Thursday, August 18, 2011

My foray into the world of "Afterschooling"

as most of you know, i've really struggled with this issue since we started to become led by God to put our children in PS full time next year. IN the last couple months, i've had time to absorb this decision, to pray about it further, to confront my own sin and selfishness and this is becoming more clear to me than ever.

First, I will say that in the past I was approaching homeschooling all wrong- I identified myself as "a homeschooler" it was sort of a badge of pride, a well-earned proclaimation of my own strength and patience, my own ability to make it all happen. This label was something that I unwittingly had created as an idol. As with most pride issues, it wasn't obvious to me. Maybe much of it came from all the people that would say "wow.. you're amazing.. i could NEVER do THAT!!!" Though i do take responsibility for my own sin. It is what it is.

A few years ago we started using a public virtual school. Basically our homeschooling looked the same. we still bought our own Christian Bible and worldview curricula and also used science and history curricula that was appropriate to our worldview without being overtly "christian" in nature. So we basically looked exactly as we would have had we footed the bill, other than the fact that we were able to do a LOT more, much more art, much more enrichment, much more experiments and depth. Truth be told, we could not afford to homeschool at least for the last 2 years and the virtual school made that possible. We were very glad for that provision that the Lord provided for us. However, I felt the sting of the homeschool movement's elite, which is exactly how I percieved it. We were told basically that we were NOT homeschoolers, (legally we were not, but I can assure you, we most certainly WERE!) which was insulting. There was this division between REAL homeschoolers (those who footed the bill entirely) and FAKE homeschoolers (those who were not financially able to do it ourselves) I worked my butt off through a high risk almost life threatening pregnancy in which i actually lost 65 lbs i was so sick and through the last two years with my twins and a very demanding preschooler.

And praying about the next year, i begged God to let us keep homeschooling, even though all the signs were leaning otherwise. I remember saying to Him- "I am asking permission because i want YOUR will to be primary, and not treat homeschooling as an idol" and what i heard in return was shocking- "YOU ALREADY HAVE!" It blew me away, it humbled me. I knew immediately that He was right. I WAS trusting in homeschooling, looking at my choice as better than others choices, and acting as if MY CHILDREN were going to be good, Bible believing Christians BECAUSE I DID THE WORK OF HOMESCHOOLING.

Now, don't get me wrong- i do NOT think there is anything at ALL wrong with homeschooling. I really wish i was in a place where I could do it, and if and when the Lord releases me to going back, I will be ALL OVER THAT! I LOVE learning with my children, i love studying in whatever way helps each of us to learn! i totally count myself as a pupil in our homeschool. I love our fabulous daily discussions. And I trust that the Lord WILL grant me the desires of my heart WHEN my heart is in the right place.

One thing this whole situation has shown me is how very very much we ARE still homeschooling. We are STILL doing morning and evening Bible we are still doing critical thinking, an area that I think today's youth is not very skilled in, we will still be studying christian worldview and learning about Creation. We'll be having discussions about things that they are learning that they can pick out as being from a secular worldview-- and the older three are GREAT at that. We have Mystery of HIstory, which my 12yo will be reading along his school's study of ancient history, (he's a history buff so that will be a treat for him!) becuase its SO important to see God's hand in history and His work, particularily in ancient times. We do NOT rely on church to do OUR job as parents, raising our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and never will. we are NOT perfect. Both Andy and I have a lot of work to do, and we will continue to seek His wisdom and most importantly remain in the Word

But overall, i'm getting excited about the prospect of "Afterschooling" and excited about what we will be doing together as a family. One thing that i've found myself struggling to make happen is something that I call our "family culture" This is something that's been traditionally very important to us- however- lately, i've been in survival mode, suffice to say, its been lacking.

So what are we doing?? We are going to be using as a spine for our afterschooling Organic Homeschooling Which you have GOT to check out if you haven't already- This is actually a full homeschooling curriculum, and we won't be using it fully, in fact, we'll be just doing the read alouds, bible for the youngers, and art/crafts. If you are a full time homeschooler, this looks SO OUTSTANDING! i can't recommend it enough- you can email to get a free sample month to see what I mean.

I also am going to be using many of my already bought awesome resources from Timberdoodle Of course you MUST be familiar with Timberdoodle, but if you are not, it is the BEST homeschooling store online. Totally. I have a huge stash of their products, both for big kids and the babies. Its the babies i'm really excited about working with because Timberdoodle has a great supply of educational toddler products that are outstanding. With both of my twins, Elliott who is advanced and articulate and doing great, and Asher, who is super smart, but developmentally delayed, i can find the greatest products to strengthen each of their weaknesses and even just fun stuff to relax with! I'm getting ready to place an order- i'll post some of the goodies I get and how they enjoy them!

Specific things we will be working on afterschool (or BEFORE in the case of Bible)

History- Mystery of History

Bible- Starr Meade's "The most important thing you will ever study" Bible study. This is AWESOME and I scored an AMAZING price at Westminster bookstore Some tips on this one- these are on clearance here, they sell both the OT/NT sets and separately. Its cheaper separately. Also if you buy more than one, you should get one with an answer key and the rest without, the answer key is the same for old and new testament and that saves you $3 per set, which for me, with Alex, Nik, Chloe, and me all needing workbooks saved a good chunk of change!

Toddlers- Timberdoodle Toddler core program, plus extras that i bought. It has actually changed since i bought it last february, sniff, but mine is still awesome. we are loving this and with the big kids occupied in school i'll get to play with the twinnies more :)

That's all I can think of right now... Hope to add more soon, its been crazy chaotic.