Homeschooling, Take Two

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

You may have noticed that I pulled my first homeschooling post.  I realized over the last few days that it wasn't the start I wanted to make.  It had been impulsive, stemming from emotion instead of a rational plan for what I still hope will be a series.  It was also a mere straw in the haystack of our reasons for homeschooling--one that I'm not even sure should be considered in the light that I portrayed it in.  I'll be honest, it was a knee-jerk reaction after viewing the video.  I may repost it later, depending on whether it seems a suitable accompaniment to my homeschooling topics.

Another reason I took that post off was because I neglected a very important aspect of any discussion of homeschooling; essentially, a disclaimer.

I'm fond of Ann Voskamps way of putting it: "This is descriptive of our lives, not prescriptive for anyone else".  Another blogger I read recently put it this way, "We know the path we are on is the path created for us -- we are no better or less than those who choose public or private school".

This is soo very important. I struggle with and question many aspects of my life...just like (I assume) you do. The last thing I have is it all figured out!  However, I do often have an awesome feeling of contentment and peace that I'm doing what the Lord is requiring of me--especially since Jairus came home.   My intentions for a series on homeschooling are the following:
  • To express my own feelings and thoughts on homeschooling and why we're doing it.
  • To perhaps debunk a few myths about homeschooling.
  • To gather some of the evidences I've run across in the past few years on the above two points, and give them a home here.
  • To encourage someone thinking about homeschooling and give some basic information and instruction.
  • To offer some practical ideas and advice on homeschooling, which would obviously be more for actual homeschoolers!
So I decided that the aspect I was going to start with was those thoughts and feelings.  Start at the beginning, I say!

I don't recall exactly which was my first exposure to homeschooling.  I know when my mom decided to homeschool two of my now eight siblings (there weren't eight when she did that...I think only about five or six) it wasn't the first time I'd ever heard of it.  I was...hmmm, at the end of highschool, working my interim year or starting Moody when my mom decided that one of my sisters and one of my brothers would be homeschooled for a bit.  I believe it ended up being two years.  I didn't have alot (hardly any, really) of hands on experience with this new endeavour.  I was in my late teens and as I said, was finishing up my last year of highschool (the victory lap, I believe they call it now, grade thirteen), working my year at Subway Sandwiches, raising money to go to school, or beginning that first year of university in Chicago.  I heard reports from my mom and saw some of the work being done here and there.  I know that she was using a homeschooling "school" called G.R.A.C.E.  I don't know if she ordered curriculum from them or what, but it was at the very least an association.
Around the same time, I met a family up at Fair Havens Bible Conference with a whole mess of kids they were homeschooling.  They were an extremely lovely family and their kids (while not perfect, of course) were....somehow a little different.  In a good way.  It was my observation and conviction that homeschooling had something to do with this.
Over the next few years I took note of other homeschooling families.  There was a often a common....difference in those families.  I liked it.  One family in particular was a very large one from Chicago.  They attended the church James and I worked at and were a part of.  They had at that time at least eight children, the littlest a baby and the oldest a preteen.  One weekend they were going away and had lined up a series of babysitters to come out and tag team throughout the three days.  James and I took one shift, as the family had a couple kids in my children's choir, so they were comfortable with us.  I don't remember if we were married yet.
I have a vivid memory of sitting with the kids in a large family room.  Their house was a perfectly massive older house with a second and probably even third floor and many, many rooms.  High ceilings, classic decor; it was quite impressive.  The room we were sitting in had likely originally been a parlour.  There was an armoire over in one corner with a TV and VCR hidden inside and a collection of movies, but the kids weren't watching it.  Instead, two or three of the boys were playing a game of some type--it might have been a board game, or just creative play with some small toys or action figures.  They squabbled from time to time but generally played well with each other.
The oldest, the preteen girl arrived home from some activity--piano lesson or sports practice of some kind.  The littlest remaining sibling, a sister probably around two years old was delighted to see her come home.   She came running and jumped into her big sisters arms.  They sat on the floor and for the next fifteen or so minutes, played.  Like, just, played.  With an elastic (rubber band for you Americans).  The little one sat on her sisters lap and stretched the elastic over her hands and balanced it on her nose, pretended it was an earring and hooked it over the bigger girl's ear.  The older girl was clearly content to spend fifteen minutes playing with her little sister, with nothing more entertaining than a thin piece of rubber.
A couple years later I was making a little extra money on campus by babysitting for the  Married Students Fellowship.  One day we had a gym activity time and took the kids over to Moody's athletic building, the Solheim Center. We had a few things planned, but ran out of activities before the parents were due to pick up their kids.  Casting about for ideas, we headed up to the aerobics room, a large, spacious hardwood floored room with one wall of mirrors and mounted TV's for watching exercise videos. We popped in one to give the kids something to jump around to.

Now, you can imagine that Moody Bible Institute would not have in their exercise video collection anything objectionable.  However, there are amongst us, those whose tastes are more stringent and sensitive than others.  And those with such tastes would likely choose to allow different media options in their homes and to which to expose their children.  
One little girl, probably about five or six took one look at the spandex-clad, perfectly proportioned aerobics models in the video and decided that this was not appropriate for her two younger brothers to be viewing.  She quickly gathered these two boys to either side of her, turned her back to the TV and held her hands and arms around them in such a way that their eyes were shielded from the offending video.  Then she appealed to me to shut it off, explaining that her parents would not want her or her brothers to see it.
In surprise, I marched over the VCR and hit the stop button.  How could you argue with that?
I was deeply affected by this; I had never seen a child take such an action to protect her younger siblings before.  The issue of the reasonableness of her actions, as obviously instilled by her parents aside, I was highly impressed that such a young one would be so concerned for the welfare of her brothers.  
How do you raise kids with such awareness?  Was homeschooling the key?

(to be continued :-)


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