Homeschool Resources

Challenge the Norm, who me? No, YOU!

Since New Year’s day is typically a time of reflection and resolutions, I thought it a good time to ask you to look at your norm and consider how it could be improved. I’m sure you are already at the gym, grinding up a fresh glass of green juice or deciding what fish to bake for dinner (or at least you will be by tomorrow), but I want to push you farther than that.

I know for me, I question everything. Why do we do it that way? Do we have to? Can we change it? How do I change it? This type of thinking started with my food and the way I eat which naturally expanded to my body, how I care for it and help it heal. The progression continues with how I choose to educate my child and the daily emotional state I want for him. More than anything I want him to be in a positive, healthy state of mind and confident with himself, his abilities and choices.

I talk to people every day about homeschooling. I understand that not everyone can or wants to solely take on the challenge of educating their child(ren), but what so many don’t understand is that there is nothing about ‘homeschooling’ that means ‘alone’. You are only alone if you choose to be. If you push yourself for experiences, friendships, and adventures, they are out there. I consider myself Sebastian’s manager or personal assistant. I teach him subjects that I can and want to teach him. The rest is outsourced to instructors, groups, and environments of my choosing. That’s the difference. People and places that I have vetted to ensure he is getting the most out his time. That he is a getting a rich, fulfilling experience free of negative factors. It doesn’t mean that we don’t run into difficult people or challenging tasks, but we are together to talk about and work through them. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have a child for other people to do the majority of the raising.

This brings me to ask you to look at where your child spends the majority of their time. Who are their biggest influencers? Do those people have your child’s best interest at heart? Do they share your values? And if they didn’t would you even know?

A 5-day work week has 120 hours. If your child is asleep 9 hours a night then that is 45 hours, leaving 75 hours that they are awake. If the average school day is 7 hours, then they are at a public, government facility 35 hours a week, typically by the time they are 43,800 hours old.  This leaves 40 hours during these five days for passion learning (sports, art, music, tech), dinner, family bonding, and HOMEWORK! (what the heck did they do for 35 hours during the week?) These numbers worsen for middle schoolers and high schoolers.

Why do I ask you to look at this? Simply to ask yourself if this is the best use of their time? You only have 18 years (157,680 hours) to mold and shape this fellow human being into a healthy, happy, loving adult.  How can you best accomplish that goal? When you really look at them….are they their healthiest? happiest? most well-rested? We all know that rest, a good physical and mental mindset is the minimum necessary to learn and absorb new information.

I stumbled upon the following video a few weeks back and have been holding on to it waiting for the right time to present it. Today is my action day. The video breaks down 6 problems with our school system. They begin with explaining that our schools were first created during the industrial age to instill skills necessary for factory workers. Be on time. Take directions. Complete the task given. Don’t deviate from the instruction. The basic structure of kids sitting in a school room, taking instructions, listening to a lecture, memorizing facts and only being valued on the results of a written test has not changed for at least a 100 years. Is this what we value in today’s modern times? Contrary, we want workers who are creative thinkers, problem solvers, successful communicators, and collaborators.  Is this new, modern person who you are raising?

At school, they have zero autonomy and no control over the structure of their day. They are even told when they can/cannot talk and when they can talk, how loud it can or can’t be! In a successful career, you are asked every day to independently make decisions about what to do and when. Would you be happy being told what to do all day, every day? We place this high value on teaching language at a young age…..why is teaching autonomy and self-control so undervalued that we don’t give over even a portion of this freedom until so much later in life? Who ultimately wants to control us so badly that it must be indoctrinated so young?

If you get nothing from my ‘food for thought’ at least consider where you stand on standardized testing. There is a reason that there are now SO many groups of parents in Texas assembling to fight against STAAR and opting out! Follow the money if you’re a doubter. Do you think 13 billion per year for standardized testing is good use of the Texas education budget? Could we do more with that money and modernize our system to individualized learning?

“The Big Picture framework allows us to personalize each child’s education. Each child is a unique individual with different needs, talents, and interests. But a standardized system has no room for such differences. By personalizing education, we are able to cater to the unique needs and interests of each child. So education can be about what the child wants to learn, their passions, interests, and curiosity. This makes education relevant and engaging for each child, as opposed to a standardized system where knowledge is force-fed to children regardless of what they want to learn – their interests, talents, and needs.”  This excerpt is taken from a forward-thinking school called ‘Next‘.

I encourage you to spend 5 minutes watching this video as I only touched on a few of the ‘problems’ discussed. At the very least, question your day-to-day and be 100% sure that public school and traditional learning is best serving your unique, little human(s).

 

Leaving the Flock

A Quieter Week.

This was a welcome week. We had fewer outings and it was nice to downshift this week’s pace. We hit math, double-digit addition (with carrying) and subtraction (with borrowing) up to 100 pretty hard. I am super pleased with the progress we have made in the math department over the last 5-6 weeks. Now that I understand his learning style more, I’m not sure how he would have fared in a classroom with 22 kids. He soars under the one-on-one attention. I continue to feel validated on this decision to homeschool.

Sebastian finished the 2nd book in The Diary of a Minecraft Zombie seriesOn this day he had finished a tricky math quiz, so went out to lunch at one of his favorite places, Hopdaddy. While we waited for our food, Sebastian read to me from book 3.

This week was the big reveal of the completed ‘Meet the Blue Dog’. Sebastian was SO excited to show his dad the final work of art. We have decided to continue on with replicas of famous work and intend to frame & display them in our home. How cool!?!? Famous works of art but by SEBASTIAN! Since next week he will start a new piece, we made time for an outing to the UP library to find books on famous artists. While there, we found a book on George Rodrique, artist of ‘Meet the Blue Dog’. We learned that ‘the blue dog’ was named Tiffany in real life, a spaniel & terrier mix. His paintings for her started and transitioned to ‘blue’ as he dealt with her death and his grief.

Meet the Blue Dog
Sebastian’s replica of George Rodrique’s work.

This week at Techie factory, they worked with the video game creator Bloxels. Sebastian created a character for the game and then got to play it in another student’s world. He loves going to Techie Factory. In case you want to try it out, they are having a parent’s night out this Friday the 6th and they have ‘day camps’ on days that there is no school, like upcoming Columbus Day the 16th. You can still register for either event.

Bloxels
Creating a Character

We did make it to the Dallas Museum of Art’s ‘Who Are You?’ class. We learned about portraits and created our own self-portrait using a cut-out silhouette profile. You were to fill in the white open portion with things ‘all about you.’ Sebastian spent a lot of time creating his ‘Terraria’ masterpiece, hence the almost empty head. :-/ DMA will have another event in October for homeschoolers if you are looking to add to your calendar!

This year we were able to get homeschool (free) tickets to the fair. The process to apply starts earlier in the year, so when it comes around again for next year, I’ll post about it. Opening day was Friday, September 29th for the 2017 season. Opening day is a gem day to go. It isn’t ‘top of mind’ yet for people to do….so crowds are light, workers are happy, grounds are clean. Take note come next year! Interesting an article popped up in one of my homeschool groups about how to incorporate the fair with STEM & Social Studies curriculum. “The online curriculum combines the unique culture of the Fair with Texas history and agriculture, incorporating it into a TEKS-aligned program that focuses on STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) for grades 4 through 12.”

The week finished with my husband getting the chance to share memories with Sebastian by attending a football game at his alma mater, SMU.  I’m told they played the Connecticut Huskies and won (28-49).

SMU Footbal Game
Showing love for his Alma Mater, SMU.

I love the memes and postings about homeschooling that friends are sending me…keep them coming! received_10155296822169051.jpeg

Yep, we have some canned answers to avoid situations like these too, but if I have the time and think the audience is receptive – I will always share my insight, beliefs & knowledge on homeschooling.

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or I might add to that last line to say …’to progress at the speed of the fastest child in the class.’ Hurry, hurry, we have to cram all the STAAR prep down their throats that we can! Thank God we broke free! Fingers crossed that you do too!

Homeschool Resources

How?

Funny before I had a child, I used to talk about ‘homeschooling my kids’ one day. Who knows in my 20’s why I thought that maybe I am a secret seer.  Over the last year, I joined a few local Facebook homeschool groups to just ‘see what they were up to’. What were they doing? What did their ‘day’ look like? How did they start? What were the requirements? SO many questions when the idea first pops into your head. After a few months of just reading and getting a comfort level with the idea, a post for a nearby convention popped up. I immediately wanted to go and plotted my course to attend, the Great Homeschool Convention.  I attended two seminars. One covered the basics and was so incredibly helpful on getting started.  One was more specific to the laws and groups in Texas.  I decided not to purchase any curriculum that day,  but rather take my time and first establish which one might be a good fit.  I was encouraged to read 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum to learn more about the options.

The time came to start sharing the education and comfort level I was gaining with my husband. We discussed the topic time and time again. Things like the influence of standardized testing in our state (STAAR) and why I am an advocate for opting-out as well as the truth behind Common Core were all high factors on our list.  I also sent him articles as they would come across my groups. Like these:  New Path to Harvard, Unschooling and Homeschool Myth. In the end, he let his faith and trust in my research and knowledge guide his blessing……so here we are – all in for 2017-18 as homeschoolers!

 In Texas, you are essentially forming your own private school in which you will teach your child the state required curriculum of five basic subjects: reading, spelling, grammar, mathematics, and good citizenship. How, when and where you choose to do that is entirely up to you.  There is no reporting or monitoring in the state of Texas. When you begin it is encouraged to brand yourself and name your school. I let my son help choose a name and create a logo…..so was born,

‘Craft the Mind Academy’

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Visit Sir Ken Robinson

 

…and it definitely isn’t a fit for our family!