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Vision for the Future

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By Michele Hastings

“A picture paints a thousand words.” Leafing through photo albums that acted as portfolios for the boys' assessments in the early days of homeschooling, I began to reminisce. We'd dug the albums out in response to the curiosity our houseguests expressed about homeschooling and what it actually looked like.

Our homeschooling journey has progressed in stages. Until the boys got to about the age of eight, our days were comprised of readin'stuff, makin' stuff, doin' stuff and goin' places. We read colorful Bible stories and piles of books the boys hauled home from the library; did tons of hands-on activities such as baking, crafts and projects; and built things out of Lego and K'nex. We played games and dressed up, re-enacting the things we'd read. We explored nature, did experiments, invented sports, made “set-ups” with toy figures, and visited places in the community. We didn't follow any scope-and-sequence, telling us what to learn when. Although I tried to encourage them to learn to read and write, they were more interested in learning about life and the world around them. Instead of learning things sequentially, their learning looked more like a spider web, jumping from one interest to another. Eventually it began to connect. They learned about a wide variety of subjects and could express themselves vividly and clearly. They hadn't memorized their times table but they were gaining an understanding about numbers, patterns, money, and measurement.

Although this method of learning was unnerving for me, as a very sequential thinker myself, and I was always fearful about them being behind their age-mates, the boys were happy and thriving. I had to set my own narrow-minded opinions aside, and embrace a method of learning that I'd known little about, apart from my recent research. Comparing the boys to their schooled and homeschooled peers has been an ongoing issue for me. Developing the same level of confidence in this style of education as my husband has is a constant battle. I've discovered things about myself and about the boys that I never would have, had I attempted to force traditional education on them. Every time I questioned God about homeschooling and the way we homeschooled, God told me to put my hand to the plow and keep plowing. I've had to learn to trust Him, trust myself, and trust the kids, that they'd learn what they needed to, when they needed to, and how they needed to, according to the way God designed them. It's been a real faith walk and my biggest challenge, causing me to stretch and grow both in character and faith.

We moved into the second stage of our homeschooling when the boys got older and I felt led to incorporate a table time into our daily routine. This stage included daily work in Language Arts (reading, spelling, punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, and descriptive writing) and math (computation skills, fractions, percentages, decimals, and geometry). Daily devotions, Independent Living Skills, entrepreneurial activities, and sports began to fill our days. Because of their insatiable interest in television news, they’re learning about Current Events. Maps and globes scattered around have helped them expand their geographical awareness. Stemming from their sports passion, they're getting an education in nutrition, exercise, health, and anatomy. The rotating collection of pets, and the programs they watch, rounds out their science education. I can see this stage lasting until they are confident and competent in reading, in expressing themselves through the written word, and in computation skills as well as other aspects of basic arithmetic. As Tymon approaches twelve and Asher eleven, I see how far they've progressed. I visualize that in the next year or so they’ll move on to the next stage of our homeschooling journey.

In this third stage, about the time the boys become teenagers, I suspect they’ll be more involved in the community — volunteering, apprenticing, and working. I hope to find suitable mentors to help them further develop their talents, abilities, and passions, in whatever areas they want to pursue. By the time they leave home, I expect them to be capable of living independently. Years of daily training in nutrition, hygiene, healthy and helpful habits, housework, yard-work, cooking, shopping, and handling money will culminate in mature individuals who can make well-informed choices, set priorities, and take care of their bodies and belongings.

We hope that our daily spiritual training and emphasis on relationship will build Godly, honorable, young men who are willing and able to make sincere commitments and are capable of developing wholesome relationships. I want our boys to follow God and His will for their lives. I pray that their calling in life will earn them a respectable income, suitable for supporting and nurturing a family. I want them to work hard but love what they do and stand up for truth. We haven’t done things in the typical way. I believe God has a plan for each of our lives and He's leading us in the way that is best for us to go. The road has not been easy to travel, but it's been a worthwhile journey. We walk in confidence, trusting Him to guide us, being sensitive to turns in the road along the way.

This article was reprinted by permission from The Homeschooling Trail…A Journey of Faith by Michele Hastings. (Taken from Chapter 5: pg. 55-57)

Find out about Michele’s new book "The Homeschooling Trail" at her site "Michele's Musings" www.michelehastings.com. Also, check out her new blog by visiting michelehastings.blogspot.com

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