Friday, April 30, 2010

Spotlight on Radical Unschooling

Watch this first from CBS News from 4/20/10:

Being new to the homeschooling scene, all I have to go on is what I have read in books about the Unschooling philosophy along with my own common sense. This is completely my opinion, and I believe everyone has a right to their own.

From where I stand...I think Unschooling, like everything has a spectrum. I think that the families highlighted in the video are definitely on the radical end of the Unschooling philosophy. The wonderful thing about Unschooling in my opinion is that is driven by a passion to learn and its organic nature makes learning fun. This concept should be implemented into every home whether public,private or homschooled on a daily basis. BUT, I think there has to be guidance for children to learn the array of life lessons and academic knowledge they need to succeed in their culture. We are the parents and (presumably) have the wisdom to know what is and isn't good for our children. We are charged with the responsibility to pass that wisdom on to our children, not let them willy nilly do and learn only what they feel like. Our nature is a sinful one that leads us away from what is right, and without guidance from parents and God, our children will flounder on their own. The households outlined in the story don't have structure or rules in their homes. I believe this is bluntly unbiblical. Children are in need of structure and discipline in order to be Christlike.
Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him (Proverbs 13:24).
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6).

I also disagree with the premiss in the report that other homeschools are just imitating or reenacting the public/private school environment at home. I think as a whole, homeschoolers think more outside the box than that. Again, it is a spectrum. We haven't started putting into practice our homeschooling philosophy yet, but I know it will not look like Unschooling or be a replication of public school. Caleb happens to learn very well in the Traditional style of homeschooling, so that is going to be our starting point. I am planning on and expecting that it will morph into an eclectic style as we move forward based on Caleb's needs and desires. I'd say that our starting philosophy is a combination of the Charlotte Mason philosophy mixed with Traditional, depending on the subject area. Down the line as Caleb's character and interests develop I see us possibly going the route of unit studies, especially when his little brother and sister join into the mix.

I think it is doing a child a disservice to give them complete freedom. I know as a child I would have chosen Mtv (which we weren't allowed to watch) over the history channel any day. If you read the descriptions of the Unschooling philosophy (below), in premiss I don't disagree with it. I do disagree however with how these families have applied it, without discipline and without sufficient guidance. The gem of the philosophy is learning in a natural way. In my opinion, it's just not enough, and definitely not for every family.

Light Years Behind

I'm having such a hard time finding good quality Science curriculum for Kindergarten! I have found plenty of books on experiments and nature readers, but nothing comprehensive. Sonlight has one, but it is expensive in my opinion and the reviews aren't so hot on I like the idea of Sonlight using a bunch of resources and pulling them together with the teacher's guide, but I'm not sure if it is the right material for us.

Caleb is very much a visual learner, and he thrives on workbooks, textbooks and videos. I'm excited to do some hands on experiments too, but I'm really looking for a text that pulls all the science elements together in some way; even if it is just a teachers guide. The topics I really want to cover this year are insects, plants, weather, magnets (possibly), and creation. I want to go in depth with insects (doing an ant farm, butterfly kit & possibly a tadpole to frog kit). I've already ordered: My, Oh My--A Butterfly!: All About Butterflies (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library)The Magic School Bus Plants Seeds: A Book About How Living Things GrowOn Beyond Bugs: All About Insects (Cat in the Hat's Learning Library) and Inside an Ant Colony (Rookie Read-About Science)

I'm still looking at The World God Made, Christian Liberty Nature Reader, and Simple and Fun Science Simplified but I'm not sold yet. I really want to get my hands on them, hopefully at the conference this June.

There seems to be a huge lacking in Science curriculum for Kindergarten. I get that they are pretty young for anything in-depth, but I was surprised at the lack of options.

I'd love some feedback, what did you do with your Kindergarteners?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The stats

I tend to be on the analytical side, I wanted to find statistics on academic performance that backed what my heart was telling me to do. This is by no means comprehensive or the most up to date, but it's what's out there...

This study is facinating and conclusive: Home School Legal Defense Association Study
According to this report, homeschoolers outscore their peers on standardized tests. Even more interesting, this achievement is not dependent upon:
  • their parent's of level education,
  • teacher certification,
  • the amount of money spent,
  • the level of government oversight,
  • gender, or
  • race.
  • Children who have been homeschooled all of their lives outperformed those in a traditional school environment
  • Eighth grade students who have been homeschooled for at least one year scored in the 59th percentile
  • Eighth grade students who have been homeschooled for two years or more scored between the 86th and 92nd percentile

The following information was published by SAT and the ACT High School Profile Reports:
  • In a 1991 test, scores reported by the Stanford Achievement Test, showed that homeschooler's composite scores were 18 to 28 points above their public school counterparts. 
  • In 1998, graduating homeschoolers had an average score of 22.8 out of a possible 36 on the ACT. The national average was 21.0.
Did you know that academic rates are higher in families with three or more children in two parent households with only one parent in the labor force?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

I bit the bullet

Our 4 year old, Caleb is supposed to be entering Pre-school this fall, his birthday is only weeks away from the public school's "cut-off" date. He turns 5 in October, and would be one of the oldest in his class. But since we're homeschooling, we're going to be starting him in Kindergarten this fall instead. He is already reading 3 and 4 letter words and from my research, is waaay past preschool curriculum. He would have to be learning below his level for another year and a half before he could be challenged in that area. This is one of the main contributing factors for us deciding on homeschool. According to the public school in our town, they won't let him test into Kindergarten and aren't willing to work with us at all until he is of the age of compulsory attendance. Yeah, can you believe it!

I bit the bullet and ordered my first official homeschooling curriculum. After extensive research I just ordered:
Horizons: Kindergarten Math
Horizons: P.E.
Horizons: Health
Explode the Code books 1& 2

I'm waiting for the NICHE conference to decide on our science, history/social studies and bible curriculum. I'm excited to page through curriculum there, but didn't want the daunting task of finding all subjects while I'm there. I've really utilized Kathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum as well as her website to decide which Math and Phonics curricula we'll use. Another great review site is

I have a few items on our "possible curriculum" list. I'd love any feedback!
Simple and Fun Science Simplified, K-2

A Newbie's review of "Mommy, Teach Me!"

Mommy, Teach Me! By Barbara Curtis
Back in the fall of 2008, this book planted a seed, it fostered an excitement about teaching my children and seeing their young minds blossom. I highly recommend this for the newbie. I think I'd consider myself an advanced newbie right now, just as far as book knowledge on homeschooling."Mommy, Teach Me!" is truly inspiring.

I thought I'd review a few of the books I've been studying on my journey to decide to homeschool. My approach to book reviews is going to be more about how the book effected me personally, not necessarily a comprehensive review.

This was the first homeschoolingish book I read. In the fall of 2008 I bought this book with the intention of learning how I could prepare my son for school (at that time I presumed it to be public school). I'm glad I was mistaken in its content. The subtitle is "Preparing Your Preschool Child for a Lifetime of Learning," but what it did for me was to prepare me and inform/convict me of my responsibility for my child's education. This was probably the first real step in the decision to homeschool. As I got into the book I started taking note of quotes that struck a cord with me. At this time in my life, self-doubt was taking a front-row seat when it came to homeschooling. Here are some of the gems I extracted from the text: 

“Confidence doesn’t mean we do the job perfectly but that we have faith and are willing to do it to the best of our ability.”
“God did not give us a spirit of fear, only the assurance that love is greater than our insecurities, that in him we find our strength.”
“Often when we pick up a new idea, it becomes a source of discouragement as we start to measure ourselves against an impossible standard.”

What I gathered from the book is that as a mom, I am my child's best teacher, whether I have a degree in Education or not. I've known my child since birth (obviously!). I taught him to talk, walk, and potty trained him, just to name a few. The teaching instinct is in us as humans and as mothers especially. No one can love my child and care for his well-being more than me. I know my child's learning style because I spend time with him and observe him, for so many hours a day. In the public/private school system, by the time the teacher can get a glimpse of how my child ticks, he's off to the next grade to start over with another teacher. I love her quote, "Since every child has the potential to learn, every parent has the potential to teach." This really sums up Barbara's viewpoint in "Mommy, Teach Me!"

Looking back, this is really one of the best starter books for introducing the idea of homeschooling to first-timers. It laid out the basics of the positive effects homeschooling can have on your child. It very much focuses on the positives, verses some books that just use their pages to bash the public school system. Although criticism is necessary to any system trying to better itself, it has its place and it's not in this book.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Add a link to my blog

Link to my blog!

What is a Pugalier?

Our first math lesson:
Pug + St. Charles Cavalier Spaniel= Pugalier.
Jack just turned 1 and you could say he's the school mascot.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My official coming out

So, this is my official coming out. I am... going to homeschool my kids. I have been reluctant to commit, mostly because it is so counterculture and I really don’t want to face all the outside skepticism that comes along with the decision. This reluctance to commit stems from my own weakness, and I understand that if I venture to do this solely on my own, I will fail. I believe that with God’s help, this experience will be successful and fulfilling for both of us.

The intention of this blog is to post our hopefully weekly activities related to homeschooling. The creation of this blog is not to prove myself to anyone nor to brag (I’m going to assume we are going to have some achievements!), but to have a yearbook or portfolio for us to look at and celebrate. It also serves the purpose to keep friends and family in the loop so they can enjoy the experience too. Hopefully our triumphs and mistakes will challenge other homeschoolers as well.

To answer the question everyone asks or wants to ask, but doesn’t... WHY HOMESCHOOL? We (when I say “we” I mean this is 100% a joint decision between me and Dave to homeschool) created this list to bring clarity to our decision. These points can answer your questions as well as serve as a reminder to myself “why” during the trials. After a years worth of research and prayer (I have a library full of “reasons to homeschool” books) we have come to the conclusion to homeschool because:

- We want to be the main influencing source in our child’s life and that requires the majority of his time spent with us. We want our children to be positively socialized. This is a continuation of our beliefs that has led to me being a stay-at-home mom.

- We want to give him a tailored education that suits his specific needs and desires in order to instill a love of learning for a lifetime.

- We believe that God calls us to be responsible for the education of our children, and we feel that this is how we can best fulfill that call.

- We want to give him an education that integrates learning about God, and his purpose on earth. The goal is to raise him into a Godly man of integrity.

- We appreciate homeschooling's flexible schedule which is conducive to Dave’s changing work schedule.

- And lastly because we have the freedom to do so.

There is a particular verse that has inspired us in this endeavor:
Romans 12:2 (New American Standard Bible)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Homeschool Top Sites - Best Homeschool Sites on the Internet
Homeschooling Blogs
Powered By Ringsurf
Homeschool Gold