home education

Believe me, I know there are some mighty strong opinions out there on this topic. Rory and I are currently wading through the pros and cons of homeschooling and I know lots of people have lots of passionate ideas. Maybe I am so sensitive to it because my whole life I thought homeschooling was weird mostly because I loved my own public education experience so much.

But something has shifted in my thinking, and it's due largely to a lot of the home educated kids I now know in my own town, and their families. So Rory and I have been reading and listening and even attended a three day conference at the River Center for Christian Home Educators.

I have so much to share, but I want you to hear me on this point: whether we end up sending our kids to public school or decide to home educate, my role and responsibility is the same: to raise well adjusted kids who know what they believe and why they believe it. The whole time I was at this conference I thought it was a shame that it was only home educating parents in the workshops because these topics are so universally helpful.

For example, Rory and I attended a number of workshops: Staying connected as husband and wife while raising little kids, Successfully scheduling your day, The Preschool Years, What the Bible says about the role of the parent, Etiquette for boys, Etiquette for girls,  Learning Styles: Parents and Kids, The importance of Motherhood.

All of those are applicable to every parent under the sun. And we learned SO MUCH. The content was rich, the speakers were encouraging. We came home and radically changed how we structure our days and it has made a world of difference. Already, whether we go this route or not, we have gained and learned so, so much.

Here are my favorite take-aways:
Learning Styles:
We walked through a few different profiles, and then took a survey for each person in our family. In this inventory I came out quite Abstract Random and Ivar came out very Concrete Sequential. And as we sat there listening to the different traits I was able to recognize that every night when Ivar asks, "Mom, what's the plan tomorrow?" He not only wants to know, he needs to know. And first thing in the morning he asks for me to draw a schedule of our day. If I deviate, he struggles. I sat there and felt so convicted. I have no problem flying by the seat of my pants each day, but my son does. And I owe it to him to have a set routine that he can depend on. I definitely have to teach him flexibility within that routine, but I really felt the desire to offer consistency to his days. So we've started a schedule and in the two weeks we've used it, our days run more smoothly and much more happily. I'll write more about that another time.

The Preschool Years:
Rory and I went to this workshop and sat in the front row. The instructor has eight kids and basically gave practical tip after practical tip on how she runs her household. It was pure gold. But she told one story that stood out from the rest. She told of a day she brought six of her kids to Target and how it didn't go well at all. When her husband got home from work she explained the failed and embarrassing outing. After dinner the dad sat the whole family down and talked about what was expected while shopping in stores as a family. They had explicit do's and don'ts and after talking it through, they loaded the whole family back up and went back to Target simply to practice how to behave. Rory leaned over and said, "we are so reactionary." And it's true. We are in a season of saying no, no, no, to our kids all day long. And we realized how much we have failed in actually instructing our kids of our expectations before we have to react to the negative behavior. Oh this has changed everything in how I now view my role!

Etiquette for Girls:
I got so much out of this session. And most of it had to do with how we are groomed to be courteous and polite as girls, but that there are times when we can allow things to feel awkward by refusing a hug when we don't want to hug someone etc... To raise a girl to become a lady has a lot to do with teaching her what to expect out of a gentleman. And then how to not feel obligated to behave kindly if a man is not acting as a gentleman.

Etiquette for Boys:
This was a lot of practical door opening examples and how to raise a boy to have a servants heart. But so much of it had to do with when they are young and setting an example between brother and sister, husband and wife. The teacher was from Tennessee and told of how all of her boys, from a very young age, stood by their chairs until she had sat down at the dinner table. I giggled a bit at this since at this point we're trying to get our kids to stay in their chairs, so we'll work on that later. But I did love the basic respect and responsibility that is passed along when you purposefully teach your kids good manners. The instructors blog can be found here, and it is really fun to read.

Successful Scheduling:
This teacher spoke of the importance of having something to anticipate each day, as well as the importance of having enough heads up to know something unpleasant is coming up. She talked about how when we as adults know we have something coming up that we don't want to do, we really do psych ourselves up to get through it. Which means a kid has to have enough heads up to know to prepare themselves for the unpleasant thing. I thought of Ivar again and how he struggles with knowing how long an hour is. If I tell him we'll leave in ten minutes, it really doesn't mean much to him. So at the vendor fair I purchased a 60 minute timer that when you set it the whole clock turns red, and then as the minutes tick by, the red becomes smaller and smaller around the clock. It's portable and we use it mostly for clean up times, quiet play times, and "we need to leave in..." times. It's a concrete way he can feel a bit more in control of the clock. It also holds me accountable!

I guess I just wanted to pass all of this along because it was so, so helpful for me. I have more to report on practical ways we are changing the way we do things around here, but I'll save those for another (shorter) post. Until then, know that I am so inspired and encouraged in my role as the mama. It's the best feeling in the world.


Callie Briese said...

I have to comment on this post! So good! We've decided to homeschool, and so far it's gone really well. But, I always feel some amount of shame when I talk about it. I get the feeling from colleagues at works, friends, even some family members that they think we're looking down on them for sending their kids to public school. This has been the toughest thing for me, and I'm constantly refining my "elevator speech" for why homeschooling is right for us, but we're not saying we're superior to public education. It's such a journey... I'm looking forward to hearing about yours and what education path your family decides to take!

Becca Groves said...

Callie, I totally get this. I told Rory from the onset, "if we go this route, I'm not going all fanatical. we'll choose this because it's right and best for our family, and every other family can choose what is right and best for them."

...and I'd love to hear your elevator speech :)

Callie said...

Okay, first of all, I'm ashamed that I didn't proof my comment before posting. Shame on me! I do hereby solemnly swear that I will teach my children to proof their work before turning it in. ;)

The homeschool convo usually begins when a colleague asks something like, "I can't remember -- is your oldest in kindergarten yet?" To which I reply, "You know, she missed the kindergarten cutoff by a few days this year, but I think we've actually decided we're going to homeschool." The other person gives a look of surprise, so I continue, "My husband stays home with the kids, and has really enjoyed finding out their interests and ways that they learn. It's been interesting to see the kids respond to that, and I think we're going to continue. But boy, we know it's going to be a tough, exciting adventure. Both Ryan and I went to public school and learned a lot, but we're excited to try this out with our kids. So far, it makes sense for us, but we realize it doesn't for everyone."

And then the elevator ride is usually over or we're off to our meetings. It's not perfect, but so far, that's what I've come up with. ;)