Fitting Big Business into your Little Homeschool Planner

We’re baaaaaccccckkkkk, at least for a brief moment!

We had a tremendous time, and experienced God’s “blow-your-mind” blessings as described in Ephesians 3:20.     Then, during this past weekend, our older two participated in an academic competition.   Given the trip to Memphis, we literally went almost around the clock preparing in the last minute-effort to give the kids a chance at winning.    In just five short days, we’ll leave again for the Titus 2:1 Conference in Sterling, VA.   I am pinching myself that all of this and more is transpiring in these few weeks, but I’m also glad to settle down into a blog post for moment.   Writing gives me some sense of normalcy.

It’s been a long while since I’ve been to a conference–on either side of a booth.   It occurs to me how overwhelming the choices are for someone who is just entering this season of parenting and educating at home.   One of my customers, who had homeschooled for 17 years, shared that when her family began homeschooling, it was the choice of a small few who embraced homeschooling as an extension of God’s will for parenting.   Now, as she observed, it’s big business. 

In making this big business somehow fit neatly into our home, I’ve been think about next school year and what we’ll do, where I’ll focus, etc.   Here are my thoughts as of right now:

1) Courses for the oldest will be driven by her choices of college, and what is required to close the gap between where she needs to be versus where she is.   Regardless of her plans, her course load will be some combination of high school and college courses as we continue to take advantage of Texas’ dual enrollment opportunities, chipping away at her college requirements while we wrap up high school.

Amazing that her schedule is the simplest of all three kids–WOW!

2)  Our son is continuing through his third stint in the classical cycle, studying medieval history this year.    There are books that I didn’t think our oldest would enjoy, but I’m looking forward to sharing them with him.    He also wants to study Swahili, so I’ve had fun pulling together sites for language study; what remains is to find a few living books to compliment our work.    I’m also looking for living books to accompany our biology studies.    I’ve struggled with how to approach this year, when he should study biology.   He has no long-term interest in science, and I’ve slowly, but surely,  steered away from our household staple, Apologia, at the older levels.    Yet, I’d bought their (allegedly) elementary level Anatomy and Physiology text for the youngest–a failed experiment.   So, in the effort to not waste precious dollars, we will use this same text as a spine and then add much to it in terms of labs, outside studies, and again, living books.

I’m already thinking ahead to his final year with us before moving on to higher studies.  He is our one child that skipped a grade.   If we stayed with our current plan, he would leave home potentially as a very young 17-year-old.   We could keep him here and slow down his high school progress, but I am sure that would be discouraging.    So, early indications are that he might take a gap year, in which he’ll complete any remaining high school courses and perhaps get a jump on his higher education at a local college.

3)  The youngest and her studies poses a true dilemma.    Our current methods of study with her have her longing for the yellow school bus, and leave me frustrated with her for being frustrated.   I reconciled within myself (or did I?) years ago that I can’t make every day fun for the kids.   Yet, I can remember when our older two were her age, and our homeschooling day looked markedly different.   We were far more active in a group; we cooked; we took more field trips.   We took a legitimate recess with a swing set in back and a pool.  We worked very hard to make our home kid-friendly for kids who had to spend all day there.   Now the swing set rusted, and the dog poked holes in the pool.   Even our soccer and basketballs are all deflated.   So, she will definitely be a focal area on next year.

I’ll share more as our plans begin to solidify.   How about you?    What high-level changes do you envision in your school day?    What will remain the same?

The Value of Not Planning (too much)

Right after I posted my last post, I ran across this quote while reading someone else’s blog.   Miss Mason speaks here to the heart of not over-planning:

“They must be left to themselves for a good part of the day to take in their own impressions of nature’s beauty. There’s nothing worse than children being deprived of every moment to wonder and dream within their own minds because teachers and adults are constantly talking at them, not leaving them a moment’s peace. Yet, the mother must not miss this opportunity of being outdoors to train the children to have seeing eyes, hearing ears and seeds of truth deposited into their minds to grow and blossom on their own in the secret chambers of their imaginations.”

 

Charlotte Mason, vol. 1, pg 45

From A Mother's Heart: The Blessing of Home Education

The following information is also posted on our website at www.blessedheritage.com.  Enjoy as you continue to prepare your heart, soul, and mind for educating your child at home.

 

As I discuss in Our History, HIS-Story, we entered into this season of our lives with all the enthusiasm and anxieties of first-time homeschooling parents.  Though homeschooling was not as foreign a concept as it had been ten or twenty years ago, we were still taking a bold and uncertain path in deciding to educate our children ourselves.   Homeschooling, at a minimum, requires a readiness for challenges–challenges to your faith, challenges to your abilities, and challenges to your willingness to persevere.  It is not a decision to step into lightly.

Probably the most controversial aspect of homeschooling for us was our decision to  “turn our backs”, so to speak, on an educational system that, not too long ago, our people fought mightily to be a part of.  As Paula Penn-Nabrit states in Morning by Morning: How We Homeschooled our African-American Sons to the Ivy League, 'Providing one's children with the very best possible education has never been an option within our families' worldview–it's an obligation.  For generations, our families, like many other African-American families, endured enormous sacrifices and hardships in order to meet that obligation.' It can be difficult to argue that when Brown and Nabrit fought the Board of Education to integrate what was then a “separate but equal” educational system, they were not fighting to integrate simply for integration's sake.  The premise of this landmark case was that it was not possible to achieve separate but equal education amidst unequal funding and inadequate facilities.  I speak very candidly about this to suggest that even though currently African-American families represent approximately 5% of all homeschoolers with that figure growing exponentially each year, be prepared to seek encouragement that is outside of your normal support system.  There are excellent support groups available at the click of a button, and a budding number of resources on the uniqueness of home education and African-American children.

Like most homeschooling parents, our initial vision of home education was overwhelmingly biased toward finding curriculum that would guarantee academic excellence; we were obsessed with making the right choices.  We still value academic excellence, but if there is any one aspect of home education that I have learned, it is, as Charlotte Mason says, that 'education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life'. Sally Clarkson in Educating the WholeHearted Child builds on this by saying, 'Christian home education is a ministry of discipleship and education to your children.  [italics mine]  It is the most biblical way for you to 'bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.'We had no idea how much this one opportunity would change our family for the better.  Though we are a Christian family, we had never thought of home education as a ministry.  I invite you to fully embrace the opportunity that is before you in educating your children at home.  You not only give your children the chance to excel academically, but, as the predominant source of information and influence in their lives, you have the chance to pour into them and see them excel holistically in mind, body, and spirit.