After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Our Homeschool Mission Statement

Our reasons for homeschooling, I believe, are a little different from many. We are arriving on this path after having had a mainly positive school experience for many years now. Our decision to give homeschooling a try was made primarily with an eye to the future for our children, given our assessment of the current state of education in America.

With all this in mind, as well as the awareness that homeschooling will be a journey with highs and lows, wonderful and messy moments, I wanted to create a mission statement for our home school that reflected our values and would guide our day to day activities.

Our Homeschool Mission Statement:

  • To create a learning environment that is engaging and interesting, inspiring inquisitiveness and a love of learning.
  • To provide our children with a high-quality and interesting literature based, classical education that seeks to impart knowledge while also piquing curiosity, leaving room for delight directed study and developing critical thinking skills.
  • To give our children time to explore their interests, develop their creativity and discover their unique giftings and callings from God.
  • To give us more time with our children to sharpen them as iron sharpens iron, to encourage them and to support and guide them as they discover the path God has planned for them.
If you home school, do you have a mission statement?  I'd love to read it.  Please share if you would like!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Meet the Scientists and Test Subjects

Lead Investigators
Tom and I will be the lead investigators in Our Great Homeschool Experiment.  Since I have been blessed to stay at home with the kids, I will do most of the teaching and observing of our test subjects.  Tom will be teaching science though so he will have an active role in the experiment, too!

Test Subject #1
Our oldest son will be affectionately known as Test Subject #1 or TS1 here :)  He is a very bright, very focused boy.  Focused on whatever he is interested in, that is.  Like sports.  And baseball.  And sports- did I say that already?  Getting him to focus on less interesting subjects can be a challenge but one we hope to overcome with a fun, challenging, individualized curriculum.  TS1 will be in fifth grade this year.

Test Subject #2
Our youngest son will be affectionately know as Test Subject #2 or TS2 here :)  Like his big brother, TS1, he is also very bright.  TS2 is very different from his big brother personality wise.  He is very carefree and flexible and silly.  TS2 can be quite sensitive though and sees mistakes as personal failure so in addition to academic work this year, we will be careful to build up his confidence and help him to see mistakes as part of the learning process.  TS2 will be in second grade this year.

Research Assistant
While our daughter will be off to full day Kindergarten next year, she will still be part of Our Great Homeschool Experiment.  She is a sweet, agreeable little girl who loves to help so I'm planning on including her as much as we can.  She will be affectionately known as RA here :)  RA is super excited to be going off to Kindergarten and we are hoping she gets the same teacher TS2 had!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Why This Crazy Experiment Anyway???

In December, my husband and I went to see the documentary film Race to Nowhere.  It started us on a journey we hadn't planned.  The film critiques the American Educational system highlighting the effects of the tremendous pressure children are under, the limitations put on teachers to educate their students because of the test driven culture of schools and the inadequacies of the system to produce students who love learning and are creative thinkers and problem solvers.  Race to Nowhere focuses primarily on the issues as they impact middle school and high school students.

While our children are younger, we could not help but fast forward a few years and imagine how our own would ultimately fare in this system.  Especially our oldest who struggles with anxiety in general and needs down time to unwind after school.  He has already come to the point where he says he hates school and he hates learning.  He also claims to hate history and writing.  This breaks my heart.

I have to interject at this point to say that we really do love our school.  Our oldest just completed his fifth year there!  It provides a solid and interesting education for the kids.  The community of friends we have made there is an important part of our lives.  The end of this school year was so sad.  We are planning to keep the relationships the boys and I have made at the school strong with play dates and hopefully extra-curricular activities at school.  We are not homeschooling because of any negative experience at school.  We are homeschooling to experiment with a different educational experience for our children.  If homeschooling does not work out for any reason, we hope to return to this wonderful school!  O.k., back to the story...

A week or so after we had seen Race to Nowhere, a friend posted this video on her Facebook wall.  I was fascinated.  Sir Ken's words so resonated with me and the thoughts still tumbling around in my mind from Race to Nowhere.  I watched every YouTube video of him I could find and started reading his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.  In a nutshell, Sir Ken's passion is helping others find and develop their own passion and he critiques our educational system for being antiquated and squelching creativity.

With all this swirling around in my mind, I contacted the fifth grade teachers at our school, the grade our oldest would be in next year, and asked about the workload we should expect for next year.  Our oldest is very bright and does very well in school but after talking with the teachers, I knew the homework and testing load for next year would overwhelm him and eat up the free time he needs.

My husband and I resuscitated an option we had considered and decided against twice before- homeschooling.  We laid out our goals for our children's education and childhood and determined that we wanted their education to be engaging and interesting, inspiring inquisitiveness and a love of learning.  We want them to have time to explore their interests, develop their creativity and discover their unique giftings and callings from God.  Homeschooling seemed like a viable option to meet these educational goals for our children.

As I mentioned, we've been down this road before so I knew just who to go to for advice and encouragement.  (Thank you Jen, Andrea, Layla, Deirdre and Dorothy!)  God has been so faithful to guide us in this process.  He has opened so many doors- a few that completely shocked me- and we are finally ready to take the final step through in faith.  We have decided that we will homeschool our two boys next year and our daughter will go to Kindergarten at our wonderful school.  Our boys will be in fifth and second grade next year.  I figure we can do anything for a year and if things are working well, we will continue and if not, we will send the boys back to the school we have grown to love.

We'd love to have you follow along on Our Great Homeschool Experiement!