State Bureaucracy at Its Asinine Finest

The government of the state of Illinois really needs to find a better, more constructive use of its time. Seriously. Can’t balance the budget; can’t even make a budget; certainly can’t save the state from bankruptcy. But finding new ways to inundate parents and schools with even more paperwork? That they can do.

I got a call from the nurse at Moose’s school today. She had been going over his health history form, and had noticed that I had mentioned a likely peanut/walnut allergy. Now, we haven’t officially had him allergy tested yet. But, I’ve noticed reactions when he’s eaten those things, and I’ve spoken to his pediatrician about it, and she agreed that he probably does have an allergy. She also said that she didn’t see an urgent need to get him tested if we were planning on keeping him away from nuts, and that we could do the testing at our leisure. Great. So, I was planning on having him tested this fall, just so we could find out how severe the allergy is, and know if there are any extra precautions we should take, but I was in no hurry.

The school, however, is not a fan of this plan. Why not? Because our wonderful state instituted a new law this year that any student with an allergy must have a letter signed by their doctor confirming said allergy. Even if the school has known about a child’s allergy for the last five years, they now need new, lengthy paperwork from parents and doctors, testifying to the aforementioned allergy. The nurse was almost as frustrated as I was, because she’s the one who has to track down and file all of this frivolous paperwork.

This is just another example of the government stepping in and taken away my parental rights. It’s not good enough that I, as a responsible parent, have noticed his symptoms, realized he has an allergy, and taken the proper steps both to protect him, (by not serving him the allergen), and to notify the school. Now I have to go get a letter from someone clearly more intelligent than I am, stating the exact same thing. Sure, I was going to have tested, but now I’m being told to do it. Maddening!

I thought it was bad enough that in addition to the necessary doctor visit prior to Kindergarten, I am also now required to take my child to the dentist. Because I can’t figure out to do that on my own, right? Surely I never would have taken him to the dentist if I wasn’t told to. No, instead I probably would have just neglected his dental health, because parents are clearly too stupid to know to do this without the state government telling them to.

Oh, and the mandatory visit to the eye doctor prior to Kindergarten. Completely necessary for a child exhibiting no vision problems, right? I mean, I couldn’t figure out to take Turkey and Ladybug, who were homeschooled and not even of school age, to the eye doctor without someone telling me. I’m not observant enough to realize when my children might be having vision problems. No, I need the government to order me to do it, and require proof that it has been done before my child can go to school.

And now, to top it all off, I also need a signed letter informing the school of my child’s allergy, even though I, as the parent, have already informed them. If I don’t do this, however, they may not take proper precautions to make sure he is not given nuts while at school, (which doesn’t involve much for them as I pack his lunch every day), and they won’t help him in any way other than calling 911 if he does have a reaction. Yep, I definitely needed more intervention from the government in this wonderful public school process.

And people wonder why homeschooling is becoming so so popular!

Things I’d “Never” Do

Don’t think that the irony of this is lost on me…

Before I had children, I didn’t have a lot of ideas about what I’d “never” allow my children to do.  I didn’t have a lot of moments in public saying, “When I have children, you can be sure that I’ll never let them…” or, “I won’t ever tolerate…” and to be honest, for the most part, I still don’t.  I figure, you never really know what led up to a situation, so you can’t just judge a bad parent (unless it’s abuse) or a bad kid.  As a matter of fact, the only real “I’ll never” I currently have involves Heelys, or other shoes that have wheels built into the heel.  What a disaster those are…

I did have a few things I *was* sure I would “never” do, however.  The first was homeschooling.  Even one year ago, I was certain that I would “never” homeschool my children, for a variety of reasons.  And now here we are, almost 3/4 of the way through our first year of homeschooling, and planning next year.  Yes, my variety of reasons to *not* homeschool went away, and now I have a whole new variety of reasons why we *are* homeschooling.  Sometimes, it’s still a surprise to me…

The second was sending a three-year-old to school.  And in my defense, I still think that a normal three-year-old belongs at home with mommy, not in a school setting.  There’s plenty of time for that later.  But Moose’s experience is not normal, and so I broke my second rule, and sent a three-year-old to the public school, the same school that my two older children *should* have attended this year, had I not done a 180 on homeschooling last summer.

So, they’re equal and opposite situations…older children at home, where I swore they’d never be, because it’s the best place for *them* to learn, and younger son in school at what I used to think was a too young age, because it’s the best place for *him* to learn.

Yes, the irony abounds here, on several levels…

Is This Weird?

Is it weird to continue homeschooling if one of your children *needs* to be sent to the local public school?

This is clearly a struggle of mine right now.  Obviously, I have no crystal ball, so I don’t know if Moose will ever be able to be home schooled.  But right now, I’m working under the assumption that because of his delays, he may always need to go to the public school, maybe even in a special class.  And even if he gets caught up, I’m also aware that his speech delays make him more likely to have difficulty learning to read, something that I may not be able to help him with.  So, it’s easier on me to assume that he won’t be home schooled, and just hope that maybe someday, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

But this is a weird area for me.  If he keeps going to the public school, what happens if Turkey and Bunny (and eventually Ladybug) decide that they want to go to school there, too?  Or, what if Moose hates that he has to go to school while his siblings stay home (which would break my heart)?  I know that as a parent I have to make decisions for the benefit of my children that they may not like, but it’s still weird.  And what if I also don’t like the decisions I have to make?  Why does this all have to be so hard?

It makes sense that they would all go to school at the same place.  Well, maybe not exactly the same place, because depending on the year, eventually they’d be spread out between elementary, junior high, and high schools.  But it would be strange to send one to private school and the rest to public–it’s equally strange to me to think of sending one to public school and keeping the rest at home.

And then there’s the whole financial aspect.  Homeschooling is expensive.  I suppose I could look for a different curriculum, but we really like Sonlight, so…  But finances are already tight, and it’s not like they’re going to get better any time soon, what with the economy and all.  And then I think that if all four of them were in school, I could get a job during the day, and actually help with finances, so not only could we save money by not having to buy curriculum, I could actually be bringing some money in.  I didn’t think of these things before, but now that Moose needs to be in school, I’m realizing how close I am to having all four of them in school–Turkey and Bunny could be in school all day right now at the public school if I wanted, so that just leaves a few years before Ladybug starts school, at which time I could actually be monetarily useful to this family again.  

But, I love homeschooling.  In some ways, it would be easier not to, but of all the things I wish I could get rid of in my life (cleaning being at the top of the list!), homeschooling is the last thing I would want to drop.  I love watching Turkey and Bunny learn, I love challenging them,  I love making sure they’re learning both what is important, and what is personally interesting to them.  But I can’t do that for Moose, at least not right now, and maybe not ever.  So, is this situation weird?  Why does this all have to be so complicated?


I don’t even know who I’m really frustrated with.  The public school system?  Perhaps a little, but not really.  I guess mainly myself, but I really don’t care for that, either…

We’ve been enjoying learning about Christmas in our little homeschool.  Angels and shepherds, prophecies and fulfillment, Bible characters and customs from around the globe…we’re learning a little bit of everything that has to do with Christmas (except for the commercialized Santa nonsense), all pointing to the Greatest Gift, God’s own Son.

On the other hand, what is Moose learning about in school?  Reindeer and Santa.  I know he’s only three, but that’s so not what Christmas is about.  Now, of course I don’t expect our public school to teach him the real meaning of Christmas.  Those days are long past.  And, because I’m a reasonable person, I don’t even expect them to *not* talk about Santa leading up to Christmas (although I do wish they’d tone it down–I find it absolutely ridiculous that the real meaning of Christmas can’t be touched in public schools, but the whole Santa thing is not only accepted but embraced.).  But the whole Santa/reindeer thing is the bulk of what he’s getting, and so I’m frustrated.

On the one hand, I have two children (plus Ladybug, who likes to hang out with us in school), learning all about Jesus’ birth.  And then I have Moose, who probably needs to hear these things constantly more than anyone else in our family, and he’s not home for the bulk of the teaching.  Sure, we go to church on Sundays, and we say our prayers daily and light the Advent wreath and sing Advent and Christmas hymns.  But he’s missing out on all the stories we’re reading, from the Bible and not, and all the activities we’re doing.

And so, things seem unbalanced.  I could repeat all the stories with him, but it’s really hard to get him to sit still for that long, especially after he’s already been contained in school.  And, to be honest, if he was capable of listening and doing, he wouldn’t be in the public school in the first place.  So I’m left wondering if it’s fair and/or appropriate that two of my children are receiving a Christ-centered education, and one is not.  On the other hand, it also wouldn’t be right to deprive the rest of my children of homeschooling because one of them can’t be taught at home.

Will I ever feel settled about any of this?  I keep hoping for a miracle, that someday Moose will be caught up enough to join us in our homeschool.  But realistically, I don’t know if that will ever happen, so here I am, stuck between two worlds, and feeling guilty about them both…

Book Review: “The Well Trained-Mind”

It’s going to sound cliche, but this book changed my life. Seriously. It was the reading of The Well-Trained Mind (and I’ll be honest, I didn’t even finish it before I had to return it to the library!) that really pushed us over the edge into homeschooling. It was my husband even more than myself that this book really impressed, and it made us look at the public school system in a new, and frankly rather unflattering, way.

This book was written by the mother-daughter duo of Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer. Between the two of them, they have experience teaching in public schools, colleges and homeschools, as well as advanced degrees and have even authored a history curriculum written in the classical method and geared toward early elementary school students.

The Well-Trained Mind focuses on providing children with a classical education in the home. The basis of this method of instruction is the trivium–three sequential learning stages which are grammar, logic and rhetoric. What makes this book so fantastic are the extensive suggestions for resources for every part of the curriculum–from history and handwriting to Language Arts and Latin; from math and music to Social Studies and science, and everything in between. It is split up into stages of learning, and from there split into subjects. An enterprising parent could put together an entire curriculum based on the recommendations given! While I’m not that ambitious, I have noticed that Sonlight uses and/or offers many of the books listed in The Well-Trained Mind, and I also plan to supplement the curriculum we’ll be purchasing from that company with a few additional recommendations from this book.

The end of the book is also extremely helpful. The authors cover things such as making schedules (daily, as well as how to structure the school year, with a focus on year-round schooling in three different models), keeping records, standardized tests, tutoring and preparing for college. Basically, there are over 700 pages of awesome contained in this book. It was recommended to me by other homeschoolers when I was just considering homeschooling, and I will concur that anyone who thinks they might want to try homeschool should read this book, because it is a valuable resource.

This book deserves more than five stars as far as I’m concerned. I will be ordering a copy for my personal use from Amazon as soon as possible, and I can’t wait to sit down with it and a highlighter, and mark all the books we definitely will be reading, as well as others I would like to add to our studies. I think this will become one of my most useful homeschooling resources, and I plan on using the suggestions in it to help me educate my children for many years to come!


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.