Even if you’re not totally on board with unschooling in the broader sense, an easy way to look into it and see how it works could be by starting with history. History, Social Studies, Government, Economics, and Current Events are covered in our home school by following trails. Those trails start everywhere you look! I’ll give you an example that came up today.
My oldest son has been fascinated by the 90’s show “X Files” for the last several months. He found out that they are on Netflix now, so he’s been watching them in order while he eats his breakfast. This morning there was an episode with a character that had spent time at a camp for Haitian Refugees. The camp looked a lot like a prison and there was some discussion about it. I wasn’t watching so I’m not sure about what was going on in the show, but my son came and asked me if I knew what they were talking about. I didn’t remember anything about it so he went to the internet and searched. At first, he searched “1992” because that is when the show was released. I told him to broaden it a bit and search for “1990’s” and “Haitian Refugees”. There was a Wikipedia article about a camp in Guantanamo that shed some light on the subject and one about a coup d’etat at the time. I won’t get into all the details. He came back and told me a bit about it. The article reminded me that I had heard about “boat people” from Haiti when I was in high school. We talked about why people would leave, why the government wouldn’t want them here, how they could be held against their will, court cases about it, what’s going on now in Europe, Syrian Refugees, etc. The conversation went on for about 45 minutes before he went back and watched the rest of the show.
Another piece of the history puzzle has been added. Our history lessons don’t come on a packaged and nice looking timeline. They come as we need them and when we are interested in learning more, little bites at a time. Some day we’ll find out more about that time period and what was going on in Haiti, how it was related to something else at the time, and other people that were affected. It will probably come from another tv show, a movie, a game, an article, a book, or a conversation. And it will tie in with the world around us. It will be relevant to our own time and it will be remembered in a deeper way than any pre-written history course.
One of my favorite blogs to follow is Sue Patterson’s! She has a wealth of information to share about getting started and keeping up with homeschooling regardless of your style.
And a new group has appeared on Facebook with thousands of members all sharing information and support about “unschooling”. It’s called Unschooling Mom2Mom and I’ve found some great questions and answers there lately!
The internet has made sharing information so much easier. If you’re having trouble or unsure about something, get on a large message board of some kind and ask questions. The answers are out there waiting for you to find them.
Alternatives to School has some wonderful articles to help you out of our current model of education in America and wrap your mind around this joyful concept of natural learning and where it can take you. It’s a good place to start looking into the ideas behind why people may want to leave the “school” model behind.
Today’s post, “Learning. It’s Not About Education.” by Laura Grace Weldon is one of those great pieces that can start people down this path of self-education. It’s also a good one to share with family members who may be very curious about why you’re not sending your kids to school. Here’s a quote from it to pique your interest!
“Children often ignore what they aren’t ready to learn only to return to the same concept later, comprehending it with ease and pleasure. What they do is intrinsically tied to why they do it, because they know learning is purposeful. They are curious, motivated, and always pushing in the direction of mastery.”
I heard someone say that they decided that a homeschool charter program would be better than a traditional public school because then the soccer team that their child was on would “count” as P.E. I’ve heard this a lot among homeschoolers over the years. This kind of learning or that doesn’t “count” for school. But it seems so strange to me. Does it “count” for education? To me, everything counts for education, every moment of my day, even my restful cup of tea and tv show in the afternoon.
When we tell children to read this book instead of doing this thing because it “counts” for school, we are teaching them that they should only do the things that someone else has deemed important. We are teaching them to ignore their inner desires and needs and put an authority’s list first. It translates all over their lives and eventually they will search for doing what counts for something instead of what is right or good for them and their families.
Recently, I saw a cartoon on Facebook of a woman in bed and her husband asking her to go for a morning walk with him. She said she couldn’t because her FitBit was still charging and the steps wouldn’t count. It was supposed to be funny and absurd, but this is exactly what we teach our children through 12 years of schooling, that only counts if an authority sees it and deems it good.
Here’s a wonderfully written article from the blog “From Law School to Homeschool” called Homeschooling Kindergarten.
It’s a great read for new parents considering homeschooling their kids. This was our “kindergarten” experience which has since grown into elementary school, jr high, and now high school experience. It doesn’t have to, though. This is what all early learning should be, a fun exploration of the world around them which leads into a strong, intelligent young human ready to move into academics.
For those with high school age students who wish to be done with high school early, one option is to take the CHSPE, the California High School Proficiency Exam. This is not the “High School Exit Exam” that public school students need to pass, or a GED. It’s the legal equivalent of a high school diploma. Check their website for details! – CHSPE
From their site announcements:
“Registration for the June 18, 2016 administration of the CHSPE is now open. The regular registration deadline for the June administration is May 20, 2016. Registration materials including the Registration Form, proof of eligibility, and appropriate payment, must be received in the CHSPE office by 5 p.m. on that date to avoid late registration fees.”
There is a great guide and practice test available on Amazon called “CHSPE Exam Study Guide”!
The Homeschool Fair in Ontario is an annual event put on by volunteers. It’s held at Ontario Christian High School on Memorial Day. Our family has gone for several years in a row and it’s always a lot of fun.
A Chance to Make Some Pottery!
There are games to play, sights to see, and competitions to enter just like the big state fairs but smaller! Any homeschoolers can enter the fair. Check their website for details. The last day to register your project is APRIL 22!
Go check it out! The Homeschool Fair Registration
California Homeschool Network’s “Family Expo” is being held in June in Pomona this year! This is a homeschool conference my family has been going to for years. This year we can’t attend due to a schedule conflict, but I want to be sure everyone knows about it.
The first year I went alone. I paid for the weekend and only went one day, Saturday. It was so worth it to see so many families in different stages, doing the same thing I was thinking about doing. Homeschooling was completely foreign to me and this conference made it feel like was joining a special community of amazing people. The following year I took my husband with me. Again we only went the one day since we didn’t have the money to stay in the hotel over the weekend, but it was still very much worth registration fee just for that one day. For years after that, we went as a family and stayed the weekend. I volunteered to help in places and my kids loved staying at the hotel, being a part of this wonderful group of people. My parents and grandparents have visited while we were there. It really brought our family together and set our hearts and minds at ease when we were first starting out.
It’s more than just speakers and a vendor hall, this conference is more like community and support building on a grand scale. It’s put on by one of our statewide non-profits and completely done by volunteers. I highly recommend attending, especially if you are new to homeschooling!
I was just listening to the “School Sucks Podcast” Episode #418 about promoting divergent thinking this morning. He spoke for a moment about some things he would do in his math class when he was teaching, to encourage his students to get creative and drop their guard, open up. I thought I’d look into it a bit, wondering if I could use some of these games and puzzles in my homeschool drama club, and in my personal life as well. While I was searching I did find that many of the games that encourage “out of the box” thinking sound a lot like drama club activities. The funny thing is, in my class I have a hard time getting these guys to think IN the box! Homeschooled kids of various ages ranging from four to thirteen can be pretty darn creative and free in their speech and thinking. I’m trying to guide them into something I’m looking for and these guys just keep creating. Maybe I’m going about it wrong. Maybe we should be giving them a chance to see where they go with some of these things. I’ll have to work on that.
On the topic of drama club, I’m having a hard time getting the kids to work together, build off of each other. I’ve found some games that emphasize that and we started working on them this week. The fun part of all this is that I’m learning so much right along with them! Hopefully we can get this herd of cats to run together in the same direction!
Now what was I originally writing about? Oh yes! Divergent thinking. He talked about ideas and collecting them no matter how far fetched and irrational they are. I’m going to try that. I’m going to start writing down a few ideas every day, things like “Walk as far as I can in a day and see how far I can get.” I’ll keep that book and look through it and see if anything workable comes up over the years. It sounds like fun. I told my sons about this idea and they said I already have too many journals and notebooks. I told them them that is not possible!
Over the last 13 years, I’ve found it much easier to stay on the home education path when I was reading and hearing great thinkers and writers, not only homeschool advocates, but classic literature and history as well. I thought I’d start sharing some of my favorite authors to encourage you on your path!
Today’s “featured author” is Alfie Kohn. I’ll let you discover him yourself instead of preaching his work to you. Go check him out HERE.