There's Mail From Mom!

Wouldn't it be nice to have a letter from mom in the mailbox each time you checked it? Here's a place to check your mailbox for a heart-to-heart talk with mom...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Back to "Home" School!

I'm 55 years old and have the pleasure of having grandchildren (17 to be exact with #18 coming right about Christmas time) and also still having "at home" children. Asher graduated last year which was sweet, wonderful and sad all at once!
However, I've still got Cierra (who is a 9th grader this year) and John (a 5th grader) so my days of homeschooling are still here for me. It has been a wonderful adventure that I wouldn't trade for the best private school available in town.
When we began homeschooling it was pretty much unheard of. Our local librarian introduced me to Raymond Moore's books telling me that she thought it fit my philosophy of mothering. I brought the children into the library at least twice a week on our daily walks and my children LOVED library books! (They loved books in general, but our personal library was rather small at the time!)
I soaked in what I read and took it to heart. Niki was already forcing me to teach with "What letter is that?" "What does it say?" She was reading well at four years of age, but in all truth I had to explain (when people exclaimed what a wonderful teacher I was to my four year old) that she pretty much taught herself by asking questions and applying my answers. It certainly wasn't any kind of planned schooling!
That's part of what turned the lightbulb on in my head. I taught my children almost every skill they had (good and bad:). I potty trained them, I taught them manners, hygiene and right from wrong. I had taught them how to talk and I had read to them so much that they had a huge library in their heads already! So, why did I think I couldn't teach them school?
(I've had more than one mother in my life tell me they couldn't possibly teach their children at home and then go to college and get an education and guess what they are now? Yes, you guessed it! They're a teacher! Teaching 20 or so of someone else's children.)
True to my personality I got on the bandwagon in a big way. I began researching, contacting others who had schooled their own children and finding out everything I could about this new thing called "homeschooling". My husband, who was a Christian school teacher and principal, wasn't quite so enthusiastic.
We had made the decision when the Lord gave us children that if we had to sell the furniture out from under us we would not do two things in our marriage. I would not go to work outside of the home and our children would get a Christian education--not one from "Caesar".
Although Gary thought it was a good idea he also felt it would appear like we had a double standard in our life if he worked in a Christian school and then homeschooled his own children. He also felt it would appear we were disloyal to our pastor's decision to have a Christian school at our church. (Because he was on staff.) I didn't agree but I knew the Bible taught me to obey my husband so I simply began to pray about it.
The year that Nathan was to go to Christian school I felt heartbroken. It would just be little Nevin and I at home and my husband and children were going to be at the Christian school.
Many people had suggested I come to work at the Christian school and I began playing with the idea that someone had planted in my mind that the church was simply an "extension" of the home.
The year Nathan was to go to first grade there wasn't a teacher available as our teacher's mother had developed cancer and she had made the decision to be with her mother. I cannot tell you how excited I was that anyone with a K-5 child needed to make other arrangements! Nathan had his first year of school at home! Nevin sat on the floor and listened and learned as he played with his matchbox cars.
The next year Nathan went to school with his sisters and his dad and I taught Nevin K-5 at home. So much fun!
But the new school year was coming and then I was going to be in an empty house--no hubby and no children. All of them at the church. I began dwelling again on just going to work at the Christian school and thinking of it as an extension to our home. I approached my husband and got an emphatic no! That decision had been made and it was not negotiable! Back to praying.
In my times when I am the very closest to the Lord my praying is simply talking to Him and pouring out my heart just like I was talking to a friend I could trust with my deepest secrets. So many times in our conversations He shows me where the problem I'm telling him about has me as part of the solution. (Or should I say that I am part of why there's a problem!) I had a lot of things to learn.
That year my husband accepted a pastorate in Tennessee and when we moved there we were free to homeschool all four of our children. Wow! The first year of homeschooling all four was a year of lessons! Although I loved every minute of it I quickly realized that if I had tried starting with all four I might have ended up being a homeschool dropout! I had no idea how much time was involved in four compared to one! The Lord gently worked me from one to two and then to four! Praise the Lord for a husband who operated by principles and obeyed them. Praise the Lord I truly believed in obeying my husband and trusting the Lord to work it out if it was truly His will.
When we first began homeschooling all four of our children I asked the Lord to give me a homeschool "core curriculum" passage from the Bible. He gave me II Peter 1:5-8. I realized that first we needed to diligently teach our children that the Bible was the final authority for our lives and they needed to place their faith in Christ and His Word. Then we needed to diligently work to develop godly character in their lives (virtue), and after those two things we needed to add the knowledge (facts) , temperance (self-control), patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. It's the best curriculum plan I've seen out there and I lay it beside every curriculum I find and many of them fail on the first item! (faith)
Now we're to the year 2010 and I'm a homeschool veteran. I'll be 62 years old when John graduates from high school. I wouldn't have any other life. I always catch myself in August getting that little thrill back of the new school year about to start.
Do I have days I wish I could pack them in the van, drop them off at the nearest school and tell them I'll be back in two days or two weeks or maybe even two months? You better believe it! My motivation is to please and obey my Father and nothing else and that's what gets me through the days (and sometimes weeks!) that are overwhelming with their duties.
On the whole however the Lord has made our homeschool journey a wonderful trip. I still go through old papers and old photo albums and get tears in my eyes. I still love looking at the new year with its new books (or computer program) and feeling a little thrill of what the adventure of our new year will be.
I pray that you have seriously looked at your home, your family, your children and seen the priority that God gives to our giving our children an education that is Christ-centered and that in the end will give Him glory. We're spending our life on what we treasure and I can't think of anything better to invest in than sitting, walking, standing and teaching our children! (Deuteronomy 6)



P.S.- Dr. Raymond Moore recommended that you make a philosophy of education plan and put it into words to read and re-read on a regular basis to keep yourself focused and on course. Here's ours. We haven't changed our minds (or hearts) about it since it was written in 1982 or "83.
"As Bible-believing Christians we believe and accept for our life standards the perfect Word of God. God's Word is the final authority for our lives.
Based on this, we believe God's Word teaches us that we are responsible for the provision and care of our children. We believe that we are accountable to God for the spiritual, mental, emotional and physical care of our children. (I Tim. 5:8)
We also believe that God commands us to teach and to train our children. God's Word qualifies us to be their teachers and we believe what He calls upon us to do, He also equips us to do. (Deut. 4:9, Deut. 6:1,2,6,7, Deut. 11:18,19, Exra 8:21, Ps. 78:1-7, Prov. 4:3-5, Prov. 22:6, Eph. 6:1-4, I Thess. 2:11,12)
We believe the Bible offers a plan of education in II Peter 1:5-8. It is our personal goal to lead each child into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, (salvation by faith), and to build onto that godly character, (virtue), and then add to that pertinent facts, (knowledge). We believe knowledge without character or Christ will produce a child that is a detriment to society.
Our homeschool is set up with the father as the final word and the decision maker and with Christ as his authority. (Eph. 6:22-33) The mother carries out his wishes and has the role of teacher. (Prov. 6:20, Prov. 31:1) The children have the responsibility to listen to and obey instruction. (Eph. 6:1-3, Prov. 6:20, Prov. 4:1-4)
We carry out our teaching according to Christ's example in Acts 1:1--do and teach. What we require and instruct we also teach by example.
It is our goal to produce children who know Christ as their personal Saviour, who live their live by character and principle and who are well-trained in basic academic skills.
Psalms 127:1-5 and Psalms 144:12 express our heart's desire for our home and children. we desire children to go out as arrows into a dark world and to make a difference.

Mr. and Mrs. Gary Neal

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