Mission statement: On this blog we explore why homeschooling can be a better option for children and families than a traditional classroom setting. We'll also explore homeschooling issues in general, educational thoughts, family issues, and some other random stuff.
When Henry asked me to fill in as host for this month's Carnival of Homeschooling, I couldn't say no. I have been part of the Carnivals going back to at least #3 (I checked), and this is the 472nd edition. Also, this is the week that we finish homeschooling forever at the Treehouse. Our last eighth grader will be attending a bricks and mortar school in September, and the Treehouse Academy is closing its doors.
So welcome, old and new friends, to the Retirement Edition! To those of you who aren't even contemplating that stage yet, may you have many more long and happy years of homeschooling.
I asked my second daughter to write about her first year at college. Here is her report:
I have recently completed my first year of college. I had a fantastic year; I was blessed with wonderful roommates, phenomenal teachers, and an amazing congregation on my church. All in all, it was a fantastic first year. Because I have always been homeschooled this was an interesting experience and it helped me recognize the inherent college preparation that is part of homeschooling. First, I know how to teach myself. Because I have several siblings and we are all in different grades I had to be able to motivate myself and understand things from the reading. I had wonderful professors, but when there are large classes they can’t do a lot of hand holding or explain things in individual ways to students. I already had the skill set necessary to learn new things. I can read critically, utilize google, and come to class prepared. Secondly, I knew how to study. My roommates and friends were somewhat amused my constant use of flashcards, pictures, and other studying techniques during the beginning of the semester. However, during finals, people were often asking to borrow them. During my second semester of school several friends asked me to teach them how to study which was a little surprising to me. Because I had been homeschooled, I was very self-motivated. I wasn’t reliant upon compulsory attendance, repetitive homework, or other people for my learning. I knew how to learn and I knew how to remember it. Another way being homeschooled prepared me for college was in basic life skills. Because I was often at home, I was often called upon for household chores. I knew how to do laundry, dishes, keep the house clean, and cook for myself. When a friend confided in me that they were somewhat worried about cooking for themselves away at home I was rather caught off guard. It didn’t even occur to me how my earlier education hadn’t just been academic. Homeschooling prepared me for life. Finally, homeschooling taught me time-management and self-control. Homeschooling promotes a certain sense of freedom and responsibility. I was able to choose when to do somethings, but I was accountable for how I was using my time. By the time I left for college I was accustomed to scheduling myself and ensuring I was still able to do the things necessary. I wasn’t reliant upon parental motivation. For some, the first semester of college is a shock because the student is on their own for the first time, but because I had gradually taken more responsibility throughout my homeschool education I didn’t feel like there was much of a difference. In conclusion, because I was homeschooled I feel like I was better prepared for attending college and succeeding academically.
---------- Welcome to the 471st edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling where home school families share their home school wisdom with us from all over the world via their blogs.
This month we have over 70 links to homeschool support letters, advice, encouragement, free printables, unit studies, round up posts and much much more. Grab a cup of your favourite beverage and take a trip around the world wide web for the best of the best encouragement and resources in the homeschool blogging world this month.
When we started homeschooling fifteen years ago it soon became the norm for us. Homeschooling became a way of life. In many ways we defined ourselves as homeschoolers. At times it seemed like we would be homeschooling forever.
But now with two of our children out the door and the third who will probably follow in three years, I’ve started thinking more about life after homeschooling. As our son is only eight years old we expect to be homeschooling for another nine or ten years, but things will be different when we settle down to one, and then eventually none.
Even though we’ll stop homeschooling I think we will always be homeschoolers. I like to think Janine and I will keep the love of learning alive in ourselves. This love of learning was one of my first reasons for taking the risk to homeschool. I had graduated from a good high school and earned a BS in Physics. But at 23 I saw education something you only did when you had to, not something that was worthwhile in and of itself. It wasn’t until I was close to 30 that I rediscovered the love of learning. And as my children started asking a million questions and eagerly soaking up knowledge I realized that a large part of the reason I stopped being excited about education was the regimented approach public schools take to teaching. It took a few years to rediscover my love for learning.
It will be interesting to see how life evolves as our children leave the nest and move on.
---------- Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling – March Madness. Homeschoolers could relate to the sense of madness we feel at times fussing over our children’s well-being and education. NCAA basketball is another frenzy starting the middle of this month. St. Patrick’s Day is one week from today and three days later, spring is officially sprung. This sort of madness can be fun and reflective.
One of the things that I like most about homeschooling is
that my children are not artificially constrained by “grade level”
In a typical school, the children with advanced academic development
are constrained to go along with the class.Children with a slower (and often normal) academic development are
pressured to “perform” above their current capabilities.A few lucky children in the classroom match
the academic expectations, at least in some subjects.It is a rare occasion for a child to
perfectly match the classroom demands in all subjects and physical
What is the opportunity and emotional cost of this style of
education? From discussions I’ve heard from my friends with children who have
attended school, I believe the cost is very high.
I will use my own children for examples of how successful children can be without grade level imposed upon them..
My oldest daughter was a late reader and late at developing
math skills.I admit that I made a lot
mistakes with this first kid because I was trying so hard to “keep up” with
their friends at school.It helped that
when I was beginning to despair and resort to some really coercive measures in
2nd grade that my mother-in-law pointed out that my husband didn’t
read fluently until the 5th grade.Once I redefined her development as “normal” for her, things got a lot
better.Two years later when we did
standardized testing, I was delighted to find that she had jumped from a
Kindergarten level of reading in 2nd grade to a 12th
grade level of reading in 4th grade.
By the time she started community college at 16 ½ years old,
she handled math well and earned A’s in almost all her classes [She received a
B in Voice which, considering that her father can barely carry a tune, is pretty
darn good.]She did NOT do as many
advanced math classes as some students in high school, but that option was and
is still open to her now that she is ready through community college and university
This helped her younger sister a great deal.My second daughter didn’t read fluently until
5th grade and was even later at developing math readiness than her
older sister. Because I had seen the jump in her older sister’s capacity to
read and do math when ready, I stopped worrying and pushing. Around the age of 16, she turned a corner
developmentally.When this burst
occurred, she didn’t have bad high school transcript because of her slower pace
to weigh her down during the college application process. This daughter also
earned A’s in community college and was accepted to a prestigious university.
Surprisingly, my 3rd daughter taught herself to
read and does math at the level typical of the schools in our area with little
effort on my part.If she had been in a traditional classroom, she would have gotten A’s.The school system wouldn’t have been as damaging to her as it would have
been for her sisters. Although, she
would have missed out on the freedom to pursue her own interest.
Our youngest child is developmentally on an entirely
different track.By “school standard,”
he is grades behind. I’ve had to be more
creative (and that is a post all its own).We celebrate every milestone and have really enjoyed seeing him bloom at
his own pace and in his own season. Because we have little preconceived notions
about what should happen when, he does not carry emotional baggage associated
This was evident at an IEP meeting at the school last year.
[Even though we homeschool, we utilized the testing and evaluation services
that the public school provides.] The school psychologist said that they have
never seen before a kid with his level of impairment that didn’t have “social impairment.” They described him as “socially
Their report said that “…he came to the testing situation willing
and appeared at ease….He initiated conversation….He was very cooperative and
well-behaved.He seemed happy, often
wearing a smile on his face.He wobbled
his upper body and head sometimes after giving out an answer as if he felt
self-satisfied…..He was never shy or hesitant to speak.He made comments and expressed his feelings
about the tasks at hand……Overall, he was a happy, compliant, attentive and
engaged.It was a pleasure working with
I do not think any of those things would be true if our son
had gone to school and had been pressured to follow the grade level
expectations.He does not see himself as
being behind or as being “broken.”
In an ideal world, every child would have access to an
individual educational plan that matched his/her needs.That is easy to do on a homeschool
When I was a child in a traditional school (1970’s), about
half of the teachers used a flexible learning plan that accommodated many levels
of students. For example, each student worked his/her way through a set of
reading/science assignments at his/her own rate.In 4th grade, I made it through
the entire set.I don’t know what my
class mates did.I do remember some
discussion amongst ourselves about who got to Silver and Gold.I don’t remember their being any sort of
stigma attached to which “color” group you were in.
In 5th grade, I was allowed to work ahead in the
math book.I finished it and was allowed
to work through two more math books.I
can’t imagine that happening today in classroom with “common core” or other
grade defined standards imposed.
We still value academic progress and are putting effort
toward that goal, but we don’t worship it.We have bigger and better goals than that.
---------- What would you say if you found out that our public schools were teaching children that it is not true that it’s wrong to kill people for fun or cheat on tests? Would you be surprised?
I was. As a philosopher, I already knew that many college-aged students don’t believe in moral facts. While there are no national surveys quantifying this phenomenon, philosophy professors with whom I have spoken suggest that the overwhelming majority of college freshmen in their classrooms view moral claims as mere opinions that are not true or are true only relative to a culture.
What I didn’t know was where this attitude came from. Given the presence of moral relativism in some academic circles, some people might naturally assume that philosophers themselves are to blame. But they aren’t. There are historical examples of philosophers who endorse a kind of moral relativism, dating back at least to Protagoras who declared that “man is the measure of all things,” and several who deny that there are any moral facts whatsoever. But such creatures are rare. Besides, if students are already showing up to college with this view of morality, it’s very unlikely that it’s the result of what professional philosophers are teaching. So where is the view coming from?
A few weeks ago, I learned that students are exposed to this sort of thinking well before crossing the threshold of higher education. When I went to visit my son’s second grade open house, I found a troubling pair of signs hanging over the bulletin board. They read:
Our long time readers may remember that about eight years ago my family started doing foster care. We had about twenty children come into our home, a few came twice. One young boy came into our home when he was fourteen months old. He ended up not going home and we eventually adopted him.
When we started writing about him Janine called him Baby Bob. But he is no longer a baby; he is almost eight an a half. And very much a boy.
He has a few areas he struggles in. He stutters a bit and for the last couple years has made very little progress in reading. He loves to listen to stories. He can soak up hours of StoryNory.com. And for maybe close to two years I've been reading him stories like Black Stallion, Hardy Boys and more recently Tom Swift. His auditory processing has greatly improved and he is clearly following the story. Fairly frequently he'll interrupt to say things like "Tom shouldn't do that."
These last two weeks we've had a major breakthrough. Kind of on a whim, I decided to have him try to read "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish." I had him read ten and twenty pages each night before I read another chapter of Tom Swift to him. Baby Bop struggled. It was hard. When he got stuck I'd help him. After we finished it the first time I had him read the whole book again. This time it was much easier. He still struggled, but he could see the progress he made in just one week. But the most exciting thing was that over this weekend on his own initiative he sat down to reread it a third time!!! There were still a few words he struggled with, but he really did a great job.
The major breakthrough is really that he has changed how he sees himself. Before he didn't see himself as a reader. Now he is talking about when he is going to read The Enormous Egg.
I am so glad we have been able to homeschooling. He wasn't pushed into reading a couple years before his brain was ready. By letting him develop on his own, he is now moving into the exciting world of printed words, with self confidence and eagerness.
With the recent change to the Carnival of Homeschooling now coming out monthly, one of our frequent participants asked if the restriction to submit only one post was still in effect.
I thought about it for a bit and talked with our current active hosts. I have decided that it is OK to submit up to three entries each month. But the posts should be new entries, posts which have not been in previous carnivals.
If you have any questions, just ask.
And remember, the entries for the first monthly Carnival of Homeschooling are due February 9th, at 6:00 PM PST.
Please send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be the first monthly edition. The next carnival will be held at at The Foodie Army Wife, on the second Tuesday of February, or in six days.
This will be the 469th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.
The Carnival of Homeschooling has had a good run. It has had a lot of participation and support over the last nine years. But it is clear that there is much less interest in the carnival. During the first six or seven years a typical carnival would receive 25 to 40 posts. And the host would get hundreds, and sometimes in a thousand or two extra visits. Now we have carnivals getting 5 to 10 submissions, and only a few dozen people will pop into read it.
A month ago I sent out emails to the currently active hosts. I asked for their thoughts and suggestions. I tried to be neutral as I summarized the problems and listed several alternatives. The majority of the responses echoed what I had thought was the right thing to do.
So starting now the Carnival of Homeschooling is switching to once a month. The carnival will be published on the second Tuesday of the month.
Pretty much everything else will stay the same. The email to submit the posts to is the same. The deadline will be the day before, at 6:00 PM PST. We are interested in pretty much any reasonable post about homeschooling.
I expect that this will give people more time to think about a post and that the carnivals will be larger now, maybe back in the 25 to 40 range.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment or send me an email.
I apologize for leaving things in limbo for a couple weeks. I've struggled a bit with the change and was reluctant, but I do think it is the right thing to do.
A wise man said "That one of the few constants in life is change." Homeschoolers know this. From the moment they decide to homeschool they are faced with lots of changes. They have new schedules. They may end up with different friends. They will learn new skills.
Some change is good. You might get a promotion or get married. Some change may not be as welcomed, like when a loved one dies. And some changes are just changes.
My wife and I faced some changes when we kicked off the first Carnival of Homeschooling nine years ago. We meet many new homeschoolers and made some new friends.
As I'm sure you have guessed by now, the theme for this 9th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is: CHANGE.
In Is This Homeschooling Journey of Ours Really Over? Kathy, at Homeschoolbuzz.com, shares some of her thoughts as she faces the change of her sons moving on with their lives. She starts the carnival with: "When we began homeschooling in 1999 I didn’t start with the end in mind. I couldn’t see past the cluttered dining room table, the quest for curriculum, and the days that lasted forever despite the years passing swiftly."
In Mid-Year Homeschool Checkup Sabrina, from 7 Sisters Homeschool, has suggestions on how to handle the change of going from Christmas back into homeschooling. She starts her post with: "The Christmas holiday season is almost over; the beginning of a new calendar year is looming on the horizon. The mid-year point in a traditional academic year is a good time to take stock and evaluate."
With Assessing Our Path - Gearing Up for the Next 12 Weeks!, posted at Solagratiamom, we are reminded that a healthy way to deal with change is to anticipate and reflect before and after change. The post starts with: "It's almost time to start back in our Community and begin hitting the school routine in full swing again. So for me, that means it's time to assess things. Am I still on the path or did I end up taking a left turn somewhere? These are the things I think about over my break. It's part of my gearing up for the next twelve weeks, so I can hit the ground running that first full week of January. Here are some of the things I do to help me assess:"
Some of the best changes come because we initiate them. The Best Way to Get to Know People in Your Community by Christy, the Eclectic Momma, has a great idea. The post starts with: "We've been the new kids on the block plenty of times in our married life. We came to our present area in 2007 with no friends, no contacts, nothing. Boy, were we lonely! I was thinking today about all the people we've ended up meeting in the small town we call home. Our family has been able to meet such a wide variety of people all through the same way---volunteering to serve."
As homeschoolers we are often changing what we study. Ann writes in Pigeons - Outdoor Hour Challenge, posted at Harvest Moon by Hand, about what her and her daughters learned about pigeons. The post starts with: "Since we live in a rural area, the only time we see pigeons is if we are in a city. It seems like they tend to congregate in more populated areas in Minnesota. Even though they aren't a bird we regularly see, it still is worth learning about them when we do see them."
This is a change my son would love: Rose writes about their year long RV trip in 7 Things I learned by traveling with my children, posted at Learning Across America. She starts the post with: "For the better part of a year, I have lived in a 38-foot RV with my husband and 7 children. In that time, we’ve experienced over 10,000 miles of on-the-road togetherness. Spending all that time in close proximity, we’ve learned a few things about each other and about ourselves. If you have ever wondered if you could pack up and follow a dream, maybe you will find a bit of inspiration here to make your dream a reality. Looking back, here are the top 7 things I learned from crossing the country in an RV with the family:"
Part of the need for change comes because each child is different. Teaching Phonics to an Already-Reader, posted at Trivium Pursuit, addresses this. The post revolves around this query: "How do you suggest I teach phonics to a reader? I am trying to give rules when asked for a spelling. My fear is that he will file the rule with that specific word and not see it broadly. I do not want to go ‘down’ and bore him, nor do I want to continue and lose him. He is in the 2nd grade English of Christian Light."
Sometimes the biggest changes are in who we are. Cristina writes about this in Shifting Identities, posted at Home Spun Juggling. She introduces the theme with: "Life as a part-time unschooler has been wearing on me lately. I love my job and I love being mom to creative homeschooled kids, but at the same time I'm frustrated. My focus has shifted. I'm not the one home with my youngest and last homeschooler. I don't bring her to as many activities as I used to bring her siblings to. I can't even convince her to come to work with me regularly, which I considered an advantage of working in the library. I miss being around my kids."
One of the biggest changes in my life was when I became a fluent reader and disappeared into the world of books. Carol has suggestions on Authors for Teens - Part 1, posted at journey-and-destination. She starts the post with: "The books by authors I've listed here are those our children enjoyed reading in their spare time when they were in their teens. An asterisk means some of my children read it before their teens or that it's suitable for a younger age level. Just be aware that this is only my opinion & even in our own family, what might have been right for one child at age 12 or 14 years didn't necessarily mean it was suitable for another at the same age."
We may change how we teach our children. Sharon has suggestions in New Year, New Beginnings, posted at Reading-Writing-Learning. She starts with: "Welcome to 2015! Another year has come to greet us and we can take the opportunity to stop and think about our children’s beginnings. How do we best prepare them for the many years ahead of them?"
In 2015 Mathematics Game, from Let's Play Math, Denise gives us a fun way to practice arithmetic skills in the new year. She starts with: "Did you know that playing games is one of the Top 10 Ways To Improve Your Brain Fitness? So slip into your workout clothes and pump up those mental muscles with the Annual Mathematics Year Game Extravaganza!"
Susan writes in Building a Foundation of Words, posted at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds, a Virtual Curriculum Fair. She starts with: "Welcome to week 1 of the 2015 Virtual Curriculum Fair (VCF)! Chareen at Every Bed of Roses is joining me from the other side of the world to co-host Playing with Words: the Language Arts. The VCF is a month-long blog carnival and we have a great crew of homeschool bloggers joining us---you will find links to their word play at the bottom of this post. If you’d like to join us, share a post in the linky."
Often we have suggestions on how others can change. Barbara has a few ideas in Thoughts for a Bitter Homeschool Mom, posted at Barbara Frank Online. Barbara finishes her post with this advice: "Now that you’re free to spend your day as you see fit, you may become overwhelmed by all the choices you have. And that’s OK. It’s even OK to be bitter, for a little while. But don’t let it become a permanent emotion. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start figuring out who you are at this stage of your life. Because you were wrong when you said, “It’s over for her.” It is not “over” for any retired homeschooling mom. Personally, I’m just getting (re)started!"
Mama Squirrel has suggestions on how we can change. How to be a homeschool-parent-mensch, posted at Dewey's Treehouse, is about how we as human beings should act. She writes: "So what does that have to do with homeschooling parents? The attributes listed in the above poster, which are summarized from Martinuzzi's book on leadership, can be taken as characteristics of good teachers, and also of good parents. I won't paste the explanations as given on Life Without Pants, but here are my own (homeschooling) takes on the list."
If you have enjoyed this carnival, please spread the word. Please mention the carnival on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other appropriate places. You can also help promote the carnival by adding the carnival images. Learn how by going here.
---------- Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling! It's a quiet week around here. Our Carnival is small but really, really packed with great articles and plenty of good reading material. Marie-Claire's post alone, the first one below, has links to 31 other articles!
I hope you have plenty of down time in the next week to read a few articles in between baking batches of sugar cookies and wrapping gifts.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you the very best in the new year.
Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The next carnival will be held at SmallWlorld. This will be the last carnival in 2014. We'll take a one week break and then start up again in January.
This will be the 467th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.