Homeschooling – Are You Judged by Your Choice?

I recently received a comment from one of my enrolled Oak Meadow home teachers. She wrote: My husband and I have continued to receive judgment from family and even a couple of neighbors in regards to homeschooling. It is exhausting to feel we need to defend our decision…

I want to encourage all home teachers who have experienced a similar scenario to not feel “beaten down” by people who question homeschooling in a judgmental manner. Instead, ask yourself, “What is the best way to respond to these queries?” I collaborated with other Oak Meadow staff members and teachers regarding this topic, and their offerings are invaluable. I hope these tips will help if/when you are confronted and questioned in the future…

1mmenegazMichelle Menegaz:

One thing I always try to say to non-homeschoolers is that I am not anti-school but that there are so many wonderful options in today’s modern world that education can be more personally tailored to the individual’s and family’s needs. I think many people react strongly because schooling in the traditional manner is so ingrained in our culture that anyone who does differently is seen as a threat to the system or as implying a criticism of those who stay in it. No one needs to justify their decision to anyone else unless they want to, but if they want to, it can help to really acknowledge up front the validity of the mainstream choice to help put the “listener” or “challenger” at ease.

1OM pictureSarah Antel:

I really like Michelle’s suggestion to validate the choice of the other party to have their child educated in a brick and mortar; this would most certainly help to create a non-confrontational atmosphere.

When I have been involved in situations similar to these, I have been known to step away from the conversation or change the subject as I read that audience as not being receptive to a conversation. However, if the company does seem open to a calm conversation and sharing of thoughts I think I would open with asking them why they chose to send their child to a brick and mortar. I would be engaged and ask questions to learn more about where they are coming from. When they complete their thoughts, I would share the reason(s) why I would choose home schooling; I also often acknowledge that homeschooling is not for every child.

In a way, I think it is a sort of fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. After all, many of my families have expressed nervousness and fear when they began their homeschooling journeys. Often, they are afraid because they declare that they are not a teacher and they don’t want to mess up. My response is that we are all teachers; parents and other adults teach children everyday; this is just a little more ‘formal’, with a curriculum. It could be that those judgmental parties are uncomfortable and perhaps afraid. I look at this opportunity as a mind-opening and open-ended conversation.

1dhughesDeeDee Hughes:

Personally, I think simple responses are best since you usually can’t change minds by arguing and you don’t want to debate your choices every time your neighbor waves hello. Here are some simple responses that might help:

  • There are lots of different ways to learn.
  • Homeschooling is our best educational option right now.
  • Aren’t we lucky to live in a time when there are so many educational options so each child can learn in the way that works best!
  • I appreciate your interest in my children’s education. I’d be happy to sit down with you and show you this great curriculum we are using if you want to learn more.

1leslie-daniels-185x200Leslie Ann Daniels:

When this type of “questioning” would occur during the seventeen years I spent homeschooling my own children, I quickly learned to acknowledge the inquiring party by nodding my head politely and thanking them for their concern. I found that verbally defending myself and explaining my choice in homeschooling was usually not productive, for it would oftentimes only cause more conflict and questions. What helped me the most was going deep inside myself and acknowledging the fact that I (and their father) knew my children much better than anyone else. I knew they were content and happy being home schooled. I knew they were learning and growing in a productive manner. I knew they were experiencing life to the fullest and maintaining a healthy balance of head, hands, and heart. I knew they were being enriched with the extracurricular activities offered to them. I knew they were well socialized and well behaved. I could go on and on with my observations. However, because I personally noted and affirmed all these important qualities and factors in my children, I felt even more convinced about my decision to homeschool and much less inclined to defend myself regarding the educational choice I was providing for my children. It didn’t matter as much how other people felt about my decision to homeschool, because all I had to do was look at my children and easily witness the joy of learning that was being experienced. It was that simple.

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10 Ways to Include Heart in Your Homeschooling

1. Maintain your focus when giving your attention to your child.

Photo credit: The House family. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: The House family.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

In today’s world, most of us find our attention divided, scattered in all directions. Giving your full attention to your child is one of the best ways you can support his or her learning.

2. Use humor as much as possible. “Be silly, tell jokes, let your children know you delight in their laughter and smiles!” says Michelle Menegaz, Oak Meadow teacher and homeschooling mother.

3. Understand your child’s individual learning style. What kind of learner is your

Photo credit: The Maynard family. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: The Maynard family.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

child? Does he or she process information best in a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic way? Do you have multiple children with different learning styles? Figure out how you can make learning most easily accessible to each child.

4. Establish rhythms that are comfortable for you and your child. Rhythms and routines encourage a predictable and comforting flow to life and learning.

5. Slow down. Allow time for spontaneous discoveries, whim-driven creations, and heartfelt conversations. Remind yourself and your child that life is worth taking time to savor. Homeschooling allows us the flexibility for that, so why not?

6. Practice good self-care. Expect your children to do the same. We are most ready and able to do our job (as parents) and learn new things (as students) when our fundamental needs are well met. Make sure you and your child both have enough sleep, physical activity, healthy nourishment, emotional support, and opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation.

Hill family-under1mb-cropped
Photo credit: The Hill family. (Oak Meadow archives.)

7. Be gentle with your child and yourself. Ride out the challenges with grace and optimism. Understand that some days will be easier than others.

8. Stay sensitive to your child’s perspective. Even wishes that cannot be accommodated can still be validated. Your children may have insights into their own selves that can help you better understand how best to support them on the journey.

9. Do your best and let that be enough. There is no such thing as “perfect”

Photo credit: The Park family. (Oak Meadow archives.)
Photo credit: The Park family.
(Oak Meadow archives.)

homeschooling! Lead by example as you accept yourself and your shortcomings. Show your child that making mistakes and rising up to try again are essential parts of learning.

10. Let love lead every interaction you have with your child. Let your love for your children be unconditional, so that they are free to explore and experiment as they learn, without fear of rejection. Let your homeschooling journey begin and end with love.

Tissue Paper Butterflies

Fly, fly butterfly.

Whither lies your way?

I fly to the sun

On this lovely spring day.

Fly, fly butterfly.

With wings of colored hue.

From the sun please bring us

A message or two.

Author unknown

I have discovered that watching butterflies is a delight at any age. I am in awe as I watch the butterflies emerge from their winter sleep or return home from their long migration. Butterfly watching is fast becoming a popular hobby. Did you know there are more than 650 species of these colorful winged insects in the U.S. alone? Did you know that people who study them are called lepidopterists?

1monarch-butterfly-on-flower-AWIN0908052-08Butterfly conservatories are a great way to observe many different species of butterflies, but most of you don’t even have to leave your backyard before you’ll notice them flitting about. If you are enthusiastic about attracting even more butterflies, you can plant particular varieties of flowers, such as Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed, Zinnia, Bergamot, Day Lily, Black-Eyed Susan, and Purple Coneflower, as well as herbs like Tansy, Garlic, and Chives.

1519fg78jCuL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Oak Meadow’s science courses in grades k-4 include various studies of the butterfly. In addition to the suggested lesson activities, you might include a guidebook, such as Robert Michael Pyle’s book, National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Butterflies. Or perhaps you would enjoy sharing a butterfly story, such as Alan Madison’s Velma Gratch and the Way Cool Butterfly or Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar or Bruce Coville’s The Prince of Butterflies.

If it’s a rainy day, and no butterflies can be observed, you and your children might like to try your hand at making your own tissue paper “flutter-by”. You can make one that looks like your favorite butterfly, or you can create your own colorful design. Once you are finished, you can hang them altogether in a gentle breeze as a butterfly mobile, or you can hang them individually on a stick and fly them about.

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Here are some very easy instructions:

  1. Cut at least two sheets of brightly colored tissue paper into 4” by 4” squares.
  2. Stack the squares on top of each other, fold in half and cut into the share of a butterfly’s wings.
  3. Fold a pipe cleaner in half and slide the tissue paper between the pipe cleaners, gathering the tissue paper a little if you like.
  4. Form the feelers and the tail by twisting the pipe cleaners at each end.

Exploring Symmetry

imagesOver the weekend we went on a long walk through the woods. Somehow through all the chatter as we walked (there were five of us) we came up with the idea to look for things along the way that were symmetrical. We only looked for items that had reflection symmetry. This is the type of symmetry where one half is a reflection of the other half. When we found something we thought was symmetrical, we took a picture of it. When we got home, we printed the pictures and cut them so that each half was a reflection of the other. After pasting one half to a piece of paper, we could draw the other half. The challenge was to make it look as exact a reflection as we could. It was lots of fun!

I was thinking that this would also be a fun activity for a lazy day at home. Instead of using photographs from nature, one could use old magazine pictures. Cut out pictures, then cut them along the line of symmetry, and attempt to draw the reflection. images-2

Try this activity!

 

 

Adventuresome teens

A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

John A. Shedd

I’ve always loved a good adventure! My parents tell the story of when I was just three years old I ventured out into the neighborhood alone. I was gone a couple of hours before my distraught mother finally found me. The story goes that she found me a few houses away, painting the front door of the house. I guess I found some paint and decided it would look good on that door! Our family traveled a lot and moved a lot because my father was in the U.S.Navy. Moving every two years to a new place was always a terrific adventure for us. Now, after many more adventures and travels throughout my life, I also enjoy sitting down and reading adventure books in which others go out to see and experience the world. I’m amazed at the imagination and determination of some people! It’s so impressive to read about the preparation that goes into an adventure and the high goals set by some.

I’ve just read about Laura Dekker, a New Zealand born teen, that sailed solo around the world at the age of 15. Pretty astounding! She had a lot of experience sailing and of course was well prepared for her trip, but what strength and courage to attempt it!

In looking for a good list of adventure books, I looked at some “oldies but goodies” that are exciting adventure books that everyone should read! Here are some of them:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Duma, The Crater by 73James Fenimore Cooper, Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, Kim by Rudyard Kipling, The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCulley and of course, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.images