Friday, March 18, 2016

About Home Schooling or I Saw the Angel in the Marble

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free - Michelangelo

Over the years many have asked why I homeschool and how I homeschool.  I've recently been rereading, I Saw the Angel in the Marble by Chris and Ellyn Davis. The Davis' say everything that I would say to you if time permitted. 

Why do I homeschool?  Like the Davis' I can tell you many reasons why: to make God the center of our education, freedom to pick the books and curriculum that we want, to give them a Christian worldview, to monitor their environments, to give them a safe environment, to have more family time, and on and on I could go.  All of these are true and important.

But to quote the book, "The real reasons are matters of the heart. Homeschooling was and still is attractive to me in part because of the images it evokes: children snuggling on the couch as I teach them to read; little boys' faces alight with excitement as they assemble model rockets; my son absorbed in a book while lying on the back of his pony; cross-country trips in the station wagon learning about the Oregon Trail; acting out the battle of Yorktown with boys who have muskets slung over their shoulders; twilight adventures collecting lightening bugs; the praise in a child's voice as he says, "Look how well I wrote those letters!

To me, homeschooling speaks of close family relationships, highly valued home and family life; happy children who love learning; meaningful traditions; simplicity; nurturing, mentoring relationships; restoration of excellence; freedom to pursue individual interests; entrepreneurship; recapturing meaning and purpose to life; and discovering ones' destiny."

I couldn't agree more.  It brings tears to my eyes when I think of all the absentee parents, the over busyness that keeps families separated from each other, the moments missed of little ones learning, exploring and discovering the world around them.  We live in a culture of missing dads, overachieving moms and children raised by institutions and peers!  I am so thankful to the Lord that I've been able to watch my children grow and learn.  That I was there when they "discovered" themselves in the mirror, when they giggled and held a fuzzy caterpillar and the joy of hearing them laugh out loud as they read a funny book.

How do I homeschool?  Well in the early years I just brought institutionalized schooling home.  It's all I knew.  But as time went on, frustration grew and  desperation appeared. I started seeking the Holy Spirit's leading.  I began to realize that God has a unique and special plan for each of my children. That He has placed special gifts and talents in each one.  That I needed to learn to depend on him to teach and train each child to be prepared to fulfill the call and purpose that He has for them.

As the Davis' write they speak of Jeremiah 6:16: "Stand at the crossroads and look, and ask for the ancient paths and the good way"  We need to apply this to how we teach and train our children.  We need to rethink education and what is really important: realtionships, skills and instruction (in that order). Don't look to the world's ways and systems.   Find God's way.  While this may vary from family to family certain ideas I think hold true for all families.

Learning is not something that exclusively happens between 9 and 3, Monday through Friday. Learning is a lifestyle.  I began to realize that teaching my children was what I was doing from sun up to sun down.  They need more than academics.  They need character, integrity, relationship skills, life skills and so much more.  They need to learn to work and to serve God, family, church, country, and community. We discovered that real life, every day life and the skills to live it was what we needed to teach our children. We also learned that much time is spent on things that they don't need to learn.  We started seeing the many "teachable" moments that appear during every day life.

While I won't take time here to get into all of the details of how we homeschool, I will say that God is at the heart and center of it all.  We bring Dad into it in every way we can.  We do "school" and "daily life" together as a family unit.  Church, serving in the church and community, working on our home, property, animals, etc., games that develop thinking skills, educational shows, reading, praying, playing outdoors, playing indoors, exploring nature and of course things like math, spelling, writing are all apart of our homeschool journey. Subjects like math, spelling and writing we try to do in the context of the real world, how you really use them.  And even though it is probably obvious from this blog, we read quality books and the Bible a great deal.  We do history and science in connection with the scriptures.  The Bible is the only reliable source of history and science. We do unit studies and did I mention we read a lot?  Read to ourselves, read to one another, share a read aloud as a family, read in the car, read by the creek, read on the patio. We discuss and talk about these things together as a family.  We show our children we are interested in the topics they are studying.  We make it a family affair.  Children are interested in things when you show interest in those things. (The quickest way to stifle your child's curiousity and love of learning is textbooks, imo).

Twenty years have passed since we started this journey and we have several yet to go. We have come a long way since those first days of "school" at home.  School is no longer a separate event from the real world and real life.  And while we haven't arrived or figured it all out I will say God has given us an amazing experience that I wouldn't trade for all the world. I am finally at a point where I truly enjoy every day and moment of time spent with my remaining at home child. Today our emphasis on is the "home" in home school as opposed to the "school" in homeschool.  We want to build multi-generational relationships, our hearts turned toward our children and our children's hearts turned toward us.

There is so much more I could say but I will end on this note.  If you are thinking about homeschooling, are a new homeschool family or well on your journey I encourage you to get a copy of I Saw the Angel in the Marble by the Davis' and let the Lord speak to you through it.  Let Him show you how you can carve each of your children into the men and women of God that they were destined to be!

See part 2 here.


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