Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In Defense of My Way of Homeschooling

Hello friends,
the following is the text of a note I wrote back to a friend who also homeschools and has been an encouragement to me. This friend home-schools exclusively, not using any public school partnered programs, which is a conviction many have. I wrote this in defense of a program I am involved in with my children. When public schooling and home-schooling mix, sometimes it's not a great thing. Public school may meddle a little too much, trying to make home-school in to "school at home," but other times, there are partnerships like our school, which reminds me of University style learning...you take classes in what you are interested, and therefore learn better.

Thanks for your note. I know that the programs like ours are a way for public schools to get more control over home schoolers and I understand the dangers of that. These programs are a great choice for people who like some of the aspects of school, but prefer to have direct control over their children's education. The fact that our school is a thriving and vibrant community of families is a testimony to the fact that hybrid programs like this CAN be successful. I am seeing more parent involvement than ever, more support than ever, as well as a wonderful variety of classes. I know that our school has been a valuable asset to me in support from other moms, teachers, classic learning for my children and enrichment learning. I also know that most homeschool public school programs are not as varied and awesome as our school. In my opinion our school offers a great option for people who are not totally opposed to public schooling as an idea. I am one of those people. I believe that public schooling is a great resource, if the funds are channeled correctly, and the children are cared for intimately by parents and teachers alike. I don't think the way public school is set up works at all well, but I think having resource programs like our school is as viable an option for homeschoolers as the public parks, libraries and county extension programs. When homeschoolers enroll in these programs knowing that they essentially are public schoolers, I think it is ok. It's possible the government could decide to put its fingers more into homeschooler's lives, and that would be really tragic, but I feel that fear should not be the only deciding factor for me in the education of my children. When something works in their learning, I do it. I understand that it is against the convictions of other homeschoolers, but I stand by my choice, and I am glad I made it. I am thankful for getting to homeschool my children, and I am also thankful for the option of public school resources.
Thank you for your concern for me! I appreciate it, and I hope you don't feel offended by my response. I am glad we go to our school, and I see it for what it is...a public school program that can model to public school a different and successful format for learning. Knowing that I almost sent Eva to public school this year, I really don't have a problem continuing to be a part of our school. Thank you for your encouragement to continue homeschooling. I am glad we are doing it, though I am also sensing the need for Eva to leave the nest a little. Our school is providing a way for her to do that and still get the benefit of homeschooling. I have five children, and a husband who works 50-60 hrs per week. My resources are stretched thin as far as endurance, patience, and energy. I rely on God deeply, but still, I am a fallen human who snaps when I'm crabby and isn't able to do all I wish I could. Having the help our school provides enriches my kids' lives, and helps to still make homeschooling all of my children possible, affording me some respite as well as peace of mind, knowing that while I take that respite, the kids are learning from wise people. If i lived on Camano Island, I would likely participate in the Co-Op program, but I prefer to participate in our community, so that my kids know people who live near us. I appreciate your concern, but I would rather not watch the video you suggested. I know essentially what I am getting into, and would rather not hear doom and gloom about my choices. I am sure there are sad facts related to programs like our school, but I prefer not to know about them. It may make people think I don't care about homeschooling, but I don't have time to worry about one more thing.
I think the Lord knew I needed to talk to you that day, because your talk and the talk I had with the Klesick family were instrumental in me keeping Eva at home. Thank you for your encouragement. I am getting lots of encouragement from other homeschoolers, though many I know are opting for public schooling for the elder years. Once I weighed the benefits and detriments of public school for Eva, I realized that there are other ways I can achieve what I wanted to by putting her in public school. She can gain independence through our school classes, as well as confidence. She is always brighter and talkative after her times in our school classes. She can get the extra help she needs in math and writing in the classes she will be taking there next year as well. I have gleaned wisdom from many, many homeschoolers in my attempt to make the correct choice for Eva, and it was those countless conversations that brought me to keep her at home and renewed my confidence in the ability God gave me to raise my own children! I cling to the joy of raising children to know Jesus and the depth of His love for them. I praise God for the resources He has made available for me to both raise children wise in His ways, and knowledgeable in their understanding of the world they live in and the people they live among.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Giving with Thanksgiving

Giving with Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Eve, 2008

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

I walked into the church that evening with a sense of gratitude and joy. It was Thanksgiving Eve, 2008, and as I looked back on the year that was drawing to a close, I saw that each significant moment my family had walked through had the fingerprints of God all over it. The congregation assembled in order to reflect and celebrate the reality of this in the life of each person present. Children thanked Jesus for their family, their friends, and their homes. An elderly woman praised God by sharing that she was learning to count her blessings "ton by ton." Others shared of illnesses the Lord had brought them through. As the sharing continued, many tears of joy and realization were shed as many reflected upon how present indeed God is in every moment. This is the way the Thanksgiving holiday is truly meant to be, I thought. Our lives are often consumed by the battles we must fight, so that it gets hard to see God is still winning the war.
Pastor Josh shared about Sister Connection, an organization he had recently become very involved with. Their mission is to help widows of a tragic war that in 1993 tore the country and families of Burundi apart. Hundreds of thousands of people perished in this conflict, the majority being men and husbands. Countless women were left widows, plunged to the bottom of the social hierarchy. These women, who often had many children to feed, found themselves homeless and despised. Denise Patch was an American woman who had spent some childhood years living among the people of Burundi. She learned of the plight of the people of Burundi, and ached to help. When some stability came to Burundi in 2004, Denise was able to work with and old Burundian friend, Joy Buconyori to help widows there. They developed an organization through which people may sponsor widows and help to provide them with the means to self sufficiency and the ability to feed their families. They also provide a program that builds houses for these widows. Many homes were destroyed or taken from these women in the war, and because of their societal position, they are not able to fight for their rights.
This is where Pastor Josh told us we, as a church body could become involved intimately with these people. We could help restore their dignity by providing the funds to build them homes! When a home is built for a widow by sister connection, local people are hired to do it. People who may have previously shunned a widow would now be building her a home. It was a powerful thing. Josh reminded us, 'We're all going to head into a weekend of feasting and celebrating. We should do so without any feelings of guilt. Like Nehemiah called the people of Israel to do (during their Sacred Assembly) - 'Go eat choice foods and sweet drinks... Just remember to send something to the poor.' That's what we're going to do tonight before we leave. We're going to take a special offering to see how many houses we can help finance for the widows in war-torn Burundi..." He told us that the cost of one home was just $600. Worship songs were sung and tears rolled down many cheeks. I remembered the things the children of our church had shared their thanks for: family, friends, their homes, food. These were the very things the children of these Burundian widows were uncertain of in their lives. What a simple and beautiful thing it would be to join together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these people.
At the end of the service Pastor Josh stood up front, barely able to speak as tears choked out his words. The offering total was $10,194. Well, that was the total until one little girl realized we were only $6 short of being able to build a 17th house. She then added $6 so that we could have an even $10,200 and that 17th widow could be given a house. I was reminded of the miracle Jesus had done with a young boy's loaves of bread and fishes. He multiplied them to feed countless people. Seventeen widows were on Jesus' mind that night, and he brought all of us together there, having provided the means for us to give, so that he could once again work His wonders. I believe this moment was a watershed moment for our body of Christ as we were struck with awe at the way God works when, with thanksgiving, we give.