Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Day in the Life

This homeschooling thing is fairly new to us, just going into year two. Our first year was kind of a practice year as neither of our children were at the compulsory age for attendance in our state. So we buffed up our knowledge on the law, researched curriculum, attended our first homeschool conference, and established a game plan. Now we're in week six of our new school year with a second grader and a kindergartner. So, what's a typical day like in our world? A little crazy, full of love and laughter, and surrounded by God. 
                                                               A Day in the Life
I'm an early to rise person, up before the sun! I often start my morning with a quick spin on the treadmill and then a shower and coffee. I try to finish any house work before the boys wake up, too, and I check my meal plan for the day. I finish my morning routine by praying the rosary. If the kiddos are not awake by 7 a.m. I go ahead and get them up for breakfast and to prepare them for their school day. Our plan is to start school by 7:30, but this doesn't always happen. I've been working really hard at not rushing them and yelling for them to "hurry up". I've realized that this is the antithesis of a productive statement as it has absolutely no influence on a 5 year old and a 7 year old. I do not want my children to portray the poor little guy above! Not to mention the negativity that it places on myself and just really tends to put me in a bad place spiritually. So, anyways, school starts around 7:30ish! We combine religion, history, science, read alouds, and extra-curricular subjects. We start our morning with religion - bible study, timeline & maps, scripture memorization, virtues, saints, and Catholic topics and teachings. Next comes history, science, and our read alouds. After we finish our read alouds we take a short break for snack and some free time. I usually spend this time changing out laundry and prepping for future lessons. After a 15-20 minute break we meet again for our individual lessons in Language Arts and Math. Boogie Man and Sweet Pea each have a checklist of things that have to be finished. They can pick what the want to do first, second, etc., but everything on their list must be done! After everything is finished, each little one spends some time practicing the piano and then they are finished for the morning. We have lunch and then some free time in the afternoon. This is time for me to finish any work that I need to do. We meet again around 2:00 p.m. for our extra-curricular subjects and then Boogie Man and I have some one-on-one time for his sacrament preparation. He will be receiving his First Reconciliation and First Eucharist this year! That usually wraps up our typical school day. We're into soccer season now, so our evenings and weekends are filled with practice and game schedules, too.

There it is: A day in our life!
God Bless, 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You Shall Teach Them Diligently

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. - Deuteronomy 6: 5-9
There it is! God's word from the Bible asking parents to educate their children in the home. Unfortunately, however, that is not enough for most people to understand why you have made the choice to homeschool your children. And, unfortunately again, your loudest critics will be the ones that do not want to hear the facts concerning education, religion, and politics (oh my gosh, she said it!) which also impact your decision to homeschool. I'm going to push the envelope and discuss some of those reasons why homeschoolers, well, homeschool.

According to recent research done by HSLDA, homeschooling students out-perform their public school peers. In this study, homeschool students scored between 34 & 39 percentile points higher than the norm on standardized achievement tests. Also, the national average for homeschoolers ranged from the 84th percentile for Language, Math, and Social Studies to the 89th percentile for Reading. If that data isn't enough to convince you that homeschoolers must be doing something right, then let's turn the tables and look directly at the public school system. Now, what I am going to say has nothing to do with the teachers and parents who have chosen to utilize the public schools, for I truly believe that they are sincere in their desire to educate children. However, there is a growing concern and a dominating corruption, along with a loss of ethics, that has taken over public education. Most of this is occurring at the federal and state level; however, there is also a large mass of school administrators and board members that are getting sucked into using public education as a means of promoting their self-interests and to make personal gains. It seems like every election year taxpayers are faced with voting for or against a new scheme to bring the local school district more revenue. "It's for the kids" is plastered all over yard signs, newspapers, mailings, and flyers. The average amount of money spent on each child in the public schools is about $10,000. Yes, you read that correctly. $10,000! You can say it's for class size, standards, accountability, and hiring qualified teachers until you're blue in the face, but do you ever really see a difference in the product of public schools? Is the overall outcome ever any better? In comparison, the average homeschooling family spends between $400 and $600 per child. Now, considering the earlier information, a homeschooling family is able to spend substantially less money on education and receive much greater results. Therefore, the answer to our public school problems cannot be a lack of money! Next, teachers are being forced to sacrifice the teaching of the curriculum in order to prepare the students for the test. THE TEST. That seems to be all that matters these days in terms of state education. I'm sorry, but when I look at my children I see bright eyes and smiling faces. I DO NOT see a test. Children are more than a test and they shouldn't be judged, placed, and labeled by what they can or cannot demonstrate on a test. Let's move on now. Shall we?

I believe that God has given me and my husband our children. He has entrusted us to raise, protect, and educate them. When our children were baptized, we made a promise that we would raise them up as Children of God. A biblical model of education is very important. In my opinion, it is the main ingredient that has been missing from most children's educational, and life, experiences. Education needs to focus on the Word of God. The home needs to be the center with the father in charge and engaged and standing up as a leader for the family. Schools do not teach to fear the Lord, that our actions have consequences beyond this life, that what may feel good to us now is not what truly matters. What matters is how our life lines up with what God has planned for us and commands of us. This does not include the moral acceptance of abortion, homosexuality, violence, racism, drugs, and murder. Whether you want to admit it or not, public schools do teach religion. They teach atheism - the absence and complete exclusion of God. Could there be a connection between failing schools and the absence of God? Let's move on.

If you believe and understand the Constitution, you already know that the federal government has no constitutional authority to make education policies. Even the U.S. Department of Education's website states that the role of the federal government in education is limited and most education policies are decided at the state and local level because of the tenth amendment. However, the federal government also allows the Department of Education to "promote educational excellence throughout the nation". And with the current state of our education system, it is easy to see how this allowance will result in limitless control and interventions at the federal level. (Cue drum roll) Enter COMMON CORE! Currently many states are looking at a federal take-over of their educational systems. Oh, they will deny that this is a federal take-over and that the control still lies with the local and state governments, but a skunk by any other name would still stink. And this stinks! So, what is the common core? It is a set of kindergarten to 12th grade standards that outline what students are expected to learn in language arts and math each year. The goal is not to promote literacy or proficiency, but to make students either college or career-ready. Not only will these standards do nothing to promote a greater educational experience, they will lower previously held standards and limit the teacher's ability to individualize instruction. This one-size-fits-all approach to teaching is a complete contradiction to the recent (and I guess now out-dated) approach of individualized and differentiated instruction. Under the common core, a teacher will be forced to teach from a nation-wide checklist of skills and follow a nation-wide pace and schedule of learning. This does not sound like a very interactive, hands-on, individualized, and advanced system of learning. It reminds me more of a factory system with the children sitting quietly along the assembly line and being stamped with bright red and blue and orange colors indicating which new skill they were just infused with. Where do the classics and the arts fall into the common core? Where does the ability to think for yourself fall into the common core? They do not. With all great accomplishments comes a great sacrifice. We are sacrificing our children's happiness, potential, and the ability to know how to think and not just what to think.