A very specific, personal decision …

Friday is our son Michael’s last day at school. Yeah, I know, it is the last day for a lot of kids – it’s Christmas break! But unlike a lot of other kids, when break is over, Michael is not going back. He is going to be educated at home. Since Mike has attended our church’s First Baptist Academy, and I am the pastor of the church, I wanted to explain our reasons to anyone who might be interested in why we are taking this particular course of action.

First, let me make it clear that we are NOT dissatisfied with FBCA. In fact, as I told our Principal, Dave Rhodes, the Academy has been a great blessing to our family, and to Michael’s education specifically. He has thrived at FBCA. From his first experiences in kindergarten, through elementary school and now through the first semester of 7th grade, Michael has had wonderful teachers and has grown tremendously. Test scores school-wide are well above average. This has been true for Michael too. In fact, many of his achievement test scores the past couple of years have risen to “phs” levels – “post high school”. Ironically, this is an important factor in what has led to our decision. We want Michael to continue to be challenged, and to able to move ahead academically at his own pace. We know that a classroom teacher cannot cater to one child’s personal needs. They have to move the class together at a general pace. We certainly do not blame the Academy, or its wonderful teachers for that.

However, Michael CAN move ahead at his own pace at home. And he is a child who gives evidence that he will do that very thing. This is not for every child – and I write that as a parent of three older children for whom this would not have been a good fit. In fact, one of our family’s favorite stories is of the time when I was serving at our first church, and Cheryl & I had planned to home school Paul & David. One day, when Paul was approaching kindergarten age, Cheryl called me at the church office. I picked up the phone and was greeted with a frantic: “I can’t do it!” Taken aback, I asked, “You can’t do WHAT?!” “I can’t homeschool the boys! I can’t even remember how to make a lower case ‘n’!” I assured her that she did not have to teach the boys at home – and it turns out, it was probably not best for them, or for our daughter Libby either.

But Michael is different. When he comes home from school, he knows what to do: he gets his after-school snack from the kitchen, and then heads right to his room to do his homework. And he stays at it until he is finished – with NO urging from Mom or Dad. A couple of years ago, he asked us to stop reviewing for tests with him, since he preferred to just do it himself. Since he has made all A’s, we’ve had no qualms about it. (Yes, I know, he is a dream child for lazy parents, or for those who had a child later in life, like we did! He is VERY low-maintenance!) But his inclinations give us every confidence that he will do well with home education. We will turn him loose – under the tutelage of some very good curriculum we have researched, and with accountability to us – and let him go at his own pace. It will be interesting to see exactly what he does with this new-found academic freedom.

But we very much realize that the decision we are making now is not for every family, or for every child – not even for every one of OUR children. It just fits this specific child, in this specific situation. We do not intend to be “home school evangelists” who demean those who do not have their children educated at home. We love FBCA. And we love Sam Houston High School too – our three older children all had great experiences there. It is just that for this particular child, this particular decision seems best right now.

We are looking forward to it. There will be some nice “side benefits” to homeschooling: we can set our own schedule; we can take vacation whenever we want (Disney on the off-season, here we come!) etc. But those are not the main reasons for our decision. Michael is looking forward to the challenge of reading some classics in the history/literature program he’ll start in January, and to moving forward at his own pace – as well as not getting up at 6:45 in the morning! We will see how it all goes. I do have a confidence that it will go well. I tutored Michael in Greek every day after school this semester, just to supplement his education some, and he has done very well with it. He is not far behind the Greek I students at Louisiana College right now. This experience helped prepare me to make this decision, and gives me even more confidence that it is the right one.

But we will not be without accountability. Michael took the ACT test at Sam Houston last week, just to give us a “benchmark.” He will take it again next year to make sure that he is making progress. There are a lot of unknowns, and it is all a big “leap of faith” of sorts, but one which we are excited about. For those who care, or who may have questions, I wanted to give an explanation as to why we have made this decision, and to clear up any misunderstandings. It is not because of any problem with the Academy — we highly recommend it! — and it is not that we think that everyone else should do what we are doing. As in so many decisions in life, we have made a very specific decision based upon a very specific set of circumstances. We just feel like this is the right decision for this family, and this child, at this time. As you finish reading this article, I’d appreciate it if you’d say a prayer for us, and especially for Michael, and the plans that God has for him! Thanks!

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About Shawn Thomas

My blog, shawnethomas.com, provides brief daily devotions from own personal Bible reading, as well as some of my sermons, book reviews, and family life experiences.
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2 Responses to A very specific, personal decision …

  1. Jason Kees says:

    Are you going to tutor him in Greek and Hebrew? :)

    • Shawn Thomas says:

      Ha, Jason! :-) Just Greek — for the present! But I am not ruling out starting him on a little Hebrew once I am comfortable that he is settled in with his Greek.
      (And don’t you think I can’t do it, either; I can still remember Dr. Garland’s drills from Southwestern: “katal, katala, katalta …” ;)

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