The Homeschooling Why and How Blog
Here are my questions for you about Homeschooling: Why and How: have you read my book and if so, did you buy it or get it from a library? and how did you hear about my book?
I ask because I keep hearing from people that they love my book, that it’s changing their lives, and that the husbands are picking it up and in a few pages feel empowered. (See the testimonials here on my website) That is exactly why I wrote the book: I want to empower people to see and choose for themselves. Homeschooling isn’t for some people at all and for many people not for all of K-12. But it’s important to not get overwhelmed by the many long, detailed books or niche books (like a whole book on curricula or a whole book on unschooling). I think a simple, straightforward presentation of why and how is what is needed for most people to enable them to make an educated choice. From there, if they chose to homeschool, they can do further research at their leisure.
Thanks for your responses — I will answer each personally.
Posted in education, Homeschooling, unschooling | Tagged home school, homeschoolers, homeschooling, homeschooling basics, Homeschooling: Why and How, teaching, unschooling | Leave a comment
I can’t really do justice to this question in a few words as it took 50 pages of my book, Homeschooling: Why and How, to do that (not counting maxims, resources, and some favorite quotes). But in a nutshell: you can use a store-bought curricula, you can create your own, or you can see what life presents (unschool). I flesh out each of these in the book, including our self-designed curricula for various ages but give more detail on unschooling, including “Our Not-Back-to-School Education” and “A Day in the Life of an Unschooler.” I also have some pieces written by parents and youngsters, some still homeschooling and some grown up, so you can see how others did it.
By the time we are done, we will all have done a little of everything at some point. I think most homeschoolers have used a worksheet or workbook, have written out a list of things to learn or have ditched their plans because something interesting to do came up. We used to rollerblade and bodyboard or hike on nice days, study or read on rainy days (doesn’t take long to get more done than schools take forever to do), with lots of field trips and crafts and such thrown in.
BTW, you do know you can get an autographed copy of my book from the website for $12.95, including shipping, don’t you?
Posted in education, Homeschool curricula, Homeschooling, studies, unschooling | Leave a comment
Thank you for your questions on homeschooling and I will try to answer each, starting with what seems most urgent. You can also email me via my website contact page.
Desiree was concerned she was “doing it all wrong.” Believe me, we have all felt that way whether our kids were homeschooled or in school. I still occasionally think about the forks not taken and our son is 29 years old! To quote my book, Homeschooling: Why and How, Chapter 2, Answers to Commonly Asked Questions, ”
But I still have doubts.
And well you should! Consider my situation: I homeschooled our son all but a year and a half of his time from kindergarten through twelfth grade. I founded a homeschool support group. I’ve written lots of articles published locally and nationally. I’ve counseled countless parents regarding problems with their kids and with school officials. I’ve done battle with the state superintendent of schools. I’ve given homeschool lectures and seminars. And I’ve had doubts and fears regularly, and still do, even now. I even wrote an article titled, “I, too, Cry in the Night.”
I have come to accept that doubts are an integral part of homeschooling and parenting, of life itself, and not just for those of us on the road less traveled. Parents whose children go to school worry about their children, whether they are safe in school, and they wonder if they should be doing something differently. Only the arrogant have the luxury of always being certain that their way is the only true way.
The rest of us will all, to some degree, question our choices, and for that, we can be grateful. Painful though it may seem at times, it is by questioning our beliefs that we can open doors to growth. Even our most cherished beliefs—indeed, especially our cherished beliefs—warrant regular examination to see if they really are true or if we are ready to outgrow them. We try to do the best we can with what we know and to accept that we will make mistakes. When we lose our way, special friends and family will understand and support us. We can consult books and magazine articles chronicling the lives of those who have been through the same trials that we are experiencing. And in the quiet of prayer or meditation, we may find that truth expresses itself.
Ultimately, we do not control the destinies of our children—nor should we. We learn to live with a certain level of doubt while doing the best we can and working to strengthen our faith in our efforts and in the children we are raising.
(I will do a separate pose for How and When to start. And as to field trips, if you will email me via the contact page, I will respond with an attachment of a list of the field trips we did over an 8 year period. It will be plenty to keep you busy having fun and learning!)
Posted in children, education, Homeschooling, parenting, school, studies, unschooling | Leave a comment
We homeschoolers sometimes have a lot of balls to juggle and setting goals is part of keeping things going. The article from Time Magazine is more about getting “unstuck” but I thought it might be helpful for you or for your kids in achieving goals.
The article states,
“Getting people to make meaningful changes in their lives is much more complicated than explaining to them what to eat for dinner, how often to exercise and which kinds of tests they should get from their doctors. The psychology of health is every bit as complex as the biology, and to create seismic shifts in behavior, we have to probe the subconscious.”
It goes on to give some helpful tips on how to get unstuck.
Posted in Homeschooling, school, Time Magazine | Leave a comment
Failure is Not a Bad Option is the subtitle of September 10, 2012 Education article.
The article starts off, “People have been raising children for about 2 million years now. You’d think the enterprise would have lost its novelty. Yet so much drama surrounds the contemporary act of bringing up offspring, with tiger moms squaring off against free-range parents, that it’s a wonder we don’t all remain childless merely to avoid wading into the fray.”
I found this interesting: “But now there’s a trickle of thought that says academic ability may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Rather than so much focus on cognitive skills, some heretics suggest, a little more grit is what kids really need…..A family therapist to wealthy Californians, Levine spent years counseling youngsters whose high academic performance had left them mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically frail.”
Much is said against the emphasis on grades and homework and for focusing on values and character traits, something most homeschoolers share as the backbone of their daily activities.
Posted in education, parenting, school, Time Magazine | Leave a comment
Maui Family Magazine has run an article I wrote and is pasted in below. I hope you like it and I welcome your comments.
The Raising of a Mother
by Gail Nagasako
I was 40 when I gave birth to my son. By then I had lived long enough to have learned that many of my assumptions about life had turned out to be false and deeper truths had revealed themselves. Now I was to find out the same thing about many of my assumptions about mothering. I share some of my questionings and discoveries, not because I want you to accept my conclusions, but to point to the possibility of realities beyond what we assume to be true.
One of the first to go was the idea of mother-as-teacher. I had been praised all my life for my intelligence and I graduated with honors from a highly ranked university. In preparation for having a child, my husband and I went to The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for a week-long course in how to create genius in our child. We were ready to shower him with knowledge.
From birth, we were there with our stimulating environment and flashcards. At three months, he began turning his head away in one of many unmistakable communications that being taught was not his mode of learning.
Although there was an abundance of information about parenting, most seemed like user’s manuals for computers — just program them right and they’ll turn out well. But when I looked into my baby’s eyes, I saw eternity and wisdom there. Humbled by what I saw, I was determined to examine parenting ideas in the light of love and my baby’s responses.
So I looked at this idea of mothering as something that you learned how to do and then, if you did it “right”, your child would turn out well. What did “turn out well” mean anyway? When I was growing up in a university town, that meant following your parents’ rules, getting good grades through college, marrying and having a family and living in a ranch home in a nice neighborhood.
But when I was doing counseling work, I saw many people who had achieved these but were still unhappy, felt unsuccessful and unsatisfied and that some of the happiest, most fulfilled people were those who were far from these standards. The question is, then, what is life for — to look good to others or to discover and express ones true self? If the latter, then I would have to let go of my ideas of what it would mean for my son to “turn out right” and instead support my son while he explored his agenda for his life. And in the process, I became better at tuning into myself and explore my own agenda for my life. I found truth in the statement that “As the years go by we find ourselves telling them less and learning more from them. We also see that they learn better from our learning than they ever did from our telling.” (Whole Child / Whole Parent by Polly Berrien Berends)
We were both freed from the tyranny of parenting dogma and became co-travelers on the road of life. For us, that meant a great deal of time together, for we enjoyed each others’ company immensely and were happiest when we were together. For a friend of mine, though, that meant her son lived at the babysitter’s house where she visited him daily. He thrived in the rough-and-tumble big Italian family and she enjoyed her time to herself. Different people, different needs.
But isn’t there something I should be doing?
Still, there are choices to be made. One has to act. I noticed that no matter what parenting methods were used, there was no constant, predictable result. The nice kid next door from the loving family sometimes grew up to be a criminal while the kid from the broken family with a drunken father goes on to a rich life. It became clear to me that mothering was not a matter of following the rule to produce the perfect child. So even in the mundane, I found assumptions to be overcome.
Tantrums are a particularly distressing issue to parents. There’s your kid, wanting that toy which was intentionally placed on a low shelf and in bright packaging just to attract him. You’ve tried all the lower-level techniques from distraction to reasoning and he isn’t budging and his insistence is escalating. We all “know” that we must not look like pushovers and we must not reward such “negative” behavior. So the parent digs in, says, “No way are you getting that,” and the kid goes ballistic and is dragged out of the store. That didn’t sound like something I wanted to go through nor did it sound like much of a “learning” experience. So I decided to operate on a different assumption: that it was I who put my child into a situation he wasn’t ready to deal with gracefully and it was up to me to get us back on even keel. So I bought the toy and left the store with a happy child. After that, I went to that store without him unless I was planning to buy him a toy or until he was older and able to deal with leaving empty-handed. Voila! I had no problems with tantrums and my son has grown up to earn what he wants and to be grateful for what we choose to buy him.
A common assumption about kids is that they need to be “motivated” to do the right thing. Thus we have all sorts of systems of rewards and punishments from treats to gold stars and good grades on one side to time-outs, taking away privileges, spanking and bad grades on the other side. I wondered at all this manipulation. What did it mean to be born a human being? Are we all just malleable lumps or basically inclined towards dishonesty and laziness and all that is crude or are we created in God’s image with the seeds of greatness in us?
I decided that the latter was more true for me so I trusted the process of growing without feeling so compelled to control it. I found that laying down rules was rarely, if ever, necessary. When my son was 2 years old and wanted to taste the dog’s heartworm pill, for example, I explained to him that I didn’t know if it would make him sick, but I thought it might, but that if he wanted me to, I could call the vet and ask. He chose not to eat it. When he didn’t want to share a toy, I accepted his decision and asked if there were something else he’d be willing to share. I trusted that generosity is a human trait that will flourish when given the chance and my son’s generous behavior now validates that. When his adventurousness made me too nervous, I explained that this was my problem, not his, but would he ease off for my sake and he would either desist or would reassure me that he would be fine. This has paid off in greatly increased peace of mind for me, for I have seen over the years how good his judgment is — he’s never had to be reckless to prove his autonomy.
Few areas of parenting are as laden with assumptions as schooling. Most people assume that their kids will go off to school in kindergarten or first grade. They assume that the government-determined curriculum will result in a useful education. Even homeschoolers are subject to the pressures to have a child learn certain things by certain times and can fall prey to coercing or forcing their kids to learn what they, the parent, have decided is important to learn at that time. But I didn’t see that it was of much importance whether my son learned long division or to read or American history by a particular point in time. I concluded that learning facts takes care of itself when we can choose our pursuits. Our interests resulted in our exploring our unique place in the universe: we’ve hiked deep in our jungle valleys, swum under glistening waterfalls; we’ve been at the top of our mountains and down into volcanic craters; we’ve skated parks and sidewalks, schools and historical spots; we’ve spent whole days bodyboarding, one day seeing a pod of whales swimming closer to us than we were to the shore. We’ve observed the tides, the phases of the moon, the winds, the clouds, and the moods of the sea. We’ve been on hundreds of field trips and have indulged in art exhibits, theater, movies and computer games. We’ve made an abundance of gifts and have done many science projects. We’ve done volunteer work and have visited the elderly. We’ve read what interested us and spent our time on activities that matter to us, accompanied by the people we care about the most. We’ve done work that we saw the need for and we’ve helped each other in countless ways both big and small. I feel that in pursuing our unique interests, we are acquiring knowledge that goes way beyond facts, wisdom that cannot be quantified.
In participating in this venture, I have become convinced that every individual in this huge diverse world of ours has his own niche, the place where he fits, belongs, where he feels inspired and cherished. When he is free to discover and explore his, as we have been ours, his roots will go deep and his life cannot help but flourish.
Mother as beholder
A huge assumption that hangs over the heads of mothers from the beginning is that the time will come when they must “cut the apron strings” sever the ties that keep their children “attached” to them. This had gnawed at my guts, to think of breaking the bonds I had with the person I loved as deeply as I’d ever loved anyone. I felt something was wrong with this idea. Sure, independence, being ones own person was important, but what about trust and intimacy and love and commitments? Was the world suffering from a scarcity of independence? Or would more intimacy make for a better world? I couldn’t help feeling that those bonds were meant to grow stronger.
Ms. Berends poses the question, “what is parentliness?” and answers, “Behold everyone as a child, a good child. Everyone is someone’s good child — at least at the outset. The good parent keeps sight of that essential goodness and is always inviting it forth and paving its way. Learn to regard and pay silent respect to the good, lovable, aware child in everyone, especially when it is not at all apparent. Dissociate all seeming imperfection, foibles, bad traits from the essential reality of each individual — yourself included. Whatever isn’t perfect is only ignorant….Once we have learned to be truly motherly and fatherly we will be forever happier. The gain is not the having of children; it is the discovery of love and how to be loving.”
Now I saw that growing up did not need to mean separating from mother like an amoeba dividing into parts that each go their separate way. Rather, the mother-child bond could be an ever-expanding circle of love, moving outward and including more of the universe in its embrace.
We may each have different ideas about how to travel the road of parenthood and we will each find that some of the ideas we hold dear will turn out to be false. But I do believe that if we will let our love for our children guide us, we will all arrive at our destination realizing our oneness in the family of mankind.
Amazon has Science Unit Studies for Homeschoolers and Teachers on sale right now for almost 1/3 off. That’s the most that it’s ever been on sale, and the author thought that my readers might like to know about this. She has no control over the sale, so she has no idea how long it will last. Click here for the link to the book on Amazon.
Posted in education, Homeschooling, Homeschooling science | Tagged homeschooling, science | Leave a comment
The Homeschool Travel Club is visiting San Diego March 3-9 2013. Registration is open from June to August 2012. Our trip will include visiting LEGOLAND, California, during their Homeschool Days, a 2 hour private guided bus tour where we will participate in 2 different animal interactions at the San Diego Zoo, a Naturalist- guided half day Whale Watching trip with Birch Aquarium & Scripps Institution of Oceanography, a visit to the San Diego Safari Park, and a trip to Sea World San Diego where you can choose the Animal Spotlight Tour or Penguin Encounters Tour. An optional add on is the Dining with Shamu Experience. Check out their website for details.
Posted in Field trips, Homeschool Travel Club, Homeschooling | Tagged Homeschool Field Trips, San Diego, Travel | Leave a comment
Alpine Publications publishes non-fiction books on dogs and horses, and it has come to our attention that the information in our books could be useful to you and your homeschooling organization. Mary Pride, Practical Homeschooling magazine publisher suggested that you might have an interest in including information about animals in your curriculum.
We highly recommend a particularly relevant book for young people that will help them improve their interaction with animals, ‘A Dog is a Dog’. It is a juvenile non-fiction book in which middle school kids will learn all about canines: behavior, communication, how dogs came to be man’s best friend, how breeds developed, how to play with and train a dog, plus the dog’s amazing senses and capabilities. Kids will learn how to avoid actions that could threaten a dog, to read warning signs of aggression and approach a dog safely-a major factor in preventing dog bites. Throughout, Rutherford takes a fun, playful approach to getting kids to appreciate and enjoy their pets.
Click here to find more information on this book on their website.
Posted in Homeschooling, horse and dog books | Leave a comment
College for Homeschoolers: Udacity Courses
I saw this on a TV show the other day — a Stanford University professor started putting his lectures on-line for anyone to see/listen to. He ended up with many of his enrolled and paying students attending his on-line lectures rather than in person. Now he has resigned from Stanford to focus on bringing you these lectures. Article below from Tech Crunch.
Ex-Stanford Teacher’s New Startup Brings University-Level Education To All [TCTV]
Using Khan Academy as inspiration, Sebastian Thrun decided to bring his Stanford class on artificial intelligence online. Anyone could sign up for free. And 160,000 people from around the world did. He saw the power of creating interactive lectures and distributing them for free. He left Stanford and launched Udacity, a company focused on bringing free university-level education to the world. For full article and a video, click here.
Text below is from their website.
Enroll in any Udacity class for free!
Below is a list of our current course offerings. All of our courses are open enrollment, which means you can sign up any time and complete the course at your own pace without homework or quiz deadlines. For our premiere courses, a new unit will be posted once every week starting the 25th of June, for seven weeks. If a premiere course has already started, you are still encouraged to sign up for the course and complete it at your own pace.
We offer a final exam for all courses every eight weeks. After passing the final exam Udacity will send you a certificate of completion for your course. If you have any questions about courses or scheduling read more here.
These courses require little or no previous experience.
Intro to Computer Science: Building a Search Engine (CS101)
In this course you will learn key concepts in computer science and learn how to write your own computer programs in the context of building a web crawler.
Intro to Physics: Landmarks in Physics (PH100)
PREMIERE!Course begins June 25th! Study physics abroad in Europe — virtually! Learn the basics of physics on location in Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, by answering some of the discipline’s major questions from over the last 2000 years.
Introduction to Statistics: Making Decisions based on Data (ST101)
PREMIERE!Course begins June 25th! Statistics is about extracting meaning from data. In this class, we will introduce techniques for visualizing relationships in data and systematic techniques for understanding the relationships using mathematics.
These courses require some previous experience in the field of study. If you’re trying out computer science, check out CS101 (in the beginning section) to get started.
Click here for complete list.