Friday, February 4, 2011


This post is a little long.  I considered making it a two-part series but then it would end with a cliffhanger and since I've been alluding to our big decision long enough already, I just decided to post the whole long story at once :)

In December, my husband and I went to see the documentary film Race to Nowhere.  It started us on a journey we hadn't planned.  The film critiques the American Educational system highlighting the effects of the tremendous pressure children are under, the limitations put on teachers to educate their students because of the test driven culture of schools and the inadequacies of the system to produce students who love learning and are creative thinkers and problem solvers.  Race to Nowhere focuses primarily on the issues as they impact middle school and high school students.

While our children are younger, we could not help but fast forward a few years and imagine how our own would ultimately fare in this system.  Especially our oldest who struggles with anxiety in general and needs down time to unwind after school.  He has already come to the point where he says he hates school and he hates learning.  He also claims to hate history and writing.  This breaks my heart.

A week or so later, a friend posted this video on her Facebook wall.  I was fascinated.  Sir Ken's words so resonated with me and the thoughts still tumbling around in my mind from Race to Nowhere.  I watched every YouTube video of him I could find and started reading his book, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything.  In a nutshell, Sir Ken's passion is helping others find and develop their own passion and he critiques our educational system for being antiquated and squelching creativity.

With all this swirling around in my mind, I contacted the fifth grade teachers at our school, the grade our oldest would be in next year, and asked about the workload we should expect for next year.  Our oldest is very bright and does very well in school but after talking with the teachers, I knew the homework and testing load for next year would overwhelm him and eat up the free time he needs.

My husband and I resuscitated an option we had considered and decided against twice before- homeschooling.  We laid out our goals for our children's education and childhood and determined that we wanted their education to be engaging and interesting, inspiring inquisitiveness and a love of learning.  We want them to have time to explore their interests, develop their creativity and discover their unique giftings and callings from God.  The only school option that we thought might meet those criteria was a Montessori program.  Two things would prevent us from going that route: the expense (yikes! and we're used to a private school tuition) and the fact the ones that are close enough go only to sixth or eighth grade.  The only other option I know of that would allow for our educational goals to be met is homeschooling.

As I mentioned, we've been down this road before so I knew just who to go to for advice and encouragement.  (Thank you Jen, Andrea, Layla, Deirdre and Dorothy!)  God has been so faithful to guide us in this process.  He has opened so many doors- a few that completely shocked me- and we are finally ready to take the final step through in faith.  We have decided that we will homeschool our two boys next year and our daughter will go to Kindergarten at the school they all attend right now.  Our boys will be in fifth and second grade next year.  If all goes well and homeschooling is, in fact, a good fit for our family, we will bring our girl home for first grade the following year.

For a few reasons, we have not yet told the school or most of our friends there (though a few close ones are in the know).  That will come in the next month or so, I think.

There's so much more I want to share but I know this is a ridiculously long post already :)  I look forward to sharing the glimpses of His hand in this, how I plan to take care of myself as I take on a new role and responsibilities, the curricula I'm choosing, etc.  Thank you, bloggy friends, for praying for us as we walked through this decision!  And for sticking around for this long-winded story ;)


Mary B said...

Dear Friend...I have applaud you & your husband for having the grace and courage to follow the Lord's lead. So much is on my heart and mind for you...I will continue to pray for you as your start down this new path. Bless you my friend, Mary

Shelli said...

That is a big decision, indeed! And one you obviously did not take lightly. It is beautiful to see how you sought the Lord; He will surely guide your steps and light the path. I'll be praying for you as you prepare for this new journey. I know making a big decision brings much relief, but also much responsibility. Blessings to you and your family!

Douglas Dahl said...

Thanks for post. We have homeschooled for 11 years. We first started out for academic reasons, but eventually found the greatest blessing of it was how it freed up so much time to be with our children,disciple, and nurish them. They score very high on all those tests we must give them...but the greatest blessing is in that we can really train them in "the way they should go". It is hard work, but what in life that is worthwile isn't. Best Wishes

Andrea said...

I am so happy how you and Tom came to your decision. And so happy you feel at peace about it. I look forward to how your year goes and you know I am here for encouragement and support in whatever way you need!

amy said...

i love your reasons for this decision. we used to be so anti-homeschooling, God really worked on our hearts to lead us to where we are today. six kids, homeschooling, and we love it. wouldn't change a thing!

Famaddict said...

Natalie, I don't know how I missed this post! I know that you are going to have a blast home schooling. You are so gifted and so prepared already. Just wait until you see how much your kids enjoy learning (and how much more they learn) after a year of detox from all that pressure of traditional school. And since you are so fond of the montessori school philosophy, you can just incorporate those methods into your teaching and you will have an affordable montessori homeschool. :-) Your relationships within your family are going to grow so much deeper as you travel this road together. We will be praying for you guys!
I also want to say that really agree with your goals as well. My philosophy has become, "I'll never be able to teach them everything they need to know, but if I can teach them to love learning and to effectively gather information, they will be equipped to achieve anything the Lord has for them." On bad days I actually repeat that to myself so that I remember to prioritize enjoyment at least as much as accomplishment. It seems you are setting out with that priority, so you have a head start on me! LOL Be blessed, Nat!


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