Divergent Thinking

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!

Alfie Kohn

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.

Magazines Anyone?

There was a time when I believed that having a subscription to a printed magazine was useless or just too costly a luxury. But the past several years I’ve found that to be so not true! My original thinking was that you could find most of that information online for free, but then my son got a magazine subscription from his Great-Grandfather for his birthday. It was amazing how much we picked up and read that magazine when we had a couple minutes to spare! Not only that but the magazines sitting there on the coffee table started conversations with guests that we would have never even started had they not been there. They also suggested ideas that we would even have thought to search out!

So where am I going with this? Home School Enrichment Magazine! I don’t know how many times my parents, unsure of our decision to homeschool, have picked up that magazine and thumbed through it’s pages at a birthday party or dinner. I’ve given them to friends and family that have been curious about homeschooling. I’ve found interesting points of view and new blogs to follow from their pages. Not to mention the “normal” feeling you have from seeing it in print!

Here’s the best part! Click THIS LINK and start your subscription to Home Education Magazine for only $16.97!

Renaissance Faire!

The Renaissance Faire is a great place to learn about the Shakespearean times! And here in Southern California they have a special “school groups” day to attend. Check out their website for details about what’s different on school day and how to order tickets.

The Renaissance Faire School Day!

A Highlight

I was at Walmart yesterday buying some things for today’s Drama Club and the man in front of me at the register asked if I was doing an art project. I told him no, the stuff was for a homeschool drama club we started. He smiled and said “That’s something the schools don’t do much of anymore, the arts.” I told him that’s one of the great things about homeschooling, when we want something we just create it. He agreed that was pretty cool.
It was refreshing to hear someone’s first response to homeschooling be a positive one. And it made me think . That really is one of the best things about homeschooling. We don’t need to petition anyone or get any bureaucracy to go along with an idea. We don’t need permission at all. We just see what we need and make it happen, either in our own homes, at the park, or wherever!

The Game

Recently, a friend agreed to help my sons get better at motocross. He raced a lot when he was a kid and thought he could help them a bit on the track. Little did he know that he would be helping me as well.

It’s all a mind game.” Racing really is one of those mind game things. One of the biggest things holding you back may not be your skill, but you mindset, your fear; fear of failing, fear of the riders around you or that they are better than you are. Those riders probably think the same thing about you. If you think they are the best, you are probably closer to winning. It sounds so corny, doesn’t it? But it works. Confidence is the key to winning. You can’t go out there thinking you’re just going to finish and not fall and then end up winning no matter how great your skills are. Leave the gate feeling on top of the world and you’re more likely to get to the finish line first. It’s crazy.

As I was sitting under the awning of our RV in the pits, I started thinking to myself that this advice probably applies to me somehow. The thing that puts the most anxiety into our race weekend for me is not whether or not my boys will get hurt. It’s whether or not we should be there at all. Do we belong? Are we in the right place? What do these people think of us? Who’s the authority here? What are my qualifications for being here? What are the rules? This is me, but my sons don’t do this and they are so much happier. They read the website, they get what they need, and they jump in and do what everyone else is doing. This is what home education is all about, putting the “authority” in yourself, not others.

So I decided that day that I would play the “mind game” too. This is where we want to be and if someone has a problem with it they are welcome to say something, until then we will just keep doing what we’re doing. We belong there because we have the desire to race and that’s all the authority and qualification we need.

Once again on the home education journey, I’m taking a page from my sons’ book, I’m following their lead and seeing where it takes us. So far it’s been an amazing journey!

Education vs. Schooling

The difference between home education and home schooling isn’t what system you are using. Education is what you give yourself. Schooling is what someone else imposes on you.

If you are using a private school and you pay another person to pick out the curriculum and assign tasks that you follow, that is schooling. If you pay a private school to help you find resources, gather information, and your family is discovering new ideas and following interests, giving and receiving feedback on what is and isn’t working, that is education.

If you are using a public school charter and they determine what you will be teaching your child and when, you follow the guidelines, check-in, and impose their schedule and curriculum on your children, then you are schooling. If you belong to a public school charter and you tell them what you are looking for in a family education and they help you find the resources to stay on and expand that path, if your family is reading and learning together with the financial help and expertise of the charter, if you are learning to really know your children, that is education.

There are pro’s and con’s in every system and they are relative to each human being and family. What is a pro for me and mine, may be a con for you and yours. The trick is to respect other people’s choices, to understand and support others on their path, and to believe that they are doing what is best for them with the information they have.

There have been times when it may seem to others that I am peeved or disappointed with someone’s choices. Sometimes I am. I am human. I am still learning and growing as well. I’m doing the best I can with what I have at the moment. I think the thing that bothers me most is when I see good, intelligent people (seemingly) not making choices at all or not believing they have a choice. But then that’s not following my own advice, is it?

John Taylor Gatto

I read a lot of John Taylor Gatto when I first started homeschooling ten years ago and more again a few years ago when I found “Weapons of Mass Instruction”. It was one of those turning points in my thinking and love sharing his work with others. If you’re interested in learning more about the education system we have and how we got to this point, I strongly recommend reading any of his work.

There are so many YouTube videos of interviews with him but this one is especially nice.
The Ultimate History Lesson

And his website and blog are wonderful resources. Go check it out but be ready for an emotional ride!

New Page Updates!

Did you know that there are several options to legally homeschool in our area? All are different and have their positives and negatives, but the one you choose should reflect why you are homeschooling in the first place and what your family needs in the way of support.

The first is to open your own private school, also known as “filing the PSA or Private School Affidavit”. This option gives you the most freedom in choosing what and when you teach your child. It also holds the most responsibility. You are responsible for keeping any paperwork, filing on time, and making purchases. It sounds intimidating, but the positives can far outweigh the negatives!

The second is to enroll in a private school with a homeschool option, usually referred to as a PSP or Private Satellite Program. These schools can be brick and mortar schools, in or out of your area, that also have a homeschool or independent study program or an online school that offers support, field trips, and record keeping. These schools usually charge an annual fee and can be very helpful in finding resources, helping you create records like transcripts for high school, or just to help you get started in the first place.

Another option are public charter schools. When charters first started they were traditional brick and mortar schools operated by a business, funded by the state. Now that homeschooling has grown in popularity, there are new charter schools that cater to families that wish to homeschool under the guidance and direction of the Department of Education. These schools range from complete online curriculum, or curriculum in a box, to a fund account you can use for approved educational expenses. All of them require a monthly meeting with a certified teacher, work samples of some sort, and state testing.

And last by not least, some school districts offer an independent study program that uses much of the same curriculum and testing that the local public school does except that you do the work at home. These programs usually offer a lot of help to get through the work, field trips to local events, gatherings of other students, and you can participate in school sports and dances.

I’ve updated the page on this site referring to many schools that cater to our area. Go check it out. Maybe there is an option there you haven’t heard of!

Public and Private Homeschool Options

Thoughts on P.E.

My son recently fractured his wrist during motocross practice and it has reminded me of something I hadn’t thought of in awhile, “Doctor’s notes for P.E.” We’ve been offered these precious notes several times over the past week while at the ER and the orthopedic doctor’s office. It was fun to tell them we didn’t need one because we home school and I’m the teacher and principle. Our school needs no formal “excuse” from a class. We are free people who are capable of making decisions about whether we are up for physical activity or not. And again when making a follow up appointment, the office lady said she’d find an appointment that wouldn’t take too much time out of school. I told her to make it any time, since we home school and we don’t have anyone but ourselves and our own schedule to answer to. It was empowering. Think about it. Why would I want a 3pm appointment? We wouldn’t miss any “school” but we’d spend more of our time at the doctor’s office since by the early afternoon most doctor’s are running behind and more people are “walking in” without an appointment. I’d much rather (even if we were in school) to have an appointment early in the morning or right after lunch when it’d be less likely that we’d have to wait a long time. One hour of “school” apparently is more important than three hours of family time. That’s actually how long we had to wait for my 3:30 appointment to be completed yesterday.

Why do school kids need a doctor’s note to be excused from a class or P.E.? It just seems ridiculous to me. Are they being held there against our will? If I believe my child is too ill to come to school, whether be from stress, a physical ailment, or I think they need a mental health day, I don’t need a professional opinion about it. This is my life and my child, not the school’s cash cow. I can’t believe people put up with it, especially about things like a broken arm or an open wound. My step-daughter had a open wound on her leg. It was a staph infection she got at the school and we were seeing a doctor about it but didn’t even think to get a note for P.E. class. Her teacher told us that she would dock her grade for every day she didn’t swim for P.E. without a doctors note. Really. I couldn’t believe it.