Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Ah, cheesy romance novels

So, I read one last week.  I'd seen the author's name come up on the book lists numerous times so I was curious.  After the first three pages, I almost didn't pick it up again.  This past week I had been talking to my writing students about how important it is for a book to be realistic, authentic.  Well, this book wasn't!  Not at all!  But, there was a special reason that the book's story struck me.

The book is titled On Lone Star Trail by Amanda Cabot.  The story follows TJ and Gillian as their paths intersect at the Rainbow's End Resort, owned by Gillian's best friend.  At the very beginning of the story, there is a sudden rainstorm, and TJ hydroplanes on his motorcycle.  He hits a guardrail--enough to completely bend his front wheel, flips over the handle bars, and stands up with only a few bruises to show for it.  Really?  I laughed out loud.  The man was wearing a helmet and a leather jacket (good protection), but it didn't mention that he had anything other than probably jeans on his legs and boots.  My husband has ridden motorcycles for seven or eight years and is very safety conscious.  The idea that a man could flip over a railing (likely put there because there was an incline on the other side) and be okay?

I asked my husband how likely this scene could happen.  His answer?  Yes, it is possible--But, highly unlikely.

The author could simply have had TJ get a flat tire, which would have been enough to strand him and his motorcycle so that he'd need a lift from Gillian somewhere.

Reviewing books for the past ten years has taught me to pay attention to how stories are written and weather a book sounds authentic or not.  Could this story happen?  Not really.  That scene was the tip of the iceberg.  It's an idealistic romance novel.  I likely won't read a novel by this author again.  Her writing is fine.  It flows and there were just a few jumps.  The cover reminded me of a Harlequin novel.  But, there's a question I often find that I have after reading a plot line like this one.  How long after a spouse dies, is the other ready to be in a serious relationship again?  Is a year enough time?  18 months?  2 years?  I am skeptical that the time needed to grieve is realistically as short as many authors, including Amanda Cabot, paint it in their stories.  I don't know, though.  A friend of mine was engaged to a young man who passed away and it took her several years to recover.

Would I recommend this book in the Christian romance genre?  Not really.  I think there are better ones out there if that is what you're looking for.

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.

Monday, February 22, 2016

A few more thoughts...

Yesterday, I discovered that I could read the novelization of the movie Old Fashioned by Rene Gutteridge on my phone by checking it out from the library.  So, I began reading.

I realized one of the reasons I like it, but don't like A Courtship.  A Courtship is a documentary, something I usually don't gravitate to.  Because there were real people in it, I found myself concerned for those people, caring about how their opinions affected their lives and the fear that was directing it.  Old Fashioned, on the other hand, is fictional, so I am able to focus on the ideas, questions, and thoughts that the story provokes in my mind, rather than focusing on the people.

There are many aspects of Old Fashioned that raise alarms in me, but what I like is that the story shows the processing through of the characters' emotional baggage.  How does healing take place when you have damaged ideas of love?  Can healing take place?  Is there hope?  Where does God fit into the picture?  Old Fashioned tries to give a few answers by juxtaposing three male friends who all view love and relationships differently.  During college, they were frat brothers who lived the typical "frat" life.

The first man is still single and is basically living as an adult "frat" boy.  He's cynical love, lambasts women on his radio talk show, and won't engage emotionally with a woman.  To him, they're seemingly only good for one thing, sex.  The second man has been living with his girlfriend for several years and has a little girl with her.  Early into the story, they get engaged--not because he feels they need to because of societal expectations, but simply because he wants to.  He wants to have the party.  The final man, Clay, is at the center of Old Fashioned's story.  He is the former frat boy who has turned away from that life and run to the opposite extreme, living like a monk without a monastery.  He is trying to be perfect, living by a strict set of rules, trying to make up for how he feels he damaged the people in his life during his college days.  He knows God, but became disillusioned by the sin he found in the church.

Clay's character represents so many flaws people experience as they try to walk with the Lord in this complicated world we live in.  We struggle with our faith and how to best live that out.  It seems inborn in every human being that they want to be "right" because being "right" will somehow make them of more valuable.  Clay embodies this, trying to continually be a "good" person.  Being a "good" person is the idol at the center of his life.  He's missing the mark.  We live in a world where people are trying to constantly be "good", but as Christians being "good" isn't the point.  We're here to love God and glorify Him in our lives.  That looks like loving God--putting Him at the center of our lives-- and loving others as ourselves.

I wish I could write more and give this post what I'd like to, but I can't.  My family is all sick.  I am sick.  As much as I like to write, I need to go and think more on this another day...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Thoughts on Courtship and Dating

Last night, I noticed a movie new to Hoopla, "A Courtship".  I was curious about how it ended, so I checked it out and skipped to the last quarter of the movie.  I jumped in where the guy is telling the woman's "spiritual father" that he and the girl have different theological differences.  Spoiler: the girl and guy don't end up together.  I watched through to the end and noted that she continues to live with them for ten years more (and possibly beyond) with no more suitors.  The gal's reasoning is interesting.  She doesn't want to focus on appearances to please others and she feels that it's biblical for parents to arrange marriage.  The spiritual father says something very interesting about a third of the way into the movie, which I suspected from the beginning.  He explains that he and his wife (who do not have older children of their own--only one 8 or 9 year old daughter) dated and did find each other, but that they experienced a lot of pain that they felt they didn't need to.  His wife's reasoning in not kissing until marriage is that then the young woman will not experience pain of having given away a kiss if she sees that young man again and things haven't worked out.

Pain.  That's the common thread.

The young woman wants to avoid the pain of making the wrong decision for herself and wants someone else to have the final say about what God's plan is for her.  The wife believes that it is is kissing someone that causes the greatest pain when a couple breaks up.  The husband believes that courtship will avoid the pain of dating.

There are several thoughts that came to my mind as I was considering the opinions of these three different people.

First, God doesn't say we won't have pain and suffering.

This is my favorite passage from Be Still, My Soul, pg. 22:
"Don't just accept suffering--because God doesn't want it.
Don't just avoid suffering--because God can use it.
Don't just avoid suffering--because it is evil.
Instead, enjoy the hope that suffering is going to be engulfed, swallowed up.  The evil that hurts us now will be the eventual servant of our joy and glory eternally.

God uses our pain to shape us.  I know that God taught me lessons through dating about how to talk to guys.  He even taught me through my most painful break up that I could fall in love, which I wasn't sure was possible!  God also used dating in my life to help me appreciate my husband and see why he was the right man for me even though he didn't fit the picture of the guy I thought I'd marry.

Ironically, Eric Ludy says that the courtship road is filled with pain--the pain of loneliness and traveling the road less traveled in his book, "When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write".  So, basically, someone is going to experience pain either way.

Second, the reality is that we all have regrets.  We all have pain in our pasts that we wish we hadn't had to experience.  We're human.  Having physical boundaries in dating is wise, I think.  But, going to extremes isn't.  What it comes down to is the need to trust God.

The spiritual father in A Courtship doesn't just talk about pain--he explicitly names it as "a fear of pain".  As a friend I know has said to me before, we parent from our issues.  That is exactly what the older couple is doing in this movie.  They are parenting this adult woman from their issues--wanting to help her avoid the pain they feel comes from dating and from kissing.

Third, there was another aspect of the movie that particularly intrigued me--the reason the young man breaks off the courtship.  He sites theological differences as his reason.  Interestingly, my husband and I had some minor theological differences when we married.  I watched over the first few years of our marriage as God sorted through those areas of disagreement.  We still disagree sometimes.  Many of the couples I know had differences.  One friend of mine came from a charismatic, apostolic church and her husband came from a PCA church.  They've sorted through it as well and when you're with them, you know that God brought them together.  Like every married couple I know, they've weathered a lot of storms and God has held them together.  

It seems from the outside that the advocates of the "courtship" hold an idealistic, almost perfectionist view of matching couples.  But, that's what I've always seen as problematic about things like Christian Mingle--matching people up based on the greatest number of similar responses.  I don't think that chemistry is based on a list of similar responses.  Differences are often what God uses to help spouses balance each other.  Many couples I know are composed of one extrovert and one introvert.  In my case, my introverted husband keeps me from running out of energy and my extroverted nature helps keep him out of his shell.

Like the movie, the Ludys advocate courtship as a way to avoid the pain and mistakes they made while dating. Although they met when he was 21 and she was 16 years old.  They married three years later.  The Ludys do something in their books that many Christian writers and speakers do.  They believe that the way God worked in their lives should be taken to heart by all other Christians.  I've seen this with other books like the Eldredge's books.

Honestly, the clips from "A Courtship" made me sad.  It was the story of a young woman and a married couple trying to do the "right" thing.  The last clip shows the young woman talking about her relationship with God and how important it is to her.  Yes, it is important.  And even in dating, your relationship with God needs to be central to your life--because when you get married--it is is God who will ultimately hold your relationship together, not you.  I just hurt for her and her seeking perfection in a mate.  A better movie to watch that faces and acknowledges the pain--and how it affects choices in regard to dating, is "Old Fashioned".  This movie provokes some good questions and things think about.  It also happens to hit the nail on the head about God's grace.  This movie shows a young man who thought that he could fix his dating past by setting up strict rules, but he almost misses out on love in the process because for a time he misses God's grace.

Dating is complicated.  But, it's one of the areas of my life that God made himself very real to me.  I still marvel at how he brought my husband and I together, at how he's brought my friends and their spouses together.  No two stories are the same.  They don't fit into a mold or formula.  Yet, God was working.

What advice will I give my daughters and son when they are ready to date?  I'm not sure.  We're not there yet.  But, I'm sure we'll have many conversations as they figure it out and as we walk alongside them.  And there will be lots of prayer.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Learning the Facts

Just the facts, Ma'am!  I can picture a policeman on a tv show from the 1950s saying that to a woman in an a-line dress at the front door with a pad of paper in his hands.

If it were only so easy!  Knowing the facts, that is.

As a kid, the kinds of facts I learned were my math facts.  I don't remember ever having a hard time learning them.  I just learned them.  I can't remember not knowing them.  I also don't remember my mom quizzing me on them.  At times, I've wondered if my teachers all just gave us a magic pill that gave us the gift of knowing our math facts.  No, not really.  I know they didn't really do that.  But, I do wonder how I learned them.

For my kids, learning there math facts has not been easy.  My children are all much more language oriented than number oriented.  As a result, I have been on a quest for several years seeking keys to help unlock this box of knowledge for my kids so that they could acquire and use their math facts easily.  I've found a few helpful resources over the years.

The first tool I found was  This was the key that helped my oldest daughter memorize and learn all of her facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  It worked very well for her.

But, it wasn't the cureall that I hoped it would be for my younger two children.  I modified the program and used the 6 second timed program with my middle daughter for addition and subtraction. But, her frustration level with the math facts led her to procrastinate and daydream when she was using the program so I knew I needed to switch gears with her.

I began using paper sheets of facts.  She completed half a page a day.  The more she used the facts the easier they became for her to recall.  Time and repetition has helped.  But, there were still a few facts that wouldn't stick.  So, I began searching again for another helper!

I found that helper in a book by Susan Greenwald, Five Times Five Is Not Ten.  This book shares tricks on how to learn the multiplication facts up to 9s.  At the beginning of the book, the author has
included directions on how to use the book and there is a baseline sheet to record what a child has learned.  I appreciate that the book is reproducible for the individual who owns the book so that I can recopy sheets for each of my children and I don't have to buy a second book.  What I found was that my daughter knew many of the facts in the book automatically, but that I could use the pages I needed for the facts that she needed a little extra help with.  I like how the pages are formatted.  Students have enough room to write the answer by each fact and there isn't any distracting froofiness.  This book has been very helpful!

In the case of my son, Ms. Greenwald's book Two Plus Two Is Not Five, has been helpful to him.  The book is structured the same as the multiplication fact book with directions at the front and a
baseline sheet at the back.  It is also reproducible (very important to me!).  Before I used this book, I had been using subtraction fact sheets from a free online site.  But, what I found was that the facts were added in too quickly.  My son needed more practice and reinforcement.  My son is making progress and I can see that his addition facts are coming along.  This book's worksheets are giving him that.  He doesn't have to use the tricks if he can memorize the facts for a given number easily, but if he needs the tricks--they're there.

A child doesn't have to learn all of the tricks.  The tricks are helpful if a fact (or group of facts) aren't sticking.  It's like looking at a wall that you can't climb straight over.  You need to get around, so you start looking around for another way.  A few feet away you see big rock near the base of the wall that you can step onto and use to boost yourself up and climb over the wall.  That's the role of these tricks--to be that little extra boost your child needs to get over the wall when needed.

In connection with the books that Ms. Greenwald has put together to help children master their facts, she has also compiled a book of worksheets to work on addition and subtraction with regrouping (and without), Addition and Subtraction:  Beyond Math Facts.  My son is working on regrouping with
three digit subtraction in his second grade math book.  It's challenging for him, but I can see that he understands it.  When we finish his second grade math book in a few weeks, I'm going to take some time to give him some extra practice with 3 digit regrouping before we move on.  These worksheets will be perfect for him for several reasons.  First, I can give him some easier sheets to practice with regrouping to the tens place.  Then, he can review adding two 2-digit numbers and regrouping.  Then, we can practice three digit addition and subtraction with regrouping.  Second, the numbers are clear and easy to see.  There is space for him to work above and below each problem (very important!).  Finally, I appreciate the mixed practice sheets that throw in easy problems with the harder ones.  I have found that it's discouraging to students when every problem takes a lot of work.  I'm glad to have this workbook in our Math arsenal.

The longer I teach and watch students learn math, the more I realize how essential it is for students to learn their math facts and know them by heart!  I want my children to be able to focus on the new skills they're learning in math each day and not get bogged down by trying to recall the facts...  I'm thankful that I can see they are all making progress and remembering more week by week!

Please note that I received complimentary copies of these books by Susan Greenwald for review.

Christian Suspense

After the last time that I read a Christian historical romance, I really wondered where I should turn for light reading.  Admittedly, I often read so that I can turn off my brain.  It just doesn't like to stop!  So, I decided to read a Christian suspense novel.  I have found there are two veins of these books.  One heads off in a darker direction--like Erin Healy, Ted Dekker, and ND Wilson's novels.  The other direction is the crime drama type-- written by authors like Lynette Eason, Terri Blackstock, and Irene Hannon.  I've enjoyed Erin Healy's novels over the years.  She's a good writer and builds suspense in a way that draws me in as the reader.  A few years ago, I read books by Lynette Eason and Irene Hannon.  

But, I stopped.  I was faced with the question of whether it was okay to be intrigued by crime.  These questions have come up again from my daughters as they've been asking what's okay for them to read and what isn't.  So, I've needed to ponder and digest this question.  What is it that I'm intrigued by? When I read, am I focusing on the crime--or am I focusing on the triumph of good over evil?

Each time I've considered this question--I've found that I focus on the triumph of good over evil, not on the crime.  I don't like to read the descriptions of the crime in detail.  It's not because I want to be a Pollyanna and pretend like nothing bad happens.  But, I want to keep moving forward and "see" the journey of the main characters.

The novel I picked up last week was Always Watching, Lynette Eason's new novel.  I read a novel
of hers a few years ago.  This book was written much better.  I found the flow of the plot was smoother, characters were more developed, and (ignoring the cover) it drew me in more than the novel I'd read by her several years ago.  My husband took issue with the cover and its glamorization of criminal justice careers.  I just ignored the cover and enjoyed the story.

So, what did I enjoy about this book?
#1  There weren't any physical, sexual lines that were crossed or graphically described!
#2  Life wasn't perfect for any of the characters.
#3  Bitterness was at the root of the conflict for one character and the love of money for another.  That is the human heart and what God tells us over and over to guard against in His Word.
#4  The plot's conclusion left the reader (in this case me) with a sense of how hope rises from amidst the drama and heartaches of life.

In Always Watching, Olivia Edwards is a private bodyguard hired to watch over Wade Savage, a radio psychologist who's being stalked.  The stalker has been upping the ante and getting too close for comfort.  Olivia is a likeable character, with her own issues, of course.  Wade is a generous steward of what he has and loves the Lord.  I appreciated how the author wove in Wade's belief in God and his acknowledgement that that He and His daughter shouldn't live in fear because of their faith.  But, Wade didn't express it in a canned, Pollyanna way.  The story follows the stalking and Olivia's quest with her team to find the culprit.  There's danger, of course, along the way and a few twists and turns.
Would I recommend this book if you enjoy this genre?  Sure.  Would I recommend it if you're like me, trying to find something lighthearted and different than Christian romance?  Yes.  If the middle bogs you down, just skip to the last quarter--read how it ends and then go back and read the rest of the book.  Sometimes I have to do this with suspense novels.  I find that I still enjoy going back and reading the rest of the book if the story has been written well!

Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Should I homeschool?

Last week, I was talking with some friends of ours who are at the crossroads every parent faces--what education is right for their child entering kindergarten next year?  I have several friends who are deciding this same complicated question.  Public school?  Private school?  Homeschool?

Admittedly, it can be a very difficult question to answer.  I'm going to attempt to answer it from my perspective--as a former public and private school teacher, and a homeschool teacher of ten years.  I have a master's degree in education and I love to understand how and what children need to learn.

I think this broad question can be broken down to two less broad questions:
                               A) What education option is best for the child?
                               B) What education option is best for the family?
These two questions are both important, but I believe the answer to B trumps A.  If the education option that is best for a child pushes parents in a way that they cannot manage life physically, emotionally, or financially, then that is not the best option for the child.  I believe a stable home will give a child a stronger foundation more than what can be gained by mom being sick over stress.

I feel I need to digress here just for a moment.  One thing I have learned over the past few years is that many people believe that what they have been convicted of applies to all--that it must be a universal conviction because it is what they have been convicted of.  I don't believe all lessons to all people.  We all have different amounts of energy, different expectations and hopes for the tenor of our homes and the busyness of our homes, different academic expectations for our children...  But, in the case of stress and sickness, there have been many studies of what stress does to people--physically.  I used to be one of those people who didn't think I had a limit.  I thought I could push myself to get everything done that I needed and wanted to fit into a day.  But, I thought wrong.  I got sick when we bought the house we now live in five years ago.  I was sick for a week and couldn't make my body move for the first 2 hours of the day.  There was a limit.  The stress my life didn't decrease at that point, but actually drastically increased two years later until a doctor told me that if I didn't decrease the stress in my life, I would get sick.  The autoimmune illness that runs in my family can be turned on by stress (and was in the case of a friend of mine).  As a result, I switched gears and consciously work on saying no to good things that are too much to add on to my days.  I don't think I'm alone in trying to do too much.  Most moms I know have expressed at one time or another that they just can't get everything done that they need to fit into a given day.  This has led me to the conclusion that when we're making education choices for our children we need to be realistic about ourselves and what our families can and want to handle.

Moving on...
As I begin this discussion, I want to define what a child's education encompasses.  It would be easy to simply define a child's education as their intellectual development, but my husband and I view it differently.  When asked why we homeschool? My husband first explained that it is because we believe it is the best education for our children--that education including their social, emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual development.  I agree with that definition of what a child's education is.

                     A Child's Education is the development of his/her social,
                     emotional, physical, spiritual, and intellectual well being.

Now I'd like to go back to the two questions I began with:
         A)  What education option is best for the child?
         B)  What education option is best for your family?

In the past week, three of my friends have asked me what questions should they be asking of themselves and of the schools.  At first, I was going to separate these questions, but I found that the questions were intertwined with one another.

Here are some ideas:
General Questions:
1.  Would your child thrive more in the structure of a formal classroom setting or at home?
2.  Does your child have the physical stamina to attend full-day or half day kindergarten?
3.  Does your child need constant monitoring to help him/her stay on task or is he/she independent in play and learning?  In kindergarten, play is often independent and some children are independent in learning, but most need help.
4.  Would he/she benefit from the positive peer pressure to follow a teacher's instructions and do his/her work that you find in public and private school classrooms?

Homeschool Questions:
1.  Is your child able to receive instruction from you and give the correct answers?  Many children like to give their parents the wrong answers in kindergarten and first grade for fun.  It's a game to them.  But, if they won't give you the right answers to questions when you ask, then you won't be able to assess whether they do understand what you have taught them.
2.  Do you want to homeschool?
3.  Are you and your husband both supportive of homeschooling?  The investment required to homeschool is not only financial, but also emotional, and one of time.
4.  Are you able to take all of your children out in public to run an errand or go to a doctor's appointment if necessary?  Every family has different ways of managing the tasks of grocery shopping and doctor's appointments.  Many have extended family members who can help babysit. But, in the event that something comes up and you need to take all of your children with you, can you?
5.  Do you know other people that homeschool that you would turn to for encouragement and support?  This isn't absolutely necessary, but it is helpful to have other families that have time available for playdates when you do and would be interested in going on field trips with you and such.  I found that I was much harder on my children the first four years that we homeschooled because I didn't have anyone to balance me and my intense academic bent.  When my oldest was in first grade, we switched churches and I found some friends I could talk to about homeschooling who were ahead of me along this road.  One friend, in particular, prompted me to ask myself where I was duplicating.
6.  Are you able to be consistent and hold yourself to a routine so that school will get done every day?  I'm referring to a routine is not a time-schedule, but rather an order of events.  This can be really hard some days.  In PreK 3, my time commitment was 30 min/2x week;  PreK 4:  30-45 min./3x week; K: 2-2 1/2 hr/5 days per week.  First grade is where many families diverge in how much time school takes per day.  I've been told that My Father's World curriculum can be completed in 2 1/2 hr for grades 1-5, but it is one of the lighter curriculum's academically.  Typically, first grade takes 3-3 1/2 hours for me per day and by fifth grade, my children work about 7 hours per day (increasing each year as subjects get more difficult).  My children don't have homework until 6th or 7th grade.  Some days we do need to take time off for doctor's appointments, but we make up that time when schools have snow days and we don't!
7.  Do you have a space in your home where you can homeschool?  A room or the kitchen table? Space to store school materials so that you can find them easily and keep your child's work together?

Private School Questions:

1.  Can you afford it?  This is a family question, but I believe it needs to be answered before this option is considered at all.  Yes, there are some scholarships available that can help, but it will likely still be a significant cost to send a child to private school.  I do know families who live frugally because they believe this is very important for their children to have this type of education.  I respect them for their decision and commitment.  But, if that is not possible, private school is not something one would pay for with credit and incur debt.  I believe that we are to be content with what we have and that being content is something we learn to do by practicing it.  (Philippians 4:11-13).
2.  Every private school is different.  If it is an academically challenging preschool or K-12 school, will your child be encouraged or discouraged by that challenge?
3.  If your child has a learning disability, it is important to ask the private school if they will accept a child with a learning disability and if they have support for students who need extra help?  One school in our area will not accept a child if they have a learning disability, because they feel it would be very difficult for the child to keep up with the work and they do not have any staff specifically trained in helping struggling learners.  I understand the decision this school has made.  
4.  What role do you want your faith to have in shaping your child's curriculum? (This same question could be asked about homeschooling).  
5.  Every school chooses a curriculum that goes by a scope and sequence, building on skills each year.  Since private schools don't teach to the common core, there could be a greater difference between what is taught in public and private schools in your area.  If you are considering private school, consider the importance of staying the course so that your child's education will be cohesive.  Jumping between private and public school will be more difficult as your child gets older.  Classical schools teach latin and logic, subjects not taught in public schools.  So, it can be difficult for students to transfer between schools in the midst of middle or high school.  This point is not so much a question as it is simply an important facet of private school learning to consider.

Public School Questions:
1.  Find a friend who has a child in the school and ask him/her about the school.  What is/are the kindergarten teacher(s) like?  Ask him/her about their child's experience.  Positives/negatives?  Have they been able to talk to their child's teacher?
2.  Can you go visit and observe a class prior to enrolling your child?  
3.  Are all classes formed based on homogeneity or in pursuit of a broad mix of students' skills?  Are students leveled for reading and math?  
4.  If a kindergarten or first grade student is working two grades above grade level, what programs are in place to challenge that student?  At a local public school here, one child I knew attended a first grade class for reading and math in the morning and then remained with his kindergarten class in the afternoon.
5.  What resources/programs are available for struggling and gifted students?  At what grade do those programs begin?  
6.  How can you as a parent support the school and be involved?  Can you volunteer at the school?
7.  A friend recently asked me about whole language and phonics reading programs in relation to public schools.  All students need to learn to read using phonics and whole language programs.  It is important that phonics isn't neglected because entirely whole language readers often become poor spellers.  But, phonics programs also need to teach some whole language learning because not all words in the English language fit into phonics.  My children have excellent phonics, but they say the funniest things sometimes--like Zayus for Zeus and Protest-ant (with the accent on the first syllable instead of the second).  I believe that most public schools today use a combination of both approaches to reading.

I am sure that there are many more questions that you can ask, but in the end--my biggest encouragement would be to pray.  Ask the Lord for wisdom.  Consider your child and your family.   Some people might say that you can't take back a child's elementary education--emphasizing that it is important to make the right decision from the get go.  I realized when I heard someone say this that I felt that way when my oldest was going into kindergarten--but I don't anymore.  Now, my eyes are looking at a bigger picture of God's providence and how He works all things for the good of those who love Him. He is in control, not me.  For some families, public school is the wise choice, for some...private school, and for some...homeschooling.  I do believe it is important to consider our decisions and be intentional about our children's education and about parenting, but what is at the core of it all is the importance of seeking to love our children well.

As Dr. Tim Kimmel says on page 9 of Grace-Based Parenting:  "The real test of a parenting model is how well equipped the children are to move into adulthood as vital members of the human race.  Notice I didn't say "as vital members of the Christian community."  We need to have kids that can be sent off to the most hostile universities, toil in the greediest work environments, and raise their families in the most hedonistic communities and yet not be the least bit intimidated by their surroundings.  Furthermore, they need to be engaged in the lives of people in their culture, gracefully representing Christ's love inside these desperate surroundings."  He then refers to Paul's writing in Philippians 2:14-16

           14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may                 become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped             and crooked generation.”  Then you will shine among them like stars
          in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be
          able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain.

One last note... for some families, they choose public school, but for other families Public school is the only viable choice.  Finances may not allow private school to be a choice and in order to make ends meet both parents need to work full-time.  I feel strongly that this isn't something to be afraid of.  Fear doesn't come from the Lord.  Our world would like us to be afraid as Christians, but God tells us in his Word:  
Deuteronomy 31:*
                    8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never
           leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

I have several friends who's children attend public schools and their children are thriving.  I love hearing about how their children are growing!

I have heard of some situations in which working parents leave kids home alone to work through their schoolwork or go with an entirely online option.  A young woman at our church told the story of a mom who dropped her three kids off at Panera all day to do their work with a gift card for food--5 days a week.  I don't think this is wise.  Children benefit from having an adult teach them and help them when they don't understand something.  

Education choices are complicated and many, many books have been written on this topic.  I hope this post will be helpful in some way to someone.  I've written it to help me articulate what I think and believe.  I like to be ready with an answer when someone asks me a question like the one I began this post with... Should I homeschool?