Friday, September 4, 2009

Why the McGuire's Homeschool

I've got a friend who is interested in possibly homeschooling her child(ren). She wanted to ask me some questions, and I am more than happy to talk with her - the same way so many did for me before we made this very monumental decision for our children.

I thought I would share with you all the "Why's" of why we (the McGuires) choose to do our children's schooling at home. This seems to be a timely post considering the many ways that the government seems to be infiltrating even more deeply the public education throughout our country.

I do NOT suggest that all Believers are called to homeschool. I will emphatically say however, that we will give an account for what we do regarding all things in our lives, and am hopeful that all Believing parents diligently seek God's design for their families. My concern is that we not just go along with what we did as kids, or what our friends are doing with their kids, or what's popular in your church or community, but that we all really be willing to seek God's desire for our children and our families in all areas, including education. When asked why do I homeschool, my usual answer is because the Lord led me to. May the Lord lead all of us according to His purposes and may we be aware of His leading so that He might be glorified.

So, here is what I shared with my friend...
Dear Friend:

Okay, I've got some time before I turn in for the evening so I thought I'd write about how I came to the point of taking our daughter out of a perfectly good Christian school and bringing her home. :O)

I knew before she started 2nd Grade that the Lord was beginning to do a work in my heart. She and I have similar personalities, so each time I would feel a prompting by the Lord I would think, "You've got to be kidding me Lord, we'll kill each other." During the Summer before her 2nd grade year, I had worked diligently to sign her up for EVERY possible activity under the sun to keep her busy over the Summer, and to give her plenty of opportunities to try out all sorts of things to see what she liked. Most of the things I was signing her up for were things I wanted her to try out, not necessarily things she'd shown an interest in. (Special note - At this point in my life, I would not even consider doing that, because I understand completely that the Lord has created her for a special purpose, and that her life should reflect her God given interests, giftedness, and her own personal calling. So, I seek God and then allow her to give her own input as to what she desires to do with her extra curricular time.)

Before our Summer actually began, I came across the following verses during my quiet time, Galatians 5:7-9, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

The Holy Spirit immediately spoke to my heart through those words and I could see that I was very busy sowing to my daughter's corruptible flesh, things that really didn't matter in the long run. But, I wasn't spending even a tenth of that time sowing to her Spirit. I became convicted of this and immediately took her out of everything we'd signed up for that Summer, and began praying about how the Lord would help me to "sow to the Spirit" in her life during the few Summer months that I had with her. Over those few months we did some simple and fun Bible study together, spent hours together working on character issues - obedience, helpfulness, kindness, desire to serve others, etc..., and enjoyed lots of fun field trips, "pajama days" and more. I found that she and I were becoming very close once I really abandoned myself to training her in godliness to the best of my ability. By the time Summer was over, I was convinced that I was supposed to bring her home and was grieving losing her to school for such a large part of the day, but we'd signed the financial commitment with her school to return in the Fall. So, I did what anyone would do in my situation, I plugged my ears and began to say "La, la, la, la, la, I can't hear You. You must mean I'm supposed to do this next year Lord."

Once school began, about two weeks in, I was in misery!! The Holy Spirit was absolutely convicting me to the point that I could not stand to continue in what I knew was disobedience. I had discussed NONE of this with Todd throughout the Summer, and was afraid he would think I'd lost my mind if I told him about all of this. Finally, I went to him and explained what was going on in my heart, how I felt led, what I thought the Lord wanted me to do, and how I saw my focus changing and my heart really turning towards being with her more and teaching/training her the way we wanted her to be raised.

I went to our area's most well known Christian school, was raised in a Christian home, and never "got it" until I was 20 and the Holy Spirit did a work in my heart. I did not want our daughter to be 20, with years of regrets, before she "got it". Todd said, "Pull her out and bring her home. If you know that's what the Lord has told you to do, I will not stand between you and the Lord."

So, that's what I did. I remember crying in the Principal's office, as though I were the student, trying to explain to her why I was bringing Anna home, and feeling certain she would be thinking I had lost my mind. Surprisingly she was very supportive. We'd made the financial commitment and felt that it was the right thing to do to gladly pay that which we had promised. But, man was I glad when that year was up!!!

So, moving along, my "Pros and Cons List" looked something like this - Keep in mind that some of this was listed because we already knew a good many others who homeschooled and had begun to be influenced by what we were seeing in their families, the behavior of their children, as well as the growth we'd seen in Anna over the Summer. As a general rule, most Christian Homeschoolers do so because they believe it to be their responsibility to educate their children, or feel led (by God) to do so. Obviously, the same was true for us.

This was my list of Pros and Cons before starting to homeschool.

* More opportunity to study closer those things of personal interest to her and focus on her areas of giftedness. Giftedness and Interest we believe is placed in heart by her God.
* Opportunity to focus on areas of difficulty for mastery. (Math was moving too fast and she was having trouble keeping up. At home we could slow it down until it "clicked" which is exactly what we did once she was home.

* More one on one opportunities for character training with Anna.
* More individual attention than she will ever receive in a classroom.
* More control over what she's learning.
* More control over how she is learning (meaning that I could adapt it for her learning style, taking into account her strengths and weaknesses).
* Less peer influence, more parental influence during the most impressionable years of her life. (Although Anna has a strong personality, I found quickly (in Kindergarten) that she was a follower of whomever she thought was "cool" and it really concerned me. Often the "cool" was not worth following if you know what I mean. I felt sorry for her, I didn't want her blindly following around the "cool kid" and not really even being herself.)
* More opportunity to spend time with other friends who were already homeschooling.
* More relaxed learning during the early years (through about 5th grade).
* Less stress from driving to and from (The drive was about 45 minutes one way - 4 times a day for me, , which didn't make for a very nice momma.) I was constantly yelling, "Hurry up!!"
* Savings of about $5,000.00 a year (in future years at home).
* The chance to school more "year round" to prevent forgetting things and losing momentum over the Summer months. (We do usually take off a good 6-8 weeks for our "summer" though. I use this time to research curriculum for the new year, pray through and what for the Lord's direction in those areas, and reorganize school supplies and area.)
* Able to spend more time with her dad, because of his hours often spent in the office at home. It means occasional lunches with dad at home or out, that wouldn't be possible in school.
* The opportunity to travel to see the things we were studying about throughout the U.S., and now, even into other countries!!

(Now entering our 6th school year, I could add dozens more "PROS" to this list now that we're actually living it.)

* Scared to death!
* Worried about what family and other will think (especially concerned about my parents because we lived next door to them). Instead, they became some of my greatest supporters.

The only real con I could come up with was FEAR!!
I finally decided that I was more afraid of being disobedient to God's call on our lives as a family, than I was of what anyone else would think of it. And, I made up my mind then that I would never - not do something - because of FEAR!!!

So, there you have it, this is a description of the beginnings. We've begun our 6th year at home, and Anna would have it no other way. She loves being home, she loves having special outside opportunities to spend with friends (science labs, drama classes, competitive dance, and church activities). They are opportunities that are handpicked and bathed in prayer. Hmm, living in God's call for us has brought us great peace.

As always, In His grace,


No comments: