Friday, December 7, 2012

So, Have You Ever Considered Homeschooling?

If so (or if not!), you should take a few minutes to read THIS post written by Addisyn Block.  She’s the daughter of my friend, Amy, whose family serves as missionaries in Guatemala.  You know, they’re the ones starting up the Village of Hope that I’m always talking about.


Anyway, Addie wrote this fabulous post expressing her feelings about homeschooling, and I think it’s a great encouragement to anyone who is or might consider homeschooling.


Someone asked me if I’d write a post on how homeschooling works for our family.  I promised I would, but I was having a hard time finding an opportunity to sit and type it all out.


Then I remembered that I’d already written a bit about how homeschooling has worked for our family over the years.  Click HERE to read our homeschooling testimony.  I wrote that in February 2011, so a lot has changed since then, like having two sons with Down syndrome join our family. :-)


So, I’ll try to detail what our days look like now that we have Cooper and Conner in our family.  God always has a perfect plan, so flexibility and dependence upon Him is key (in all situations!). 


This school year, Cooper and Conner are both enrolled in our local public school’s special education program.  They are thriving and learning so much.  God clearly showed us this was His plan, and His plan is always so much better than ours.  The boys are in the same classroom in a self-contained Kindergarten special education setting.  They’re teachers, therapists, aides, and even their bus driver and the driver’s aide all adore the boys.  Cooper and Conner are loved, encouraged, and challenged in this setting, which has allowed them to blossom more than I ever fathomed.


This year, after the boys entered public school, their teacher informed me of a program offered in Texas (and perhaps all states, I’m not sure) for students ages 18-22 who have special needs.  (The boys’ teacher formerly taught this program.)  Naomi asked us if she could attend school like Cooper and Conner, so our school district’s educational diagnostician performed educational testing on Naomi to see if she would qualify.  (I’ve shared before that Naomi has special needs.)  Well, the results confirmed that Naomi has a severe intellectual disability, so she qualified to attend the 18+ special education program if she wanted to.  Naomi was so excited to start her special school the week after Thanksgiving.  She LOVES it!!!


The only two children at home who are not attending some type of school are Selah (age 2) and Kiefer (age 4).  We work with Kiefer on preschool concepts, but don’t have a set schedule or curricula.  He watches one learning video each day, and he’s curious about letters, numbers, and most preschool concepts, but his love is the outdoors.  He prefers to be outside doing all things cowboy.  Last night he told me that when he grows up he’s going to be a cowboy.  Or a goat farmer.  Love that boy!  Selah doesn’t do any schooling, as her special needs prevent her from doing the things a typical two-year-old would.  She doesn’t color or even look at or listen to books, except once every few months.  She prefers to be outside roaming, climbing, and jumping.


The remaining kids attend our homeschool, Agape Academy, and my amazing friend, Stephanie, teaches all of the kids.  She has students with severe learning disabilities to students who already have college credits via CLEP tests, so the range of students is broad, both in age and ability.


Our kids take shifts in who goes to school when.  Meribeth and Sawyer attend school from 8AM-12Noon daily.  Ella attends from 10:30AM-12Noon, then goes again from 1PM-2:30PM.  Parker and Mattie attend from 1-5PM daily.  We all eat lunch together at 12Noon.  Believe it or not, all of the kids are able to achieve more school than necessary during those time frames.  This year (in just one semester), Parker and Mattie have each CLEP’d out of six hours of college courses, so they get dual credit for those courses, meaning they get high school credit as well as college credit.


Stephanie tailors the curricula to each student.  She writes much of the curricula herself.  We’ve found that Alpha and Omega’s Lifepacs are a great resource for many of our students.  Those cut down on the time it would take to write a course curriculum, they’re affordable, and they put God in the center of every course/subject.  Ella, who has a variety of learning disabilities, has been helped greatly by Saxon Phonics.  Math-U-See is the math curriculum that each of our children uses, and we LOVE it. 


In the past, we’ve used a huge variety of curricula.  Sonlight, My Father’s World, Tapestry, Switched on Schoolhouse, Teaching Textbooks, to name a few, plus tons and tons and tons of phonics and reading curricula (Sawyer is dyslexic, so I tried just about every single curricula out there for the first few years to try to help him).  Barton Reading and Spelling was the best curricula we found to help Sawyer with his dyslexia.


We battle severe ADHD with a couple of students.  One student must take ADHD medication in order to learn.  Without it, no learning occurs, no matter what we do.  For the other student, there’s not an ADHD medication out there that has worked, so this student must be active often, sit on a bouncy ball chair, take frequent breaks to swing and jump and spin, but it’s a constant battle.  ADHD really affects a student’s ability to learn—it’s not something to take lightly.


If you’re considering homeschooling, God put THIS book in my path when He was trying to get me to homeschool.  I found it super helpful because 15 different types of families share how they make homeschooling work for them.  There’s such a variety of families, schedules, testimonies, and examples in this book that encourages even the most timid of homeschooling families.  YOU CAN DO IT!!!


I wrote about what I felt like and how I tried to resist God’s call to homeschool.  You can read about that HERE and HERE.  If there’s anything I haven’t addressed or if you want more info, please feel free to contact me.  Leave a comment or click on the “email me” icon in the sidebar of the blog.


Thanks and hope this helps someone decide that they CAN homeschool.  With God, all things are possible!


PS  Amy Block wrote a post on her blog last night that illustrates why I’m always advocating for Village of Hope—Guatemala.  I shared with you on Monday my excitement that my friend, Adeye, was also advocating for Village of Hope.  She’s added some awesome items for a giveaway to coincide with her project, Mission: A House for Life.  Click HERE to read Adeye’s post and enter her giveaway.  Tomorrow is the big day for the Both Hands project our 14-year-old daughter, Mattie, organized.  Please click HERE to read about that.  Pray for God to bless this widow and Village of Hope through this project.  Thank you!

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