Change of Plans in Homeschool

I love that I CAN have a change of plans in homeschool, either after much pondering, or on a whim and of a sudden. I have no need to contact a teacher, a principle, a common core standards creator or implementor or any government leader. Yesterday  was nauseous and vomiting. By mid-day, I was fairly sure it was a virus. By evening when my husband started vomiting, I knew for sure it was a virus. However, from 5 am until 10 am, I suspected it was because of anxiety over political things, things about the future of our nation and homeschooling. 

     One thing that came of it was a journal entry about how I need to make homeschooling easier on me and on the kids. The big thing I decided was that my child will not be taking any tests for college credit this year. Possibly, she will not next year, either. I am glad there are people who homeschool who can do that kind of thing and I am glad to know about the option t get college credit while a child is young. However, it is not for us right now. Still, we will learn the things about history because the DVDs and books about ancient world history I bought are great. The childrens’ fun “interactive notebook” (lapbook) and Power Point Presentations Bundle from a Teacher’s Pay Teachers store are also great. I will use them. The difference will be in my anxiety level and the anxiety level of my child. We will do it more slowly, more casually and more enjoyably! We will do it at our own pace with no pressure or worry. We will be enabled to enjoy the journey more.

     Another thing that came of it was a decision to write down one or just a few things, to focus on for each child in our homeschool. That is pretty much what we do at the beginning of the summer and I like it. I focus on their biggest needs and do not worry about anything else. They do a lot of teaching themselves based upon their interests, either intense or “on a whim.” I have come to see that the latter is how they learn more and learn more intensely.

     Recently, for example, my son learned Power Point from his cousin, so yesterday, he got on the computer and made something in Power Point. He really is doing things he could d better in Photoshop, so I need to teach him Photoshop! My daughters learned more about sculpture by making sculptures. She wanted to sell them on Etsy but I told her that making ten good sculptures and submitting slides to galleries will be a better way to go. She seemed upset, but I told her she could sell her sculptures for more that way. I also told her I did not learn that until I was thirty years old, so she is blessed to know it sooner. That is fodder not taught when you get a Bachelor of Art Degree in Visual Arts. It should be. One of my children has also been working much on learning to follow recipes and is having much learning happen there. Another really wants to learn many things but I have been too worried about other things to get to any of it nad help him. 

     I am still going to keep my rules for them, which rules regard television and technology, which I have listed in another post at length. I do not believe in having kids do whatever they want all day. I do believe in telling them they must be doing learning, housework, yardwork or doing something productive. I consider much play to be productive, too, which is crazy. I think they will understand Physics when we watch the physics DVDs and read the physics books I have on my amazon wish list, better after all of the playing they have done this past week. They learned much about gravity, acceleration and safety hazzards after their recent intense play as a group of siblings. I also taught them a lesson about wisdom and discussed with them how I was a child like them once and did learn by getting injured, just like them. I told them that people who have more years on them were always once children and that much of what they tell you, such as not to do this or that because they could get hurt, comes from learning that happened in their childhoods.

     I am eager today and tomorrow to learn, without throwing up, from the leaders, apostles and Prophet of God in the General Confence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I hope everyone is healthy today. I am grateful I am not throwing up!

Thoughts as They Come, Influenced by the Holy Ghost

Thoughts as they come, influenced greatly by the Holy Ghost, as I have been praying and receiving answers:

I have been working hard planning college for my eldest. I recently prayed. I recently prayed to Heavenly Father for guidance. I felt strongly this morning that the plans for college are all wrong, in that I get a really bad feeling about it and had thoughts while dreaming and while in my subconscious, about the college plans. Because of this, I could not get back to sleep this morning. I hope I can nap later today to make up for lost sleep, but I felt an intense desire to commune with Heavenly Father whilst the children and all of the do-list item pressures are both sleeping.
     Even though I have purchased guides and other learning materials for one CLEP and one DSST test, I am now doubting that this previous desire of mine to have my children get University Credit in 9th to 12th Grades, is a good one. I think it is good that I have a desire to give my children the best education possible. I am just realizing through God’s guidance, that it is possible that He would rather I teach my children something entirely different.
     Yesterday afternoon, I was watching the YouTube video of a young man showing a good way to study and learn and a bad way to do the same, the learning being cramming for CLEP tests. I was watching so that I would know how to teach my kids well so that they could study for and pass many CLEP tests in their 9th to 12th grade homeschooling high school years. I often seek YouTube videos about such things.
     After watching half of the video, it was time to put one of my children down for a nap. As often happens when doing this, I also fell asleep for a short time. In this relaxed state, a thought came to me which likely was not my thought, but was likely the Holy Ghost whispering to my mind and soul. I saw the young man studying and imagined him studying with the same intensity, the Book of Mormon, the Bible, The Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, words of the Modern Day Prophets and the like. It occurs to me through the spirit now, that with that intensity, Joseph Smith sought answers from the Bible at age 14, before going to pray and ask God for answers.
     If Joseph was 14, he would have in our day been ready to enter the ninth grade as is my eldest child. There were many other things he could ahve studied with the same intensity. Why did he choose instead to study with intensity, the Bible? What kind of a difference did it make for him and for all of us, that what he chose to study with the greatest intensity at age 14, was the Bible? 
     This morning en la madrugada when I awoke to come commune with God and write my thoughts down, I thought of something else as well. Jesus did not find his first followers who were to become his 12 Apostles in grand, well-paid careers, but most of them as fishermen and very poor, humble people in humble occupations. His earthly father who raised him was Joseph, a carpenter. In Alma in the Book of Mormon, the humble people who were willing to listen, were those cast out of the synagogues because of the coarseness of their apparel (because they were poor as to the things of the world). 
     The state of these people was a state of not being busy taking on the influx of the thoughts and ideas of the world. That is why it was important that they be in the conditions they were in. The reason Jesus said it is easier for a camel to fit into the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, I think, had less to do with money and more to do with the influence of the world. A person can have a lot of money and be close to God. Abraham had a lot of money and He was very close to God. I think it has less to do with money and more to do with this: Often those with money are those who sacrificed greatly to get that money.
The sacrifice to get the money in our day and time is the time our children spend getting the world’s version of “an education.” I distinguish is that way because God’s version of an education is very different, BUT what IS it? That is the question of this morning for me. What is God’s version of the BEST EDUCATION for my children?
     Jesus took people away from the influences of the world’s “curriculum” and “educational standards,” and, in the most common, everyday and humble settings, taught them eternal, heavenly truths from God. He did know carpentry, I am sure. He also knew how to read and do math. He knew the basics that a child learns until the age of 12. At 12, he went to the temple to teach the people there. He told his parents he was “about (His) Father’s business?” Age 12 in our day would be 6th or 7th grade. By the time middle school would have begun for Him in our day, he knew the scriptures so well that He taught the men at the temple things they did not know, and astonished them.
     I can see that the kid of education He got was enough of the basics, but also a HUGE amount of the scriptures and the truths of God. He knew how to speak in parables when He was older. Did He also when He was 12? It is very likely He did. There is a great liklihood that His mother was so close to God, that she was taught how to teach the Son of God through the Spirit (from the Holy Ghost). Perhaps she taught Him in everyday things, as He later taught others. I am sure she taught Him about prayer, love, the scriptures, doctrines, service and obedience to God.
     Can I not also learn to teach my children in the same way? In the Book of Mormon in Jacob 2:17-19, we find, “Think of your brethren like unto yourselves, and be familiar with all and free with your substance, that they may be rich like unto you. But before ye seek for riches, seek ye for the kingdom of God. And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches, if ye seek them; and ye will seek them for the intent to do good–to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”

From this scripture I see many steps:

  • -“before you have the riches to share with others, first seek the kingdom of God” (first, become strong in being like Jesus. First, be strong in the gospel of Jesus Christ. First, build a strong foundation in Christ. First, read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. First, learn everything God wants you to learn. First, get a Godly education, like the education Jesus received. This denotes an obvious priority. Before worldly education requirements (CLEP and DSST tests, high school, University) do these Godly Education items.
  • -“And after ye have obtained a hope in Christ ye shall obtain riches” (We must first obtain a hope in Christ. I think this means much more than it says. I think it means we must truly put all of our trust and all of our hopes and dreams, in Christ. We must only seek after what He would have us seek after. Our desires must be desires He would like us to have.)
  • -“If ye seek them” [(Many who have a firm foundation in Christ never do “seek them,” and I think it is because they realize they are not needful. Jesus did not ever have them. A person can enter into the kingdom of God more easily without them. However, some righteous people, like Abraham, have obtained riches. For some, like David and Solomon, riches and power together influenced them into making poor choices. We must strive to be like Abraham, then, and only seek riches if we can still be righteous whilst we have them (and are free with our substance).]
  • -“and ye will seek (riches) for the intent to do good–to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted.”
  • -“think of your brethren like unto yourselves” (the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you).”
  • -“be familiar with all” (know everyone, by being friendly and caring about their lives and days)
  • “and free with your substance” (freely share what you have that is of worth with others–I see knowledge and the gospel as part of the “substance”)
  • -that they may be rich like unto you (so they can be happy and comfortable in life, as you are)
  • -“that they may be rich like unto you” (so that they will be happy and well like you)

     My kids have awoken. 

Homeschool Academics as a Prevention Method

I apoligize for those who may have come to this post thinking it is praise for Academics in homeschool. That is not what this post is about. This is about the positive things that your homeschool could have which academics can possibly prevent from happening.

My definition of “Homeschool Academics” is: 

Formal teaching by the homeschool mom or homeschool teacher (if in a co-op) usually by subject, such as math, science, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, geography, history, careers, p.e., health, art, music, theater, dance and library sciences. These are usually learned one subject at a time at a certain “grade level.” They are usually taught either by specific planned curricula, usually via books, workbooks, assigned projects and so forth. Much of it is also memorization, copying and reciting. Sometimes there are field trips and videos. Sometimes even hands-on things are done to aid with the learning. Some or all of it could be fun and made just right for the learning style of the child. There is usually an assignment, project or quiz given to the child to do to aid with and show the learning. This “work” that is completed which has evidence is many times useless to anyone except for possibly as scrapbooking material for evidence in portfolios to show that this “work” has been done. More than 90 percent of this fodder is, or should be, recycled because otherwise it would overrun the house, giving nobody a place to sit, sleep or eat. About 10 percent of it is wonderful, beautiful and unique. Usually the homeschool academics are so rough on the kids that they need a formal recess, a formal lunchbreak, a formal starting and stopping time, formal days of the week when “homeschool” is done and formal summer, spring, fall and winter breaks, just like they would have in school. 

Most homeschool families, at least the ones I know of, started out nearly 90 percent of the time using the “homeschool academics” methods. Most homeschool families I know about don’t keep doing it more than a year. This is for those in their first year who have maybe “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be.”

My definition of “just getting started seeing the big picture of what homeschooling can be” is:

You have just begun to realize that using the “formal school structure, curriculum, schedules and methods” is not required, that nobody is going to check up on you and shut down your little homeschool and that your kids learn more watching television and playing than they do from your “homeschool academics” lessons. (Perhaps this is frustrating to you). You have possibly also noted that having your own children raise their hands to ask you whether they can use the bathroom is pretty silly. (That one is a chapter from our own starting out story). There is a very slight possibility that by now you have also had conversations with some seasoned homeschoolers. These people who have homeschooled for a few years and have stopped using so many of the “homeschool academics” methods. Possibly, you have even met a mother who told you, “We unschool.” I am sure you asked her what that was, so I will not tell you in this post. (If you have not met such a person, you will, or you can google it).

Now I will move on to what homeschool academics will likely prevent, with a story.

A couple weeks ago, we were thrown a new learning curveball. It was very unexpected and unplanned. We were out in the back yard peeling polyetheline tape off of cardboard boxes so that we could use those as weed barriers to start our “Back  to Eden  Garden.” Suddenly we heard very loud wings flapping with fervor. A large raptor was chasing a dove. The raptor had knocked the dove out of the tree first. It was so surprising that we all screamed loudly, scaring the raptor away. Then we had a limping, flightless dove hopping around the yard with cowardice, looking so afraid that we  tried  to feed it. Then we started to worry about the CAT. Oh, dear. Poor helpless bird. We did not want this lovely bird killed by a cat.

We made a couple phone calls and then we had a very scary mission: to pick the bird up with a towel and put him in a box, then take him in to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. (My sister-in-law did this with our little bit of help. Our hero!) Little did we know, that was just the beginning. We went to a volunteer training meeting and today, my son and I were in volunteer training there for 3 hours. We learned as much as I learned in one whole week in a class in college. I cannot even put it all into words, and that was just in three hours’ time. We plan to continue and next week my daughter will be in training, too. They will learn more than any school kid could possibly be learning at the same time sitting in school.

Now let me say something about this. If we had been inside doing academics and not outside ripping tape off from cardboard boxes, this opportunity for EXTREME LEARNING opportunity never would have presented itself. We would still not even know that this place exists. By the way, they told us that the bird who chased the bird out of the tree was a Cooper’s Hawk and that the dove is a Eurasian Collard Dove. The dove is now being treated by being fed from a tube. He has a popping sound when he breathes which indicates he has internal injuries. His wings work fine but he is too injured internally to be able to fly. 

Once a week as part of our learning, we will go in and volunteer there. This will be a great opportunity for my kids to learn service, hard work, introducation to veterinary science, biology and medical care for injured wild animals (mostly birds). I think even the “academic homeschooling” moms would love to have their kids doing things like this for learning, but I do not think they will find such opportunities in their communities until they slow down the academics and start working their way into the adventurous side which is called “unschooling.”

The Unschool Experiment

Great post!

{Wow. It’s been about two years since I wrote my last post, and looking back, all I can think is, “My! How times have changed!” If you’re familiar with this blog, you will probably remember that the vast majority of my posts dealt with my concepts about unschooling and how we were integrating it […]}

https://redheadmom8.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/the-unschool-experiment/

Homeschooling with Uncle Steven Lessons

I just read an article about things that will ruin your homeschooling day and year. A lot of these rules are o.k., but number 6 really bothers me. Number 6 rule says to not to allow for interruptions, such as visits from people. She said she only allows phone calls from her husband, during the homeschool day.

If I had told my Uncle Steven that we could not be disturbed during certain hours of the day, my kids would not know him. He passed away this year in the end of September.

Whenever he came, all my kids gathered around to listen to his stories. He always wondered why we were not “doing school” or outside playing. He did not know that my kids and I adored him and that they would come in from outside just to visit with him.

He did not know how much we loved him. He did not know that I felt like they could learn more about life, and more wisdom, from listening to him than from any “academic” lessons out there. He did not know how wise I thought he was, or how I wanted so badly for my kids to learn everything they could from him.

My point is, do allow for “interruptions” in your “homeschool day.” Let all of life interrupt your academic and book studies. Everyday life is far more important than formal academic studies. Perhaps you think that later, when they are 18, that is the time that they are less busy learning important academics and time for them to face “the real world.”

At age 18, kids graduate from High School and many go on to technical colleges, community colleges, Colleges, Universities, or jobs. Active young men in the LDS church will go on missions. At age 18, they will leave home or be away from home most of the time.

If things are the way they were for me, perhaps Grandma will have dimentia when they get back. That grandma time will not be over, but very changed and very hard on the heart.

If I had waited for my kids to feel the real world, and had told Steven he had to leave and come back after we were done with our homeschool day, they would not have had the chance to know him at all. Steven did not have until they are finished with High School or a mission. He passed away while most are elementary school aged and one is 12.

Most of the very most valuable and important lessons in life will go away and be gone by the time a child becomes an adult. At 18, is there more time for such important family life learning? No, there is not more time. In fact, there is less time. When in the mission field or away at school or in a full time job, an adult does not have time to sit and listen to his or her great Uncle tell stories. There is too much to be done.

When that person is steady dating, becomes enganged, gets married and has kids, there is not more time to sit and listen. In short, if I had not decided on purpose, to make listening to and visiting with Steven, a priority, even with 6 kids to take care of, homeschooling to be done and housework to be done, I would have let that time with Steven be lost. I could not have made it wait until my kids were married and gone.

I have something important to say here. Life will not wait until you are ready for it. It must be lived now. Long visits with loved ones cannot wait. They must happen now. Time given to our children, our siblings, our parents, our cousins, our aunts and uncles, our friends and neighbors, must be given now. Time for people cannot wait until later. People are the important part of life. Academic studies are not.

This is big. This is true. This is real.

The Current Mix of Our Homeschool Day

We were asked in an Eclectic Homeschooling facebook group about our current (not year-round average, just current) mix.

I have been changing the numbers around and this is my guess, including the “homeschooling hours” Mon.-Fri. between 9 am and 4 pm only.

This is how we learn at our house, in order from the most to the least

Mom:

breastfeeding
cleaning up Vomit and getting more pedialyte
keeping kids dressed and fed
responding to kids and their needs
Teaching and correcting academic work
helping with Hope Haven Events, and preparing presentation and booth for Winter Homeschool Conference
Reading aloud to kids

Kids:

Playing with other siblings
Reading books/ magazines/ news of choice from our home library & internet
Legos and other toys
Self-Directed Learning
Fighting, discussing, negotiating and learning to get along
Playing with the Baby and teaching him to walk
Childcare
Learning about and Discussing our religion (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints)
Learning about and Discussing Current Events and Politics
Housecleaning
Personal Grooming, Health & Nutrition
Early Childhoold Education
Life Skills
L.I.F.E. School Curriculum
math via Utah’s former core curriculum (before common core) via worksheets, iPad math and Constance Kamii math
iPad and YouTube learning by taking turns
Discover the Old Testament
God’s Design for Science
Serving each other, and others
Art and Art History (my own curriculum)

I love that homeschooling is so auto-flex. What we need more and what works best, always naturally becomes what we do more of. What we need least naturally falls off of the bottom and just becomes a memory when it no longer serves us.

When You First Start To Homeschool…

I just read this blog post. It was great! http://www.reallifeathome.com/advice-for-new-homeschoolers-just-taking-their-kids-out-of-public-school/

I thought I would add to it, what I think. Last week, a woman told me that she has a daughter who hates to read. I finally found out her daughter is homeschooled now, but has been only since school let out, in June. It was only mid-July at the time. There is something homeschoolers learn right at first–I learned the same things at the beginning, the first month of homeschooling. What are these first things learned when starting? They are the disappointments of the public and charter school system. She learned that her daughter hated to read. I learned that my kids had only been given free reading time 5 minutes per day, and usually had only gotten to go to recess, right after lunch. I learned that my kids had been learning every day, things like, cleaning up my mess is not my job. It is the janitor’s job.

After the first month of homeschool, you have learned a ton, but it is only a drop in the bucket compared to all that you will learn. The second month, you may do as I did and read up on all the styles and methods out there, because you have met some other homeschool moms and you have no idea what they are talking about when they use acronyms or names if people to tell you how they home educate their kids. After learning all you can, you decide what you want to do and tell other moms. You meet moms who do not like your decision and want you to do as they do.

Your third month, if it is like mine, you begin to feel that your system, to get kids to follow your schedule and chosen method, is not working. You either seek advice, read more, try a new system or give up.

Your fourth month, if you are like me, you begin to see that going longer than the 3 months which are the summer, is a good idea. Things are finally starting to work. You also begin to see the differences begween your kids and the neighbor kids. Those neighbor kids never get to go out and play in their own yard, during the day. You feel for them.

After about six months, if you are like me, you will begin to see a really big difference in your family harmony and in your kids. Although it has not become perfect, the behavior of your kid will likely be much better.

After a year, if you are like me, you will begin to change. You will have an epiphany and will begin to see that a lot of things that those crazy, weird unschoolers do, work. You will begin to have a new respect for unschooling families and will start to watch them, ask them questions, and read books about them. If you are like me, you will also begin to see that you are not just in this to catch your kids up. If in one year you were able to get them this far, then you would be able to accomplish even more with them, in two years! You also see how many more mom friends you have, than you had when you were friends with the other PTA moms. It is incredible how many great relationships you have now, after only a year! You will have to keep this going. You have to keep homeschooling until your kids graduate from high school.

After the second year, if you are like me, you become a bit of a conceited jerk. I sincerely hope this does not happen with you, but it did with me. I began thinking that my way to homeschool was most certainly the best way, and everyone else who homeschooled with a different method, was just pig-headed, stubborn and/or just foolish. I got a bit too preachy.

Hopefully after two and a half years, I am not coming off that way quite as often. I do have my way and I like it. I have learned, however, that to judge others on their style, thinking their choices are wrong, is very ill-conceived. They have a different family dynamic. Their kids and the parents, also, have different personalities than my kids. They and their kids have different needs. They and their kids have different learning and teaching styles. It is all o.k. It is fine that they do it differently. In fact, as an eclectic homeschool mom, I may even learn something great from them. I may learn quite a few great things from them! This new attitude of the acceptance of the methods of others, has helped me a lot in homeschooling. It helps me with friendships. It helps me with homeschooling. It helps me to become a better human being!

I tell you with utmost sincerity that I am so excited for the things I will learn before three years of homeschooling. I am excited for the behavioral changes I will make, which will change my life! I am so pumped up about a new year coming on! I know my kids will learn and become, too. I am so happy about it.