No, we are not having number four. How dare you think such a thing?? Moving on!
Whilst (like that word?) we are still in the midst of making some decisions for our family/future, we have decided on one very big thing. As you might recall, I blogged a time or two about the rough year we had in terms of the boys' education. It was, quite frankly, an extremely discouraging, frustrating year!
It started out okay but quickly deteriorated into almost daily complaints of, "I'm so bored!" or "I don't like school." or "I don't want to go to school anymore." We worked hard with the boys on their attitudes while simultaneously assuring them that we were in their corner fighting hard! We had teacher conferences, chats with the principal and even a couple fruitless calls to the superintendent's office before coming to the conclusion this past March that something had to change and quickly!
We began a several month process of checking out other schools, intense prayer, countless conversations discussing our options and also keeping the boys in loop as much as we could. We found one school that excelled impressively in academics and we went so far as to go for a tour and had the boys take placement tests. We even took a whole month to fill out the paperwork! They were immediately accepted and offered spots. We let them keep the spots while we continued to pray and talk to people. People encouraged us and listened and offered advice.
Still, even though they were officially enrolled, I hesitated that last month and a half of school, to say anything to their current school, not feeling fully at peace. The last day of school, I prayed all day about what to say and if this was the right decision to pull them out. We did go through major life changes in this past year, after all! Was it the right decision to toss in another big change so soon??
I went to the boys' school about a half an hour before it let out and when I walked into the office, was immediately greeted by the school receptionist, who had been so welcoming and kind to me all year! I asked her what the process for withdrawal was and she asked what school we were thinking of sending them to. I told her and immediately her facial expression and tone of voice became cloaked in careful politeness and cautiousness. She agreed that it was an excellent school academically but when I asked if she had known anyone who had gone there, she said her grandchildren! And then she invited me to sit next to her while she described their experience.
Her every word confirmed the fears that we had about the school and it's atmosphere of pressure and competitiveness. The principal is well known for caring only for test scores and not for the child his/herself. She had twin granddaughters in the school and they began to exhibit aggressive behavior at home, etc. After a heartbreaking scene at the kindergarten graduation, where one twin was brought forward with a small group and applauded over how smart they were and the rest of the class, including the other twin was left at the back of the stage and told they needed to step it up to be more like the "smarter" group, the family knew they had to do something and quick. They contacted the principal, who basically said in response, "If you don't like it, get out." So they did.
Mrs Jones (the school receptionist) looked at me very sincerely and said, "I heard you mention that you had been praying about this decision?" and at my nod she added, "If you are looking to raise your children with all of the morals and values that come with Christianity, that is not the school for you." And then she finished it with a gentle hand on my arm and a whisper, "I'll be praying for you."
Um, can we say an answer to prayer?? I picked up the boys, got in the car, called Ben and told him the story and we said, "Okay, that's not the answer." We felt immediate peace over the decision and called the school the next Monday to withdraw them.
So what were our next options? Moving to another district? Keeping them at the same school and hoping it turned out better next year? There was one other option. A little seed of though that popped into my mind back in March, that we discussed off and on, not sure whether it was feasible or not. Until now.
We have spent the summer praying, asking, researching, meeting with people and finally in the last two weeks, we have made our decision and it's a big one! Ready??
We are going to be homeschooling.
( I thought it was a funny picture!)
I know, right? You are my first peeps to know, other than our moms, and everyone's support would mean the world to us! I never ever would've considered it, had we stayed in a school like the one the boys were in while we were living in IL. They were thriving and loving school and were happy. And so were we. Great teachers, advanced classes, etc.
And everything took such a turn for the worse this year. Education has become dumbed down, especially where we are, to minister to the large population of English-as-a-second-language kids. And that's fine.....as long as you don't throw the other kids under the bus! So the lack of education (kind of important to us!) coupled with the scary changes and shifts in our culture and what children are beginning to be taught were enough for us to take homeschooling seriously. The things Samuel came home telling me this year have been so difficult (and would break your heart!) and he is still struggling a lot with it all.
I really had to examine my reasons for it. Was it to shelter our kids so they would stop being exposed to things at such impressionable ages? Was I being realistic about it or cloaking it in some fairytale story in my mind? After a lot (I mean, a lot!) of prayer, we feel very much at peace for our reasons behind our decision. We feel that it is not only our right, but our responsibility, to give our children a firm foundation (and in our home, that means a Christian foundation centered around Jesus) and a great education. Not a dumbed down one based on test scores. And no more of the school telling our children what is right and wrong and what they are allowed to believe or not to believe. That is our responsibility as parents and we take it very seriously. Not forcing our children to take on our beliefs but encouraging them, teaching them, raising them up in and modeling for them our beliefs, with the hopes and prayers that they will decide to love God for themselves as they go out into the world. (i.e. making their faith their own and not an umbrella faith!)
Last week, I was begging God to guide me through the overwhelming amount of curriculums and be able to choose what is right for us. The curriculums out there on the market go to all extremes. Extremely conservative Christian curriculums where it's all laid out for you and everything is filtered very carefully to ultra-secular where anything goes. We wanted neither!!
In the middle of last week, I was reading some homeschooling methods and curriculum methods to Ben while we were in the kitchen and all of the sudden, bam, we hit on one where we both said, "Yes!" and Ben really truly jumped on board with me. Another few days and everything just fell into place. We are praying for provision for our year and wisdom as we undertake this monumental task (or mostly me!) and we would so appreciate your prayers with us!
Next time, I'll blog about the method that we have chosen and the philosophies behind it. So excited! And nervous, and peaceful and everything all mixed up in one! We can't wait!