Taking a Break for School

I was out cleaning the yard recently with my two oldest sons when one of them discovered a GIANT green caterpillar. Since I love to turn everything into a learning experience, not only for them but also for myself, we set off to learn. First we captured the caterpillar. Then we finished cleaning the yard. It would have been fun to run and discover about the caterpillar right away, but I feel it’s important to teach character, such as focus and patience, in addition to academics. So we waited until after our chores were done before we got to discover about the caterpillar. All three of my sons (the youngest having just turned 2) ran to the encyclopedias and started looking, each under a different letter. B for butterfly. C for caterpillar. E for... well, not sure what that one was for, E Eating maybe? They also looked at an insect book we have. And I looked on the Internet for them.

We discovered that the GIANT green caterpillar was a polyphemus moth - one of the largest in North America, thus explaining why it was so ‘giant’. We learned what it eats or actually doesn’t once it becomes an adult moth. We discussed scientific classification since we had just learned about that the week before. We looked at lots of pictures of the moth, the favorite part of this process for my two-year-old. We learned how to care for it. And best of all, it spun a cocoon that night! What incredible timing! Now we get to learn more patience while we wait for it to hatch.

Some of the questions I like to ask myself with any learning experience are:

What can I learn from this?
Ex: What kind of moth.

What is special about this?
Ex: One of the largest moths in North America.

How can we learn more about God through this experience?
Ex: He created all living things. (Genesis 1)

How can I teach good character through this experience?
Ex: Finish chores before play.

Are there any life skills that can be taught through this?
Ex: Caring for another living thing.

Can I teach any life lessons from this?
Ex: We must care for the caterpillar or it will die.

What have we learned recently that we can tie into this?
Ex: Scientific classification.

I find the possibilities for teaching with any learning opportunity can be endless, and that I am most often limited by time and not opportunities.

Why We Homeschool

People have many different reasons for homeschooling their children. We believe in the majority of situations, homeschooling is the best option for most families where the parents are actively and intentionally raising up their children. Here are some of our main reasons for choosing to homeschool our children.

  • We believe that God gave our children to us for a reason. One of those reasons being that we can raise our children better than anyone else. Not that we can raise all children better than anyone else, but that we can raise our children better than anyone else. We choose to accept this responsibility and not try to pass it off on someone else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a teacher or a pastor, we will account one day for how we raised our children.
  • Children spend a lot of time at school under the influence of others. This makes it a lot more difficult to instill our beliefs and values in them. We want our children to grow up to be strong men and women of God. We don’t believe that a school, even a Christian one, can do this as well as we can.
  • We want the best academic education for our children. We don’t believe that the government run public schools, with their high illiteracy rates, or even private schools, can possibly offer a better education for our children than we can. We can give them one on one personal attention; The schools cannot. We know our children better than any teacher ever could. We can adapt their education to fit their personal styles, interests and level of academic readiness.
  • We want our children to learn more than just academics. The schools only teach academics (unless you count all of the social brainwashing in schools today). We want our children to learn how to be Godly husbands and wives, and good citizens in our society. The school will not teach our sons or daughter how to run a household, or manage their finances, or care for their neighbor.
  • Socialization-the process of inheriting norms, customs and ideologies. We do not want our children to be like every other kid out there. We don’t want them to come home from kindergarten swearing, disrespecting others, or obsessing over the latest video game. The teachers don’t teach this, but they aren’t the only ones teaching our children at school. Children learn from their peers and many of the things they learn we’d rather they didn’t.
  • We do not want someone else teaching our children sex education. We believe the Bible teaches that sex outside of marriage and homosexuality are wrong. We will absolutely address sexual intimacy. Anyone who fails to do so has failed their child. However, we will do so in a way that communicates God’s plan for sex.
  • We don’t want our children to learn the theory of evolution as fact. God created the world. Darwin created a theory.
  • Children at home can do more in 2 hours than children at school can do all day. There is a lot of non-instructional time and busy work at schools. Some examples include going from room to room, waiting in line, etc. We believe it’s better to let our children do something constructive with that time or at the very least have that time to play.

So these are the main reasons that we homeschool our children. There are lots of other reasons as well, but these are the biggies for us. What are your reasons? Are they valid? Our primary goal in homeschooling is not to shelter our children, but to give the best education and the best result for our children. Anyone who thinks homeschooling can shelter their children will have a big surprise when they are turned loose on the world as adults.

My Homeschool Background

I grew up in Wisconsin with one brother and one sister. I was homeschooled every year except 4th grade when I attended a small private school. My parents used a variety of homeschool methods including a satellite school for my last two years of high school because it was thought there could be issue with college enrollment otherwise.

After high school, I moved to Minnesota and attended St. Cloud State University for four years where I earned a bachelors of science degree in biomedical sciences. I graduated debt free in 2001 even though I didn’t receive any substantial grants or scholarships and did not have significant assistance from my family. In August of that same year, my wonderful public-schooled husband and I were married. We now have three sons and one daughter. I stay at home full-time and homeschool our two oldest sons. My husband works as an IT manager for a large non-profit.

Even before I was married I had assumed that I would probably homeschool my children if my husband agreed. When my oldest son was four, we took him to a kindergarten open house. He was already reading simple words at that point. They told us that since he is a boy and has a summer birthday, they recommend not enrolling him in kindergarten until he reached age 6. Their recommendation solidified our decision to homeschool him. By the time he would have entered kindergarten under their recommendations, he was starting second grade coursework.

I don’t know what the future holds for my children, but I love being able to teach them at their level and not having to wait for an arbitrary age that may or may not have anything to do with their mental capacity.

This is how I became a homeschooled mom with second generation homeschooled kids.

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