Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Why I'm not blogging here anymore

I have decided that I am not going to keep writing a separate homeschool blog.

It has always been a bit of a struggle. And it probably never really made sense for me to try to separate homeschooling from the rest of my life in the blogosphere, since I don't in my every day life.

I'm still going to write about homeschooling. It's just going to be on my regular blog:
IndianaJane's Journal.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

How did I miss this one?

Today as I was checking out some of the blogs in the Homeschooling Blogroll in my sidebar, I came across one that referred to strewing and linked to this site.

I am not surprised that there is a name for this, or that Sandra coined it. (Sometime I'll have to write a post about Sandra and the HUGE impact that this person I've never met had on my kids.)
I am surprised that in the last twelve years I never heard it before.

It's such a perfect word for something we've always done, sometimes consciously, but even more often unconsciously. I'll be cleaning and come across a book that I know one of the younger ones is ready for. Lay it on the kitchen table. Almost invariably it will at least be looked at.

This is part of the reason my kids didn't have game boys and we don't have a dvd player in our car. The drive to wherever we may be going has things to be seen. There is always something to be learned. And the conversation has always been the biggest part of the learning.

I have a couple of friends who are pretty structured and have young kids who are having some difficulties in getting them interested in "school." Maybe some strewing would be just the ticket. It can be a great way to pique their interest, or possibly help them find an interest. (Of course, as parents we have to be ready and willing to help them follow those interests, even if they don't match up with the chosen curriculum.)

So I've added a new word to my homeschool vocabulary. What fun!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

School and ADD/ADHD

Ned Vare has a post at School is Hell about a subject near and dear to my heart, ADD/ADHD.

I especially like this quote from his friend, Jerry Mintz, who has the website The Education Revolution.
You got a person who has a psychiatric illness in a public school that requires medication from a multibillion-dollar industry, but when you put him into an alternative school environment, not only does he not require the medication, but the disease seems to vanish and he does very well. The question is, then, where is the disease? And I have firmly, solidly come to the conclusion that the disease is in our schools. It's not in our kids.

Yes, yes, and again yes. Some people think and learn in a way that is not compatible with the way schools choose to teach. So their way of thinking is treated as a disease. They are drugged so that they can better conform.

I am the diagnosed ADD parent of two, possibly three, sons who would certainly have been drugged if we were part of the public school machine. It drives me crazy to see so many parents unquestioningly give their children--especially their sons--psychoactive drugs for most of their childhood because they are behaving like children. Why as a society do we try to shove children into a box instead of making the box fit the child?

For us, one of the huge benefits of homeschooling is that we have been able work with our children's strengths and around their weaknesses.

And contrary to the doubts of the critics we've faced, as pre-teens and teens the boys can all function just fine in a regimented classroom situation when they choose to do so.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Christian unschooling?

I was out tooling around in the blogosphere, looking at some of the homeschool blogs outside of my usual rambles. I found a post that Dana at Principled Discovery had made a couple of days ago about Christian Education and Unschooling. Both her post and the comments were very interesting.

As you know, I think that unschooling is perfectly compatible with Christian parenting. Christian education as a distinct entity is not something that I generally think about. Our churches have always had a Board of Christian Education that oversees the Sunday School, VBS, and day school where such existed. I know that isn't what they mean.

The sense I get is that many of them believe that there is a distinctly Christian way to educate. I don't.

I don't think of what we do as Christian education. In fact, I don't think of it in terms of education all that often. I think in terms of learning, certainly. But not education or teaching.

The one difficulty that I have with the underpinnings of the philosophy of unschooling is that it assumes innate goodness of children. I, of course, believe that my children were born sinful, as we all were, but I don't think that that has to keep us from enjoying the benefits of unschooling and the lifestyle that we enjoy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Still unschooling

I don't give unschooling much thought. It's just what we do. But lately I've had several new homeschoolers asking me about it. I've had a couple of longer term homeschoolers who are to one extent or another relaxed ask me how we do a transcript. So it's been on my mind.

I keep feeling like we aren't really unschooling anymore, but it's really just that our unschooling has changed over the years. In the early years, it truly was all fun and games. Our life was very unstructured and we spent lots of time doing things like going to the forest preserve, playing games, and just messing around.

It isn't like that anymore. There's a lot more structure. The kids are taking classes. As each of them gets older and college looms, they have all started to think about their goals and what they want to do. This leads to deciding to zoom through chapters of math in a few days, tackling different subjects in science, and working on things like accounting and foreign languages.

But we're still unschooling. This is what they want to do. I'm helping them, but they are calling the shots. That's why there are still days--like today--when they serve at a funeral, watch some news, play a computer game, and read a bit. There are days like Tuesday when they played Bionicles, played a computer game, and read. But there are also days like Monday,when they went to Greek, did pages of math, and wrote reports on the Boxer Rebellion and Chinese Dynasties for history.

So it's different, but we're still doing it, and it still works.

Friday, February 01, 2008

It causes me pain

It truly does. Each Wednesday when I teach my class and I assign questions for them to answer, every unschooly fiber of my being rebels.

If I had my choice I would just let them knit, play with Bionicles, and do mock Mythbusters experiments the whole time. Each week the ""class time gets shorter. Each week the kids come armed with more of what they're interested in to share with each other.

I don't force "homework" on any of the kids. Some of them LOVE to research and find the answers. Some print out a Wikipedia article that they can barely read. Some never remember to find the answers.

I've had a couple of people ask me how *I* ended up teaching a class. I am doing it because we are trying to create a homeschool resource center for homeschoolers to use as they wish, and one thing a lot of them ask for is the opportunity for the kids to take some classes. And since I'm trying to help get this going, I'm teaching. Since I'm teaching, it's history.

So we'll continue. We have a couple more months to go. The kids are having a good time. My boys wouldn't miss it for anything.

I'm the only one having any trouble.

Hangin' with homeschoolers

If you know me you know I'm a pretty social person. So it's probably kind of strange that we have spent little time with homeschool groups in the past twelve years. That's not to say that we don't have friends who are homeschoolers, lots of them are, but we see them individually, not as part of a group.

We haven't felt like we needed the group experience. The kids never really seemed to enjoy going. They have their friends and we don't need a group for field trips.

For the past five months I have been teaching a world history and geography class for a group of homeschoolers. This is the first time in years that we have regularly been around a group of homeschoolers. I have enjoyed getting to know the kids and some of the moms. It is a pretty laid back bunch. (They have to be to deal with my crazy ADD style!) The boys are making friends and really enjoying the new contacts. It makes me think that maybe we should try again to find a group.

I thought of killing it

I seriously considered killing this blog.

I don't write here that much. I do most of my writing at my regular blog. But, at the same time, I like having this blog where I can focus on homeschooling.

So I have decided that I am going to keep it and actually write here on a regular basis.