Sunday, August 7, 2011

Two Cardboard Boxes

Yesterday, two cardboard boxes showed up at my doorstep. The appearance of those boxes in our home sent me deep into thought last night as I realized the magnitude of what is happening.

As a little background, I went to college to be an Elementary School Teacher, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BS in Education. I attended public school, I taught in public school and I believe very much in public school. My senior year at college I had to write a paper on a highly debated educational topic. My thesis was that homeschooling is actually a form of child abuse. (I know, I know). Howard is a public school teacher. Some of our very closest friends are public school teachers.

We happen to live in a school district with one of the best elementary schools around. Howard and I both attended this very school and we have nothing but good things to say about the school, staff and familial feel of the wonderful place. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful public school option. Seriously.

This is why, when the Lord started nudging me a while ago to research other options for our kids I shut Him out. I was content. I knew Luke was SO loved and so well cared for and it made it so much easier to let him get on that big yellow monster each morning. :) I love my kids. I love when they are all home and it was hard for me to say goodbye for such a large chunk of his day, but I figured it was an issue that was for ME to work on...I needed to start letting go. So I did.

Luke liked first grade and loved his teacher. She is one of the best there is for sure. Howard and I both had her as our first grade teacher and we were thrilled that Luke would be blessed by her also...and he was. This is why part way through the year when Howard asked if I would consider homeschooling the kids, I thought he was nuts. I had been feeling the Lord work on me in this area and it was all too scary for me. I shrugged it off and we kept on.

One night, Howard and I had a serious talk on the matter. He shared with me all of his concerns, as a parent and as a teacher himself. He was concerned that Luke was becoming lazy, that because he is one of the oldest in the class and is several levels ahead in reading, he is learning to do the minimum just to get by. Even the most wonderful teacher in the world, when placed in a room with 24 seven year olds can only do so much. She had kids who barely knew their alphabet...they needed her attention. She tried hard and gave Luke extra projects and work, but again she was only human and already spends countless hours on creating lessons for the kids.

I kept praying on what we were to do...I knew how strongly Howard wanted the kids to be schooled at home, yet he knew that unless I felt it too, it would not work so he just let it go and kept praying on it as well. Through my prayer time and scripture reading, I was beginning to really hear God calling me to this job that honestly for me seems impossible...THREE small children all depending on me for their everything. Let me just tell you that I do not have the patience of a saint so it is only by the grace of God that this could possibly work.

Last week we decided. My convictions became stronger and my fear of disobeying what God was calling me to do became greater than my fear of homeschooling itself. In a few short weeks, that big yellow bus will drive down our road and bypass our house as we begin to create a learning environment within these walls.

If I am being honest, I am excited but also terrified. The magnitude of being SO responsible for my children's education overwhelms me...to which Howard gently says "so why trust it to someone else...if it is so important...God will equip us". Oh, that man...so wise and yet sometimes so irritating. (I say that with love, I know how blessed I am) It has become a matter of just saying "Yes, Lord" and praying our way through.

Now, all this said, I have found that as we share this decision with friends and family we are coming up against a LOT of opposition and eye rolls, so just for myself, I want to explain a few things.

We are not doing this out of fear. We believe that we are to fear nothing but the Lord, Himself. We are not trying to shield the kids from the world or protect them from anything. We are merely trying to do what is best for OUR kids. That said, we also believe that public schooling is good and is what some families are called to. Our reasons for homeschooling are not religious as much as just trying to do what is best for our own kids. Our choice to do this is in no way saying that we have a beef with school or the teachers there...that could not be farther from the truth. It is also not saying that we think this is what is best for every family. Much like all other parenting decisions, families need to choose what is best for their own kids and their own families. For some, that is private school, for some, homeschool, and for others public school.

Proverbs 9:10
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."

We have also been scolded for making a choice that will ultimately cause the demise of public schooling. Disappointment has been shown in our "not allowing our children to shine their Light into the public school system." To those I say...we are merely trying to be obedient and do what is best for our kids. Expecting my five year old to be a Light is a huge responsibility, and one that I must admit I don't think he is ready for...we have a lot of foundation yet to lay. I do hope and pray each day that our children will shine their lights for all to see...I just feel like I need a little more time to instill some of those things in them. We still think it is of the utmost importance to teach them to be a light and to love with the love they've been shown.

I want Luke to retain his love of learning. I want our kids to find learning fun and exciting and above all I want them to be kids. I want them to play and explore. For THIS year Luke will do second grade and Ben will do Pre-K at home...we will pray and make schooling decisions each year depending on what is best for each individual kid. I really think we will send Ben to Kindergarten next year, but we will see. I hope to remain open to whatever God has for us.

I welcome any advice on homeschooling (especially when you don't have a school room) and organization as I am new to this. I am excited and can't wait to spend all of my moments with these precious ones. I know that if the Lord is calling us to this and we continue to seek Him that we will all be blessed.

Those two cardboard boxes...are just a reminder to me...to never say never...and that God can change hearts in big ways. If you say so, Lord...I will.

Proverbs 3:5-6
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Deuteronomy 6:5-8
"And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 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."

16 comments:

Sheryl said...

GOD will shine HIS light wherever and whenever HE wants to...HE does not need us.

Bravo to you my fiend for doing something I never would have done because I was too selfish and couldn't wait for my kids to be out of the house. ha!

Love you

Penny said...

Kristy, my pastor's wife, Calley, is homeschooling. She's been doing it for about 4 years. The oldest will be a 3rd grade level (he is a grade above where he'd be in public school) and her middle son is in K/1st). I'm sure she'd love to give you any advice she can. Her blog is on my blog list. A Homemaker's Hallejuahs. She is a precious lady with 3 boys of her own, in the process of adopting a girl in Peru. You'd love her and her heart for the Lord. :)

brucemargrave said...

the preschool i taught in was an amazing, creative special place. i always was sad that even the best schools could not continue in that vein - because of class size, teacher paperwork, standardized tests, etc. children with differences are lost in the shuffle and it is oh so difficult for a teacher to address the needs of every child in her class. your child needs a good foundation to he CAN shine his light when the time is right. the educational and spiritual foundation you will give your children will only make that light shine BRIGHTER and LONGER! prayers for success for you in this endeavor. you shouldn't worry! God's got your back! :)

LeeAnn said...

go for it, Kristy!! you'll do a fabulous job and you will be honoring God through your service to your children!
LeeAnn

Nancy said...

Hi, Kristy! We are also homeschooling this year. Not the first time doing it, but the first year homeschooling since Rebekah was born. Our boys have been in public school for the last two years, and we enjoyed it. We made some wonderful friends, but you are so right. We are seeing our boys settle for doing the minimum when they are capable of doing so much more.

So, this year I will be teaching a 4th, 2nd and kindergarten student. We are using Connections Academy (an online public school program). Are you doing something similar? It is wonderful - they send all of the books, materials, lessons, the kids have a "real" teacher that teaches online several days a week, and they keep all the records and transcripts. We do have a dedicated school room, but we have had to be very creative on an almost non-existent budget. :)

I would love to brainstorm with you and would be happy to answer any questions. Sounds like we have 2 very close in age. :) You can send me an email from the link on Rebekah's blog - http://rebekahgraceellis.blogspot.com.

You are a great mom, and I am sure you will be equally as great as a teacher!!

joy said...

Kristy,

I'm so excited for you to begin the journey of Home-schooling with your kids! I was home-schooled from pre-school through 12th grade and have very mixed feelings towards it, but reading this blog post has been so encouraging to me. I know that you will make a wonderful teacher for your 3 little ones and I LOVE that you are continuing to keep an open mind for the future as well.

Luke, Ben and Hope are so blessed to have you and Howard as parents and I love hearing about what you guys have been up too! I guess I just wanted to say that your family is in my thoughts and prayers often and will continue to be as you start this new season of life!

Michelle said...

Kristy, you are doing a great job in being sensitive to what God is laying on your heart! I swore I would never homeschool but felt it was what God wanted for my family as a whole. We did K last year and really enjoyed it! I couldnt' have imagined all the blessings that would come of it! We do not have a school room and have a tiny house... we get by just fine. :) This year I am on bedrest, expecting our 3rd baby so we are being even more creative than ever! My son is in 1st grade and daughter is 4 and doing preK work just cause she loves to be part of it all. It gets crazy at times but the freedom of homeschooling to what fits for us is such a wonderful gift esp at this time. We joined a local co op group which has been a huge encouragement to me and the kids love new friends. None of my friends or family believe this is the choice for them but THANKFULLY they love us and are excited for our adventure! :) I hope the same for you... God will work it out! I look forward to reading about your new year! :)

www.hhomesweethome.blogspot.com

asplashofsunshine said...

I think it is fantastic that you are doing what you think is right for your kiddos. In the end, it is just like any other adventure in life. It's all what you put into it and what the kids will take from it. As the role of a teacher and as a mom, I can't say I agree with homeschooling, but I certainly agree with doing what is right for your kids. You know them best, you want the best for them, and that's all that matters. Enjoy your new schooling adventure.

Nikki said...

Interesting post. best of luck!!

Nikki
www.madebynikki.blogspot.com --> blog design to change the world

Jenn said...

Congrats on your decision to homeschool! You are right, each family is different and just because you chose to homeschool doesn't mean your putting public school down. You need to do what you feel God is calling for your family.

We are starting our 7th year of homeschooling. It honestly took me several years till I got into a good grove & tweaked things to our liking. So be gracious on yourself as you start out. :) It's a learning process for you as well. It took me awhile to realize I didn't need to recreate a classroom at home. My kids have had the opportunity to do so many things that they wouldn't have been able to had they been in a traditional classroom.

Also, look in your area for homeschool co-ops. I wish someone had told me about them sooner. We are part of one that I love! It helps take some of the burden of teaching off me as my kids get a few classes from others. And the fellowship with others is great!Best wishes as you start out on your new adventure! Feel free to ask any questions. :)

mindlessmamma said...

I am so proud and excited for your family. We, too, have embarked on the magnificent homeschool journey and it's been fabulous so far. We don't have a school room, just a corner in the living room where we keep a small desk. Our supplies are on a bookshelf in our bedroom and lots of our learning takes place snuggled on the couch. Just trust in God's leading and it will be fine. Some days I wonder what we're thinking, but I LOVE having my babies back at home with me where they belong!!

Kelly L said...

Homeschooling is most definitely a difficult choice to make and it must be right for your family.. Both of my girls went to a private Christian school until last year - I put both in public -one in high school the other middle - my high schooler right away started hanging out with kids that I did not approve of - she started to get lazy and disrespectful much I realize is due to being a teen but it went beyond that - her first semester - she went from an "A" average to a "B" - this is a child that wants to go away to university and she was not doing the "work" - so I pulled her out and had her do home school via an on-line public charter school - she could work at her own pace and it was the same classes as her previous semester - she learned to manage her time - the importance of studying AND that she hated being home when her friends were at school... So this fall she will start the public school again - but now she knows that studying and staying on task is critical to obtain her future goals...
When I had her at home - I received a lot of grief from my in-laws - my mom- in law was an educator for over 40 years... but I had to do what I felt was right and I pray that we will see a difference..
Love to you
Kelly
I've Become My Mother

Naomi said...

Hi Kristy, What curriculum did you end up ordering? I am toying with the idea of homeschooling my little ones. The oldest "should" be starting preschool this year, so I thought I would do that as homeschool, and make the decisions from there. Any suggestions??

Rhonda said...

I homeschooled my son and daughter...disaster!!!! I ended up sending them back to school because all they did was fight me tooth and nail to do their schoolwork. They would pick fights with each other just to get me upset and take time away from schooling. Field trips were the best time we had. That's just my experience with my kids...who are now 28 and 24. I would say definitely to home school in middle and high school if you can. Biggest mistake I ever made was sending my kids into sin city!

Rhonda said...

Homeschooling was not a good experience for me. My kids were not self-disciplined or motivated. It think it's great to do it if your kids have the personality for it. My 2 kids ended up fighting with me and each other just to take time away from their school work. High school and middle school is Sodom and Gomorrah...don't let them go there when the time comes. My kids are 28 and 24 now...so they do grow up eventually...lol

Geri Kelly said...

I have no advice- but I will pray for you. A dear friend taught her children and used all the resources around her to enhance the experience. I am sure you will as well.