Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Are You a Good Homeschooling Parent?

I am Still Homeschool Atheist Momma!

Heck, am I???

I was having a conversation with my daughter this week where we were thinking about things I wanted to write about on this blog, when she and I got into a really nice conversation about what it is like to be a homeschooling parent. She had some great thoughts on the matter so I thought I'd share them here with you.

Being a good homeschool parent, being a good parent, in Elizabeth's opinion, requires a few important qualities, beginning with flexibility. She acknowledges that having children can make days, weeks, months a bit...unpredictable. Being able to Go With the Flow, to change plans, and to switch directions on the fly can make life a bit less chaotic.  Have you had any weeks like that??? Seems like many of our weeks are like that.  lol


Elizabeth also thinks that a good parent should be a person who continues to learn throughout their lifetime. Reading, studying, researching. All of these things, according to my daughter, teach children to value education and, equally as important, keep a parent vital, informed, and improving.  I thought she was pretty smart to include this one on her list.  Maybe it's the pile of books beside me that make me say that...    *wink* 

Next on my daughter's list of qualities for a good homeschooling parent is the ability of the parent to adjust approaches to material. In our years of homeschooling we have switched up many times. From one book to another. From one approach to another. From one level to another. Heck, switching approaches is my specialty. But, seriously, between you and I, how did this kid come up with this one.  LOL

High on her list is respecting individuality; who didn't see that one coming? Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that this is, in fact, one of those things that I work on diligently and regularly with my daughter. It is wonderful to know that she sees that, acknowledges that, and recognizes it. I have learned so much by being the parent to this child. I am so touched by the fact that she recognizes it.

According to my oldest kid, a good homeschool parent should be encouraging. Kids, she says, especially teens, can get very bogged down in self-doubt. Parents with the ability to support honest effort can make a real difference in the ability of a child to really see themselves in a positive light. Elizabeth was quite adamant about this one.


And finally on the list, she reports that a homeschooling parent, any parent, should be gentle and fun. These qualities, according to Lizzie, make a parent who is wonderful to be around. Our family is quite dedicated to gentleness, bullying and sarcasm are quite frowned upon, but understood and treated with compassion...

Listen, I'm not saying that she would always admit that her own mom is mighty, mighty. But yesterday, at the end of another long and busy day, she was relaxed and happy and willing to help me out. And I don't claim perfection as a parent, far from it! But I am here to share the imperfect journey that our family has taken and to encourage you on your unique journey.

 THANK YOU, Shooshy!   
 You are amazing! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Co-op Planning, Homeschooling for Mutual Benefit

I am Still Homeschool Atheist Momma!
homeschool secular co op
My group of girlfriends and I got together here at the house the other day and continued our plans for a homeschool co op.
What is a co op?  It is an autonomous association of persons who voluntarily cooperate for their mutual social, economic, and cultural benefit, according to Wiki.  When applied to homeschool specifically, a co op is a group of families coming together in cooperation to provide educational and social activities for their children.


St. Louis has quite a few existing co ops and our family has participated in several of them with varying degrees of satisfaction over the years.  We have been active members of St. Louis Homeschool Network for about a decade. The Network has grown and changed every year since we joined and the way our family has played a part in that co op has also changed as the kids have gotten older and as their needs have changed.

While we will still attend the Friday co ops with the Network, we are also having a day a week here at our home where six or seven families (it's still up in the air for specifics) will be getting together to offer the kids of these families continuing, in-depth classes that we put together ourselves.

Yes, Folks, the parents are doing it in true homeschooling glory!
We got together the other day and brainstormed the classes that we could offer and we came up with everything from Woodworking to Playacting History to Advanced Algebra.  With seven accomplished women in the house, we can get some great things done! 

Yeah, these moms are amazing.

Next in the process of putting together this new season of co op we figured out the classes we could offer to our kids, the times for our schedule, what to do for lunch and free time, and some other general parameters. Now we are talking amongst ourselves to figure out the final schedule and which children will be in which classes. We will have three classes going at any one hour, one for each age or ability level: littles, middles, and high school.

Meeting one day a week, we have come up with some pretty clever ways to keep the kids plugging in to the subject matter during the remainder of the week. From online group chat to blogging, we think we can make these co op classes meaningful and productive!

And that is how we set up our co op.
Should be an excellent year!



If you are working on setting up a co op 
in your neck of the woods 
and you have some questions on how to do it,
drop me a line
because we've been doing this for YEARS now!
ALSO, I'm so curious to know

about your experiences
with homeschool coops.

 

My Writing Process Blog Tour


I am still Homeschool Atheist Momma!
 atheist blog homeschool

I am happy to be mentioned by fellow blogger Danica on her blog Danica's Thoughts where she asked me to participate in a blog tour called #mywritingprocess. Please check out  Danica's blog, Danica's Thoughts for a nice read. Her post My Writing Process will be especially interesting to other bloggers.

Who is Danica? She's a fellow blogger who lives in the Netherlands and who dreams of making it big as a writer one day. Check out her blog if you have some time. And someone please encourage that woman to post some of her writing!!!  

COURAGE, Danica!

Each person participating in this illustrious blog tour must answer four questions. Hopefully after reading this, you will have an informative manuscript of my writing journey. Are you ready? Come with on in, grab a cuppa, and off we go:

1)    What am I working on? 

I'm working on a few different atheist sites, submitting articles weekly. I have been working on being interviewed for an atheist podcast. I'm excited and a bit nervous about that. We will be talking about atheist parenting, homeschooling, and blogging.

I have a few blog posts in the works with plans on writing more about John's activities this summer. I am also a maker of memes.

You can also find my writing on:

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I haven't seen many other blogs that are specifically written for and about secular parenting and/or secular homeschooling. It's such a tiny little niche that I sometimes feel like such a freak!

I'm not interested in debate, so that makes me different from most atheist blog writers. Sometimes I have thoughts that I could totally write an in-your-face post about it. But I usually wait around a bit until I can think more clearly and write, instead, a post with more introspection...

I am also generally optimistic and happy. 

That can be very different.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I'm sure I have answered that one again and again. I feel it to be a mission to be out as an atheist.  There you go, my mission.

4) How does my writing process work?

Weirdly enough, I don't really get writer's block or anything. Daily I am surrounded by things that inspire me to learn more about a thing or that I think is worth writing about. Also, having kids is such a trip that nearly every day is an interesting destination.

Continuing this blog tour during the week on the 28th of July will be one of my favorite bloggers, Laura from Stag Beetle Power, True Adventures in Portland blog. Laura and I are just rocking along, blogging buddies.
 

If you are interested in the #mywritingprocess blog tour but haven't been asked to participate, please contact me; I'd love to encourage and include you.



Also, Fellow Secular Bloggers,
Please submit your secular parenting blog post to my upcoming
I NEED YOU!

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More posts you may enjoy:

On a Mission or an Imposter?
My Atheist Parenting Blog
Dear Reader
Count Me Among the Faithful
Carnival of Atheist Parenting Blog Posts
Do You Know Why I Started Blogging?

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Great Balancing Act

I am still Homeschool Atheist Momma!



This homeschool blog has become quite over-focused on atheism lately and I apologize. Sometimes I get tunnel-vision and I need a swift kick to get me out of it. Usually my swift kick comes from my husband. He’s my go-to guy to find my way out of the muddles that I create for myself.

But today I got that swift kick today during a conversation with my kids.

We have been having such a busy summer and we all felt the need to find a new balance somehow.

Elizabeth is working very hard on three large projects that keep us all hoping with her schedule and that leaves very little time for me to do lessons with John John.

People often ask me if we homeschool during the summer and the answer is YES. We homeschool all year round.

John and a BEST FRIEND
John is working on Pre-Algebra, US Government, writing, and gymnastics this summer. His lessons keep him busy enough to feel productive and free enough to get together with friends and have a nice summer. He is quite happy with the work that he has to do and I am thrilled with some of the sources we have used for the US Government.

The swift kick came when we started talking about how our schedule has been overwhelming us all a bit and I realized, for myself, that I have not been focusing on homeschooling at all!  I mean, AT ALL. My brain is just not there.

The work that John has been doing has been poorly planned by me; he has been an absolute trooper by continuing to soldier on with my attention being elsewhere.

Because of the busy schedule that I’ve been keeping, I have found it very difficult to keep my focus on John’s lessons; and he wants to stay on task.
He asked for my help!  So we have juggled our time around so that he and I could have some time together.

And I’m glad, because I’ve been missing that boy!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Definition: The Formal Statement of the Meaning of a Word

I am still Homeschool Atheist Momma!


Tonight I was just clicking around the internet as I gathered my thoughts for another blog post that I was working on so I went to a thesaurus page and typed in the word Christian.
Can you guess what synonyms were offered for that word?

moral, righteous, honest, honorable, principled, proper, clean, conscientious, correct, decent, elevated, equitable, fair, fitting, good, high-principled, just, kosher, moralistic, noble, respectable, right, right-minded, square, straight, true blue, upright, upstanding

Well, that just got me to wondering...


The synonyms for atheist are:
nonbeliever, free thinker, infidel, agnostic, pagan, skeptic, heathen, irreligionist, gentile, heathen, heretic, non worshiper, unbeliever, iconoclast, idolater, idolist, scoffer, apostate, cynic, undogmatic, doubter, doubting Thomas, materialist, misanthrope, misbeliever, nihilist, pessimist, profaner, questioner, rationalist, libertine


I must say, I am quite OK with those words for atheist, though I can't say the same for Dictionary.com, but the synonyms for Christian are a bit much, don't you think?  

I mean, GEEZ, I'm clean!



Hobby Lobby, Visited

I am Still Homeschool Atheist Momma!

 

Today I did something that surprised even me.
I went in to Hobby Lobby.
I was in the position where I needed (OK, seriously wanted) a few pieces of poster board and Hobby Lobby was the closest thing to me. 

So I went in.  
OK?  OK.

These are the notes from my voyage inside.

It had been quite a while since I last visited this crafting behemoth. The only thing that seemed any different on the inside was that is seemed like Hobby Lobby has gone quite openly Christian with all things decorative, holiday, crafty, scented, and sticker. Maybe the chain has always been chock-a-block full of Christian effects and accoutrement and it hadn't slipped into my pea brain, but it seems that the store has stocked its shelves with everything evangelic and has gone down right Christian-mascot on us. Every single aisle that I meandered in my search for poster board displayed an abundance of virtuous goods.

And good for them.
In my opinion, they feel as thought they have won quite a victory for the Christian Right so why shouldn't they celebrate and bring out the baubles and knickknacks. I honestly celebrate their right to thrive in this republic-irrespective of my feelings about the politics of the owners and the recent ruling on birth control.


http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/92/85/bb/9285bb4bfd690fecb520c3ff8da38cff.jpgOn the other hand, the checker at the checking-out-station was SO snarky and simpering and unpleasant, the women standing at the door and gossiping were seriously dissing an absent acquaintance from their church (I know this because as I passed the group they clucked their loud proclamations of her ungodliness), a group of employees at the checkout counters were clearly overdue on bathroom or lunch breaks or something, and grumbling customers pushed their overloaded carts around.

I am honestly not selectively reporting what I saw. It was such an unpleasant experience that I had to pause to see if I was just bringing my politics into the mix. I don't think that I did, in this case. The experience truly was unpleasant. Disagreeable, even.

What good is the victory if the experience inside is so awash in bad feelings?

Just my trip today.
Yours might have been different.

On the bright side, I did see a super cute wooden rooster.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Carnival of Atheist Parenting is UP!

Check out the newest edition of


Please consider submitting your
parenting blog post
to the next carnival.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Homeschoolers Discuss Socialization


socialization Atheist parenting, homeschool secular
I am still Homeschool Atheist Momma!
I am a part of a secular homeschooling group on Facebook that recently had a conversation about socialization and homeschooling. Since it was "just us" we all felt comfortable in speaking freely about the topic, rather than feeling the need to speak for the potential judgers with preconceived notions in the room. In private, homeschooling parents are far less concerned about how people tend to stereotype us and we're far more frank about the issues in our lives.

So please let me share with you some of the comments made by homeschooling parents on the issue of SOCIALIZATION:
  • Amy from Pennsylvania had this to say about socialization and homeschooling: Unless you lock your children in the basement, there is nothing to worry about.
  • Jennifer from FloridaPersonally, I think people use it because whenever you do something different than the mainstream, some people take an offense to it. I've met people that were pretty defensive about my choice to homeschool as if I was saying, "hey, I'm better than you. I homeschool." So to make themselves feel better I think they'd launch into the only thing they've ever really heard in regards to homeschooling and that's the "socialization" thing which is a lame argument but it's all they have. Anyone that is familiar with homeschooling, even if they don't do it themselves, won't say that BS because they know it's not true. The other argument is, "you can't teach your child". Yeah, I can. I did. She's pretty damned smart too. Can I teach 30 children, of varying learning styles and levels..no. I don't pretend to do the job of a public school teacher but can I teach my child? Absolutely.
  • Jennifer goes on to add: Some PSers are rude because you know what..THEY'RE not used to people being different than them and when they are introduced to someone different they can sometimes fall into bully, AKA mob mentality.  Over the years my daughter has been friends with homeschooled kids and public schooled kids. Her current best friend is a public schooled kid and honestly, she can be a bit of an asshole at times (she still will pop quiz Anissa) but I can say that Anissa handles her really well. You do have to teach your kids that there are fuckheads in this world because there ARE fuckheads in this world but you also have to teach them to be who they are. My daughter is 17 and I know many, many homeschoolers that are young and adults and they seem quite capable of dealing with the world and changing it if need be and that's what I love about them. She's also made some good friends with public schooled kids that have been "shunned" in school for being different, for being interesting, or even for being respectful of the person educating them.
  • Chris from Washington state says:   I would post a picture of my poor, awkward, socialized, homeschool.......but she's at work right now....working customer service.....the same job she receives stellar reviews at because of her outstanding "people skills." Lol! . Kills me when people insist that homeschooled kids have poor social skills. My experience has been decidedly the opposite. 
  • Laura from North Carolina says: So that's what was wrong with our ancestors who were home educated. That's a pile of manure. Propaganda at it's finest. If you know how to read, go here: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/index.htm and read about the purpose of modern schooling. I'm not so sure I want my child relating to ... brainwashed public school graduates. I plan on teaching her that she doesn't have to play their silly games. I'm pretty certain that the home educated of today will be the movers and shakers of the future. Schools are for molding followers, not leaders. That statement is from someone who doesn't understand the purpose of schooling.  
  • Christene from Florida says:  My son attended Kindergarten. He started a huge uproar when he took on the lunch staff wanting to know what was GMO and pesticide ridden on his plate and he was pissed he couldnt have the salad bar. He was equally pissed all the kids in the school were being served slop. LMAOOO My son at 6 stood up on the cafeteria table and was ready to start a revolution. Addressing an auditorium and secuity officers was not an issue for him. That was a definite proud mommy moment. The school was furious when they couldnt bust my happy mommy bubble when they tried to convince me he was out of line. Then they learned about where my son got it from when I questioned their idea of ''food''. lol So, whats the definition of socially awkward? Being able to fit in the box of perfectly cut cookies or being able to tackle anything like a champ without fear or others opinions?
  • Anne in Ohio states: The only problem we've had with socialization (and I'm not sure who this problem belongs to) is that since my daughter is homeschooled and didn't go to school in middle school she doesn't really know when kids are being catty, especially other girls. Recently some girls were telling her that a guy was interested in her when he already has a girlfriend. The guy and two girls were in on the joke. It was so hurtful. On one hand I think I'm just glad she doesn't deal with this every day but if she did she would probably be more wise to this type of stuff.
  • Megan from Mississippi says: I think my favorite "ah ha" moment about this comes from my sister. She was contemplating HS but recognized the value of PS's brand of socialization because if her daughter had a job where she worked in a cubical and had to deal with petty office BS and a manager that wanted people to blend, homeschooling wasn't really going to prepare her for that. She kept my niece in PS for an extra year using this rationalization. Then she thought "is that really the life I want for my kid? To be in a cubical and deal with other people's petty issues??" Because of the freedom of homeschool, kids can follow their passions and many end up running their own businesses or going into fields where their talents are much more important than their ability to sit at a desk and navigate the shark-infested waters of cliques. So maybe they will be at a disadvantage in jobs like that, but I think very few people think "gosh, I really want to work in middle management for a huge corporation some day." The ones that succeed in that type of field are the people that fit in that world naturally, regardless of where they went to school.
  • Lindsey from Michigan says:  I think that it is a bit disingenuous to say that homeschoolers as a group are more social than PSers. There is a fair sized section of homeschoolers made up of highly exclusive (and thus unsocial) religious zealots that home school, and another portion of children who are homeschooled due to problems associated with them being socially awkward to begin with. Those groups don't have a large presence here, but they are a fair portion of homeschoolers. Either way, I tend to think that just because socially awkward people are more likely to homeschool/ be homeschooled, that by no means is the same as homeschooling contributing to a lack of social skills. It is the classic correlation vs. causation. I think it does us no good to deny that there are a fair number of socially awkward homeschoolers. I think it is important that we outline what is actually making those children awkward (be it social inept parents, an inborn personality trait, or an exclusive religious dogma at home), so that people can recognize and assess homeschooling on it's own merits, instead of by its most fringe practitioners.
  • Britt from Canada said: Here's a thought: If you were educated in a public school growing up, how many times do you recall some uptight teacher giving you trouble and saying "you're not here to socialize" or some other comment.....

    Just some food for thought

    We socialize through daily life all day long, be it with your parents or the taxi driver or bus driver or other passengers on the bus, ay play groups and parks, store clerks etc etc etc etc. Personally, I would rather my daughter not be influenced by negative things that I would have no control and likely even no knowledge of if she were in someone else's "care" most of the time.

  • HS teen's POV
    One of the mom's daughters chimed in with this: I'm sixteen years old have been home/unschooled since second grade. I have lots of friends. We learn and grow from each other. Your children will learn much more from people of many different backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, locations, etc. In public school, you get segregated by age, special needs, gender, location, and other factors. Why would you want your child to be like everyone else? Why not have them learn from others and develop who they are instead of being forced into the status quo? I have many friends, am social (even to the point of hijacking my mother's facebook ), have a job that I wouldn't have had otherwise, know who I am, and got accepted to an Ivy League college two years earlier than my public school peers. I can't find a downside to homeschooling

  • Naomi in Alberta responds to the question "What about socializatin?" in this way:  I think I hear a lot of "Where do I even begin?" out there. Since socialization is such a complex issue, if you have a case in mind, you'll get more specific answers to your concern if you outline it for us. But in general, our brains didn't evolve in in an environment where our main environment during the day was 30 other children and a state employee. I think my kids have a better shot at "normal socialization" at home where we can interact with family and community outside of a bureaucratic institution. 
  • Heather in Virginia said:  A homeschooled child that has a hard time fitting into a clique with traditionally-schooled kids might be labeled as socially awkward because they don't understand that type of social interaction. However, in a situation like that, it's the clique-y kids that have the behavior problems, not the homeschooled kid. She also says: If everyone is sending their kids to learn social skills, who is doing the teaching? Some of the "social skills" learned from other kids is exactly what my kids don't need to learn. Homeschooled kids are amongst other children but they learn many of their social skills from being exposed to people of all ages, not just their own. 
  • Heather also said: If everyone is sending their kids to learn social skills, who is doing the teaching? Some of the "social skills" learned from other kids is exactly what my kids don't need to learn. Homeschooled kids are amongst other children but they learn many of their social skills from being exposed to people of all ages, not just their own. Heather, I know we'd be great friends In Real Life!
  • Maria in Washington state says: The only thing that was removed from the social aspect of public school vs homeschool has been the bullying my children are alot more outgoing now . We're still trying to over come the damaging affect if the stressed out over worked judge mental teachers but I'm confinement with time well over come that was well.
  •  Cathy from California reminds us that one reason for the assumption that homeschooling makes kids weird ("weird" is not a bad thing, of course!) is because a lot of parents of weird kids decide not to put them in school because either (1) they think their kids will be bullied mercilessly, or (2) they think (correctly) that they can create a tailor-made educational program that will better suit their unusual kid, or (3) they think their kid will conform because of peer pressure, if he or she goes to school, and they don't want their kid to lose his or her wonderful weirdness. 
  • And finally, as Linda from BC says:  When people ask me What about socialization? I'd say, RIGHT! That's one of the best reasons to homeschool!


This econversation about homeschooling socialization experiences went on for several days on Facebook and I just picked up a few quotes, with permission of the authors of the quotes, and placed them here. I did not pick-and-choose any comments to give a slant of positive for homeschool socialization. These comments truly represent the range of people who do know about homeschooling and socialization. I sure wish we could all meet IRL, it would be a blast!

If you read all of the way down to here,
Here's a cookie!


 
Please leave your comments below!
I love to hear from you!


Karen

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