1. My husband and I are self-professed academic snobs. We met at and graduated from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Before that, I attended a wonderful, independent private school for high school that is consistently ranked as the best in our state and one of the best in the South. We both attended graduate school: medical school for me, business school for him. I have done post-residency fellowships, while he has excelled in the world of computer geekery. We want our children to have the gift of a superior, academically-challenging education.
2. We do NOT want to remove God from the classroom. We believe that Jesus is the only Son of God, the Savior of the world. We believe that God created the world out of nothing. We do not believe the world is a happy accident or a coincidence. We want our children to know God, to have a relationship with Him, and be free to learn about and study Him in a safe environment. We do believe in science. We believe that science is a way to understand this world that God made. We believe in literature. When studying poetry and prose, we want our children to be welcome to compare passages from A Midsummer Night's Dream to verses in Corinthians. We want all of our studies to reflect God and His creation.
3. Our Girls thrive on individual attention. Our local schools typically have 30-35 children in each class.
4. We want SCHOOL on OUR LIFE schedule, not LIFE on a SCHOOL schedule. We want to travel when we want, where we want, and for as long as we want. We want the freedom to explore museums and battlefields and mountains and streams, to amble across the country for months at a time without having to worry about how many days of school our children are missing, or to spend spontaneous long weekends at Disney World just because we crave a Mickey fix. We like to travel.
5. We want our children to have the freedom to be children. They are currently 8 and 12 years old. One of my governing mantras in life is 'The Joys of Childhood.' I want kids to play, to explore, to experiment, to build, to invent, to pretend, to make art...to just be kids. There is no need for our children to grow up too soon, to have boyfriends at age 9, to dress like 20-somethings preparing for a night out at a club, to worry about being too fat or too thin or not good enough.
6. We want to encourage them to be themselves, to thrive, to discover what interests them. Our eldest is a dancer. She loves art and creative writing. She sings her way through life. Our youngest is our engineer. She spends hours building cities out of Legos and printer paper. She thrives on math. She begged to study chemistry and physics this year instead of plants or animals (remember, she is only 8!). She is methodical and solves problems like her Daddy. A one-size-fits-all curriculum does not allow them both to thrive. When buying curriculum for the oldest, I had to choose literature-based, project-based learning with minimal textbook use. She has always preferred to write stories than to color in the lines or fill in the blanks. I had planned to reuse all of her curriculum with her sister. Boy was I wrong. The Little Person was a reluctant reader and remains an extremely reluctant writer. She prefers textbooks with absolute answers and freezes when asked to write from her imagination. She has to be forced to write more than one-word answers. She adores rocks. She collects them everywhere we go and spends hours studying them and reading geology books for fun. Her favorite parts of our summer road trip? Any day she got to spend outdoors searching for unique rocks and rock formations and then comparing them to what she had collected the day before. Could a public school teaching a Common Core curriculum encourage these two to pursue learning what they want and how they want? Sadly, no.
7. Last, but certainly not least, we love to travel. Our goal is to travel to all 50 states and all 7 continents with our children before they leave home. So far, they have both visited North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Antarctica, as well as most of our beloved United States. We are slowly but surely exposing them to life outside of our Southern, suburban bubble. They recognize how blessed and how fortunate we are to live where we live. They are developing a heart for missions and a desire to tell others about Jesus. The are learning to give what they have to those who are less-fortunate, be it money, time, skills, or just a hug and a word of love. They are learning the heart of the Great Commission:
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. And lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:19-20
Photo: My Kid and her friends making aluminum foil hats while enjoying Weird Al Yankovic's conspiracy-theory-based song, Aluminum Foil.