Saturday, July 4, 2009

Changes at BHA

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure to get to know another homeschool family in our area who have a daughter in high school. We met their daughter first because she and Anna were in an oil painting class together. This young lady is a perfect model of what I would hope for my daughters: first and foremost she is a Christian whose faith shines through all she does. She's also kind, intelligent, modest, artistic, and a joy to be around. We met her when we were just six months into our homeschool adventure and because of her I dared to dream that I might be able to homeschool my children through high school as well. Before that, when asked of our future homeschooling plans, my standard reply was, "We're taking it one year at a time." I've learned over the years to never forget that God is in control and knows much better than I what the future holds for our homeschooling.

Nevertheless, I also believe it is foolish not to be prepared. If I am called to homeschool my children today then I also need to be forward-looking, choosing a course of study that will build over time and prepare my children to fulfill God's purposes for them. That's why when I found a great deal on some used books a few months ago I snapped them up, even though I knew we wouldn't need them for two more years. That's why I've already read through the portions of The Well-Trained Mind that deal with the Rhetoric stage, twice. That's why I'm always asking questions of homeschoolers who have high school students.

Where is this post leading? Marc and I have decided that God is leading us down a slightly different path in our homeschool journey. Anna will be attending a brick-and-mortar school this fall. This option was not even on our radar three months ago, yet through prayer and careful research we have decided this is the best decision for all our children. If you are surprised at this news, you cannot possibly be more surprised than Marc and I are, not to mention Anna (although I should add, pleasantly surprised).

For some, the natural reaction will be to assume that we were dissatisfied with homeschooling or we were struggling. Dissatisfied? Never! Struggles? Show me a homeschool family that doesn't have struggles! I have struggled with juggling the demands of teaching a beginning Logic stage child, who reads twice as fast as I do and needs greater and greater challenge, with two younger students (one age wise and the other developmentally speaking) who need a much less structured environment that will allow for more opportunities for dynamic learning. I have also written about our struggles to find a co-op or other gathering that will provide my children opportunities to build friendships. Every year our homeschooling goes better and better, but these two challenges having been weighing my heart for some time. Even so, I never considered that sending Anna to school was the answer.

God started to reveal this new path in the spring through two events: Anna running track and the announcement that Anna's best friend would be going to a new school in the fall. The track team was made up of some homeschool students, but mostly students who attend a Christian classical school in our area. I have never met a nicer group of parents and coaches, and I made a mental note that this reflected very nicely on the school. And then my dear friend, mother of Anna's best friend, told me she was pulling her three daughters out of public school to attend this same school. The more she told me about the school, the more I was intrigued.

We've done the Christian school thing before --Anna attended one in Chicago and one here, Ryne just attended the one here with Anna. And while Christian schooling offers many benefits, Marc and I felt homeschooling fit our family's needs better. But I believe the school we've now decided on will also be good fit. For one thing, the school matches our values and beliefs because it embraces the Reformed faith. It uses Classical methodology and employs University-Model Schooling (UMS). Practically speaking, with UMS a student attends classes at the school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but on Tuesday and Thursday she will be at home. Parents are then required to be partners with the school, guiding their children on those days at home.

With this system I will still be involved in Anna's formal education, but I will also be freed up to tailor our homeschooling to better meet Ryne and Grace's needs. Anna will receive the challenge she needs and be given the opportunity to make new friends as well as further develop her friendship with her best friend. We've been impressed with all the faculty and administrators we've met. I've also had a close look at the six grade curriculum, and it is excellent. It looks like there will be 15-18 kids in her class, and her classroom is quite spacious and tastefully decorated.

There are a few downsides: while they will be covering all the same subjects we have done at home, each uses a different curriculum. LOL, all those hours of research I spent trying to find the "best" seem to have washed down the drain. Instead of the Latin for Children series, they use the Canon Press series (for 6th grade they will use Latin Grammar I). Instead of our beloved Math U See, it will be back to Saxon. Of course, I know plenty of homeschoolers love these curricula, so I need to not be too bothered by this. Probably most disappointing is that they will be covering year four in the history rotation, 1815 to present, meaning Anna will miss the third year in the rotation. Well, sort of. This week she and I started going through Story of the World 3 at an accelerated pace. We will finish reading through it before school starts in August, as well as a few extra literary works, and try to cover a few key memorization items. It's not ideal, but will have to do. We're also having to do a crash course in Latin since we were only about two-thirds the way through Primer B and according to the school's schedule she should have completed three years of Latin by now. But we have been reassured that she will be fine because they accommodate for students coming with no Latin background at all.

So that is the big change. I am excited, but also a little sad. It's hard to fight the temptation to think that I might have failed by not being able to do it all. But ultimately I know that Marc and I will still be the primary influences in her educational and spiritual development. We would not have chosen a school that undermined this authority. So even if someday, assuming she graduates from this school, her diploma has another school's name, I know in my heart she will really be a graduate of Blue House Academy.


  1. It sounds like this school is a blessing from God... no need to feel like you failed. You're just following His lead. It's great that she will be home two days each week and that the school is reformed. That is such a blessing. It is difficult enough to find a reformed church, but a reformed school... WOW! Praise the Lord!

  2. God always blesses us when we listen to His direction! and when DH and I are in agreement and we have been praying about it- we KNOW it is the right answer. Be blessed this next year w/ the new adventure.

  3. You can never go wrong by following the path God lays out for you, whether or not you envisioned it three months prior . . . You can't go wrong by following His lead!

  4. Sometimes I don't comment because I don't know much about homeschooling...but I always enjoy reading your posts. You are a great example of doing what's best for your child. I hope you don't give in to feeling like you have to fit a homeschooling mold, but I bet you are going to miss some of that precious time with Anna. But that's what mom's do! You are doing what is best for her, good for you!


  5. I have two very, dear friends who have traveled the same path your about to embark on.

    They love it!

  6. I truly hope everything goes well at the new school for Anna. It sounds like you have been very blessed to be told of a school that will help you in your parenting of the boys, while also letting you have more time with Anna at home each week than is usual for a bricks-and-mortar school, given the UMS model. That is great!

    I am interested to know how it all works out. When we enrolled Joshua in what I call away-school (ie, not homeschool), we had no idea of the challenges he would face. The biggest one, I think, was that he was used to having me help him one-to-one much more than was available at school, and so he was less independent than other students who had been to the school for two years. Also, we found that because I had used a model of schooling that introduces independent writing later on (using tracework and copywork for most writing in the early years), although his penmanship was of a much higher standard than other students, his ability to write straight from his own thoughts (without me transcribing his narrations so he could copy) was lower. He has overcome a lot of these problems in the first six months, however.

    He still needs to work on his concentration in a classroom of students, but his teacher and I know he is just being a normal boy.

    One other problem, which we did not for-see at all, was that his first teacher (we swapped schools at the end of the first term) did not test his ability at all, and just assumed (I think) that he couldn't do anything, since he had been homeschooled. He already read at a mid-first-grade level entering grade one, and could do single digit arithmetic in his head, and she had him cutting and pasting whole pages of "the", "and", ad infinitum and working for a whole term on number recognition 0-5! This made the change to another class in a different school a big adjustment, because he had already become used to the idea that he didn't have to put in any effort at all to get his school work completed, so he was shocked when he was given work that was actually at his own academic level. But I was pleased at the change!

    Obviously your experiences with Anna will be different, but knowing that I will be putting our other kids into away-school when they are a little older has made me change the way I do homeschool a bit. Now I don't just educate them with a homeschool future in mind, I educate them using my preferred homeschool model tweaked a bit to help them succeed in school when they do got there.

    ~ Sharon

  7. Looks like a bit of a change for your family - but that isn't a bad thing if you are following God'd leading. He knows what He's doing! Can't wait to hear how you all adjust....

  8. I'm assuming you're referring to FCA?? We attended FCC before NRC. A great group of people. We actually visited the school when we first moved to KC and still think about sending the kids there one day...

    My cousin attended their model school in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area...Corem Deo...and got a great education!

    As for them being Reformed, I know they embrace TULIP, but I know they don't believe in infant baptism and other aspects of Reformed theology. That's why we ended up leaving the church.