Thursday, December 20, 2007

Why does IndianaHomeschoolers work?

There is a discussion about inclusive homeschool support groups at the Unity-N-Diversity blog. One of the commenters had a few things to say about IndianaHomeschoolers that I take think need clarification. You can check out the whole comment on the posting above. I am just going to excerpt and paraphrase.

First, IHEN and the IndianaHomeschoolers list are two different things. They are affiliated, but are not the same thing. When she mentions "the list" I'm assuming she means IndianaHomeschoolers.

The commenter says that she believes IHEN is successful as an inclusive group because we are "very lenient with the Christians on the list."

I would say this is partially true. We are very lenient with everyone on the list. The list is moderated, but mostly to avoid spam. All new subscribers are moderated for a short time. Some other subscribers end up back on moderation because they seem to have difficulty following rules like "no ads" or "no mass forwards" or they keep accidentally sending personal mail to the list.

The commenter says, " Christians can spout off "How can anyone teach their children a theory like evolution?" while really coming down on people that stand up for a secular humanist standpoint. It keeps the peace, its one of the few inclusive groups I've seen work. But there is a bit of selling out. As a non-Christian, I'm uncomfortable with how some of the discussions go. I feel like I can't respond because I'll get in trouble."

Actually, it doesn't keep the peace. There is definitely dissension from time to time. It would be easy to keep the peace by having homogenous opinions, but that's not what we're about. When people join the list they receive a message that says:
The IndianaHomeschoolers e-list is inclusive; meaning all homeschooling
methods and styles, all religious beliefs/convictions and all personal life
philosophies will be respected and welcomed as a natural part of public
discourse. If you find you are truly offended by the written expressions of
diverse religious beliefs, philosophies or homeschooling styles other than
your own, then this list might not be for you.

Any list member is free to respond to any of these threads as they wish. No one gets in trouble. No one has ever been kicked off the list except for spammers.

This statement from the commenter made me laugh: "It's no surprise to me that the HSLDA doesn't like them...they're not *all* Christian. "

I am a Christian, but when I started the list one of the first accusations against me was that I was not, or I wouldn't be starting an inclusive list. They don't like folks who aren't happy to toe the line. (I don't know that HSLDA knows who we are, but their state affiliate group does.)

One last thing. The commenter says, "IHEN is just an email conventions, no legislative organization really."

Not exactly. IndianaHomeschoolers is an email list. IHEN is a grassroots network. We have contacts in many counties in the state who help new homeschoolers. We have a website with many resources. As individuals affiliated with IHEN, many of us are busy behind the scenes monitoring legislative issues and getting to know the powers that be in education in Indiana. Many of us as individuals affiliated with IHEN speak at homeschool conferences and other events. We would like to be able to do more, but for a no-budget grassroots organization, I'm pleased with what we've accomplished.

And we're always looking for more hands. If someone wants to see more out of IHEN, we'd love the help!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Why many homeschoolers worry about virtual charters

Supporters of virtual charter schools often question the validity of concerns expressed by homeschoolers about the possibility that the existence of virtual charters could have negative effects on the homeschool community.

The current goings-on in Wisconsin help to illustrate some of those concerns.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Winter makeover

I thought about doing a Christmas color theme for my blog, but I just like these wintry colors better.

Why I love homeschooling, # 1,374

Really, it would be fun to enumerate the reasons sometime. I may have to do that.

This month I love homeschooling because of the fact that when something happens that turns life upside down, we can go with the flow. My sons can take their books to the hospital. We can be flexible. And nobody misses school.

By the way, if you follow the link and want to read more about what has happened with Abby since, you can read the more recent posts on my blog.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

I am back!

This blog suffers when my homeschool email list goes crazy.

And it has been crazy for the past two months.

It is amazing how one determined crank--it is tempting to say troll--can totally wreck the dynamics of a list. I am hoping that things stay peaceful so that I have time to write here.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The good life

This is one of the weeks each year when I feel particularly joyful about homeschooling. The weather is fabulous. It is perfect for riding bikes, playing basketball, doing some planting and planning for next year, going to a park, picking apples, and just being alive.

That's what my kids are doing this week.

The rest of the neighborhood kids are taking the ISTEPs. The ISTEPs are Indiana's standardized test given in the fall to test what was learned the year before. It is a week of testing that holds way too much power over the fates of individual schools.

Many teachers see problems with the ISTEPs. They test the past year's learning, so the first weeks of school are review. Many schools spend tons of time teaching to the test. They are expensive and time-consuming. They are one of the many ways that good teachers are boxed in and controlled.

And our kids don't have to take them.

Instead today they went to Greek. In the car we talked about world politics and economics and Greenspan's new book. When we got home they did a spontaneous recitation/reenactment of a childhood favorite book, Where the Wild Things Are. After lunch they'll go outside. Heavy time in the books can come on the cold rainy days that are coming.

For now I'm going to grab my boys and head to the park.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New color scheme

I love fall! Even though it's over 90 here today, I am declaring fall on my blog.

Why I can never claim to be a pure unschooler

Some of you will be disappointed in me today. Others may think that I'm just starting to get a clue. And still others will recognize that homeschooling can be a very fluid thing, always adjusting to what is needed at the time.

Today is a bit of a cranky mom day. Choir started today, so Jonathan and Andrew have to be at a school 20 minutes away at 7:25. I hate 7:25! My rule is that if I am going to get up and take them to choir they have to remain awake for the rest of the day. Evil, I know. But I need to have some sort of waking and sleeping routine, so they're going to have to adjust to an earlier bedtime.

I decided that math would be a good way to keep them awake. So I decreed a math day. Everyone has to do math. How much? As much as I say. Arbitrary, yes, but it keeps them awake.

Why math? Because I don't like math. It is difficult to learn math without studying it. If I were a pure unschooler I'd say something like, "That's okay. They'll learn it when they want and need to." And truthfully, I know they probably would. Given the choice I'd have skipped math altogether, and Bethany probably would have, too. But the SAT doesn't care if we don't like it, and high SAT scores can lead to scholarships. So they have to do math.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

It's a carnival

The 88th Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Consent of the Governed. I'm sure this carnival will be full of good things.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Explaining learning

People understand school. They understand "education." They understand teaching. But what I've come to realize is that very few people understand learning.

They have a hard time grasping the absorption and growth of knowledge and understanding absent coercion or the assistance of an outside expert.

I was trying to explain to someone yesterday that, yes, my kids have learned to spell from reading. My daughter--who is an excellent writer--learned that craft by reading excellent writers.

We don't go "back to school" and that confuses people. I try to explain that they never stop learning, but that seems to confuse people, too.

When people find out that I was an education major, but changed my major after my practicum because I realized I would hate classroom teaching, they always suggest that it's ironic that I am a teacher now. But I'm not. I'm a parent. I actively teach my children very little. What I do do is provide them with opportunities and resources. I surround them with books and maps and music and art. I take them to parks and museums and antique stores and church and zoos and Target and beaches and coffee shops and soccer games and grandmas house. I let them weed the garden and wash the clothes and help me cook.

And we talk. All the time. We talk about the news, the book they're reading, and what the lyrics to our favorite Rush songs mean. We talk about why things are the way they are and what we can or can't do something about. We talk about moving to the country and the animals we'd have and what we'll name our dogs. We talk about what we could possibly do with all of our tomatoes and why Amish chickens taste so good and why lightening does what it does when it strikes different structures.

I don't think I could keep them from learning, except maybe by sending them to school.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Not back to school

I've been hearing about all of the cool not-back-to-school activities that people have been doing. We did something really exciting this year. We went shopping!

Yup, shopping. We spent over six hours searching for three items: a pair of black dress shoes for #2 son, and a pair of tennis shoes and a pair of black dress pants for #3 son.

The tennis shoes were easy. The black dress pants were almost impossible. Apparently the folks who make kids' clothes don't understand that some of us still believe in dressing up. They also don't seem to understand that there are LOTS of skinny kids out there. For all the talk about childhood obesity, I know way more moms with skinny boys than fat ones! Most of the pants made Andrew look like he was trying to leave room for smuggling something.

And then we have the black dress shoes. Why oh why did my children all get weird feet? The kind of feet that cheap shoes won't fit? It caused me tremendous pain to have to spend $80 for shoes for a rapidly growing 14yo. But we tried on over 20 pairs at a number of stores, and these were the only ones that didn't hurt.

So that was our exciting NBTS adventure. Next, NBTS housecleaning!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Actually teaching

I am going to be teaching a class for homeschoolers this fall at our church. We are going to be using Around the World in 180 Days as the basis for the class. I'm excited about the class, because history and geography are my thing, but I'm nervous, too, because this is a very UN-unschoolish thing to do.

I'm planning for it to be fun and interactive. It looks like we could end up with a pretty big class, so I think I'd better start getting organized!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Books, books, books

I was debating which blog to post this on, and decided since I have some readers who read only one or the other to put it on both.

One of the great things about being a homeschool mom is that reading books is part of my job. I have been able to revisit some of my favorites from childhood and young adulthood, as well as encountering many wonderful books for the first time as an adult.

I love book lists because they help jog my memory; they remind me of those books that I want to read or reread, or that the kids have not yet read. Tonight as I was catching up with things at Mere Comments, I came across this post. This is a nice book list and the comments have more suggestions.

What books do you think are necessities that didn't make this list? Any on the list you think don't belong? On my book list that I used for my children's literacy talks I included a list for preschool. What would you put on that?

What books do you think are necessary for basic cultural literacy?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Thinking bloggers

One of my fellow Hoosier homeschoolers has given me the nod as a blogger who makes her think. I really appreciate that, as well as the nice things she said about my beloved email list! (I didn't write the self-aggrandizing description on the list page.)

The rules of this are simple:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.
2. Link to this post so everyone can easily find the exact origin of the meme.
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote.

So, I need to find five blogs that make me think, who have not, as far as I know, already been named. (If they've already been named, but haven't displayed the button, maybe this will get them to do it.)

1. Susan's Pendulum. This one is easy. I wanted her to blog because I knew that she would have a lot to say. Whether it's about homeschooling, theology, or any of the multitude of jobs that she does at home, it's bound to be interesting and well-said.

2.thinking-out-loud. I'm sure that the only reason that Pastor Stuckwisch doesn't have one of these on his blog is that his blog is fairly new. This is my new can't-miss blog. His posts are always thought-provoking.

3. A Round Unvarnish'd Tale is another relatively new blog that I've come to enjoy, written by a fellow homeschool mom.

4. Barbara Frank is an experienced homeschooling mom who brings a lot of common sense to her posts and her resources.

5. Chaplain to the World is one of the blogs most likely to send me off to read something else. There are days that visiting his blog challenges my lazy mind to think.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Dangerous times

This is one of the most dangerous times of the year for a homeschooling mom who likes to shop. I got my Rainbow Resource Center catalog last week. Wow!

Not only does this thick catalog send me to the edge of a book-buying frenzy, it also never fails to make me feel completely inadequate because of all of the things that I'm not even trying to teach my kids!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Better than you

Back to Mrs. Teacher:

I have had responses to Mrs. Teacher running through my mind off and on for almost a month. Some of the things that she said gave me insight into reactions that I've gotten from people who were not as outspoken as she. Some of the things she said fall into the category of nutty.

I'm not even going to worry about the nutty, like us taking up room in a good school district. But I am sure that she is not alone in some of her thoughts.

Do I homeschool because I believe that my children are smarter than other children? Anyone who knows us or who has read my account of our beginning this adventure knows that that isn't the case. We began homeschooling because of the difficulties that our oldest son was having. We continued because we liked it.

Homeschooling is wonderful for kids who don't fit the mold. Bethany would have continued to thrive in school, as she did from the beginning, because she fit the mold. She is a girl. She read early. She had no trouble sitting still. She is a visual learner. She is compliant and wants to make people happy.

Boys automatically have one strike. And Patrick had more than that. He didn't fit the mold.

We homeschool because we want to do what we believe is best for our children, and we can. I believe that God has given me the job of being the mother of these four people, and it is up to me to decide how best to accomplish it given our abilities and resources. For us, homeschooling is a big part of raising our children and doing this job.

Does that mean, as Mrs. T. opined, that we "judge" parents who choose public schools for their children? No. Some of my best friends have their kids in school. (grin) Are there some homeschoolers who do judge other parents? I have no doubt, since there are some homeschoolers who judge other homeschoolers for not doing it "right." I believe that each family needs to decide, based on all of the variables that exist in their family, what is best for their children.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Greek, now Latin

I am not in charge around here.

That isn't, I suppose, completely true, but my kids have always had a tremendous amount of input into what they learn. When our pastor started offering Greek for homeschoolers the boys all jumped at the opportunity. They have taken to it with varying levels of commitment and success, but have all learned quite a bit.

Now they want me to teach them Latin.


I've always thought--theoretically--that learning Latin would be a good idea, but none of them have expressed an interest before and I, being somewhat lazy, didn't ever encourage the idea.

But they want Latin, so Latin they shall have. Now I just have to figure out how.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Have you heard of an alarm clock?

Of all of the ridiculous things Mrs. Teacher said, I think my favorite was that my kids won't be able to function in college or career because they aren't accustomed to getting up for school.

There are just so many problems with this statement. First, the assumption that it is necessary to get up early to succeed in college or career. If someone chooses to live the life of a night owl, it can be accommodated. I have one friend who has always worked second shift because it suits her body clock. Throughout college she never had a class before 11:00 a.m.

This doesn't mean that I will encourage my boys to take this path, but it is possible. (I guess I don't need to worry about my daughter, who is already in college successfully attending early classes and getting up for work in the mornings this summer.)

Although my boys don't need to get up for school each morning, they do frequently have places that they need to be. My 14 year old was in a choir for the last nine months. To participate he had to be at a school over 20 minutes away two or three mornings a week
at 7:30. He set his own alarm clock to get up and ready. This same son wakes himself up on Sunday mornings to acolyte at 8:00 a.m. church, even though the rest of us wait until 9:15 to arrive. (Except for the unlucky parent who drives him!) The other two boys also have their Sunday acolyting duties and they are never late. They also frequently need to be at church for extra services and funerals. They haven't slept through one yet!

I guess my point is that all of us, whether we go to school or not, are capable of waking up in the morning for those things that are important to us. One of my sons woke up at 6:30 for months when he was younger because there was a cartoon on that he particularly wanted to see. And although I currently let my sons get plenty of sleep and don't worry much about when they get up, I have no doubt that someday they'll do just fine, whether it's getting to college classes, getting to the office, or walking down the stairs to start the coffee before the walk into their home office.

Because, in our homeschool, I've taught them how to use alarm clocks.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

More misconceptions

Before I start talking about the misconceptions about homeschooling that I posted about last time, I have to add some more that I ran into today.

I go, once a month or so, to a place where I can prepare a number of meals for the month very quickly and reasonably-priced, while leaving the mess behind. This morning as I was paying for my session the very nice lady who owns the store asked if I had kids home from school yet. When I told her that we homeschool she said, "Oh, I could never be that disciplined. We have a hard time getting the homework done."

Later, two other women came in and as we were all assembling our meals and chatting about our families, the owner mentioned to them that I homeschool. "I could never do that. You must be so organized, " said one. "There would be blood all over our house. You must be so patient," added the other.

Those of you who know me well can get up off the floor and stop laughing now.

I bet that if you asked my friends and family members to list the top ten traits that I have, disciplined, organized, and patient wouldn't even show up. Disorganized and impatient would probably be near the top.

And yet we survive. We actually thrive.

I wish these mothers, good mothers who volunteer at school, have their kids' friends over, and are trying to hold together the family dinner time against all of the pressures of life, could see what homeschooling can do for family life. Of course getting homework done is a battle. They've been at school all day. They rightly think that eight hours should be enough! One of the moms today said something about her son's attitude. We have seen wonderful changes in the attitudes of kids who come home. She might be amazed at how much better she likes him after six months at home.

It is the second day out of school and at 10:30 this morning one of these children who was at home vegging in front of the TV was calling her mom saying that she's bored. The mom is trying to plan events to fill the summer with activity--camps, lessons, classes--to get the kids "out of the house." I wanted to say, "Just live." Cook together. Clean together. Do some crafty projects. Go to the park. Lay on a blanket in the backyard and watch the clouds.

Then you might get a glimpse of what it can really be like to be a homeschool mom.

Monday, June 04, 2007

The offense of homeschooling

Over the next several postings, I want to address some of the doubts, questions, and misconceptions that others have about homeschooling. Before I do that however, I want to tell you about a conversation that I had last week.

I've been running into more negativity about homeschooling lately than I have in years. I've been trying to figure out why, and I think I may have been given a clue.

"I find that offensive." That's what Ms. Schoolteacher said to me after I told her that we homeschool.

I was going to ask why, but it wasn't necessary. She gave me an earful.
  • How do I presume that I can teach my children better than trained professionals?
  • Do I assume that my children are smarter than other children?
  • How dare we judge parents who put their children in public school?
  • My children are going to be an anti-social burden on society.
  • It's not fair that homeschoolers can be in the spelling bee (!!!) because they can spend more time practicing.
  • They won't be able to function in college or the work force because they won't be used to getting out of bed.
  • If I'm going to homeschool I shouldn't take up space--and presumably shouldn't pay taxes--in a good school district.
Yep, I'm probably helping pay her salary.

There are so many false assumptions in what she said that addressing them will take a number of posts, but I just wonder: How prevalent is this kind of thinking?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Carnival of Homeschooling

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at The Lilting House. I haven't joined it for ages, but I joined it this week because of my extreme desire for unity the the homeschooling ranks.

I know that there has been an issue with a post being censored because the host didn't like the rest of that blogger's blog. But it has also been agreed that that person will not host again. I have always been impressed with the diverse views in the carnival, and the only way to keep it that way is for a variety of people to submit.

I can understand why non-Christian homeschoolers often feel overwhelmed by the number of Christian homeschoolers. I can understand why there is animosity and frustration, because of both homeschooling history and continuing exclusion. But, in my opinion, withdrawing into your own walled enclave doesn't make any more sense to me than they do.

And, yes, I am a Christian and I am a homeschooler, but I have never been comfortable with the dominant element in Christian homeschooling circles, preferring instead the company of those who prefer mixed company.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Textbooks, teachers, and unschooling

Things have been really busy the past couple of months and the IndianaHomeschoolers list has taken most of the time and energy that I have for writing about homeschooling. Mostly it has been rather mundane hand holding and question answering for newish homeschoolers.

I enjoy it when subjects come up that I can really sink my teeth into. Unschooling is usually good for that. Today someone on the list said that unschooling was using real world learning and that unschoolers don't use textbooks.

I can quite confidently state that unschoolers--in fact lots of them--use textbooks. My unschooled-until-college daughter had textbooks for algebra and geometry because she felt that she needed to study them for college admission and a textbook is the simplest way to do that. We have loads of textbooks in our house. The big difference between us and more structured homeschoolers is that the textbooks are treated more as resources. They are here to use if someone wants them.

Every once in a while I find myself starting to doubt our unschooling. It will seem that the boys are just spending too much time being boys. These are the times that I will "suggest" that they work on some particular thing. It never fails that instead one of them blows me away with something that he is learning pursuing his own agenda. We're better off when I stay out of the way.

The other supposed unschooling no-no is teachers. We like teachers. We have used piano teachers, spanish teachers and voice teachers. The boys take Greek and our pastor is the teacher. Unschoolers can use teachers and still be unschoolers if they are pursuing something that the child wants to learn.

(I almost lost my unschooler cred when it comes to Greek. Our youngest wasn't too keen on it after he started. You see, it was hard. But I had told them all that if I bought them the books they were finishing the class. He chose to have me buy the book. So he was in. Now he likes it.)

And really, truly, I don't care if anyone thinks I'm an unschooler or not. I am sure that there are radical unschoolers who would call what I do by a different name. But there are also those school-in-a-box folks who find my way of doing things worrisome. So I'll just keep on doing what works for us, which is at least pretty darn close to unschooling.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

All the knowledge in the world

Last week as I spent a couple of hours just browsing the shelves in our new library, I was again overwhelmed by the vast amount that there is to know. I was caught between elation and discouragement, elated by the certain knowledge that I will never run out of books to read and yet discouraged that I will never run out, because this means that I will never know or understand all of the things that I could wish.

As homeschooling parents we often fear that our kids are not learning "everything." Of course they aren't. What we really fear is that there is some essential bit of knowledge that they haven't learned, and that this puts
their futures are in jeopardy.

No one learns everything. Some people have an amazing, borderline-encyclopedic knowledge of a great many things. Many people don't care to have more information than they need to function in their daily lives.

There may be some essential bit that your child doesn't have. But that's okay. When he needs it, he can learn it. Think about the knowledge that you use in your daily activities. Did you learn it in school? I spend a lot of my day on the computer. I run email lists and blog. I have built more than one website. I upload, download, bank, shop, sell, balance financial accounts, create spreadsheets, brochures, and fliers, and can put together a mean Power Point presentation. All of this in spite of the fact that I never used a computer until I was a 28-year-old college graduate and mother of two and needed it for my job. I have learned the information that I have needed as I have needed it.

Yesterday my boys were talking and I was amazed at their knowledge of mythology. They made me feel really uninformed so I've added a some mythology to my reading pile. A relative was questioning the wisdom of them learning Greek. Why not choose something more practical? But knowledge doesn't all need to be practical. The value of knowledge can come from the discipline achieved in the learning or from the sheer joy of knowing something. It can come in the interesting late night conversations with friends or the essay exam for a history class that blows a professor away.

Best of all, for me, it can come from sitting at breakfast, with a child who is so excited by what he is reading that his pancakes are growing cold.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Whole lotta learnin' goin' on

We're having a good winter. All of the boys are reading great books. They're all doing their Greek, although not all with the same level of enthusiasm. The national and international news provides constant fodder for discussion and debate. Andrew has built a light box and is getting ready to start some tomato seeds for me. Watching past seasons of Gilmore Girls has led us to new authors. A little more progress could be happening in math, but we've discovered that it seems to come when it's needed. Since Patrick will be taking his SATs for the first time in the fall, I expect some intense math work to start soon.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Unschooling, success, goals, and gaps

Today I was answering an email on our state homeschool list. As I wrote I realized the the reply would make a great blog post.

Every parent, unschooler or not, has goals for their children. I think that part of the distinction is which of our goals and desires are important enough that we in some way require that our children achieve them. In our home, those goals which are requirements ultimately fall more into the realm of parenting than "schooling." Church attendance in our home is not negotiable, neither were catechism classes. Fortunately, this hasn't been a problem. All of my children will leave home understanding the basics of keeping a house clean, doing laundry, cooking, balancing a checkbook, and other practical matters. These are non-negotiables, as are courtesy, honesty, and respect. If my four children grow to be responsible, reasonably happy adults who contribute to their family, church, and society according to their vocations, then that will be success.

Beyond that, ideally, I want them all to go to college and if that is the path that they want to take I will help them, but they are setting the path, not me. It is *their* goals that will define success or failure, not mine. If they decide to choose another route, I will still help them and their goals will determine their success.

My daughter was completely unschooled from third grade on. She studied what she wanted to study. There were months when she did nothing but draw, read, play American Girl dolls, and play soccer. There were months when she did nothing but play the piano and read. She never studied grammar. She never had a writing assignment. She never had a test. In anything.

When she was 16 she decided that she needed to get serious about college admission requirements. She had kept a reading list and a journal so it was simple for us to see where we could give her credits and where she needed to focus attention. In one year she did algebra, geometry, and biology. She planned to do chemistry the next year. She took a class at the Fort Wayne campus of Taylor University in sociology for "practice." She got an A. She took her SATs and received scores high enough that colleges were pursuing her. She ultimately received a full academic scholarship. She tested into higher level math & English. She is now halfway through her sophomore year with a job, lots of activities, and a 4.0. She is achieving her goals. Am I happy about the path she has chosen? Ecstatic! She's even chosen to major in history and English like her mother. :)

Right now all three of my sons are taking a class in Biblical Greek. No one is making them do this. My oldest son has read great literature that many college English majors haven't made it through. (I'm trying to catch up with him!) My youngest son is pursuing math and botany with a zeal not often seen in this house for math and science. I wouldn't have chosen botany. He has. My two youngest both asked for acrylic paints and supplies for Christmas. This is their thing. I only paint walls.

As the mom/facilitator/committed unschooler have I snuck in some lessons because I think that there are things everyone should know? Yep. All my kids are great with maps and geography. When we take a trip they navigate. When we talk about news and world events--which is all the time at our house--it isn't unusual for someone to grab a globe or atlas, because that's what I've always done. Because of my background and our family discussions my kids tend to be very critical readers and listeners. They are always looking for the hidden agenda or story. They also love to proofread the newspaper. :)

I see a big part of my job to be exposing them to places, things, ideas, people. I surround them with books, movies, music. We don't limit TV or computer access, although there are specific shows that are not watched. We go to museums, zoos, parks, & concerts. We travel. They have opportunities to take part in music groups, sports, drama, whatever. We get out in the world and meet people. We talk LOTS.

But mostly I get out of the way. I don't assign, quiz, or test. I don't hover. When asked I give advice or information, find lessons, buy books. I am the mom. I am not the teacher.

I used to worry about gaps. The longer we homeschool the less I worry. I spent 19 years in school and excelled, but I have some huge gaps! So does my husband. I am sure that every single one of my children will have some gaps in their learning. Maybe they'll even discover a major one. But they all know how to find information and learn what they need to learn.

Friday, January 05, 2007

What do unschoolers do over break?

I've gotta admit, there's been a whole lotta loafin' goin' on 'round here. The past few weeks we moved from laid back to practically comatose. We watched TV, ate Christmas cookies, played computer games, read books, and slept in.

Of course, this was all more exaggerated than usual because Mom was sick and Dad was off work for over a week. Next week things will get back to normal. The Christmas cookies are gone.