the best they can be, and a love for your child that no teacher will ever have. The learn along with them! There is always something new to learn. Education and learning should be a lifestyle, not just a means to an end.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

HomeSchooling From My Heart-The Journey

Home schooling is not really a new thing. It has been around for a very very long time, in fact. But, there has been such a recent surge to home school in the past couple of decades that it causes quite the stir, from the government to down to family, friends, and even strangers you meet in the school supply isle at your local super store. So, I'm going to share my journey in this decision and my heart on the matter. I hope you will read it with understanding, whether you decide to agree or not.

Before my husband and I ever had children, we had the blessing to know others that did home school their children. On of my dearest friends in fact, has home schooled her children from the very beginning and I have observed how well they do. We also had the honor of having a young harpest play at our wedding, who was just early in high school at the time. Her much younger sister assisted her and even played a couple of songs herself. They and their brother were also home schooled. My best friend home schooled her daughter the last 2 years of her high school years. She was able to graduate a little early and has just started college. All of them can think for themselves, are very confident and stable, and have a level head on their shoulders. They are blessings to know.

Honestly, I didn't really think when I first got married that I would actually home school myself one day. At the time, I didn't have the confidence in myself to think I could possibly teach my own children, much less anyone else. But, there was a seed planted in my heart. When we were finally able to have our first child, we lived in a small town in which I had worked with many of the children in the school system. I saw first hand how the system worked, or rather, didn't. However, I was honered to go to church with some of the best teachers in the county. I knew their hearts and thought I would be okay with my child under their watchful eye.

But, something deep down inside wouldn't let me go of the thought of home schooling. So, I began praying. Yes, even as my first child was just an infant, I started praying about this decision that would have to be made one day. And as we all know, those precious years fly by before our very eyes. On and off this went for several years. My husband was not a big proponant at first, and I would never make a major decision like this if we weren't in the same boat together. He knew I didn't have confidence in myself and worried about that. And of course, there is the whole issue of sports. So, back and forth I went, battling with myself, mostly. I would ask myself the same questions that others ask. "What about socialization?" "Aren't you afraid they are going to miss out on something?" "You don't have a teacher's degree, so are you sure you can really do this?"

I brought these questions to the Lord. He knew my concerns, already. But, I believe that the Lord gives you the desires of your heart. I tried to deny this growing desire I had to teach my children at home, but the more I prayed, the stronger the desire actually grew. I started praying that if this is truly what the Lord wanted me to do, then to make it very clear to me and to work on my husband's heart on this matter.

God works in mysterious and even humorous ways, sometimes. A couple of years ago, a young gentleman named Tim Tebow won the Heitzman's Trophey award, probably the most prestigous college football award around. He was home schooled all the way through high school. Not only did this open up a lot of eyes and opportunities, it helped bring my husband around. I also grew in confidence that I could do this home school thing, one year at a time, one step, one day. I also talked to friends at church who's children were in the public school system. All of them encouraged me to home school as long as I can.

The more I prayed, and studied God's word, the clearer His answer to me became. So, this is how my husband and I, together, came to the decision to home school our children. I don't regret for one minute making this decision, even though I know it will prove to be challenging at times. We are greatful for the family and friends we have that have given their full support and are understanding of those that give loving skepticism. It will remind me that others are watching and that I need to be 'diligent to show myself approved.'

So this is my journey on how we came to be a home school family. I don't ask for you to agree or disagree, I just ask for your continuing prayers as we start on this new and strange adventure in our lives.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I have an awsome site to share with you! (Thanks to my new friend Ann!)

You can register your Kroger card here, then choose the coupons on the site that you want to use and when you scan your card at the register when checking out, it will automatically take the coupons off your total!! If you use paper coupons, it will just double your savings!!
They do have other participating stores too if there are any you might use.
Check it out and enjoy the savings!!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Do you make New Year Resolutions?
I pondered this question for myself a while. What if I don't follow through...does that mean I fail? Should I make a promise, even if only to myself, that I might not keep?
In the end, I decided this...
If we attempt nothing at all, then we accomplish even less.

So here is my 2009 list of New Year's Resolutions:
1. Continue in my quest to be more consistent at daily Bible study.
2. Learn how to & make an honest effort at consistent journaling.
3. Keep some type of consistent exercise routine.
4. Continue in my quest to keep a consistent housekeeping routine.
5. Learn & apply more frugal shopping techniques.
6. Move into a bigger house. (okay, so this is a biggy!)
7. Read more non-fiction, (not giving up the fiction, though.)
8. Learn how to be a better blogger.

I think the theme would be consistency. (Not an intended theme, but it's obviously there.)
So, stick with me! It's gonna be real!