Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler ....

I really do love the lifestyle of homeschooling. Today was an almost perfect homeschooling day, in my opinion:

(I took the day off work today so I could do this)

  • Mom is up at 5:45 to start chores and pack a lunch
  • The kids get up at 7am for their chores and breakfast. They went out to take care of the chickens and goats, made their own breakfasts, and got ready to go
  • 7:30 Dad left for work
  • 8:00 all the chores were done and Mom took 30 minutes to do emails for work
  • 8:30 departure for a field trip. Audiobooks (Murder on the Orient Express) in the car.
  • 10:00 field trip time at a Salmon Hatchery and Hydroelectric Dam with our homeschool group.

  • That lasted until 12:30, and then we drove back home, eating our packed lunch in the car and returning to our audiobook
  • 1:30 return to our town, grocery shopping together
  • 2:30 piano and guitar lessons at the music studio. Kids do language lesson apps while waiting their turn for their music lesson
  • 3:30, drive across town with a couple errands along the way
  • 4:00 sit down with one of the kids to do our online writing class through Bravewriter, while the other kid goes online to play on steam with friends. A couple shape poems uploaded to the class website and then ....
  • 5:00 kids do some chores (taking care of animals, again) while mom makes dinner
  • 6ish, dinner is done, Dad gets home from work, and we sit down to watch a movie (The Space Between Us, verdict "eh") together
  • 8:15ish, eldest presents his finished report on Frankenstein to Dad, who fills in the rubric Mom created for book reports
  • 8:45ish, both kids play some music for Dad from their latest pieces on piano and guitar
  • 9:15ish, kids off to bed, final chores of the evening for Mom and Dad, all to bed

Is every day like that? Not at all! Every day is completely different, but that's part of the appeal for me. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Taking a Sabbath

Part of the "homeschooling lifestyle" that I love the most is the flexibility. There are so many ways to organize and schedule your homeschool, finding the rhythm and routine that is best for your family. We don't have to do school for 9 months and then take 3 off, but instead can take smaller breaks in different seasons and travel on the off-season. Or we can do the "Sabbath schedule" and do school for six weeks and then take every seventh week off. We tried that method last year and loved it in many ways.

However, this year I identified a need I felt to have a day "off" each week. I work for a church, as a full-time Director of Religious Education, and I also homeschool and hobby farm. It's a lot! I found myself just cramming my "day off" from work with as much school work for the kids as I could, and there was truly never a day for rest.

So this year we have scaled back. We are only doing school on four days a week, leaving weekends for scouts, chores, church, family sit-down meals, and community volunteering (sometimes for fun too), and taking a Sabbath on Mondays.

Monday is my day off work, and as much as possible I'm also protecting it from the scheduling of activities, appointments, and errands. There are no To Do lists on Mondays, no appointments, and no fancy plans. There is also no TV watching or computer or video game time allowed, and really limited social media/email (I haven't managed to really go a whole day without checking it, but that's the goal.)

What do we do instead?

Family Board Games
Movie Night
Puttering (different from chores because there is no plan and you don't have to finish anything)
Craft Projects
Read Books
Bake/cook together
Be Bored!
Play Outside/Together
Go on Walks or Bike Rides
Train the Dog to Do a New Trick
Create Music, Write a Story, Make Art
Etc ....

The kids sometimes have a hard time with it. It's boring. They long for their screens. I have relaxed a few of the "rules", so now they can watch the news and play video games that they play together.

I have trouble with it. There is work to do! Time spent this way feels decadent, and hard to justify when there is just so much to be done. 

But yesterday as I spent hours playing a long board game with my children and eating warm-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies I had helped my daughter bake, I had a thought:

This is a magazine-perfect-moment. You know how we say "my house isn't magazine perfect"? I'm always wishing I could keep my house clean enough and well-enough organized to look like a magazine picture. But that's the space ... what about the way we live our lives within the space?

What if I forgot about making everything perfect so that I could have a lovely perfect moment in time, and just had the perfect moment in time right here, right now, in the situation as it was? In other words, since I'll never achieve the time when all the work is done, and the house is perfectly clean, and we have already learned everything we can learn, and in that impossible-mythical time then be allowed to enjoy my life and my children .... 

Well, since that will never be achieved, maybe waiting for it is a waste of this one precious life we have been given. My children are growing up quickly. Yes, they need to learn their math and their history. But in the end of the day, will we measure our time together as a family by how much curriculum we covered, how hard we worked, or even how many books we read? Perhaps instead we won't measure our time at all, perhaps we will simply remember that perfect moment that was warm cookies and a board game, or the time we spontaneously broke into a dance party because a good song came on.

Maybe carving out the time to just be will let them grow in a way that all the doing in the world was never going to. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

High School Colonialism and Post-Colonialism Syllabus

High School Colonialism and Post-Colonialism Syllabus:

Research the following:

1.       Define the following terms: Colonialism, post-colonialism, Third World, Global North and South, “West and the Rest”, Tricontinentals

2.       The Doctrine of Discovery and Liberation Theology

3.       History of European Colonialism (include Columbus, Leopold of Belgium, and look at colonialism in the Americas, Australia, Africa, and Asia)

4.       Independence and Liberation movements: especially Gandhi, Che Guevara, Frantz Fannon

5.       Corporate globalism, Nestle, and Fair Trade movement

6.       Relationship between women’s movements and feminism and colonialism/imperialism

In your research use:

1.       These books:

a.       A Short History of Colonialism by Wolfgang Reinhard

b.       Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction by Robert J.C. Young

c.       Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

d.       The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fannon

e.       Others as you find them

2.       These TED Talks:

a.       https://youtu.be/I7CyPpnZ7PU “How the colonial past influences how we see the world today”

b.       https://youtu.be/s7lmz4UL4wE “African post-colonial development”

c.       And others as you find them

3.       Documentary Films:

b.       And others as you find them

4.       And other resources, articles, and websites as needed

Final Paper:

The final paper should present your research findings and your thesis about colonialism and post-colonialism.

Minimum length: 4 pages, single spaced, 12 point font

Include an annotated bibliography

Due Date: December 1, 2017, See Rubric for further expectations for grading

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Weird, Lonely, Unsocialized Homeschooler

Last week I was sitting with a group of other homeschooling moms, watching our kids play at a park and chatting casually about all things homeschooling. My own mom joined me there, which launched us all into a conversation about what has changed in homeschooling in these two generations. Turns out I wasn't the only 2nd generation homeschooler in the group, although the two other moms who had been homeschooled had only been homeschooled for a portion of their education, and had also attended both public and private schools.

So what has changed? This is only from my perspective and from this conversation .... I have no statistics or data to back this up. But what I see has changed is:

Social Acceptance

When I was a kid being homeschooled, it was still perceived as a really weird, fringe thing to do. When I saw homeschooling represented in the media or discussed in the news, it was always in a negative way or framed as something for super over-achiever kids like Olympic athletes or geniuses.

Now homeschooling seems to be much more accepted as another possible choice ... a minority choice but not just for the super fringe of our society.

And that might have something to do with ...

Greater Diversity

The homeschooling population is getting more diverse. People are homeschooling for many different reasons, with different philosophies and methods, and in all sorts of communities (rural, military, urban). But there is also increasing racial and religious diversity.

Networking and the Internet

New ways of communicating are making it easier for homeschoolers to find each other, as well. When I was a kid, my parents were part of the state homeschool organization and had some support groups they could be part of, and we did know other homeschoolers ... but only a handful. At one point my parents organized a "science scouts" type of group for about 6 kids. And that was it. It was OK .... I made friends through dance classes or theater productions, so I wasn't completely alone or "unsocialized" (that whole issue is a whole other post!), but I also didn't have a homeschool community.

Now, there are many homeschool communities. We are part of a Meet Up group online that has almost 300 families in it, and they organize all sorts of events, ranging from a casual gathering at a park to a structured workshop or field trip.

My kids are growing up with other homeschoolers, and in a more diverse community than I did. They are being accepted in ways I was not. Things have changed, in a good way.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

High School Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism Syllabus

Here's what I've put together for another of my High Schooler's social studies:

High School Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism Syllabus:

Research the following:

1.       Define the following terms: prejudice, bias, discrimination, oppression, racism, privilege, systemic/institutional racism, intersectionality, environmental racism, and white supremacy.

2.       Define the following: ageism, ableism, anti-racism, classism, feminism, heterosexism, homophobia, reverse racism, sexism, tokenism, transphobia

3.       Social Darwinism and eugenics

4.       United States history from the point of view of the oppressed (see books below)

In your research use:

1.       At least four of these books (you can search for others as well):

a.       A Time to Break Silence: The Essential Works of Martin Luther King Jr., for Students

b.       A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen

c.       A Queer History of the United States by Michael Bronski

d.       An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz

e.       A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn

2.       Watch and use the discussion guides for at least two of these movies:

3.       Watch and discuss these documentaries:

c.        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5804038/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1 I Am Not Your Negro

4.       Read from at least 3 of the following books as well:

a.       Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

b.       Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin

c.       We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

d.       Waist High in the World by Nancy Mairs

e.       Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin

Final Paper:

The final paper should present your research findings and your thesis about oppression and racism in the United States and what is needed for us to become an anti-oppression/anti-racism society.

Minimum length: 4 pages, single spaced, 12 point font

Include an annotated bibliography

Due Date: November 1, 2017, See Rubric for further expectations for grading

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

High School Gender/Women's Studies

As we transition to High School, we are shifting from unit studies that were very free-form (pick a subject you are interested, mom will get you as many resources as she can find, spend a month exploring them, write a paper and create a project) to a syllabus structure with set topics.

From the list of options, he chose for the Fall: Women's Studies, Colonialism and Post-Colonialism, and Anti-Oppression/Anti-Racism

Here's the syllabus I created for Women's Studies:

High School Gender and Women’s Studies Syllabus:

Research the following:

1.       What is gender? What have been the changing understandings of gender and gender roles in American history?

2.       When did the Women’s movement first begin and who were the central figures? (Seneca Falls) What were the issues between the women’s movement and racial justice movements?

3.       How has women’s inequality been established/enforced throughout American History?

4.       What was the “2nd Wave” of Feminism? Who were the central figures and events of this moment in history?

5.       What happened to the Equal Rights Amendment?

6.       What are the current trends and voices in Feminism and Gender Justice, around the world? (look for diverse voices representing women of color and trans people as well as white American women).

In your research use:

1.       At least two books considered classics in the field, such as:

a.       A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

b.       Woman in the 19th Century by Margaret Fuller

c.        Ain’t I a Woman? by Sojourner Truth

d.       The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

e.       Feminism is For Everybody: Passionate Politics by bell hooks

f.        The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

2.       Find at least 4 gender or women’s studies TEDTalks and watch them

3.       And look into at least 4 websites (such as the following but not limited to them):

b.       http://www.feminist.org/

c.        http://www.nwsa.org/

4.       Also, Interview at least 3 women or non-binary gendered people in your family or community about how they’ve experienced their gender in our society.

Final Paper:

The final paper should present your research findings and your thesis about gender discrimination in our society and where we should go from here.

Minimum length: 4 pages, single spaced, 12 point font

Include an annotated bibliography

Due Date: October 1, 2017, See Rubric for further expectations for grading

Monday, July 24, 2017

Back to the Books!

Summer is a great time for learning like what I've pictured above: outdoors, field trips, hands on, travel, adventure, exploring. Summer is also a great time for building, gardening, preserving and cooking food, and taking part in community through the many (often free) events, festivals, and camps to be found this time of year.

But we school year round. So, although we have been on break from the books since early June, we are about to go back to them! Summer can be a good time for books, too.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

High School Literature List

The biggest change coming up for our learning adventures is High School!

When I started thinking about what our high school plan would be, I started with the part that would be the most fun for me ... the reading list. I wanted a list that was a bit of the Classical Conversation, but also strongly multicultural. Here's what I've come up with so far (a work in progress, always open to suggestions).

High School Reading List:

English Literature:


Bronte Sisters

Jane Austin


Oscar Wilde

American Literature:




Edgar Allen Poe



White Women’s Literature:

Sylvia Plath


Kate Chopin


Harper Lee

Handmaid’s Tale

Multicultural Women’s Literature:

Their Eyes Were Watching God

When the Caged Bird Sings

The Color Purple

The House on Mango Street

Joy Luck Club

Classical Greek/Roman:

Plato, The Republic


Oedipus Rex







Albert Camus


Victor Hugo

African American:

James Baldwin

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

A Raisen in the Sun

Letter From a Birmingham Jail

Beloved, Toni Morrison

Native American:

Sherman Alexie

Indian Horse, Richard Wagamese

An Incovenient Indian, Thomas King

Ignatia Broker

Moccasin Thunder

Asian American:

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


Tuesday, July 4, 2017

It's Been Awhile ....

This blog has been long neglected. For 2 1/2 years!

In those 2 1/2 years, we fell into a happy rhythm with our homeschool, found a good software package for helping organize our school, rearranged our furniture and house to find the "right" set up more times than I can count, incurred far too many library late fees on the giant piles of books we checked out, and got one kid done with Middle School and the other done with Elementary School.

I stopped blogging here for many reasons, and it is harder to blog about family life and homeschooling as your kids get older and want more privacy. Truly, their stories are not mine to tell, and it gets tricky to separate my story from theirs. However, this homeschooling and educational journey is a story I want to tell, and my urge to write and chronical is no longer fulfilled by Facebook or any other short-form social media sharing, so here I am again.

And I'm back to blogging with a bang! I could have just tried to restart this blog, but no .... I also went and started another! Here I'll focus on learning adventures, and I'll write about sustainable and intentional living over at My Purple House.

So, if anyone is reading this, welcome!