Sunday, May 2, 2010

Teaching At Home

For those of you who have been reading since this time last year, you may think this post as a little de ja vue...but it's just all in God's timing! I've noticed that God has a way of planting an idea in my heart, but then I have to wait...and once He places it on David's heart and we come into agreement, then I know the time is right. It was that way in the decision to adopt and in so many other areas of our married lives, too! Well, this decision is no different. God planted the idea of homeschooling on my heart a year ago, but the time was not right. I really wanted Christopher to experience Kindergarten at the school where he attended Pre-K (for many reasons), and we were blessed to learn his teacher is the one I'd taught with ten years prior and knew would be good for him. It was really a blessing for him to be in school with all that was going on in our lives this school year. He has a teacher who loves him and he absolutely adores her. So during the stress of a our move, my surgery, and everything else, Christopher had the constant of school to keep his world from completely spinning out of control!
As we looked toward 1st Grade, a decision needed to be made. The school is raising the tuition to almost $9,000, including registration and monthly fees. Due to the move and other issues, David didn't have time to complete our taxes before the financial aid deadline, which meant that we would need to foot the whole bill ourselves. We considered public school, home school, and of course, his current school. We prayed for God's direction and, as much as we were determined to keep our options open, it became obvious that God had only one direction in mind for our family...home school.
The more I think about it, the more excited I'm getting about it! I get the joy of teaching without the bureaucracy of the school system. More importantly, I get to spend more time with the child God blessed our family with six years ago...and I get to guide him in his learning journey! What a blessing!
As I look back on my life, I can see God has been preparing me for this moment for more years than I care to count...long before I even knew David! When I was single and lived in Alabama, God blessed me with two dear friends who home-schooled their children - Tina and Mona, who each had five children. Tina's husband was the youth pastor of my church at the time and Mona's oldest daughter was in my GA (Girls in Action) group and later I also had the joy of teaching Ariel in youth Sunday School. When Tina and her husband went out of town for youth trips, I had the blessing of babysitting for her younger children (their oldest was in the youth group). This was my first real experience with home-schooling! With a goal of being a teacher someday, I completely enjoyed this! These children, by the way, are now all grown - several with families of their own! :)
As I earned my teaching degree and moved down here to begin my teaching career, I had no idea the plans God had for me! God not only blessed me with a husband, and later a precious son...but he also blessed me with challenges that I didn't see as blessings at the time. During my years of teaching, God used the principals of the schools in which I taught to move me through all the grade levels of my certification. At some point in my career, I have taught every grade level in the elementary school! I resisted the change, at times even resented the change...but looking back, it was all preparation for what God had planned for our family!
So, even as we prepare for Christopher's Kindergarten graduation in a couple weeks, I am preparing to teach him the 1st Grade curriculum next year. I went to the library this weekend and looked at every book they had on the shelf regarding homeschooling and checked out the ones I thought would be most helpful in making the first preparations for our adventure! I also joined a Christian Homeschool Co-Op here so that I can connect with other Homeschool parents and Christopher can participate in their field trips and other events (including a PE class with the other homeschooled students). This group was highly recommended to me by my sweet friend Jennifer, who also homeschools her children. Interestingly, Jennifer and I began our teaching careers together at the same school where Christopher is now attending Kindergarten!
I love that I'll be able to coordinate Christopher's interests with the curriculum, thus keeping him authentically engaged in learning (a catch phrase that's very popular among the public school set)! ;) Most importantly, I can push him toward his God-given talents and abilities, while at the same time, gently encouraging him to strengthen his areas of weekness. We will be using the Awana program to guide our family scripture memorization and I will also be reviewing curriculum for the basics of Reading, 'Riting, and 'Rithmatic! ;)
If you homeschool your children, or have in the past, please feel free to share tips, ideas, and curriculum you found helpful. For everyone, I humbly ask for your prayers ande encouragement as we set voyage on this new adventure God had placed before us! :)