Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Beautiful Response

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My friend, Belinda wrote this beautiful reply to my May 4th post called Test Prep , and I wanted to post it as a regular post and not in the comments section!

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Standardized tests…..it's kind of funny...now, not so much then.  I'm Liz's mom.   Liz, 18 years old, is one of six children - number 3 in the line-up. We homeschool. 
Last year I was worrying because my youngest wasn't doing as well as I thought he should on the 3rd grade standardized test.  My evaluator heard me and dug out the standardized test that Liz took in 3rd grade.  Their scores were almost exactly the same.  My evaluator smiled and said, "Don't worry.  This is how all of your children test at this age. They are slow to get going but once they do, they really take off."  Boy, was I glad when I received that encouragement. 
We didn't push math with Liz.  She was just able to do it and we just moved along as she progressed.  Yes, she’s in Calculus.  Calculus was never my goal.  It was just the next in the line of courses.  Not all of my children are “gifted” in math and math is not the only “gift” Liz has.  She can make a fine 4 course gourmet meal with ingredients that blow my food budget.  She loves to knit and play the piano.  She will graduate from home schooling this year and has been accepted to a college for nursing that had a required minimum SAT score.  She would like to get married and have 10 kids.
Our second child, Liz’s older sister, Becca (2006 homeschool graduate; 2009 college graduate) is not gifted in math.  (She also has trouble making an apple pie but can out-drive most boys in a manual 4-wheel drive.  Yes, they’re sisters.)  She would do the math that was required but didn’t enjoy it or retain it.  Becca’s gift is in writing.  She was paid for articles that she wrote for magazines while she was still in high school (homeschool).  That’s something her Lancaster Bible College English professors hadn’t done.  No one told her what was normal for a high school-age student, so she did things that others don’t normally do. She graduated with a BA in English in 3 ½ years this past December.  It took her less than 1 month to find a full-time job in her field.  (A field that has been hit hard in this economy - newspaper journalism.)
Our oldest son, Lewis (1999 homeschool graduate), did not go to college.  He took a college class at a local college in high school (homeschool) but decided it wasn’t for him.  Instead during his high school years, we encouraged him to do what he was interested in.  He took private pilot lessons (actual flying and schooling, he was the only one under 18 in the class) and in his senior year took a field trip with a group of homeschoolers led by a Christian young earth biologist through the United States.  They hiked mountains, had permission to dig for fossils on private land, studied/visited petrified forests, visited Mt. Saint Helens, went cave spelunking, etc... all from a young earth perspective. These things he paid for from his own money that he earned with a part-time job.
Our fourth child, Emily, will graduate next year.  She loves to garden and has had her heart set on Longwood’s Professional Gardener’s Program for four years now.  This year she was accepted to Longwood’s high school internship program.  She has asked to study Latin this year.  What child wants to do Latin?  Em does.  She says it will come in handy for learning the botanical names of plants.  I waited to see if she was serious (Latin programs are expensive.).  She studied on her own with books from the library.  We finally broke down and bought a $200 Latin program.
Now, I can't do Calculus.  I'm a high school drop out with a GED.  (I dropped out not because of grades but because of bad decisions (and the consequences) I made while in rebellion to God and my parents.)  The farthest I went in math was Algebra I and Geometry.  We have purchased, Liz, math curriculum that includes lectures and video and well….she excels.  Her SAT scores showed that.
If public schools were succeeding then you wouldn’t find public school graduates in the remedial courses offered by colleges.  Those courses are packed.  The truth is some kids struggle with some subjects; that includes homeschoolers, public school children and private school children. Homeschooling works.  Many homeschool moms need to be reminded of this.  Homeschooling moms are often filled with self doubt.  We are told we can’t produce successful, articulate, college-ready, adults especially if the moms themselves don’t hold a college degree.  Be encouraged you can!! 
What if the children decided not to go to college?  What if Liz with her grades and abilities after highschool decided to find a job or get married, how would I feel?  Was all of it a waste?  Never!!  How can the years of getting to know my children be a waste?  I have enjoyed watching them learn and grow and discover.  Looking back, I have no doubt that God directed our family to home school.  I have no regrets in obeying my Lord and Savior. Nor do I have any preconceived ideas on how their lives/careers should go once they’ve graduated.  All I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that God wanted our family to homeschool and we obeyed.  What His plan is for the rest of their lives is well….up to God and His leading and their obedience. 
Part of homeschooling is knowing your children and advancing their curriculum as they learn.  Our schooling is low stress, high interest, and God-centered.  I don’t have children that are stressed because we advance at their pace.  I don’t have children that are bored because along with the “required courses” we seek additional subjects that encourage and fall into line with their interests, not the state’s.  We enjoy and feel blessed to have that freedom. 
 This homeschooling adventure….is not a testimony of my intelligence, education, or abilities.  My story is that God is faithful.  He is still a God that does miracles.  God directed and my husband and I followed.  If God has led you to do something, He will always provide – the finances, the ability, and the encouragement.  Our family is proof, even if the 3rd, 5th or 8th grade standardized testing says otherwise.
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Home Education is a beautiful thing.  We do it because God has called us to disciple our children.  I wouldn't trade the time I have had with my children, 2 who have graduated, 1 who graduates next year and 3 still in school.  

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