Debunking Home School Myths
Meet Jenny Harwood - A religious approach
Q: Take us back to your decision making days...what convinced you that home school was the way for you?
A: For our family, homeschooling was a very unexpected direction. I had sensed the Lord calling me to resign from my job to be home with the kids full-time, but didn't know that that would lead to homeschooling. It was a very intimidating and daunting task, something that I felt very fearful and honestly resistant to for a while. But as the Lord confirmed that this was indeed the direction for our family, He was very faithful to calm my fears and bring people and resources along my path to help me feel not so alone in the journey. And He has also been very faithful to change my heart and perspective, and I surprisingly LOVE our experience so far. I'm very thankful to have this time with my kids, even on the harder, more challenging days. I appreciate being able to know things about them that I wouldn't otherwise if they were going to school outside of our home.
Q: How did your family and friends take your decision?A: My family and friends have been very supportive of our decision.
Q: What method of Home Schooling do you use?A: We are still very much in the prayerful stage about homeschooling, trusting the Lord to direct our steps regarding curriculum and our approach. I've been very guarded to not expose myself to a lot of different resources at this point to try to hear from the Lord about what He would have for our family specifically. We prayed about Mother Goose Time after I saw there was an opportunity to receive the curriculum for free, which is a great blessing for our one-income family. We're still praying over what curriculum we will use for our daughter this fall as she starts Kindergarten, but MGT will be a great resource for us this summer at least, for us to step into a more structured approach for a time where both my kids will be doing the same activities (daughter, 4 & son, 2), as we've just been using a PreK curriculum through Confessions of a Home Schooler for my daughter (4) so far.
Q: Take us through a day in the life....A: We don't really have a 'normal' day so far, but most days consist of reading a short devotion (my husband, myself, our two yr old son, Peter, and my four year old, Natalie). My daughter and I sitting down at our kitchen table around 8:30 as my husband leaves for work. We start the Pre-K curriculum I was given from a friend from Confessions of a Home Schooler and go through our daily tasks (day of the week, date, writing out the date in words, weather graphing). We then usually do 1-2 days worth of curriculum in one sitting because a lot of the content has been review since my daughter was in school from nursery -halfway through her 3K year before I resigned to be home with the kiddos full-time. Once we're finished with those worksheets, we usually do a little art project - possibly cutting and pasting out of a workbook with cutting activities, painting, writing letters (my daughter loves to send mail), etc. We then join the two year old in the living room for either an educational Leapfrog video or doing puzzles. I'll then leave them to play independently while I start lunch. That's about the jist so far, but I am sure this will look dramatically different next week as we start MGT all together.
Q: If you could give advice to any "on the fence" home schoolers what would it be?A: I'd encourage you to pray about it and really see what the Lord would have for your family specifically. I've recognized A LOT of the benefits of homeschooling since we committed to this path, but that also relates directly to our family and what I believe the Lord's plans are for us. I have also seen friends' kids' thrive in public and private schools as well as they seek after the Lord as well. He promises to direct our steps, and He has been faithful to do that for us. There are just SO many choices out there and so many possible traps in terms of comparison and competition that it's hard to really look at what anyone else is doing and not get sucked into all of that unless you know for sure what you need to be doing yourselves first.
Q: Debunk the following myths:
a) Home school kids are behind traditionally schooled kidsA: I'm a newbie when it comes to all of this, so I am not really familiar with a lot of the statistics of homeschooling vs not. But I would say that I believe one huge advantage to homeschooling is that you can really focus and tailor your kids' education to their strengths, abilities, and interests. They have an opportunity to really thrive and dive into subjects that they wouldn't otherwise in a larger school setting. I think it also allows you, as the parent, to recognize how God has designed your child in order to best encourage them in the possible directions the Lord may be calling to towards.
b) Home Schooled kids aren't properly socializedA: I think that there are still a lot of opportunities for kids to have social interactions outside of school, and in settings that you can feel comfortable about instead of not having a lot of say or knowledge of these interactions at a school setting. I also think you have an opportunity at home to encourage your children to grow in character and discernment, so that as they grow older and more independent, they can make wiser choices for themselves in terms of who they choose to hang around with and be potentially influenced by.
c) Parents aren't equipped to teachA: Well, I know that I don't feel equipped to teach my kids, in and of myself. But I also know the Lord promises to give me what I need to do the things He has called me to do. And so this is my opportunity to rely on Him in a greater capacity in my life than I have before, where I can't get by on my own attempts and natural strengths, but really have to ask Him for the wisdom and patience and endurance, etc., etc., to offer my kids on a day to day basis. But I would also argue that all parents are teaching their kids, whether homeschooling or not. It's just choosing whether or not you're going to be intentional about what you are teaching them and how you are teaching them. I personally don't believe that everyone is called to homeschool their kids, but I do believe that as parents we are called to shepherd and disciple our kids, and so for our family, that is through the vehicle of homeschooling.
A: I don't really know that I can answer this intelligently yet, as we are just getting started. But I do know that I really love structure and a plan, and that doesn't always work well with littles. :) So I am anticipating that I will be learning how to be a lot more patience and flexible with my plan vs the reality of the day.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you face when it comes to your style of Home School?
A: I don't know that we have a style of homeschooling at this point, in terms of a specific approach (Charlotte Mason, etc.). We are just seeking the Lord for what He would like this to look like for our family and what curriculum He brings along the path, so that the approach isn't the determining factor for us.
Q: How did you decide on your style of Home School?
Q: What changes would have to be made in traditional schools for you to consider enrolling your child(ren)?A: This doesn't apply to our situation because we feel led to homeschool. We didn't have a bad experience with my daughter or son in private Pre-K, other than it was a lot of money that we can now use in other, more preferable ways (giving, missions, etc.).
Q: What are some positive and inspiring insights to give to other Home Schooling moms?A: I am not a morning person, so I would encourage anyone that isn't to not feel disqualified from homeschooling. It can look really different in your household than anyone else's. School can start at 10:00AM, or 2:00PM - whatever works best for you and your kiddos. I was also really scared at the prospect of homeschooling, and am still daunted at times. But that doesn't disqualify me or you, either. God promises to help us in whatever we face!
In just my short time of being home full-time with my kids and homeschooling, I feel like I am learning so much personally about myself and my kids. It's awesome to know little things like the fact that my daughter makes squeaking noises when she is writing and concentrating. I wouldn't know that otherwise. :) I also like learning what motivates my children and what also discourages them, so that I can better encourage and address these things. I like to know that my daughter has perfectionistic tendencies, so that I can start to pray for her and speak words of grace to her now, so that hopefully she won't struggle with legalism and perfectionism like I have. And I have learned that she is SUPER creative. I am not, so it's just been really cool to see this developing in her. For example, she likes to make pictures out of her date words, and tell stories about them.
I also really enjoy that our days don't feel so rushed anymore. I'm not rolling out of bed to get ready for work, rushing to get my kids' dressed to drop them off at school, and then picking them up to eat dinner quickly, get whatever done around the house that needs to be done before bedtime, maybe a short time of play with my kids, to the struggle of bedtime (can I get an amen?!), to just feel like I'm going to start it all over again the next day. For us, this was not thriving, and I was barely surviving. Now I feel more empowered to dictate our schedule according to what we value and feel the Lord leading us to.
And even though there may be a lot of negative things out there - criticism about homeschooling or how you're doing it, etc.,-there are also a lot of really great, encouraging resources and communities. I have found the Lord faithful to direct me to the right people that can speak into my life about certain aspects of this journey, and I continue to pray for that. I would encourage you to ask Him as well to bring you His provision as well (financially, but also through people, resources, time, peace, rest, etc.).
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