Friday, March 12, 2010

Big Decisions, Part I

We have been presented with an interesting situation. It is one that we were not actively seeking out, nor did we see coming.

It has happened so quickly that I am not sure what to think about it.

We got a call from a friend this week whose children were accepted into a very nice charter school that is really hard to get into. There are long waiting lists and they do a lottery to choose new families.

She informed us that they had one opening for 1st grade. So, Van gave them a call and, sure enough, they just needed to do a placement test and get our registration form, and we would be all set to start April 6th.

Just to give you a little background - we had looked into this school several years ago and were really impressed with it. They have school year-round which helps the students retain more of what they learn and gives really nice breaks all year long (one complete week or more off per month on average). They also get one month off in the summer, so they don't have to be in school the whole time all their friends are out for Summer Break. They adapt the style of learning to each individual student because they understand that not all students learn in the same way. Parental involvement is mandatory; you are required to volunteer a certain amount of hours each week. Art and science are the emphasis, although they teach all subjects from a classical curriculum (you can google what that means because that is almost a whole other post). We have been informed that they teach both creation and evolution (we haven't verified that yet, but we will), which is what we plan on doing in home-schooling in order to help her form a very intentional and studied-out worldview.

Another thing we like is that a large majority of the students there were formerly home-educated and are part of families who have a lot of the same moral standards and beliefs that we have. I know that doesn't necessarily mean anything because those kids can sometimes be the worst ones when they are given a little freedom, but sometimes it ends up being the other way around instead.

Anyway, for various reasons, we did not end up sending her there.

And now we are faced with this very sudden decision.

We are rather conflicted about it. Home-schooling has started to feel more comfortable, and yet, there are still some issues involved.

Allika has a hard time interacting with and relating to children her own age. She is an only child and also experienced some minor "bullying" issues in the Montessori school she was in previous to home-schooling. These factors cause her to relate extremely well to adults, but shy away from forming new relationships with children her age.

I am well aware of all the talking points home-schoolers use regarding socialization. I was home-schooled growing up and, obviously, home-school my own daughter. I understand that home-schooling itself does not cause socialization problems for children later on in life. However, I do believe that there may be other issues that could potentially hold a child back socially, and I am not sure if Allika experiences those issues or not.

(By the way, there are several things involved which I can't really share on this blog at this point. I guess that seems kind of unfair to those of you reading my blog and trying to understand our dilemma.)

Her counselor has told me that I wear too many hats in my relationship with her because I am, of course, her mother, but I also have to take on the roles of friend, sibling, and teacher. If you will remember a while back, I posted about some of the difficulties being her teacher has added to our relationship. She has advised that allowing someone else to fill the role of teacher would free me up to be her mother and friend.

Having said all that, I have gotten to a place where I think home-schooling is working better for us. We are approaching the end of our first year, and I am looking forward to beginning our second year in the Fall. I love getting to teach her things, although it hasn't been as "Little House on the Prairie-ish" as I had originally envisioned. Having her home with me is wonderful, and I will certainly miss her during those thirty-five hours a week that she will be gone. I ask myself if that is a valid reason to keep her home with me or just my controlling nature.

Here in the cities there are so many opportunities for home-schoolers that I never had growing up. There are excellent drama clubs, speech clubs, debate teams, competitive sports, and so many other options for kids who are taught at home. I have joined a really great and supportive home-school coop and will be able to put Allika in various classes one day a week next year.

Furthermore, our community offers many wonderful learning opportunities at very affordable prices.

All of these should provide Allika with plenty of chances to socialize and learn from someone besides me.

But not on a daily basis.

And she is still an only child.

And I would be deeply involved with her education if it were out of the home.

And they would capitalize on her strengths, which happen to be my weaknesses (art and science).

And I could go on and on with the dilemma we find ourselves faced with.

So, we wonder - is God plopping this in our laps because it would be a beneficial change? Or is God using this difficult choice to cement our decision to home-school our daughter?

We still have a meeting with them to test Allika and observe several classes. There are still doors God can swing wide open or slam completely shut. I wish he always worked that way. But sometimes he doesn't make it very obvious, and we don't feel his definite leading until years later when we can clearly see why we were supposed to do one thing over another.

In the meantime, we will keep asking for wisdom.


  1. Tanager;

    You and Van are very good at making decisions.
    I can see that you have thought out all of the
    angles (or most of them). I would give my free advice.
    1.) Go with the opportunity, but ALWAYS keep
    in mind that you and Van might have to
    reverse this decision. DO NOT BE AFRAID
    see something rearing up in the form of
    wrong teaching (worldly teachings) con-
    flicting with what you folks want taught.
    2.) BE TOTALLY INVOLVED. This goes for any
    kind of system you are working with. So
    many Christian parents assume that all
    is going well. More than likely, and in
    some certain ways all may NOT be going
    the way that y'all intend it to go. Be
    alert and be involved.
    I know that you will make good, prayerful
    decisions in this matter.

    Give Alli a squeeze and kiss from her Grand
    Pa and Grand Ma.

    Love you
    Dad and Mom

  2. Thanks, Dad for the advice. Love you!