Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ala Carte or Smorgasbord?

My sister-in-law came up with a great education analogy that I have her permission to share.  I think it is a good way to think about how and why we educate our children the way we do.

Let me preface these thoughts by saying I have never been a die-hard, "homeschool or you're going to hell" sorta woman.  In fact, God called me to homeschool my kids much to my dismay initially.  I was really looking forward to some ME time.  But, He had other plans for my days.  He wanted me to die to myself and my plans and plunge headlong into the sometimes thrilling, sometimes painful world of schooling my children at home.  Even "Homeschooling" is a misnomer because I am often not home.  On any given day, my children and I can be found perusing shelves at the library, visiting at a friend's house or scouring for a deal at Goodwill.  By labeling myself as a "Homeschooler" - I simply mean that Phil and I are the primary decision makers about and implementers of an education plan that we have chosen for our kids uniquely.

Homeschooling is a bit like dining at an Ala Carte restaurant.  We compose the menu of our children's education from the thousands of resources available - focusing on specials, recommended items and eating more of one course than another.  We look at and decide upon each course based on our families priorities, each child's strengths and weaknesses and sometimes, what is available to us in the convenient, drive-thru version.

Schooling outside the home (be it public or private) is a bit more of a Smorgasbord - Old Country Buffetish, if you will.  In one place, a child gets what is available to consume - all of the courses chosen by the assigned teacher or group of professionals designing the curriculum.  Often, the options are pre-determined but varied and more easily accessible than going Ala Carte - a definite plus for many families. 

There is no one right way to get your child's belly full of food when it rumbles and no one right way to fill your child's appetite for learning.  I would simply pose to you: 

If you grew up eating at only one restaurant, have you considered branching out? 
What menu is God asking your family to dine from? 
Is their hunger for knowledge being satisfied with nourishing meals?

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