I never thought I’d be the type of parent to consider homeschooling. I’ve never had a problem with it, it’s fine for other families, just figured it was something that wouldn’t really work out for us. Ever since we registered our oldest for Kindergarten, though, I’ve felt this growing sense of trepidation. Not about him leaving me (although I’ve thought about the tears I will shed that first day of school!), but about what kind of things he’ll learn at school. And not just picking up stuff from the other children that I’d rather he not be exposed to. I’m worried about the stuff he would actually be taught.

First of all, I really don’t want my children being taught evolution. I don’t mind them knowing the theory is out there, but I don’t want them learning it as truth. I 100% believe in Creationism, and I fully intend to teach that to my children. But if the school system isn’t on board with that, I’m going to spend time that would be better used elsewhere trying to undo their teachings. And evolution will trickle down into other subjects besides science. Things like history and biology will also be affected.

Then there are “family life” units that I really have a heavy heart about. I feel that it is my responsibility to teach my children what a family is, based on the Biblical perspective. Again, I don’t want a public school curriculum mucking up what I’m trying to instill at home.

Sex ed is another concern along those lines. I really don’t think the school system needs to be teaching that. Now, I realize that schools teach it because so many parents are hesitant to, but I’m not other parents, and I want my children learning those things from their parents, not from people who may have very different ideas from me as to what is appropriate sexuality.

The general teaching of morality is also a concern in the public system. Again, I want to instill morals in my children, morals which are all traced back to my faith. I don’t need a school system to do that for me.

I don’t how many of these things are a concern right now where I live. But I have heard horror stories from school districts around the country, and I know it’s only a matter of time before that kind of mentality seeps in everywhere. Public schools have changed so much, even from the time I was a child (although I didn’t attend one), so I know they will continue to change, and probably not for the better.

The really weird part about all of this, is that while I was going through all of these arguments with myself in my head, I was apparently also talking about them at home, without even realizing it. And now, all of the sudden, my husband, who has always been pretty opposed to homeschooling, is also thinking that this may be the best solution for our family, as long as we don’t have a Lutheran dayschool in our area and/or that we can afford. I’m really getting the feeling that maybe this is what God wants us to be doing, because we sure didn’t come up with this plan on our own!

Here’s the other thing–I want my children to continue to be who they are. They love drawing pictures of church, talking about church, talking about Jesus, reading Bible stories. On the one hand, I know my children could be a good witness to the Gospel because they are so outspoken with their child-like faith. On the other hand, I don’t want their faith to be crushed when they’re told that they can’t talk about those things in class, maybe can’t even draw pictures relating to their faith (I just read a news story addressing this very issue–something else that contributed to my heavy heart).

And the issue of holidays. For example, we don’t do Halloween at all. We’ll celebrate fall with a trip to the pumpkin patch, but we don’t carve those pumpkins. No dressing up (we can do that other days), no trick or treating (what a great idea–go beg food off of strangers on a threat, and overdo it on sugary snacks!), etc. Public schools (and some Christian schools, I know) make a big deal out of this day. Or, on the other hand, Christmas. Public schools can’t focus at all on the true meaning of Christmas–no hymns, no Christmas story, no baby Jesus. But the secular stuff–songs, Santa, presents–that they’ll over-emphasize. Well, we don’t do Santa either, and I’ve already spent the last five years trying to make sure that the focus of our celebration is Jesus; I’d really rather no have to undo all my efforts when teachers and classmates talk about Santa all the month of December. And the same kind of thing goes for Easter and the ridiculous story of the Easter bunny. Let’s face it, we’re the kind of family that is going to have angry parents beating our door down because our child told their child that Santa isn’t real. (And no, I would never tell my children to do that–I try to be very respectful of that tradition, even though I disagree with it, but my children can be honest to a fault!)

My children just love Jesus so much–I just want to continue to encourage that in them and help it grow, and I really think the best way I can do that is by choosing what they learn, what curriculum they use, and teach it to them myself. Who has their best interest at heart more than I do? And wouldn’t the one on one time I could give them be much better than being lost in a classroom full of students, all with differing needs? And, I can personalize the lessons to them–help them learn more about the things they’re really interested in, help them work on the stuff that gives them trouble.

I know it won’t be easy. Part of me was looking forward to the oldest two being in Kindergarten and Pre-K half days this fall–being able to run errands during the day with only two children in tow had it’s appeal. And it’s going to be expensive. The curriculum I’m looking at right now will run about $800 for the year–that’s about a quarter of what a Lutheran dayschool tuition would cost, but still a lot more than public school. But looking at the curriculum, I can’t help but be excited. Our faith can be present in all of the subjects, from reading to science, to the Bible lessons we’ll do daily. We’ll be able to look at things from a Creationism perspective, read Bible stories, learn about the true meaning of Christian (and maybe Jewish) holidays. When we do calendar in the morning, we can do both the date and look at the liturgical calendar. It’s so exciting to think of all the ways we’ll be able to include God in our daily lessons!

On the other hand, the curriculum I’m looking at also uses secular material, which I’m happy about. I don’t want to isolate my children from the outside world, I just want to filter it a bit. We’d read books I remember reading as a child, have regular language arts, math, etc. Eventually, they’d also be introduced to the theory of evolution, which is fine by me, but it would not be presented as the truth.

I think I could do this successfully (do I sound like I’m trying to convince myself?). I was an early childhood ed major at one point, and had I the wisdom in college that I do now as an adult (well, at least I have a little more wisdom now than I did then!) I would have stood up for myself and would probably have my teaching degree. Hindsight is 20/20, and I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself then, so I didn’t finish the education track, but as a DCE, I do still have some experience in that area. Teaching is not without it’s challenges, but I think that I am up to that challenge.

Despite my past reluctance, homeschooling is really beginning to look like a win-win situation (financial investments aside!). Hopefully, we’ll be able to make a decision for sure soon, and then I can start planning.

Book Review: “The Potluck Club”

This review will focus not only on the book “The Potluck Club,” but on the whole three book series of the same name, all written by the duo of Linda Evans Shepherd and Eva Marie Everson. The other two books are “The Potluck Club: Trouble’s Brewing” and “The Potluck Club Takes the Cake.”

I read the first book of the series back sometime last fall. I got it from the library, along with the book “She’s All That” from the Spa Girls trilogy by Kristin Billerbeck. I had not heard of either of the series before, and only vaguely heard of the authors, but they both popped up on a “if you like this book, you might like these” kind of recommendation from Amazon. I started the series with low expectations, partly because I was very disappointed with “She’s All That” (another review for another time), and partly because it didn’t take me long to realize that most of the main characters in the book were my mother’s age, if not older, and I wasn’t sure that I would find anything appealing about it, or that I would have anything in common with the characters. I didn’t have to read very far into the first book to realize that despite the age difference, I could really relate to, and laugh and cry with, the ladies of the Potluck Club.

The series takes place in and around the small town of Summit View, Colorado, and the scenes were written so well that I could almost see the mountains and breathe in the fresh air. I especially liked the winter scenes, (even a rather frightening avalanche!) because I could just see the majestic beauty of the snow-covered terrain.

What I liked most about these books was the way the authors dealt with hard, real-life issues, even amid the laughter and crazy antics of the club ladies. Topics such as pregnancy out of wedlock, infidelity, and even abortion, were dealt with, and given the proper amounts of suffering, as well as grace under the Gospel. Other hard topics, such as adoption, inter-racial marriage in a time that did not tolerate such things, loneliness and alcoholism were dealt with equally well. The characters did not have perfect lives, did not always make good choices, and, in fact, at least one of the main characters isn’t sure she’s really a Christian at all.

The whole trilogy takes place in a short amount of time–less than a year. So much happens in each of the books that it’s hard to believe that such a short period of time is covered. Each of the six main characters has her own story, some of which are intertwined with each other. Evie deals with a long-suffering, not-so-unrequited love, and a unexpectedly pregnant niece who arrives suddenly. Newcomer to town Lisa Leann schemes to take over the potluck club, ensuring that she’s not making too many friends along the way. Goldie, the high school coach’s wife realizes that she can’t live with the knowledge of her husband’s infidelity any longer. Donna deals with a her immense dislike of Evie, (who also happens to be best friend’s with Donna’s surrogate mother), while doing her job as a deputy and dealing with hard issues from her past. Vonnie has a secret so big that even her husband and best friend are unaware of it, and she finds out that even she didn’t know the whole truth. Lizzie is solid as a rock, even as she deals with family issues of her own.

The characters were all very real–not the phony, life is all sweetness and light, rainbows and butterflies that you find in a lot of Christian fiction. They experienced real emotions, both good and bad, and had very real relationships, also both good and bad, with each other and others in town. The fringe characters were also very likable, particularly newspaper reporter Clay; David, a stranger with secret; Leigh, Evie’s niece; and Jan, the beloved pastor’s wife who was battling cancer.

I loved these books, and give them a five star rating. Although I got the first book from the library, I knew that I would want them for my personal collection, and ended getting the whole trilogy as a Christmas gift, at which point, I dove in, and finally finished the series. It was a long wait in between the first and second books! The story didn’t end with book three, however–a new series, “The Potluck Catering Club”, is being written, and the first book, “The Secret’s in the Sauce,” is scheduled to come out September 1. Given that there were many loose ends left at the end of the first trilogy, there is plenty of material left to be covered in the new series, and I’m sure other story lines will also be introduced. I already have my copy pre-ordered on Amazon–I can’t wait to find out what the ladies of the club do next!