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I had to take a batch of cupcakes to the public school kindergarten in our town yesterday for a church member who couldn't get there for her son's birthday for various reasons. I was glad to help, but I have to admit I felt a deep sadness walking through those front doors.

I really, really liked school. I loved everything about it, especially in elementary school: new school supplies, bulletin boards, spelling bees, libraries, books, science projects, school picnics, field day, field trips, my own desk, recess, playgrounds, four square, maybe sometimes gym class...

Sometimes, even though I know the worldview taught in the public schools, I feel like my kids are missing out on something wonderful and fun. My son did attend for one semester before we pulled him out in our little town, where I am the only homeschooling family of elementary aged children, and I was in the classroom all the time helping. I saw firsthand that things were not getting done, my son was not challenged, and that all those first graders didn't even know their vowels from their consonants by January of that school year. So I knew we'd made the right decision to homeschool.

This choice was also confirmed on Sunday when the valedictorian of the high school class started her moving speech with, "The hardest part of giving this speech was not falling on my butt on my way up here." *sigh* THIS is the top of the class?? THIS is the product of 13 years? The rest wasn't much better.

BUT--School IS FUN. I know my second child, especially, who is so social and agreeable and friendly and smart, would have fantastic days in kindergarten. Are they missing out on some rite of passage for American children? Would I feel differently if I lived in a bigger city that had co-ops, support groups, and a church that had other homeschooling families? Is it just the isolation here that makes it difficult? Do I just wish I was "in the loop" with all the other parents, especially the church parents who send their kids and are hugely involved in the schools?

I don't know.

8 comments:

Oh, I liked school too, and I totally relate to all the nostalgia that you speak of. And I did well at school, and learned to read well and write, and be proficient at math.

But not all students are the same, and not all schools are the same. And certainly kindergarten in 1979 was a different scene than it is today.

I greatly admire your strength to follow your convictions and homeschool despite being the only one in your community. I cannot IMAGINE how hard that must be. And perhaps you don't even realize how hard it is! Having a support group of fellow homeschoolers to share the journey with is so, so, helpful. No wonder you feel isolated! No wonder you feel that you are out of the loop! May God strengthen you daily as you walk in faith and obedience to Him! He will bless you for walking in His ways. And may he bring you a friend to walk with you. I will pray that for you!

May 20, 2008 at 7:48 PM  

I admire your discipline to homeschool your children. My children go to a private christian school of 24 students. I would like for you to know that you're children are missing out. They're missing out on this world's teachings. The sacrifices that you're making now have a much longer benefit, eternity. Who's to say that your kids can't have those things that you miss? Go buy some posters, a chalk board, have a party. Create your own memories...ones with mom and siblings. Thank you for investing in your children, they may one day be walking along side my own.

May 20, 2008 at 10:56 PM  

I would like to echo Tina's thoughts. I think we all know it is hard whenever we are called to be different. Look at poor Jeremiah in the OT (that's where I happen to be reading right now).

God will honor your faithfulness and I will be praying that more families will join you.

May 21, 2008 at 9:19 AM  

Shawna-I had one friend who considered it with her kindergartener, pulled her out for a few weeks and did nothing (she had a new baby, so i understand why it was hard) then put her back in. Now she's going to try using the same kindergarten curriculum i have for the summer with her. we were suppose to do some stuff together, but i can't pin her down on a start date, so i figured i shouldn't count on her and just go ahead, which i did and my son is LOVING it.

Another lady, whose daughter is middle school using the state school material at home had approached me about doing stuff together, but when i called her she never called me back. :(

My neighbors have middle and high school homeschoolers and are a huge resource and encouragement for me to persevere, but they had another family of 5 when their kids were younger to do stuff, so the mom understands how it's different for me. Their youngest is 12 and not interested in hanging out with my 8 1/2 year old.

So that's who does homeschool here. There is also a weird stigma in our town attached to it, like people take it as a personal insult if you don't put your kids in the public schools here.

I'm VERY thankful my husband is so available and flexible. If he wasn't, I'm not sure I could endure the loneliness of it.

Tina-You know, I was thinking of having an end of school party and letting them help me plan all the games and snacks. I think I will! Your school sounds wonderful. I'd LOVE that. The best of both, in my opinion.

Cyndy-It's true, at least I wasn't thrown in the bottom of a muddy cistern to rot away. :) I'm looking forward to having our school buddies more available for the summer. :)

May 21, 2008 at 10:36 AM  

Noelle, Julo, I know how hard it is to homeschool without a lot of support. I really learned to depend upon God to see me through. I would encourage you to have your kids help in church in different areas. My 15 year old is now a usher, helps in Sunday School, works on the church web site and has gone on Missions trip with the older people of the church. I say that, because he probably would never had such a desire to help if he had gone to public school. My 13 year old is in the progress of following in his older brother's footsteps and my 5 year old is learning too. It is all worth it to see the return of your investment. Investing in our kids lives is the best thing you could ever do. Stand firm upon Jesus Christ the Rock. I will pray for you too!

May 21, 2008 at 12:25 PM  

Julie, I did the same thing as you. My kids went to public school for one year in the small town we moved to when they were in 2nd and 5th grades. I saw the serious lack of true education and more of the herding and trying to just get a word into their ears through all the noise! It was very undisciplined. Small town politics...don't tell me what to do with my kids attitude. Then they blame the school (whose hands are tied because the parents don't support the discipline) when their kids can't spell or write or get into college! I pulled them out to homeschool the next year and we loved it. We kept on graduating one through high school and then moved to the big city. The teens wanted to go to public high school and they loved all the activities and really learned how to be a strong Christian in a nasty world. I think it was good for them. But everyone and everyone's experiences and set ups are different. You just have to do what you decide (with God's help) is right for your family.

One thing we did that helped our kids feel a part of the school is that we put them into band classes. If they have choir or art you can put them into those too. Our district was glad to let them participate because they are counted as a student and then the school gets more funding. So it's a win/win. And they were always treated well.

Our current school has several homeschoolers that come and do one or two subjects at our school.

Love ya and hope this is encouraging. I know exactly what you mean about missing out! I felt that way many times, then remembered what it was like when I came to the classes! Small towns are notorious for that!

May 21, 2008 at 3:41 PM  

It is sometimes difficult to be faithful, "though none go with me..." May the Lord grant you strength and determination to follow HIS will for YOU!

June 3, 2008 at 11:51 AM  

It's been nice over the summer NOT to school my oldest. He's very involved in our town's swim team so we've had lots of opportunities to hang out with other families, which has been great. I love that all the other kids are out of school so they're available now. It was hard when we'd get done at noon or so then my sons had the rest of the day before them with "nothing" to do, in their minds, and no friends around. Summer's been good so far. :) Thanks for all the encouragement!

June 3, 2008 at 1:26 PM  

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