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Watching the kids make art is, by far, one of my most favorite things. I love how cautious they are at first, careful to dip their brushes lightly into the puddle of paint, careful to make sure every bit of the previous color is clean from the bristles before selecting a new shade. 

It’s short lived, then they get more excited and carefree, dumping their brushes into three different colors and smushing the gloop around the canvas, barely cleaning the brushes off before dumping them into another rainbow of assorted colors. They discover, through play, what color they get when they mix yellow, blue and red together, they trade brushes and learn different techniques for utilizing them. I cringe at every mixed color and every bristle now permanently bent out of place, but it’s entirely worth it. 

Sometimes I’ll give them a task, but mostly I just like to set them up and let them go. I like to watch their processes, and to see their ideas come to life. 

atlantablackstar.com
The Freedom of Unschooling: Raising Liberated Black Children Without The Restrictions of School - Atlanta Blackstar
By Akilah Richards My daughters Marley, 11, and Sage, 9, are fully immersed in childhood, exploring a variety of places and things and learning to manage relationships among their family and their peers. Our girls are beginning to develop their own unique understanding of the world and their place within it. In many ways, they are …

I really like that homeschooling is being more accepted as a choice of schooling, but I really get irked when the only way to show homeschooliing in a good light is to prove how many “elite” students they produce, or somehow showing its better than any public/private school ever.

No child should be pushed to be “elite” if they don’t want to.  They should learn to push themselves and to desire learning, but getting the best grades and the most advance classes should not be a priority.  I don’t care how they are educated: they need to be encouraged to learn and prepare themselves for their future lives, not be trained as perfect student pets.

Some kids in homeschooling?  They are average, or below their grade level.  Maybe Jane is great at science and math, but she has a hard time with grammar and writing. Joe has a speech impediment that makes him shy around other people and needs time to know someone.  Robin has a physical disability that prevents him from traveling easily but he loves reading.

But because these kids are homeschooled, they can use their own curriculum to support their strengths and overcome their weaknesses.  Jane can move up a grade or two with her sciences and mathematics but still have a lower grade language arts program to help her understand it more.  Joe gains confidence at home and with his therapist as he learns at his own pace and by the time he meets the neighbor kids to play, or meets with fellow students at a homeschooling co-op, he can work with others just fine.  Robin is stuck at home for most of his classes, but because he can finish his work early he and his parents have extra time to go visit a museum or library or even a movie theater.

Homeschooling should be about encouraging individuality in learning styles and flexibility, whether the child is an A+ student or struggling just to keep up.

The point is that whether its homeschooling, private school, public school, or a mix of the three over the course of the child’s life, our focus should be on, “what is best for this individual child?” not “Which method will make my kid look better than the others?”

Homeschooling Black Children: This Is How (and Why!) This Mom Does It. Plus: a Book Giveaway!

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By RACHEL GARLINGHOUSE

Homeschooling often evokes mental images of White ladies wearing long skirts with their hair badly permed. They drive big vans, carting their herd of children around town to places like the library. But today’s average homeschooler is a far-cry from what many of us think of. You might be surprised to learn that many of today’s homeschoolers are parents of Black children. (

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Homeschooling is an act of liberation and an act of passion. It is an occasion to walk away from institutional images of life and to embrace a vision that is filled with personal meaning and unmistakable truths for our families. The quality of awareness that comes from the heart is more dependable… Homeschooling… is about helping make it possible for children to reach maturity with healthy, curious, fully conscious minds.
—  Earl Gary Stevens
Actual Conversation with My Kids: Math Lesson

My wife homeschools our kids, and with school starting up again I’ve been trying to include my kids’ recent enthusiasm for Magic into the curriculum. I took a walk to the store with my 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son last night, and here’s an excerpt from that conversation.

Me: *turns to my son* “OK buddy, let’s say you’ve got a 5/5 dragon and a 2/2 goblin. If I don’t have any blockers, how much could they hit me for together?”
Son: “Ten?”
Me: “Try again. Remember, the dragon is a 5/5 and the goblin is a 2/2.”
Son: *counts on his fingers* “Seven!”
Me: “Right! So if you’re doing seven damage, and I’m at twenty life, what’s my life total going to be after you hit me?”
Son: *gets help from his big sister to count backwards* “Thirteen!”
Me: “Right!”
Daughter: “Woohoo!”
Me: *turns to my daughter* “OK, but lets say on my next turn I play a Beacon of Immortality that doubles my life. What will my life total be then?”
Daughter: “Easy, Dad! That’s 26.”
Me: “Yep. You want a harder one?”
Daughter: “Yeah!!”

Me: *thinks for a moment* “OK, let’s say on your turn you’re going to cast a spell that costs (W)(W)(X)(X), and X is the number of 4/4 angels you get to put into play. If you have nine untapped plains, how many angels can you make, and will you have any mana left over?”
Daughter: “Hmm. Well after I pay the two white mana, I’ll have seven left…”
Me: “Right. And you have to pay for two X’s, and both X’s have to be the same.”
Daughter: *thinks for a while* “So X would be three.”
Me: “And do you have any mana left over?”
Daughter: “Yeah, I have one white mana left.”
Me: “So how many angels does the spell give you?”
Daughter: “Three angels!”
Me: “And if they all had Haste for some reason, and I couldn’t block them, how much damage could they do to me?”
Daughter: “Twelve!”
Me: “Good! Now let’s say you’ve got a Dictate of Heliod on the battlefield, and it gives all your creatures +2/+2. How much could you hit me for then?”
Daughter: “Well, that would make my angels all 6/6, so I’d hit you for… 18!!!” *sqeals with excitement*
Me: “That’s right! But let’s say I have a Gisela, Blade of Goldnight in play. She makes it so my creatures do double damage and yours do half damage against me. How much damage could your angels do then?”
Daughter: “Let’s see, half of eight is four…” *struggles for a little bit*
Me: “Think of it this way, if each of your angels is a 6/6 and they’re doing half the damage, how much is each angel hitting for by itself?”
Daughter: “Three.”
Me: “And how many angels do you have?”
Daughter: “Three. Oh, so together they hit you for nine!”
Me: “Right!!”
Daughter: “I still wish I was hitting you for 18 though…”

thefederalist.com
Why Homeschooling Is Growing
Homeschooling shows what’s great about American democracy, yet also where our national education system needs to improve.

…“Some parents choose to homeschool because they’ve done their research and don’t agree with the curriculum taught or social situations within public (or private) schools. Those with a degree in education may disagree with me—but isn’t that great? The freedom to choose what type of education your child can have should not be overlooked or underappreciated.

The introduction of Common Core curriculum mandates and tests into the nation’s public schools, and many private schools, has driven many parents to homeschool. There are reports around the country of homeschoolers increasing, simply because of this one change. In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the number of homeschooled students has more than doubled in the last school year, largely due to Common Core, and numbers statewide also are growing.”

Weeks like today where school has been minimal because of all the out of house activities we’ve had (dentist appointments, orthodontics consult, homelink, wellness check ups…) I worry that maybe I should make a bigger effort to get school done even if we’ve been running errands all day, but then I go and look at what my consultant has to say about the girls’ progress in school and how blown away and impressed she is with both of them and where they’re at academically and I’m reminded once again that occasionally one low week does not negatively impact their entire school year.

How to tell a homeschooled girl

I remember a joke I heard growing up

How do you tell if a girl is homeschooled?

She wears jean skirts and unronically says she wants to be like Elizabeth Bennet or Elsie Dinsmore

At the time I laughed because it was so true

It’s not funny anymore

Out of the more than 20 girls I grew up with

6 became nuns

Many others have never left their parents home

Its not that I think they shouldn’t have the right to do that

Its just…

Homeschooled girls

Sometimes I want to come back to you

To shout

Cry

You deserve better

And that prince charming will not arrive on a goddamn white horse

You have to go look for that fool

But you quiet girls

Raised with kissing dating goodbye

Proper courtship style hand holding

And being told that more made you like chewed up gum

Stuck on the dirty floor

You deserve more

Even if you can’t even imagine what could be better

Than the apostolate of motherhood

Because I know girls

Women like me

Who walked into the dangerous sinful world outside of the safety of our community

And made it out alive

And I know girls who are 25

Stay at home daughters

Fighting to find the dignity they were promised

When they heroically said they were not going to college because it was worldly

And while I used to think you were rebels against a culture of death

Now I sometimes think you are like Rapunzel

Trapped in a tower that is both of your making and not

Break free

You don’t have to start big darling

Something as small as reading

Exploring

Can be the beginning of the avalanche that breaks the telephone wires whispering

Staying is safe why leave

So cut your hair if you want

Those braids are often weighed down with sadness after all

I want to tell you that no matter what you do

You have dignity

Whether or not you wear jean skirts and baggy shirts

If you cover your hair or not

You have worth that is intrinsic and has nothing to do with ‘in spite of being a woman’

And the only stumbling block you will ever be is to yourself

Never to others

And yes it may be hard

Catching up on years of culture you somehow missed while living through it

To be honest I still don’t understand the pop culture references half the time

Mean girls? Is that a gang?

Girl the tv tropes page will be your new best friend I assure you

But darling you will get there one day

And when you are laughing in a city you never thought you would see

With people your past self would have never talked to

You will know you have made it

Maybe not to the mythologically perfect world that was promised to you

Because we were Generation Joshua after all

But you will have made it to reality

life

So Maria,  Hannah, Grace, Elizabeth

Whatever your classical

Saintly

Biblical name is

Remember

The only way to tell a homeschooled girl

Is if she actually tells you.

Don’t wait to be who you want to be. Do it NOW.

I don’t agree with the school system. It seems that the school system is more focused on what they want to teach children, instead  of what children actually WANT to learn. And there are children who already know what they want or who they want to be. They have some idea at an early age. Most of us had child dreams. A lot of times, those child dreams were washed away because we are born in a world that has already decided for us what we need to be doing. We were taught that whatever we planned to dream is too far to reach or somehow we are inadequate to make them come true. Sometimes, those child dreams were just suffocated with other things, that eventually, it became forgotten. Then, when we are adults, we’re trying to figure ourselves out all over again, trying to remember what we want in life. We wouldn’t have to spend ANOTHER decade trying to figure out what we want if we were encouraged more to follow our own path and just allowed to fulfill our childhood desires.

If I had my way with the schools, they would be leaning on providing ALL of the necessary materials and knowledge children need, to become who THEY want to be, instead of cramming all of this useless knowledge that most of them aren’t even going to use later in life. I understand that it is good to introduce subjects to children, but the way it is now is so forceful that it makes childhood un-enjoyable. Children should enjoy their childhood, even better, if it means guiding them on their personal path. 

Why am I talking about this? Because as of recently, I have had to make a hard decision involving my own children in regards to homeschooling. They love it because they love having a mother who teaches them what they want to know. And I enjoy myself teaching them subjects they show interest in. So it’s all good. Bonus is, there are no problems with teachers sticking their noses in our business or having to worry about my kid being mistreated.

Just imagine if you could already be living your career or just working toward it at such a young age with all the pros that come with living with parents: not having to worry about going to a dead job, paying rent and bills, or providing food on the table. I say use that time now while you are still young to carve your personal path. Don’t wait until you come out of high school because after that you are on your own, trying to wrap your head around life…or rather life is wrapping itself around your head. It’s not always pretty after graduating. It has been a tough road for me and I’m still putting all the missing pieces together. I already know all these fantastic young artists who are so successful at what they do, by the time they come out of high school, they will likely be living their dreams. 

theguardian.com
Home education: precious, not dangerous | Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison
Alan Thomas and Harriet Pattison: The case of Khyra Ishaq was tragic. But to blame home education would be naive and destructive
By Harriet Pattison

“The belief that children in school or being monitored out of school cannot be suffering abuse is sadly naive.

From the home educators’ point of view, however, the conflating of welfare issues with education is a dangerous step. It not only threatens educational freedom but also places a presumption of guilt on loving families who must prove themselves innocent to suspicious officialdom. And, most insidious of all, if the law were changed, social workers and education professionals would presumably be expected to monitor the quality of education provided.

It is here that home educators have their strongest reservations. Education at home is nothing like education at school. Research by ourselves at the University of London’s Institute of Education has shown how diverse individual learners are, and therefore the diversity of ways in which their needs can best be met. Home education can range from the highly structured, based on set curriculums and lessons, to the completely informal. Styles of education can change between children and over time, bringing a flexibility and dynamism that would be impossible in a formal setting. While officials talk the language of individualism and chances for everybody, home educators are in a position to deliver precisely that kind of tailor-made education. That school should be the benchmark against which all education is measured is resented by many home educators.”

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Rock tumbling
12/31/2015

The children have been exercising their patience on this five day project. These were some of the rocks they had collected. Some from Italy, the Philippines, in their travels interesting rocks occasionally find a way into their pockets. They have enjoyed being apart of the transformation. Hopefully this lesson, repeated, will teach them to look around at their environment with a deeper understanding and vision for potential.

yes-i-can-write.blogspot.ca
I'm Unschooled. Yes, I Can Write.: No Classes, No Teachers, No Books? The Reality of Structure in Unschooling

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen article headlines proclaiming “Unschooling: No Classes,No Books!” I always shake my head in frustration.

I suppose when people hear that unschooling is not school, they jump to the conclusion that any and all even vaguely school-like trappings of classes and teachers–or even books, apparently–must be thrown out the window. Not school must mean nothing that looks like traditional learning, and nothing that looks like structure.

The reality, though, is quite a different story.

Unschooling might be against such school trappings as forced memorization and compulsory classes, but it’s not against individuals choosing to learn in whatever ways they feel work best for them. In fact, that’s kind of what unschooling is all about! It’s the ultimate in individualized and personalized learning, which means while the lives of some individuals will look very carefree and unconventional, the lives of others might look very traditionally “educational.”

Unschooling is characterized not by its lack of structure, but by its flexibility.

rederiswrites asked:

Okay fine. Tell me your thoughts on the virtues of having your kids write fanfic for homeschooling purposes. I, for one, am looking forward to doing exactly that.

Oh! Yes, good. 

First off, most creative writing stuff is crap. Utter crap. It forces kids to make of drivel they don’t care about before it gives kids the structure and skills to really tell stories. I have to stop before I rant.

So have them write fanfic because:

a) It gives them an already-built world to plant their OCs in. 

b) It encourages and validates the passions (a book series, a video game) they already have.

c) It gives them permission to engage with characters they love and OCs they’ve created.

d) It gives them permission to copy and ‘plagarize’ for a time (not forever obvs) which is a HUGELY important step in learning that we understand in things like dancing and sports (’Do this thing like I’m doing it’) but we get horrified about when it comes to writing. 

d) It gives them a door to the online world of fanfic where they can get encouragement from others.