Blog

Who Controls Your Child's Education?

Every now and then I feel the need to write a post like this - shaking the homeschooling sense into people, if you will. 

I've seen the joy and blessings in homeschool and I want that for as many precious children as possible.  It's SO very worth it, if you are just willing to lay aside some things that have been ingrained in your for a LONG time.

It happened to me again yesterday - a parent telling me about their child who is "falling behind" in public school. Even more heartbreaking is when this child is YOUNG... six or seven years old, for example. 

When we abandoned the ideal of traditional school it was because my oldest child wasn't fitting the one-size-fits-all mold of elementary school. You know the one - it assumes all children should be equalized by the third grade (for testing purposes). It wasn't until this time that I began examining the deep, lasting effects this equalization can have on our children.

I recall a well meaning adult (involved in education) at our church sitting with me and offering her two cents about my decision to homeschool (why do people feel like they can do that, anyways?) - her exact words were, "I guess you just couldn't give up control to the teachers at the school." Believe me, this wasn't said in a positive light, either.

But you know what? That was exactly it. 

I did not appreciate the sad fact that "educators" who didn't know my child and who didn't have a vested interest in her emotional well being were calling the shots about her education all day long. I wanted to be the one calling those shots, because I knew my child best.

 

I would challenge you to consider this:  Who controls your child's education?

 

Who Controls Your Child's Education?

As I spoke with a mom yesterday about her child needing tutoring to be ready for the first grade, and possibly having to repeat the first grade because he "wasn't up to speed", my heart sank. 

I challenged the mom to consider whose definition of "behind" she was subscribing to, and to remember children at this age are little - needing a lot of love, play, and time to explore.

Deep down, however, I got it. I understood her. I, too, had been conditioned to put my faith in the public schools (heck, I was a public school teacher so I KNOW the system) and to accept the government knows what is best for my child. 

Please hear me. Who is controlling your child's education? I would contend this needs to be YOU - the PARENT - because there is no "behind" or "ahead" for children - they are simply children, created uniquely by God with different gifts and abilities.


A Few Educational Truths You NEED to Face

Here are some truths I have discovered in the past 25 years of education experience - 15 of those in the traditional school arena and 10 of those in the homeschool arena.

Believe me when I tell you I see BOTH SIDES of this coin!

But I know which side of the coin I'm on and I cannot hold anything back in this list.  For more inspiration I highly recommend reading Weapons of Mass Instruction.

  • Schools are built for the adults who work in them, NOT the children who attend them (this wisdom came from an education professor I had while working on my Master's Degree in Educational Leadership!).
  • Children stand out in school if they are behind or excessively ahead of their peers. They are measured against one another, not individually.
  • Decisions in a school are made for the good of a group, not the individual.
  • Classroom management, not true teaching, consume the majority of even the best teacher's day.
  • Teaching to the lowest common denominator is easiest.
  • Perhaps as much as 1/3 of a child's day in school is taken up with waiting, standing in line, and other "housekeeping" sorts of tasks. Very little time is spent on focused learning.
  • Test scores drive everything. Just look at your local paper when the school system SAT averages come out - the test reigns supreme.
  • These tests drive the curriculum - which is often devoid of truth, beauty, and goodness (especially in the elementary years). Children read textbooks instead of REAL literature. 
  • Schools are often times babysitters, allowing parents to pursue a career or have time alone. 
  • God is absent from the schools. If we send our children to a Godless institution all day and then have them come home and stare into a Godless box at night, what do we expect to happen?

To be successful in a traditional school environment, a child (and their parents) need to learn how to game the system, and they need a lot of luck.

Who is Controlling Your Child's Education?

What is a parent to do, however, when they face these hard truths? How do we go about making a change that will benefit our children?

Do we really want to make the change, or is it easier to remain ignorant.?


Finding the Courage to Buck the System

I wish I had some brilliant advice about how to jump out of the system that doesn't serve your child well. Truth is, you just need to pray and trust as you go along.

You probably are thinking about the income you will lose (if you need to quit your job to homeschool), what your friends and family will think, and how in the world you are going to accomplish this Herculean task? 

I have a few bits of advice that might be helpful:

 

Just Do It.

When we decided to homeschool  we prayed about and researched the decision for a long time, but there came a day when we just knew we couldn't go on in our public school. I went to the front office, told them I wanted to withdraw my child, and we packed up her desk that very day. I ordered a big box of third grade curriculum from Sonlight and hoped for the best.

I had read that it was good to let your child deschool for a period of time, so my daughter simply READ and READ for the first few months. She dearly loved the Harry Potter Series (which her librarian at school had told her weren't at her reading level so she couldn't check them out) and read the series twice that winter. 

We went on nature walks, played games, read aloud - and I marveled at how I was getting to KNOW my child, really KNOW her. We weren't arguing at night over math homework, and I wasn't fretting over the dumb word searches that always came home as homework. My daughter wasn't exhausted waiting for the bus at 7:10 each morning and we weren't staying up late at night so I could read quality literature to her. We were making that quality literature our school and it felt marvelous.

 

Do Your Research

You don't want to be a good bad example of a homeschooler, do you? You owe your children an excellent education and that requires commitment and perseverance. You need to cultivate habits for success.

If you are contemplating homeschooling or just need to courage to keep on homeschooling, these books are immensely helpful:

The Well Trained Mind

For the Children's Sake

Weapons of Mass Instruction

Free to Learn

Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling

 

Don't Go With The Masses

Honestly, stop listening to all the moms at the soccer field. Stop watching the evening news. Stop listening to what everyone else is telling you should be done. 

Because guess what? Public education is a MESS, so why do we keep blindly following the masses that make this choice? Even in the "best" school district children are still being herded like cattle to and from schools each day, with the end goal being the production of cookie cutter students.

Sometimes the masses include your family. Yes, you love your family, but your responsibility is to your children. 

My family wasn't in support of homeschooling, either -- and now they sing its praises. Prove them all wrong!

 

Focus on Relationship

You are doing this for your precious children. Focus on that relationship and things will fall into place.

The joy I gain from my children is indescribable, and now that they are teenagers we are reaping the rich harvest of homeschooling - children who are socially confident, children who appreciate and seek beauty, and children who hunger to know MORE.

 

Your Choice Will Change Your Life

Be prepared that once you step away from the system for education you will find yourself on the outskirts of other things, too. This is ok. In fact, you will crave it after a while.

We are called to be an UNCOMMON people - God created us to be unique and to use His gifts for His glory. Don't hide your light under a bushel.

Homeschooling has changed the way we look at everything. I believe we are all more confident in ourselves and more confident in our decision making. 

 


 

I'm here to help, encourage, and equip you!  I know you can do this!

 

 

What would you add to this?  What are your thoughts?

Who controls your child's education?

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas BINGO For Kids

It's good to have a "bag of tricks" for December homeschooling.

December is a great homeschooling month - if you plan it right it doesn't have to be frantic, commercial, or stressful. Give your children a few fun activities and focus on the meaning of the season - a little goes a long way.

My bag of tricks includes fun games, books, art & music activities - a few well thought-out activities can create so many special memories.

Something that has always been super successful in our homeschool is a game day - we play different games, read Christmas books, eat Christmas treats, watch The Nutcracker, and just bask in the season.

Scroll down for a complimentary Christmas BINGO game, as well as some other suggestions I have to make the month fun.

Christmas BINGO For Kids

Christmas Books for Kids

We have a Christmas book basket that fills our December with so much goodness. When the basket comes out it's the start of a month of FUN! 

Here are our favorites - there is something for every age in this group of books.


Christmas Activities/Treats for Kids

Following are some simple art, music, craft, and FOOD activities. 

Christmas Chalk Pastel Video Art Lessons

Nutcracker Video Art Lessons

Nutcracker Unit Study

SQUILT Christmas Carols

Reindeer Sandwiches -- even the big kids like these!

Pretzel Smoochies

Gingerbread Man Boy & Girl sticker sheets (decorate your own!)

Make Your Own LEGO Christmas Ornaments

 


Christmas BINGO for Kids

BINGO is something EVERYONE enjoys -- all ages can take part in this game together.

This free download includes 6 BINGO cards and 24 calling cards - simply print and laminate for posterity! 

 

Download Christmas BINGO


What are your favorite Christmas schooling activities?

 

 

You Might Also Like:

Gift Guides for Homegrown Learners

LEGO Christmas Writing Prompts

Why Homeschool Mamas Need Quiet Time

If you are a homeschooling mom (or a non-homeschooling mom for that matter) with young children, they NEED to be taking a quiet time.

(Recently, on our Facebook page, a lot of moms told me they can't survive without quiet time.)

If there is ONE THING that will contribute to the success of your homeschool it is YOUR sanity. If there is ONE THING that will contribute to your sanity it is the ability to have a sliver of peace and quiet - time when you can get a few things done, focus on yourself, or even close your eyes.

When we abandoned the ideal of public school I was concerned about the noise level in our home - how in the world would I maintain my sanity?  Quiet time was a life-saver!

Quiet time was always non-negotiable when my children were younger. In fact, I asked them about it just the other day. My oldest (now 16) said, "I remember quiet time - 1:00-3:00 every day. We could go in our rooms and do whatever we wanted, as long as we didn't bother you!".

You read that right. Two hours. Every.single.day.

 

I need peace and quiet, and I'm willing to bet you do, too.


 

Why Homeschool Mamas Need Quiet Time

Your children need the valuable experience of entertaining and quieting themselves, as well!

 


How to Make Quiet Time Happen In Your Homeschool

I knew that if I was going to be a happy homeschooling mom I needed quiet. I did a few things to make that happen. 

 

Don't Schedule Outside Activities in the Early Afternoon

I know - this might not always be possible when you have multiple ages in your home, but I tried my best to be sure the hours from 1-3 were protected on most days.

Be Consistent

Having a consistent schedule - with quiet time coming right after lunch - was extremely helpful.

We would play outside before lunch (to wear people out!), eat lunch, tidy the downstairs, and then read a book or two before quiet time. My children came to expect this. My youngest would even go to his room after lunch to retrieve his blanket and a few books and then meet me in the family room for stories. 

(I can't tell you how many times I read Are You My Mother? to my youngest during these years!)

Make the Entire House Quiet

This meant even mom was taking quiet time, too. If I made too much noise the kids would think they were missing out on something! 

Many times this would be when I would turn on the classical music and just let the house be relaxed for two hours. 

(Now that my kids are teens I miss those quiet times!)

Dole Out Consequences for Not Obeying/Offer Positive Reinforcement for Good Behavior

My children would receive consequences for not staying in their room during quiet time, and to tell you the truth, I rarely had to use them. We started the habit of quiet time early on and it was just expected, and I believe my children craved that alone time. 

I was also intentional about praising my children for good quiet times - maybe a special snack when they woke up, or making a big deal about it when daddy got home from work. 


Why Homeschool Moms Need Quiet Time

What Can Kids Do During Quiet Time?

Quiet time is sure to fail if your children don't know what to do with themselves! 

You need to train them in the habit of keeping themselves busy - if they aren't big nappers. Here are some things I tried to have available for my one child that just didn't like to nap:

  • audio books - our library had a great selection of them and we would pay a visit to the library specifically for quiet time books!
  • reading - reserve this time for their sustained silent reading each day
  • handicrafts - knitting, finger weaving, rubber band bracelets, etc... 
  • having a special toy(s) in the room only at quiet time

I fondly remember one day when my stubborn 8-year-old girl didn't want to take quiet time. I convinced her to read books to our dog (who was such a sweet lap dog) because he needed to "do school", too. Sometimes you just have to get creative, moms!


What NOT to Do During Quiet Time

Do not allow electronics during quiet time.

Why Homeschool Moms Need Quiet Time

Yes, I realize they are an easy way to keep children quiet, but they aren't the most productive use of a child's time, and they defeat the true purpose of quiet time: teaching our children to occupy themselves with something meaningful. 

My own children were young in the age where iPads and tablets were just in their infancy, and we didn't have one. I have lived through having young children without the "luxury" of giving them a device, and I believe they are better off for it.

Throw tomatoes at me if you wish, but don't give your kids screens during quiet time.

Additionally, a glowing screen doesn't help our little ones' minds settle down so they can actually take a nap! 

Invest the time to train your child how to occupy themselves during quiet time!

 


 

Resources for Quiet Time

Following are some of the resources I remember from our quiet times... it's just a good idea to have a good stock of things like this on hand in your home. Of course there are many more - these suggestions should just get your ideas flowing!

Make special things available ONLY during quiet time; your children will look forward to quiet time!


Do your children have a quiet time?  What do they do during that time?