Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Tough Decision

Our oldest son, Isaac is now five and will be ready to start kindergarten next month. Deciding where to send him for kindergarten has been a very tough decision for us. We had always planned on homeschooling until about a year ago when we heard of a school called Faith Christian Academy. We were drawn to the school because 1) it is part of Faith Community Church which we know is a very sound church and 2) it operates on a university schedule where the students attend class there for three days a week and are homeschooled for the other two days. We loved the idea of our kids getting the classroom experience and the homeschool experience. We also loved that FCA is a very rigorous school where expectations are very high, and we knew our kids would get an excellent education. So after a few visits to the school and a lot of thought and prayer, we signed Isaac up to start kindergarten this fall.

A couple of weeks after we had signed him up, Luke and I both started having second thoughts. We started thinking through the practical side of him attending this school. FCA is twenty minutes from our house, and with the price of gas that would greatly increase the expense. The school also requires twenty hours of volunteer time per year for the parents which would increase the amount of trips back and forth. We also started wondering if we were going to miss out by not homeschooling exclusively. We know many families that homeschool and have been very impressed by their children's academic success and spiritual development. Would we be missing out on something if we didn't homeschool?

This started several weeks of very difficult decision-making. We felt like we had two really good options--which one was better for our family? We prayed a lot about the decision and spoke with many friends to get their thoughts on the issue. Everyone we spoke with was in agreement that both options were good, which made our decision even harder. I wanted someone to just tell us what we should do--the decision was too hard to make! Finally, we both decided we felt like we needed to homeschool. We still think FCA is a great school, but we feel like homeschooling is the best thing for us. Finally...a decision was made!

Now that we have made this decision, we are gearing up for our first official year of homeschooling! We have decided to homeschool through a satellite school, Christian Liberty Academy. Christian Liberty Academy is a Christian school in Arlington Heights, Illinois. In 1967, they started a program called CLASS (Christian Liberty Academy School System) to support homeschooling families. When you enroll in their Administrative Plan, it is as if you are actually enrolled in their school (only the parent does the teaching). We will be mailing all Isaac's work and tests to CLASS, and they will do all the grading and keep all the records. They will mail us report cards and keep his transcripts. If we choose to continue with this through 12th grade, he will graduate from CLASS and get a diploma from them. One of the concerns Luke had with homeschooling was that I would be too stressed trying to plan and grade everything. With CLASS, they will take care of all of that which will help me just enjoy teaching our kids!

Another exciting thing about the upcoming school year is our playgroup that will be evolving into a homeschool co-op. We have been in a wonderful playgroup over the last year with several families from our church. All of these families are also homeschooling so we are going to start doing field trips together and planning holiday parties, field days, etc. This way the kids will get the benefit of a home-schooled education, but will still get the fun stuff like field trips and parties with kids their age. What a blessing to have these other families to do this with!

Our big project before I start homeschooling (which means we only have about a month to get this done!) is turning our sub-basement into a classroom. Here's the picture of what the sub-basement looks like now:

We have our work cut out for us, but I have big plans for this space! We'll be very busy over the next several weeks--I'll keep you updated on our progress!

CLASS is also very inexpensive because it is not-for-profit. We paid $240.00 and that included EVERYTHING for his kindergarten year (curriculum and shipping, administrative costs, teacher's manuals, etc.). We received the curriculum via UPS this week. Here's everything they sent us:

I haven't even begun to look through all this so that's another huge project I have before me! If I don't blog much this month you'll understand why...
Please be praying for us as we begin this huge task of home-educating our children. We are very excited about it and pray God will bless our efforts. We'll keep you updated as we go...

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