Homeschool, Private, or Public?

Friends, homeschool isn’t the only way. It’s not the best way. It’s a way.

Private school Moms, I’m cheering for you!

Public school Moms, I’m cheering for you!

Homeschool Moms, I’m cheering for you!

We can get so tightly wound in our circles that our vision blurs. We begin to look around with judgment.

Do you know what God has called you to do?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

Do you know what he’s called your kids to do?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37)

I have wept this year over school decisions. Jeremy and I have talked. And prayed. And sought counsel.

And while this year we’ve committed to homeschool, we are by no means laying our stake in this privilege for eternity.

Because it’s just that. A privilege.

Our heart’s desire is to raise 5 kids who love the Lord. To love Him with all of themselves. To love Him big enough to do hard things. To go to far places. To glorify Him in every decision they make.

And today we’ll set that example.

By loving the Lord enough to say, “I trust You.”

These kids are not mine. They’re His. Arrows to be sent out into a broken world. Arrows wrapped in love carrying a message of hope.

So this school year, friends, don’t look around. Don’t compare. Don’t compete.

Trust.

We are a privileged people. 

And every choice we get to make…that’s grace.

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Thoughts on Online Homeschool

Several people this school year have asked me about our experience with Liberty University Online Academy. Yes, this is a little off my blog’s focus (and long), but I thought it could be beneficial.

Some background info.:
-Stephen did the 3rd grade program with LUOA.
-He struggles with reading and has never liked school.
-I have a background in education but somehow lose resolve when teaching my own kids.
-We are very laid back around here when it comes to school. I love for the kids to learn hands-on (We lean toward Charlotte Mason ideas).

With that being said, LUOA could have set us up for failure. But it DIDN’T!

Here are some pros:
-All the lessons and quizzes are set up for you so there’s minimal planning. (It’s like reading a textbook on the computer. It’s not video school where you watch a teacher all day. Often they include links to games and videos that further explain the lesson. Stephen loved these.)
-It includes a subscription to Reading Eggs and Education City (which we loved and shared with all 3 boys).
-I don’t have to keep up with piles of papers in case we’re “homeschool audited.”
-Stephen’s teacher was awesome and remained in contact with us throughout the year (including his adviser who was precious).
-We had to be focused to get everything done by our yearly deadline-instead of floundering around and never doing school. (We ended up finishing in 9 months as opposed to 10 and took about 4 weeks off during the year).
-Stephen rarely complained about school because it was no longer me asking him but “Mrs. Taylor.”
-I quit comparing myself to other homeschool Moms and what they were doing, because I trusted LUOA would provide a solid curriculum. (This nearly makes it all worth it!)

Here are some cons:
-We used a lot of printer ink and paper.
-I often got behind scanning and sending in written assignments.
-It’s a little costly at $250 a month for 10 months (but not compared to private/Christian schools I’m told). Oh, and if your child ends up going to Liberty University, you get all your money back in a college scholarship.
-I had to read a lot of the assignments with Stephen (he has some reading delays), so we were one on one about 2-3 hours a day (this isn’t necessarily a negative thing but hard to manage with 4 other kids).
-We couldn’t take off all the days I would have liked to. We had to stay on task to finish. (This is also a pro.)

To summarize, Stephen ended the year liking school (He’s not the type that will ever love it.). His reading jumped nearly 2 grade levels. He learned a ton and read some awesome books. We are so pleased with the results that we’ve re-enrolled him and enrolled Caleb for 1st grade.

No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, there were times I thought we’d made a mistake. No, the curriculum wasn’t perfect and sometimes I wanted to spend more time on certain topics than was given.

But it worked. I kept my sanity. And we’re doing it again.

If you’re thinking homeschool (or maybe burned out), I’d say give it a shot. LUOA gives you an excellent curriculum and accountability with the perk of being home and planning your own schedule.

Hope that helps someone. Please comment or email me if you have questions! I’d love to chat more about it!

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Last day of school!

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Our end of year cake…We were all celebrating!

School is a struggle for him (and me)

He hands me a letter for Maw-Maw and asks me to put it in the mail. It’s precious really. In a black crayon the words read, “I’m sorry Brenda passed away, but you will see her again.” No prompting of ours. All him. All that tender-heart he’s got.

The words are misspelled. Several letters are backwards. He struggles. I struggle. And thank God for a diagnosis. Knowing the problem is half the battle or so I’ve heard.

And I say to Jeremy, “At least he’s not writing mean things in perfect English.” Maybe it’s an attempt to justify myself and our choice to homeschool. Maybe I feel frustrated again. But it’s true. One day he may conquer this reading thing. I may be able to give him that. But a tender-heart? And a sensitivity to the needs of others? No. That’s a gift from God. One I beg Him to use in the future.

Yes, he needs a good education. Yes, we will keep working our rears off. But what is the true purpose of parenting? Is there more than what shows up on paper?

Thank You, Father, for this little boy. He is teaching me so much.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:3-4)

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Fear #2-Homeschool Isn’t Our Best Option

In keeping with Halloween, here’s my second fear…

Fear #2-Homeschool isn’t our best option.

(I wrote about how we homeschool a few months back.)

It’s a misconception that all homeschool families are “long-termers.” Just as a public school family may question their choice, we do the same. And some days I worry that we’ve made the wrong one.

My fear plays out in these questions:
1-What if the boys miss out on amazing friendships?
2-What if they grow up and act like weirdos?
3-What if a teacher would do a better job than me?

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Some days school is great. Other days aren’t. Fear creeps in as I realize how “not together” I am.

Then I remember people in the Bible who didn’t have it all together-David, Moses, Rahab, Eve. And my heart finds good company.

I finished Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst’s book Kingdom Woman not long ago. It was a super read.

There’s a quote in there about the woman at the well. “The Samaritan woman didn’t have it all together, but she met a man who did.”

That’s what I claim when the fear creeps in. Nope, I don’t have it all together. I never will. But Jesus does. He loves me on the good homeschool days. He loves me when I beg the bus to stop.

More than that He loves the 3 little boys I sit down with every day. The little boys who cram into my “exercise closet” when they wake up. The little boys who call their teacher Mommy.

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And that love, His perfect love, casts out all fear. (I John 4:18)

“So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:28,29)

Our Homeschool…In Pics!

First off, let’s just get it out there by saying that homeschool isn’t for everyone! Some days I doubt it’s even for us. Can I tell you the number one reason we homeschool? It is…So we can go to Disney whenever we want! There, I admit it. Spiritually and educationally sound, I know. We love Disney, especially during the off-season when everyone else is in school!

Seriously, there are other reasons we are homeschooling right now. Nope, I’m not committed forever. We take it one month at a time. But right now this is what we’re doing, so I thought I’d give you a little peak into how it works (or doesn’t!). Enjoy…

032 This is our official “homeschool room.” It’s bright and makes me happy! It’s the most beautiful room in our house (which helps all of our moods when we don’t want to do school). A special shout-out to Sallie Hambrick for designing it!

033 We tend to do school in lots of different places besides our designated room. About 50% takes place at the kitchen table. This little table is in the kitchen for the boys to color on or play cards (Monopoly Deal is their new favorite!).

034 We do Bible during breakfast, so I keep our favorite Bible books close by. It makes it easy to grab what we need without “forgetting.” And on that note, the boys and I usually sit down for breakfast, snack, and lunch together. We do lots of school while they’re eating (that way they’re quiet!).

035 My kitchen walls have become an art gallery. We read a science book during snack each day and most of the time the boys paint something they’ve learned. (I’m in the process of cleaning this display up!)

036 This is the playroom upstairs. It usually looks way crazier than this. When Stephen is doing school Caleb and Jonathan have free reign to play upstairs. Most days I just close my eyes to the mess when I walk by! The extra time with Stephen is worth the extra mess!

037 Our school closet is small, but it holds our books, supplies, games, etc.

039 This is the schedule I try to stick to. We’re pretty flexible. Caleb gets a little school each day. Stephen gets quite a bit in the morning. And we do Bible, Science, Literature, and History together during meals and snacks.

040 Here’s my school planner. It usually gets filled out until around December when I have things figured out a little more and start winging it. It feels good to start the year out with a plan, though.

And there you have it…the way we rock homeschool around here. Hope it encourages you that things don’t have to be perfect! Trust me, it’s far from that in our home. Whether it means homeschool, private school, or public school we just want the boys to love learning. That’s our ultimate goal!