Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dry Erase Framed Scripture "Art"

Kitchen time...most of us probably haven't calculated how many hours we spend there a month, but I'm sure it's staggering! I figured those hours at the kitchen sink could probably be spent more productively than mentally redecorating my living room for the 800th time...


So I took a little inspiration I saw on Pinterest, and decided to create a quick little frame that would help me meditate on Scripture or pray for my kids while chopping veggies or scrubbing pots.
All it took was an old 8x10 wood frame I had in a closet, a sheet of scrapbook paper, and some spray paint.

 
First, I primed and painted the wood frame. The sticks underneath are to keep it from sticking to the plastic as the paint dries.



My other soon-to-be-patented tip is to use a plastic baggie (if no gloves handy) to keep your fingers clean...spray paint is sticky stuff on the skin.

Meanwhile I cleaned the glass and cut a sheet of pretty paper to fit exactly in the frame.

 
Once the frame was dry, I assembled the paper, glass and frame. Then I grabbed a dry erase marker and wrote out a verse that I want to remember all through my day.
Super easy! A damp paper towel will erase the marker, and the color of the paper can be changed up in a snap if I want variety. In hindsight, a 5x7 frame would be better countertop size...so I won't put away the spray paint quite yet.



Praying this will help me seize some of those little “nothing” minutes that can add up to hours of time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fresh Mud Pie Ingredients.

If you are a hard-core follower of The Mud Pie Makers, then by now you know our goal is to take hold of each day, to create memories, to play with our kids—to attempt to see the world through their eyes. 
It is an ambitious goal.


How do we achieve this on a daily basis? How is this lofty objective broken down in the form of hours and minutes while the world blurs by, while our kids go from diapers to graduation gowns in the blink of an eye?

We often make our resolutions in January.  But for me, Fall is a time to start things new. School starts, everything is in a state of fresh schedules and attempted organization; we are already in the midst of transition. What can we do this Fall to take hold of each day? Are there a few small goals I can set? Can I prioritize and manage my time better to achieve these goals?

In my long, long, long list of “mommy improvements,” I have personally selected two areas of concentration for this Fall. I have really noticed  a weakness in these specific areas already since the school year began—perhaps you can relate.  My own mommy improvement goals are to listen better and to be more a more active parent. Over the course of the past few years, in the busy-ness of life, I have picked up a few bad habits! 

Listening.
If you are anything like me, it is easy to tune out the white noise that begins early in the morning when we are scrambling to get food in mouths and clothes on backs. The white noise comes in a variety of little voices; they are usually telling me something that can “wait until later” while I remind them to keep chewing or get their shoes on. Later the white noise returns when I'm unloading the dishwasher or even sitting on the floor playing. I am not ignoring my child, but my mmm-hmm responses quickly let my little one know that her long, detailed story of such-and-such boo-boo or his deep explanation of an elaborate Star Wars Lego battle is not quite worthy of my full attention. In fact, I am giving them a mommy version of the blank stare. It's the familiar blank stare they often give me when I am explaining obedience or protocol or why we have to go to bed even though the sun is still out.

Is it possible to calmly squat down to eye-level in these moments, to take two whole minutes to give them my full attention, to listen to these simple but important (to them) stories, knowing that they may not want to share every detail of their life with me before I know it?

Lackadaisical?
Has anyone else fallen into a chronic daily mommy groove that leaves us justifying our time management and hollering at our kids to “stop yelling at each other!” from two rooms away? Back when I only had one baby, I never imagined it could happen to me. I loved spending hours reading smart baby books and singing educational songs and deep cleaning the bathrooms and scrubbing my grout. Now I am lucky to clear laundry from the living room and I'm pretty sure I have a million dollars worth of stock in the Matchbox cars on the carpet.
It takes a great deal of effort to keep it all together.
At the same time, I find myself saying it's impossible to keep it together, so have I stopped trying? It's funny how our goals change with every month that passes as a mom. With all the zillions of blogs and books on organization, home-efficiency and time management, you'd think we could all get our acts together. But honestly, who has time to read it all? Around here, when everyone is scrubbed and brushed and tucked away for the night, I'm completely exhausted. We have more tools to communicate and simplify than ever before, and all we've done is add more things to our to-do lists.

About 5 months ago my husband decided to drop our cable. I'd be lying if I said I was on board with the decision, but in the end it was something we needed to do. At first I went through TV withdrawals. The first few weeks were painful as we attempted to get our little bunny-ear antenna to tune local stations and watch TV online. Eventually Summer came and nothing was on anyway and the days were longer. We went outside more. We read more. Soon I stopped missing it. Soon it became normal to leave the TV off for an entire day. Soon I started thinking back to when we wasted hours every week staring at the screen in our living room.
I don't want to sound like a mommy martyr—suffering with 3 kids AND no Cable! Trust me, I've already watched enough TV to fill up about ten lifetimes, and I'm not saying we'll never have cable again, and yes, we still have a TV in our house.  I guess, for me, the loss of daily lifeless TV viewing showed me many other areas in my life where minutes and hours are wasted. With all the new things we keep adding to our busy lives, are there other pointless things I can remove? Can I find a better balance of the time wasters and non-essentials and cut them out?
I don't want my kids to see me (and mimic me!) as an apathetic person who passively goes about my day because I'm honestly too lazy to just get moving and do what needs to be done. I'm writing this because I am guilty. I'm a very far from perfect mom. In fact, just last week, in my son's first week of school, I inadvertently crashed a PTA Board Meeting (whoops!), then on Friday I sent him to school wearing a hat for hat day, then found out hat day is this Friday.  I make a mess of things on a regular basis.

A Lofty Goal.
We can't just work toward these self-improvement goals for the sake of simply bettering ourselves--shockingly it's not all about me.  This is a familiar verse that puts my mommy days into perspective: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

How does this apply to how I treat my family—specifically my kids. Will I listen to important little stories? Will I become someone who is serving out of the interest of others?  What changes can we make as we head into the Fall, a new year, to make memories with our little ones and take hold of each day?


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Make Shopping Fun for Kids...Printable Games!

Oh, nothing brings on fatigue and despair in my children like the announcement, “Time to run some errands!” The skipping feet immediately begin to drag and the little shoulders slump out the door. I believe horrid and boring are the descriptive adjectives for shopping that I've heard mumbled from the backseat.

I really think they would gladly bathe twice every day and color with broken crayon stubs the rest of their childhood in exchange for never going shopping again.




In an attempt to make errands less of a drudgery for them, I made up a couple of little printable games that could be carried along to the stores. We tested it out this morning and I believe my little focus group enjoyed themselves--there was not one whine the whole trip! 



We used the colorful clipboards made here earlier this week (sidenote: after three days, they are still excited to check off their chores each morning! Musta got my list lovin' genes!)




Since my 4-year-old really loves I Spy, I made a little pictorial version for her to find several objects at a store—tried to think of things that were not too obvious--a hat on someone's head, a bee (honey label), etc. 



It's available if you'd like to print it here...you just need to set up a free Scribd.com account. (This is the only way I know how to make a printable available—I wish I knew how print it from our site). If you're artistic, you could easily draw your own objects, or cut pictures out.




Color Hunt would also be great for a preschooler. Use a crayon or colored circle stickers to mark 5-6 colors on a paper. Then give your child the clipboard and a pencil at the store so they can draw or write in an object they see beside each color. Yellow – draw a banana, red – can of tomato soup. The printable for this one has a more challenging version too, incorporating a sensory descriptive word: White + cold, Red + smooth.



My first grader is loving math these days. A Price Hunt math game with a calculator kept him very happily occupied. He had to find the grocery items on his list, note the price, and then calculate the cost for the 2 of them, or 3, or whatever # was indicated.



 I made a printable version of this...but for variation, cut pictures out of a grocery flier and glue them on a paper. The best part, of course, is using a calculator! I used rubber bands to hold it to the back of the clipboard. A dollar store calculator could be superglued to the back of the clipboard, or attached with velcro so it's removable.



For kids who can spell, try an Alphabet Hunt. Write the alphabet out in a couple of columns with a space beside each letter. Your child must find something at the store that starts with each letter. Stick to alphabetical order for more of a challenge if you have several shopping stops!

If you have no time to make a game, one quick thing I've done before when we've had to hit several stores is to give each child a few coupons and tell them their Mission is to be the first to find the product pictured. 

Grocery shopping accomplished and a good time had by all.



Shared with these great blogs:
I Can Teach My ChildMaking Monday Marvelous Linky Party



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to Entertain Your Dragons.

As we all know, school is back in session for the big kids. 


Here at home, we have been busy playing with blocks, reading books, jumping on the trampoline, etc. I thought today I would take a few minutes and spice up our mid-morning snack by making it much more formal for our hostess, my daughter, and by inviting a special guest--our little dragon.  We also used some tiny glass dishes that were super fancy to make the occasion even more special. 



By this time the dragon was overheated and he became a little boy again.
Since my kids (and most kids!) love to dress up, this was a quick, free, easy way to make our morning a little more exciting. I have a feeling we will have many more special guests at snack time in the near future. Princesses, Star Wars characters, Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.....


After our fancy dress-up snack, we took our crayons over to the Easel, which is the great Ikea Easel--love it, and we made a little portrait for Daddy to enjoy later.  It was an exciting, culturally-rich morning for us all.  Sometimes it only takes a few minutes to make the little ones feel special!

And remember:  "Always speak politely to an enraged Dragon." 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Colorful Kiddie Clipboards

Mod-podge clipboards are popular crafts right now...and I've been wanting to make them for my kids for a couple of purposes.



To make a clipboard, these materials are needed: a clipboard (I got the smaller 6x9 size at Staples for $1.79), craft paint & brush, a sheet or two of scrapbook paper, scissors, fine grit sandpaper (optional), foam brush, and mod-podge.



To make a finished edge, paint the edges of the clipboard with craft paint and let it dry.



Then trace around the clipboard on the back of the scrapbook paper and cut it out. For this size, both front and back will fit on a 12x12 sheet. For the front clip, mark where the clip is with a pencil and cut a slot to fit.





For the metal attachments on the back, I hole-punched openings to help it fit.



Use the foam brush to cover one side of the board with a good layer of mod podge. Be sure the edges get enough to stick good. Lay the paper on and smooth it out...you may want to use a ruler or credit card to smooth any bumps. Do the same for the other side.





Let the mod-podge dry, then you may want to use sandpaper to sand off any edges that sticking out. If you sand away any paint, either decide you love the distressed look or touch it up with more paint.


Wipe off any sanding dust, then cover one entire side of the board with mod-podge, even the edges. Your brush marks show a little in the light, so you may want to keep them all going the same way. For the front, I covered the main open section, then got a smaller paint brush and mod-podged under the clip, but not where the clip actually clamped the board. Let it dry 20-30 min, then turn over and mod-podge the back. You may want to do a second coat for durability.








You now have a super-fun, colorful clipboard you can use to hang up photos, art, To Do lists, or shopping list/coupons.


As mentioned, I had a couple of specific purposes in mind for my kids with these.





As we started back to a routine this week, I decided our day would begin with breakfast and then some chores/clean up time before starting school. These boards would add a fun element to chore time...by giving them a checklist!





They loved carrying their lists around and checking things off as they were accomplished.

*I think I may make a few varied chore lists for each day of the week and laminate them so we can re-use them with dry-erase markers for checking off...saving time and paper!

I'll show you my Idea #2 for the clipboards later this week. Happy back-to-routine!!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Time for Finals: The End of Back-To-School Week!

I hope this week has been educational and encouraging for you! If you missed our previous posts on homeschooling, private schools and public schools, please go back and read them when you get a chance. I think you will enjoy the variety of answers and explanations in the moving mommy testimonials.

As we close out our back-to-school week and head into the weekend, I'm hoping we can take a few things with us:

Don't assume anything. There are many great options for schooling today—we are blessed to have the freedom to educate our kids as we choose. Let's not take that for granted! Yes, each option carries a variety of pros and cons, but from reading each and every mommy testimony this week, there is no doubt that we all have the well-being of our child in mind.

When you are having a rough day or a rough week, make your own list of benefits. Think and consider the reasons you chose to send your child to that school or homeschool and pray first—focusing on the benefits and blessings.  As we have seen, each option has a fair amount of challenges—avoid constantly fixating on the negatives! 

Have open discussions with your friends. We can learn from each other and pray for each other as we disciple our kids;  we are also being educated in our different environments along the way.

As I asked for these testimonials, the answer I received from Tessa did such a nice job summing up the week, I decided to save her sentiments for today. I'm going to end the week with some of her thoughts here:
~~
Tessa:
I have learned never to say "never" especially in the realm of schooling! We have done all types of schooling (Christian, public and homeschooling). I said as a school teacher---I would NEVER do public or home school---I ate my words. 
Some of our reasons were spiritual, financial, social, and convenience. But ultimately, each year's decision--and each school we have chosen has been based on much prayer and seeing God direct exactly what each child has needed. We have seen benefits and road blocks at every type of school. What kept us going was KNOWING God clearly led in that decision and it helped to keep us going and plowing ahead--especially on days when we wanted to throw in the towel or jerk our kids out of the situation. Instead---we went back to the point that God led us there that year (Wherever it was) and sought how to remedy any of the situations from a Biblical perspective. 
It has been a great learning tool for ALL of us. When things were not as they should be in the Christian School classroom, it gave us a great way to discuss it with our child—how to respond in a Biblical way and pray much. When it was in a public school setting, it gave us (and our child) a great way to witness, take a stand, but most of all show Christ-like behavior in handling situations. It gave us confidence because God sent us there. With homeschooling, it has given us perseverance and has given us a lot of great quality time of teaching Biblical perspectives. With homeschooling, I really felt like it has exposed much that I need to change in my own spiritual life---especially as I respond to situations with my "students." 
I sincerely believe that prayer and walking with God is the KEY to parenting a school age child and making these huge decisions. It helps as you make the decision, as you enter each day, as you face the trials of each type of schooling, and as you disciple your child as they walk through each day. Total dependence on God is what has gotten us through---and the days I depended on my own strength---we have barely survived! 
Prayer truly works; even to change the teachers, the situations, and the child! Teaching our children to pray has been key as well! 
The most important lesson we have learned (as we now have a SENIOR!) is that no school or church ever replaces the discipleship a child needs from their own parent. A parent is VITAL in any school situation to reinforce, pray with, disciple, teach about God's ways---and it takes BOTH parents---it can never be left up to any institution to give your child the spiritual reinforcement the parent should give at home. You and your husband have to decide what you feel like God is leading you to do for each child. Others decisions really can't influence that, because God shows each family what is best and where they may minister best. Nothing is easy, but God gives grace and strength wherever He leads!
~~

Last week my baby climbed a mountain. I'm hoping it will not be his last, and I predict many more mountains of all shapes and sizes will rise up in his future.   Let's pray for wisdom as we guide our babies--showing them the path and giving them encouragement, but ultimately letting them carefully place one foot in front of the other. 

**Thanks again to everyone who participated, and have a great school year!**     

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Christian School Choice: Let's discuss this wonderful option!







It's still back-to-school week! For the past 3 days we have been discussing school options. So far we have talked about homeschooling and public schooling. If you missed the previous posts, please go back and check them out. Our first-hand mommy testimonials will inspire you! Today we are taking a closer look at another great option for our kids: Private/Christian Schools.


Christian School History:
In 1559 John Calvin himself founded a school, the Geneva Academy, and he was very influential in creating Christian schools throughout the city of Geneva. Calvin understood that for the effects of the Reformation to continue, providing children a Christian education was essential. John Knox helped form Christian schools throughout Scotland, and these schools operated in conjunction with both the church and the state.” (Walter G. Fremont, Teacher to Teacher, October 2003 issue) There is a great summary and additional information here
.  

In the late 1700's, Sunday school became popular throughout England and the US. Eventually this lead to an intense level of education, evolving into formal Christian Education as we know it today.



Christian School Facts:
Approximately 4 million students, 1 child in 12, go to Christian schools. In America, since religion is not taught by state-funded education systems (unless they are extracurricular), many parents choose to send their kids to a Bible believing school.
Several large Christian School groups are: The Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) which serves 5,300 member schools in 100 countries with 1.2 million students, and Christian Schools International, with approximately 500 schools and 100,000 students.
Another Christian school movement on the rise in the US is classical education which is attempting to return to traditional subjects, and is represented by the Association of Classical & Christian Schools, with over 230 schools and colleges, and about 34,000 students.

Christian School Methods
During the 1950's and 1960's Christian publishers began producing educational texts and materials; today a wide variety of Christian textbooks are available to all grade levels.  The goal of Christian publishers is to create quality biblical and educational materials.
Some feel that pastors should teach their congregation the importance and value of Christian education, as well as encouraging Universities to train quality Christian teachers.
Conservative Protestant Christian schools are privately run, typically in conjunction with a church or denomination.
Parents typically choose to send their kids to a Christian school because they want their children's education to be based on principals that are similar to those of their church. Unless these schools are subsidized by their church, or a part of a school voucher program that is government funded, they must pay tuition.
Although some Christian schools are large and well-funded, many others are small and rely on volunteers from the community.

**Testimonial Time! Let's hear from our experts!**

Why did you choose to send your child to Christian School?
Anna H.
  • Our family has chosen to send our boys to a Christian school. The easiest way to explain our decision is to divide it into two parts: why we chose school as opposed to homeschooling and why we specifically chose a Christian school.
  • Education at a school is not necessarily "tailor-made" to each student. I realize for a struggling learner this may be an issue, but it gives most students a wonderful opportunity to grow, adapt, be stretched, etc. This might sound odd, but school can even give students a chance to fail at something. Now, I'm not saying that I want my boys to fail. But if they do, it will be yet another great life lesson. We can sit down and evaluate what happened and how to prevent it in the future.
  • I also really appreciate having other objective opinions of my children. Teachers spend many hours with their students and can view them without their parents around. No matter how hard we try, parents are not objective. Especially as our boys get older, I look forward to having yet another resource to help determine how they are doing spiritually, academically, and socially.
  • We specifically chose a Christian school because of the spiritual influence it can have in our boys' lives. I'm perfectly aware that sending them to a Christian school does not guarantee that they will be godly. However, I don't have to worry about the underlying philosophy that they are being taught. I don't have to "reteach" certain things after they get home because of a secular world view. I don't have to worry about what a teacher is going to say, music that will be heard, etc. I can count on the fact that the school is philosophically an extension of our home and church.
Keri L.
  • We chose private education for a few reasons. First of all, my husband and I both loved going to school and wanted that experience for our children. We loved the idea of them going to school but also having the school be an extension of our worldview for their young formative years. The second reason was because my son has a September birthday. He was ready for kindergarten and we did not want to hold him back. Public school was simply not an option. We felt very comfortable with the private school we chose. My husband attended this same school from 4th grade through high school so we knew what to expect and already had relationships in place. Like many parents, we take our school decision year by year. We are not opposed to public school as an option for our family in the future. Also, I have a career which would make homeschooling difficult, if not impossible, to do well.
Joy W. 
  • We are sending our kids to a private Lutheran School for the first time this year. We previously tried homeschooling, as well as a public charter school. Homeschooling didn't go well for me. (I think I am not as far in the sanctification process as other homeschooling moms must be!) Plus, my kids do really well in school for their teachers - they work hard and get good grades. They seem to benefit from the structure and I have more time with the little ones.
Brenda H.
  • There were several factors that went into choosing a Christian school.  I would love to home school due to my girls' hearing problems. (Although I never imagined home schooling...!) I feel that they operate best on a one-on-one basis. But that's not possible for our family since I teach.
  • As for Christian vs. public, I feel that it's important to give children that chance if possible. I know it's not for everyone. My kids have contact with "the world" in many other venues, but I love that their focus at school is on loving the Lord and how He loves us.


What are the Greatest Benefits of going to a Christian School?
Anna

  • I personally believe that there are a lot of benefits to a traditional school/classroom environment.  On a very practical level, a traditional classroom allows children to learn to sit still, listen, work independently, work with a small group, stay on task, follow a schedule, etc.
  • Many schools offer a variety of activities under one roof: languages, PE, art, music, computer, library, band, orchestra, speech, piano lessons (or other instruments), etc.
  • Kids learn how to work with a variety of teachers and may even at times have the opportunity to work with one that is not necessarily their "favorite." What a great life lesson!
  • Another great life lesson for some kids is the realization that they are not necessarily the smartest kids on earth! There are other kids in their classes who are smarter or faster at what they are doing. They need to learn to be humble about their God-given abilities. They may even have opportunities to help others in a "peer-tutoring" situation.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, kids who struggle can learn that they are not alone. Other kids struggle too. Many schools offer help for struggling learners, and again a "peer-tutoring" situation may also help.
Keri L.
  • The benefits of private education are plentiful. The teachers and most of the parents share our worldview so my son does not come home confused about who God is or His importance in our lives.It is an extension of what we are already teaching him at home. I doubt I would ever be disciplined enough to homeschool. Because of private education, I know my son is learning doctrines, verses, as well as all his reading, writing, and math at a higher standard than I would be capable of at home. Smaller class sizes, consistent discipline, and education quality are just a few more of the great advantages to private school.
Joy W.
  • The benefit of a Christian school will be the extra spiritual encouragement I hope my kids will receive from teachers as well as Christian friends, which they didn't have at their charter school. I feel like I can use any extra help I can get.
Brenda H.
  • Well, I partially answered that in the last one. A biblical worldview is important to me. I know I am responsible to share that with my kids, but it helps to have teachers who can assist me in that. I also love that it's a smaller school and I have more access to my kids.


What are the greatest challenges in Christian Schooling?
*Also, is placing your child directly into a Christian-only environment giving your child a disadvantage?

Anna:

  • For those that worry that kids will be isolated or in some sort of "Christian bubble," I completely disagree. There will be ungodly kids even in a Christian school. Unfortunately, there will also be ungodly people in the youth group, on sports teams, at their work, and even possibly among close family and friends. Sadly, our children will have plenty of opportunities to experience the "real world" no matter what school choices we have made. At a Christian school, my boys will hopefully be able to begin showing discernment and leadership while in a safe environment. We will closely evaluate their friends. And as I mentioned earlier, the teachers will give us yet another godly, objective resource when we have questions about who our boys hang around, what kind of leaders they are at school, how they act out of our sight, etc.
Keri L.
  • The challenges to private school at this young age are small in my opinion. It was my experience having been through private and public school that the challenges are more evident as children get older.The pressure to please through outward behavior without heart motivation is the biggest challenge from my view. Also, with the exception of sports, private school kids are not exposed to other worldviews, I think this is a good thing for young children. As they get older I hope they will have more interaction with people so they can learn how to stand on their own for what is right.
Joy W.
  • There are several challenges that go along with using a Christian school. First, the finances, but we found a very reasonably priced school out in the country – I think Lutheran churches are very good at supporting their schools, so it costs less for tuition. Second, finding a Christian school that lines up with your families convictions as far as worship and theology can be a bit hard.
Brenda H.
  • Well, having gone through Christian school myself, it is obvious that imperfect people (including me and my children!) make those Christ-centered ideals I just mentioned harder to attain. A focus on outward conformity at school can cause our hearts to become hard to the Lord. I try to be transparent with my kids and talk about my relationship with God--how I make mistakes, but He loves me no matter what I do. I hope and pray that this will help us to be honest and focused on the heart, not the outside.
  • One more hard thing:  the logistics of school--due dates, start times, vacation days. I would love the flexibility of making my own schedule at home school.

**Extra Credit!**

  • Again, there are many sources and history available to you here.
  • I would love to hear more about any resources you might want to share here!


Thanks so much to my testimonial moms! We are winding down our series on Back-to-School and I appreciate the feedback and comments I have received from everyone.  Please don't be scared or intimidated to share your opinion.  We would love to hear from you--there are really no "right or wrong" answers on this test!
Tomorrow we will do a quick run-down and summary to wrap up the week.  I hope everyone has had a productive and fun week back at school!

   


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Public School 101: Education on Public Education.



You are sending your kids where? Yes, it's true. That big brick building up the road, the one that says Public Elementary School on the sign, is still up and running, and most likely it is actually brimming with kids.

This week we are discussing the ins and outs and why and why-nots of the school options available to our kids. If you want to get caught up by reading the previous posts, please go here.  And to find out about the option to homeschool, please click here.
Today, we are talking about the big Public Schools!

Public School History:
Many say that 17th century bishop John Amos Comenius was the earliest advocate for public school. He wanted all children to be educated—not just the rich and powerful. The first American tax-payer-funded school was in Dedham, Massachusetts (Boston) in 1643. The original purpose by these founders was to teach children to read so that they could understand the Bible.
Horace Mann (1796-1859) is considered one of the founders of the modern American public school system, if you want to look him up. Some consider his impact to be a negative/socialistic one, but mostly he was a crusader for universal education for all classes in America. Thanks in part to Mann, by 1870 most states provided free elementary schooling.
There is a lot of information on the history of public schooling if you are interested, do a quick search! Here is one neat resource from PBS. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/publicschool/

Formal schooling in a classroom setting has been the most common means of schooling throughout the world, especially in developed countries, since the early and mid 19th century.”

Interesting Public School Facts:
Whether we like it or not, about 9 out of 10 kids go to public school, and this number does not seem to be declining. 
80% of Evangelical Christians still place their children in public schools even though Christian schools have been around for 50 years, and the homeschool revolution has been in swing for about 25 years.
Many things factor into the “popularity” of public school, and although it may be a "last resort" to some, many parents are actually seeking out. Some parents are attempting to work with local schools to help guide their kids into “responsible adulthood that includes—is centered on—a love for God.” (pg. 40, Going Public)
Lots of people are concerned with the decline of American test scores. These scores actually need to be placed into a larger context. While Public Schools might not be the most efficient, most well-oiled machine on the planet, we need to remember that our standardized public school tests are not only plucking grades from the best of the best. American Public Schools are also testing those who have come from kids who miss a lot of school days as well as students who are speaking English as a second language.
Paul Farhi wrote this in The Washington Post, “No nation included in the major international rankings educates as many poor students or as ethnically diverse a population as does the United States. Yet even as the percentage of historically low-achieving students has increased, our test scores have risen.”

**Public School resources:

Public School Methods and Generalities
Public Schools still have great teachers (it's true!) I know this for a fact, not only because I personally have a mom, sister, grandma and very close friends who currently teach (or have taught!) in public schools across the nation, but also because I graduated from a public high school where I was impacted by amazing teachers. 
Shockingly, these teachers aren't in it for the money. For many, teaching at a public school is a way to express their love for Christ, and to show others His love for them.
Another unique aspect of public education is that it involves these requirements:

  • compulsory student attendance (until a certain age or standard is achieved);
  • certification of teachers and curricula, either by the government or by a teachers' organization;
  • testing and standards provided by government.

Public schools are also different from other schooling options because they are branch of government. Some parents consider this to be a deterent—we don't want the government teaching our kids! In another sense, we can view this as a huge opportunity. Where else in the government are we given so much power at the local level?



Testimonial Time!
Why do we choose public school for our kids? Here are our answers!

Me:
  • This is the first year that our son will go to public school, so we are very fresh in the schooling biz.  But my husband and I are choosing public school because we believe our son will benefit from learning to distinguish early and gradually in an environment that may be slightly different from a world that is always simple, and black and white. We know that the things he learns at school will not always mesh with our beliefs at home, but we hope and pray that he will learn to discern for himself while under the direct guidance and teaching from us at home. We hope that he will gradually gain the tools he needs to prepare him for the “real world” when he turns 18 instead of sending him out abruptly the day he becomes an adult.

Amy M:
  • We chose public school for a few reasons: The cost-factor {why pay for private school when they can get a good education that is 'free'?}
    • We felt that in our own family and our kids' lives, that we were becoming 'stale' to people outside of our own social group and weren't really feeling the need or desire to make an effort to meet people in 'the real world'. It was unsettling to see our oldest develop an attitude of pride toward people who didn't attend 'Christian' school and God used that to influence our decision to take our kids out of that scene and put them into the community to get a better understanding of people and their need for the Lord. And to show them where we'd be without the Lord.
    Kym K:
    • My husband and I decided to send our kids to public school because we felt we wanted our kids to be a part of their community. We are called to "go and make disciples" and we believe that begins at home with our children, then to those around us. Sending our kids to school has been a tangible way for us to have an impact on our community. We have seen first hand the benefits to this.
    What are the benefits of Public School?
    Me:
    • Our son will benefit from receiving a great education—we live in a wonderful elementary school district. I am excited for him to make friends from a variety of backgrounds, to get involved with teachers, Moms in Touch, PTA, and other resources available to parents. I look forward to learning more about my neighbors and community instead of only knowing a small circle of Bible believing friends. It will be a huge challenge for us all!
    • One other driving factor for me is that Christians seem very concerned with the state of the schools, the state of the government, etc. However, many of us have pulled our Christian kids out of schools and many amazing Christian teachers have chosen to avoid public schools. Is this a local mission field? If we continue pulling our kids (and teachers) out of the schools instead of trying to reach the lost and make changes on a small government level, what will the schools (and government?) look like in 30 years when it's time for our grand kids to go to school?
    Amy:
    • The greatest benefit for this type of schooling {besides being FREE} is that we have had so much more interaction with people that we would have never known otherwise. The life lessons you learn from meeting so many different kinds of people are priceless. There are extremes in the public school - poor, middle class, wealthy, Christians, non-Christians, many races and personalities. They are who they are without pretense.
    Kym:
    • We are very involved with our kids school, teachers, and activities. We have had some of the best conversations with our kids. We have been able to point them to the cross and live out the Gospel through their experiences. Our kids know that many of their friends have hard home-lives. Just by having friends into our home and showing them how we live differently, by showing affection to my husband, praying before meals, the way we discipline and require respect has lead to great conversations. My daughter recently was able to share with a friend whose parents are divorcing that she was praying for her and that she would always be there for her. I could list many other examples.
    What are the greatest challenges of Public School?
    Me:
    • Since we are just starting our public school parenting journey it is hard for me to name anything specifically. I foresee the challenges to be consistently teaching our kids about the truths in the Bible, explaining why we are sometimes different without it making look like we are better than them. I'm also assuming it will only get harder the older they become!
    Amy:
    • The hardest part is letting my kids experience things that aren't necessarily bad, but different than the way we do them. It's been challenging {in a great way!} teaching them WHY we do the things we do and WHY we believe what we believe. They have seen/heard things that they wouldn't see/hear in our home, but when that happens we seize the opportunity to talk about what God expects from us. We aren't responsible for other people. We are only responsible for ourselves before God and that is a valuable lesson for our kids to learn.

    Kym K:
    • Public Schooling is not always easy; there are honestly times I question if we are doing the right thing! I question whether we are putting our kids into impossible situations. We have no plans of letting our kids play the dating game, so we will definitely draw some attention to ourselves when that comes into play.
    • I think about how every morning I drive them to school—we have a special routine. When we reach a certain landmark we pray. My prayer focuses on my kids being bright lights that shine for Christ. I pray that they would reflect his Glory. That the staff and students would know we are different, not because we are good or moral, but because we love Christ and he is our hope and our treasure. We are trying to raise kids that are grace filled and have a heart for those around them. I want my kids to know that they are no better than anyone else around them, but they have the hope of the gospel.
    • Academics don't mean anything to me. Of course we ask them to do their best (and they do) but what I care about most is their hearts. I fully support my close friends that homeschool. I think its wonderful! We just felt a call early on that this was where we are to be. Many days honestly I think homeschooling would be easier for me. Practically speaking the kids play instruments and we practice daily, if I homeschooled we could fit much more time in. Plus I just love having them with me. I know so many families that homeschool, amazing Christians and I cant help but think...man I wish we had more believers just like them in public school! The impact we could all have together, tag teaming on PTO activities, working in the classroom together and sharing Christ.
    • I feel that homeschooling would be the easy way out for me. Someday when my kids are raised, I don't want to say, "I'm so glad I protected my children." I want to know that, even though it was extremely difficult, and by God's grace, my children see the need to minister to ALL people. They have been walked through hard situations in real life, and know the only hope for ALL people is Christ. That someday they know their only source of ultimate joy is not a life of morality, but Christ.
    In Conclusion!
    • Griffin had his first day of school today, and already there have been a few times where pride got the best of me. I tell myself we are doing something noble by sending our kids into the public school system. Just last week my husband handed me a gentle humility check by asking, “So you're telling me if someone offered to send all our kids to private school for free, you wouldn't accept it?” I had trouble answering his question, and all my motives went out the window. I am scared, just like many of you, praying and hoping my kids make it out ok on the other end of all this!
    Here is one quick analogy that I love and some of the logic behind our decision.  This is from Dennis McCallum who is Pastor at Xenos Christian Fellowship in Columbus, OH:


    "None of us who have children want them to drown. But how can we prevent it?
    One way is to keep them away from bodies of water deeper than two feet.  Kids won't drown if they don't get into deep water.
    But we can also guard them from drowning by another method: teaching them to swim.  Though it isn't foolproof, it works rather well and provides more freedom.
    In the same way, we should teach our kids to "swim" against the currents of the world.  Avoidance of the world is ineffective--children eventually go away to college or start their own lives and encounter all the things we guarded them from.
    They will be more ready to face the worldly currents if we have taught them to swim."

    **Extra Credit**
    A few tips to get you started on your public school journey.
    • Find a mentor! If you are considering public school, find someone who has firsthand experience and walk through the options with them. Kym and another couple who teach and send their kids to public school have been invaluable mentors to us in our decision.
    • Another great resource for those considering public school is a book by David and Kelli Pritchard called “Going Public.” This is the website: http://www.goingpublicthebook.com/

    The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.  ~Sydney J. Harris