Posted in Homeschooling Corner

What is “Real School”?

Marcus and Mom

Marcus and I have just begun our tenth year homeschooling together. 🙂 This week he started a driver’s ed. night course through the public high school. He’s been carpooling with three other teens from our neighborhood. He is the only homeschooler in the group, and maybe the only homeschooler in the driver’s ed. class. One teen in the carpool made it a point to tell Marcus that he does not go to “real school” and that prompted my son to write an informal essay which I’d like to share here-

Something I hear all the time, and something every homeschooler will hear, is that we don’t go to “real school.” This is always annoying to hear so I decided to really figure out what “real school” truly means, and if anyone is actually using this phrase correctly. I have gathered some resources to break down the phrase “real school.”

Let’s define what real means. I am going to use Dictionary.com for these definitions. Under the word real it lists the word genuine. Upon going to the word genuine we find definitions and synonyms such as “origin; not counterfeit; authentic.” Upon delving deeper into the word origin one of the definitions is “something from which anything arises or is derived; source; fountainhead.” In other words something which is real could be anything coming from an original source.

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Cell cake

Let’s define what school means: “A session of such a course” or “the activity or process of learning under instruction” or “a building housing a school.” Sounds like normal public school, right? It’s interesting to think about how parents do teach their children many basics, and that home can be a building, but we will explore this later.

Let’s combine the words real and school together: The origin of process of learning under instruction. And for a bit of a history lesson: Everyone should know that learning has always begun in the home. Since the creation of Adam and Eve, and before public and private schools existed, everything was taught within the family and community. Before private schools, a scholar or teacher was hired to teach a very small group of children.

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Elephant toothpaste experiment

In Thomas S. Monson’s talk Teach the Children, from the October 1997 General Conference, he talks about “parents and grandparents fill(ing) the role of teacher.” Although Monson is talking more about the gospel in the home, this principle of parents teaching in the home can be applied in any and every way.

As for the definition of school as a school house, a home is and has always been a place of learning, and a home can be housed in a building. Home is always where family is and in an article called Home: the Heart of Learning, from an October 2014 Liahona magazine, it says, “All of the Church’s ‘teaching, programs, and activities’ [are] home centered and Church supported. That means our church meetings are meant to support individual and family learning.” Most things in the Church are meant to support learning in the home and not replace it. Of course, home is not the only place we can learn. We can learn anywhere, even outside. I’m not saying public and private schools are bad or wrong, but I do believe there is a better way to do them. I would like to see schools follow the example of the Church and be more home centered.

When someone tells homeschoolers that they do not go to “real school” it implies that homeschooling is fake. But upon looking at the definitions applied here it could actually imply that public school as the “real school” is actually derived from and in fact a counterfeit version of homeschool.

I just finished reading the book Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto. As I was pondering “real school” something he said stood out to me: “What’s gotten in the way of education in the United States is a theory of social engineering that says there is one right way to proceed with growing up.” Homeschoolers like us know better and we are proving it first hand. ♥

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Posted in Homeschooling Corner

My Homeschool Meet and Greet

 

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Poetry tea time display

Last month I felt inspired to offer a homeschool meet and greet in my community. I wanted to give curious parents a chance to meet experienced homeschooling parents, such as myself, so they could see what homeschooling can look like, freely ask questions, learn about a local co-op, and see some of the different curriculum available. And, to be completely honest, I wanted to invite some of my dearest friends, who send their kids to public schools (as I once did mine), to meet other homeschooling parents and hopefully see that we are actually normal (certainly not super-moms).

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I printed out favorite education/homeschool quotes and posted them throughout my entryway and living room.

As soon as I came up with this idea, I mentioned it to several friends in both camps (homeschooling and public schooling) to see if there was even any interest. Everyone was in favor of the idea so that encouraged me to go for it. I then emailed two local homeschooling co-ops in my community and invited them to participate. One said no because they are full, but the other said an enthusiastic yes. 🙂

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Unit study display

I chose to make this event a two-hour open house so it would be informal and relaxed. I chose an evening on a Thursday in May for a few reasons: First, I thought May was perfect timing for the summer months, giving parents time to ponder and plan for the school year ahead. Second, I thought a weeknight would mean dads could join in after work, and also, I wanted to avoid the craziness of the weekend. I chose to host in my own home because it’s homeschooling after all. 😛

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art and music curriculum table

As I was planning this event, I brainstormed ways to bring homeschooling to life. I was already creating a beginning homeschool resource packet, but I wanted something visual to offer besides curriculum samples. That’s when I had a light-bulb moment- I would create four main displays highlighting my favorite aspects of homeschooling: poetry tea time, unit studies, morning baskets (morning time), and read alouds. I just want to mention here, that none of these are requirements for homeschooling, although there are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children! These are just awesome ideas which many families embrace at one time or another in their homeschooling.

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Morning “basket” display

I love to design displays so this did not feel like work to me. I started setting up my displays two days before the event (I could do that because I don’t have littles at home anymore). Another visual I added to the walls were photos of our homeschooling in action.

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I put together this morning treasure chest and made it a give-away.

Along with each display and table, I put out info. cards (5×7 index size) for parents to collect if they so wished. I even hole-punched them and provided binder rings to keep them together. Each info. card briefly outlined the concept displayed (such as morning baskets) or listed some popular curriculum choices to consider. In the packet, I included reasons to homeschool, common homeschool myths, Utah homeschool laws, a little blurb about dual-enrollment, and a list of homeschool blogs which I find encouraging.

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Read aloud display

I also provided refreshments and a children’s table. I covered my kitchen table with Kraft paper and set out bowls of Legos, and washable markers and crayons. This was a bit hit with kids of all ages who came along with their parents. For refreshments, I had a fruit tray, veggie tray with ranch dip, cheese and gluten-free crackers (I knew one guest eats gluten-free), and a s’mores bar (individual bowls of Golden Grahams cereal, chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, fruity marshmallows, regular marshmallows, and Teddy Grahams which could be scooped into snack cups).

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I certainly could’ve had more guests, but by my calculations, 13 showed up (five were experienced homeschooling moms) and everyone seemed happy to be there as questions were asked and answered, curriculum handled and discussed, and sad pubic school stories shared. I heard from two different moms that there is a homeschooling growth or “surge” (the exact word one used) happening in our community, and if that is true, I think it’s wonderful. I have been homeschooling my son for nine years now. I wouldn’t trade those days/years for anything. Anyway, I’m calling this event a success. 🙂

♥ Here is something I’ve learned about myself over the 26 years of my marriage- Not only do I enjoy hosting, but no matter how early I start preparing for a gathering, I end up working until the very minute it starts! It’s just the way I roll because I’m such a thorough planner and cleaner. Do you like to plan and host gatherings? How perfect does your home have to be when you have invited guests coming over? Thanks for visiting my blog! ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

5 Things We Wish Our Friends and Family Would Accept About Our Choice to Homeschool

We began our homeschooling journey eight years ago, and you can read our story here if you’d like. We were the first and continue to be the only family who homeschools within our circles of immediate-extended family (on both sides) and our family-friends. And you know what? Before we started homeschooling, our parenting choices were never, ever questioned, but as soon as we made the choice to homeschool… Gasp! I kid you not when I say that for eight years now, our homeschooling has been a running hot topic, and not in a we’ve-warmed-up-to-it sort of way! Here is a short and sweet list of things we wish our dear ones would simply accept about our choice to homeschool (even if they never approve)-

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1. We are not homeschooling to make other parents feel uncomfortable or question their own parenting choices. Honest! Consider this: Wouldn’t the world be a boring place if we all marched to the exact same beat? We’re following our own hearts and beliefs on this one.

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2. We believe homeschooling is a superior choice for our children. We don’t even pretend to know what is best for anyone else’s children. However, when we make comparisons of homeschooling verses public schooling, they are ours to make based on our personal values and experiences with both. For our family, homeschooling offers tremendous advantages and benefits that public schooling can’t even touch. We especially love the freedom it gives us.

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3. When others share “homeschool failure stories” with us, we’re not sure what point they are trying to make. What does another family’s homeschooling have to do with us anyway? Whether public schooling, private schooling or homeschooling, each and every family is unique, with their own quirks, strengths and weaknesses. I just want to point out that there are also weird, shy, socially-backwards, (fill in the blank) kids in public school! We even know some of them.

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4. Our homeschooling takes a LOT of parent dedication, time, effort and heart. No matter what our dear ones think about homeschooling in general, I wish they would at least recognize all the hours I spend planning, organizing, and implementing lessons, activities, unit studies, and so much more. I wish they would see how much of my heart goes into it, and how much joy it gives me. I wish they could see our homeschool days in action because that way they just might realize how natural our homeschooling actually looks and feels.

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5. We consider our unconventional, imperfect homeschooling to be a parenting success. We have no regrets for choosing this lifestyle. Homeschooling makes us happy, brings us closer, and gives me more time with my teenager before he’s grown up and leaving home. We’ve graduated two daughters who are each pulling excellent grades at their universities, hold part time jobs, make time for friends, and participate in community and church activities. They’re responsible, functioning adults and to us, that proves our homeschooling has been a huge success.

Hooray for homeschooling!

♥ Thanks so much for reading! If you homeschool, what might you add to this list? ♥

Posted in Homeschooling Corner

If You Think About It, All Parents Homeschool

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As a homeschooling mom, I’ve noticed how often homeschooling gets a bad rap. I’ve been homeschooling for seven years now and for seven years, I’ve heard expressions of concern, disapproval, and my personal favorite, homeschool failure stories, from neighbors, friends, extended family, church members and strangers.

I’ve found that most of the time, if someone is genuinely concerned about my choice to homeschool, it is because they have common misconceptions about learning and education in general. Here are two simple truths about learning:

1. There is more than one way to learn.

2. All learning counts.

Let’s look at a definition of, education:

ed·u·ca·tion
ˌejəˈkāSH(ə)n/
noun

the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge.

Now, let’s look at a definition of, homeschooling:

home·school·ing
ˈhōmˌsko͞oliNG/
noun

the education of children at home by their parents.

See where I’m going with this? All parents teach their children educational things at home. All children learn educational things at home.

When a child helps mom or dad in the kitchen, they are learning and that learning becomes part of their life-long education.

And that’s just one example.

So the reality is, all parents homeschool to an extent, even if they send their children to public schools. 

I’m pointing this out so that my non-homeschooling friends and family realize that all parents teach their children but as a homeschooling mom I’m taking personal responsibility for the full scope of my child’s education instead of just a few areas such as personal hygiene, basic cooking and family values.

And yes, I am capable and qualified as a mom to teach my own child and to hand pick teachers, learning methods and subjects for my own child’s education. It’s a myth to believe only institutional schools and professional teachers can properly educate our children. This is not disrespecting professional teachers. I know some amazing school teachers and only wish they had free choice in how and what they teach. What I don’t value is our outdated, unyielding, public education system.

Homeschooling parents give their child a wonderful gift by sharing the reigns of their child’s academic, secular, spiritual, emotional and life learning with their child. This means the child has much more control, choice and personal responsibility for their own education than public schools allow. This fosters self confidence and a life-long love for learning.

❤️ So, if you are a homeschooling parent, the next time you hear someone voice concern or disapproval, feel free to point out that all parents homeschool whenever they have teaching moments with their children. You’re just kicking that up fifty notches! 😉 And I think that is quite admirable. ❤️