Monday, April 2, 2012

"Who Home Schools" - Mindy from "Grateful for Grace."

It is my goal that this weekly feature will allow us to see the face of home schooling.  I hope that it answers the questions - Who homeschools and why?

Today's interview is with Mindy from "Grateful for Grace."  

  • How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home?  Have they always been home schooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?
We started considering homeschooling while our foster son was in his second year with us and our first born child was one.  (see next question for summary)  
We homeschooled him for eighth and ninth grade.  He went back to public school for 10th grade and to the school for the deaf for the rest of high school, due to some issues out of our control.
Our birth children have never been to school outside of the home, not counting some homeschool co-op classes.  They are in preschool through tenth grade.   
  • Summarize how you reached this decision.
I taught children in regional deaf education programs before I became a mother and I believed that homework and the school’s view of education was most important.  I also believed that teachers knew better than parents what was best for the children in their classrooms, not in an overtly arrogant way, but in a trained educator way.  Once I became a parent, I saw everything completely differently and not just because I was sleep deprived. 

Since we became parents for the first time and then again nine weeks later, we were forced to look at school from fresh parent eyes.  As we looked at our precious new baby and how time with her meant so very much, we felt the absence of our foster son during family time much more keenly. He left early in the morning, arrived home late in the afternoon, sacrificed more time doing homework and had to be in bed early for another day in the public school system.  We saw our valuable time with him being relegated to weekends and holidays.  That just wasn’t good enough.  Our awareness of the limited amount of time with our foster son was very acute, since he was twelve.  
As we looked from him to our baby, we decided that we wanted our time with our children to be made the very most of always.  We decided that we wanted our afternoons and evenings to be for family and personal development, not academics.  We decided that we wanted to have our worldview be a part of academics, not the personal time we could squeeze in with them. 
As our daughter reached milestones, I also realized that the sacrifices we made for me to stay home still applied when our children reached school age.  Just as I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of helping and watching her reach developmental milestones, I wanted to help and be a part of academic milestones. For example: why would I want someone else to be there when she “got” reading?  When she grasped adding?  When the beauty of a well written plot was “felt”?  
Once our eyes were opened to all the reasons for homeschooling, we knew it was a lifestyle, not just an academic choice. 
  • What is your goal in home educating your children?
Our goals in home educating our children is to teach them from a Biblical worldview while cultivating the disciple relationship and encouraging them in their abilities to learn subjects that are basic as well as those that interest them personally.  
  • Do your children have extra curricular activities?  If so, what are they?
All of our kids take two years of piano, so that has been an extra curricular activity for five of them at some point, so far. 

Right now, our tenth grader is the only one with extra-curricular activities.  She volunteers at AWANAs with the Cubbies class as well as with one of the Good News Clubs in town.
Our family has participated in soccer for six years or so, but we no longer do that.  
  • Have you ever hired someone to teach a subject to your children?  If so, why?
We have used The Potter’s School for two classes, so I believe that counts as hiring someone else to teach my child.  Our tenth grader also currently attends a chemistry class with another homeschool mom.  She does not charge, but I would pay her.   
We chose to do this for two reasons: I felt unable to dedicate the time necessary to achieve the quality of teaching to the English I class I wanted and I felt incapable of teaching the logic and chemistry classes.    
Currently, Khan Academy is an answer to prayer for tutoring on the spot (we may or may not need the help during convenient hours) and perfectly in the budget (aka: free).  
  • Have you graduated a child?  Do you plan to teach through high school?
We have not graduated a child yet.  Our foster son left us before he graduated.  Yes, we plan to homeschool all of our children through graduation.   I cannot believe we have less than three years until that event.  Sigh.  
  • Do you have a defined style of instruction such as Classical, montessori, unschooling,  or Charlotte Mason?  Are you willing to share how you decided to use this method?
We use a semi- Classical style of instruction with a Charlotte Mason influence in the early years.  I don’t say strict Classical because we do not start Latin or Greek early and may not do it fully.  We believe in the method. After hearing the advice of studying educational philosophies before deciding a curriculum, I read The Big Book of Home Learning.  We really appreciated and see the benefits of letting a child learn through natural play and exploration in the early years (the Charlotte Mason influence).  We wanted to apply the three stages of the classical education beginning in first or second grade.  The tried and true methods of the classical education appealed to us.  
  • What does your schedule look like?  Do you start early and finish just after lunch?  Or do you start later in the day?  Do you teach through the summer? And if so, why?
My husband wakes us all around 7:30 (including me who begs for five more minutes) and we have Bible study and then breakfast (catechism during that time).  We start academics by 9 am, take a break from noon to one (lunch, including a read aloud, and clean up), and then we wrap up around two in the afternoon.    The younger two girls (1st and 2nd grade) are done by two, but the older three children (5th, 7th, and 10th grade) finish closer to three or four, depending on the lesson plans and their diligence. 
We do not do year round school since my husband helps run a summer camp.  Our days are busy and full of fun camp life.  Trying to school would be crazy and futile, ask me how I know.   
  • Do you home school for religious reasons?  If so what religion are you?
I guess you could say the top reason we homeschool is a religious reason: we want our children to be taught from a Biblical worldview all of their schooling years.  We want opposing views introduced in middle school (the dialectic stage).  We also want to keep our children from influences we believe they are not well equipped to handle.  
We also believe that the Bible, which we believe is God’s Word, states that parents are held responsible for the teaching and discipleship of their children.  We bear full responsibility and we want to be fully invested.  While we may delegate at times, we do not relinquish.  
I am a Reformed conservative Christian. 
  • Do you have a vision statement for your home school?  If so, what is it?
No, we do not.  We’ve talked about creating one, but have not. 
  • If you were to recommend a book(s) to a new or prospective home school parent, what would you choose?
I recommend The Homeschooler’s Survival Guide and Mary Pride’s Big Book of Learning to all newbies. 
  • What was your number one concern or worry when you started out on this endeavor?  Has it continued to be your main issue?  Why has it changed?
My number one concern when starting to homeschool was far in the future: teaching higher math and science.  That has not changed, except that now I know I can find a good curriculum and/or a teacher for these subjects when they are needed.  
A lot has changed in the homeschooling world, as well as the world in general, in the  thirteen years I’ve been homeschooling.  The internet has opened up many, many options for distance learning.  We take advantage of that in a way that allows us to still be the director of our child’s education.  
  • What aspect of home schooling do you enjoy the most?  What part do you greatly dislike?
My favorite aspect of homeschooling is the time we get to spend together, really getting to know one another and experiencing topics and plots (my very favorite item on the lesson plans is read aloud) together.  We choose a history curriculum that we can all use so that we can study the period together, but at age appropriate depths.  
The part I greatly dislike is the difficulty in choosing curriculum that fits me, my child and the time I have in a day. 
  • Are/Were there any subjects that you felt incapable of adequately teaching?  Have you overcome this?  If so can you explain how you have achieved this?
Answered this in the number one concern question.   
  • Is there anything that you would like others to know about your home schooling?
I would like others to know that our homeschool is not perfect.  We do not have it all together, but we are together learning, loving and growing and we are doing it in a way that is perfectly us.  

Mindy describes herself this way on "Grateful for Grace."

I am a Culver’s lovin’, iced tea drinking, weak vessel for Jesus. I can be found most days at home either homeschooling my children, surfing the internet or visiting with a friend. It’s also possible I could just be playing with the kids, snuggling the toddler or sneaking chocolate from my top-secret stash.I have an amazing husband who treats me tens times better than I deserve to be treated. I have six children who keep me laughing and learning. I think my family is the biggest gift God has ever given me.

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