Why I Homeschool, by Sarah

 

Long long ago, in a galaxy not so different from this one,  there was a young girl who hated school. She never could see the point of going to school to be bored for six hours, so very early in her school career she checked out and rarely paid attention at all. She got decent grades even though she paid no attention in class and rarely did her homework. She was a fairly solid B student, and if she had done the homework, she would have had As. Every once in awhile she encountered a teacher who inspired her and she would work, but those inspirations were few and far between.

13267117895_f76dde7308_n
Bingo Reading

The girl grew up, went to college–lots of different colleges, actually–met a boy who eventually became her husband, and declared, long before they had children, that she was never letting them have the same experience she had had in school. Years before she had children, she was researching other ideas on how to educate them. Eventually she discovered homeschooling and found a message board where homeschooling parents met to discuss education.

She liked the thought, so six or so years before she was even pregnant she bought her first homeschooling book.  She kept researching, and talked to her husband. He had not had as bad a school experience, but he had been in a magnet program since he was in 4th grade; unfortunately, that magnet program was being gutted and changed, thanks to changes in school environments. The couple did not live in that district anyway. He listened to her arguments and thought about his school experiences, and long before they even had their first child had agreed that homeschooling seemed like a good method for schooling their children.

The girl continued to research; she was drawn to the method laid out in the book The Well Trained Mind, but she also liked the idea of unschooling. She thought for a while longer, and finally determined that she would not work well in within the framework of unschooling; so she decided upon the classical method laid out in The Well Trained Mind, with changes to better fit her personality and those of her future children.

13267117565_d690dcf6c1_n
Building a Lego Car

Eventually the girl had a child. He was a smart, active boy child who did go to preschool, but would not be a good fit for a regular elementary school classroom.  He needed too much movement time and was not happy sitting and following directions for long.  She also had a smart, curious girl child and then a second smart, curious boy child. Neither of the younger children appeared to have the issues with fitting in a regular classroom that their elder brother did, but that didn’t bother the girl, now a mother of three. She still planned to homeschool them all when they were school age.

Then the unthinkable happened. The eldest boy child fell out a window and ended up in the hospital, recovering, for 7 weeks. His recovery was amazing, but none of the doctors thought public school was a good choice for him. The girl was fine with that because she had always planned to homeschool anyway. So the summer after the eldest boy child came home from the hospital, they started his Kindergarten year, and have been happily homeschooling for 2 years now. The girl child will be joining them full time for Kindergarten in the summer; they will continue to homeschool, following an eclectic classical method with a dash of unschooling thrown in, for as long as it works for all the children in that long ago girl’s family, adapting and changing to fit each child’s needs.

 

Sarahsarah–Sarah is the wife of Dan and mom to Desmond, Eloise and Sullivan (Sully).  She enjoys reading,  board games, D&D, computer and console games, the Oxford comma, and organizing fun trips. Sarah and Dan decided years before they had children that they would be homeschooling and now they are. Their family has enjoyed beginning their homeschooling journey and the early elementary years. There are a lot of fun opportunities upcoming in the next year as well, including Eloise starting Kindergarten at home, numerous trips to Atlanta, and a month long trip to India. They currently reside in a suburb of Washington DC and enjoy all the local attractions available for day trips.

Beowulf, by Jen W.

 

I’ve had several people ask me why we still study Beowulf. What is the point? How does it relate to anything we experience today? Of course, Beowulf has value simply because it is one of the earliest stories written in Old English to have been found. We have a lot of good evidence and reason to believe that it was an oral tale long before it was written down by scribes. Beyond that, it is a very early tale of good versus evil: a hero versus monsters, a good ruler in opposition to an evil, bloodthirsty ruler. But where Beowulf most speaks to me is as a military wife.

Beowulf arrives in Denmark, determined to help a king who once helped his own father, and to kill the monster threatening the community. He is able to defeat both the monster and its mother despite the jealousy and treachery which are being fomented in the king’s court. His strength and leadership prove his worthiness. He returns home, sharing his treasure and rewards with his king. It is no surprise that Beowulf eventually ascends the throne upon his king’s death. Beowulf has a long and prosperous reign, and most stories would end there, but this one does not.

A new threat appears on the horizon, a dragon, whose lair has been disturbed by treasure hunters. Beowulf immediately wants to go fight it. The reasons are a little murky. Maybe Beowulf feels a sense of personal responsibility as king and protector of his people. Maybe he wants to maintain his reputation as a fierce monster-killer. Maybe he wants one last great hurrah before ascending to the great mead-hall in the sky. His motivations are unclear. Is it a selfish act or a selfless act? Can it be both?

Beowulf does defeat the dragon, but meets with his own death through the battle. His advisors and his people all worry that they will no longer be able to stand against their enemies, now that Beowulf is no longer there to protect them.

I know, relating this tale to modern warrior culture seems far-fetched. But, the truth is that warrior cultures have retained many of the same values, needs and qualities through the centuries. A Roman soldier carried between 60 and 90 pounds of equipment, the same as a modern US soldier. Strength, keeping a cool head while in danger, being able to lead, these are qualities praised both in ancient times and in modern militaries.

A trickier similarity is that soldiers feel both a sense of personal duty and responsibility as well as a desire for glory. These seem like competing rather than complementary feelings when viewed through the lens of Western values. It can be difficult for the average person to imagine feeling those things simultaneously. Beowulf can help people connect with more modern stories of soldiers.

As one example of a modern war story, these conflicting feelings are reflected in ending of the movie The Hurt Locker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqn-tSa1wYY

He tells his wife that they need more bomb techs, which shows a concern for others and a sense of duty. But, he also speaks about his love of the adrenaline.

There are soldiers who volunteer for deployments when it isn’t their turn, when they could avoid deployment if they wanted. They volunteer both out of a sense of duty and from a desire for the glory of war. How would you feel if you were a fellow soldier who didn’t want to deploy for some reason? How would you feel if you were the pregnant wife of a soldier who volunteered for deployment? Different people will interpret such an action in a different manner because of their own distinct relationships and perspective. We cannot easily dismiss any of these perspectives; each seems equally valid.

The fact that some semblance of warrior culture still exists today makes Beowulf very relevant to modern history. I think it can help people gain a small bit insight into the mindset of the modern warrior as well as the ancient warrior.

12119186715_cee4fbccb5_c
Photo taken by Asif Akbar

 

Jen W.jen_w Jen is a born and bred Sooner who has spent twenty years following her military husband around the world. Jen started on her homeschooling journey when her eldest daughter learned to read at three years old, and she decided that she couldn’t screw up kindergarten that badly. That child is now a senior in high school, and they have both survived homeschooling throughout. Jen has two more children who are equally smart and have also homeschooled all along.

 

 

 

Homeschooling: Joyful Vocation, by Angela Berkeley

 

Being the mother of a baby, toddler, and preschooler was such a joy to me. I loved watching my daughter grow and figure things out and enjoy her life. I wanted to do a good job, and with no relatives with young children close by I looked for advice in books and magazines, and sought community with other local mothers. I leaned toward attachment parenting, a cozy approach that seemed natural to me–consistent with how we humans were created to be–community oriented, building up a secure base for exploration, sensitive to others’ feelings without being pushovers.

The Lutheran view of vocation was a significant influence on how I approached parenting.  Lutherans believe that God places us in various roles in life, and that each of these represents a vocation in which we should serve ‘as to the Lord.’ Vocations are not just paid employment, but encompass roles like parent, child, church member, employee, employer, sibling, spouse, citizen, etc. Holding the vocation of parent means, in part, being responsible, to the core, for our children’s education and upbringing. This meant that no matter where our daughter studied, I would be in charge and ultimately responsible for making sure that she received a good and appropriate education.

13449786095_204eb5aac3_b

By the time kindergarten age rolled around, I had read a great deal about various types of education, and had visited and toured several schools. I had benefited tremendously from my own education, learning my Lutheran faith as well as academics in excellent Lutheran dayschools that I attended through ninth grade, and then continuing to study in a very academic high school and a fantastic university.

As I looked at schools and read about different approaches to education, it became clear to me that the most natural extension of our already good life was to homeschool. Our daughter was introverted AND social, easily distracted and frazzled by noise, with an attention span that was longer than most, and verbal skills that were advanced. She loved to be read to, about almost anything, and to discuss things for a long time. The first time I took her to visit the tide pool touch ponds in a local natural history museum, she stayed for four hours in front of that little display, completely entranced.  She was just four years old.

As I learned more about homeschooling, there were so many things about it that seemed to fit just right. We could go on field trips and take our time, experiencing them thoroughly. There would be no time wasted standing in line. Playdates would replace 15 minute ‘recesses’, and would give opportunities for much longer, more imaginative games and deeper relationships than at school. Lessons would begin exactly at the student’s level, and be customized for her learning style, and taught in the quiet, cozy home learning environment that was already working so well. Project-based learning would be easy to work into the days and weeks, and religion would fit into every subject, naturally.

We took the plunge and started when she was in first grade, and never looked back. The style that worked in our household was loosely classical, with an eclectic flair, and we continued very successfully through thick and thin until the end of middle school. It has been a rich and joyful journey indeed!

Angangela_berkeleyela Berkeley–Although Angela Berkeley wanted to homeschool her daughter, she was unable to find others to partner with in this endeavor and felt that it was unfair to homeschool an only child; so she enrolled her in kindergarten. However, because the family was facing a mid-semester cross-country move during their daughter’s first grade year, she pulled her out to homeschool until they settled into their new home. This went so well, and her daughter liked it so much, that they ended up homeschooling through 8th grade.  Using an eclectic classical style, this was an extremely successful process, producing a confident, personable, and academically well-prepared entrant into a local high school.

Why We Homeschool, by Jack Squid

 

“Mom, I want to be homeschooled like them,” my kids’ friend recently told her mother. “I want to be able to get up whenever I want like them, and to learn what I want rather than having the teacher tell me what to learn.”

Though we are indeed night owls who get up ridiculously late, our homeschool is all about hard work — hard work that is often enjoyable, but hard work nonetheless.

It’s easy to see why homeschooling sounds so appealing to my kids’ friend, however. At age seven, she is in first grade. A year ago, she was an inquisitive, happy child who wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Now, she has been labeled a failure by the thought-quelling post-communist system. She doesn’t “get” the basic arithmetic concepts that are being presented to her, you see, and she is too creative. Though I think it is ridiculous to expect children to write whole essays during their first year in school, that is what is being expected of them. When this girl described spring as “sweet” in a recent essay, she was rewarded with the lowest grade. “Foods can be sweet; seasons cannot. Essay-writing is not the time to express artistic creativity,” the teacher told the child’s mother.

1979472_10152361577803993_1395610005_n

I started homeschooling when my oldest child taught herself to read at age four. If she had lived in the country I grew up in, this is when she would have started school. Since school starts at seven here, I decided to start teaching her myself.

Homeschooling isn’t something I knew very much about at that point. A world opened up to me when I came across a great variety of English-language homeschool materials on the internet and found out that homeschooling isn’t all that unusual in America. Around the same time I learned more about the local school system and discovered The Well-Trained Mind. I knew that they couldn’t compare, and I wanted the better option.

We’ve skipped Latin and Greek so my kids could acquire some of the numerous languages that come with their own heritage instead, but I otherwise implement the sequence laid out in The Well-Trained Mind pretty closely.

My children will work on a math concept until they get it, rather than being written off as lazy or dreamers, like their friend. They enjoy chanting the full list of prepositions, rather than being told they must be creative and then being told off for it. They get to immerse themselves in history, rather than being the victim of recent historical events in their country of residence. After hard work they get to play and relax, rather than being faced with piles of homework.

I started homeschooling because I wanted to fill a need, committed to it due to more rigorous academics, and continue because it offers my kids freedom — freedom to delve deep, freedom to develop to their full potential, freedom to be themselves, and freedom to think and discuss their thoughts.