Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Holy Spirit, Conclusion

So, we decided to homeschool. Our oldest was to begin kindergarten, giving us lots of options. I figured I could cobble together my own kindergarten curriculum based on the age-old template: reading, writing, arithmetic, and religion. I wondered about science, though; Dale has a history/poli-sci background and my major was French with a teaching minor in Humanities. I had enough credits to legally teach Spanish, but it wasn't quite a minor. (We've since overcompensated for that, book-wise. I'll explain.) I was leaning toward buying the lesson plans from Mother of Divine Grace for the classical curriculum and filling in the blanks as I saw fit.
He didn't see the point of reinventing the wheel, though--he wanted her registered in an accredited school for the sake of breaking the news. That wasn't asking much.
So what worked for both of us? Kolbe Academy, the one I had fallen in love with at first perusal. A bit more looking, evaluating, and praying and we sent in the registration check.
We'd already broken the news to my family, greeted with either indifference or support. My mother admits that she always imagined me surrounded by little kids teaching them to read; it's her grandchildren instead of some strangers'.

We had started giving my mother-in-law hints that we were thinking about it, but we were still very apprehensive about coming clean. I felt it was his family, his responsibility; I would do it, but only with him physically present.

My mother-in-law is a smart woman. She guessed. It was easy after he emailed her "we have something to discuss about Maddie's schooling when you come down for the girls' birthday party." That afternoon, we got this (it doesn't get much better):
DALE, WE WOULD ALWAYS TRUST WHATEVER YOU AND HEATHER DECIDE. HAVE YOU DECIDED TO HOME SCHOOL MADDIE. I KNOW IT WOULD BE HARD FOR ME TO PUT KIDS INTO PUBLIC SCHOOL IN YOUR AREA. I WOULD NOT WANT THOSE PRECIOUS BABIES EXPOSED TO SOME OF THE STUFF I HAVE SEEN IN SMALL TOWN SCHOOLS. DONT BE AFRAID TO SHARE ANYTHING WITH US, WE MAY BE OPINIONATED BUT WE KNOW YOU PUT THE KIDS FIRST. LOVE MOM.
I was so relieved I couldn't speak. I knew there wouldn't be a screaming match type Jerry Springer scene, but I didn't want underlying tension and regular queries of the "Are you over it yet?" genre either. Today we sent our first "letter" to Neema and I think she'll be impressed.

I suppose I'd been destined to homeschool; now that we're actually doing it, it seems so natural. Others (Zach and Shelly) have said, "I always knew you would." Even my sister, who asked two short years ago if I would even consider it and got a staunch "Nooo," is giving me her "I told you so" smirk.

Once upon a time, I wondered about those families who didn't have TV. How would those kids make friends if they didn't have the same cultural reference points, like Elmo or Dora? Wouldn't they be weird? I've come to the conclusion that our culture doesn't offer many common reference points anymore. Sure, you have most kindergarteners knowing Big Bird is an example of yellow, but how many will come up with pimp using the short I sound? I know a kid in 8th grade (now in 9th) whose mother had to prescreen The Passion of the Christ for the violence, but she didn't have the same concern about Saw. These are not the common values I want my children to assimilate.

So now that we've been at it for a few weeks For Real, how is it going? Very well, thank you. Madeleine is starting to understand subtraction (addition was a snap), her sight words are easy and her phonics are starting to make sense to her. We're reviewing the short vowel sounds this week; I want those to be solid before we tackle the long ones. Science experiments are all of their favorite--blowing up a balloon with vinegar and baking soda was a hit, as was floating an egg in sugar and salt water.

I started this series to help others find their way. My mother says she's glad her kids are all grown; the options now are just dizzying, and all of her kids have made different choices. She thinks, though, that all of us have made the best choice for our respective families.
I agree.

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5 Comments:

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Daisy said...

I agree with your mother. The options ARE dizzying. Especially when the public schools aren't terrible, and with a little effort a decent Catholic school education is within reach.

Then there's the possibility of a delay somewhere with the child. My daughter is a little younger than D3, and she doesn't speak very well yet and is adamant not to potty train. I read over what you're doing with Maddie, and I just can't imagine that she would be ready for that in two years. I am at the point that I hope I don't give myself an ulcer worrying about this. People keep saying to find the option you're most at peace with, but there are BIG disadvantages to all of them for me. Praying has led us to a parish and home where any of the three would really do, with public school a third to the tie of homeschooling and the parish school. I wish it were more clear cut for us.

 
At 1:24 PM, Blogger The Mom With Brownies (The story of us) said...

Have you ever had an epiphany? I had one the other day. It came to me as I was ranting, yes ranting without much dignity, in response to another blogger's inflamatory remark. My epiphany was this...

If we were dropped onto this planet already grown up, with God's plan in our heart and with children, how would we raise our children?

I thought about this and realized that sending my kids to a secular school where God's name is hushed would be the farthest idea from my mind. I would want to mold their hearts and minds in His Word or allow others of like mind to do so. It would not even cross my mind to send them to an institution where they would be taught that saying His name or praying allowed could cause harm or incite a lawsuit.

What a crazy thing to pop into my head. I have, in the past, sent 2 of my children to just such a place. Why? Because we are told by our peers that it is the normal thing to do. Also, the schools haven't been secular for very long. Why, I myself was taught the Lord's Prayer in public school kindergarten when we said it every morning before beginning our day.

That epiphany is the very moment that I realized that none of my other God given children will set foot into another secular school IF I can help it at all. I know they are free and a blessing to some. If I had NO other choice I would sadly send them and ask God's forgiveness for choosing to mold our children in a place where His Name is repeatedly hushed.

It was quite an epiphany. I'm still becoming acqainted with my new beliefs, but I thank God for them.

Shelly M.

 
At 1:45 PM, Blogger Diane said...

I'm finding this whole decision process and discussion very interesting! I know you guys will be excellent teachers and the kids will be very happy and well-educated. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the ins and outs of homeschooling over the years - it's a very new topic for me.

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Daisy-- have you gotten your daughter into speech therapy? Madeleine is pretty articulate, but Dale is nowhere near so-- sometimes Rachel is easier to understand. We started with our county ISD and since his third birthday he's transferred to our local school district.

Shelly-- I haven't had an epiphany yet, but those remarks sure helped clarify things. I feel more at ease with this decision than I ever did about public school.

Diane-- I'm glad the process has been interesting to read. I just wanted anyone going through it to know that you don't wake up one morning and say, "I think I'll homeschool!" The pressure to conform is HUGE and you only really notice the current when you start swimming against it.
And Kolbe reminded be a bit of your magnet school from Rockford. I was always a little jealous of that--wanting it for myself. Or I just thought you were lucky to have had that experience.

 
At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Daisy said...

Heather,

We've talked about it. But she just got a new baby sister, which seems to be helping things along, and I think around here we would need a referral from her pediatrician (not sure, checking), and the delay isn't too big. It's more of her not saying many words, rather than her enunciation. And she's god-awful stubborn. You may think the Irish have that market cornered, but the Germans have got to be there with you guys.

 

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