Thursday, August 30, 2007

Another, much more encouraging, homeschool conference

Well, this past weekend I attended another homeschool seminar that left me feeling quite different than my first. I listened to Carole Joy Seid's wisdom for a day and felt excited about home education and thought, "Yes, I can do this!" Carole holds a master's degree in education and homeschooled her only son through high school. He currently has a master's degree and is working on a Ph.D., I believe, as well.

I so appreciated her well-researched thoughts along with practical application and her deeply held spiritual perspective. Even though this particular seminar mostly focused on the high school years and so wasn't personally applicable, I still gained much from the overall philosophy of education she shared. I'm very much looking forward to her seminar in January that will focus on the elementary years.

Listen in on her radio interview on her Website where you can learn more about her ideas.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The "Good Mother" debate

The other day while chatting with the girls (my sanity-saving group of mothers that meet once a week), the topic turned to homeschooling and one mom said "You guys are just better mothers," as if those who choose to homeschool were somehow "better mothers." No, no, no, 100 times NO!

I so don't want any of my choices to make another mother feel inferior. We get enough of that in our society, whether real or imagined. The so-called "mommy wars" perpetuate the image of catty, back-stabbing women while dividing a huge group that needs each others support. Truthfully, most of the women I know are respectful of other mothers even when they disagree. The women in my Tuesday morning group don't always see eye-to-eye, but we sure do support each other. I love their encouragement, their commiseration, their wise insights and their listening hearts.

I know I run the risk of sounding relativistic and trite, but I do believe it's pretty simple. You make the choice that works for you, your child and your family. When it doesn't work anymore, you do something different. And if you don't have people in your life who support and respect you when you're doing the best you can for your family, go find a Tuesday morning group for yourself.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Oh honey, I'm with you

I guess I'm too new at this blogging thing. I can't seem to figure out how to link directly to a blog post and not just the blog main page. Anyway, all you parents out there, take a look at Maybe I Shouldn't Have Said It and take heart.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stewing and brewing thoughts in the wake of a homeschooling conference

I attended my first homeschooling conference this past weekend and, not surprisingly, I have a few impressions that are swirling around my brain. So much so that it's keeping me up. I'm just going to jump right into it so I can go back to sleep and be up to take the kids to the science center in the morning as I promised.

While there were a few sessions that offered practical advice to this newby (notably how to tell if your child is ready to learn to read; ADHD vs. kinesthetic learner; and fun, educational things to do with your preschooler), I came away with two key impressions: 1. the homeschooling community has fought so long to legitimize themselves that they believe the only right way to educate your child is at home, and 2. forget about grades, grade levels and preparation for college as following your child's development and interest is paramount. I have trouble with both of these ideas.

First off, I don't believe homeschooling is for everybody in every situation. Sure, anyone can and should be able to homeschool if they want to. But it's not the best choice for every child and every parent. Even if it may work well for the child and parent, circumstances may prohibit it. I'm not talking about government regulation here. I'm all for the legal right every American citizen has to choose to educate their children at home. However, there are a myriad of personal and intricate circumstances that just make traditional schooling a better choice for some families. I'm sure I'm not the only one at the conference with this belief. The last speaker of the day basically said the same thing as I, but many other speakers and parents said that homeschooling was the best choice.

The second idea is the one that I find most troubling. It seems that when you enter the homeschooling world the expectation is that it is for your child's entire education. As one speaker said, "we lose a lot at high school," implying that some wimpy parents coop out at that stage. When I asked about how do you know your child is on grade level or ready to go to college, the response reminded me of Bobby McFarrin's boppy tune, "Don't worry, be happy."

I'm approaching this decision to educate Owen at home on a year-by-year basis. It's completely overwhelming to me to think this is an either-or mandate for the next 12 years. Next year, we may decide to send Owen to school, or the year after, or the year after that. I want to know that he is somewhat on par with his peers and won't be woefully behind. Even if we choose to homeschool through high school, which I just can't fathom at this point, I want him to be capable of succeeding in college.

What's most important to me in educating my children, whether at home or elsewhere, is that they learn to think for themselves, can analyze and coherently express their resulting opinions verbally and in written form, and have a lifelong love for learning. With the pressure schools have to meet state and national education goals that are only measured through test scores, most teachers simply teach to the test. The students cram to memorize facts that they forget two weeks later. Students end up hating school because their natural love for learning is killed by endless busywork and boring memorization that holds no point of reference beyond the test. By the time they get to college they are so "schooled" in this method that the most common question professors hear is, "Will this be on the test." Jack even hears this from his graduate students.

Home education offers an alternative--an appealing alternative that I'm willing to try. I just have to do it my way, which includes lot of fun, tailored activities to keep Owen excited about learning along with references that let me know what a typical kindergartener should know.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Raves for Miss Rumphius

I just discovered this charming book that has been around since the mid-80s, a bit past my picture book days. I've seen it listed on several book lists and picked it up at the vendor fair for the California Homeschool Network conference I attended this weekend. (More about that later.) I pulled it out of the plastic bag that was falling apart from the weight of my newfound treasures and read it to Jonas before his nap today. We were curled up on his bed with his head on my shoulder. I'm not sure when his baby browns finally closed because I was so caught up in this sweet story that I didn't stop or peek at him until I closed the book.

If you haven't come across this book yet, now's the time. Even if you don't have children, pick up this little gem. It's an enthralling yet simple tale with a message the whole world needs. I won't spoil it and say anymore. Just get ye to the library.

Do you have a sgtrane mnid too?

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.
i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Pregnant pause

I suppose that's the best way to explain my sporadic silence on this blog. I'm finally nearly the end of my first trimester and I'm starting to feel a little more like myself. Of course, the infamous nausea is awful (although much, much better this time around), but the extreme exhaustion and lack of energy completely wipe me out. I've found that this pregnancy is more difficult because I have two highly active boys to care for while I just want to stay in bed.

What little gumption and brain power I have must be reserved for what's most important--saving my kids from major injuries. I've already failed in my house. Just this week the boys painted a 4-feet swash of carpet, poured a couple of gallons of water on the floor, cut my living room curtain and riped up my bedside lamp shade. Anyone wanna trade?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Ready to read

Owen has known how to read the letters and the sounds for each letter for nearly a whole year now. I was so excited when he got that down that I was ready to jump right in on teaching him how to put those sounds together to make words. The few times I tried though, Owen got frustrated and stomped off saying, "I can't do it." I admit, I really had to fight the urge to force it. Just because I begged to learn to read at age 4 and have loved it ever since, doesn't mean that my firstborn is the same. All I have to do is look at this child, who looks nothing like me, and know that he's his own person. Frankly, that's who I want him to be. So I backed off.

Fast-forward to today and that same child can sound out cat, bat, mat, hat, rat, pat and sat. And I had nothing to do with it. The last couple of nights Jack has been spending a few minutes before bedtime with Owen helping him to read. He started with AT and quickly moved on to these rhyming words. I guess this is what the experts mean to wait, it will come when they are ready.