Tag Archives: education

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School starts today, at least for most of the friends in our smallish community. This is the day my Facebook feed will be packed with excited faces, posed eagerly in front of a school building with brand new clothes and a heavily-laden backpack. But for the first time in five years, my kids won't be with them. I won't be driving them to school, and we won't walk down those familiar halls packed with anxious parents to the freshly-decorated room they will call home for the next nine months.

This is the year my kids (and I) begin a new adventure: homeschool.

How and Why We Made the Transition from Public School to Homeschool | www.thereisgrace.com

It still seems a little strange to say, We are homeschooling. Not strange in an uneasy way, but strange in a "we're about to embark on a whole new way of life" way.

I am a firm believer that a family's decision of how to educate their children is a very personal one. In fact, the goal of The Great {Education} Debate series I did a couple of years ago was to explore the different educational options that work for different families in different situations.

In that series, I was very open about Why We Chose Public School, and as I recently reread that post, I realized I still stand behind everything I said. It was the right decision for our family at that time. When I wrote it two years ago, homeschooling was the furthest thing from my mind, but God has a funny sense of humor. In fact, I chuckled when I read this quote I wrote back then:

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Ironic, that the very principle that confirmed our decision for public school back then is the same principle that led us to homeschooling now: obedience. Crazy how we simply can't put God (or His plans) in a box, huh? (Even crazier how many times I try to do so!)

So, how did we come to the decision to homeschool? Very carefully. 🙂 In fact, it was a multi-step process that all came down to that one, simple, frightening word: obedience.

Here's what that looked like for us:

Desire

Back in January, in an effort to #BeIntentional in every area of my life, I began to pray--really pray--for God's blessing and favor on our family. After battling cancer for more than a year, I wanted desperately to regain the time I'd missed out on with my family. It didn't seem fair that my kids had been without their mom at times, simply because I was fighting for my life. I believe God desires to do more than simply heal. I believe He also wants to restore what the enemy tries to take from us. So I prayed for God to restore the time that cancer stole from my family.

I will always show you where to go. I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. (Isaiah 58:11-12, The Message)

As I prayed, God began to whisper, homeschool. I chuckled to myself and continued to pray. He would whisper again, homeschool. I would laugh a little louder and whisper back, Disney World. Seriously, wouldn't it make more sense for God to bless us with a trip to Disney World than to radically change our lives with something like homeschool?! And yet, God doesn't seem the least bit concerned with what makes sense to me! 😉

I continued to pray (for a free trip to Disney World), and as I did, the idea of homeschooling began to shift from being "great in theory" to becoming something I really wanted to do. I decided to casually mention it to my husband, hoping he would dismiss it and we could move on with life. But he didn't. Instead, his response was, "Maybe we should consider it." (WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?)

Discussion

I am blessed with a fantastic community of like-minded mamas, many of whom homeschool their children. So I asked them questions...A LOT of questions. I went to meetings. I read blogs and articles on homeschooling. I messaged FB friends whom I knew were homeschoolers. I called my sister (who homeschools) and talked her ear off on more than one occasion!

The more I learned about it, the stronger my desire grew. Isn't it funny how God directs your steps by leading with your heart?

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. (Psalm 37:23, NLT)

I took all my information and research back to my husband, and we both agreed: homeschooling seemed like a good fit for our family at this time. There was one problem: We didn't know how to make it work. I was only a few months from my battle with cancer; was it really a good idea to take on a huge life change like homeschooling? Plus, I had just released my book, and the promotion alone would be a full-time job. Then, of course, there was the financial side. Unfortunately, homeschooling is not covered by our taxes like public school, not to mention that huge pit of medical debt we are still climbing out of.

Decision

By this time, we both wanted to make the leap to homeschool, but we just couldn't figure out how. We were at a crossroads. Then I got a phone call from the homeschool community we were interested in. I'd already met with the director, asked questions, and expressed our interest in the community if we chose to leave public school.

She was calling to let me know the community would be growing in the fall, and they would need to open another class for 9-12 year olds (my daughter's age). If we decided to homeschool, would I consider tutoring the class...which is heavy on English grammar and writing. It would pay enough to cover the tuition for both our kids.

If she had asked me to tutor science or geography or Spanish, I would have had to politely decline (and keep from laughing out loud). But English and writing.....um, let me think about...YES! Sign me up!!!

I kept my composure and told her I'd discuss it with my husband. Honestly, there wasn't much discussion, because when I told him, he simply said, "This is obviously God. Tell her 'yes.'"

That's probably more than you ever wanted to know about our decision to transition from public school to homeschool. So, why share all of this? Maybe your feeling a tug toward home education, or Christian education, or private education. Maybe you're considering a huge life change in another area--a move, a job change, or a relationship. Maybe you simply need direction in your everyday life.

Whatever the decision--whether big or small--remember God is working for your good. Your job is simply to seek His wisdom, follow His leading, and trust His plan.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. (Proverbs 3:5,6 The Message)

In what ways has God ordered your steps lately?

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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I am a firm believer in learning from our experiences, and if there's one thing that cancer has taught me, it's to slow down and savor life. I am a deeply committed, type-A overachiever. I like to be busy. So it's hard for me to just. stop. doing. When I was forced to do just that last fall and focus entirely on my health and my family, I found a pace that I fell in love with.

I entered 2014 with a resolve to simplify my life. The first thing I noticed is how truly difficult it is to live simply. It soon became clear that if I want my family to eat more simply (and healthy), create wiggle room in our routines, and truly focus on what matters in life, I would need to make some tough choices. It won't just happen; I would have to be intentional about it.

So when I was presented with the opportunity to review Tsh Oxenreider's new book, Notes from a Blue Bike, I planned to decline, proud of myself for drawing some much-needed boundary lines. Then I read the subtitle to the book: The Art of Living Intentionally in a Chaotic World. Well, given my new lofty goal of simplicity, it would just be irresponsible of me to not review the book, wouldn't it?

So I agreed, and I'm so glad I did!

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Tsh's warm and conversational writing style drew me in instantly. It was less like reading a book and more like chatting with a friend over coffee, hearing about her wild, overseas adventures. I flew through the short chapters easily. Who wants to wade through long and cumbersome chapters in a book about living simply? Tsh nailed it here...short and to the point.

I quickly realized Tsh understood my goals, as well as my dilemmas, in achieving a simpler life. After returning from life overseas, Tsh found herself in the midst of the North American chaos to which most of us have grown accustomed. Realizing her new life competed with her longing for simplicity, Tsh created a list of five areas in which her family would live with intention: food, work, education, travel, and entertainment.

To live with intention means to make little daily choices that resonate deeply in our souls.
~Tsh Oxenreider

The principles Tsh shares for pursuing simplicity, and the wisdom with which she applies those principles in her daily life, are easily worth the read. Yes, living intentionally takes time and energy, and Tsh shows you how to make it completely doable.

Here are some of my takeaways from the areas Tsh addresses:

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Food
Tsh introduced me to the term "slow food":  contrasting the fast-food culture by growing (or purchasing locally), cooking, and eating good, clean food. I love it! As a cancer-fighter and mother of a child with multiple food allergies, overhauling our family's diet has become a pet project of mine. Plus, she set my all-or-nothing personality at ease with her 80/20 principle: "If 80 percent of my family's food consumption involves whole, seasonal food made with care, then we're doing all right. The 20 percent is the sprinkles on top of the ice cream. Literally."

Jobs

Work
Tsh shares a story in this section of visiting a friend who introduced her to the concept of a "boundary stone" which was simply a tangible reminder to work with intention. Tsh explains it this way, "To give myself the time and freedom to create my best art, and to confidently turn down those roles and opportunities that aren't the best fit." As a chronic people-pleaser, I sure needed that one...anyone else?

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Entertainment
Tsh's honest struggle with her family in this area was refreshing...to simply know that we are not alone in the battle is comforting. And to know that she has made intentional choices that fit her family reminds me that, with a little work, it is possible. My favorite line from this section: "When we're intentional about what we watch, it's a lot more interesting to watch it."

Tsh explores two other areas of living intentionally, education and travel. She writes beautifully and compellingly about each, but I'll let you read those for yourself. I don't want to give away all her wisdom!

If you find a longing somewhere inside for a quieter, simpler life, it won't be easy. It will take intentionality and perseverance. But you don't have to go it alone, Tsh has bravely paved the way for us. And if simplicity is a quest you're on, you might want to pick up this handy little guide to help you along the way.

We were made to live slower than our fast-paced Western culture deems normal. But it means paddling upstream through strong currents. ~Tsh Oxenreider

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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We've made it to the end of August, which means the last week of The Great {Education} Debate. We've looked at public school, homeschool, and the need for different options in different seasons. I had planned to write about food allergies in schools today, but it seemed we had overlooked a major educational option: Christian schools.

Try as I might, I could not find a guest blogger with a child in Christian school. (If you are one, I apologize for not finding you...I would love your feedback in the comments!) Then it dawned on me...while I have not parented a child in Christian school, I am the product of a Christian high school and college. I just might have some insights to offer.

So, if you don't mind a slightly different approach, I'd like to share some pros and cons of Christian school, based on my experience as a student.

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Reasons to Send Your Child to Christian School (Pros):

1. Your child will be taught from a Biblical perspective which will (hopefully) help them form a Biblical world view. As a high school student I greatly disliked Science. Nothing about the subject appealed to me. Give me a sentence to diagram or a literature test any day, but please don't make me cut open a frog!

Then I took Anatomy for one semester. I don't even remember the teacher's name, but she was one of my favorite teachers. Why? She was passionate about what she taught, not for the subject matter itself but because of the Creator behind it. I remember several times in class, she would stop and say, "Isn't our God so good that He would create us so wonderfully?"

Yes, there are public school teachers who are passionate about their subjects. And yes, there are public school teachers who are committed Christians. But there is a freedom in Christian schools to teach from a Christ-centered perspective that simply isn't available in public school.

2. The school will support your beliefs and values.
Every student at my school took a Bible class. We were taught the Bible (and required to memorize portions of it) as well as Christian doctrine and Church history. It was an invaluable education for me as a teenager learning to navigate my own faith. There were no school activities on Wednesday nights so that we could attend church. And involvement in church activities (missions trips, etc.) was greatly encouraged.

3. Your child will have Christian friends.
While not every student at a Christian school is a Christian, many are. Chances are greater that your child will develop lifelong friendships with others who believe what they do and can encourage them in their faith.

Things to Consider (Cons...possibly)

1. Attending a Christian school will not shelter your child from sin.
Having attended both public and Christian schools, I can attest to the fact that a Christian school will not shelter your child from issues he or she might encounter at a public school.

At my Christian school, I saw a fight break out in the girl's locker room. I heard tales of drunken, weekend parties. There were rumors of drug use and drug dealing. And I promise you, the language was just as "colorful" as anything I heard in public school (just not when teachers were present).

But I also made some lifelong friends with whom I studied the Bible and grew in my faith (see #3 above). Be aware that students in Christian schools make poor choices just like students in public school. Equip your child to think for herself and make right choices even among her "Christian" friends.

2. If it is a small school, your child may be limited in opportunities.
There are some large Christian schools that have tremendous academic and athletic programs available. There are also many small schools that are doing the best they can to provide quality education and opportunities.

Mine was the latter, but I don't feel that it hindered me. As a matter of fact, it gave me more opportunities than I would have had at a larger school. My non-athletic self played varsity volleyball and basketball throughout high school. And I was third chair trumpet for the concert band (out of three trumpet players ;)).

We lived in a large city, and had I attended a much larger public school, I would have never had the experiences I did at my much smaller Christian school. Don't worry, I went on to discover my passion for words in college and left my dreams of playing in the WNBA far behind.

3. It may be expensive.
Private schools usually are. If that's not an issue for you, then great! But many times cost can be a prohibitive factor in private education. I know many schools offer programs that can help. If you are considering a private, Christian education and are concerned about cost, contact the school's administrative office and find out what options are available.

education-debateThis is our last week of The Great {Education} Debate. I hope you've enjoyed it! If you missed any of the other articles, you can read them here:

Why We Chose Public School
Why We Homeschool
Why You'll Never Find the Perfect School Option

Photo source

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Every Wednesday in the month of August we are learning from families who, for different reasons, have chosen different educational options. We call it The Great {Education} Debate.

My goal in this series was to gain some insight into the educational choices of others and discover why certain models work for certain families at certain times while others simply don't. My fear in tackling this overwhelming task was I've only had one educational experience with my children. I needed to find others, with different experiences, who would be willing to tell their stories as well.

I hit the jackpot when I came across today's guest. Tammy at Skipper Clan has encountered just about every educational model known to man. That's why I was so excited when she agreed to write a special "round-up" article about "other" educational models....

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Our youngest child, will graduate high school this year. Her commencement will include about 35 students from her private, non-religious school. It will be a far different experience than Kindergarten. In fact, in her 13 years of schooling she has experienced almost every type of school imaginable.

We never found "the" perfect school option for her because her needs were different at different stages.

Some of our children's changing needs were due to our moves as a military family. We moved across state lines and across oceans. We only once got to move over the summer, between school years. Not only did we face a variety of educational standards, but different age requirements and support programs.

We began with homeschooling in Kindergarten. I found a reading program, math curriculum and other subjects with worksheets and manipulatives. We had a strict schedule 3 days a week, and she attended a Mother's Day Out program the other two days. My husband was in Korea over half of that school year, so her time in the program was as much for my own balance as it was for art programs for her.

The next fall, we'd moved and she was still only eligible for Kindergarten due to her birth date. However, that school district offered a comprehensive, full day Kindergarten program with physical education, art, and reading challenges. It was an excellent program which we left behind that January when we moved again. She transferred directly into 1st grade with that move, The birth date requirements were earlier and other Kindergarten children at the school couldn't even recognize letters while she read simple books easily. After a brief few weeks in the Department of Defense school on base, we put both children in the Italian school nearby. In that school, they learned more of the language, the culture, and the food than they ever could have grasped from a classroom.

Since moving back to the United States, our children attended brick and mortar schools, public online charter schools, and finally private school. Each year we considered what was best for their educational needs, our family's schedule, and the requirements of the local school district. We have homeschooled one while the other went to the building down the street. If we tried to insist one form of education was perfect, we would have missed great opportunities for our entire family.

Here are 4 questions to consider when you search for the best school options:

1. What environment is best suited for my child's learning style right now? (small groups, one on one, large group/competitive)

2. What schedule demands does our family currently face and how would different school formats benefit our family? (shift work, competitive sports, parent at home)

3. What strengths and weaknesses does our child have right now that could be enhanced or minimized in different settings?

4. What local, state, and national requirements would impact our choice and what support is available?

Have you switched formats before? What was one of the best results you experienced when making such a change?

Want to get to know Tammy better? Visit her at www.skipperclan.com. Or drop her a line on her Facebook Page or follower her on Twitter.

education-debateWe will wrap the series up next week. You don't want to miss it...or any of The Great {Education} Debate series: Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Read the rest of the series!

Why We Chose Public School
Why We Homeschool
Why Christian School?

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Every Wednesday in the month of August we are exploring The Great {Education} Debate. However, it's not technically a debate...not here, anyway. We are simply learning from families who, for different reasons, have chosen different educational options.

This week, I am so excited to have my lifelong friend Lora from My Blessed Life here to share about their decision to homeschool. If you are considering homeschool for your family, you have come to the right place...Lora has some great resources for you to explore!

education-debateThank you so much, Nancy, for inviting me to share our homeschooling choice with your readers.  I've really been looking forward to this series!

While I often explain to people {in brief} why our family homeschools, I don't think I've ever blogged {in-depth} about it.  It's become so second-nature that I don't think about it a lot. It truly is a lifestyle for us.

To give you a little background, I was homeschooled through 1st and 2nd grades (I skipped kindergarten because it wasn't required in my home state at that time--yes, that's how "old" I am). My parents chose to homeschool because we traveled full-time.  I come from a ministry family and we were in a new place every week, living it up in our Holiday Rambler.

My mom was very involved in the ministry, and being apart as a family just wasn't an option. So while homeschooling was a relatively unheard-of concept in the 70's I was part of the beginning of the movement, even if it was a short stint. I loved it, and, of course, traveling is an education in itself.

When I was going into 3rd grade my parents started pastoring and my dad's travels became more solo ones for a time. I continued the rest of my education in private, Christian schools. I never forgot my wonderful homeschooling experience though.

Fast forward a few years to when my husband I first married. We, of course, weren't quite ready to have kiddos yet, but we certainly knew that we wanted a family.  Some of our good friends--who had already started their family--were just beginning to homeschool. I hadn't thought about homeschooling in years and I was amazed at the changes in the homeschooling community.  There were so many options!  So many styles!  And I was in love with the idea of being with my (then future) children and helping them learn in unique ways tailored to their learning styles.

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Lora and her star pupils

Six years later, the first kiddo came along, followed by the second one two years later.  I was thoroughly immersed in motherhood 24/7! By the time I came out of the fog (metaphorically speaking), my daughter was preschool age. We still felt very strongly about homeschooling. The more we learned, the more we knew it was for us.  However, when all of my daughter's friends began to head off to their respective preschool I began to wonder if maybe she should go to a preschool, too.

I knew nothing about them, so I started researching. The more I researched the more I became convinced that going to preschool a couple of days a week really wasn't what she needed. We were already teaching her many of the things she would learn in preschool, and our calendar was so full (and has continued to be) that the very thought of needing "socialization" was laughable.  And so our homeschool journey "officially" began.

Our choice to homeschool didn't come from an anti-public school mindset, although my public-schooled husband has lots of personal examples of why that isn't our best choice. It didn't come from a well-we-can't-afford-private school mindset either, even though that is not financially an option for us. And we didn't choose homeschooling so that we could live in a bubble and protect our children from everything "bad" in the world, even though we do feel it is our responsibility as parents to protect them and guard them from evil while teaching them about the real world and our role as Christians in it.

Our choice to homeschool really was quite simply a pro-family choice for us. We have strong convictions about laying a firm foundation of faith in our children's hearts. To put it simply, our goal isn't to shelter, our goal is to lay a good foundation.  We have total peace that God has directed us on this path, has given us grace to handle the ups and downs, and that this is the best choice for our children and our family.

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We are starting our 7th year of homeschooling next month (if you count all the way back to preschool). I'll be teaching a 5th grader and a 3rd grader ...whew! That's hard to believe sometimes! Sometimes I'm impressed that I'm still sane after all these years. Believe me when I say that homeschooling is no walk in the park. I want to laugh at anyone who says "Oh, I would never have the patience to homeschool." If patience is a requirement for homeschooling, I am seriously in trouble.

What I do have is God's grace to teach my children. I am fully confident that I am the best person for the job at this time in their lives. It doesn't meant every day is perfect. Rarely do we have a "perfect" day. And there are some very tough days mixed in there. But teaching (and learning as well) alongside your child, rediscovering nature with your child, seeing that "light bulb" go off in their mind when they grasp that new concept, getting hugs all day long ...well, it makes all of the tough days worth it.

I realize homeschooling isn't for everyone. I have friends in all walks of educational life: public, private, charter ...you name it. All of these parents want the best for their children and are making the decisions they feel are best for their families. I also realize that God may have a different plan for our family in the future and we are committed to following His plan. Right now we know His plan is for our children to be at home.

If homeschooling is something you are considering for your family, I would encourage you to begin with research. The three homeschooling books that have most shaped our homeschool and educational philosophy are Educating the Wholehearted Child, The Well-Trained Mind, and A Charlotte Mason Companion.

Secondly, talk with other homeschool moms.  They are a wealth of information!  I'm continually picking other moms' brains--for me the research never ends.  If you don't know another homeschool mom, start by checking out some good forums such as The Homeschool Lounge.

Finally, if you do choose to homeschool, I highly recommend getting involved with a local homeschool group if possible. I have homeschooled with, and without, a support group. I don't advise going it solo if you can help it.

It's always a joy to be here at There Is Grace~thank you so much for allowing me to share!

Blessings,  Lora

Do you have questions about homeschooling? Leave a comment for Lora below or on her Facebook page. Or drop in to see her over at My Blessed Life (and check out her fabulous Learning Room while you're there!) I know she would love to hear from you and answer your questions!

Join us next Wednesday when Tammy at Skipper Clan shares her experiences with multiple educational choices! You don't want to miss it...or any of The Great {Education} Debate series: Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Read the rest of the series!
Why We Chose Public School
Why You Will Never Find the Perfect School Option
Why Christian School?

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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It's that time of year again...time to start thinking about books, pencils, backpacks, and going back to school.

I love that in the United States (as well as many other countries) we have the freedom to choose how to educate our children. That same freedom can seem overwhelming to parents who are trying to determine the best option for their family and individual children.

So I thought it would be fun to do a series for the month of August on The Great {Education} Debate. Every Wednesday this month we'll hear from families (that means fabulous guest bloggers!) who have chosen different educational options (public school, homeschool, private school, etc.).

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It is not my intention to create (or even contribute) to an ongoing debate about which choice is the best. My goal is to share stories of real families who are living out real choices from which we can all learn.

Today, I'd love to share with you why we chose public school.

When my kids were preschool age, I did a lot of what some would call preschool "homeschooling." We did a Letter of the Week, worked on numbers and counting, and did nature walks to explore science. I loved it. As kindergarten began to quickly approach, I considered homeschool.

The more I learned about homeschooling, the more I wanted to do it. But the more we prayed about it, the more we felt it wasn't the right option for us at the time. We didn't want to choose public school simply because that's where my husband and I had gone. Neither did I want to homeschool simply because I felt some sort of self-imposed "Christian peer pressure."

I prayed about it, but honestly I did not know. My husband felt strongly that God was leading us to public school, and so I agreed. The choice, for us, came down to this: We felt it was what God would have us do at the time.

It's as simple as that. We weren't on a mission to turn our daughter into some public school evangelist or to transform the public school system from the inside out. We simply wanted to be obedient to what God was calling us to do.

We live in a very small, conservative community which, for the most part, supports our Christian values. That helped ease the decision, but I still wondered if we'd made the right choice.

Wouldn't you know it...both God and my husband knew better than I did?

Little Miss and me on her first day of kindergarten
Little Miss and me on her first day of kindergarten

Two weeks before my daughter was to start her first day in kindergarten, I discovered a 6-inch mass in my thigh. I was told I would need surgery to remove the tumor. If it was malignant, I would possibly need to have chemotherapy as well.

So, the week after I handed my baby over to the public school system, I had surgery. The tumor was malignant, and I spent the next 10 weeks recovering, doing physical therapy, and undergoing radiation treatment. To say things were a little chaotic at home would be an understatement. There was a revolving door of family and friends staying with us, bringing food, shuttling the kids, and taking care of things around the house.

In spite of the chaos at home, my daughter flourished. My little girl, who needs stability and consistency, knew that no matter who was bringing dinner or tucking her in that night, she would wake up the next morning, go to the same desk, be greeted by the same smiling teacher, and things would be just fine. (Her teacher is a Christian, and she committed to pray with us for my healing. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

I learned a valuable lesson that year: When I step beyond my preconceived ideas of what my child's education should look like and walk in obedience to God, my child will thrive and my family will be blessed.

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Yes, we've had some interesting conversations from things she's heard at school. And I would have been OK if she'd never discovered Taylor Swift. But things like that have provided opportunities to discuss why we believe what we do and why we make different choices than others. Those are conversations we might not have had otherwise.

Obviously, not everyone who sends their kids to public school has a story like mine. My husband and I have often said if we lived in a different community or our children had different needs, we would likely make different choices for their education. And we are committed to re-evaluating that decision as needed. But for us, for now, this is what God has called us to.

If your child is in public school, here are some ways to stay involved in their education:

1. Participate
I asked a wise friend how she remained so involved in the lives of her three teenagers who attend public school and are involved in numerous activities. Her sage advice: "Sign up for everything. Be there. Get to know their teachers and their friends." I have become that mom. I want to know who is influencing my child and what they are saying.

2. Communicate
If your schedule does not allow you to be there in person, e-mail the teacher regularly asking how you can help your child at home. Find a way to keep the communication open.

3. Educate
Just because you send your child to public school does not mean you are off the hook concerning their education. Yes, help them with homework. But, more importantly, create an atmosphere and excitement for learning at home. (I love this concept of "afterschooling" at Simple Homeschool and this wise advice from The Art of Simple.)

UPDATE August 13, 2015: Read Why and How we Transitioned to Homeschool.

How did you determine your choice for your child's education?

Next week my friend Lora@MyBlessedLife will be sharing about her family's decision to homeschool. Don't miss it...or any of The Great {Education} Debate series: Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts delivered straight to your inbox!

Read the rest of the series!
Why We Homeschool 
Why You Will Never Find the Perfect School Option
Why Christian School

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Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

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Ah, summer is finally here. Well, technically, summer is still a few days away, but  summer break is here. That means sleeping late, lazy days playing in the sprinkler, and all kinds of relaxin'!

7 Tips for surviving summer with elementary-age kids | www.thereisgrace.com

Sounds dreamy, doesn't it? For a few days? YES! For a few months? Maybe not.

If you're a Type-A personality (ahem, like me) you're ready to climb the walls after a couple days of all that doin' nothin'! Throw in a couple of kids whose vocabulary have been reduced to "I'm bored" AND the summertime we-can't-get-along-but-can't-stand-to-be-apart sibling phenomenon, and this mama is ready to run screaming for the nearest Starbucks!

So how does one combat the summertime boredom blues?

1. Be intentional.

I love this post by my friend Lori at Everyday Truth about making the most of summertime. She says, "Summer should have plenty of time for making memories and having fun, but it should also be a time when our kids learn the value of work and learn some new things." I couldn't agree more.

I want to enjoy our summers, but I also want to be intentional about our time. We make a list (oh, how I love my lists!) of things we want to do while school is out. It includes things like vacations we are planning, activities we want to do close to home, projects we want to accomplish, and things we want to learn...sort of a "Summer Bucket List."

This gives the kids things to look forward to and keeps us from looking back in August wondering why we didn't do anything. The Summer Survival Calendar is a great way to keep all you ideas and activities organized. Plus, it's chocked full of ideas and resources!

2. Embrace a routine.

While summer's relaxed schedule is nice, I've found that too much "relaxation" (or laziness) sets us all on edge. So, while we don't adhere to a rigid schedule like we do during the school year, we do follow a routine...an order in which we do things, but at a more relaxed pace. I love Lori's idea of three categories in the day: Chores (because they still have to be done, right?), Learning (who says it can't be fun?), and Fun (after all, that's what summer is for).

Chores Cards and Media Minutes

Speaking of chores...there are some great ideas for summertime chores (with free printables!) over at Organizing Made Fun. I can't wait to try her Media Time Cards, which take all the pressure off mom saying "yes" or "no" and teaches the kids to budget their time. Love it!

3. Have fun!

Summer is the perfect time for purposeful fun, which is why I love these 67 Ideas for Fun and Learning (for younger kids) from I Can Teach My Child and these Summer Learning Activities (for ages 6-10) from Imagination Soup. I'm sure there are more activities than we could ever do in one summer!

And I can't wait to start Around the World in 60 Days (from Focus on the Family) where we can learn about different countries and cultures and even print our own passports!

4. Curl up with a good book.

One of our favorite summertime activities is reading. When mid-summer hits and we're all tired of the heat and sun, there's nothing like curling up with a book in the good ol' air conditioning! We usually do the summer reading program at our local library, but I love how my friend Lora at My Blessed Life created a custom plan for her family. She shares how she did it and includes links to great resources! You should definitely heck it out!

5. Enjoy the great outdoors!

What is summer without a camping trip? So, if you're planning on packing up the tent and heading out to great unknown, be sure to check out this Memorial Day post my friend Sarah at Desserted Planet did of the most amazing campfire treats on the Internet! It almost makes me want to load up the cookware and find the nearest campfire.

6. Get creative.

Still, no matter how well you plan, there will be moments when you here the inevitable, "Mom, I'm bored!" Thankfully, Frugalissa Finds has got you covered. Check out their We Will Survive Summer Activity Jars!!

7. Bonus: Build character.

This may be my favorite idea of all...While I want my kids to stay busy and active this summer, I don't want them to be too busy to show a little kindness. The Button Project is a great summer-long activity for elementary-age kids to discover how they can make a difference. There are even printable lessons on their Facebook page.

What summertime activities does your family enjoy?

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.