My Daughter's School Options


"I will not go to that school. I only want to go to _______!"  (My daughter's assertion last fall, as we discussed options for high school.)

From Home to Public School 

We've been homeschooling our children since our oldest began kindergarten.
Disclaimer #1: Many would say that home "schooling" starts well before the age of 5. I would agree.

Disclaimer #2:  When I say "we" have been homeschooling, I mean that my wife has done 99.99999999637% of the work. And you should agree.

We never set out to be a homeschool-all-the-way-through family. We would take it year-by-year, and child by child. And this strategy has worked out great for our family. Educating our children at home has provided them with a great education (low student-teacher ratio), has given our family a lot of flexibility, and allowed us to engage our community (in Allendale and in Greenville) in unique ways. 

Over the past couple of years, as we've had regular discussions about education, Hannah has expressed a desire to go to a "regular" school for high school. She has enjoyed being homeschooled, but feels that going to a public high school would help her prepare for college.

(Due to financial constraints, private school is not an option, and we're not sure we'd choose that option anyway.)

I love how she came to this conclusion. She isn't frustrated with homeschooling, so she isn't running away from it. Part of her would love to continue it. But she is thinking about her life 5 years from now. (Whoa! Is college that close for our family?) She is thinking about her own independence and responsibility. I could not be more proud as a parent!

The Decision Process

Last fall, we began the process of sorting our options. (One great aspect of Greenville is that we have so many great options! #yeahTHATGreenville). One maxim that I live by and try to teach my kids, is to "keep the funnel wide" for as long as possible. That is, don't rule out options too early.

But when Joanna put Hannah's name in for a lottery for Greenville Tech Charter School (which happens to have uniforms as part of their dress code), Hannah made the adamant statement above.

You see, our artistic daughter wanted only to go to an arts-focused school, and she especially did not want to go to a school which required uniforms.

We worked through the uniforms issue (another blog post for another day), and came up with a way for her to actively think through her options.

Thinking Through New Ideas

I asked Hannah to list five possible options for school for next year, write at least one pro and con for each, and rank them in order of her preference. On our next date, we'd discuss them.

I didn't expect Hannah to change her mind completely. I only wanted her to sincerely consider the options. After spending a few days on this project, this is the list she came up with, in order of most preferred to least, with the pros and cons of each.
  1. Fine Arts Center (at Wade Hampton High School):  pro -- she loves art, and she'll know some students there; con -- very big 
  2. Greenville Tech Charter:  pro -- get a lot of college credit; con -- uniforms 
    1. Note: She eventually came around to see the benefits of uniforms. 
    2. Note: I was shocked that this school went from never to second favorite
  3. SC Governor's School for the Arts:  pro -- she loves art, and she can get college credit, and it's right down the road from where we live (now); con -- the student atmosphere (as best we can determine) isn't very pro-God; 
    1. Note: We need to get her ready for a challenging environment like this, since we do want our kids to be around people who think differently
  4. Homeschool:  pro -- comfortable with it, loves our co-op, and gives our family flexibility; con -- won't know what high school is like, and she wants to be prepared for college
  5. Greenville High School:  pro -- really close to home and our community, and will get to be with students from our community; con -- "nothing special" for her, and it's very big

Winnowing Down

As the weeks went on, we saw this list get winnowed down. First, Hannah wound up being waaaaaaaaayyyyyy down the waiting list for Greenville Tech Charter. It looks like that won't happen. But we all recognized how neat it was that Hannah allowed her heart to be softened to this idea, and then God closed the door. Hannah sees it as a test from God, of whether she'd be open and humble to the idea.

The Governor's School decision is years off, since it's only for two years -- typically the 11th and 12th grades. So we won't have to concern ourselves with this for now.

And as we continue to talk and pray, homeschool seems to be dropping down to the bottom. Hannah (though she can be self-protective) is getting more and more excited about going to public high school.

Now we are left with these three options:
  1. Fine Arts Center (at Wade Hampton HS).
  2. Wade Hampton High School. Even if she doesn't get in to the Fine Arts Center, we applied for an out-of-zoning permission to attend there, to help her adjust if she got in to the FAC next year. 
  3. Greenville High School.
Hannah was supposed to have her interview with the Fine Arts Center last week, but with the weather-related school closings, it was delayed to this week. She has been laboring for months (years, actually) building her art portfolio. But we know the decision is out of our hands. I know it will be hard for her if she doesn't get in, but we will work to trust God with it.

Above all, we have seen her grow through this process. She has displayed a growing maturity, that we have seen in a number of areas in her life, over the past few years.

I don't know where she'll be accepted, but I do know that God loves her immensely. And that's the most important thing she could ever learn.

Finally, I'll close with a verse that Hannah has been memorizing, which fits how God created her with a wonderful, artistic gift.
"For we are His masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them."  (Ephesians 2:10)

Willy Wonka Parenting

"We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." 

"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."


Recently, I watched Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with my kids. No, not the newer Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with creepy and quirky Johnny Depp. We watched the original movie,  with creepy and quirky Gene Wilder.

While the movie's quality was enough just for the pure enjoyment, we also got into some good discussions about life and decisions: Would you take and sell the Everlasting Gobstopper, to provide for your poor family? Where is that child's hope? Do you think he should have done that? Why?

This movie was full of wisdom and morals (and just some plain humor), and not just for kids. It contains many parent lessons as well.

Who better to teach about parenting that the Oompa Loompas! Let's hear what they say about gluttony, compulsive habits, spoiling, and television, and then compare it to what God has spoken. 
Oompa Loompas (OLs):  "If you are wise, you'll listen to me."
God (in Proverbs 8:1):  "Does not wisdom call, And understanding lift up her voice?"

Gluttony

"What do you get when you guzzle down sweets?
Eating as much as an elephant eats
What are you at getting terribly fat?
What do you think will come of that?
I don't like the look of it." 
(OLs)
"Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, 
for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." (Proverbs 23:20-21)

Hey, I love to eat as much as anyone (or more!). I like to say that eating is my hobby or spiritual gift. While we can enjoy food, my metabolism has slowed down in my old age. I need to be wise in how I eat, and set a good example for my kids.

Compulsive Habits

"Gum chewing's fine when it's once in a while
It stops you from smoking and brightens your smile
But it's repulsive, revolting, and wrong
Chewing and chewing all day long.
The way that a cow does."
  (OLs)
"Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. . . .
The wise person has his eyes in his head, but the fool walks in darkness. And yet I perceived that the same event happens to all of them."  (Ecclesiastes 2:11,14)

Nothing is inherently wrong with chewing gum, and it even has it's good aspects. In the same way (in counter to the point above about eating well), nothing is wrong with eating healthy or exercising. But remember that being "healthy" can be just as much of a idol and sin as gluttony is.

All our good efforts will be as much in vain as our negative behaviors, if done apart from the hope of Jesus Christ.


Spoiling

"Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who's to blame.
The mother and the father."
(OLs)
"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him." (Proverbs 13:24)

Spanking is a hot topic, and I'm not afraid to write about its dangers or what the Bible says. We parents must remember that our ultimate goal must be to reach the hearts of our children. While we cannot control the outcome, we must remember that we are constantly teaching and training our children by what we do for them, or fail to do for them.

The core issue (for us parents) is not what we do (or don't do) for them, but why we do (or don't do) something.

Television

"What do you get from a glut of TV?
A pain in the neck and an IQ of three
Why don't you try simply reading a book?
Or can you just not bear to look?
You'll get no... you'll get no... you'll get no commercials."
  (OLs)
"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man." (Proverbs 24:33-34)

As with chewing gum, working out, eating healthy, and other pleasures, there is nothing inherently wrong with watching TV (or for modern parenting, playing video games). But when it crowds out reading and other constructive endeavors, it is certainly harmful.

For more specifically on the topic of reading and television, check out The Importance of Reading to Children, and The Battle of Reading vs Screen Time.


Wisdom Calls Out

So then, if you want to be a better parent, listen to the Oompa Loompas. Strike that.

If you want to be a better parent, seek God and His wisdom.

Have you watched this movie (or both versions) with your children? What are your thoughts?


"So shines a good deed in a weary world." 

"We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it." 


Related Link:


**Thanks to Lyrics Mania for providing me with the words of the wise Oompa Loompas.



Teaching, Failing, and Learning


"Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well."  (James 3:1-2)

When James (a brother of Jesus) wrote this letter, I don't think he was referring to middle school math teachers. But I feel the same pressure of responsibility and accountability.

I wrote yesterday (on my other blog) about my new job. Or my renewed job, back at Lead Academy, where I was a long-term sub last fall. Now, I'm back as an even longer-term substitute.

I'll be teaching four classes: 2 sections of 7th grade math, 8th grade math, and algebra. And at the risk of revealing my nerd-ness, I do love math. (I took an extra calculus class at Furman, as an elective. Who does that?)

But it's one thing to know how to do something. And it's a whole other to know how to teach it.
". . . as such we will incur a stricter judgment." 
[Groan.]

Why I Love Lead Academy

Overall, I'm really excited (though nervous) to be back at Lead Academy. The culture of leadership and high expectations at Lead is not common in all public schools (or all private and home schools, for that matter).

I've listened in (literally and over email) on conversations these teachers and administrators have. They are holding themselves accountable to engage and teach the entire student body, from one end of diversity to the other.

Homeschooling has worked great for our family. But for what it's worth, if we didn't homeschool next year, my every intention would be for my sons to attend Lead. Hannah would thrive there, too, but she'll be in high school this fall.

Failure Is Never Final

I heard Rodney Johnson (principal at Lead and a former teammate of mine on the Furman football team) speak at a breakfast the other week. He shared some words that exemplify his philosophy of education:
"We should not treat 'fail' as a four-letter word. We need to help students learn to bounce back from failure."

I know I won't be perfect as a teacher. I will "stumble in many ways." But in those times that I fail, I will bounce back and learn from my mistakes and persist and get better.

It sounds like this will be as much as a learning experience for me as it will be for my students.

If you would, please check out Lead, Again, to learn three ways for how you can pray for me, my family, and my students.

"Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education."  ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Disagree, and Love


I want my kids to be around people they disagree with.

No, I don't want them to feel the need argue with all kinds of people. I don't want them to try to always prove their case. But I do want them to be around people that think differently.

Why?
  1. To solve problems.  None of us have all the answers to life's problems. Being around people with different opinions, experiences, and perspectives is the only way to engage the big issues in our communities and country. 
  2. To be open to new ideas.  Going along with the first point, my children need their minds and perspectives broadened. I want them to see new places and hear new ideas, so that they can learn more about this wonderful world that God created, and about all kinds of people that He made in His own image. 
  3. To confirm what really is true.  This seems opposite to point #2, but stay with me. How can we really know what we believe unless we allow our beliefs to be challenged?
  4. To live out love.  I think this is the most important. If you only fellowship and talk to people that think just like you, can you show them Christ-like love? Remember, Jesus came to die for us while we were His enemies (Romans 5:8). He pursued us when we opposed Him. What better opportunity to show God's love than to love someone that you disagree with, or have little in common with?

Will you encourage your children to be around people they disagree with? Even more, will you seek to be around people who think and feel differently than you? Will you pursue opportunities to love with a Christ-like love?
"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  (Matthew 5:46-48)

 Related Links:

Parenting Articles


Here are some great articles that I've come across lately, which have helped equip me as a parent. I think they'll help you, too!

20 Things I Want My Daughters to Understand About Being a Woman.  Exactly what the title promises. I like how the author doesn't focus on marriage and parenting, and even when she mentions it, it is qualified with an "if" statement.

6 Things You Can Expect After You Become Foster Parents. I can't relate to this specifically, but it does help me to understand what many of my friends are going through. Plus, some of the same ideas apply to parenting my biological children.

Why the Gospel Is Not Fair.  I've had the discussion with my kids when they claim "It's Not Fair!" Many times. I love how this blog expounds Matthew 20, with the conclusion that "God doesn’t operate according to worldly fairness, but grace." We all need to hear that -- parents and children alike.

Developing Godly Qualities in Our Children.  Randy Alcorn gives some biblical principles, from Micah 6:8.

A Solid Worldview Won't Save My Kids. "Worldview is important, but I can’t rest with simply teaching my kids how to think. I need to also show them the surpassing joy of knowing Christ."

Do You Believe God Will Save Your Kids?  By God's grace, my kids' salvation does not rest on my efforts. And by God's grace, He wants them to be saved more than I do.

Toddlers and Picky Eating: It's All About Trust and Control.  Do you have a child who's a picky-eater? This article is good "food" for thought. 


**Photo credit: M@rg / Foter / CC BY

What Kind of Person Will Your Child Marry?


Have you ever asked your kids if they want to be married one day? (Far, far into the future, of course!) Have you ever asked them what they want their future spouse to be like?

If you haven't had this conversation with your children, this would be a good "assignment" for you as a parent. But before you do so, you may want to read my latest guest post on the Family Matters blog: What Kind of Person Do You Want Your Child to Marry?

I hope that post can help you in your conversations with your kids. And, since I am in the same process of discipling my children, I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions. Click on over to the Family Matters blog, and let us know what you think.

Bible Resources

As a part of Teaching Theology to Your Children, do you want to grow in your own knowledge of the Bible?

Of course, you don't need to be a Bible-scholar in order to disciple your children. However, as Christians we should be continually seeking to know God more deeply.

If you want to learn more about the Bible, without spending years in seminary, I would highly recommend you checking out The Overview Bible Project.


On this site -- aptly dubbed "Bible geekery" -- husband and wife team Jeffrey and Laura Kranz provide a wide range of resources to help you grow in your knowledge of the Bible, and therefore your knowledge of God.

You'll find brief summaries of the books of the Bible, as well as an illustrated guide to the authors of the Bible, and more. And it's all for free!!!

Do yourself a favor, and head over to The Overview Bible Project, and subscribe to their email newsletter.

Note: This not to be confused with The Bible Project, which is another great resource.


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