Monday, April 4, 2011

Homeschooling Series Comes to an End

I've now posted all the interviews I have from my homeschooling project. Soon, I'll start talking about my own feelings towards homeschooling and what I have learned from these amazing women. In the meantime, any of my readers who are not homeschoolers (or not yet, if you're like me and have young babies), what have you learned? What stands out? Have you changed your view on homeschooling? As always, be respectful of varied opinions, please. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Amy

Amy is a fabulous woman and mother of two.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

Ages 4.5 and 10 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

As a believer in life long learning I suppose I could say we've been unschooling since my daughter's birth in 2006. It's just in the past year that we've started to look closer into curriculum and began to formulate some idea of how we'll be sure our children have well rounded educations.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

A combination of factors motivated us to choose homeschooling.

In college I majored in early elementary education. I learned several eye opening things. It turns out teachers are just regular people, not super geniuses. Anyone can be a teacher! My fellow classmates included all kinds of people, and to be honest the majority of them were not someone I would trust to babysit my children, let alone educate them. I also got a good look of how schools work behind the scenes. Yes, there are caring and dedicated teachers. However, the majority of them seemed so frustrated and burned out once the students weren't looking. I began to question whether this was a career I wanted for myself. It seemed like teachers were constantly running into walls. Not enough one-on-one attention to go around, pressure to be sure their students performed well on standardized testing yearly, the same test performance expectations with less funding and larger class sizes, difficulties getting students to sit still for long enough, and on top of everything else they get to answer to disgruntled parents. Not only did it seem like a frustrating career, it also began to seem like a situation I wouldn't want to put my children into.

When I found myself pregnant a few months later I knew that I didn't want to trust institutionalized schooling with my child's education. Seeing how mainstream schools work was a pretty convincing case for homeschooling. Aside from the behind the scenes glimpse, I remember how much time I wasted in school as a kid. I was always reading books under the table. The classes were way below my learning level most of the time. I was bored out of my mind. I know I can give my children so much better than that, and most importantly I can give them freedom to learn what interests them rather than being bogged down by everything involved in mainstream school. In school classrooms it works one of two ways: Either the teacher moves at the pace of the slowest student, or the teacher leaves the slowest student behind. Neither option seems very good, whether my child is the brightest or the slowest.

Someone once told me that no one cares about your child's education more than you do. Whenever I feel a bit of self doubt in our ability to homeschool I always remind myself of that.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We are very open minded when it comes to learning methods. I guess that makes us eclectic homeschoolers! We take a little from every type of schooling, use what works, and leave behind what doesn't. I think each child is unique. My 4 year old loves worksheets and being "taught" different things. My 10 month old is already clearly the type who likes to forge ahead on her own. One thing I love about homeschooling is the freedom to choose a different method for each child based on their learning style.

I particularly like the ideas behind unschooling, especially for younger children. I've also read all of Maria Montessori's books. I'm currently working on slogging through Charlotte Mason's works, but finding them a little too difficult to read with a busy non-sleeping baby. We have a Charlotte Mason based science book that we absolutely love, which has encouraged me to look more into Charlotte Mason schooling.

In addition to learning at home, I plan to supplement as much as I can with classes and activities. At high school age homeschoolers in our area can take entry level classes in subjects like chemistry and English if they are interested. Right now we attend a homeschool co-op where my four year old has taken art class and music class so far. The co-op also puts on a play every year. They offer classes in a wide range of subjects including algebra, electronics, anatomy, and philosophy.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

We intend to homeschool until high school graduation, unless our children choose differently. If they choose to try public high school then we won't stop them, but I doubt that will happen!

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

Where in the real world do you find a concentrated number of people who are all exact same age forced by law to spend day after day in a few rooms with the same people for twelve years? Where in the real world do you have to beg permission before you use the bathroom, get a drink, or leave the building to step outside? I don't see how an institution can prepare children for the "real" world. Homeschoolers live everyday out in the real world!

I think socialization issues are caused by forcing children to be grouped together by age and locked in a building. They turn on each other. Look at the increase in school violence and bullying. Think back to your own middle school experience! My children will be well socialized out in the real world dealing with all different types of people as they go through their daily lives. They will be able to learn manners, and see how to treat people with respect rather than pick at their peers all day long.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

My biggest worry? Maybe that I will not be able to do it all. It's proving difficult to balance my different roles as a wife, photographer, mother, maid, and teacher. (Though I like to think of myself as an education facilitator rather than "teacher" since I simply provide learning opportunities for my children to explore, rather than forcing them to memorize facts.) I lay awake at night sometimes and worry about how I will be able to organize a full, well rounded education for my children while still making sure we have clean underwear and healthy food. It's a big responsibility to be a stay at home mom and homeschool your children!

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

I live in Kentucky. We're lucky here, our guidelines are very simple. At the beginning of the school year you must send a letter of intent to homeschool to the department of education in your county stating the name and residence of all of the students in attendance at your homeschool. And...that's it! So simple. The guidelines also state that we should keep a record of attendance in case of inquiry, and to teach students subjects that will help them become intelligent citizens. I think I can handle that. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Johanna

Johanna is one of the wittiest and smartest women I've encountered in a very long time. She's the mother of 5 children and is new to homeschooling as of this year.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

8, 6, 4, 2, 10 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

We are homeschooling effective April vacation 2011. :-)

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We have chosen to educate our children at home after a lot of prayer, discernment and research. We are in the unique position of having our oldest two children in what I truly believe is one of the nicest small town public school settings one could imagine, but my children are not flourishing the way I thought they would in this environment. While I love their teachers, I am deeply disappointed in the curriculum being used to educate them. I want more for my children than spending the time-- when they need most of all to learn to how to learn, and why to learn-- in an environment where the classes simply are not advanced enough intellectually for where my children's development is. Academically, I have no question whatsoever that my children will learn more at home with a well planned curriculum than they would in even very strong public school gifted and talented programs.

Beyond that, I want them to have more time with each other, more time with their friends whom are also being homeschooled, and more time to enjoy childhood. I want for my children the knowledge, not just the facts written in a textbook, that the woods sound different at 8am than they do at 3pm. I want them to be able to build a Vesuvius out of papier-mâché and build a miniature Pompeii waiting to be destroyed, to have a jar on top of the piano filled with questions to be answered, to look into microscopes to see whose toothbrush has the most germs, and to not be beholden to someone else's schedule overriding a teachable moment. That's what I hope to offer them, and I anticipate that it will be not only a serious responsibility but also a joy.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We will be using a hybrid of the Well Trained Mind texts, Mother of Divine Grace's curriculum (modified and augmented), Minimus for Latin starting in 3rd grade, and a secular science program. In addition to this, we will be participating in a co-op of other Catholic homeschooling families where other parents include former nuclear engineers as well as certified teachers who have chosen home education for their children.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

This is a decision that we will choose to make on a yearly basis. I don't believe that there is one best way of education, not for all children, and not even for all children in the same family. We are open to what works best at any given time.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I would ask what aspect of the "real world" one suggests is missing from a well designed homeschooling environment, and whether "real school" even simply in the abstract is actually conducive towards preparation for the "real world." This is one of the key things about homeschooling that many people miss: homeschooling is what you make of it.

There are bad ways to homeschool, absolutely. But there are excellent ones. If my kids are learning to grow food, to care for animals, to volunteer at soup kitchens... how are they disadvantaged with regards to the "real world" compared to children educated in a more conventional environment? I can't see how that would be the case. The world is an awfully big place, and no setting is going to prepare a child to see all of it. I would simply rather have those choices be mine to make, not being bound by the choices belonging to an administrator I have never met who may not share my values when it comes to how I want to raise my child, and the "real world" I want my children to see and be ready to embrace and change.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

Honestly? Burn out. I'm naturally introverted and I do worry that I am going to burn out unless I can carve out time specifically to have quiet.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

I file a letter of intention to homeschool with my district, followed by an individual home education plan, quarterly report cards and end of year reports. Starting in 4th grade we do standardized testing.

Thanks for the opportunity to share my thoughts regarding homeschooling, Aimee!!

Monday, March 14, 2011

YOP #11 - Dorky cats

We have four of them. These cats are complete dorks. It's so funny to watch full grown adult cats act like kittens. My oldest is 9, almost 10, and he still tears through the house like mad and plays with invisible toys.

The youngest is 2, and she is very much still in the asshole adolescent stage. She's the one we have to watch out for, as she's the one who's responsible for the scratches Cecilia has. I am hoping that the two of them will learn sooner rather than later how to play near each other without pain (and spray bottles) being involved.

Cecilia and Kitten, the one cat who actually likes her

Catpile! From left to right, that's Luna, Kitten and Lucy

Rowan doesn't show up in many photos. Black cats are hard to photograph!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Christine

Christine is the mama of two, and has recently begun to homeschool her older daughter.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

I have two girls, one's 9 years old, one's 9 months old.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

I've only been homeschooling for a little over 3 months.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

I chose to homeschool because of the possibilities it provides. My daughter can do a research paper at any time on any subject she fancies. We can do huge messy art projects, visit museums, etc. We can learn conversions of units or division of fractions while working with recipes, making lessons more tangible than words on a page. If there's a random subject my daughter wants to learn about it, we can jump in with both feet and focus on it for a while.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We have a few books full of worksheets that provide a complete curriculum for her "grade". We work from these to make sure we're covering everything we need to cover, but they are not the only resource we use, and we expand upon the lessons within.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I can't say for sure. It will depend on a lot of factors, and be based largely on what's available at the time and what she wants to do.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I point out that homeschooling encompasses the real world moreso than a classroom setting does, and that it's not like we never leave our home! We go to events at the zoo, at local museums, to playgroups, library events, not to mention socializing in places like the park, the grocery store, coffee houses, etc.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I worry that she might have difficulties getting into college, but the more I look into it, the more I realize that fear is unfounded.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

1000 hours of instruction are required during the year. 600 of those hours must focus on reading, writing, math, social studies and/or science. 400 of those hours must take place within the home location.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

YOP #10 - The perfection that is Miss Cecilia Ivy

And really, if I am being honest, she is my pleasure every moment of every day.

I never knew how much my heart could expand to encompass such a being as my daughter. She is light, she is happiness, she is the embodiment of a joyful spirit in motion. She is perfection.

She is an extension of me-- the best parts of me in one small package.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Ann

This week's spotlight is really interesting to me, because Ann is a mama in the UK. I was very curious to hear her responses, and how homeschooling is handled in England!

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

5 years (born in September 05) and 10 months (you know that one! hehe)

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Since birth really. Though my oldest was 2 when I decided we would home educate.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We chose to home educate for a variety of reasons. I started thinking about it when most of my sons friends were starting preschool. Most of his friends are a year older than him and in this country they call it 'free for three' - which means, the term after your child turns three, they can go to nursery for free (up to 15 hours a week). I think they are actually changing that - starting at 2 and for more hours. This is to prepare them to school - apparently.

Well Duncan is lucky in that he is born in September so he would be 5 (just) when he started school (Hamish not so lucky - as he would only be four!)...but that is one reason we decided to home ed ...the start age is far TOO young. Which leads to a whole other group of reasons why we choose to home ed...I also did not want to send him to preschool. I saw how they treated children and it just did not fit in with my own parental practices. School would be just the same.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We are pretty 'autonomous'. In America you call this 'unschooling'. This is because I think children know best what they 'need' to learn. I want learning to always be fun for my children. I believe they are naturally curious - and like most things I do - I let them be child led and am stood by to help nurture them/guide/help them on their path.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I will home educate them unless they ask to go to school.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I always get asked this when my son is running off and playing with other children - so I don't get it! I personally think home educated children are more well rounded when it comes to socialisation. At least more 'realistic' and 'practical'?... My son is not stuck in a class with 30 other children the same age as himself (blind leading the blind?) or restricted to a strict time-table that has been made up for them. In a typical day he socialises just fine with many different children AND adults of all ages...just as you or I do! As tempting as it might be...we don't actually lock our children in a loft/basement all day long! hehe

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I guess my biggest worry is that he won't be able to get a good job?...(as we unschool it all)...but then I think I would be worried about that regardless! So many people are coming out of university these days with a degree and no job for it!

8. Briefly, what are your state's (or in this case, country's) guidelines for homeschooling families?

There are no guidelines here in the UK. Home ed is legal. Anyone can do it. You don't have to tell anyone - you don't have to follow a curriculum and your child does not have to get tested. The only 'rule' is, if your child is ALREADY in school - and you take them out - then you have to inform the LEA (local education authority). This is just so they know (perhaps they also want to know why you took them out - was the school bad, that would reflect on their reports of the school). They may want to stop by your house and see how you are getting on - but they are in no way in control of the situation and what you choose to do/how you choose to home ed. You don't have to let them in either (they can be a bit like leaches if you do!).

I have to say - I am always amazed to hear the laws in the US regarding home ed because I always thought of America as 'the land of the free' and I get the impression that if I were to live there, I would feel far from 'free' (especially compared to the UK). Of course there was - and probably always will be - some recent stunts of crap flown about (like claims that they need to do more checks on children that are being home educated because it could be used as a cover for abuse - load of crap!) where they try to pass laws that make such things legal requirements ...but they have so far always got knocked down fast and furious.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

YOP #8 and #9 - Family

I skipped a YOP last week, mainly because I was in a horrendous mood and couldn't think of anything that made me happy at that moment. But, family is such a big pleasure that I feel they can take up two slots!

My aunt and uncle live just outside of Albany, NY. But they have decided to winter here in Tucson, and they will be here for a couple of months total. We're planning a nice dinner at their house tonight with my parents, my siblings and all of our kids.

Family dinners are lovely. Cecilia loves being around other kids so much, especially her cousins. She has such a blast! And there's nowhere else I'm more comfortable than surrounded by family. Even if I've had a rough day or week (or even month), I get a break from my mental angst when I'm with my kin.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Jen

Next up is Jen, mother of two! She uses her kids' adorable nicknames in her answers.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

Nugget is 3.5 years and Sprout is 10 months

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Since Nugget was born! We've been doing "official" school times since she turned 3, but she learns way more in daily life.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We want learning to flow naturally throughout our kids' lives. We want to maintain their curiosity. Young kids learn as easily as they breathe, but the restrictions that school places on what and when they learn can kill that. I firmly believe in the idea of "sensitive periods" -- times that a child is more receptive to learning (even driven to learn) a particular thing. With the flexibility of homeschooling, we can help our kids to remain attuned to that and can encourage and enable them in their interest.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We've "Montessori-inspired". We started out very traditionally Montessori (hence beginning at age 3, the start of the 3-6 year old Primary cycle). As we've gone along, we've found things that translate well from a Montessori classroom environment and things that don't. We've had to deal with the interruptions that a curious and mobile baby bring. :) So we have -- and continue to -- adapt our method to find what works for our family at each particular moment.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

We plan to homeschool through high school. I can't say that's what will happen; life's too fluid. But that's the assumption we're running on right now.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

Traditional school is as far from the real world as you can possibly get. A large group of children of the same age, sequestered in one room and lead by a single adult, all taught the same thing at the same pace. School prepares you for school, nothing else.

Even at 3 years old, my daughter attends homeschool groups that allow her to interact with kids of varying ages. She takes classes or attends gatherings where she takes direction from different adults. She spends her day asking questions about the "real world" (At the grocery store: Why are some things in cans? At the post office: Where do the letters go?) and learning how to maneuver through it (how to pay for something, how to read a map, how to ask for help). My daughter can let her interests drive what we study. She can spend little time on something if she picks it up quickly, or keep working on something that's more difficult until she masters it. That's the "real world" I've lived in since I left school.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

My biggest worry is balancing family life and learning time. Of course, going to school would take away even more from family time!

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

All we have to do (when the kids are 5 or 6) is tell the state we're homeschooling and have a yearly meeting with an advisor who looks over our work for the year. Many advisors homeschool their own kids, so it's a pretty relaxed thing. If you don't even want to do that, you can join an umbrella school, some of which don't require anything but telling them how many days a year you did school work.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Ivory

Last week, the spotlight was on Chance. This week, it's her sister's turn! Ivory is the mother of three precious girls.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

My kids are 5, 3, and 10 months. We are just starting on our homeschool journey, but we are lucky to have my sister, Chance, blazing the trail for us.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Informally we started homeschooling when Ella turned two and, without prompting, came to me and said "Look, I can write my name!" She's always loved to sit and devourer any knowledge we can feed her, so I've been following her lead ever since.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

This is such a large question, and one I've been trying to formalize lately in writing out our homeschooling goals.

I believe parent-led schooling has so many benefits, not the least of which being that education is not separate from family, charity and discipline, but a integral part of it. This idea that we send our children away for eight hours a day to be influenced by strangers, just so they can gain facts about the world and how they fit into it, has never set well with me. In the past, even twenty years ago when I was in elementary school, schools had the monopoly on education, because that was where the books, resources, and teachers were. Today, our children have access not only to the great wealth of knowledge of the internet, but there are also so many opportunities for the homeschooled child to attend music classes, museum events, physical education courses, and artistic events during the school day.

My area has not only a homeschool enrichment center (run by the school district, offering classes in everything from rock climbing, to flash animation, to Civil War reenactments), but also homeschool co-ops, run by educators who were disenchanted with the public school system. Homeschooling will give my children a freedom to explore their community, and their potential, that they would not otherwise have.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

At this point, with them being so small and porous, I guess you could say we are unschooling, though I do not see us following that path indefinitely. We have a handful of daily, weekly, and yearly goals we hope to achieve, but many are focused more on daily life skills than academics. We write letters to family, the kids help me cook (measuring and following directions), we take a lot of walks (they keep a nature journal where we talk about the seasons), listen to music (my husband is a classical music geek and will gladly discuss tempo and tone with them for hours) and do research on topics that catch their eyes (Ella, the oldest, is very into the periodic table
lately, which her sister Alice is more interested in sharks). What I think is important right now is to get them excited about all the possibilities, the grandness and wonder that is knowledge.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I have no idea. That is one of the freedoms of homeschooling though-- we change our course if things are not working.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

One of our main goals with homeschooling is to prepare our children for the real world, rather than ask them to conform to this idea that the "real world" is 8 hours in a desk, being asked to do mediocre work at the same pace as their peers. Our children are lucky enough to live in a community that has numerous opportunities for them to interact with people of all ages, cultures, beliefs and lifestyles, which is the type of socialization I value above the socialization offered in middle school lunchrooms.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I really do not know what our days will look like in a few years, with a 10, 8, and 5 year old (assuming we haven't had another baby by then...), and I am worried that I will find the limits of my patience, enthusiasm and creativity. I worry that I will need to go back to work. I worry that my own social unease will limit my children's opportunities in the community. I worry that my children will resent not getting to go "to school", and that they will struggle with their identity as homeschoolers. None of these worries outweighs my beliefs that, for my children, this is the best choice for now, but I worry that someday i will have to eat all of these words.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

A concise summary of Washington's homeschooling laws are here:

Monday, February 14, 2011

YOP #7 - Blog Love

In honor of Valentine's Day, my YOP for this week is about love. Blog love, specifically.

I have a pretty big blog roll, which you can see if you look to your right. I really do read each and every one, and comment fairly often.

From several of these blogs, I really look forward to and get all delighted when I see new posts. I'm not going to name names, because I don't want to make anyone feel badly, but just know this:

At least one person is reading and loving your blog. Please don't stop posting!! I will miss you too much if you do!!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Chance

Chance is the sister of one of the women in my online support group. I am thrilled that she agreed to participate in my series!!

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

My boys are 9 and 10.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Since birth! Neither of my boys have ever been in a brick and mortar school, so 5 years.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

When we moved to Arizona Aug of '05 I went to sign my oldest up for kindergarten only to learn that he missed the cut off date by 5 days. I decided to start schooling him at home. The next year, when he was finally eligible for kindergarten, we toured the school and decided that he would be better off at home. In the city we lived the system was extremely taxed, especially in the younger grades. Teachers were dealing with extreme over crowding. Other mothers that I met had pulled their child out after first grade either to homeschool or send their kids to private schools, so I opted to just never send my boys to the local schools.

We have continued homeschooling even after moving out of AZ because when the economy tanked my husband had to take a job that keeps him away from home 10+ months out of the year. Homeschooling gives us the flexibility to visit him when it it right for us. If we had to work around the public school schedule we would rarely get to see him! We can bring school with us or take a break whenever we like. We school year 'round so getting in the required number of days of instruction in Colorado is easy.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

Eclectic. Our style is always changing. We started with a child based learning style, then unit studies, then a curriculum (Oak Meadow) and now we practice a "school at home" style.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

We keep jumping back and forth on this one. If my husband starts working from home again I think I would try to convince them to go to our local public schools. If at anytime the boys would like to join public school I will sign them up and we will learn to work around their schedule. As it is now, it is totally their choice. As they get older I start to doubt my ability to teach some subjects so I have been looking into the online public schools for my oldest, who will be in 5th grade next year.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I just avoid that question. :) Truthfully though, I moved every year of my childhood and went to a dozen different schools and no one worried about my socialization. The boys have friends, they know our neighbors, they participate in community programs, strangers regularly comment on their manners and ability to communicate with anyone in spite of their age. I cannot see how pigeonholing a child in a group of kids, only their age, for 13 years helps socialize them any better than what we do.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

That they will someday resent it. But we all wish we had what we don't and did what we didn't, so one way or another we will have "did it wrong" in their eyes at some point in their lives. :) Hopefully they know it has all been out of love!

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

In Colorado, the main requirements are to register a notice of intent to homeschool with the district every fall. Starting at the end of 3rd grade, you also need to give a standardized test every odd year. We are required to complete 172 days of instruction, averaging 4 hours a day, but a ledger is not required. I do make note of the starting dates and breaks we take on my calendar just in case it is ever needed.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

YOP #6 - 10 Months

Today, my girl is ten months old. Ten months. How did this happen? How is it possible that nearly a year ago, I was giving birth to the single most joyful thing my world has ever seen? I'm actually a bit scared that a year is only two months away.

Cecilia at ten months...where do I begin? We've had some frustrating times lately. I think that a huge component of her frustration is communication based. I think she is a thinker, this one, and it really annoys her that she can't communicate the way she wants to. It leaves both of us irked and often drained.

That's really the only negative I can think of. As far as these things go, Cecilia is so amazing and sweet and joyous. She is big on physical affection and will dive-bomb me to give me kisses all over my face (her kisses often include teeth, but I refuse to do anything to discourage her from kissing me because it's seriously the best thing ever). She has a goofy little sense of humor, and she really is a sweet child. She adores people, and now waves at everyone with a huge grin on her face. She adores our cats, even if they run from her. One of them, though, is so sweet with her, and she snuggles right on him all the time. Her cousins are still in her list of top favorite people, and she loves playing with them as much as they love playing with her. Physically speaking, she's finally starting to outgrow 6 month clothing and is moving into 9 month stuff. And her hair is coming in a lot thicker in the front/top (still short in the back), and is beautifully wavy, so far.

What I really hope she is working on: Clapping (she loves it when we do it, but doesn't seem to want to do it herself), more words, and standing and walking.

I'm still amazed at how much of a little person she is now. The infancy stage is long gone, and baby even seems like it's coming to a close. It's so hard to believe I will soon have a toddler.

adorable sprout

with her favorite kitty, the one who actually likes her

enjoying some puffies (organic puffed brown rice)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Denise

Denise is the mother of three kids, and is a part of my online mom's group.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

Anna-Lee is 5, Reese is 3, and Lucy is 9.5 months.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

We've been doing a very non-structured unschooling approach for the last year and a half.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We've chose to homeschool mainly because I see a lot of the same learning styles I had as a kid in Anna-Lee. I excelled in elementary school, but was fortunate enough to have had amazing teachers who saw my unique abilities and who were able to work with them instead of against them. With class sizes in our area schools having almost doubled since then, we don't want our kids to get lost in the crowd.

As they get older, we also see homeschooling as a way to help foster their individual interests and learning goals.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

Right now, with the kids being so young, we mainly use an unschooling approach. We use her interests to inspire what we learn. She is very interested in space, in dinosaurs, and all things science. Or we turn buying a box of ice cream bars into a lesson in math (if we each get an ice cream but Lucy, that's 4. This box has six. How many extras will we have?). Its been the best approach for us over the past 18 months because a difficult pregnancy, whiplash, working, and family circumstances has made carving out daily time for a structured school approach difficult.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

Until recently, I would've said we will be homeschooling her entire academic life. But, Anna-Lee needs speech therapy. We can get it through our local public school even while teaching her at home. When we were at the school for the evaluation, I was told I'd need to have her there 2-3x/week. As we were leaving we ran into the kindergarten teachers, who was one of those teachers that I was very fortunate to have. I decided that for this semester, we'll send her to kindergarten. Anna-Lee and I have difficulty with learning to read and get frustrated with one another. I think adding a different adult into the mix will help. And if I'm sending her to school, there isn't a teacher out there that I'd feel more comfortable with.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I think it's silly to suggest spending 8 hrs a day with a group of people all the same age is real world preparation. My friends' vary in age from 20 to 65 (I'm 26), and I rarely work with people my own age. While homeschooling, the girls are going to appointments with me, to stores, to restaurants, and seeing my friends. They can take dance lessons and go visit family members. They are exposed to the real world and to many different people, just as adults are.

I do think parents need to make sure kids have access to other kids. Whether its through a homeschool group, a playgroup, meeting a group of mom's and their kids at the zoo weekly, a dance karate type lesson, etc. Otherwise its very easy for kids to get plenty of interaction, but no opportunities to really develop relationships.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I worry that Anna-Lee will grow up resenting being homeschooled. Which is a big part of why I plan to let her guide a lot of her studies, as long as she's meeting the state requirements. A big part of this is that I have a friend who hated being homeschooled and wishes she would've gone to a public or private school instead. Then again, I went to public school and in 9th grade spend two weeks refusing to speak to my parents because they wouldn't pull me out to let me homeschool! So, I guess really the biggest worry is that we'll lose the communication we need to have to make her education an enriching, FUN experience rather than something she drudges through, regardless of location.

Monday, January 31, 2011

YOP #5 - Soup

No, really. I am making chicken soup with matzo balls for dinner. There's something about soup that is so...well, perfect. I've rarely met one I didn't like. Except cold soups. I really need it to be at least marginally warm for me to want to eat it. And when there's a day like today when it's grey and overcast all day, soup is the perfect meal.

(Clearly I am no food photographer. Also, all the parsley floated to the top)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Jennifer

Here's another mama from my internet group! Jennifer is a mother of two.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

Alex - 3 years and Lirum - 9 months

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Human beings begin learning the moment they are born. I am 29... Shawn is 34.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

"[Self directed education] does not confine young people, in the manner of Public Schools, to an overly narrow range of socially permissible roles... and they will largely be judged on the merits of their work, not arbitrarily restricted on account of their age...

[If public schools were cut]... the level of general education would not decline, indeed, it would increase! The individualism and internal discipline needed for true focused learning would naturally emerge as some people pursue their academic interests while others, if compulsory school attendance laws are repealed, would try to get an early start in the business world. The morass of today's teenage subculture would largely disappear as young people's interactions would become more imbedded in the broader society rather than mired in the largely short term and superficial concerns of their peers... Hopefully, [Public school] will one day become a distant memory of a less enlightened past."
  • I can home school. Many parents cannot, I am blessed to have that option.
  • I don't agree with much of the curriculum, academic and otherwise, that the Public School espouses. I feel that the public schools are overcrowded, too many students per teacher. In home school, a student learns at their own pace, rather than having to meet the pace of the larger group, and they are not ridiculed by their peers for needing to spend more time on a certain subject. I believe that, largely, Public schools - and any education received by the student through public education - are, by very nature, externally driven. Thankfully there are true educators in our Public Schools who recognize this problem and create a grassroots effort to promote self directed education in their pupils.
  • I believe that artificially segregating children by age rather than ability hampers true education. As the author above states so eloquently, Public schools are less about academic excellence and more about "the largely short term and superficial concerns of their peers". Everyone is roughly the same age, regardless of emotional or social advancement. The real world doesn't work like that. People are jumbled together in the real world with peers of different ages. Why do we want to educate our children in an artificial atmosphere?
  • I am often asked if my homeschooled children will become socially adept adults if they don't take part in public school. I am forced to wonder how public school emulates "the real world" in any way!
  • I believe in exposing a child to a wide variety of ideas and philosophies... in the Public School system, only those ideas sanctioned by the government are taught... this is ideal for indoctrination, not so ideal for independent thought and creative process.
  • Competition rules the day in Public School. Some healthy competition is good, but when everything you do pits you against your peers, other schools, and even an arbitrary standard, it is difficult to love learning for its own sake. Being the best is all encompassing.
4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

Child-led, or self directed, Unit Studies. I like the idea of looking at a topic from all angles, as the child picks the topic and then is guided by the adult in studying it thoroughly, but if the child loses interest in the topic it is easy to step away and move on to another topic. We believe a child should be led to develop a love for lifelong learning, not just to memorize facts so that they can pass a test. We can make this style fit into our children's personal learning style, whatever that turns out to be, whether they be a tactile or visual or auditory learner, it wont matter...

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I believe in lifelong learning. I believe that I am, myself, still in my "academic life" because I am still alive. I will facilitate their self-directed education while they are children living in my home. If at some point their needs are no longer met at home, I am open to the idea of putting them in an institutional setting, private, public, or individual tutoring.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

This is addressed in my treatise linked above, however... the most basic answer would be that Public School does NOT approximate the "real world" by segregating students by age instead of ability. This makes the issue a moot point. However, SOME children who are homeschooled ARE socially awkward. But, I think we can all agree that this happens in Public Schools as well. I doubt that the actual place of education has much to do with socialization. A child's personality and access to social situations does matter. That access can be given through any number of educational models and is not restricted to education outside the home. Home educated children have access to a wider variety of social situations than do their traditionally educated peers because they are not confined to a school for hours each day.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

Complying with local and state laws while maintaining the integrity of the experience for the individual child.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

We currently live in Washington... they have some requirements, but it's not toooo onerous:

  • Education must occur between 8 and 18.
  • You must notify the local superintendent in writing and signed by the parent every year by Sept. 15th or within 2 weeks of school starting or upon pulling them out of school that you PLAN to homeschool, there are no other required information.
  • There are technically required 180 days per year of instruction but the state recognizes that the hours per day of instruction may vary and so they don't really enforce that.
  • There are required subjects and annual testing requirements, but only the parent sees the results.
  • And the parent must meet certain requirements... for example, I am "qualified" because I have more than 45 college credits. You can also qualify by being supervised by a certified teacher, by taking a state certified course in home education, or be approved by the local superintendent.
The only thing that gets my goat is the testing... publicly educated students don't submit to annual standardized testing. I think the standards should be the same for all students regardless of the mode of education. With the way some states operate, it is as if they don't trust parents to be able to educate their children. They NEED Big Brother to make sure they aren't ruining their kids... it is sad. At least in WA. the child's test scores are only given to the parent. The public may not even request them. The only time you have to divulge the scores to anyone is if you put your child into a public school. Also, the scores could go toward proving to a potential college that the student has met academic requirements. However, many many colleges (including HARVARD) have departments designed specifically to test homeschooled students to ensure proper placement.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

YOP #4 - Books

I am a voracious reader. Or, well, to be clearer, I was a voracious reader before I had Cecilia. Now I think I qualify just as an avid reader. I don't devour books at the breakneck speed I used to, because I simply don't have the time to dedicate to reading that I used to-- and that is fine! I'm now spending the lion's share of my time with the best thing that's ever happened to me, my sweet little girl.

But I still have a nightly ritual of reading. I generally put Cecilia in bed before I am ready to sleep myself, and I spend a little (or a lot of) time catching up on stuff I want to, like Facebook, reading blogs on my blogroll, reading the various fora I belong to, and so on. Then, when I come to bed, I do my little ritual:

I turn on the bedside lamp. I open the Kindle and turn it on. Generally I read a book at a time, but sometimes I go back and forth between a couple. If it's one of those times, I load up whatever book I want to work on. I rest the Kindle on my husband, who generally goes to bed before me and is sound asleep by this point. I climb over the body pillow on the edge of my side of the bed, and ease myself down next to Cecilia, who is sleeping with her upper body on my pillow. I lay on my side and gently roll her into my arms, so that she is facing me, and snuggled in between my elbow and shoulder. I wrap that arm around her, but before I can read, I take several moments (sometimes several minutes) to study, memorize, and silently adore her sleeping face. I usually give her a multitude of kisses, super softly, so that I don't wake her.

Then I grab the Kindle with the free arm on top. I rest it half on my husband's pillow and half on the windowsill, so it's at a 45 degree-ish angle. And then, all settled in...I read. I generally read for at least half an hour, sometimes an hour, sometimes more. When I can hardly keep my eyes open anymore, I get to a stopping point, close up the Kindle, turn off the light, and sleep until Cecilia wakes me up for milkies.

I could probably get more sleep at night if I didn't read in bed, but I am honestly sure I would be lost if I didn't. Reading is such an ingrained part of me, and has been since my brother taught me how to read with a newspaper at the tender age of 2. I think it's safe to say that I have read for pleasure my entire life. I hope with my whole heart that Cecilia develops a love for the written word as deeply ingrained as my love.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Sara

Sara is another woman from an online group. We all shared approximate due dates-- our babies range from February to May birthdays. Sara is a homeschooling mother of four.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

9 1/2, 5 1/2, 3 1/2, 8 mths

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

9 1/2 years. I believe learning starts in utero but for the sake of this, I'll say since birth.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

There isn't just one reason. Both my husband and I felt led by God to homeschool since before we knew each other. We decided to follow that leading because we believe God has a divine purpose in each of our lives and directs us in specific paths and homeschooling is the path we believe He has led us down.

We also have some major issues with what is being taught in the public school as well as how certain subjects are being taught. We cannot afford private school but, at this point, we wouldn't choose it anyway. We want to raise our children not just with learning of the mind but also learning of the heart but from a Christian, not a worldly, perspective.

My oldest has ADHD and, while she scored ahead of her grade, she has struggled learning certain subjects such as math. Homeschooling has allowed her to go at her own pace, learning in unique ways, without pressure to keep up with classmates. She also has an auditory processing disability which makes typical classroom learning very difficult. Because we want her to excel, we feel like homeschooling allows her to learn in ways that are best for her without making her feel different or excluded. It also prevents teasing or bullying from children who may not understand her difficulties.

Lastly, we feel that children need the nurture of family for as long as possible. Homeschooling allows them to be in the loving arms of their parents at any time. It also develops a close relationship with siblings because they are interacting on a daily basis without hours of separation.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

Nope. I call ours a smorgasbord. We've used and changed curriculum until we feel we've found what works best for each child.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

At this point, our plan is to homeschool through high school. However, life doesn't always go as we plan so I am keeping an open mind as to what will happen each year. I try to evaluate each spring whether I feel like homeschooling continues to be the best choice for our family.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I'm not sure where this argument arose or why it arose. There are people who have been raised in public, private and charter school settings who still graduate with very little skills in relating to other people. A lot of the relations you tend to see at school arise around anger, bullying, jealousy and cliques. Why these would be considered necessary to knowing how to live in the "real world" is beyond me. And, I'm not sure where those claiming this argument think a homeschooling child is currently living. It is not as if we who homeschool place our children in an isolated environment. A child who is homeschooled isn't left unattended, or at least shouldn't be left unattended, all day. It just means that their learning is done at home. So, they are still surrounded by others whether it is adults or other children. For my children, they are surrounded by myself and my husband, their siblings, the children at church 3 times per week, dance class, playdates, field trips and other activities. Our children have experienced no issues with trouble socializing. In fact, our oldest, who is the oldest by 4 years, is one of the most outgoing children I know and has no issues with making friends and fitting in in a classroom setting.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

Being able to keep up with organization and what needs to be accomplished each day, week, month and year.

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in.

MN: Start date age 7. Yearly testing though the results only have to be turned over to the state if the child scores in the lower 20%. Yearly information turned into the school district by October 1st including vaccination information and a school calendar. I follow the guidelines written up in MACHE (Minnesota Association of Christian Homeschool Education). Because neither my husband nor I have a college degree, we have to turn in quarterly report cards, but we choose the scoring. That's all I know for now, for elementary age. I'm not sure if it changes in later school years. We are also members of HSLDA, a legal defense agency for homeschool families.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

YOP #3 - Nursing

Most of you probably know that nursing has not been an easy road for me. I have had a low supply the whole time, although it used to be quite a bit higher than it is now. In spite of taking countless combination of herbs, medications and foods, my supply is simply becoming nonexistent. Nursing also hurts now, every time, most likely because she's almost nursing dry. We're still pushing on, though, and for a few reasons, I won't be weaning Cecilia off my breast any time soon.

The most practical reason is because she doesn't take a bottle and she has not yet gotten to a stage in her solid foods journey where she is replacing any "meals" with solids-- she still nurses as much as she used to in addition to eating some solids.

But really, the biggest reason is because of the bond nursing gives us. If I hated it desperately and was in agony, I could probably figure out a solution-- a sippy cup without a valve, a regular cup, try every single bottle ever manufactured, whatever-- but I am lucky to have a high tolerance for pain and (in this case) a stubborn streak. I love nursing even when it hurts. Having my child right there at my breast reminds me of the months she spent inside my tummy, and then it reminds me of nursing a little itty bitty newborn Cecilia, and then a slightly bigger Cecilia, and so on, until I get to the funny little 9 month old with her nursing leg gyrations (as seen above).

So yeah, not stopping any time soon, even if my milk dries up completely. I'm a lucky, lucky mama to have milk donors who will keep my daughter in breastmilk even if I can't.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Rebecca

Rebecca is one of those mothers I always strive to emulate. She goes with the flow so well and never seems to get too upset or worked up over everything! I really could take a page from that book...

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

The homeschooled child is 5 1/2 at the moment.

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

A year.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We had always planned to homeschool because neither my husband nor myself felt that the school system worked very well for either of us. On top of that, my son was born with extreme allergies and I do not feel comfortable sending him into an environment covered in allergens likely to give him hives daily.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

No. I picked a curriculum and am supplementing with other sources. I don't do everything the curriculum says to do and I add things that I think would fit well with the way he learns.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

If any of my children would like to go to public middle school, I'm willing to discuss it with them. If they want to go to public high school, they certainly may. I have no problem homeschooling until they graduate though.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

This question is a pretty common one and it's still annoying every time I hear it. School socialization is nothing like the "real world," in my experience. My child gets socialization with his cousins and other extended family members several times a week. He also attends music and karate lessons with his family. He is learning manners and how to interact with people and the world. There is a homeschooling group that gets together for hang-out time once a week, soccer time once a week (not in the winter), and at parks once a week. They also get together for field trips. We haven't attended many of these functions yet but will as the children get older.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I don't have any worries about homeschooling. I've researched it quite a bit, read several books, and am very comfortable with my choices. :)

8. Briefly, what are your state's guidelines for homeschooling families? (If you feel comfortable saying it, feel free to indicate what state you're in)

In Indiana we have to keep attendance records and they're required to attend school for 180 days a year. No subject requirements or testing is required.

This website has a good breakdown of state laws:

Sunday, January 9, 2011

YOP #2 - Safety and Happiness

After the horrific acts committed yesterday by a man who may very well be schizophrenic, and most certainly is at least troubled, I can't help but be grateful for our little family's, and our extended family's, safety.

You see, we very well could have been there. We have all gone to Gabby's rallies before, and other political events. We adore her, always have. The idea that we very well could have been caught in that massacre is exceptionally sobering.

We don't personally know anyone who was injured or killed in the bloodbath, but we have learned that the husband of the doula who runs the mom and baby group at our local birth center was injured. Our hearts go out to her, and we're very thankful that he is alright.

But a nine year old girl is not. A vivacious, bright girl who was at the rally because she had just been elected to student council and wanted to see what it was like to be a member of Congress. A girl who had been born during the tragedy of September 11, 2001, lost her life in another senseless tragedy.

A 30 year old Giffords staffer who had just gotten engaged and was planning his wedding is not alright.

A 79 year old man threw himself onto his wife to save her life-- and did so, at the expense of his own.

A much loved Federal judge who wanted to see his good friend, the Congresswoman Giffords, is not alright.

Six people dead, 14 injured, one-- our beloved Gabby-- critically so.

It's so hard to fathom this happening in our own backyard. We're all so shaken, and I can't help but be thankful that we and our loved ones are safe and happy.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Niki

Here's the latest installment in my homeschooling spotlight series!! Can I just stop and say how excited I am to be doing this? I feel like there needs to be more real information put out there about homeschooling and not just guesses and assumptions. Niki, like Ginger, is a mother of 4, and has been homeschooling for a while now.

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

10, 9, 6, and 8 months

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

This is our sixth year.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

Our first child initially went to public school, but was bored and unhappy there. Our second child has behavioral issues and would have required medication to cope with a public school setting; he has since largely grown out of his issues without medication and is meeting or exceeding behavioral and educational standards.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We utilize the Oak Meadow (Waldorf) curriculum, but also use a lot of unschooling and student-led principles. We want the kids to enjoy learning and to be accustomed to setting their own goals and achieving them with little pressure (just support and guidance) from us. We also don't push the children to learn things before they are ready for them; they end up learning the same things, but everyone is happier for having waited until the material seemed easier.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

We tell the kids that they can enroll in public school if they want to; we actually tried pretty hard to convince Becca (10yo) to try public school this year (5th grade), but didn't want to force her to. If they continue to be happy with homeschooling, they probably won't attend school until they start college or take a few community college courses as they're finishing up high school.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

Those claims are just funny. The kids are in the real world all the time, much more so than kids who sit at desks and are told not to talk for the majority of their day. We are out of the house at least 5 days a week, and the kids have many opportunities - planned and unplanned - to interact with other children and with adults. They each have at least 4-5 good friends, which is more than I can see happening for the public schooled children we know. They are in Homeschool PE classes through our YMCA, so they also "know" the children in those classes (enrollment is around 50 kids per class) in the way public schooled children would know other kids in their classes. I fail to see how they are at risk of being social maladepts given the sheer number of people they interact with on a daily basis.

The real world and public schooling as we know it bear little relation to each other; in fact, it seems the whole point of public schooling is to remove children from the adult world. We - as a society - have this thought that school is essential to development, and few of us have ever considered why it is we think that. Just because school shaped so much of our childhoods doesn't mean it was essential; it just means it was influential. Where we are more than willing to blame any number of adulthood ails on how our mothers talked to us, we somehow turn a blind eye where it comes to schooling and how it may or may not have shaped us as adults. We really need to inspect things a little more closely than that.

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I have concerns that I will accidentally leave big holes in the childrens' education, by not thinking to bring up some topic or other. Knowing what your kids should learn and making sure they learn it is a fairly big burden.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Year of Pleasures #1

While still pregnant with Cecilia, I stumbled across a group referred to as a "Due Date Club"-- a group of women who are all due in the same month-- on the forums. At first I was reluctant to post a lot, and I felt sort of like the third wheel as most of the women in the group had been chatting since finding out they were pregnant months earlier, and some even since when they were trying to conceive. Here I was, the upstart who joined at 6 or so months pregnant, and yeah, I definitely felt weird. But over time, I began to open up to these women, and now, we're a phenomenally close-knit group who are still in constant contact. We get to share joys and sorrows and talk about our rapidly growing babies.

One of the women from the DDC writes a blog called The Trivial Pursuit of Happiness. Ivory's blog is one of my top 3 favorites to read, and I get so excited when she adds new posts! I feel very blessed that I got to meet her through our DDC.

Throughout 2010, Ivory posted a weekly series called "A Year of Pleasures." The idea comes from the Elizabeth Berg (one of my favorite authors!) book of the same name. Each week, she strove to highlight something that she was thankful for, whether large or small. I adored reading this ritual of gratitude, and so I have decided that I will adopt the same idea for 2011. I will try my hardest to post once a week on what I am grateful for that week. So, here's the first one.

YOP #1

What you see here is a veritable mountain of clothing, divvied up in bins by size. Everything here was given to Cecilia from one friend. Jenna has provided us with what I'm guessing is the equivalent of two complete wardrobes for Cecilia. There is everything from newborn to size 4T clothing here. Some of it is clothes she bought for her daughter, some of it is hand-me-downs from various relatives, and some of it even came from my own sister, whose daughter handed down the clothing to Jenna's girl. However they got to her, they have now come to me, and for that I am amazingly thankful. We have hardly had to buy anything at all for Cecilia, and that alone is a tremendous blessing, given our financial situation.

And here is all of the clothing folded and tucked into bins, each of which are labeled with the size of clothing within. My goal for this week is to clean out Cecilia's dresser and closet, finish filling the 3-6 month bin with the stuff she has outgrown, and sort in the seasonally appropriate stuff from the 6-9 month bin (yes, my tiny is wearing some 3-6 and some 6-9 stuff still).

Thank you again, Jenna, for being so generous!