Prayer + $1,000 = School Books

I had to make a weighty decision this year about how to school my children.  Before having children of my own, I never fully understood the responsibility of a parent.  Now I know that the buck really does stop here; academics are no exception.

Unless you count a six month stint of a first-grade teacher, I have always been perfectly happy with my children’s teachers.  I truly think all teacher’s deserve a raise and full cooperation from parents.  I’ve substituted and spent enough time in classrooms to know they have a tough job.  Spending the day with twenty-five kids and actually getting them  to learn something is quite the challenge.  Teachers have my utmost respect.  Unfortunately that does not change the fact that my daughter cannot add and my son is bored to death.

All year I’ve watched my daughter struggle with concepts she either does not understand or does not have time to master.  Time restraints and curriculums cause teachers to transition from topic to topic before everyone has mastered the concept being taught.  I understand.  There is only so much time for each subject and the teachers must progress through material.   Although in her teacher’s estimation, my daughter is doing fine.  Everybody loves her and she gets along smashingly with other children.  She’s helpful in the classroom and obeys.  I am super pleased by her behavior, but I am not as pleased with her education.  I know too many kids who are failing when they hit junior high, and I do not want my daughter to be in that number.  I am firm believer in learning the basics.  If you don’t master the basics, school will always be difficult.  I don’t ever want my kids to lose their love of learning, because they are struggling.

That’s why I decided to homeschool FringeKid this year.  Believe me, it was no easy decision.  I am not one of those moms who has always wanted to educate her children at home.  I am more like the mom from the Staples commercial who sings and dances her way down the aisles while buying school supplies; however, I am convinced this is the right decision for my daughter at this time.

When FringeBoy found out I was planning on homeschooling FringeKid, he was upset because I wasn’t going to homeschool him too.  I was surprised.  Although I know he’s bored to death in school, I never thought he would want the alternative.  Like in so many families, my children are polar opposites.  FringeBoy has always been at the top of the learning curve.  He excels in everything and gets frustrated when he’s taught things he already knows.

He’s a nerd.  Believe me that is not a negative statement; it is truth.  This summer he decided to learn more about Greek Mythology, so he went to the library, read books, and used the internet to research this topic.  He filled an entire notebook with facts, and subsequently beat an online video game before a seventh grade friend.  He’s a motivated learner who wants to know about everything.  Unfortunately my school district does not offer advanced classes, and his teachers do not have time to think up projects that will keep him busy during the school day.

So at his request, I agreed to homeschool him this year.  He will certainly be my challenge, because he is strong-willed, determined, and relentless.  I know those characteristics can be assets, but I often feel like a lawyer in a trial.  My argument needs to be airtight and convince more than a jury.  It needs to convince him.  That being said, homeschooling was his idea, so he’ll most likely excel beyond my expectations.

I know the good and bad aspects of homeschooling.  I am not going into this year blindly.  I realize my children will sacrifice some things that public education can provide; however, I think the benefits will outweigh the negatives for us.

Am I worried about socialization?

In short, No.  We are probably involved in far more groups and activities than any child or parent needs.

Am I qualified to teach third and fifth grades?

Well, I played along with high-school Jeopardy and kicked their butts.  I may not be smarter than a fifth grader, but I have enough diplomas to deem me qualified to be in charge of their education.

Will I feel like pulling my hair out by October?

Probably.  I know there will be both good and bad days.  Hopefully the good days will outweigh the bad.

The questions can go on all day, but the bottom line is that educating my children is my responsiblity.  When my child is a sophomore in high-school, I will not be able to blame his/her third grade teacher for what he/she did or did not learn.  I am fully committed to giving them the best education I can provide.  I want them to be well-equipped to one day follow God’s will and be exactly what He wants them to be.  My concern is not that they become doctors, layers, or astronauts.  My mission is to educate them well enough, so that they can become a doctor, lawyer, astronaut, electrician, small business owner, missionary, hair-stylist, or whatever they want to be.  I want their education to help them advance, not hold them back.

That’s why I needed a thousand dollars.  Many will gasp at how much I spent on books, but I purchased what I think my children need to do well this year.

I know it’s a radical decision, so feel free to ask questions.  I’ll do my best to answer away. If you have experience in homeschooling, I’m open to advice.

Now for a laugh, go watch this video.  It’s short, I promise.

If I need a conversion van next year, shoot me. 😉

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26 thoughts on “Prayer + $1,000 = School Books

  1. Pingback: Jumping Tiger Mom Ugly « the domestic fringe

  2. Sara

    Good luck with this endeavor. It sounds like you’re doing what’s best for your kids. You’re absolutely right, one teacher cannot do it all in a classroom with 25 kids. Unfortunately, we’ve gotten away from “tracking” students according to ability–it’s no longer PC to put the struggling kids in a class together and the higher kids together. The idea is that the higher kids will help pull the lower kids up, but it never works like that. However, in societies with outstanding education systems, “tracking” is exactly what they do. Being a child of public school teachers, and a public school teacher myself, I have a lot of different thoughts and perspectives on this. But ultimately, I think you have to do what’s best for your kids. Let me know if you need a tutor for anything other than math or science! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Mindy

    The way I see it, you don’t have to make cupcakes for class parties. You don’t have to buy the teacher gifts. (Well, you can! A nice candle for YOU might be appreciated.) And you don’t have to stand at the bus stop in your slippers and bathrobe this year. Sweet! It seems like a win for you and a win for your kids’ futures. Good for you. I look forward to reading about this journey. ~Mindy

    Reply
  4. Mom

    My family and friends were upset with me when I decided to send you and Jamie to a SMALL Christian School at our church. I was fed the lines of “improper education”, “lack of social skills”, “never survive in the real world”, “won’t make it into a good college”, etc., etc., etc. I cried myself to sleep some nights after visiting with family because of the negative words that were blasted at me at gatherings. I knew in my heart, that God wanted me to keep my children in the small church school setting. It was hard work, expensive, and it meant lots of sacrifice but I NEVER REGRETTED one moment of those years.
    Go with your heart as you allow God to lead you. You won’t regret it. My prayers are for you and the grandkids!!!

    Reply
  5. Elizabeth Channel

    As a former (and most likely future as well) homeschool mom, I am so happy for you! You are going to have so much fun! I did homeschool my oldest for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and then my middle for half of kindergarten and first. It can be the best decision in the world, and I know you will be excellent at it! There are so many wonderful curriculi out there and I know you had fun choosing yours!

    You always have plenty to write about, but now you will have even more!

    Blessings to you!

    Reply
  6. Leigha

    I was homeschooled for most of my childhood. My parents decided to take the plunge when our family moved to Hawaii. I was supposed to start 4th grade, but the school systems were *terrible* and my parents could not afford private school for my sister and I. So we homeschooled. And with the exception of my 9th grade when I attended a very nice public school in Huntsille, UT, I homeschooled from grade 4 through graduation. Graduating clase of ONE! The last half of my junior year and all of my senior year I was enrolled in college courses at the local community college. After I graduated I was accepted to a reputable college on a music scholarship.

    There are many opinions on homeschooling. Yes, it’s radical. Yes, it’s a ton of work. Yes, there are many families who don’t do it the right way. However, I can say that I was not deprived in any way; I found many of college professors to be easier than my mom (she’s a force to be reckoned with), my social life was more active than many of my public schooled friends, and I had the freedom to move at my own pace.

    Given the chance to do it again, I wouldn’t change my education. Our family moved a lot (about every 2 years) and homeschooling provided some much needed stability in an ever-changing environment.

    Hats off to you! Have fun with your kids and take pleasure in being able to spend so much time with them! As a kid, my mother adopted this attitude when it came to homeschooling: “We can learn at any time, anywhere, with any thing.” That’s a wise attitude to have.

    Reply
  7. caprik

    Sounds like at the very LEAST, there will be much blog fodder!

    I give you tons of credit in taking the bull by the horns here, and making the best choice for your family. I am sure if God has called you to it, He will equip you.

    One question. Will you and FringeKid still wear pants? HA!

    Reply
  8. Jill

    I definitely you’re rising to the challenges of your children’s education. I agree that they have to know the basics very well if they’re going to be able to handle the later years of school. Good for you! Can’t wait to read about your adventures this year.

    Reply
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  10. robinaltman

    You can totally do this. It sounds like you’ve really thought it out, and I think they’re going to do great. When I first went into practice I thought homeschooling was a bad idea, and that kids lacked socialization and learning to fit into the “societal milieu”. How wrong I was. I’ve seen so many kids thrive with homeschooling that I’m a definite proponent. Particularly for just the reasons you state. Some kids need stuff that a regular school environment can’t provide, whether it be teaching them a different way or enriching them enough. You go, Girl!!!

    Reply
  11. Mikki

    You go girl!
    My oldest just graduated this year and my youngest will graduate next year. Both have been homeschooled all the way through.
    If God has led.. God will provide. Not only the material needed but the strength on those days where you’re wondering if your doing the right thing.
    There are some WONDERFUL books of encouragement out there, but my favorite is by Sally Clarkson – the Seasons of a Mother’s Heart.

    Blessings to you my friend.. looking forward to hear how it goes.

    Reply
  12. Cathy

    First of all…that video made me laugh out loud.

    Secondly…congrats on your decision. I think that’s awesome! We’ve done private school for our youngest but her school ended at 8th grade. We had to make a decision and we’re trying something radically different for her this year for 9th grade. We are doing an online virtual school. So we will ultimately be responsible for her schooling too. She’ll be with hubby at work (we have a little office at the church set up just for her) and I’ll help in the evenings if she needs it. She really wanted to try this and we think it’s the right decision for her.

    So if you’ll pray for us, I’ll pray for you! I know God will help us in these new ventures we’re taking.

    Reply
  13. MissCaron

    I was not home schooled but private schooled at a day school in my home state of Virginia year-round beginning with day care at 3 months old. Though we moved and I started public school in 2nd grade I had many friends who remained at the school and I could see the difference between us. Moreover I could see the difference between myself and my younger sisters who both not only went through public school but public school in Florida.
    When I entered public school they actually told my mother that they thought I was retarded and would need special school. She forced them to test me and it turned out I scored in the genius level. I wasn’t being challenged! I got bored very easily and they couldn’t find ways to keep me entertained.
    I have made the decision that I will probably private school my children (if I can afford it and can find one I really like) while after school home schooling them myself to be sure they’re touching on everything I want or I will straight out home school my children. There are some very good public school systems out there. I have some very good friends who are great teachers… but even in the good systems where they only have 18 kids in a class… it’s still 18 to 1. There is no way the teacher can possibly keep up with the varying needs of each individual.
    I am very proud of you for making this very difficult decision. I know that God blessed you with the $ because it was the right decision to make. I know there is some excellent curricula out there and your children will receive the one-on-one attention they deserve! Also, I had a friend once who joined a local homeschooling group and it turned out that one of the neighbors was a retired college physics professor and used to have all the kids over once a week for awesome science lessons. How many public schools do you know that have college professors? LOL.
    I will keep y’all in my prayers as I know this will most likely be difficult at first but I know you can do it! 🙂

    Reply
    1. marytoo

      You would be surprised to know how many homeschool parents are college professors, even public school teachers. I always found it somewhat telling that so many public school teachers do not want their children in the public schools.

      Reply
  14. Charming's Mama

    Wow, good luck with that. The thought of it scares the H E double toothpicks out of me, but I am beginning to think I should. Thankfully I have a few years to think about it. My 3 year old is very social and is already asking me when can he go to school.

    Reply
  15. marytoo

    Bravo, FringeGirl!!!

    I homeschooled all (4) of my children through high school, and I do not have a teacher’s certificate. Not even close. They all went to college and are now all working, productive, responsible contributors to society, except for the youngest who is currently a cadet at West Point. I tell you this to tell you that homeschooling for excellence is very do-able.

    I have no wish to bash public schooling. Even with the most excellent teachers, one of the insurmountable problems with not just public schools, but with classroom schooling in general, is exactly what you identified. When you have one teacher with 25 children, it is simply impossible to meet the needs of each of them.

    In any kindergarten classroom you will see some 5yo’s who can read, some who don’t know the colors yet, and everything in between. And the teacher will be required to try teach them all the same thing. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the kids that can read will be bored out of their heads, while the ones that don’t know the colors will be eating their dust.

    Let me just leave it at that, and if I can help/encourage you in any way, I will… You go, FringeGirl!!!

    Reply
  16. Lori

    It’s a brave, bold step you’re taking. My daughter is only 18 months old, but I already worry about the one-size-fits-all education system we have. The education of any child who doesn’t fit the mold suffers in large classrooms.

    You’re going to do smashingly.

    Reply
  17. Debra

    Wow! You are one brave Mama! Daughter#1 says if she EVER has kids, she will home school them too. She was so strong willed, I think I would have cracked in a day. 😉 Your kids are blessed to have such a caring, loving mom.
    p.s. Hubby is a teacher if you have any questions along the way.

    Reply
  18. LeAnn

    Well quite honestly, if my children were young I would make the same decision. I just don’t like what goes on in public schools. Our kids started going to a Christian school when our daughter was a freshman, she ended up staying there all four years and graduating. Our son went for three years, and then he went to public for two years and then he went to a charter school for the arts as he is a musician and he really liked it there. However, if I had it to do over again, Christian schools put us in a huge bind financially and was not a good decision for us so yes I would home school. I wish you the best of luck and I think they will love it and so will you.

    xo
    LeAnn

    Reply
  19. Amber

    Hi friend!!! I am so happy that you have stepped out in faith in this way. 😀 This is so exciting! My daughter struggled just like yours. It never mattered what school she was in she struggled so badly. I thought the answer would be the expensive Christian school I sent her to but it was not. It was very difficult for me to make the decision too, especially being a single mom trying to work, take care of a home, car, pets, and have a little social life. God has blessed me and He will you too! Good luck.

    Reply

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