Tag Archives: home education

Weekly Top 5 (5.5.19)

The Top 5 Posts that Brought You Here this Week

The lovely thing about this blog is that it keeps fantastic statistics for me. And each week I’m able to identify the top five posts that have brought traffic to this blog.

It appears that this week has revolved around our family’s decision to leave Classical Conversations.

So here they are. In case you missed anything, the top five blog posts from the past week:

  1. Homeschool Idol. “‘All this time I’ve been saying I couldn’t homeschool without CC. What I should have been saying is I couldn’t homeschool without GOD.’ She stuck her fingers right into the middle of why this has been a gut-wrenching decision. We’ve been putting an organization in the center of what should be a holy endeavor. We know better.”
  2. You Want the Reasons We Have Left CC. “Our family has made the decision to leave Classical Conversations permanently. Illogical accusations and unlawful expectations from our state leadership are the straw that has broken the camels back, but, to be honest, the business practices and philosophy changes have caused me heartburn for quite awhile. We have been praying that God would be extremely clear if He wanted us to change anything and He’s been so faithful! It’s become quite obvious that He’s ready to move us in a new direction.”
  3. Leavin’ CC on a Jet Plane. “Even though we’ve been running a CC community as close to the DLG and book as I’ve ever known… we got crossways with our state leadership. This isn’t the time for great details, but suffice to say it was big and it was wrong and at the end, due (I think) to a really prideful heart and perspective, there was just no way to move forward.”
  4. Eager Anticipation. “Our life had so many burdens on it I knew without a doubt it was impossible for me to manage. So I stopped trying. I started telling God, ‘I eagerly anticipate the way You are about to show Yourself to be Big and Faithful and True and Loving’… and you know what? HE DID.”
  5. Can I Still Be in Leadership? “I have a sort of pro/con list that I wrote out of points of contention I have identified. There are 13 items on that list that are active, current issues that have crossed the line into sin (in my assessment) because of unlawfulness in their enactment or abusiveness from a relational perspective.”

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

The Fuzzy Future Is Gaining Clarity

The best questions are not limited by what can be done; they ask what ought to be done.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been trying to figure out what our homeschool will look like this next year. I have discovered a lot of beauty in the Claritas Publishing Memory Work Guide so that’s the direction we will go with our 7, 9, and 11 year olds. The main reasons why?

  • There’s familiarity in the way it’s laid out,
  • I love the way they present the Latin strand,
  • There are songs for each piece of memory work,
  • The addition of hymns to the curriculum add for a more robust connection to church history and theology,
  • I already own all of the Story of the World cycles, so I’m excited to see a four year cycle that will allow me to more easily dovetail those to resources.

There was a temptation to keep doing what we’ve been doing, especially since the CC Foundations Guide has no restrictions on doing the Foundations program at home on your own. However, I think for us it is wise to have as much of a clear break between what was and what will be as possible – and after having gone through the major overhaul of songs and such this past year I know our kids are resilient and can adapt to the new curriculum well.

You might laugh at me over this, but the Claritas Publishing Fundamental Grammar Guide ended up attracting me because their font is friendly and it feels like it will be easier to “get into” than what we have been using. (I continue to shake my head that I, as someone who has a degree in Journalism from a University that does Journalism really well… is still buffaloed by English grammar! Just proof that education doesn’t really stop at the end of formal classes!)

I was tempted to go with the Language Lessons series from Well Trained Mind because we’ve used that before and liked it, but I’m thinking it’s wise to stick with the Fundamental Grammar Guide because it will have crossovers with the Memory Work Guide being from the same publisher.

Our kids have been doing three different math programs, all online: Math Seeds, Teaching Textbooks, CTC Math. This is working for them, so we will continue those programs until or unless it becomes evident we need to shift.

Our outside activities will continue to fill in the blanks: we have 4H which, through active projects or inspiration for those projects, covers sewing, animal husbandry, robotics, gardening, public speaking, and fiber arts.

We will be exploring the chemistry and dynamics of cooking this summer (and through regular practice – the kids each make at least two meals a week for the family) through the book, How to Cook Without a Book which we plan to do with friends.

Our religious study continues to be the responsibility of us as parents, and church attendance is a reinforcement to what we do at home.

So with the younger ones, I feel fairly confident we aren’t going to suddenly crash and burn next year in a flaming network of pyrotechnics. I also believe (and am backed up with scientific studies) that you kind of can’t screw up the younger years of education. Obviously, there are a LOT of things you can do to make things better and easier, but you can’t straight up ruin a kid’s love of acquiring information during the grammar years because it’s embedded in their DNA.

However, our 13 year old is giving me grief. She has been so well prepared for the Challenge program and this past year in Challenge A worked so well for her, that I’m seriously struggling over how to move forward confidently in her education. I believe that the stakes get higher and higher for her as she grow older.

I also believe now that she’s in her dialectic stage of development, she’s a partner in this endeavor, so we need to consider things that she can engage in and enjoy.

I’ve been reading Norms & Nobility. Admittedly, I started in chapter 9 A Curriculum Proposal (What Might Have Been) because I really just wanted to know the answer! I was looking for the easy way out and it didn’t work out so well.

In chapter 10, Hicks hit me over the head with this quote: “The best questions, it seems to me, are those least prejudiced by the availability of pat answers, as well as those originating not only in practice, but in imaginative theory. In other words, the best questions are not limited by what can be done; they ask what ought to be done, knowing that the former question – although scientifically correct – can only make a poor education worse by narrowing the range of inquiry and by limiting the possibilities for improvement.”

Consider yourself eye-rolled, Hicks-meister, for adeptly nipping my desire for easy and quick answers in the bud.

So… what would we do with an education, with the valuable handful of days we have left while she’s in our home and unable to drive away… what could we do if we had big dreams?

Hicks gives me these clues:

“Cardinal Newman’s (1969) description of liberal education remains, to this day, unimpeachable: that which teaches the student “to see things as they are, to go right to the point, to disentangle the skein of though, to detect what is sophistical, and to discard what is irrelevant. It prepares him to fill any post with credit, and to master any subject with facility.”

(Sophistical means “clever and plausible, but unsound and tending to mislead.” I had to look that one up.)

It needs to be something that develops an appreciation of Truth.

Something that involves the ability to create and recognize logical thinking and arguments.

It needs to be something that practices sorting and clarifying tricky situations or history.

Something that allows her to practice passing a judgement on things that are irrelevant while always treating the human being as relevant.

This is going to require some more thought.

I think we’ll stick with Lost Tools of Writing. I hate it as a writing program, but I love it as a critical thinking program.

We’ll stick with Latin (although we might go away from Henle – I really like friendlier fonts….) and Logic (she loved the Fallacy Detective. I don’t know whether to move from that to formal logic or not. (There are at least two more books I want to explore because they interest me: The Amazing Dr. Ransom’s Bestiary of Adorable Fallacies: A field guide for clear thinkers by Douglas Wilson & ND Wilson, and An Illustrated book of Bad Arguments by Ali Almossawi. It’s possible that those can be things we work through as a family instead of her coursework.)

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far.

I’d love to hear feedback from you all about what you have seen and enjoyed, what worked or didn’t work! Do you have any suggestions?!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

Eager Anticipation

We can Eagerly Anticipate the way God is about to work through our fear of change.

This summer I was down in the dumps. I had a lot weighing on my mind and then one thing after another happened: our house required major work to be done, our CC community was having difficulty filling all of the Challenge level spots, after months of warning signs my health finally took a nosedive so dramatically I had to get professional help, and, of course, it was crunch time for 4H involvement and the upcoming county fair.

During this time I attended the birthday party of a childhood friend. While there I ran into another friend I rarely see and while we were catching up she related some heavy events from her life. Then said some words that I think will be with me forever:

“Our life had so many burdens on it I knew without a doubt it was impossible for me to manage. So I stopped trying. I started telling God, ‘I eagerly anticipate the way You are about to show Yourself to be Big and Faithful and True and Loving’… and you know what? HE DID.

We are in the midst of a major life change in our homeschool since we have made the decision to separate from Classical Conversations. I know that for some folks this probably sounds very melodramatic to be fretting and crying over whether to participate in a tuition program (I’ve never heard of anyone freaking out like this over leaving AWANA or their gymnastics gym!) but, man, it’s been a BIG deal for us. It’s all we’ve ever known for our homeschool. We’ve loved it tremendously… and now we know that God has moved us away.

I’m going back to things I know to be true from other seasons of life and thought I’d share them with you in case you’re spinning as much as yours truly. For any life altering, directionally changing decision you might be considering:

First, you can EAGERLY ANTICIPATE the way God is about to show up for you.

So many times God works before us in ways we would literally have never imagined. He’s got this. He’s also completely trustworthy! (He is literally the definition of trustworthy, so we should probably pay attention to that.) We know that He has our best interests at heart – not necessarily to help us know how to homeschool next year (I mean, maybe, but who knows?) but to set us up for situations that draw us closer to HIM and give us opportunities to praise Him for His faithfulness and greatness. Dude. That’s a big deal. Homeschooling will fall in line because the big rocks are already present.

Second, you will never change things until the pain of staying the same outweighs the pain of change.

Change is uncomfortable, painful, and messy. We like our habits; we like our predictability. Yes, a few of us have enthusiasm for change, but the vast majority of us are really comforted by stability and patterns. So what does that mean in a season of turmoil? We won’t change unless we must change. We shouldn’t take our grief over change as a sign that we shouldn’t move… instead we should accept that grief as natural, embrace it as proof we’re humans, and move forward in eager anticipation.

Third, expect the pain of loss of the relationship to take about half as long as the relationship endured.

I used this rule of thumb all the time when I worked with college students who were going through a breakup. When you break up with someone, it’s difficult! Expect that there will be moments of depression and railing against reality and just ickiness for about half as long as your relationship lasted. (For example, if you dated someone for six months, you’re probably on about a three month recovery process before you realize one day you haven’t thought about them or wailed while singing All by Myself.) In my particular situation of grieving right now, I was a part of this homeschool organization for eight years. Probably about four years from now I’ll be able to look back at our involvement and not feel like someone’s poking a bruise. Until then, it’s ok to be sad and wish I had more answers. But… in the fullness of time… it will work itself out.

The Plan

If you, like me, are in a season right now that has been proceeded by uncertainty and dread, stop and pray. Put your copy of the Well Trained Mind Aside and sit quietly with the Lord.

  1. Spend some time reminding yourself of how very much He loves you and how trustworthy He is (I love following along in Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word books for this!).
  2. Petition Him with your concerns and worries because He’s waiting and willing to respond (Cast all your cares on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7).
  3. Pull out a piece of paper, date it, and start writing down your stresses and hopes and dreams – dump it all out and then simply say, “I eagerly anticipate seeing the way this is going to work out.” THEN PUT YOUR LIST AWAY FOR AT LEAST A WEEK (more if you can stand it).
  4. When time has passed, bring out your list and spend time in amazement at the way He has worked in your life (The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still. Exodus 14:14).

In the meantime, know that you’re not alone. God’s got this and His hands are much better than anyone else’s!

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution). Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

What Do You Have To Prove?

A. Khatir / freeimages.com
A. Khatir / freeimages.com

A few months ago as I was out and about I ended up having a conversation with an older gentleman I’d never met before.

 

He was old, the kind of old where his skin had given up on the whole concept of elasticity and instead folded in upon itself in valleys and peaks across his face. He was a World War II veteran and I thanked him for his service in the midst of our talking. He didn’t want to talk about his service in the military and instead looked at the four children I had on display and turned the conversation toward them.

 

“Where to they go to school?” he asked me.

“We homeschool,” I replied. He looked affronted. With so much skin available to him for use his expressions were magnified. It was obvious he was reevaluating my placement on the “normal” to “psychopathic killer” stranger scale.

 

“Well, what do you use to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic?” he asked. I explained our educational plan and how we are careful to meet the state standards in these areas and go beyond the standards when it makes sense.

 

“Hurumph,” said my octogenarian friend. His face showed that he was trying to help me see the error of my support of home education without being rude. “Well, what about socialization?!” he asked me.

 

A little part of me was amazed that I was getting all of the stereotypical complaints against home education in one conversation, but I responded with an explanation of our civic groups participation, our weekly gatherings of youth activities, and how the flexibility afforded by homeschooling allows us to visit interesting places like museums regularly.

 

He was unimpressed and equally unwilling to let go of his belief that home education was foolhardy. So he finalized his questioning with what he saw as the knockout question:

 

“So, I guess you got your degree in education to be a teacher, then?” he asked me suspiciously.

 

The reality is that no, I don’t have my degree in teaching. I shared this with him, including the research that most home educating parents don’t have teaching degrees, yet their children are able to perform as well or better than their publicly educated peers on standardized tests and ultimately are able to find success as happily employed adults. I mentioned the studies that cite example after example of hiring professionals valuing skill sets encouraged by the home education lifestyle: autonomy, ability to respond to changing situations, problem solving skills, etc.

 

But then, seeing his interest had completely faded in the barrage of information I was using to convince him our family is educating “properly” and he wasn’t going to change his suspicious nature regardless of anything I said to validate my perspective… I just stopped talking.

 

He didn’t notice. He looked the other way for awhile. Eventually we said goodbye and went about our respective business. I don’t expect we’ll ever see one another again.

 

As I played the conversation over in my head later, one question echoed:

 

“What am I trying to prove, and to whom? Why?!”

 

Having just returned from our state’s homeschooling conference, I have educational models and methods on my mind. I am inspired and challenged, convicted and overwhelmed. I feel supported in this educational lifestyle choice we’re making, and like I’m part of a larger group of likeminded people.

 

I learned that there are more children homeschooled in this country right now than there are in parochial schools. The pendulum is swinging.

 

That being said, we must figure out what we are trying to prove with our home education and to whom. We must know our why are explore the underlying motivations.

 

If we homeschool because it’s the new trendy thing to do we will not be successful. We will simply be sheep following the next new thing.

 

If we homeschool because that’s how you prove to others that you’re a real Christian, we will fail because real Christians educate their children in all sorts of different ways. This isn’t a competition.

 

If we home school because we are out to prove the public education system wrong, to prove our kids are all little geniuses, we will ultimately be left with an empty spot in our heart because we push so hard for our children to “succeed” we push them right out of our homes with our perfectionism.

 

I’m of the opinion God blessed us with these children and we are called to be stewards of their individuality, to shine the spotlight on the ways they are gifted to be unique, they ways they can be used to impact this world.

 

It’s our job as educators to give them the skill sets necessary to allow those giftings to bloom.

 

For example, if I have a child who is gifted in design it behooves all of us to teach her the skills necessary for engineering so that the visions in her head can find a place in reality.

 

If I have a child who has a gifting in leadership it’s my educational responsibility to expose her to reading so that the stories of past great leaders, of people who learned to use their leadership not to “boss” others but to “empower” them, will be present in her brain and she can learn from their wisdom.

 

It is not my job to convince others to home school. I don’t know their stories or what they witness in their own families. I can’t compare.

 

It is my job to sacrificially educate our children with the tools needed to accomplish the work God has laid out in advance for them to do. I need to educate and then get out of the way… because this is the task God prepared for me to do!
And when it’s all said and done:

“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and I could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.'” — Erma Bombeck

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution).
Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved

The Truth About Homeschooling

zirzuke / stock.xchng
zirzuke / stock.xchng

I’ve stepped into a leadership role with my local Classical Conversations community that has me meeting with prospective parents frequently to explain the program and how CC might work for them.

 

I love it, absolutely love it! Because if it weren’t for Classical Conversations there’s a reasonable chance I wouldn’t even consider homeschooling as a viable option for our family. At the risk of sounding like a complete CC Kool-Aid drinker, this academic community has made all the difference in our life and opened up the world for our children.

 

Even so, sometimes I feel a little guilty that I don’t add the “downer” side of homeschooling to my conversations with people about whether this is a party they want to join. To clear my conscience, I’m going to go public with some of the negatives of homeschooling right here and now…

 

1. You’re going to have to actually school them. The real bummer about homeschooling is those kids – they don’t just teach themselves. And school? It happens every day. There are no sick days, you can’t sleep in for fun, and your kids are used to getting your attention so they get a tad presumptuous about your time. There’s no one you can send them off to or blame when they don’t perform as well as anticipated.

 

2. Unrealistic Expectations. Let’s face it, we all want kids who do something exceedingly well or else the “how to tell if your child is gifted” post wouldn’t be one of the most popular on BabyCenter. Homeschoolers are the worst about this. “Did I mention my 4 year old is able to recite Plato and complete advanced geometry problems? Oh, I didn’t? Don’t worry. The public school will teach your little Susie to wipe the drool from her chin by the end of 6th grade, I’m certain.” Sheesh! We read statistics about kids who are home educated winning spelling bees and doing well academically and dream that our kiddo will be the Next Big Thing. But take a moment to realize an important fact: they’re your kids. If YOU weren’t a member of Mensa or a Top Shot… chances are simply doing school around your kitchen table won’t make them phenomenal.

 

3. It’s lonely. There was a time I described staying at home full time as akin to putting ground glass on my eyeballs… and I meant it. I love my children to an insane degree but I think I’m pretty close to the worst person possible to be a full-time stay at home mom. This is likely why I’ve also worked for all but about seven months of my mom life – I need the adult interaction and challenges provided by employment. Even now, working full-time from home, I struggle with the loneliness of homeschooling. Being a part of a co-op makes this journey feasible… you have someone to commiserate with on a regular basis as well as people to celebrate the awesome achievements of your kiddos!

 

4. You see your ugly side. There was a time I never, ever raised my voice. In fact, I would cry if I was around people yelling or even loud noises. Home schooling has taught me I have a short temper. There’s a little switch in me that pops its overload setting when I have a load of laundry that must go into the dryer, dinner cooking on the stove, a baby crying at my feet and a grade schooler asking me if I have ever tried to draw a picture of Charlemagne’s horse and whether the mane should be black or brown… all at the same time! I crack, sometimes daily. This gives me the opportunity to be humble. (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture! An opportunity to demonstrate faith!)

 

5. You question your value. When you’re at home, wondering if your child will ever figure out how to read or write or add or subtract, you begin to doubt whether you’re doing enough. You read what the “experts” say, you try to gauge yourself against others… what you really do is practice insecurity. It’s eternal, this responsibility you have for your kid and your concern that you’re just not living up to their potential, that you’re holding them back. There is no boss who pulls you in for a performance review, followed by a pay raise. And that stinks.

 

After all these negatives, I think it’s important to mention we do homeschool and aren’t planning to change that anytime soon. For our family, it’s worth it because this aligns with our values. (But it’s not always just peachy.)

 

What are your highs and lows regarding home education?

 

 

If you like this post, feel free to share it (with attribution).
Copyright © StealingFaith.com 2010-2019 | All rights reserved



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