Friday, October 17, 2014

The Old Double Standard is Everywhere

The Double Standard
                   Here in America we seem to be all about making everything fair. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” is our motto. It is almost an obsession with us to make sure that everyone is treated exactly alike, especially among those who have more liberal political views. This is why I am stunned by the comments I have heard the past month from some of my friends.
                   I am sure you all have heard of Brittany Maynard, the young woman (29) diagnosed with brain cancer and given just a short while to live. It is a sad situation. Here she is, newly married and at the beginning of a beautiful life, only to be told it will end all too soon. With nothing to look forward to but suffering and death, Brittany and her family have moved to Oregon in order to take advantage of their “Death with Dignity” law which allows licensed physicians to assist their patients with their suicides.
                   Many, many people are supportive of Brittany’s choice. She will suffer. She will die. She has nothing positive to look forward to. She should be allowed to choose to end her life early and avoid the suffering that is in her future. Those are the comments I am hearing. The thing I find interesting is the people who are saying these things. These are the same people that were beside themselves when Robin Williams chose to end his life early.
                   Here was a man who was suffering and had been for many years. He wasn’t just looking at suffering in his future but was actually living with it. He decided that he didn’t want to suffer anymore. He had reached his limit. He saw nothing in his life that made it worth continuing on. Why are you not as supportive of his decision? Is it because he was not suffering enough? Is it because the time that he should have had left on this Earth was longer? Who gets to decide these things?

                   How much suffering is required before you can kill yourself? Or is it just the expectation of future suffering? Does your suffering have to be physical? Could mental suffering be enough? How long does the natural life expectancy need to be? If you only have 3 months left to live, then it is okay to kill yourself? What about 6 months, a year? What is the line in the sand? Maybe it should be that intentionally killing yourself is NEVER the answer. After all, that is the message we have been trying so very hard to send all of these young people who are being bullied mercilessly. Let’s send them a consistent message and get rid of the double standard here. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

When It Is This Good, You Have to Share


  I, and several other families that I know, attend the FPEA homeschool convention in Orlando every Memorial Day weekend (I actually missed 2013 so I could be in NC for the birth of my second grandchild, but you get the idea). I have been homeschooling for 23 years. I have graduated 3 students who have all gone on to successfully attend college. Some people wonder why in the world I would take the time and pay the money to attend the convention. I will tell you why I do and why you should too.
          I think that one of the greatest needs in the homeschool community is for moms to connect with one another. We need to know that we are not out there all alone. We need to realize that there are actually an awful lot of us around who are eager to get together and support one another. There are a lot of moms out there who can encourage us to press on toward the goal. One of the best places to go to see that community is the FPEA convention. This convention was the largest homeschool convention in the world, ever. There were thousands of us there meeting together, building relationships, offering advice and encouragement. Don’t you want that?
          It is a great place to actually look through materials that you are considering using for your children. When I read through catalogs, I see that every company offers a third grade math book that teaches addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. It is only when I can look through the books that I can really get an idea about how it will fit our family. Even better, I can often talk with the authors or moms that have actually used the curriculum. I can ask questions about how to put certain things into practice. The advice that I get standing in front of a vendor booth is golden.

          The convention is a great place to find answers to the specific challenges my children and I face. Do I have a struggling reader? Are fractions eluding us? How am I going to handle dissection with my squeamish one? How in the world can I teach high school algebra, beginning reading and care for a toddler at once? What can I do to get my home organized and my budget under control? What about college? I have gotten answers to all of those questions and more at the FPEA convention. There are two full days of workshops offered every year on a variety of topics from people who have been there and done that. What? Experts offering advice on just what I need all in one place? How can I pass that up?
          It seems that every new homeschooler that I talk to starts out with a boxed curriculum. You know, the one where the publisher provides all of the books for each subject in the grade you are teaching. It also seems that after a year or two most of those people are ready to move out of that box and find some things that will fit their child a little better. Maybe they just want to add a little extra or maybe they want to piece together a whole curriculum on their own. Either way, the convention offers the opportunity to explore all kinds of options. I am always amazed at the new offerings each year for homeschoolers. As I walk through the exhibit hall, I realize that the only limits to what my child can learn are their interests and my budget.

          The last reason that I love to go to the convention is that I get recharged when I am there. We end our school year at the end of April, and I am ready for a break. I feel drained and wonder how I am going to get the energy and enthusiasm to start again in June (the beginning of our year). I worry that my youngest will end up skating by because I am out of energy or ideas. Yet, every year without fail, I come home from the convention on fire. I am ready to put new things into practice. I have ideas for how to handle the problems we faced the previous year. I am encouraged to finish well by the graduates I have met.

           Obviously, I love the FPEA convention. To me, the minimal registration amount is a bargain considering the number of benefits I receive. I have already started saving to attend again next year and have talked with three newbies who plan to join in the fun. I hope that many more of you will come to the convention. I know that this means the pool will be even more packed, but it will be worth it to share the time together with you. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Take Heart and Be Courageous

                Once again I had the amazing opportunity to serve at the FPEA convention in the Mentoring Moms booth. This is my very favorite part of the whole weekend. I love, love, love getting to speak with homeschooling moms who have questions and discussing options with them. I have to admit, though, that the second reason I volunteer for this is that I get to meet some incredible women who are so wise and gracious. It is a joy to sit and listen as they share and encourage other homeschoolers to move forward in their journey.

          This year I was fortunate enough to serve both days with Michelle. She and I could be great friends if only she lived a little closer; Dunedin is just too far for us to get together for morning coffee. Michelle has a lot of experience in areas that are foreign to me. She loves math (who knew those people really existed), is a certified teacher, and works from home. She has made different education and curriculum choices than I have and was able to share those with some of our seeking moms. She is a wise woman with the single greatest piece of advice that we can give to other homeschoolers or parents in general.

               Every mom went away from that booth hearing that, “we are a sinfully arrogant people to believe for one moment that we, by choosing one curriculum over another; deciding to delay teaching reading; picking chemistry over physics; or any other homeschooling choice, have the power to mess up God’s plan for our children.” God has known our children from before the foundations of the world. He has known their path and how to best prepare them to become the adults that He intends them to be. We cannot foil His plan. We are tools that He uses in order to mold those human beings. He has graciously allowed us to be a part of the process, but does not rest the burden on our shoulders.

          Moms (and dads) take a deep breath. Relax. Enjoy your children and continually point them to God. Teach them to enjoy Him and glorify Him. He will take care of the rest. Our Almighty God has a plan, and you CANNOT mess it up. Stop listening to the whispers of Satan and enjoy your freedom. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

286, 33, 12, 87, 8. These are the numbers from just a few of the homeschool graduations in Central Florida in the past couple of weeks. For those of you who are in the public school system, this may not seem like such a big deal. For those of you who are new homeschoolers, this may not seem like a big deal. Those of you who have been around the homeschooling block just might realize how great this is. For a frame of reference, you should know that the very first FPEA graduation in 1997 (a mere 17 years ago) had 8 graduates.

Why are these numbers such a big deal to me? I find them an encouragement. It is encouraging to see how homeschooling has grown in number over the years. When we started and my kids were questioned about what school they went to, no one knew what homeschooling was. Today, when we mention homeschooling, everyone knows someone who homeschools. Our students are part of drama groups, high school sports teams, science fairs, band, dance and more. Opportunities abound for homeschooled students.

These numbers are encouraging because it means that it is possible to homeschool all the way through high school. Sometimes we get discouraged when our child doesn’t seem to “get it”. We feel we have failed. We reconsider our choice, and we are ready to give up. These numbers tell us that we can make it through those difficult times. We can find ways to educate our children all the way through high school. BTW, although I don’t have the numbers, I am pretty sure that most of these students are already taking college level classes. I know of several who graduated high school after graduating college with their AA. You can do it.

I find these numbers encouraging because it means we are not in this alone. There are others out there just like us. They are not really looking to be radicals who buck the system as much as they are looking to do the best job they can raising their children. When little Susie is refusing to do her fractions workbook, know that there is another mom out there (actually a 100 or so) who have gone through the same thing. If you haven’t joined a support group, stop reading right now and find one. Join it. Start meeting together with those women who will help you. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Blessed by Brenda

I just finished year number 23 of homeschooling. As I look back, I am amazed at the changes I have seen in homeschooling over the years. Our first years included keeping careful track of hours and days. Students had to have four hours of education each day for 180 days. Do you know how MUCH your child can learn with one on one education for 720 hours a year? Several times the police stopped by the local park where our children were playing to question why they were not in school. Our teens ran into roadblocks when they tried to get a driver’s license, and high school sports were out of the question.

          Today, I marvel at all that is available to homeschoolers, especially those who are fortunate enough to live in Florida. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of a few (Senator Webster and Craig and Brenda Dickinson especially), Florida is a very easy place for us to homeschool. We not only have little intrusion from the government, we also enjoy many exciting opportunities.

          There are support groups and co-ops all over the state to aid and encourage homeschool parents. Students are able to take part in science fairs, spelling and geography bees and more. They are playing sports for their local high school or as a part of teams made up of homeschoolers exclusively. High school students are eligible for Bright Futures scholarships and can participate in dual enrollment, letting them earn both high school and college credit at the same time.

          Homeschoolers are no longer being harassed for truancy. They are able to get their driver’s license at 16. They are not excluded from the opportunity to earn sports, music or arts scholarships. Many of these advancements are thanks to the work of the Home Education Foundation and our homeschool lobbyist in Tallahassee, Brenda Dickinson. If we want to keep homeschooling in peace and comfort, we need to give our support to HEF and Brenda. If our budget doesn’t allow for financial support, we should be on our knees daily.

          Homeschooling is not an easy task, but it could be much, much harder than it is. God has provided for us in a very special way. Don’t ignore His provision. Check out , and see what you can do to help keep Florida a wonderful place for homeschoolers in the future.