Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
I first want to start this post, as a former teacher, with a husband who IS a public school teacher by saying that I LOVE the little community school that my kids are able to attend. It is the same little school that Howard and I both went to and I love it there. I volunteer on Wednesdays and am always blessed by being in the building. The teachers are TOP notch and their love for the children is so evident. The worries of political correctness seem not to apply to our little school and my heart leaps as I walk down the hall and hear "God Bless America" sung by little voices either along with a record player (I am tellin' ya...old school) or the teacher's piano accompaniment. Luke has the SAME teacher Howard and I both had and we LOVE LOVE LOVE her.
I LOVE this school. That said, I have a stirring in my heart that I just can't ignore any longer. Each year since we started sending Luke to school (two years) we have prayed on whether to send him to school or school him at home. Last year we even attended a Cyber School open house just to explore our options. We have always held the view that Luke should go to school because he could be a light and maybe be a positive influence on others there. God does in fact call us to be a light to a dark world. I have to say though, that I am feeling convicted that I need to equip him to be a light. He is not ready to be held to that kind of accountability yet. I will go so far as to say that in college I wrote a VERY convincing paper likening homeschooling to child abuse. I digress...it is funny how the Lord works on your heart.
Anyway, I am struggling with the decision of sending Luke to school next year. I have been feeling torn. Luke is in first grade and is reading above a third grade level. The teachers are doing all they can to accommodate him but let's be honest they have two dozen other kids some of whom cannot read at all to worry about. Luke is losing his zest for learning and is getting lazy.
Luke gets off the bus at 4:30 which gives me approximately 3 and a half hours with him in the evening. This year his only REAL homework is typically to read for fifteen minutes which we are cool with because we read to the kids every night before bed anyway so signing his agenda is just a formality. I do know that there is homework to come in the next grade. I spoke with some folks at the school today who confirmed my fear for next year. I am not okay with my child spending 8 hours in school and coming home to another hour of work. He is seven. He needs to play. He needs to run and jump and be with his family. We need family time.
Research shows that homework does not necessarily help a student gain academic success. The teachers I have spoken to have said that a huge reason for their assigning homework is to encourage parents to take an active role in their child's education. I get that. I do that. My issue is that Luke spends eight hours in school with 25ish minutes of gym class per week and 20ish minutes of recess which is held indoors largely through the months of December through March. So they aren't REALLY active. We wonder why students are obese. I digress. I want Luke to have time for play and imagination and family fun. Honestly by the time he gets off the bus at 4:30, we have dinner clean up, have baths and do the bedtime routine, there is really only about an hour of time left over. This year his homework consists of reading aloud for at least fifteen minutes which I am totally on board with and the occasional project that I also enjoy. Next year we are slated for a different course.
I have no intention of shielding Luke from this world which is the reason I assumed all people home schooled (which is why we shouldn't assume). I just really want to make the most of the time I do have with him. We all know that we are not promised tomorrow. I want to squeeze every ounce out of today. I LOVE being with my kids and watching them learn and creating new avenues for them to learn from. I believe that kids learn more from play and experience than anything else.
As a product of public school myself I have to say I think I am pretty well educated. I think the school system was good to me and school was my constant safe place to be. I loved school. Still do. One thing I DO wish is that someone would have said to me, "Kristy, it is okay to do whatever your heart tells you. It is okay to go to college, or not. It is okay to simply desire to raise a family one day" I struggle because I feel called to be home with my kids but am paying on student loans. The closer I have grown to the Lord, the farther I have gone from my desire to have a career and build a life for MYSELF. Life now is not about my own happiness or fulfillment. It is about my family and in turn I am happy and fulfilled. I LOVE being home with my kids and there is NOTHING better than being exactly where you feel God has called you. :)
I know that Howard struggles immensely with being a teacher in a public school. He feels his hands are tied in so many ways. He sees kids who need to know Jesus. Who need to know it doesn't matter how smart they are, how cool they are or how good looking they are. He loves them all. They need to know that it is not important to succeed and make lots of money. It is important to give it all to Him and be His hands and Feet. Howard struggles with feeling that he is doing his students a disservice by not telling them the Truth.
All this to say, I feel that God MIGHT be calling me to step outside my box and let go of my previously very judgemental views of homeschooling and follow Him as I teach and raise my own children. I am scared. This is just ONE facet of my life He is working on and I just want to be obedient. SO, I would GREATLY appreciate prayer on this. I want to do what He would have me do. I want to do what is best for Luke and for our family. If I can school him in a fraction of the time needed in school and spend the rest of the time instilling values, play and learning experiences, what am I so afraid of?
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Isaiah 54:13 And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.
Most of my reasons for dragging my feet on this seem silly. Have any of you struggled with this decision?