Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Home Education

In answer to the questions being lobbed my way by friends and family as to why we have taken up the education of Erin and Isaac at home, I offer the following response:

I had said that I would never again homeschool. I figured that there would be no need. But lately we've been watching way too much of Glenn Beck to be comfortable with what is being taught in school. We were having discussions with the kids concerning the actual facts and trying to fill the gaps that way. But then Erin asked if we'd homeschool her, and we couldn't turn her down. She has been making straight As for years now, but has finally gotten a teacher who expects her to be building upon something that ought to have been taught in past years- which wasn't- and Erin hit a wall. (Besides the fact that she utterly despised this particular teacher. Erin simply can't learn from someone for whom she has no respect, and day one of the school year, with the first words out of his mouth, she lost all respect for this man.)

I was on the cusp of having My Own Time All to Myself and was floored by her request. But God convicted my selfish heart and I'm now in- hook, line, and sinker. If we were withdrawing Erin for reasons concerning teaching correct and full history, teaching from a Christian Worldview, (which is actually a wider worldview than the narrow interpretation required if one is avoiding the whole truth) and concerns over the sinful environment which they have to deal with, (which was not nearly as bad as the Florida schools, but they were becoming sensitive to it here) we needed to also withdraw Isaac in order to remain consistent in our convictions.

There are more families in our church who homeschool than those who don't, so there is a world of support for us already. I tell folks that when Erin first made her request, I dialed 911 and Piper W. answered. She is our closest church neighbor, being only three miles away down our hill, and she is the President of a local homeschool co-op which meets once a week and has classes for the kids (gotta socialize these hermits after all). Erin and Isaac will take their science classes there, so my kitchen won't be exploding with experiments, and we don't have to purchase a bunch of fancy equipment. They have work for the class which they'll complete during the week at home, but a more knowledgeable teacher is at the helm for their science education, which is a relief. Piper and another friend were able to lend us about 80% of the books we'd need and we are chugging right along.

What has come out of this, and I find slightly amusing, is a reaction from the kids' school friends which we didn't anticipate. Erin and Isaac are the first homeschoolers that most of their (non-church) friends know! Isaac's first day at home ended with an evening phone call from one of his Scouting buddies with whom he had a number of classes, asking him what he did all day, what time he woke up, if he has school books, will he get grades... Evidently most of their friends had been peppering Ben with questions all day, and some of the teachers had expressed real dismay that we were taking one of the delightful students away! At last week's Cross Country meet, a dad of one of the boys on the team with whom Erin is friends asked me about our change in "educational arrangements', sincerely interested, if not perplexed. Erin was in the Student Government Assoc., and we sat with this family at every SGA banquet and would hang out during every XC meet, so the conversation was comfortable, but still, to me, amusing. Since we know so many homeschoolers and have even done it before, I didn't realize what a foreign concept it is for so many others.

When we moved from South Florida, we chose our home based in part on the school district. Our kids were, in every measurable respect, thriving in the school. Most teachers loved them- Erin practically had a fan club among the teachers at the Middle School, which Isaac discovered on his first day of 7th grade. ("You're Erin Kelly's brother?!" exclaimed one teacher.) So on one level, it makes no sense for us to have pursued this course. Yet we are pursuing it, and expect our kids to end up knowing more real history and understand the worldviews that have driven events, and see the hand of God behind it all.

That's it in a nutshell. I do not expect to be perfect, nor do I expect every day to be sunshine and roses. But I am taking the full responsibility for these kids as their parent. God entrusted them to Jim and me, not to the PA Department of Education.

And Hey, maybe I'll learn something as well!


Kelli said...

Hey! I doubt that Jason and I will ever homeschool our children, simply because we both work for the public school system... however! I am very intrigued by the whole thing and think there are SO MANY benefits to homeschooling your children. In fact, I think that every parent should be "homeschooling" their children, even if they are enrolled in another school as well. There is so much learning to be done!
I just wanted to share two blogs with you that I read and I find very helpful:
I wish you the best in your newest adventure and I can't wait to hear more about it!

avalarue said...

Graham and I judged a speech/debate tournament for homeschoolers last weekend and I was bowled over with the maturity and intellectual accuity of those young people. You are right that you can teach them the "correct" view of American history, but they will excel in many other areas as well. I'm glad you have a good network to tap into.

I remember the first friend I had who pulled her children out to homeschool. This was in the 80's and HS-ing was very new. The kids had to stay inside their house until 3:00 every afternoon to keep the truant officer away! Things have really changed. But homeschool families have proved that they have a better education.

Three cheers for the Kelly family! If you ever need encouragement, I will get you in touch with Kathleen (Wilson) Gately. She has done a fantastic job with her boys. (She's on FB, by the way.)

Loving you all, Aunt LaRue