Homeschooling: Is It Everyone’s Business?

This past year we decided to homeschool our youngest.  He had gone to public school for Kindergarten, but after a number of problems we thought that first grade was a good time to start schooling at home.  Being six, he was not required to be in school at all.  So, we decided it was a good transition year to try it and see if it was a better fit for him (and for our whole family) than the public school had been.  This was our first year of homeschooling.  I’m convinced.  He’s doing great.  We’re going to be starting second grade in a couple of months.

We’re not trying to recreate at home what the public school does on campus.  You see, homeschooling is a whole-life learning opportunity, from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed.  Yes, there’s a formal aspect of it in that we sit down and go through classes including, but not limited to history, math, science, geography, music, spelling, writing, and reading.  Guidance class should not be a formal class in a homeschool, in my opinion.  It is an ongoing mindset and lifestyle training that goes on between parent and child.  He learns through your example in all of the things that “Guidance class” covers and so much more.  Simply living life brings up topics such as manners; how to handle anger, grief or stress; interpersonal skills; planning; study skills; and so much more.  All of these things are taught by example, by talking through it, by answering questions your child might have (“Why did he do that, Mommy?”), and in other ways.  The entire parent/child relationship and interaction is a “guidance class”.

But, homeschooling is much more than a formal time of training during the day.  The attitude of learning is a lifestyle.  Going for a walk mid-day and looking at nature, going to the grocery story and checking out our math skills or learning to read labels, going for a walk in the park to get exercise, learning what street signs mean or playing the alphabet game (finding the alphabet in sequence on any and all signs, license plates, etc., until we get from A to Z) while we’re driving.  Every single moment can be a fun learning experience.

We usually have an organized schedule, but at times it changes.  Flexibility is part of the beauty of homeschooling.  We do not have the public school schedule so my child doesn’t have to “be in school” from 8:00 am – 3:00 pm.  We homeschool year-round  and have the opportunity to cover far more than what the public school covers, yet there is still time for activities with other kids (such as t-ball, Tae Kwon Do, tennis, Cub Scouts, meetings or play time with other homeschool kids) and plenty of time to just play and be a kid.

We don’t have homework in the evening because everything necessary for the day was covered during the day.  If we decide to go on vacation, we can take a break from the formal-sitting-down-to-class part of homeschooling.  But, remember that every opportunity is a learning opportunity so even going to the beach or taking a drive somewhere is filled with opportunities to learn.  Some people are very structured in their homeschooling process.  We tend to be a bit more flexible.  My goal is to learn beyond public school requirements and enjoy the process.  We can choose to work during the holidays, but we also have the ability, for example, to take Friday off this week and go do something fun because we’ve had an incredibly productive week.  We can plan field trips together as a family or take a spur of the moment field trip because questions came up in history class and tomorrow we’ve decided to go to a historical re-enactment to better understand something.

But, I’ve also discovered something else.  Time and time again, people in the community who don’t know us or anything about us have felt that it is their business to confront us about our schedule.  When I say, “confront us”, I mean confront my six year old son who isn’t even legally required to be in school yet.  One time we had errands that had to be taken care of so I decided that school would start at 10.   Well, on this day that I’m recalling, we swung by the grocery store to pick up a few things while we were out.  In the parking lot as I was putting the grocery bags into the trunk a woman came up and menacingly hovered over my little son with a big frown on her face, barking “Why aren’t you in school?”

First of all, if she had a problem, she should have addressed me, as the adult with the child, not scared him to death.   He ducked behind me at her sharp tone.  Many things quickly went through my mind before I chose to smile and ask, “Have you heard of homeschooling, Ma’am?”  She sniffed and moved on down the parking lot.  I had to bite my tongue and not say any more because I didn’t think it was appropriate to start a fight with a stranger in the grocery store parking lot… regardless of how upset and protective I felt at the moment.  I simply don’t appreciate people by-passing me and verbally assaulting my son with demanding questions.  What happened to addressing the parent first?  That was a great learning opportunity.  We talked about how that made him feel and about which good manners would have been appropriate for that woman to use.  We can learn from other people’s choices as well as our own.

Variations of this scenario have happened a number of times during this school year… from people ignoring me, but politely asking him why he wasn’t in school to people practically accosting him with the kind of rudeness described above.

We are doing what we feel is best for our son and the results of this past year have been extraordinary.  What a difference one-on-one time makes.  What a difference it makes to be able to not have strangers spending more time with our son than we do.  The values he learns are values we believe in and not those of strangers we really don’t know.

I’ll talk about homeschooling with anyone who is interested because of our positive experiences.  However, our schedule is not the business of a bunch of strangers who choose to be rude to my son or to us about the whole school thing.  Experiences like what I’ve described can be a learning point in this lifestyle of homeschooling.  We will come across rude people in this life.  Learning how to cope is a good thing.

What Kind of Person are You?

Remember the old phrase, “You watch your tongue!”?  Usually it was said if a child chose to swear or say something unkind.  I haven’t heard that for a long time.  In fact, many parents these days are not choosing to teach their children to develop self-control.  But, that is such an important aspect of life… in business, at home, with friendships, and in many other areas of life.

One of the aspect of self-control is choosing to control our actions and our words.  God built in each of us the capability of building other people up.  The influences around us (including radio, TV, books, movies), negativity in our world and more gives us the natural inclination to tear others down.  It’s easy to slip into a mode of negativity.  It takes purpose and effort to be the kind of person who consistently chooses the positive over the negative.  That is something that I constantly have to work on.  Sometimes, before I know it, words have come out of my mouth that may tear down my husband in some way or another and I have to stop myself… and apologize.  But, the sad thing is that once words are said, they can’t be taken back.  They can chip away at relationships, whether those relationships be parent/child, sibling, friends, spouses or business.

What kind of person do you want to be?  A positive one or a negative one?  Someone who builds others up or tears others down?  Someone who chooses to be kind or unkind?

James 3:5  Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

I like the description in this verse.  I used to live in California.  One time there was a forest fire not far from us.  Evidently, it had started because a careless person had thrown a used cigarette out the window.  One slightly smouldering cigarette lit the dry grass around it on fire which turned into a blazing forest fire that did massive damage.

That’s the way our words can be.  One thoughtless statement can cause a lot of hurt.  One bit of gossip, even if not meant unkindly, can end up harming someone’s reputation and causing serious trouble.  Thoughtless words to your son or daughter can smoulder in their soul and cause damage that ultimately takes years to overcome.

Frederick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

How true.  So how do we make sure that we are the kind of people who build others up?  What we put into our minds eventually comes out in our actions and words.  So, we need to be careful.  My oldest child is my step-son.  He’s 8 years younger than me, but introduces me as his “Momma”.  He’s autistic and thinks like a 5 year old so I tend to think of him as my “big little boy”.   He first came to live with us 8 years ago.  TV had been a major part of his life.  In fact, soap operas were what he loved best.

He was incredibly manipulative and miserable and unkind… and he really couldn’t do anything for himself.  He was used to be waited on hand and foot… and he was used to ruling the roost.  If he didn’t get what he wanted when he wanted it, he would throw a fit.  Sometimes, he would just decide to have a fit for no apparent reason.   I quit my job so that I could work with him full-time.

Over the next couple of years we were constantly investing positive input into him.  He lost 80 pounds and I worked with his doctor to get him phased off of all of his medication.  Once he started feeling better, his mind was clearer and he started being able to learn.  This really is another story for another time, but I had to at least say this much because of the importance of positive input.

As the saying goes, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

I decided, about 6 months into his living with us, that soap operas were no longer allowed in our house.  All I saw in the soaps was negativity, back stabbing, mean-spirited attitudes, gladness when someone else was hurting, and all kinds of other miserable attitudes.  The interesting thing about that was that in a couple of weeks after cutting the soaps off cold, our son’s attitude started changing.  Instead of garbage going in we were uplifting him, encouarging him, praising him for each and every accomplishment.  He got lots of hugs.  We sang songs together (many of them made up on the spur of the moment) just for fun.  There were lots of games and learning became fun.  We talked about God and how very much Jesus loved him.  We talked about how proud we were of each new thing he learned and did.    He was receiving positive things into his mind.  He is now our cheerleader, for the most part.  He is loving, caring, and thinks about others.  He discovered that he could learn and do things on his own and has learned so many things.  The change in him is phenomenal.

Philippians 4:8  “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

This doesn’t just work for autistic people who think like 5 year old children.  It works for each and every one of us.  What we put into our minds ends up coming out in our actions and words.  So, if we want to be the kind of people that others enjoy being around, the kind that lifts others up, the kind that invests in the lives of others to see positive change, then we need to start putting good things into our mind.

Memorize scripture that encourages positive thinking or that talks about how amazing our God is, how much He loves and values us, and what He’s done for us.  Read books that are positive and uplifting and encouraging.  Listen to messages that are life-changing.  My pastor has been teaching through the book of Hebrews.  It’s is jam-packed full of incredible truths.  I got a CD of each of the messages so that I can listen again.  There are lots of inspirational books, movies, magazine articles and so there is really no reason for filling our minds with garbage.

What are you putting into your mind?  What are you surrounding yourself with in your life?  Take a good inventory of your life and see if changes need to be made.   Garbage in, garbage out isn’t just a saying.  It really happens.  Get rid of the garbage so that you can move forward, grow, and develop to be a positive person.  You’ll be surprised at how much your life will change!

Your Value

This morning I couldn’t sleep.  I woke up at 2 am and have laid there for almost two hours.  I got up, took some medication for a headache and now here I am, sitting at my desk, reading blogs and enjoying the creativity and perspectives of other people.  It has been a while since I’ve written.  Between the things that must be done and the headaches I’ve been experiencing, I haven’t had much time or motivation to spend at the computer writing.  But, I miss it.

Taken for Granted….?

One of the comments I read this morning was, “I gave up the corporate ladder for diapers, and yes, I gave up the prestige of position as defined by our culture to one defined by my God.”  This insightful comment came from The Respect Dare, written by Nina Roesner.  Another comment in this blog entry (Taken For Granted….?) states, “You can have a beautiful marriage, too.  But it won’t happen if you allow yourself to model what you see on secular culture’s tv or in the magazine stand at grocery checkout.   Those are lies.  We’re also buying Christian-culture lies if we subscribe to the notion that women are to be doormats and second-class citizens in a marriage.”

This life we Christians have available to us as we grow in Christ is a life of fulfillment, partnership with our spouses, joy, peace, relationship and so much more.  God wants us to live a vibrant life filled with purpose.  He wants us to grow and develop and be all that He created us to be.   If we’re not living this kind of fulfilling life, then we’re falling short of the potential God created in us.

So, how do we reach this potential?  Well, first and foremost, God created in each and every one of us a need for Him.  As vast as His creation truly is (and we’re still learning new things about our cosmos from the most incredible discoveries in outer space to the tiniest subparticles here on earth), He created, loves, and knows each and every one of us.  He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.  And He wants us to know Him.  He gave us revelation about Himself through nature and through His Word.

Matthew 10:30 “But the very hairs on your head are all numbered.”  (NASB)

In order to maintain friendships we need to spend time with our friends and get to know them.  Correct?  How can we have valuable relationships with people if we don’t spend time getting to know them?  The same goes for our relationship with God.  We need to spend time daily in His Word.  The more effort and time we spend getting to know God through His Word and praying, the more we learn about ourselves and our purpose.  So, do you spend some time getting to know Him daily?  The Bible isn’t a book that is a drudgery to read.  It is a book in which God reveals Himself and His plan and purpose for us.

Jeremiah 29:11  “‘For I know the plans that I have for you’, declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not calamity, to give you a future and a hope.'”

Relationships always impact each other in one way or another.  Getting to know God inevitably means that we will change.  The more we get to know Him, the more we’ll change.  And, personally, I do want to continue to grow and change and develop.  I want God to use me to have an impact on this world.  And “this world” in each and every one of our lives starts at home.

As a parent what kind of impact are you having on your children?  What kind of impact do you have on your spouse?  Please… be sure that you do not ever underestimate how you affect your family whether negative or positive.   (There is no such things as a “neutral impact”.)

Psalm 127:3(a)  “Behold, children are a gift from the Lord.”

So, as a mother, I want to speak to mothers for a moment.  God has defined your role to be one of incredible value.  You and your husband are rearing children who will have an impact on this world and on those around them.  The time you spend praying for your children, teaching them to know and love God, and raising them to have a positive impact on their world is far more important than any position in the corporate world.   Regardless of whether you work full-time, part-time or whether are an at-home-Mom, your family should always be the first priority that you have.   The way you raise your children will have an impact on their lives and the future.

Proverbs 31:10-12  “An excellent wife who can find, for her worth is far above jewels.  The heart of her husband trusts in her and he will have no lack of gain.  She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.”

As a wife, I want to encourage wives.  The roll you have and the impact you can have on the life of your husband is immense.  Don’t take it lightly.  With a word, you can tear him down or build him up.  You can encourage or discourage him.  There is so much to write about this and I will do so in another blog.  But, I encourage you to work to be the kind of wife that adds to your marriage regardless of whether you think your husband is doing the same or not.   As a Christian, part of that “adding to the marriage” is relying on God to change you over time, spending time with Him so that you are refreshed and able to give to your marriage selflessly, and then working on being the best wife that you can possibly be to your husband.

In her blog entry, Nina Roesner so eloquently stated that we cannot emulate what we see on TV or follow the advice about marriage that we may read in magazines.  She’s right. Our culture has lowered the standard tremendously and the divorce statistics indicate that the lower standard just isn’t working.  God’s Word and His Holy Spirit show us what we need to know in order to have a really vibrant, loving marriage.

Let’s pray for our marriages and our husbands.  Let’s work on becoming the wives that seek to live by God’s standard and leave it up to God to work in our husband’s lives so that we can have an amazing, loving, wonderful marriage.

Have a blessed day.