Tag Archives: student

10 Stress-Free Homeschool Tips

Are you new to homeschooling and feeling overwhelmed? Here are ten tips to help you find more peace and less stress during your homeschool days.

yoga stress free

Accept that homeschool is sometimes challenging.

Take breaks when you or your child feel the need.

Homeschool often takes less time during each day than other school models. Use that time to rest, have family fun, etc.

Don’t use all your cash on curriculum. With so many options available for free or second hand, you can find resources that are in your budget.

With all the saved cash from wise curriculum choices, your child can join a club, co-op, or class.

Join local groups and park day events. The support is helpful for nearly any topic.

Embrace multi-age, siblings learning together as a possibility. Sometimes children need different coursework, but sometimes you can learn as a family, regardless of age.

Take skip days. Use the time to get out and about. Visit a park, museum, science center, or go paint at the park.

Ask your children what they want to learn. You may be surprised at how quickly they pick up information when they choose the topic.

Document as you go. Take pictures of field trips and science experiments, list books read and curriculum used, and save work samples as the year goes. Keep this information in a binder. Once the year ends, you have a memory book/portfolio which will work for most state portfolio requirements and will remind you of the fun you and your child had during the year.

What On Earth Do Unschoolers Do All Day?

I am often asked what exactly unschooled students do all day long. After all, they are not forced to comply with a particular curriculum or program. State standards and Common Core are not chosen by the parents. So what do unschoolers do all day?

music lesson

Unschooling is the practice of student-chosen, student-led learning. The unschool educational model encourages lifelong learning rather than a race to a finish line or a race to a test score. A parent who allows unschooling encourages a child’s interests even if that means the child is not doing book work and tests.

So what does a day in an unschooled child’s life look like?

Some unschool students like to be outdoors playing, climbing, and exploring. Other students ask for worksheets and classes. Sometimes children choose to use a computer game to learn coding skills all day. However, most children choose a mixture of activities. The idea is that parents support a child’s choices rather than the parents choosing for the child. This not only gives the student power to follow his interests, but also enables the pursuit of learning without the constraints of testing or a one size fits all curriculum. Read on to see a few examples of unschool life.

Example 1

Joey likes to play Minecraft. He joined a club so he can learn to code. He wants to create his own mod for the game. He also joined a club where he works on pixel art. He wants to design graphic t-shirts and create his own website. Joey recently went to the library to check out books about coding. His mom cannot understand coding, yet Joey has already mastered Java utilizing books, his classes, and YouTube.

Angles

Example 2

Elise wants to be a chef. She thinks about foods, recipes, and dish presentation all day long. She chose to take a class about making sushi recently. She then began a website with a blog. She now reviews restaurants, writes about new recipes she creates, and uses her blog to explain fractions to younger children. Elise found reading difficult when she was five years old, but by age eight she had renewed interest and read through several chapter books each day. Her mother chalks this up to waiting until she was developmentally ready and interested in reading. After all, everyone develops at their own pace.

Example 3

Trevor loves to be outdoors. He paints, sketches, takes photographs, and more. He also enjoys hosting small meetups with other students to discuss plants and animals native to his area. He often brings examples of leaves for others to try to name. He recently used his birthday money to buy a microscope and guidebook. Trevor now enjoys gathering soil and water samples, then deciphering what is in each sample. He hopes to be an environmental scientist one day. Trevor will begin dual enrollment courses at the local college once he is old enough.

field

As you can see, there is not one way to unschool. Unschooling does not mean doing nothing. Parents may be involved in supporting the child any number of ways. Paying for classes, having discussions, driving a child to the library, and other similar actions are supportive of an unschool education. Students choose. Parents support. That is unschooling. Unschooling is not a lack of education, but a lack of forced education where a student cannot choose topics and activities.

 Feel free to contact me to schedule a speaking event, an unschool consultation, or

a Florida unschool evaluation.

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She Called the Teacher “Mom”

Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Phaitoon at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most teachers tell a similar story. Sometime near the beginning of their career a student accidentally called them “mom”. It happens a lot. When a student first called me “mom”, I worried about it. Would the parents be mad if the event came up in conversation? Did the child look to me, rather than the parent, for love, information, or other needs to be met? How should I proceed? Should I discourage this behavior?

Then I realized that my children may do the same thing. My children might call a teacher “mom”. What would that mean about my child’s relationship with her teacher? What would that mean about my relationship with my child?

After I waded through my feelings about students calling me “mom” and my children potentially calling teachers “mom”, I tried to think more rationally about the topic. It happens. Students call teachers “mom”. It can be an automatic response. It can happen because the child is tired. It can also happen because the student looks to the teacher for the attention, guidance, and acceptance that the teacher provides.

I know this information does not erase the feelings parents may have. The key is to remember that all feelings are valid, but the way we deal with or express the feelings is important. You can feel sad or worried without pushing those feelings onto the teacher or your child. Talk to a friend or spouse about the concerns you have. Spend time with your child so you can further strengthen your bond. Unhappy feelings don’t go away overnight, but you can work through them if they exist in your life.

Try to consider this a positive situation. If your child feels, subconsciously, like a teacher is good enough to be called mom, then both you and the teacher ought to be proud. Your child loves and respects you both. Your child looks to both of you for guidance. What a fabulous thing! All children deserve to have as many safe, kind, and positive people in their lives as possible. If they trust a teacher enough to allow the teacher into this role, count your blessings. This is a good thing!

You Can’t Unschool Part Time

Unschooling allows us to learn through living life.

Unschooling allows us to learn through living life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have noticed a continuing discussion among home and unschoolers over the past year or two. Many people say they do some unschooling, while others say this is not possible as unschooling is an all or nothing principle. I have a few thoughts about this topic. You can take them, leave them, or add your own opinions. Your discussion is welcome.

What is unschooling?

 Unschooling is the principle of learning through everyday life rather than through forced education models like pre-planned activities not chosen by the student. Unschoolers may have what appears to be a lack of rules, but usually this means the parents and children work to create mutually agreed upon goals and behaviors. We may not see this process because, usually, no one is forcing authority upon another. Unschoolers may participate in classes, co-ops, or curricula, but these activities are chosen by the students, not by a teacher or parent.

You Already Unschool

Yes, you read correctly. You already unschool if your children have free time when activities and rules are not forced on them. You already unschool if you respond in a positive manner when your child asks to read, draw, join a club, etc. Most families unschool for a few hours per week or more, in my experiences and observations.

Can I Unschool in Conjunction with Other School Models?

Yes, you can. Keep in mind that there is a difference between whole life unschooling and partial life unschooling. Whole life unschooling would mean you live the unschooling principle 100% of the time in all facets (parenting, schooling, bedtime habits, etc). Partial life homeschooling means you adhere to the principle of unschooling part of the time, but not at other times. Maybe you work full time and cannot find a way to unschool during the day, but you unschool during evenings and weekends. This is an example of partial life unschooling.

Why Do People Get So Defensive About Unschooling or not Unschooling?

I am not convinced that people get defensive, but I do think people like to have labels because they help us organize our world. If we call ourselves unschoolers, but unschool part time rather than full time, then our lifestyle can be very different from a family that unschools full time no matter what comes along in life. I think humans feel a need to differentiate so that our identities are accurate and so we can find others like us. This may be why people prefer an all or nothing approach to defining unschooling as a concept.

What Do You Suggest We Do?

I suggest we support one another regardless of how many hours or days a week we unschool. Rely more on getting to know people than on defining and labeling yourself (and others). Yes, in theory unschooling is best 100% of the time because it helps develop an inner compass and continued love of learning for the sake of learning. However, you cannot force anyone to be an unschooler 100% of the time. Besides, support goes further than fussing over labels. To be very frank, though I doubt this will happen, I would LOVE to see all schools use an unschooling model. (Yes, I know, good luck with that daydream!)

I Can’t Homeschool Because….

"Thoughtful Kid Sitting In Front Of Blackboard" from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Thoughtful Kid Sitting In Front Of Blackboard” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I could never homeschool because I don’t have the patience.”

I hear this, and other reasons for not homeschooling, every week. The comment above came from a person in a service industry where he works attending to patients’ needs all day so it did strike me as odd. Then again, some people do better with adults than children or better with ill people than well people.

You know what, though? Don’t let your fear or worry over what could happen dictate your choices. Maybe your concern is money, curriculum choices, or even what others will think. If you choose to use public or private school, do not let it be because of fear. Let it be because you know your limits. Choose because you know your child’s limits. Let it be because you know, not think or wonder, but know that it is the correct choice for your child. Truthfully, this can be applied to those making a choice to homeschool as well. Just don’t let fear rule the decision-making process.

I know that some people think homeschooling is the only way. I disagree. I do, however, think that until we have public schools that operate similar to home or unschool models, we will not serve all students properly. There will always be students who have needs left unmet when we use most current public and private school models. If you choose public or private school, offer to help so that the teacher has more resources and can, hopefully, have the time to attend to all learners as needed. (It is extremely difficult to “do it all”. It often burned out my co-workers. Please, please help out.)

If I had a dollar for every time I heard a homeschooler say, in essence, “I told you so” when violence breaks out at school or a public school parent say “Your kid is not going to socialize properly”, I would be rich. I kid you not. There can be judgment from all directions. What I am saying is examine the facts, not your feelings about the facts, then make a choice. Re-evaluate that choice as needed and recognize that the correct choice for one child may be different than the correct choice for a sibling. I know that you can and will succeed no matter what you choose.

If you are interested in homeschool and want more information, feel free to contact me. I am happy to answer a question or work through a consultation with you. I have more insight than those who only homeschool or only use public school because my family has done both. Also, I taught in public schools for many years.

No matter what you choose…..

"Schoolboy" from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Schoolboy” from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Learning!

14 Reasons to Teach Using Recipes

baking 2A

Students love to participate in hands on experiences. I highly recommend adding cooking, baking, and no bake recipes to your lesson plans whether you homeschool or teach in a brick and mortar school. Below is a list of skills students learn from cooking and baking activities.

baking 3A

  1. Abbreviations (tbsp. = tablespoon)
  2. Cause and effect (What happens if we do not follow the recipe versus if we do follow it? How do the ingredients change each other?)
  3. Cooperation (Take turns putting in the ingredients.)
  4. Division (Make a half loaf of bread. You need 4 eggs for one loaf.)
  5. Following steps in a process (Follow the time and oven setting in the recipe so the food does not burn.)
  6. Forms of writing (Recipes and lists of written directions are one type of writing children will need to use in life.)
  7. Fractions (Use 1/4 cup of butter.)
  8. Healthy eating habits (Discuss food variety and healthy versus unhealthy.)
  9. Multiplication (Make two batches of cookies at once. Each batch needs 2 cups of flour.)
  10. Problem solving (The cookie dough seems dry and crumbles. How can we change that?)
  11. Reading (Tell me what happens next in our recipe.)
  12. Responsibility (Cleaning up the mess and setting a timer help to build this skill.)
  13. Speech and language skills (Discuss each step in detail. Leave long pauses so children have the opportunity to bring up their own topics as well.)
  14. States of matter (Is it a solid, liquid, or gas? How does it change when mixed with other ingredients?)

baking A

The Clay County School District and Bullying

I am going to be very honest here. School staff members are often bullies. This is not a problem in only one school. MANY schools have this issue. Any time you assert your will over another person, you are bullying. Any time you say a person must follow your directions or you will impose a consequence that you dreamt up, you are bullying.

I have observed school staff bully time and again during my teaching career. Many times a child was made to sit and watch all the other children play during recess because that child did not have the time or the focus to finish his or her “work”. I have seen children ignored when having a true emotional crisis. I have seen food withheld, which is illegal and was reported by the way, because a child did not finish “work” in the time frame a teacher allowed. It would cause no harm to let the child take work home to do with parents or to respond with empathy when an emotional crisis occurs. Yet, many teachers and schools punish instead.

I recently heard about another form of bullying by school staff in my home state. The Clay County School District in Florida has an arbitrary dress code because they think students are not responsible enough to dress themselves without rules. The powers that be in Clay County seem to think students won’t be studious if they see certain types of clothing. This is not acceptable because typical students can choose and dress in their clothing without incident. They are also responsible enough to focus even if clothing is “disruptive”.

“But gangs….”, people say. Gang members will find a way to use their signs and colors whether there is a dress code or not. This is true even when students are forced to wear uniforms. “But the boys will be distracted by cleavage, upper thighs, or a stomach showing”, they say. Breasts, as well as the other body parts listed, are not genitalia. Don’t you teach biology to your students?

There is also the pesky problem of assuming boys and men are controlled by their hormones and incapable of self-control. Dress codes force females to take the responsibility for this negative male behavior and have to “cover up”. But wait, not all males do this and they are all capable of rising above thoughts and hormones. Not only are dress codes sexist toward males, they are also sexist toward females. (I haven’t even bothered to discuss the facts that there are intersex people, people who love within the same sex, and people who are transgender. None of these folks are mentioned in dress codes, are they?)

Stop sexualizing females. Yes, I said it. Schools need to STOP SEXUALIZING FEMALES.

The truth is that many schools bully. They “support” anti-bully campaigns, then THEY bully.

I was appalled to hear of the treatment of a young woman who attends Oakleaf High School in Clay County. She was made to wear a shirt with the words “Dress Code Violation” on it. This is a form of abuse. No one has the right to sexualize this young lady’s body. By enforcing an arbitrary dress code and forcing her to wear this shirt, she was being sexualized by school staff. They decided to slut shame her and prove that they think males are incapable of learning because a female is in the room and clothed a certain way. This is bullying and, sadly, proof that we live in a rape culture.

The truth is that when we raise our children with love and empathy, they will not stare at another person’s body all day. They won’t sexualize others without permission. They will, however, have no need for arbitrary rules and bullying. Sadly, adults are a different story. Many adults grew up with adversarial authoritarian models and struggle to understand how to teach empathy and love in a non-coercive environment.

It is time for Clay County to stop the bullying and start educating. I am tempted to send a box full of books, for example Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn, so the entire school district can become more educated with regard to the issues at hand. The truth is that I am saddened. My tax dollars help fund this district and THIS is how they treat our future leaders? Should Clay County want to train staff and school board members regarding the matters set forth in this writing, I would be happy to help. You can successfully teach in an environment that does not punish, bully, or slut shame. Parents and educators need to team up and provide a non-adversarial education model so that students can learn without fear and shame.