Tuesday, June 30

Intentional Choice

Before we even moved to Denver I did some serious re-evaluation of the value of a Christian homeschool co-op. I completely understand the reason for their existence and I even helped start one up in our city. But in terms of living missionally, I had difficulty lining up my family's vision with that of the Christian co-op.

You see, I do not homeschool my children in order to shelter them from the world. Therein lies one of the major differences between me and others on this journey. I understand that rationale I just, respectfully, don't share it. I do exercise my freedom to expose my kids to the less idyllic things of the world when it's appropriate to do so (on our family's timetable and not someone else's) and when we can have a decent two-way discussion about it.

In addition to this, I want to instill in my kids that its okay to feel comfortable with people who are different from them be it in philosophy, lifestyle, worldview or anything. In my experience with Christian co-ops, there tended to be a moral agenda that was assumed to be bottom-line biblical. There was also a political agenda that was actually based on fear. While there were many in the co-op who truly loved others, there was a general feeling that we needed to be intently concerned about ourselves and minimally concerned about the world around us. I struggled with this because I understood (and still understand) it, I just couldn't set my priorities that way knowing that the gospel is the good news that God has come to rescue and redeem all of creation through the work of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

In my attempt to do what Jesus said... to be "salt and light" in the world... I needed to step out of the Christian bubble, to engage the culture around me so that in knowing it more fully I could bless it. To, first of all, love it. Plain and simple. I have difficulty intentionally doing that in a homogeneous group that portends to exist outside of and boldly against culture.

The homeschooling group I've found here in Denver is a wonderful mix of all kinds of families. I suspect a good many have a Christian belief system, but that's not the main assumption we make about each other. The things that bind us together are the basic daily tasks of schooling, loving and training our children well, exposing them to a myriad of transformative encounters, and encouraging one another through the less idyllic experiences of our own lives. It's stretching me as I learn a deeper way to love and listen. There is much to be learned here, but if I can't love learning (or love people) then I can't teach my kids to do the same.

Tough stuff to think about.

Saturday, June 27

Intentional Rest

This summer isn't quite the relaxing time I had hoped for so far. These first few weeks have been filled with great, meaningful stuff. I mean how can you go wrong with a Park and Rec party...summer reading kickoffs...a week-long online ministry conference...co-op park day...Tae Kwon Do...Baseball...soccer...mentoring sessions...worship...a killer book sale...a day at the lake...a home educator conference...date night...a wildlife tour...a visit from my folks...a spraypark...a surprise visit from Portland friends...Junior Police Academy...dinner for friends who had a hard week...

I supposed it's possible to overdo it even though it was all wonderful. This introvert needs serious recharge time.

Today made up for all of the busy-ness and even without a nap I was able to rest. I had breakfast with a friend that lasted until lunchtime. Then, DH decided to institute Quiet Reading time for the older boys while the youngest napped (genius!), I worked on photo albums, began reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle aloud to B and J, had an early & easy spaghetti dinner, took a family walk that was just shy of five miles (!), and there's still time to read a book.

Today had all the elements I love about summer: long conversations, time with my kids, exercise, the outdoors, my happy husband, cooperation... and right now the pink sunlight is bouncing off the clouds over the Rockies.

I need to have more days like this.

Because on Monday there's soccer, Taekwon Do, team pictures, a baseball game...

Sunday, June 21

Intentional Slam

I was at a homeschool conference this weekend. One presenter passionately noted that home schooled students' average standardized test scores are in the 85th percentile, that the scores for homeschooled students whose parents were certified teachers had zero difference from those whose parents were not and on and on and on about how homeschooled children are actually taught how to think. Then he said, "Yet 95% of the professional educators say that homeschooling is the very worst form of education. What's wrong with these people?!?!?" [Outstretched arms, condescending tone of voice... the whole ball of wax]

One dad's sarcastic response was
"They were public schooled."

I wanted to hang my head in shame. Not just for the "us vs. them" mentality. Not just for the arrogance that was displayed. But because somehow these people have forgotten that

And they learned how to think. In fact they think that they think very well, thank you very much.

In another presentation the audience snickered at the movie trailer for An Inconvenient Truth, bemoaned the passing of the days when Saturday morning t.v. actually showed "good cartoons" (huh?) and actually guffawed at the phrase, "Can't we all just get along?"

Sigh. It seems like a legitimate question to me.

Just for the record, I think the Bible is true: "Knowledge puffs up."

Thursday, June 11

Intentional Toileting

This is the big summer for S. He is now potty training.

I'm taking a different approach this time. I'm beginning by reading him books about going potty on the toilet, talking about body parts when he's in the bath (he already realizes that girls don't "have one") and mentioning when changing his diaper that it's cleaner to go in the toilet. I'm just trying to make it part of his vocabulary, to infuse it into our life before he's expected to give it a shot. His interest is slowly growing. His potty chair is in the bathroom but he says "it's broken" because the batteries need to be replaced before it will play music. All in good time. Just building the anticipation for him.

For the record, I am horrible at this. J wasn't deemed trained until he was almost 5 and B didn't stop having accidents until his fourth summer. I am nervous to say the least. (What if he doesn't get it before we start school again in August?)

I do this in the summer for a few reasons: Because during the school year I just can't take the time to stop every 20 minutes to take him. Because if it's necessary to go without pants for a while then doing this at colder times of year won't really work. Because this year we don't have any (more) big road trips planned. Because I am more relaxed.

In addition to this, I want to spend some intentional time with him in some learning activities. Letters, numbers, colors, shapes. Stuff he can develop in his head while his other end is developing its own... stuff. That's holistic education at its finest right there.

Monday, June 8

We Deal With This

Here's a short article on homeschooling a child with ADHD. It's a good reminder.

How To Effectively Home School an ADHD Child

Wednesday, June 3

Intentional Summer, Part 2

Spiritual Discussion (Park Group) for Moms

Beginning Friday, June 12, 2009

Being intentional about our hearts and relationships is tough as busy moms. If you have a hard time hearing God above the noise of daily life, join other TNL moms for this intentional summer park group.

Bring your children with you and any gear or snacks that you think they will need. Feel free to get up from the group discussion to help or play with them at any point. We will meet every other Friday from 10-12 beginning June 12.

We'll process through Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God's Transforming Presence by Ruth Haley Barton. The book is available at TNL’s information table for $12.

5th Grade Report

I had a hard time deciding last year if we could really afford to buy IEW's writing program. I was looking at buying the whole ball of wax so it was a bit pricey.

But now, at the end of our year, I think it was the best purchase we've made yet. My son who hates to write just finished a 3+ page report on the life of John F. Kennedy. And its GOOD.

The report has been about a three month project (with about four weeks off in the middle while we studied space) and there was only minimal whining on his part.

IEW makes the writing process so easy for him to follow. It helps him understand how NOT to plagiarize, the coolness of going back to edit and tweak, and it gives him the skills and confidence to produce solid, clear writing. I bought the DVD set so Mr. Pudewa teaches him the skills rather than me trying to do it myself. He's a much more patient teacher than I am (of course his class is much less ADD than mine).

My son wrote a report. I'm absolutely thrilled.