A Glance Into the Cornerstone Christian School
Our homeschool journey began a few months after our little family moved to Germany in the winter of 1997. Our two children were in second grade and kindergarten in the Department of Defense Dependent School system, and we were becoming increasingly unhappy with the quality of their education. Jonathan, just seven years old, had already been in five different elementary schools. Some of them were good, some were awful, some were just mediocre, but the combination left him very academically confused. Kelsey had been in a pre-K program in El Paso and had begun kindergarten there, only to move twice during that school year as we followed the path the military had mapped out for our family. She had begun reading in pre-K because I had taught her the basics and early reading skills came very naturally. However, within a few weeks after moving to Germany, I noticed that she no longer even tried to read herself, and upon investigating her teacher's methods and standards, I found that my budding reader had been guilted into squelching her own desire to learn. Her teacher had told her that she was being disruptive during "quiet times" by reading to her classmates and was making them feel bad for not being able to read themselves, so would she please stop? Meanwhile, over in the second grade classroom, my spirited son had been given a bad grade in conduct because he wanted to dance during their music class. He'd also come home from school on many occasions nearly in tears because he was required to write essentially the same story over and over every week with a new "topic". My inquisitive and intelligent children were fast becoming victims to a one-size-fits-all school experience, and if we didn't do something FAST, we were afraid they'd get lost in the system. So in the Fall of 1998, we brought our kids home to the "school" that we knew would serve them best.
We have had two moments of weakness during this journey that became more than we could handle, and unfortunately we stopped relying on God to strengthen us. Once was in their 3rd and 5th grade years (they only attended a very-well-chosen public school for six weeks) and again just this last school year, for one semester of their junior and freshman years of high school, respectively. God showed us VERY quickly that we'd made a huge mistake, and now Pete and I are firmly convicted that our children's education--morally, ethically, socially, and academically--is our responsibility and that God will indeed provide all we need to educate any children He blesses us with from infancy to adulthood. We don't see any reason whatsoever to put our children back into the hands of a public school system that has not only failed them, but was a very powerful device used by Satan to bring powerful temptations straight into the hearts of our impressionable teens.
Our homeschool day has been flexible in the past, but this year I'm striving to implement a more structured schedule. With a 3.5-year-old who is bursting at the seams to "do school" with her high school brother and sister, plus a 2.5-year-old and a 9 month old, it will serve us well to have our day well ordered! We will, Lord willing, graduate our son this year, and sometime next year he'll enter the adult world full-force by enlisting in the US Army like his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and all other men in our family have done. Getting up early every day is going to be a necessity, especially if Jon will be able to "hack it" in basic training without falling apart at the seams when the drill sergeant awakens the recruits at oh-dark-thirty every morning!
I am doing something "new" this year with my high schoolers--I'm forcing myself to stick to a much-needed structured lesson plan by way of using Sonlight! I've tried many times in the past to weave my creativity into our homeschool, but unfortunately I'm just not as organized as I want to be, so with much prayer and the prodding of my very patient husband, I ordered Sonlight's Core 100, and both of my teens will be studying American History In Depth this year. History studies in the past has been less than "exciting", and somehow my kids didn't inherit my love of great literature, so Sonlight really was the right "fit" this year for all the goals we are working toward.
Jon's last semester of his junior year left a LOT to be desired, and his six months in public school were spent loafing and "fitting in" with the lazy kids he sat next to, so he failed Algebra 2. He'll be repeating it this year, in full! Kelsey had used Saxon's Algebra 1 at home last year, and that combined with Saxon's Algebra 2 program provides a full credit in geometry as well as algebra, so they will be doing that class together as well. Jon also failed biology, so he's doing that again this year also. Pretty much everything is being used for both kids. The icing on the cake for them, though, and the incentive to not goof off, was my proposal to take that Algebra 2 course WITH them! When I left high school to take my GED and begin my days of motherhood "way too early", the class I missed out on taking was Algebra 2. So, in an effort to prove to my children that I'm not full of hot air when it comes to my insistence on individual (and independent) learning, I'm joining in for that course I needed to complete all those years ago! Thankfully, I've got a hubby who is more than proficient in all things mathematic who will be overseeing this endeavor! Bring on the algebra!
As for our youngest student, Morgan is thrilled to have her very own drawer in our school supply "tower" (stackable plastic drawers) for her very own schoolbooks! Since she's just as excited to learn to read as I was at her age, I'm going to begin Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons with her, and we're going to use Ready Writer to hone her pen-to-paper skills before beginning A Reason for Handwriting K later on this year. I have a boatload of books for her to read once she picks up on it, and of course I'll be reading everything she and Jamie plop on my lap with the "Read, Mama, READ" request!
Not to be left out, Jamie HAD to have a school drawer too, so hers is full of coloring books and crayons and her very own spiral notebook for all of the "writing" she insists on doing at the dining room table as the rest of us work on more advanced academic pursuits.
Unfortunately, our base's library will be closing later on this year due to the drawdown of forces here in Germany, but we do have a few options that we'll likely take full advantage of! We are hoping and praying to be able to pack in several "educational" trips this year as we enter what could well be our last year of overseas service. For sure, we simply MUST see some of the notable historical sights here in Germany, and of course we will just have to make another trip to see the Lindt chocolate factory in Koln! Ah, fieldtrips! My favorite part of homeschooling! I really miss the opportunity to go to the beach like we did when we lived just outside of Savannah, Georgia...those marine biology/nature study fieldtrips were DA BOMB!