Well, here it goes. Noah was born on January 31, 2009 and as many of you know, it was not an expected pregnancy. As it turns out; he may be our one and only miracle so we plan to invest everything we have into him. In this blog post, I plan to explain why WE have decided to homeschool Noah. We are called. Really, I could stop there. I realize for any unbeliever, however, that this may not be enough reason to take a leap of such. I realize facts, statistics, and information are helpful as well, so I will have a little (well, A LOT) of that to share as well. According to the National Home Education Research Institute, “Homeschooling – home education or home-based education – has grown from nearly extinct in the United States in the 1970s to now about 2 million school-age students. Much research is being done, internationally, on this fast-growing form of education.” We are excited to be a part of it!
We will start off with the number one reason and that is GOD. God took me straight to Luke 6:40 which states “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Which teacher do we want Noah to be like? How can we truly impress upon Noah’s heart if we only see him at dinner and at bedtime? That is not enough time. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Deciding to homeschool automatically puts a family in the spotlight because it is “not normal”. If you want what is “normal”, do what is “normal”. I am not sure your thoughts, but today’s “normal” is rather frightening. Steve and I have spent a lot of time deciding our opinion on “normal” and that is simply NOT what we want for our son. I am so grateful that I do not answer to this world, but to Christ. He has led us to homeschool in prayer and there is simply no further discussion (for believers). If we are following the desire God has put into our hearts, how can there possibly be any further discussion?
The second reason was derived from the overwhelming amount of research we started to come upon once we decided to start following God’s lead. Studies show that much of the criticism and skepticism aimed at homeschooling is due to common misconceptions, overgeneralizations, and flat-out lies. As with any school, they all are different. Same goes for the homeschool. You are given the freedom to make it as you wish for your child(ren). From the perspective of academics, “homeschoolers typically rate 37 percentage points higher than public school students. The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study)”. Also, this article also provides great research facts on homeschooling. At home, I can make sure we are going at Noah’s pace (not wasting time or moving on too quickly from a subject area of his interest), ensuring mastery of subjects, having one-on-one teaching opportunities (which is certainly not the case in public schools), and the flexibility to tailor curriculum to Noah’s individual needs and interests.
Thirdly, the opportunity that homeschooling provides is ENDLESS! Time. Time. Time! Time in life flies so quickly and we only have our child for a very short time before he will grow up and move on to big things. Of all the times I have checked, I notice that “me time” is not mentioned in the bible because my time belongs to God and my child. The opportunity would provide the time needed to teach, time to explore, time to research and answer Noah’s complicated questions about the world that surrounds him, time to travel, time to engage in ministry, time to volunteer and invest in our community, time for real-life interactions with people of ALL ages (the opportunity for “socialization” seems more likely here than in a room of 30 children his same age), time for hands on experiences, time to visit nursing homes and read to the elderly, time as a family and most importantly, time spent with GOD. He is not likely going to get closer to God in a public school. Noah has an incredibly unique love of information and we want to continue to feed that rather than snuff it out with curriculum.
Our Goal. I truly think that Erica, blogger at Confessions of a Homeschooler, says it beautifully: “We asked ourselves “What do we want our children to look like when they’ve finished their formal education? In Luke 2:52 it says “And Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and men.” We want them to learn to trust in the Word of God, to have it hidden in their heart. We want to train them in the way they should go, so it may go well with them. We want them to be healthy, confident, and to know they are beautifully and wonderfully made. We want them to keep their childlike faith, and we want them to be a light in this world. We want them to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet 3:15) We want them to be confident, to have good manners, to be compassionate, to be respectful, and to be humble in spirit.” This is exactly our goal for Noah.
That is a lot to ask of a teacher. We’d rather trust God to work through us than leave this important work up to a stranger.
Before today, only our family knew of our decision to homeschool Noah. Steve and I had been praying, researching and discussing it and it is amazing what God does in your life when you simply yield to His will. Suddenly, the fear of judgement isn’t so scary. Suddenly I feel more equipped than ever to travel this journey with my family. My parents were incredibly supportive and we appreciate their optimistic outlook and the confidence that gives us. My parents, of course, were not surprized because I have been going against the status quo and the world’s expectations my entire life. Mandy doing something different again? No shock there! After all, I was a Republican, pro-life powerhouse all the way through high school and my education at WMU. Being pro-life on Western’s campus is a task in itself. It isn’t “normal”. I have never been “normal” and I plan to stay that way. We appreciate the supportive response we got from Steve’s sister and her husband. They expressed that they are excited to see us continue educating Noah at home and they shared in the excitement that this journey will bring our family. They expressed this love and support even though that means we will have to stop providing daycare for their sweet girls in May 2014. My siblings are all very supportive and excited to see how something so “different” unfolds in our lives. My best friend said, “Everything you do, you do great. This will be no different. You will exceed all expectations and run over all naysayers.” And I will. Here is what I say to the naysayers: DO SOME RESEARCH and accept that we were led here by God. We refuse to maintain relationships with any Eeyore as we pursue this exciting journey in our life!
I enjoyed the time Steve and I spent talking about our personal public educations and how we did (or didn’t) benefit from the experiences we had. Steve did not enjoy his experience in school. He expressed that he didn’t have too many friends and was picked on a lot. He feels he still has a speech issue that was never corrected. I had a big group of friends, I was an athlete, I went to the proms and dances, I was involved and was liked by (most of ) my teachers. My public school experience was, overall, good. I enjoyed it. We have decided NOT to spend our time bashing the public schools and pointing out the numerous, absolute shortcomings of the Common Core and standardized testing. We have made a commitment to remain positive and settle that it is simply not for OUR family. Is the public school a good fit for other families? Sure! Do they do a great job at educating the masses? Sure! Is it a good fit for Noah? Absolutely not at all.
Oh, and socialization. This is such an interesting topic and aside from homeschoolers being more socialized, we are interested in HOW Noah will be socialized. Manfred B Zyskthis says, “Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate.” As I stated, we don’t want “normal” for Noah. Noah has an introverted personality and we are not interested in changing that about him. Steve is an introvert and still prefers to “play” (or work) alone. As his parents, we know and have seen Noah thrive and lead in any and all social settings he has been in. He, in fact, has probably had more social experiences than some children leaving 8th grade at the local public school. So no worries, we will not forget to socialize him! That is actually our specialty.
When you think about a “homeschool”, what does it look like to you? Chances are that if you view it negatively, you and I are seeing it very differently. I see constant opportunity to learn and thrive in the child’s AREA OF INTEREST. I see the absolute lack of standardized testing. I imagine freedom to explore what you love. I see the lack of “rushing” and teachable moments spent teaching. I am not a teacher (as I have been reminded, but I could be with only a small bit more schooling as I have a bachelor’s degree), but I believe whole-heartedly that the impact we have as parents trumps any “school” experience a child will ever have. That is simply the truth. I see lack of pressure and PEER PRESSURE. I see a fun, faith-filled, thriving environment where failure is not even considered. I see failure and shortcomings turned quickly into conversations about strengths. I see social experiences and time spent with children and people of ALL AGES in the real and natural world in which we need to learn to live and operate. I see God everywhere. I see family time, togetherness, and lack of the idea of traditional “school” all together. I see travel. I see wonder, curiosity and imagination gone wild on a constant basis. That is what I see. What do you see?
We are so excited to start this faith-based and exciting journey! We are going to have so much fun! We may just spend our first day of class sitting on a blanket under the wind turbine located on KVCC’s campus. Learning takes place by doing. There will be a lot of “doing” going on in our homeschool.
Again, we thank the family and friends that have expressed confidence and support in our decision. We appreciate your love and faith in us!
Here are just a few of the helpful resources we found:
Michigan Home Education Conference – http://conference.homeschoolmichigan.org/
National Home Education Research Institute – http://nheri.org/
Kalamazoo Area Homeschool Association http://www.kahsaconnection.com/
Home Education League of Michigan http://www.homeedmi.net/
Homeschool Achievement Confirmed Research http://www.hslda.org/docs/media/2009/200908100.asp
HOPE Support Group in Plainwell – http://www.kahsaconnection.com/SupportGroups/HOPE.aspx
OASIS Homeschool Support Group – http://www.gatheringplacechurch.net/oasis.php
US Department of Education – http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009030.pdf
Academic Research on Homeschool Performance – http://www.edweek.org/ew/issues/home-schooling/
Michigan Department of Education – Laws – http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-6530_6569_35175—,00.html
Home Schooling in Michigan – http://www.michigan.gov/documents/home_schools_122555_7.pdf
Research Facts on Homeschooling – http://www.nheri.org/research/research-facts-on-homeschooling.html
Great Homeschool Conventions (some hosted in Ohio) – https://www.greathomeschoolconventions.com/
Interview with Dan Miller – http://www.homeschoolnetcast.com/home/2011/6/30/22-the-homeschooling-buzz-interview-with-dan-miller-retired.html
The Farmer’s Wife Tells All (former public school teacher homeschooling her 4 children) – http://www.thefarmerswifetellsall.com/2013/11/06/5-reasons-we-dont-homeschool/
TLC (The Learning Community) – http://www.tlckalamazoo.com/