Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’
January 30, 2013 @ 10:24 am | Filed under: Art, Books, Homeschooling
detail from “Girl at Desk,” Carl Larsson
1) I like to pull out a bunch of our poetry books and let each kid (from Rose on down) pick one, and while I’m busy with something else, the kids each choose a poem to read to the rest of us. They enjoy the hunt, and I love hearing which poems have captured their hearts.
2) The Art Puzzle HD app. Another mom on my local homeschooling list mentioned it—we were sharing our favorites—and I love love love this app. You select a puzzle from paintings by artists like Van Gogh, Klimt, Bruegel*, Picasso, Renoir, and Dali. (More paintings are available via in-app purchase.) There are four levels of complexity and I’m finding even the second-easiest level to be challenging in some of these pieces—all Monet’s little dabs of color make for a puzzling puzzle indeed. There’s a gentle soundtrack of classical music (limited in repertoire but lovely choices—The Four Seasons, Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, Clair de Lune, the Elgar cello concerto I love—things I’m happy to listen to over and over, and am happy to have my kids hear). You can toggle the music off whenever you like. If you like (or wanted to like but the kids’ interest flagged) Mommy, That’s a Renoir, you’ll like this app. Best picture study resource I’ve seen in a long time. My only complaint is: no Carl Larsson!
*Wikipedia tells me he dropped the H from his name at some point. Who knew?
3) Earworms continues to be a hit with my older girls. Rose and Bean are nearly done with German Volume 2 now. Rilla and Huck have picked up a lot along the way. Jane is enjoying the Japanese version.
4) A liberal dose of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for my younger set. Nothing new here, just noting it because it’s bringing me so much joy these days.
5) Winter Holiday as a read-aloud. Though I do still hanker after the Gabriel Woolf audio recordings that Alice’s gang fell in love with ages ago. (Scroll down to the final comment on that post—hilarious!)
6) Sunday family Shakespeare readings. Still working our way through The Tempest. Sunday can’t come fast enough.
June 20, 2012 @ 6:13 pm | Filed under: Family, Homeschooling
The always wonderful Handmade Homeschool on the dearth of blogs focusing on the details of homeschooling through high school:
I would like to see older homeschoolers represented online with the same enthusiasm. Why? Well, because I’d like to have my reality reflected, too. I’d like to be inspired. I’d like to be reassured. And if it was a slightly more glamorous image than reality, my heart would welcome that, too. A little salesmanship of the day-to-day. Calgon, take me away…
Lets do better. I’m busy. So are you. It’s harder to find the anecdote, perhaps, or to remember to pass it along. But we owe it to ourselves to memorialize this homeschooling stage as well as we did in the cuter years, and we owe it to each other.
(Read her whole post.)
I posted this link on my Facebook page and it sparked a thoughtful conversation, and I thought I’d share it here too. Our FB discussion centered on the difficulty of protecting and respecting the privacy of our older kids—their stories are their stories—while acknowledging that many of us do crave the experience-sharing and resource-sharing we enjoyed in our homeschooling blog circles and discussion boards when all our children were small. It’s a line I’ve walked cautiously here. I’ve often written about my decision to blog less about my older children as they’ve moved into their tween and teen years. (Metadiscussion junkie that I am.)
At the same time, I’ve missed it, the long education-philosophy chats* and the nitty-gritty resource-sharing. (Education philosophy and resource-sharing junkie that I am.) I don’t know how one threads that needle—respecting kids’ privacy while blogging freely about the thoughts and activities that occupy our days—and I always enjoy a peek into others’ homeschooling lives.
What do you think? Where’s the sweet spot on that fine line?
(UPDATE: My FB friend Angela chimed in with a link to a brand-new blog, hilariously titled Homeschooling Mother Clucker, that aims to find that sweet spot. I’m thrilled. I’ve missed Mother Crone.)
*While it’s true I’ve missed the ed-method threads that dominated the early years of this blog, around four years ago I deliberately dialed down my musings in that direction, in part because once I found my groove, my whole tidal homeschooling thing, I didn’t need to think out loud quite so intensely; and also because I ran out of energy and time for the occasions where the discussion turned to debate. We found what fits our family culture and I didn’t have any desire to proselytize nor defend it; it simply was what it was, is what it is, an ebbing and flowing rhythm of structure and freedom that suits us. We shift gears so often I can’t begin to tell someone else how to drive. And lots of times, “thinking aloud” comes across as opining. I’m keenly aware that every family is different (even different from itself, season to season), and school works best for some, and unschooling works best for some, and rigorous classical ed works best for some, and a messy hodgepodge works best for others. One of my favorite comments I’ve ever received on this blog was from Bonny Glen reader Sashwee, who remarked (in my post about comics making you smart): “This confirms my impression of your approach to education, non-dogmatic, open to what’s good in whichever vessel it is borne.” I so appreciated that comment, because it gets at the heart of what drew me to home education in the first place: the freedom to custom-tailor education to suit each individual child within the context of a close-knit family life. For us, right now, in this season, that includes having Wonderboy happily enrolled in a special-day class at the public school around the corner, and sending Jane to spend the summer in Texas, soaking up another family’s culture and getting her first taste of the working world at an internship at a software developer, and allowing thirteen-year-old Rose long spans of hours for writing her Warriors fanfiction and other tales, and charting a high-tide of math, German, and history lessons for Rose and Beanie, and then chucking that plan out the window for a week of obsessive gaming when the big Glitch housing reset occurs. And now this postscript has turned into a full-fledged post, but I’m going to be lazy and leave it dangling here at the end of an entirely different topic, and maybe the combox discussion will wind up as comfortably jumbled as my family’s approach to life and learning. Jumble away, my friends.
I’m a longtime fan of the Brave Writer writing program for homeschoolers—as this gushing review from (gasp) 2005 will attest. I’ve borrowed many an idea from Julie Bogart’s The Writer’s Jungle and I’ve ordered a number of issues of The Arrow and The Boomerang over the years. These monthly newsletters, which you can purchase individually or by subscription, are focused around a particular novel that you read aloud to your kids. For each book, there are copywork and dictation passages, a discussion of a literary element that appears in the reading, and writing prompts for your students. For my kids, I’ve found these downloads to be great discussion starters—and for me, they’ve been an easy way to introduce my kids to the tools of literary analysis.
So it’s a tremendous honor to see one of my own books on the list of Arrow titles for 2012-2013. The Prairie Thief, which comes out in late August, will be the October selection. Thanks, Brave Writer!
Julie Bogart has some fun plans in mind for October, such as a podcast interview with me…I’ll keep you posted!
P.S. Here’s next year’s Boomerang list (aimed at ages 12-15), if you’re interested. The Arrow is for kids ages 8-12. And this year Brave Writer is adding a new tool for early readers: The Wand.
Hello, poor little neglected blog. The weekend was much too full of living to leave time for chronicling. And now I could sleep for a week!
The Good Vibrations Unschooling Conference was a blast. Such a fun crowd! Here are a few of the things we got to do this weekend:
*knights and chivalry (Beanie and Jane)
* board-breaking (ditto)
* needlefelting (Beanie learned how and made a lovely new friend)
* drop-spindle spinning (Jane learned how, so AT LONG LAST the spindle I bought for research when I was writing the first Martha book is seeing some use)
* painting and drawing (nearly everyone—there was a wonderful art room set up and you could go create to your heart’s content any time of day)
* “Rock Star Drama Camp” (Beanie attended this most excellent funshop led by the ebullient Amy Steinberg. Later, Amy flagged me down in the hall to tell me Bean’s a natural actress. No surprise to this proud mama who directed her as Feste in scenes from Twelfth Night last spring!)
That’s just a small sample. Flo Gascon, the conference organizer, did an amazing job of putting together a seamless, merry, stimulating weekend—and gracefully weathering the big excitement of the San Diego Blackout.
Some of the talks I attended:
“Zero Tuition College” by Blake Boles, about which I shall have MUCH TO SAY either here or at GeekMom. Fantastic talk. (Rose and Jane also went to a college pros and cons session moderated by Blake. Much food for discussion later.)
Updated: Here’s a link to Blake’s Zero Tuition College website.
“Artodidact” by Brenna McBroom, an inspiring young woman who described her decision to leave college and focus on her pottery with apprenticeships and mentorships. I loved this talk. So did Jane and Rose, especially Rose, who was captivated by Brenna’s pottery (we’d been oohing and ahhing over it in the conference lounge all day, and right before Brenna’s talk, Rose talked me into buying the lovely little pot I kept returning to over and over—I’m so glad I did) and is now burning to take a ceramics class herself. We’ve spent this morning looking at possibilities around town.
“Good Ideas and Bad Ideas” by Holly Dodd, daughter of Sandra Dodd. Holly shared some of her insights gleaned from visiting and/or nannying for many different families around the world.
“Unschooling Lifestyle Q & A”—four veteran unschooling parents answered audience questions. Most of the questions were parenting-focused, and to be honest I always feel a little outside that discussion when it’s from the radical unschooling end of the unschooling/alternative education continuum. I live at a different spot on that continuum and am happy with the way things work in our family. But this talk was lively and enjoyable, even if I didn’t agree with every point made. Heck, the panelists didn’t always agree with one another—that was part of the point, the reason organizer Flo Gascon had structured the panel the way she did: to give a range of viewpoints to common concerns.
Of course the best part of any conference is meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. The hotel had provided a nice big sunny room as a lounge area, and there was always a lot bubbling there. People crafting and chatting, toddlers playing with the toys volunteers had pooled, artisans young and not-so-old selling their wares, and a great deal of laughter. Wonderful, wonderful.
May 22, 2010 @ 4:16 pm | Filed under: Books
Earlier this week, Phoebe asked me to recommend books about the middle ages. Jane and I went around the house pulling things off shelves. The timing was perfect, because I’ve been on a bit of a middle ages jag myself, ever since reading The Perilous Gard (so good! read it!!) which though set in Tudor times, at the cusp of Elizabeth’s reign, is a retelling of the medieval Tam Lin ballad. I’ve listened to perhaps a dozen different renditions of Tam Lin over the past few weeks; this one by Bob Hay and the Jolly Beggars.
Here’s a list of the middle-ages-related books we found around the house. There are many other wonderful books about the middle ages, of course. (Rosemary Sutcliffe and Susan Cooper novels come to mind.) Feel free to leave your own lists (or links to your lists) in the comments!
Disclaimer: Not all of these are appropriate for younger children.
** indicates my family’s favorites
HISTORICAL FICTION AND FANTASY
CLASSICAL MEDIEVAL STORIES including Arthurian tales
• Medieval Romances edited by Roger Sherman Loomis & Laura Hibbard Loomis (Perceval, Tristan & Isolt, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight, etc; this was the text for my college Medieval Lit class & has a highly quotable intro, which I shall indeed quote in the next post)
• Favorite Medieval Tales by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Troy Howell (Finn Maccoul, Beowulf, Arthur, Song of Roland, Sir Gawain & the Green Knight; Robin Hood, Chanticleer)**
• The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
• The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White (Arthur)**
• The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck (based on the Malory)
• The Story of King Arthur by Tom Crawford (Dover Children’s Classics)
• The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer (of course!!)
• The Story of the World, Vol. 2: The Middle Ages by Susan Wise Bauer
• How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
• Living Long Ago (Usborne Books, lots of pictures: clothes, customs, housing)
• Famous Men of the Middle Ages by John H. Haaren & A. B. Poland (Attila the Hun, Barbarossa, Clovis, Justinian, etc)**
• A Medieval Feast by Aliki (picture book)**
• The Life of King Alfred by Asser, Bishop of Sherborne (written in Latin around 888AD, translated by J.A. Giles)
NONFICTION, SORT OF (contains legend or considerable fictionalization)
• Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall
• The Sailor Who Captured the Sea by Deborah Nourse Lattimore (picture book: Book of Kells; illuminated manuscripts; monasteries; Vikings attack Ireland) (This maybe belongs just under fiction)
Around the Year: Once Upon a Time Saints by Ethel Pochocki (not all the saints depicted here are medieval, but many are)
Our Island Saints by Amy Steedman
Patrick, Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola (picture book; early middle ages)
Tomie de Paola also did picture books about St Francis and Sts Benedict & Scholastica, but I couldn’t find those today)
Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan, illustrated by Helen Cann
FOLK AND FAIRY TALES WITH A MEDIEVAL FLAVOR
• Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges, illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman (picture book; although St George predates the middle ages, the dragon legend comes from Spenser’s The Faerie Queen  and is based on medieval writings–the Arthurian stories of Geoffrey of Monmouth ; Hyman’s illustrations have borders reminiscent of illuminated manuscripts)
• Chanticleer and the Fox by Barbara Cooney, based on the story from The Canterbury Tales**
• Heckedy Peg by Don & Audrey Wood (picture book; fairy tale; setting is a medieval village)**
• The Irish Cinder Lad by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Loretta Krupinski (picture book; Irish fairy tale; dragon, castle, princess)
• The Three Sorrowful Tales of Erin by F.M. Pilkington (Irish fairy tales; Children of Lir)
• The King of Ireland’s Son by Padraic Colum (novel-length Irish folk tale)**
OTHER WORKS OF NOTE:
Twain’s bio of St. Joan of Arc
Heaney’s translation of Beowulf
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Stories about Robin Hood (we have several versions
Good Sir Boy of Wonder
June 24, 2008 @ 4:02 am | Filed under: Links
UPDATE: The court heard arguments all day and now the ball’s in their hands. They have up to 90 days to make a ruling, but I doubt it will take that long. I read a good summary of the oral arguments that were presented and will post a link when I find one. (The summary came via email.) Sounds like there were no surprises.
In March I reported the distressing news that the NY State Board of Regents had announced public special-education services such as speech therapy and occupational therapy would no longer be available to homeschooled students. Private school students, they ruled, would continue to qualify, but not homeschoolers.
Well, it looks like common sense has prevailed. Today the New York State Senate passed a bill reinstating these services to homeschooled children. The Assembly passed the companion bill on Monday. Now all that remains is the governor’s signature.
This is great news. These are public services available through the public schools which ought to be available to all children, not just those enrolled in the schools. Working with the school district to receive these services is not always an easy task, but for some families, for some children, it’s a vitally important option.
I wrote a fair amount at The Lilting House about my family’s (sometimes rocky) experiences with receiving speech therapy and audiology services from our school district for our hard-of-hearing son. I had to learn a lot about navigating the IEP process, and some of the lessons came at a price. (You may recall the one IEP meeting where I was sandbagged by “the team” and had to fight hard to persuade them to agree to what I knew to be the best course of action for my son.) This past year we’ve been very pleased with the way things have worked, and I couldn’t be happier with our current speech therapist and the district’s awesome audiologist.
And not having to drive up to the children’s hospital for these services (where Wonderboy already sees eleven different specialists on a regular basis, and NEVER on the same day) has made a huge practical difference in my family’s quality of life. I run him over to a local elementary school for speech therapy, hearing tests, new ear molds, and such. All these services and supplies (including hearing aid batteries, which aren’t cheap) are provided free of charge by the school district—just as they are, here in California, for every child in the district, whether public-schooled, private-schooled, or homeschooled. Our tax dollars are helping fund these programs.
One of the potential pitfalls we’ve skirted is that once your kid is in, it can be hard to get him out if you decide the services in question are not a good fit, after all. Here in CA, Wonderboy is stuck in the system until he reaches legal kindergarten age. He misses the cutoff for next fall by one week, and ordinarily I’d have been delighted about that: no need to fool with paperwork for him for an extra year. (Not that there’s much paperwork to fool with, here in sunny Cal.) But if I wanted to back out of district-provided services and seek them through the medical venue instead, I’d have a devilish time doing so until he reaches kindy age. At that point, I can simply “enroll” him in our family’s private school (since that’s the option I homeschool under, the private-school provision) and decline any or all district services I might wish to disengage from.
We’re quite satisfied with our current level and quality of service, and I’m content to maintain the status quo next year. But the libertarian in me (Scott says he notices an increasingly large streak, year after year) bristles at being bound to any status quo where my own child is concerned.
But I bristle even more at the notion of services being denied to some children for arbitary or prejudiced reasons, which seemed for a while to be the direction NY was headed. Bravo to the legislature for letting justice prevail. Now sign that baby, Governor.
I just spent all my posting time writing another really long comment in the patience/unschooling thread. Is it cheating if I post it here as well? (Cheating what, Lissa?)
Maybe not cheating, but nepotism perhaps. (Can nepotism apply to one’s own self?) There have been so many good, wise comments on that post, and I keep pulling excerpts to paste into a post—two posts, one on parenting and one on learning/unschooling—but the posts would be almost as long as that comments thread. Besides, excerpts are not as good as whole comments, in context.
This comment was a reply to one of many questions asked in that thread.
“Does unschooling mean we give equal weight to everything our children are interested in? For example, is reading a Star Wars novel (which my 10yods is now doing, aloud, for his 8yo brother) just as valuable as reading, say, Scotland’s Story? I know I must be missing something, but it seems like relativism to me to say that it is.”
That depends on what you mean by valuable, and by relativism. Relativism in this context sounds bad, like moral relativism. (You can tell I’m not a moral relativist because I think moral relativism is bad.) But I don’t see how it could be moral relativism to say “this bit of knowledge is just as valuable as that bit of knowledge.” Valuable for what purpose? In what context? Here are some things of value I see in a boy reading Star Wars aloud to his brother:
learning to read with inflection (useful in many professions)
gaining deeper understanding of dialogue including how to punctuate it, how conversations unfold
deeper understanding of pacing, rising action/falling action, conflict, character development, description, subplots, metaphor and imagery (all very valuable in my particular profession!)
deepening of bond between brothers; warm happy memory for them, shared knowledge for games and in-jokes
experiencing the good feeling of doing something nice for someone, discovering the joy of charitable acts
science stuff about space, planets, gravity, engines, weapons, etc
Star Wars usually conveys a message that is decidedly NOT moral relativism: good is good, evil is evil; good fights evil (and prevails: hopeful message); it’s not ok for a good guy to do something bad even if he has a good reason (ends do not justify means); even the worst of bad guys can repent and try to make amends
other Star Warsy themes are the importance of working as a team, playing off each other’s strengths; perseverance; sacrifice
And probably a lot of other things I’m not thinking of.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be either/or with Star Wars and the Story of Scotland (not that Wendy was saying it did; I’m just developing a thought)—both books might capture a kid’s interest at different times, or at the same time. Jane had a three-year Boxcar Children passion; she read that series so many times she could identify all 100+ titles by number. At the same time she was reading lots of books from the classics lists. If there wasn’t something valuable about formula fiction, there wouldn’t BE formula fiction. No one would buy it; it wouldn’t get published (by the millions). There is something deeply satisfying about reading a story that unfolds in a reliable way. It’s comforting, but it can be exciting, too, knowing that the next twist is due and making guesses about the plot, puzzling out the mystery or solution to the conflict.
And in a way it’s impossible to put a value on knowledge because you don’t KNOW what you’re going to need to know in the future. (If you don’t know it already, and a pressing need arises, you’re going to learn in a hurry. I knew next to nothing about the War of 1812 when I was offered the Charlotte books. The first book was set in the middle of the war, and I had four months to write it. And historical accuracy was imperative both to the publisher and to my sense of integrity. So you can bet I took in an enormous amount of knowledge at a rapid pace!)
I think it is so, so hard for all of us who were schooled to break down the boxes that school put knowledge into. School has to decide what information to present when, and to whom. It says “this is important for all people of X age to know.” (But though it can present the information, it can’t guarantee that all the students will wind up “knowing” it.) School says that certain knowledge is more valuable than other knowledge. But you know what? Knowing how to fix a toilet would have saved me a lot of money, but school never presented *that* potentially valuable knowledge. I can draw really pretty circles with a compass, though. I’ve had more plumbing problems in my life than occasions requiring perfectly round circles.
In typing class I learned to put two spaces after every period. That was a valuable piece of information when I took timed typing tests for temp agencies during college. Later, when employers needed word processors instead of typists, I had to “unlearn” that habit. Only one space after a period, in computer typing. Knowledge that formerly had value became disadvantageous. Circumstances change.
The value of knowledge *is* relative, isn’t it? “Is this important” depends on “for what?”
That isn’t the bad kind of relativism, moral relativism. It’s practicality.
I place a very high value on beautiful prose and well-crafted fiction. I value some types of poetry (Elizabeth Bishop) over others (Hallmark greeting card). Hallmark sells millions more greeting cards than Elizabeth Bishop sold books. And yet, I say her work is “better” (a relative judgment) than a Hallmark card. I say it, and I believe it, and I can tell you why, syllable by syllable. But it’s possible that my grandma (if I still had one living, that is) would be far more moved by the sentimental lines on her birthday card than Elizabeth Bishop’s rapturous meditation upon a very ugly fish.
Another way to think about it is: who is learning more—the kid who is passionately interested in Boxcar Children, or the one who is patiently enduring Great Expectations?
(That same child might, however, find herself captivated by Great Expectations a few years later—her appreciation of suspense fiction having been honed by dozens of Boxcar Children books.)
Charles Dickens knew the “value” of words—he got paid by the word. When he read his own work aloud, he stripped out most of the adjectives; he’d just put them in to pay the bills.
We (having been well schooled) might say that classical music and opera are “more important” or “better than” cartoons. But most of the kids in my generation first (and maybe only) encountered opera in the cartoons. Ohh Bwunhiwda, you’re so wuv-wy…Yes I know it, I can’t he-e-elp it…
My kids discovered Strauss through Tom & Jerry. I discovered Strauss through That’s Entertainment!
To come back to the question: do we give equal weight to everything our children are interested in? I think yes, we do. School has to decide what to present how, and in what way, but at home, we don’t. We aren’t bound by a calendar year or test date. We don’t have to squeeze knowledge into someone else’s boxes. Way leads on to way!