I will be honest, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be a homeschool mom. Now in my third year, I have become all the more confident that I made the best decision. So how did it happen?
My son attended elementary school for Kindergarten. The car line for pick-up was horrible so I quickly decided to get involved by volunteering time in the afternoon. This would allow me the ability to pick up my child on the way out and avoid the long lines. After a couple of months, I decided to become a substitute teacher to alleviate the need to split a class when a substitute was unavailable.
This experience was very rewarding, fun and most importantly informative. As a substitute teacher, I was able to see the curriculum delivery first-hand and I could see exactly what my son did on a daily basis. It did not take me long to realize that I had over prepared my child for Kindergarten. Then as I served as a substitute teacher in each grade of the elementary school, I was unimpressed by the curriculum at large.
Math was simply facts without a connection to the real word and writing was more of an exercise without a focus on grammar fundamentals. These are the core subjects that are taught at the elementary level with science and social studies trickled in if time permits. Another component that I found to be troubling was the requirement for each child to clock a certain amount of time on a computer program designed to prepare the student for the state test. Even the kindergarten students had a specific requirement.
I explored the gifted program but that was not going to meet the needs of my son either. I needed more so I researched two different virtual school options because I thought it would be more rigorous and challenging but my application seemed to never be complete. I applied to a local charter school with stellar reviews but was placed on a wait list. I was running out of options, my friends encouraged me to homeschool but I felt really unqualified to take on that responsibility.
Can you imagine that? I was qualified to be a substitute teacher in the public school and had a blast doing it but I felt incapable of teaching my son. These are the lies that we tell ourselves when the path set before us seems daunting. My real concern was how could I teach my son and earn an income as a single mom.
With those concerns on my mind, I decided to attend a local Homeschool Expo just to see what it was all about. As I wandered around visiting the various vendors, I remember being overwhelmed by the curriculum options, by the field trip options....there were so many resources. I attended workshops and that's where things started to get interesting. I learned that the state of Florida has an amazing lobbyist that represents the rights of homeschool parents and children, I discovered that homeschool students can participate in dual-credit courses and be courted by colleges but most importantly I heard that small voice of reassurance from Elohim that I cannot ruin my son. I was simply being asked to obey and trust Him with everything else.
It has not been easy but He has kept his promises.
When I first started this site, I did not intend to blog but then Covid-19 changed everything. The activities I have previously shared really don't seem to be relevant for homeschool parents at the moment so I thought maybe I could share some words of encouragement. This is my humble attempt at that.
I decided to begin today because we started our official 3rd year of homeschool today. That means I use an August-May school year for my son for the purpose of submitting my portfolio review to the Home Education Department of the Palm Beach County School System.
Technically, I educate year-round but today was special because we started the third cycle of Classical Conversations (CC) with three other families today. Before I go on, I must confess that our group is not an official CC Community, we are simply four Moms who love the model and decided to press on without the extra "drama" of creating community in a pandemic. We created an experience that meets the needs of our ten children as a whole while also fostering critical thinking about their faith.
Today was a smashing success. Everything we planned went smooth and best of all our children were learning, laughing and playing together. It is definitely something they will look forward to each week. When I asked my son about his thoughts, he shared the following: "It was different but fun. It feels like we got so much more done. The science did not feel so rushed. The Essentials was more interesting than I thought it would be. I like the questions because they make you think about sentences. The presentations were more organized and focused. The math game was an interesting way of making something that is work into a game. The bible discussion was good especially the questions that were asked, you don't want nasty pizza."
We were part of an official CC community for 2 years prior, so he was initially unsure about the change but his feedback confirmed that it was the right decision for us this year.
As for me, my favorite part of the day was the bible discussion. I don't think we focused on it enough in community the first 2 years. I decided to take the lead in this area and I selected the Shema (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9) to get the children to share their thoughts about Our Father, Yahweh and his commands. They shared so much more than I could have imagined. No question was a bad question and no question was unacceptable. It was a blessing to me to be part of it, after all we are called to pursue our faith in a child-like manner (Matthew 18:3-4). Even more fascinating is the fact that we only discussed the first three words: "Hear O Israel."
Can't wait for next week!!