When our daughter Emilee was very young, a friend of mine challenged me to consider the importance of homeschooling. Homeschooling was very new to me and completely unheard of among my family and much of the church. Thankfully, there were dedicated pioneers that fought the battles that kept it LEGAL, but there were still battles with the voices of disapproval that seemed to try to undermine or sway us away. It’s a great encouragement to see others choose this route. I used to think that everyone must choose their way: public school, private school or homeschool, but I don’t think like that anymore. Everyone "homeschools", but each family chooses from whom they receive their direction in education. The public school option never looked appealing to me to begin with, but it has only gotten worse as the years have gone by. Random drug testing and mandatory vaccination are deal breakers for me now, as are the gender issues. Getting the kids to adulthood, responsible, Godly and whole is definitely a major challenge with the political control over curriculum and the pressure to think about moral issues the "right" way, and for our kids and their friends it didn’t really hit home until this year that getting to adulthood alive was a another matter entirely. In this , a lot MUST be said for the influence of other kids in the microsociety called "school". After 12 years of homeschooling, I still have people asking me if I’m planning to send the kids to "school". For me, it’s like asking if I plan to send them to prison.
I’m thanking God this year that we have moved to an area with a very large and active homeschool group. The support and organization is really wonderful, considering where we had been for the previous 7 years. The isolation in the rural area we lived previously did help us to be more creative, but this new adventure in a larger town with lots of homeschool activities is very refreshing. One of the big things that is a challenge as a homeschooled family is to keep the busy-ness to a manageable level. There are so many ‘good’ things to do, that they can distract the parents and the kids away from our first love: Christ. Emilee is 17 this year and she said today that she has a burden for stressed families. When she was in 5th & 6th grade, she attended a private school and the pace and stress on her was heartbreaking. I never did nor do I plan to put that kind of burden on the kids. Oh sure, there were moments where I was feeling the pressure because of something someone said to me that made me feel inadequate as a mom or teacher and I wrongly tried to rush the kids through learning to read or finishing 10 math pages a day or read through a stack of books in record time, but the overriding theme of all of our years homeschooling has been to learn what is at hand. When my daughter was 7 years old, I had a lady sternly ask me how in world I thought I was going to teach her calculus. Was calculus at hand when Emilee was 7? 10 years later, calculus is still not here.
As this blog site shows, Emilee is very involved in storytelling. I’ve written a lot about that and that was one of those things that was "at hand" over the last few years and it has propelled her into the world of reading, writing, recording and vocal performance. She has learned about a great number of things from other storytellers. This is where her passions, talents and abilities lie.
Last Saturday, I drove 4 hours away to the Rubiks Indiana Open 2009, to take our 13yo son Ryan to join the festivities. At this time, this is one of his passions. This was his first attendance at an actual competition for all things Rubik’s Cube. He has been solving, unsolving, speed solving, blind-fold solving, taking apart, breaking, putting back together and collecting Rubik’s puzzles for the last year, or so. I had an interesting conversation with another mother at the competition about being a supportive parent for these kinds of things. She had the challenge of dealing with teachers at school over her son bringing the Rubik’s cube into the classroom. I don’t have this problem, per se, as I am the teacher and there is always a Rubik’s puzzle of some form in Ryan’s hand, pocket or on a table somewhere in the livingroom or diningroom. It’s not a "problem", because it has become an important part of Ryan’s passion for learning. When he works on his Rubik’s Cube skills, he says it inspires him to pick up his guitar. In a year, he has far surpassed my skills on the guitar…okay, I admit that isn’t hard to do at all, but he reads guitar tabs and listens to a song and can play enough of the song EXACTLY for us to stop what we’re doing and say, "Hey! That’s Sweet Home Alabama! Turn it up!"
As for our youngest son, his passion at the moment is drawing. As an art teacher, I am thrilled of course. My other two kids used to do quite a bit of drawing, and I’m not sure if Derek will continue to draw as an adult, but he has put out reams of drawings in the last few months. After a hiatus from drawing classes these last few years, I will be teaching again starting in a few weeks and he is just ecstatic. I took him to Blick Art Materials and took some pictures and video to share with the class. He has been literally counting the days until class starts. His passion for drawing is a perfect example of how teaching things that are at hand will take care of the other areas. Derek has been slower in the reading and writing than his siblings were. He is very active and physical, and found reading and writing to be interesting for a limited time only…until he started drawing. Now he’s drawing his own comic books at a very fast pace, and must put the words in the captions and speech bubbles. He had me or his brother or sister doing the words while he would dictate, but now he’s just sounding out the words and writing them himself. No, they are not all spelled correctly and we correct the words sparingly. He’s reading words all the time and every where he goes now.
Here are a couple of links that I think are most appropriate to the start of the new school year:
This is our Blick Art Materials video:
Bill Harley, one of the storytellers that I have linked in the sidebar, has started a blog and I’m really enjoying his writings:
I read a good blog post recently by one of my friends on Facebook regarding the training of boys to be godly men:
And I want to add how much I have been enjoying Facebook these past months. I have been a member for a few years, but I never did much with it until this last April. That seems to be the story of a lot of people. Membership has increased dramatically this year. I keep up with my kids and their friends and my family and I’ve been able to catch up with old friends I haven’t talked to in many years. I post pictures there and keep a calendar there and our whole family plays farmtown there. I have my blog linked to my Facebook account, so my updates will post on my profile. It’s really been exactly what I had been looking for to pull everything together.
Have a great day and start of school!…whenever you start.