Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Buy Independent!

I haven't done a lot of endorsement of homeschool curriculum, mostly because I believe there is a LOT of great material out there and mostly because I truly think what works is going to be personal to you with very few exceptions.
I'm also not wanting to tempt parents that are perfectly happy with what they have to switch to something new.  Just because it's new, doesn't make it better and there's some high value to becoming an expert at the resource you do use. [over and over! It comes with practice baby]

So with all that in mind, there is one thing I can recommend.  And that's to buy Independent!!    If you are looking, check out the products HERE at the Homeschool Resource Roadmap to make sure they are independent of common core before you spend your money.     I know Tina includes other resources as well, but for me personally, if you are in the market to buy something- vote with your dollars and support independents!

Homeschoolers fought a very hard battle to even be legally recognized.  It took years before publishers and authors started providing homeschool specific resources. Most of my favorites are produced by homeschool parents themselves!  Individual State groups continue to battle state by state to keep our homeschooling free with minimal government entanglements.  Let's not lose our freedom even a tiny bit by supporting this Federal takeover. [which is what it is, really].  Let businesses know you are shopping independent and that you appreciate their independent stance.

Some independent resources I've just discovered that look good.
[doesn't mean they're new, I just rarely look anymore]
Classical Historian
Shakespeare in Bits

My long time favorites:
Spell to Write and Read
Institute for Excellence in Writing [IEW]
History Revealed
Truth quest History 

If you want to know more about the history of common core and why we all should oppose it, read here.   For more in-depth anaylsis of our government school system, read John Taylor Gatto's books, such as the Underground History of Education.

Maryland Proposes updates to the Homeschool Regulations

December 10, 2015
Here are my comments on the proposed homeschool regulation changes.  I have included the regulations that I wish to point out, writing in italics my comment below each one.  

.01 Home Instruction Program
I would recommend that some additional wording be added here to confirm the breadth of the definition for the word program :  “ such as but not limited to textbooks, unit studies, online courses, parent-constructed curriculum, tutors, dual-enrolled college classes (full or part-time), and or other instructional options chosen by the parent or guardian.”

C. Instruction Program.
 (2) The home instruction program may include enrollment on a part-time or full-time basis in
 courses offered by accredited or unaccredited colleges.
This is welcome clarification. Though redundant if included in .01 program definition. 

D. Educational Materials.
2) A parent or guardian who chooses to enroll his or her child under § C (2) of this regulation
shall provide to the local superintendent or the superintendent’s designee a copy of a report
card or transcript from the accredited or unaccredited college at the conclusion of each
semester of the accredited or unaccredited college in lieu of a portfolio of materials for the
courses in which the child is enrolled.
While it might be easier to simply show a copy of a transcript, I would prefer parents have the option of continuing to show work/educational materials etc and not grades or credits to the superintendent.   And so  it should say “ may use a copy of grade reports or transcripts or continue. .  .” Also, why at the completion of each semester? Why not at the usual review time along with the rest of the portfolio? This entire section should be deleted, if college classes are part of the home school program option no special treatment ought to be needed.     

By the way, will the superintendent be documenting the grade/ credits or merely checking off a box that this form of evidence was presented? [This should be made clear in the regulations so that counties do not add to the intent of the changes] That would make a great difference, because prior to the increase in compulsory attendance age, homeschoolers generally were no longer required to report to the county by the time they graduated and therefore, the matter of transcripts and credits were rarely  brought up. Is this a small step to regulating the graduating of homeschoolers? Something we’ve been independently doing quite successfully for decades?  The fact that the MDSE has refused to clarify how the increased compulsion will  specifically affect homeschoolers graduating prior to reaching the age rising requirement has made me mistrustful of how it will eventually be handled.   

.05 Home Instruction Under Supervision of Nonpublic School or Institution.

B. The home instruction program may include enrollment on a part-time or full-time basis
 in courses offered by accredited or unaccredited colleges with the approval of the supervising
 nonpublic school or institution described in § A of this regulation

While C (2) was a welcome clarification, this idea of Approval being required is absolutely not.  We have a constitutional [ie natural right] to direct the education of our own children and do not need permission. If  C (2) is true, why do we need approval from anyone to implement this?  This is where a broad definition for “Program” needs to be given as above.  If it is specifically stated that a home instruction program may include anything from parent created materials to college classes, then this section is unnecessary.    

Monday, July 27, 2015

Let them see you Learning

Studying and practicing for my Yellow Sash
Life Long Learning -  This is a phrase you'll hear often in homeschool circles.  We want our children to enjoy the accomplishment of learning new things and to seek out to learn whatever they desire or need in life.  As homeschool parents, we too are learning!-  How to do this educational thing at home for one; most of us weren't homeschooled ourselves. [though thankfully, that's changing] And many of the subjects we  HAD to take in school just didn't stick. Now, however, we are embracing learning right along with the kids and enjoying it more than ever! I know I have learned so much more of everything by homeschooling these past 24 years. I always  get the most enjoyment out of learning something new if I am teaching it.  Maybe, because I like to be more engaged and of course, I'm a people person. But its true, it's just more fun and exciting to share.  All this to say, homeschoolers become life long learners, many times learning completely new things they never dreamed of!  Like homesteading, farming, and running a business- very popular among some home school families.   Well, I'm not about to announce we're heading to the hills, so don't freak out.  
No, I landed on some other types of learning instead.

About a year ago, I took up Eskrima. Also known as Arnis or Doce Pares. It is a Filipino stick fighting martial arts. My TKD black belt son took it up and became a world champion in 2010. He has competed in Mexico, Italy and across the United States. I have enjoyed watching him and supporting his sport/art.  For awhile, I secretly wanted to learn it too, so last June I took the plunge. My goal was to be able to compete in full contact sparring without being killed [Yay! I did it!] And to test at least into Green Sash. [Green Sash comes after none, white, and yellow].  There have been months where I don't make a single class due to my schedule or illness. However, I am comfortable with doing the best I can and progressing as I can.  So while it has taken me a little while to get to my second testing, the one for Yellow Sash, I am mostly happy with my progress.   I determined to carve out the time for Testing this month and hopefully I will  make it.    In this class I am not only learning martial arts, self defense, patterns, kicks and blocks,  I am also learning Tagalog  [or standardized form known as Filipino] and  some history about the Art and the Philippines.  To help me retain this new knowledge I am also learning to use an app called Quizlet. I have made a folder of Eskrima knowledge, such as the numbers 1-12, sash colors, some history and Filipino words for various body parts. These will all be needed in various amounts at the Sash testing.  Quizet helps me to study no matter where I am. I usually run through cards in the morning before even getting out of bed and then again at night before putting my phone away.

I am also taking an online class with  This is my second online class with them, having taken one in the spring of 2014.   These online classes not only have their content to learn, but it requires learning things like posting to forums, using Google docs, sheets and forms,  and using Google Classroom.     Being so computer savvy has the downside that no children nor my spouse want to help in the IT arena as they think I should be able to figure it out.  Argh. Sometimes I just want someone else to do it.

I am not the only one in the family though. My husband has taken on new things and learned new skills and all of our adult children have proven the be life long learners as well.  I have no doubts that our homeschooling lifestyle will continue to make life long learners of our last three children.

I am pretty confident that by taking on new things to learn ourselves,  that our children will see us modeling perseverance, diligence and commitment. As well as, the joy of accomplishment in an acquired new skill.   I am modeling being  a life long learner.

What are you learning these days?

Forum for the ICC Online Class

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Happy Mom Moment

So for a good deal of the time moms may wonder if this is all going to work out; am I doing anything right at all?  And then there are those moments that mom just goes 'aaaaahhhh.' So Nice.   I had one recently that I don't want to forget- so I must share it here.    That day I was quizzing Lillian on the 26 single letter phonograms. [you know, the letters]  I say the letters by sound- so A is a/A/ah -giving all three of it sounds, and B is just buh without the uh.   She did not learn them in alphabetical order but rather by the way you write them in cursive; so  clock face or circle letters first for example.  She does know the ABC song, but  I have purposely not connected it.   This day though, I gave the quiz in alphabetical order and afterward I asked her if she knew what that meant.  We sang the song.  I explained what it meant and I said the order is very useful. We can organize our words in this order and then be able to find them easily.  I pulled out the huge 1828 dictionary and started to show her.  She was so mesmerized by this book!   We spent quite a bit of time just looking up random words, or flipping through it.   'spelling time' easily lasted longer than usual. Then she proceeded to carry the book upstairs and around the house for a couple of days to look through it.  I was happy twice. Because not only was it so cute, it was nostalgic for me.  See, her oldest sister loved to read the dictionary, so it reminded me of that too.   The first photo is during the real event of first explaining a dictionary.  The second one I had her pose for this post so you can see the scale of her carrying such a large heavy book.  

Friday, May 15, 2015

Finishing the Race!

Well its the middle of May and we are so ready for a vacation!  It's a struggle every year to finish strong and complete as closely as we can, our goals that we made at the beginning of the year. [or adjusted goals back in January or March!] So when we do meet a goal it is a good reason to celebrate.   Today Lillian completed List I4 in SWR by adding her sentence at the bottom.  As the youngest of 7 with many years between them she's had the cynical view of school way younger than her siblings ever did.  She's got college and adult siblings that moan about annoying professors, unreasonable papers or projects and those dreaded finals.  Not a happy picture of school really.  I wish I had never  called our time together 'school', but instead called it one-on-one time or mommy and me time- something she wouldn't associate with her worldly knowledge of that word.   Because of this she's had an ornery attitude from pretty much the beginning of our very loose,  fun, relaxed introduction to the basics.  For some reason, she loves math, so no problems there, but spelling and phonograms?  Not so willing.    Since she is young and I've had a few later readers, I decided to take the nonchalant approach.  So I am very satisfied that we completed the  suggested K grade track for her first official year with the program.  Next year I will let her know she's expected to do more with less attitude, but for now, we'll celebrate! 

The plus side; she's well on her way to automaticity in reading. My summer goal is to simply read, read, read together; preferably in a hammock under a tree.  

I really appreciated Janet Spitler's post on the IEW website on finishing the year well. I agree with her whole heartily and plan to use all three habits here during our last week or two of formal schooling.