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maize

S/O Calvert thread--deep thoughts on education

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I've been thinking about some of what was brought up in the Calvert thread. And about what education means. And what role education plays in childrearing. Please bear with me as there are a number of different thoughts tumbling around in my head and I am not sure I can do a good job of pulling them together coherently. 

Social and cultural expectations play a big role in childrearing and education everywhere; not unreasonably, our children need to be prepared to function as adults in the society they live in. In the United States, that means that a child needs to be prepared either for college or a trade program of some kind to have a decent shot at earning a living. If we go with normal middle class college expectations that means they need to be prepared for math at a minimum of a college algebra level, they need to be able to read well, they need to be able to write a decent essay. Those are the basic academic expectations (obviously I am not talking about preparation for elite college entrance here).

State education statutes may add specific subject requirements, and there is also some general level of familiarity with literature and history and science that is expected of an educated person.

It is easy and normal to look at those as the basic elements of preparing our children for adulthood and fit everything else around them.

I know there are also many here who take a much deeper approach to education, viewing it not so much as the acquiring of a set of tools as the formation of a person. Much of the tradition of classical liberal arts eduction rests on this premise. I think I will refer to this as the development of a thoughtful mind. I do see a great deal of value in it.

To me then there are already at least two components of education:

1-preparation for living within a given society, meeting the academic expectations that will allow one to function in that society

2-the development of a thoughtful mind that allows a deeper level of experience and interaction in life.

Maybe because of my own eclectic educational and experiential background, when I started out thinking about how to educate my children I dropped one level below that of social and cultural expectations. Those vary so much. They are still important of course because my kids have to be able to function in society, but I spent a lot of time thinking about what areas of study might contribute most to a broad development of mind. Aside from literacy, which I kind of took as a given part of life, I settled on math, music, and languages as the core areas of focus for my homeschool. Math because it opens so many doors to understanding the world and because it is not easy for most people to pick up naturally and must be explicitly taught. Music because it had been a profound influence in my own life and feels fundamental to human nature, and because of all the research indicating that music study and experience are beneficial to human brains. Languages because we live in a broad world and I wanted my children to feel connected and have access to that world.

These were my primary focus through our first few years of homeschooling. 

The year my oldest child was eight her anxiety--which had always been there--became debilitating. I already knew that a brain that is dysregulated is not good at learning--or at anything else. During this same period of time my youngest sister was in and out of residential treatment with severe mental health struggles. I focused a lot of energy that year on improving mental health, but the real breakthrough came the next year when I enrolled my daughter in Irish dance classes. I don't really know why that specific activity was such a turnaround for her, but it was. The regular intense physical activity was part of it, so was the aspect of belonging to a group and the incentive of competition that helped her push past her own anxiety. Irish dance completely changed her life; everyone who knew her noticed the transformation. At the same time it turned our family schedule upside down. 

I'm not going to outline all the various twists and turns we have taken, suffice it to say that in the years since then our family involvement in outside activities has increased dramatically. My kids seem to need-desperately need--the hours of physical activity, the motivation, the confidence building, and the social and emotional engagement of these activities. Because I have lots of kids and the kids' needs and interests are not identical this makes for very complicated logistics. The kids of course don't get to do everything they would like to do but we do a lot.

Coming back to what I was talking about at the beginning of this post about the meaning and role of education, I have come to believe that the academic side of a child's development is not the most crucial aspect. Physical and emotional and social health and development underpin everything else. I feel like sometimes we put the cart ahead of the horse when we focus most of our energy on academic teaching and try to fit everything else around that. 

Emotional health isn't a struggle for some people; I can understand kind of taking it for granted in such cases because the foundation is just there, seemingly secure. For many families though it is not a thing that can be taken for granted.

I've talked here about some of what I prioritize in my family and why. I'm not looking for a bunch of people to agree with me. I want to hear about what you prioritize in the rearing and education of your children, why those things are a priority, and what you have learned along the way. I would love to see more of the deep discussion some have mentioned craving.

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26 minutes ago, maize said:

I've talked here about some of what I prioritise in my family and why. I'm not looking for a bunch of people to agree with me. I want to hear about what you prioritize in the rearing and education of your children, why those things are a priority, and what you have learned along the way. I would love to see more of the deep discussion some have mentioned craving.

Our goal when we began homeschooling was to raise happy kids who would develop a life-long love of learning.  My kids have all graduated from homeschooling.  If I had it all to do again, I wouldn't change a thing in our approach.  All three our kids are grateful that they were homeschooled and have many happy memories.

I read The Well Trained Mind years ago when the kids were small.  That approach would not have been a good fit for my kids.  Our philosophy leaned more towards Holt and Montessori.

We gave the kids a lot of freedom in regards to what they studied.  My only requirements in the elementary years were that they studied grammar, math, and read for at least one hour every day; every other area of study depended on their interests.   We had a no electronics rule from 8 am - 2:30 pm during the week.  If the kids finished their assignments for the day before 2:30 pm, they spent their time on things that I considered educational - reading, playing board games, arts and crafts, baking, etc.   

After 2:30 pm, they participated in a lot of activities offered through our community education services - pottery classes, theatre, scouts, etc.  Many years, they were at the public school three times a week participating in these after-school activities.  As they got older, their interests became more time consuming and intense and many of the activities that they did in the younger years fell off.  

When they entered high school, I did require them to study some topics that they would not have chosen if given the choice.  Foreign language was the only requirement that I had that was unanimously despised by all three and considered a colossal waste of time.  I made them study it solely because many colleges required it.  

In the high school years, my kids would typically have one or two outsourced classes per year.  The rest of the their courses were "home-brewed" based on their interests.  One year, I created a literature class based on Harry Potter that was fun for all of us.  

My kids had a lot of down time each day, even in the high school years.  They were all very well prepared for the rigors of college.  

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I've been thinking a lot about this recently. I read WTM when dd11 was 1yo and fell and love. It was exactly what I wanted for my kids and what I wished I had growing up. 10 years later, I am still very heavily influenced by the ideas of rigor and depth, as well as more formal education in a lot of ways. I am very much that way still with dd9, dd7, and dd3 and I don't see that changing. We do school a little differently than WTM suggests, including more use of online/screens than I think is traditionally suggested, but I am very happy with what we do for them.

However, dd11 is a totally different story. She has several special needs, including ASD and ADHD. She is very high functioning and mostly capable of grade-level work. She's a good little writer and has an amazing imagination as well as a gift for languages (latin especially). However, she can't focus on things she doesn't want to do. AT ALL. And she hates math. Like a lot. And it's pretty fair because she has some legitimate struggles there. So I've vastly decreased my expectations for her when it comes to math. I'm a BA/Miquon/AOPS type mom and she's doing Teaching Textbooks, which is like the opposite of them. I honestly had a little bit of a personal crisis when I made that decision. I also got rid of a lot of things for her recently (at least temporarily), including spelling, latin, spanish, typing, and grammar because she just can't focus well enough to do it all in a timely manner and school was making her talk very badly about herself. She just wasn't a happy girl anymore and life is more important. It may just be a season, but it was a really hard choice for me to make because it went against everything I feel about academics. Ultimately, dd11 is more important than grammar though.  (While typing this paragraph, I had to tell her to focus/get back to work 7 different times). There are things she needs to know. I'm not going to budge on making her learn math, even though it is hard. But she spells pretty well and types pretty well and has an intuitive grasp of grammar and has finished more than most kids do in all school. So I have to be ok that it is good enough.

I don't know what her education future will look like. I'm guessing traditional college is likely not her future. A rigorous traditional education is simply not a good fit for her. But because of her, I have opened my mind to a lot of possibilities and futures that aren't traditional. And even though I'm still pretty "rigorous" with her sisters, I feel like a lot of that is bleeding over into how I view their education as well. Homeschooling in general has made me rethink what we all take for granted and education culture. If I can convince my girls to homeschool for High School, I have a feeling it is going to look very different than most traditional high school educations do. And I'm excited about that. But all of my ideas are still in flux and I have trouble verbalizing it too.

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Interesting question.

In our personal and professional lives, DH and I move among and between many different kinds of people - high brow and low-brow, urbane and country, domestic and international. We wanted our children to feel reasonably happy/comfortable in any of those environments--neither too highfalutin for their country cousins nor too low in the instep for their debutant aunts. DH also attended a retirement ceremony many years ago where the man's son got up and wept uncontrollably. He said he was so relieved because he no longer had to compete with or share his Dad with the military. I'm sure the family thought that was touching. DH and I thought it was horrific. We vowed, that same day, that we would NEVER allow his work to compromise the relationship he has with me or our children. So we started our parenting journey working backward from this vision of thriving in multiple domains, setting long- medium- and short-term goals, and making adjustments when needed. 

In practice, this means we try to emphasize balance in all things, goal setting, a strong work ethic, and being a good teammate. We have a work hard, play hard mindset. We encourage passions but we also push them, sometimes really hard, in their weakest domains whether they are academic/planning issues or physical/emotional ones. For DD(15) this looks like looking going over the drivers license requirements for our state (multi-step, two year process) to identify financial, academic, logistic and hands-on expectations. It might also look like taking an honors science class for which you earn a hard-fought B rather than the easy A in regular science. For DS(11) this looks like helping him plan five easy lunches that he can rotate (vs. allowing him to pack the same one every day) and creating a reminder on his phone to go through his clothes/shoes 4x/year for a length/fit check and shopping trip. We mandate team sports and art but they are free to choose the sport and art form (culinary, performance or visual). We also mandate 4x4 for high school at whatever academic level stretches them best (English, Math, Science, History). We prioritize travel too because without it our kids wouldn't even know their extended family! That was a lot easier when we homeschooled full time.

Along the way, I have learned not to pour everything and all of myself into my kids. It's not healthy for me or my relationship with DH. I have come to appreciate that while I love my kids, my DH is my most favorite person on Earth. I will not be sad when it is just the two at home even as we will probably choose to offer assistance periodically.  I've also learned to appreciate my DH in so many ways. We really are a team, even when he is away. He checks in-- HEY! These were the BIG goals this year. How are we doing? What is holding us back or helping us succeed? What additional resources do we need? His presence is felt all the time. I hope our kids take these lessons with them into adulthood but only time will tell. We have three more years until we launch #1. I'm sure to some that feels like a long time. It doesn't to us. We have a long list of things we've been ticking off for 15 years. It is getting shorter all the time.

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I've just gone through and read the original Calvert thread and have a lot of thoughts.

1. First, many new homeschoolers do look for the quick and easy thing. That's totally true. But I think a lot of those new homeschoolers wouldn't have been homeschoolers at all years ago and that's a factor of there just being so many more homeschoolers now. It's selection bias. I think there are likely just as many homeschoolers who think deeply about educating their children as ever, it's just instead of being a large faction, they are now a small faction. So if there were 3/10 homeschoolers before thinking deeply, now there are 3/100. It doesn't mean that those 3 don't exist, but it does mean they don't always get heard. Many of those new homeschoolers aren't doing it for philosophical reasons. They are doing it for lifestyle reasons and most plan on homeschooling for only a portion of their children's school careers. It's great that they have the options they do, but they aren't the same people as those that usually frequent here.

2. New options and new curricula aren't a bad thing. I LOVE that we have so many options to choose from. That we aren't limited by the main big publishers and that I don't have to invent the wheel. I feel like a lot of what was said on that thread made it sound like "new" = "bad". Even screens/independent don't equal bad to me. My girls do math facts practice, some math, some writing, some foreign language online. In a lot of ways it's much more efficient for them and me. I don't hold flashcards to teach letters or help them memorize 3x12. Instead they can play games that are every bit as efficient time-wise but more fun for them and less work for me. That's not a bad thing. I do then sit with them and use manipulatives and do a reading lesson and discuss problems. So it's not all screens. But screens and "new" aren't bad. Or even "less" than previous methods. It all depends on how they are utilized. 

3. I still consider myself a "young" homeschooler even though I've been involved on here for 10 years. All of my kids are still in Elementary school. But I have literally no intention to outsource everything in High School. Maybe a subject or two per kid depending on their needs. So not all up coming homeschoolers do that or plan on doing that.

4. Living an exceptional life takes exceptional people. And I feel like exceptional educations are the same way, in whatever for mthey take. A lot of what people were describing homeschooling ideals to be were really what their version of "best" was. I think by definition, most people don't aim for best. Most people aim for good enough or sufficient. Which is why there's so few people striving for those deep educations or thought that we're talking about. We can't get disappointed when not everyone is as dedicated or focused on this aspect of life as we are. It is possible they have different priorities or they are just getting by in other ways.

5. There was a lot of "kids these days" kinds of comments about homeschoolers. But I distinctly remember conversations going back to when I first joined this forum 10 years ago about people wanting "free and easy" homeschool resources. It is not new. Just louder because homeschooling as a whole is more prevalent. As a fairly young homeschooler, I don't really appreciate people saying that all new and young homeschoolers want is easy. Some do. Not all. I think there will always be a place for rigor and depth and quality parenting.

That's all for now. I've been wanting a good education discussion lately. I recently read One Room Schoolhouse and Knowledge Gap and have been thinking about educational paradigms a lot. I just haven't been able to come up with a good discussion question to start one yet. 

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10 hours ago, maize said:

 

I've talked here about some of what I prioritize in my family and why. I'm not looking for a bunch of people to agree with me. I want to hear about what you prioritize in the rearing and education of your children, why those things are a priority, and what you have learned along the way. I would love to see more of the deep discussion some have mentioned craving.

We started hs'ing when my oldest was entering 8th grade, so even though this is only our 7th year, I've taught all the grades K-12 twice and some 3 times. So I feel like I'm a combination of not-quite-newbie and not-quite-veteran 🙂

 

We were very disturbed by how expectations from the ps kept creeping higher and higher and infringing more and more on our family life. I wanted to keep our family dynamic strong and vibrant, not play 2nd fiddle to the school and his peers. So our #1 priority from the get go was creating and maintaining a strong family bond (both parent-child and sibling-sibling). That's still our highest priority, and we make sure to build time for it into our day, even for high schoolers. But the longer we hs the more benefits I see to it that I didn't anticipate or imagine, and seeing those benefits makes me want to protect them and nurture them and ensure they continue, so other priorities have been added, if that makes sense.

My oldest is gifted, and we knew he was bored in ps, but it wasn't until he was hs'ing that I realized just how gifted he was and how much more he was capable of. So one of my priorities became challenging him (and all the rest of my kids too, even though they are not necessarily gifted) to the best of my ability. I knew all my kids had different personalities and strengths and weaknesses (duh), but seeing them actually play out in our day to day life and schoolwork that first year was eye-opening for me and I began to really see what all the hs'ing blogs meant by "individualized instruction". So that became a priority as well.

One of the biggest benefits I saw after making the switch is how much more time my kids have to develop their own interests than their ps friends have. So I've been very deliberate about not infringing too much on their free time so as to cultivate that. I want to challenge them academically, whatever that looks like for each kid, but I don't want to get so carried away by rigor that they don't have time to do their own thing and be their own person. Keeping that balance is my 2nd highest priority after our relationships. 

I love hanging out on these boards, and I've learned so so so much from all the combined wisdom here. But the boards can be intimidating, and they tend to have a very definite bent towards academic rigor. I felt so overwhelmed at how much more everybody here seemed to be doing than us those first few years that I never, ever posted but just lurked and occassionally liked a few posts. As the years have gone on, I've felt more comfortable sharing what we do and am more of a regular poster. I almost never post on our local FB group. Here, I feel I'm kind of average and middle of the road about academics. But on FB I seem like a slave driver whose kids never see the light of day.

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I've come to believe that courses organized and dictated by adults are far inferior than independent study self-directed by kids. Said another way, my two boys have learned way more by following their interests and having 'courses' created after the fact, than by any course created by me or by a textbook. The sole exception being AoPS. 

I used to pull my hair out about my older boy being unwilling and unable to write. In the end, writing math proofs taught him to write English papers.  He wrote so very little up until his senior year in highschool. And in that year, he had to pull off top marks on the SAT essay and the NZ national English exams, and he had to write and rewrite a bazillion university application essays. By my count, it was about 60 essays for those three goals. Before that I could count on one hand papers he had written in high school. Now, at MIT he has had 3 humanities professors shower him with praise for his writing, one going so far as to say that his term paper "was the best student paper she had read in numerous years." So *how* did he learn to write?!?!?    He read. He read 2-3 hours per night for 5 years year round. The Economist, Scientific American, National Geographic, and literature. Lots and lots of high end literature like War and Peace and 100 Years of Solitude. This was his time, and his choice. I was asleep. The rule was no screens after 9, and he liked to go to bed at 1 or even 2am. So there was basically nothing else to do in a 600 sq ft apartment than read or learn to play the piano (electronic with head phones) . The key was that NO book was ever assigned.  I would do research and just buy books to have sitting around. He had *time* to be, time to think, time to read. And it was this deep and prolonged reading that has made him a humanities star at MIT. I will let you know next month if he gets the humanities scholarship that he is applying for. His humanities professor said that he was "perfect" for the program, and that she would write an "enthusiastic" recommendation. This success was because of a LACK of requirements for humanities and social science in my homeschool.

I have come to believe that depth comes from personal interest and involvement. I could have used an AP prep program, or a great books program, or any other sort of humanities/social sciences program, and the results would NOT have been the same. DS had the *time* to have the energy to read. And this has become very clear as his reading has tanked during his senior year in high school when things got so crazy and during his first 1.5 years at MIT. Without *time*, there is no initiative to better oneself. To dig deep into what it is to be human. To dig deep into who you want to be. *Time* is the key. 

The problem with giving *time* to kids is that they seem to squander it. I had many many sleepless nights thinking that there was so much that *I* could have made sure that he did. Books to read, conversations to have, ideas to cover. But these would have been top down. The problem, however, with giving *time* is that it seems inefficient. What exactly is being covered? Anything useful? Should I step in? Should I check up? What about kids who seem to "waste" it?  It just seems so much less assured. But depth requires time. Filling the day with work means by definition that deep thinking can't happen -- kids get into the box ticking mode, and box ticking definitely does not equate to deep learning and thinking. It was only when I went to write the transcript and course descriptions did I realize how much had been accomplished when ds was doing nothing. Nothing was the key to his education. Without screens, there was nothing else to do than think deeply and sleep.  What more do teens actually need to grow?

I think, however, that I did a good job celebrating his learning. When he would start reading a book, I used that as motivation to go get it on audio and try to keep up.  He loved being ahead of me, and he loved discussing the ideas. I also embraced deep thinking about world problems. We had Nuanced discussions about complex ideas with no clear solution. Basically, I supported his independent learning by being engaged but not in any fashion directing or controlling. I think he came to believe that he led me, which in may respects he did. So although he was in charge, I was in the background supporting his efforts through very subtle encouragement and by embracing a life-long learning approach. So I did drive this education in a way, but clearly so did he. Personal connection to his learning was key. Programs for us (except AoPS & science) were a complete fail.

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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I will try to come back tomorrow and write about how I have used the same approach with my younger boy who has dysgraphia. I have had similar success with him. They key for *him* is his extracurricular activities -- just look at my siggy! His goal is to develop leadership skills and he purposely uses his extracurriculars to do this.

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2 hours ago, lewelma said:

I've come to believe that courses organized and dictated by adults are far inferior than independent study self-directed by kids. Said another way, my two boys have learned way more by following their interests and having 'courses' created after the fact, than by any course created by me or by a textbook. The sole exception being AoPS. 

I used to pull my hair out about my older boy being unwilling and unable to write. In the end, writing math proofs taught him to write English papers.  He wrote so very little up until his senior year in highschool. And in that year, he had to pull off top marks on the SAT essay and the NZ national English exams, and he had to write and rewrite a bazillion university application essays. By my count, it was about 60 essays for those three goals. Before that I could count on one hand papers he had written in high school. Now, at MIT he has had 3 humanities professors shower him with praise for his writing, one going so far as to say that his term paper "was the best student paper she had read in numerous years." So *how* did he learn to write?!?!?    He read. He read 2-3 hours per night for 5 years year round. The Economist, Scientific American, National Geographic, and literature. Lots and lots of high end literature like War and Peace and 100 Years of Solitude. This was his time, and his choice. I was asleep. The rule was no screens after 9, and he liked to go to bed at 1 or even 2am. So there was basically nothing else to do in a 600 sq ft apartment than read or learn to play the piano (electronic with head phones) . The key was that NO book was ever assigned.  I would do research and just buy books to have sitting around. He had *time* to be, time to think, time to read. And it was this deep and prolonged reading that has made him a humanities star at MIT. I will let you know next month if he gets the humanities scholarship that he is applying for. His humanities professor said that he was "perfect" for the program, and that she would write an "enthusiastic" recommendation. This success was because of a LACK of requirements for humanities and social science in my homeschool.

I have come to believe that depth comes from personal interest and involvement. I could have used an AP prep program, or a great books program, or any other sort of humanities/social sciences program, and the results would NOT have been the same. DS had the *time* to have the energy to read. And this has become very clear as his reading has tanked during his senior year in high school when things got so crazy and during his first 1.5 years at MIT. Without *time*, there is no initiative to better oneself. To dig deep into what it is to be human. To dig deep into who you want to be. *Time* is the key. 

The problem with giving *time* to kids is that they seem to squander it. I had many many sleepless nights thinking that there was so much that *I* could have made sure that he did. Books to read, conversations to have, ideas to cover. But these would have been top down. The problem, however, with giving *time* is that it seems inefficient. What exactly is being covered? Anything useful? Should I step in? Should I check up? What about kids who seem to "waste" it?  It just seems so much less assured. But depth requires time. Filling the day with work means by definition that deep thinking can't happen -- kids get into the box ticking mode, and box ticking definitely does not equate to deep learning and thinking. It was only when I went to write the transcript and course descriptions did I realize how much had been accomplished when ds was doing nothing. Nothing was the key to his education. Without screens, there was nothing else to do than think deeply and sleep.  What more do teens actually need to grow?

I think, however, that I did a good job celebrating his learning. When he would start reading a book, I used that as motivation to go get it on audio and try to keep up.  He loved being ahead of me, and he loved discussing the ideas. I also embraced deep thinking about world problems. We had Nuanced discussions about complex ideas with no clear solution. Basically, I supported his independent learning by being engaged but not in any fashion directing or controlling. I think he came to believe that he led me, which in may respects he did. So although he was in charge, I was in the background supporting his efforts through very subtle encouragement and by embracing a life-long learning approach. So I did drive this education in a way, but clearly so did he. Personal connection to his learning was key. Programs for us (except AoPS & science) were a complete fail.

Ruth in NZ

 

I did an online MEd degree a few years back--mostly it was a box checking kind of thing, education reduced to the most basic level of competency demonstration. One of the first classes though included a fair bit of reading on research into how people learn, especially how kids learn, and self directed learning--true following of interests--really does come out far ahead of anything else.

I learned to write the way your older son did. I had a horrible time focusing in school and never felt like I learned much there. I had some degree of dyslexia as well and was a delayed reader. But once reading clicked into place I read and read and read. At nine I was reading Charles Dickens, at ten Stephen Hawking, at thirteen War and Peace, at fifteen Les Miserables in French. 

I never studied intensive grammar or diagrammed a sentence. I'm still terrible at spelling (my brain is not very visual, which I suspect was behind my early reading difficulties). Writing though has come easily to me. And whatever it is that is tested on the language portion of standardized tests--I easily got perfect scores on the verbal sections of the SAT, ACT, GRE...

I've been particularly interested in your thoughts on helping kids who struggle with executive function, because those kids can struggle to follow through even on things that they have internal motivation to be self directed in.

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9 hours ago, maize said:

I've been particularly interested in your thoughts on helping kids who struggle with executive function, because those kids can struggle to follow through even on things that they have internal motivation to be self directed in.

My younger boy had EF troubles. AT 16 he still can do basically nothing by himself without me either sitting next to him or constantly checking up on him. He is crazy slow to get his work done, and often prioritizes enjoying a stately pace over actually getting the work done. I have reduced expectations again and again, because he must succeed. I firmly believe that success breeds success. 

Right now he has 2 years to go before university, and we have only *just* gotten on top of his dysgraphia such that he can write math slowly and type papers at a reasonable speed. THIS one thing has been our main focus for the past 4 years when I came to believe that we were simply not progressing at a rate that would seem him ready to leave my homeschool being able to write anything. At 12, his top speed when copying text by typing or writing was 8 words a minute sustained for 3 minutes. When not copying, he could not encode basically *anything.* He could not spell 70 of the top 100 words, and no matter how much grammar I did, he could not understand where a sentence was. That was my low point, and we chose together to press forward with a slow and steady plan, which has gotten us to the point we are at now -- a boy who can write. 

But NOW we have to deal with the EF challenges. There is NO WAY we could have gotten where we are if I had had ANY expectations of him handling ANY aspect of his EF struggles. He just would not have done the hard work that he has done.  But now I am at a low point again -- a child with EF issues who has 2 years to learn to manage them.  But here is where I got it right I think. By doing all the hardy dysgraphia remediation together and focusing everyday on the positives, he believes in himself and has a good strength of character. He does not mind me writing about his dysgraphia on the board (I have asked) because he is PROUD of the work he has done to overcome it. Because of this believe in himself, he is now ready to tackle this next big hurdle. 

Have you ever seen my thread on the top of the general education board "explicitly teaching executive function skills"? I find it interesting that out of all the threads over the years that I have started and written a book in, *that* is the one people wanted pinned. So with this boy, we have done step 1. I have helped him to know how hard you must work to get a top mark. He had to work for months to get a distinction on his ABRSM violin exam, and it was the extra push that he made in the last week that got him into distinction level. So now we have a shared reference. I can refer to that effort and he can understand the goal for the next test he takes, and he can intuitively know the inner effort required for success. Step 2) I have also already been working on him being able to honestly identify what he knows and what he doesn't know.  Getting an accurate assessment of where you are at is actually reasonably hard for most kids (I tutor), as they either have no metacognition or just have a lot of wishful thinking.  So next up are 3) figuring out what you are supposed to study to meet the assessment criteria (difficult with high end humanities/social science papers) and 4) Figure out how to get from your knowledge base to what you are supposed to have done.  So in some ways even though EF has been on the back burner while we dealt with the dysgraphia, I have still been able to get 2 of the 4 academic first goals accomplished.  Then of course is the scheduling, prioritizing, paper management etc, which we can't really start until he takes an external class, which we hope to do in a year.

I'm going to post this, and then go after the non-academic EF.

Edited by lewelma
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Developing interests is a funny thing.  I think that many of us have heard the stories about kids with passions, and that homeschool kids especially have the time to find their passions.  But IRL I have not found this to really be true.  I used to be an unschooler (and in some ways still am), and I remember sitting around with other moms wondering where we had gone wrong, because our kids had not developed any passions.  In hindsight, I now know that they were just too young.  Most were under 10.  But more interestingly, I have come to believe that passions have to be recognized by adults to be considered 'passions'. Kids can clearly be doing something a LOT, but if you can't label it with a NAME, somehow it doesn't count. Sad but true.

So my kid LOVES his ECs.  Just look at that siggy -- it is NUTS. Nine daily activities each week, many for 2+ hours. For a long time I thought he was just social, but once I labeled it, it became a passion.  And once I could call it a passion, my ds was proud of his efforts and could talk about it in a way that led others to be really interested. And he began to see it as a passion. 

So the name of his passion is Leadership.  My ds is trying to develop the skills that are required to be a leader.  And as this passion has developed, it has also led him to new interests for careers.  Specifically, he is interested in being Mayor. So why am I calling it leadership?  Because he purposely continues to go to activities with younger kids (age 12) because he is trying out different techniques to manage them -- manage their behavior but also influence them to work as a group to a common goal.  He is also using his D&D group to work on his leadership as he is the Dungeon Master so is in charge of a group of peers. Often after one of these activities, he will ask us about this or that leadership problem.  And once he had a name for what he was doing, he started doing it MORE.  He started thinking about leadership more, he started trying to purposely lead younger kids more.   And once success built on success, he started being more proactive in other areas of his life.  For example, he is not very flexible but loves gymnastics, so he decided that his focus would be on upper body strength (required for men's gymnastics) which is why *he* chose to join the gym.  And then because I am busy with tutoring, he also has to get to all these activities by himself, which has its own EF challenges.

I can easily make these activities into official classes just like I did with my older.  Read 1 book and write 1 paper, and I have a practical leadership class and a drama class. And just like with my older boy, *I* facilitate and encourage these endeavors.  I am currently reading and discussing the 48 Power Laws book with my ds and dh at night.  We discuss how people manipulate others, and pull up examples both positive and negative in our own life. With the amount of time we are spending, this could be a half class in the Psychology of Leadership. Next up, we can read and discuss difference Leadership styles for a course in Comparative Leadership.  And for his geography paper right now he has decided to compare how the first leaders in the DRC and Botswana impacted their country even to this day.  Basically, it is in the eye of the beholder *what* is academic. And it is up to me to help his interests grow.  It could have been so easy to say "oh, he is just really social." And never ask what was happening, what he was thinking, how it was impacting his sense of self.  I think for passions to develop you need a parent who can recognize possibility and encourage it. 

Got to run, tutoring for 7 hours to help pay for MIT!!

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On 11/14/2019 at 10:04 AM, maize said:

 

I've talked here about some of what I prioritize in my family and why. I'm not looking for a bunch of people to agree with me. I want to hear about what you prioritize in the rearing and education of your children, why those things are a priority, and what you have learned along the way. I would love to see more of the deep discussion some have mentioned craving.

 

Our priorities slowly took place as we found our way the first few years. (We pulled out of school halfway through 3rd and 1st grades) It was amazing that we had more family time and weren't always stressed by the schedule and work dictated by school.  It was really improtant to us that our kids to be able to think for themselves.  I did want very challenging work, but I did not want an overwhelming amount of various subjects just for the sake of doing it. I do focus on doing whatever we do to the best we can do it, but I don't focus on doing everything.  We focused on reading, writing and math for school, while other things we learned for the fun of it.  We did a lot of read alouds and I kept a basket of books for free reading.  My oldest (dd) still reads like crazy. We watched a lot of science such as NOVA etc.. We had lots of various family discussions about social, political or religious issues and tried to look at various views and angles, because of wanting to be able to talk about things without polarization and to look at various ways of thinking about things.  I also wanted them to have time to be bored and think about things or simply think about nothing.  Other things we valued were to just learn how to be a loving family and nourish relationships.  I feel like I was raised in an era of success only means career and money (which are important to me) but we wanted to expand the view of what it means to be successful in other areas of life that are just as worthy of our effort and time and that there are ups and downs in life and that is ok.  As they got older, around 7th grade, I saw we needed much more outside activities and they began sports and clubs. We tried many things.  We really met some great people through these activities. These activities helped them learn so much in the way of practicing at something you aren't good at and acheiving personal best, interacting socially, learning leadership and communication skills etc...  When my oldest was in 10th we decided to return to classical hybrid school as we needed more social outlets as well as other structures to help with organzing and responsibility.  It was a great fit and it was a challenge and we still had some classes we did on our own.  The opportunity to have group discussions and debate all the things they had been learning in the previous years added to their skills.  We have a much younger child and we will have many more years after DS1 leaves home and I hope my experiences so far will help, because I'm going to need it to compensate for having less energy. 

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I'm a brand new homeschooler but I've hung around here for years because I've always been on the cusp of homeschooling but couldn't make it work until this year. 

First, our lifestyle is very different from that of most homeschooling families. I work and use babysitters for part of the day as well as a hybrid school for enrichment. Our schedule requires that my daughter do some of her work independently before she is ready to work independently which has some caused some issues. 

My daughter is bright but struggled in school. She resented the homework. I did too and I wonder how much of that she picked up from me. She did not like the excessive discipline. Her grades had started to fall. She also had trouble completing her written assignments during class. We felt that she needed something different. She needed to be in an environment where she had more control over what she studied. 

I was very frustrated in the first month of homeschooling. I considered throwing in the towel. I cycled through a few language arts programs and disliked all of them. Some of them made my daughter cry. But things are going well now. I think we've found our groove as I've begun to learn to let my daughter be who she is. I'm beginning to understand that what we're looking for is small, incremental steps. 

Now my daughter is interested in so many things. She can speak intelligently about books she's reading or listening to on Audible. She has a lot of opinions about the world. She's starting to like drawing and working with clay. She's a happy kid, which she wasn't a year ago. She's not writing essays or fables. WWE and W&R caused much resentment here. But she has a lot to say and has a great vocabulary. I know that because she has the thoughts that soon, those thoughts will get down on paper when she's ready for it. We're getting there gradually. Writing small a small amount. Sometimes I scribe for her. Sometimes we write together. I know what we do is not rigorous or serious but I think it's what we need. 

Besides my daughter being happy, our biggest homeschool win is that my daughter is finally reading enough. She had some phonics gaps a few years ago and got help from the reading specialist. Her reading was fine but she never had time to read while she was in school. She had to read to get AR points but she couldn't read what she wanted. Our house was full of books I would buy for her but she would never read. Now she's reading widely for school and pleasure. She's not the bookworm that it always seems like other homeschooled kids are but she reads a couple of hours a day and can tell you her thoughts about what she's read. 

We're pretty much entirely DIY here. Is this because I'm too unfocused or lazy to follow a program? IDK. I've taken some online teacher training classes which have really helped me. I wanted to be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler. I even bought a CM curriculum, A Gentle Feast. But that was not us. I also wanted to be a classical homeschooler. I own TWTM and I'm a big SWB fangirl. I love the Memoria Press catalogue. But that's not us either, at least not now. I'm probably more Bravewriter-ish than anything right now but I keep having to re-affirm that because sometimes I really want someone to tell me exactly what to do. 

ETA that I'm listening to this podcast right now and it is exactly what I needed to hear right now about why we're doing what we're doing. 

 

Edited by Ordinary Shoes
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I have come back to this thread several times but left without saying anything for two reasons:
1. I keep reading it in my head in the same voice as "Deep Thoughts With Jack Handy".  That tends to make any deep thoughts fly out the window. 😄
2. I feel like my thoughts are not all that deep. 😉
But here goes.

One thing I really stress in education is order.  I like each step to follow a clear, necessary progression and eliminate wasted steps, but also remove any barriers that a child might have in accessing what they need/want to know.  Dh and I were just discussing it this morning when he asked me about something I had when the youngest was an infant so he could share with a coworker.  "I thought you were crazy, but it all made sense."  😄  I taught the youngest how to sign because the child's screaming all day, every day, was jarring and unnerving.  Once he could communicate, he was sooooo much better.  Teaching him to communicate before he had the ability to make intentional sound worked best for both of us.  I met his immediate need, and gave him something to build on.
It has been like that for every piece of his education.  Everything has been thought about, determined its usefulness, and either used or discarded.  I didn't teach the alphabet.  I thought it was cruel to teach a child all the names as a first step, pull the rug out from under them, and start again with sound so they could read.  Learning the alphabet was not a useful step for a pre-reader.  When I taught writing, I didn't do it in alphabetical order, either.  I sorted the letters by stroke to maximize our time and efficiency.  The child learning a d'nealian 'l' first will also practice that l stroke in 'i' and 't'.  Then the child learns the 'c' stroke, and puts it together with the 'l' stroke to make a, d.  Then we learn j, and put it together with c to make g...and so on and so on. It wasn't the order he learned to read the letters and it wasn't the alphabet order, but it made sense from a writing point of view: continuing to practice what he had learned until he was writing easily.
I tend to use a lot of visual aids: colors, shapes, position...and what I can't find I make myself because I don't feel like kids should be impeded because of physical limitations that haven't caught up with their mental abilities.  Everything is constant, though.  What is colored or shaped one way stays that way through time so there's always the reference point until it's no longer needed and things turn black and white. 
It's classical, I guess, but not what is written as classical.  It's extending the idea of logical history and science to everything else we touch, giving purpose to each foundational micro-step and sharing that purpose with the kids so they know exactly what they're doing and why.  There is no piece out of step.

The rest of our life is like that, too.  Things are approached in an orderly manner and there's always a reason why something is done that way as opposed to doing it because it's the way it's been done.  I want to teach my kids to question, determine, and find the best path for themselves even if it's not what the general public does.  I want them to have the tools to be able to do that.

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For me, there is the education I wanted and imagine that i would have flourished in as a child and then there is the education that my kids will allow me to provide them.  Learning to "teach the kids I have" has been a challenging lesson for me.  Oh, there is still a lot of my vision left in what we have done - especially in the elementary ages - but it hasn't been the seamless cohesive experience that I had imagined that it would be. 

I don't compromise on being active in my kid's education - especially when it comes to beginning skills.  I firmly believe that kids need actual face to face teachers when learning something totally new.  Or at least that that is the best.  Once my kids had the basics down then they did move on on their own in some learning.  In high school (after a bit of a transition in middle school) I moved into more of a facilitator role where I am there to provide whatever support I can provide.  And because my kids were interacting with high quality materials they didn't really need someone to get in between them and what they were learning. 

I tried to provide a rounded home education.  To me, the arts, languages, physical education etc. are just as important ultimately as the 3 Rs.  I did a bit more pointing them towards opportunities and letting them explore in those areas but I put a lot of effort into finding those opportunities. 

I had a lot of anxiety over how my kids were going to turn out.  But when my first hit college and brought home notes from his professors thanking me for my part in his education, I relaxed!  I don't know if my second child will do as well in college (different kid after all and I taught her quite differently in some things) but I  am confident that I did everything I could to prepare her for a future where she can learn and mold the life she wants. 

Emotional life etc?  I am seeing how so much is totally outside of my control as a parent.  I try/tried to provide a safe loving home for my kids.  I have provided a framework of thinking that I think is important.  But ultimately I have no control over what my kids adopt as their own thinking. 

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On 11/14/2019 at 9:04 AM, maize said:

I've talked here about some of what I prioritize in my family and why. I'm not looking for a bunch of people to agree with me. I want to hear about what you prioritize in the rearing and education of your children, why those things are a priority, and what you have learned along the way. I would love to see more of the deep discussion some have mentioned craving.

 

This is a big question and requires a big answer, and I'm struggling with being concise tonight! 

The main theme running through our life is strong family bonds. Like @Momto6inIN, I was not interested in playing second fiddle to the school. We briefly tried school and it was apparent after only a few days there that the school felt they had more rights and entitlements to the kids than the parents did. If I sent my child to school, I'd be agreeing to put his relationship with school ahead of his relationship with me and his father.  I am not willing to do this.  The values of school are not our values. And if anyone reading this has kids in school and is happy and fulfilled with their family-child-school, relationship, great! I"m glad it's working for you, but it became clear very rapidly that it was *not* going to work for us and would have negative effects on our family life.  

While we are not "school-at-home" homeschoolers, we are "intellectual" homeschoolers, meaning I don't do any tests or book reports, but we do a heck of a lot of reading and discussion.  The rampant anti-intellectualism running through homeschool groups makes me angry, and has made me question whether we should continue homeschooling.  Maybe he'd be better off in school where someone cares about learning? 

The co-ops here provide such low-quality "learning".  The only benefit to these groups is the social aspect, but DS11 is starting to get annoyed when all the kids want to do is socialize, and we're running into the same sort of cliques and drama that you'd find in school.  The library enrichment activities are like this, too.  I've been looking -hard- for more intellectual activities and groups for him to join, but there isn't anything here.  Someone tried to get a science club going, but it fell apart. "Science" around here equals "Nature Study".  Math equals "baking". I asked if anyone knew of a math club in the area, and a *math teacher* chuckled and said she'd never heard of such a thing and didn't think there would be much interest, anyway. 

I just feel very discouraged. I feel like I've lost my way.     

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, MissLemon said:

 

This is a big question and requires a big answer, and I'm struggling with being concise tonight! 

The main theme running through our life is strong family bonds. Like @Momto6inIN, I was not interested in playing second fiddle to the school. We briefly tried school and it was apparent after only a few days there that the school felt they had more rights and entitlements to the kids than the parents did. If I sent my child to school, I'd be agreeing to put his relationship with school ahead of his relationship with me and his father.  I am not willing to do this.  The values of school are not our values. And if anyone reading this has kids in school and is happy and fulfilled with their family-child-school, relationship, great! I"m glad it's working for you, but it became clear very rapidly that it was *not* going to work for us and would have negative effects on our family life.  

While we are not "school-at-home" homeschoolers, we are "intellectual" homeschoolers, meaning I don't do any tests or book reports, but we do a heck of a lot of reading and discussion.  The rampant anti-intellectualism running through homeschool groups makes me angry, and has made me question whether we should continue homeschooling.  Maybe he'd be better off in school where someone cares about learning? 

The co-ops here provide such low-quality "learning".  The only benefit to these groups is the social aspect, but DS11 is starting to get annoyed when all the kids want to do is socialize, and we're running into the same sort of cliques and drama that you'd find in school.  The library enrichment activities are like this, too.  I've been looking -hard- for more intellectual activities and groups for him to join, but there isn't anything here.  Someone tried to get a science club going, but it fell apart. "Science" around here equals "Nature Study".  Math equals "baking". I asked if anyone knew of a math club in the area, and a *math teacher* chuckled and said she'd never heard of such a thing and didn't think there would be much interest, anyway. 

I just feel very discouraged. I feel like I've lost my way.     

 

 

 

 

Anti-intellectualism is a difficult trend to cope with.

I don't see a lot of it locally. I doubt there is anywhere where the kind of intensive intellectual focus some on this forum embrace is common, but in my area most homeschooling parents are college educated and are planning for their children to attend college. Is that true locally for you? We haven't been involved in many co-ops or groups. I did try out one science group with a friend but the first meeting we attended featured one family presenting their "research" into why the moon landings couldn't have really happened. That did spark some interesting discussions with my kids about conspiracy theories but we didn't go back to the group.

I have a homeschooling mom friend who lives a couple of blocks from me, she has two kids prepping to take an AP calculus exam in the spring including her fifteen year old. Someone on Facebook posted about getting a mathcounts group going and there was a fair bit of interest. 

In general I don't think kids need large groups of like-minded peers, maybe you could find just one other family with a more intellectual bent to start a small group with? If there is literally no-one else I don't know what you do, except look online.

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In my experience growing up deep thinking and discussion were a rarity, even in schools with strong academics. Even among kids headed to Cambridge and Stanford. I graduated from a small private school overseas, a school with exceptional academic outcomes as measured by IB exam scores and college admissions, but even as a high schooler I felt like the odd one out because I was interested in ideas and discussion and real learning, not just doing well in school. Actually I was pretty bad at doing school. 

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20 minutes ago, maize said:

 

Anti-intellectualism is a difficult trend to cope with.

I don't see a lot of it locally. I doubt there is anywhere where the kind of intensive intellectual focus some on this forum embrace is common, but in my area most homeschooling parents are college educated and are planning for their children to attend college. Is that true locally for you?

 

No, and that's probably much of the problem. Most people do not plan for their kids to go to college and look down at people who do go to college. I know kids who probably won't receive much past 6th grade. The parents feel that anything beyond knowing how to make change at the store is more math than is needed in "real life". The handful of people I know that did go to college went to unaccredited Christian universities, so who knows? 

To be honest, I think we'll need to consider relocating to give DS11 some different opportunities.  We're in a rural area, and while I can drive to bigger cities that have a few more offerings, it's hard to keep that going long term. 

I don't necessarily expect to find a co-op of high achieving, highly intellectual kids.  I'd be happy if I could find a regular group of kids that liked to play board games or Dungeons and Dragons.  I can't even get that going here.  I think we've just outgrown the area in some ways, and we need to think on what we're trying to accomplish for DS11 now that he is no longer a little kid.  This was a lovely place to homeschool little kids! But it's a tough place to homeschool middle and high school. 

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5 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I just feel very discouraged. I feel like I've lost my way.     

 

I didn't want to post, because I didn't want to be seen as hijacking the thread, but I can't ignore this.

I hope you're able to find something.  Is there a college campus nearby, by any chance?  Sometimes, they have activities/workshops/classes for kids.  I'm sorry you're having such a hard time!  And it does get lonely at the high school level - even in the city.  It seems like most people put their kids back in school around 8th grade.  Anytime we look for classes or activities, I have to email them and ask specifically if there are older kids - otherwise, we show up and it's a bunch of 8 year-olds and my 16 year-old (Um, awkward....).  

I hope you're able to find a good group of friends!

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I live in an urban area that values books and education. The schools aren’t bad here- just not what I want for my kids. 
 

We did not do any co-ops so I can’t compare so much. But the homeschoolers I knew varied from school-at-home to unschoolers. Honestly, we avoided talking academics. But we did all our studies at home and get togethers were solely for fun. 
 

I am a relaxed homeschooler who values learning Neither of my kids did AP classes or rigorous tests to prove their knowledge. Neither had formal lessons in how to write. (I tried with the second one but it just sucked the life out of writing for both her and me.). I have a experimental study size of two:  the first one is doing very well in college, has been working in his field since 18 and has scholarships. We’ll see how my daughter does.
 

For my very small experimental study, learning was as much about not crushing their spirit as it was about giving them opportunities. I am happy with our relaxed approach. Not everyone might need that but we did. 

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9 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I'd be happy if I could find a regular group of kids that liked to play board games or Dungeons and Dragons.  I can't even get that going here.

This was what I was going to suggest, sigh. There are no Co-ops here (I'm in NZ) and most people in my area are unschoolers. So we do and have always done all our academics on our own. For activities, we have a variety of sources:

1) Community groups for school kids: Orchestra, Chamber music, Drama, and Gymnastics. 

2) Homeschool groups: swimming, sports day, park day (sometimes go), and annual 4-day camp

3) Personally organized fun: D&D / board games group.  We have found 3 kids who are willing to come to our house every Saturday for 5 hours. They provide the transport (2 come by train) and we provide the pizza. These kids live pretty far away - 15, 20, and 30 milles away. So we have used a pretty wide net to find them.

My young has also embraced being the older kid at most homeschool gatherings.  He treats the other like younger siblings.  They all gather around him when he shows up and just fawn over him. He loves it!  🙂 He is 16 and his following at different groups is kids aged 8 to 12. The parents all think he is wonderful too. 

 

 

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I was watching the Julie Bogart video on Youtube about the new format for the Arrow and it made me think of the discussion here and on the other thread about how homeschooling parents want curricula that is more box checking, hand-holding, etc. It made me a little sad. The new Arrows come with a guidelines packet that includes a Skills Tracker and a weekly planner. I've always seen complaints about how people can't figure out how to implement Bravewriter. I'm sure this change was made to respond to those complaints. 

I'm not an experienced homeschooler at all but we've sampled several different LA curricula over the years when I afterschooled and now as a homeschooler. I've seen most of the different styles. We struggled with the structured LA curricula. WWE, W&R, Classical Composition, and FLL caused tears. I think that is so much going on under the surface with capable homeschooling parents that is assumed to be there by the writers of these curricula. (I'm not expressing my opinions well here so excuse the vagueness. )That under the surface stuff isn't defined so people who don't have it don't even know that they are missing it. 

Grammar is a good example of this. I don't think kids need to study grammar every year. There's skill involved in knowing when to focus on a skill and when not to but how do you do that without knowing the skill yourself? 

Another kind of 'under the surface' thing is a language rich environment. 

I don't know how anyone can become a good writer without personal coaching. I wrote a law review after I graduated from law school. A friend who had written a few published law review articles gave me lots of practical advice about the process. I also sought the help of a few former professors. I also had this great book to use as a guide. Academic Legal Writing My article was chosen for publication by several law reviews. I would never have been able to produce that article without assistance from knowledgeable people and a good textbook. 

That the kind of thing that I mean by "under the surface." Someone like 8 gets the results she does because everything she knows about grammar and writing is always there when she is teaching her kids. 

My self education efforts for grammar (still rusty, obviously), the writing process, and literature have provided much more to our homeschool than reading the FLL script to my daughter. I know a few women with very young kids that they plan to homeschool. I've advised them to self educate but they never take that advice. They seem to think it's strange for a homeschooling mother to spend time educating herself instead of her kids. They think that they won't need to know those things because the curricula will teach their children those concepts. 

ETA that self education is so easy today which I try to tell these young mothers. You can buy a used copies of grammar books and books about writing on Amazon for next to nothing. I think someone wrote above about time vs money. It won't cost much to give yourself an education about language arts but it will take time. Or you can spend the money to have your child be educated by someone else. But these young mothers who ignore my advice don't want to spend either time or money. To be fair, some of these mothers have neither time nor money. 

Edited by Ordinary Shoes
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57 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

They seem to think it's strange for a homeschooling mother to spend time educating herself instead of her kids.

I have found self education to be so empowering as I homeschool! "Mommy brain" is a real thing, and when my oldest kids were young I would joke that they were sucking the brain cells out of me while they nursed 😉 Relearning algebra right along with my kids (and learning tons of world history for the first time) gave me a lot more self confidence and set a good example for my kids of lifelong learning as well. I'm currently brushing up on my Spanish and taking a photography class and it is so so so good for my kids to see me struggling with a concept or an assignment.

I think a lot of people today just don't know how to learn, or they aren't interested in learning. 

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12 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

This is a big question and requires a big answer, and I'm struggling with being concise tonight! 

The main theme running through our life is strong family bonds. Like @Momto6inIN, I was not interested in playing second fiddle to the school. We briefly tried school and it was apparent after only a few days there that the school felt they had more rights and entitlements to the kids than the parents did. If I sent my child to school, I'd be agreeing to put his relationship with school ahead of his relationship with me and his father.  I am not willing to do this.  The values of school are not our values. And if anyone reading this has kids in school and is happy and fulfilled with their family-child-school, relationship, great! I"m glad it's working for you, but it became clear very rapidly that it was *not* going to work for us and would have negative effects on our family life.  

While we are not "school-at-home" homeschoolers, we are "intellectual" homeschoolers, meaning I don't do any tests or book reports, but we do a heck of a lot of reading and discussion.  The rampant anti-intellectualism running through homeschool groups makes me angry, and has made me question whether we should continue homeschooling.  Maybe he'd be better off in school where someone cares about learning? 

The co-ops here provide such low-quality "learning".  The only benefit to these groups is the social aspect, but DS11 is starting to get annoyed when all the kids want to do is socialize, and we're running into the same sort of cliques and drama that you'd find in school.  The library enrichment activities are like this, too.  I've been looking -hard- for more intellectual activities and groups for him to join, but there isn't anything here.  Someone tried to get a science club going, but it fell apart. "Science" around here equals "Nature Study".  Math equals "baking". I asked if anyone knew of a math club in the area, and a *math teacher* chuckled and said she'd never heard of such a thing and didn't think there would be much interest, anyway. 

I just feel very discouraged. I feel like I've lost my way.     

 

 

 

I'm so sorry to hear you feel this way! We don't do co-ops either. I have one friend in particular who asks me every single year if I'm going to join hers this year, and my answer is always no. They just don't align with our goals.

We've had better luck with EC's. Our speech and debate group has a lot of very academically minded hs'ers. It seems like debate in particular attracts a certain more intellectually inclined kind of family. Do you have one of those in your area?

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1 hour ago, Momto6inIN said:

I'm so sorry to hear you feel this way! We don't do co-ops either. I have one friend in particular who asks me every single year if I'm going to join hers this year, and my answer is always no. They just don't align with our goals.

We've had better luck with EC's. Our speech and debate group has a lot of very academically minded hs'ers. It seems like debate in particular attracts a certain more intellectually inclined kind of family. Do you have one of those in your area?

 

What is an EC? 

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2 minutes ago, forty-two said:

Extra-curricular, I think.

Ah.  No, there are no extra-curricular type groups around here.  There are a few businesses that offer activities, but they are pretty expensive.  DS11 takes an art class once a week that he likes.  There is a new coding dojo that opened about 30 minutes from here, but it's $250 a month (I can't afford that!).  We don't have a YMCA or a parks & rec department that offers classes.  There is a parks department with classes in the next town over, but they only offer things for kids through 3rd grade. There is a chess club in the nearest big city that is very affordable ($30 a month), but it's 40+ miles away. 

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I've tried to get a lot of different things going around here and it's all kind of fizzled out. I don't want this thread to become one where someone says "But have you tried this?" and then I "Yes, but..." and poke holes in everyone's good ideas. That is exhausting for everyone! 🙂  But I really have tried to get some things going here for the local homeschool community, and there isn't enough community support.  Name it, and I've probably tried it. I even ran the local group for awhile! (Never again!)  I have a friend that has homeschooled in a few different states in the US, (her kids are graduated now), and she said this was the hardest place she's ever homeschooled because families simply do not want to meet up.  She said her boys didn't have friends for a few years, despite all her efforts to get them connected with other kids. There's tons of stuff for kids through 3rd grade, but after that? *shrug* 

I've joined other cities and states homeschool groups, to see what is available in other locations.  Maybe my standards are just too high? Maybe I'm being unrealistic? And honestly, it makes me want to cry, because in so many other places there are lots of options.  Debate clubs, robotics, coding clubs, chess clubs, art groups, board games, co-ops, theater, community bands and orchestras, programs through the Y.  Some of these things are through homeschool groups, some are offered through the town or a university.  The game shops even offer D&D meetups for the kids!  I suggested this to a few different shops around here and was laughed at, lol. They don't want kids that young in their stores, they said, and they aren't a free babysitter. Um, no, I wasn't asking for something for free.  We'd pay! Like, what you offer for adults to play D&D on the weekend? Offer the same thing, but scale the time down to 2 hours, for kids age 8-13.  No. Not interested. 

Anyway, I don't want to descend into a gripe session, because that won't solve my problem.  We've been at a fork in the road for awhile, and we're going to have to make some big decisions to improve our situation. DH has a job interview on Tuesday that may shake things up a bit for us. We'll see. 

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6 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I know a few women with very young kids that they plan to homeschool. I've advised them to self educate but they never take that advice. They seem to think it's strange for a homeschooling mother to spend time educating herself instead of her kids. They think that they won't need to know those things because the curricula will teach their children those concepts. 

ETA that self education is so easy today which I try to tell these young mothers. You can buy a used copies of grammar books and books about writing on Amazon for next to nothing. I think someone wrote above about time vs money. It won't cost much to give yourself an education about language arts but it will take time. Or you can spend the money to have your child be educated by someone else. But these young mothers who ignore my advice don't want to spend either time or money. To be fair, some of these mothers have neither time nor money. 

I don't know how much I have to add to this conversation, considering my own background as well as the fact that I've only been educating my kids "officially" for five years, but this is what matters most to me. This is why I keep doing what I do. The possibility of self education is exciting and thrilling to me, and I truly believe that modeling that kind of learning to my kids is the best thing I can do for them.

I do use scripted curricula a lot of the time, and I use the same curricula for each kid (so far). Using scripted curricula taught *me* how to teach, and reading more about learning styles and educational philosophies and other people's experiences have taught me how to differentiate the way I present material to each child, despite using the same materials. I choose material that helps *me* understand, and then *I* teach my kids. Maybe I' doing it the hard way, but I don't have the resources to buy several different programs for each child. If I run into the situation where a resource just is.not.working., I'll reevaluate, but for now I haven't had that happen. 

I found some of the conversation on the Calvert thread really interesting, because I *am* using an online program for my own education. I'm taking a really long time to work my way through Easy Peasy's high school program, because I want to be able to go the long haul with my kids. I have no problem with saying, "This subject is beyond my capability, so let's find a tutor or an online class for you," and making sure my kids' needs are met, but I want to finish a high school program JUST FOR ME, as well as preparing myself for the parts of high school I will teach my kids myself. I love to read the experiences of highly successful homeschoolers, even when I begin to feel intimidated by their experience or expertise. I'm nowhere near their camp. But I know how to learn *with* my kids, and I know how to educate myself and find the resources that I need when I need them. Is my "high school education" going to be as good on my own as it might have been if I had been blessed to attend a decent school? Probably not, if for no other reason than I don't have many people to discuss ideas with. I certainly hope my kids have a better education than I do. Bit I'm confident that I can help them own their education, and I can facilitate and provide discussion/resources/etc that I, myself, lack. The lifelong pursuit of knowledge is a keystone of not only our home, but our family life.

And I hope some of this makes a little sense. 😁

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