Let it be said that I have NONE desire to go back to school (that is the way Mary Lou says “no” in reference to how much she has or doesn’t have of something in particular- I know it’s improper English, but hey, it’s cute).
That being said, I love learning. I love to browse Barnes and Noble or amazon.com for books on topics that hold my interest. You’d think that with all the books I have on organizing, I’d be a pro and my house would always stay clean. The problem is, no one else reads them! But I digress…
The reason I share this with you is twofold. Tonight, we started this amazing small group with some friends, Preacher and her hubby. I never told her story (she is my kids’ minister at church, one of my dearest friends, and a 2010 graduate of our local college about to begin her seminary degree this summer), but part of it includes her finishing a degree she started 18 years ago at a Bible college in Arkansas. Her father had heart problems that brought her back home and left her without a completed degree. Fast forward to today, and she is completing that degree at the Bible college where Superman was just offered an opportunity to teach. I must say that I think she is doing something now she might not have done before, and that God has her right where He wants her. I can’t wait to see where He is taking her! Anyhow, she has learned some amazing stuff in completing her degree, and fortunately, she shares a lot of it with me. One of her professors has introduced her to the idea of forming very small groups called DNA groups, which refers to the fact that with Christ living in us, we carry His DNA. It is also an acronym for something, but I don’t remember exactly what that is. I know that ‘nurture’ is the N, though. The idea is to meet with this really small group and, hold onto your hats, read the Bible. That’s it. No books. No study guides. No one’s interpretation of the Bible. Just placing yourselves under scripture and discussing it. You eventually break off and start new small groups, avoiding the possibility of getting too comfortable and allowing the chance to spread the DNA of Christ. You assign a few chapters a week from a particular book in the Bible, chosen by your group, and you read it throughout the week in preparation for your discussion. If all haven’t read, you just discuss but do not move forward until everyone is caught up. Our group is made up of Preacher, her hubby, Superman, and me. The best part is that our kids are just playing with each other while we study, and they see us in the Word together and know that it is important! What an awesome thing for them to share and experience! Picasso was even eavesdropping tonight because she was so curious as to what could be so interesting. We are going to start with Matthew, and we’re reading chapters 1 through 4 for next week’s discussion. Tonight, we just talked about the group approach and why it is a needed change. We’ve gotten so product driven in Western churches that we are being pulled away from the scripture and the truths that they hold. I am so excited to take such a simple approach to learning more about Jesus.
My other reason for visiting my love of learning involves homeschooling. This year, we’ve participated in a homeschool co-op, which was really just a resting place for many of the local parents who were waiting on a charter school to open up in our area. Needless to say, I’m not teaching homeschoolers at heart, and my girls aren’t being homeschooled because the goal of this co-op was really more about preparing these kids for a public-ed classroom. Charter schools seem to be a great idea, but they are still public schools. Now, before you take great offense at my “still public schools” statement, I don’t mean that in any ugly way. That just isn’t the educational choice for our family. So, my girls didn’t get the experience this year that they would have gotten at home, and while some aspects of this year were nice, it just wasn’t what it would have been at home. If this year has done anything for Superman and me, it has affirmed our desires to homeschool our kids. There are many reasons, which have been introduced on a small scale, but the whole shebang will have to come in another post.
My point…next weekend is homeschool convention weekend, and the bonus is that it is hosted merely 15 minutes away from our house! The sitters are lined up, the registration has been submitted, and we are filling out our conference planning sheets. I’m a little bit nervous because it is time to make some serious curriculum choices. When we were just getting started, it wasn’t nearly as overwhelming because they are little, and well, the best curriculum for little ones involves lots of play. Now we are at a point where the girls can read independently, which is super helpful, but we are also dealing with three totally different types of learners! Mary Lou could do workbooks and worksheets, which I’m not a huge fan of, until her little heart is content. She’s learned very well that way this year, however, this method is the farthest from the best option for the other two. Cowgirl is very literal, which is very common with autistic children, and she gets bored out of her mind with worksheets. She would probably do best with a lapbooking/notebooking approach, and even then, it will have to be done in small spurts. She hates to write, and she lets that get in the way. If she could dictate to me all day, there would be very little holding her back. I have to figure out the balance in this. Learning is the point, but eventually, the girl is going to have to write, so I’m still figuring out this plan. She also loves nature. She’s obsessed with animals. She learns best in this environment, whose only connection to workbooks is that you have to chop down a tree to make a workbook. Then there is Picasso, my sweet, dreamer child. Art is her thing. She’s also so introspective, always searching for meaning in EVERYTHING. Learning with her is an adventure with few limitations, but a worksheet is the last place she cares to share those thoughts and observations. I think notebooking is more up her alley, which is kind of a scrapbook of what you’ve learned, because it allows her to be artistic and creative.
Any way you describe them, the only word that works with all three is “different.” Now, they all three love Jesus, so that’s a start. All three of them can be flexible (some more than others, of course). So, I know we’ll survive these differences. I’m just nervous about honoring and addressing their differences while still being mindful to raise and train them to be well-rounded learners. Oh, and did I mention that I have four, yes four, boys ages four and under to educate/entertain next year, as well? I know, I know. I don’t have to keep them home, and some of you are thinking that if I choose to, I have no right to complain about how hard or tricky it may be to do it all. I’m just sticking my tongue out at you right now. Yeah, this is going to be hard, but God wants us to do hard things. We are never promised an easy, cushy ride. And if you think that’s hard, examine how hard it is to un-teach certain words and actions picked up from other kids at preschool. Think about how hard it is to get a sick one to the doctor while keeping the other six from catching what the sick one has. That puts a large family out of public life for at least two weeks! Am I complaining? No, just stating facts. However, if I wanted to complain, it’s my bloggy and I’ll cry if I want to! I try not to, as my blog name is Content Amidst the Chaos for a reason. Digressing again. Ugh.
I am not complaining. I am excited! I can’t wait for conference this year. I love the workshops with all the different speakers sharing their experience. The exhibit hall can be overwhelming, but the great thing is that I don’t have to buy one thing (which is not what will happen, but at least I know that I don’t HAVE TO). Even the stereotypical homeschool musical family group is a delight to see. The diverse group of people that gather at the convention seeking the best educational options for their children are different indeed, but with one common goal and mission, causing you to care less that they are wearing a denim jumper made by their 9 yr old daughter and matching their six other daughters. Endless chess games, overpriced food, the brand new RV parked in the exhibit hall that VERY FEW homeschool families can even afford, the nursing babies, and the smiling vendors. Ah yeah, it’s conference time!