Beyond the Cul-de-sac

I apologize for making it sound like we have a big announcement…we really don’t.  We have just re-written our family charter and wanted to share it with you, along with some of our new dreams!

This family charter is a culmination of years of talking, dreaming and planning. As some suspected, we are not putting our children back in public school or into a private school, sorry folks…(and by that I mean my parents ;o). We are however going deeper, broader, faster….and global.* We are actively creating our own future, not waiting any longer for employers or “chance” to provide us with the opportunities we desire for our family. We are approaching our future with boldness.

The following are a few of the bullet points drawn from our family charter. I may share additional information as I progress into this blog, but for now these items will suffice.

  • A good portion of our day is dedicated to learning and understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, we use a “Gospel Centered” educational model. We transcend the traditional educational experience by teaching our children to rely on the truths they learn from the Gospel to enhance their studies in other areas.
  • We lead our children in physical work. Physical work provides a training ground for work ethic, internal motivation, and focus. It teaches the children that our family relies on them, and that they have a responsibility as part of the family.
  • We will continue to teach our children to set challenging and realistic goals, to keep priorities in the forefront of all they do and how to plan step by step to reach those goals. Many goals will be family/home centered as a teaching tool that will expand into their own lives and ambitions.
  • We teach our children how to gather, organize and communicate information rather than fill them with facts. We want them to learn to ask questions. One of our main objectives is for our children to have the ability to write and speak well. We will seek opportunities for all the children to practice these skills at home and in public.
  • Our job is to elevate and encourage them while continuing to have high expectations. After all, as their parents, we are best qualified to judge them based on our knowledge of their struggles and individual abilities.
  • We are actively putting less emphasis on being good at everything (preparing for the standardized tests) and are allowing them to explore the activities and subjects that they are passionate about. We want to encourage them to find their passion and go broader and deeper. We feel strongly that this will provide them with a sense of achievement and fulfillment, something that is rarely provided by simply graduating on the regular 4×4 plan. (Four years of high school and four years of college.) This does not mean that we are unschooling!
  • We want to encourage our children to take advantage of opportunities that will enhance their knowledge of their current course of study (or passion.) This will include travel (of course), classes, internships and entrepreneurial adventures.
  • We want our children to know and be enthusiastic about China. We desire that they “not feel like tourists” in the country of their birth. This means that they need to spend a significant part of their lives in China, speaking the language, eating the food, learning about the culture and building friendships. Rather than spend our vacation dollars on sightseeing, we prefer to spend them living and learning amongst the people.
  • We want our children to have a reasonable feel for other countries and societies by traveling as extensively as our budget will allow. We want our children to have friends in foreign countries beyond pen-pals. We want our children to have compassion for others, respect different cultures and to cultivate their curiosity and creativity while in an environment that pushes them beyond their comfort zone.
  • We will continue to be selective about and seek intentional friendships.
  • We will live as frugally as possible to provide these educational experiences. Our goal is to provide this education while not incurring debt for ourselves or for our children. We intend to complete their education without financial assistance from the government, i.e. student loans or grants. We will encourage them to seek scholarships and work/study programs when appropriate.

We know that this is a different path than most feel comfortable taking, but it is a path that we have “stumbled upon” over the course of many years. We know that this course is a perfect fit for our family and will make our children into the best individuals that they can be.

Plans in the works:

  • Xuxu and Da have tickets to China in October. They are serving at the Starfish Foster Home in Xi’an, China. Trip canceled due to H1N1 fears still circulating.
  • Marmee, Xuxu and Star are heading to Washington D.C. in September to participate in a Social Studies activity. Think Tea. Complete
  • We are planning on spending our next annual bonus (early 2010) on an apartment in China, furniture for the apartment and travel to China. This will allow us to spend three months of 2010 studying the Chinese language, music and culture. We will then rent the apartment out to other like minded friends and family. We hope that this is an experience that will be sought after by both the adoptive and homeschooling communities. Complete!  We ended up not renting an apartment, but did stay in China for 10 weeks.  Read about that here and here and here.
  • Since the writing of this post, we spent 6 months living in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia and then left our employment, moved to China and are now immersed in the process of learning Mandarin Chinese!

*Part of the decision to put all of this into writing is based on our recent reading of The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education. This book encouraged us to put years of planning into action and it also gave us the courage to move forward with many ideas that we knew to be the truth, but were nervous about pursuing. (Such as not having our children focus their education around the ACT/SAT.)  Where are we now?  Read:  Way Beyond the Cul-de-sac.

6 Responses

  1. Da says:

    The more we homeschool, the more we realize how great it is to boldy pursue a gospel-centered, global education.

  2. Tana says:

    Testing, testing, 123… ;o)

  3. Tana says:

    Yay! It worked!

  4. Homeschooling is the ultimate family adventure. It opens time and doors that others tied to traditional schooling cannot. While our business remained in Seattle, we lived in Hawaii and Utah. Although these places are not as exotic as China, we expereinced different cultures. Really, the differences between Seattle and Utah are remarkable. Even though Hawaii is a U.S. state it is not like living on the mainland at all. It is distinctly Polynesian with an American twist.

    It’s been my experience that if we spend a great deal of time with our children in this way, we become friends and associates as well as parent/child. Teen drama is channeled into logical debate. They learn how to think, serve others, explore ideas, and stand for something. They are not afraid to be who they are instead of cheap imitations of the popular kids. As someone put it so well, ‘a Zion society is created in microcosm in the family.’

  5. Angela says:

    Love the post- I have been dying to read it! I love how you have kept it religiously centered. The only thing missing, was adding the week that you and your girls will spend at my house touring New England:) Doors always open!

  6. Sarah says:

    I loved reading this post–it is so similar to my goals for my family! I spent about half of my pre-marriage life overseas, and would love for my children to share in similar experiences.