Strolling of the Heifers Parade

StrollingoftheHeifersSince 2002, Brattleboro, Vermont annually hosts the world-famous Strolling of the Heifers weekend festival that honors and celebrates family farmers, local food and rural life. This year it will be held on June 6 – 8. On Saturday, June 7, Oak Meadow participants will join in the Strolling of the Heifers parade. If you live in or near Brattleboro, or if you will be visiting the area, it is an eventful activity that all Oak Meadow families, friends, and supporters are welcome to attend and march along with the Oak Meadow staff, teachers and other home schooled families.

mustachioed-marchersThe parade lasts approximately one hour long. Oak Meadow School will provide free Oak Meadow t-shirts for all marchers. A limited number have been ordered for the event, so please wear a colorful shirt in case they run out. If this does happen, you will be mailed a t-shirt when the next order arrives.


For those who plan to attend the Strolling of the Heifers parade, please meet no later than 9:30 a.m. at the C. F. Church Building parking lot. The address is 80 Flat Street and is located next to the New England Youth Theater. We hope to see you there!

calf with flowers


What About Socialization?

The question of socialization comes up often in conversations about homeschooling. Parents who are new to homeschooling or considering it as a future option may recognize that school provides more than just academics. They may worry about how they will recreate those other learning opportunities in their home. Well-meaning neighbors and family members may ask, “But what about socialization?” Well, what about it?

What is socialization, anyway?

Societies have an interest in making sure the younger generation has the social skills and expectations needed to fit in with and be productive members of the group.

Photo credit: The Gonzales Tran Family
Photo credit: The Gonzales Tran Family

The Oxford Learners Dictionary defines socialization as the process by which somebody, especially a child, learns to behave in a way that is acceptable in their society.

Many people expect schools to do the job of seeing children through this process of becoming acceptably behaved citizens who understand the norms of their society and how to fit in without being a burden to the community. So they might wonder how homeschoolers will gain these skills outside of school.

Is this something I need to worry about?

Not at all. If you and your children are involved in activities with a range of other people, your children will have many opportunities for healthy social development.

In fact, some people assert that the kinds of social learning situations that occur in the classroom and on the playground impart a very different skill set than what children will actually need as adults. Typical schools group children by age and developmental ability, resulting in large groups of children who all have similar skills — and shared deficiencies.

In contrast, homeschoolers tend to interact with more diverse groups and individuals. So they are able to gain new skills from people who are much more socially adept and affirm those skills by mentoring those who are younger or less experienced. The more socially experienced members of the group provide a model for the others to learn from. This is a valuable form of socialization that is not usually part of social learning in a group of same-age children.

How can I meet my child’s needs for socialization? How do others families do this?

Socialization happens in any situation you can think of where your children are interacting with other people. Music lessons, art classes, sports teams, church groups, scouting, 4-H, wilderness groups, summer camps, mission work, community activism, and all sorts of other activities provide the opportunity for homeschoolers to interact with others and develop interpersonal skills.

Photo credit: Audrey Joyner
Photo credit: Audrey Joyner

If your child needs more social opportunities, they’ll let you know. You might seek out a homeschool group in your area or start one if one doesn’t already exist. There may be volunteer opportunities at a local nursing home or daycare center where your child can learn from elders and/or mentor younger children. Perhaps a neighbor would like someone to help them side-by-side with yardwork or housework. You might match your child with a caring teen or adult who has similar interests. If you live in a very isolated area, you might consider using the Internet or a pen-pal arrangement as a way for your child to connect with others socially through the written word. Here are more ideas from readers on Oak Meadow’s Facebook page. Can you think of any to add?

There are many “right” ways to foster healthy socialization!

What do I say to family/friends who press the issue?

Well-meaning family and friends may react with concern. Sometimes it can be helpful to dig a bit deeper to uncover their fears and respond from there. What exactly are they worried about? What social skills do they think will be missing from your child’s experience? Perhaps a simple explanation of how you will fill that gap is all they need to hear.

When you choose to homeschool, you may appear to be removing your child from the community’s collective method of raising its children. People may wonder if this means your family will now become isolated. They may assume that your child will be at home all day and will not have enough of a chance to develop and practice social skills. They may know adults who are unable to function in a socially appropriate way, and although there is no reason to connect this outcome with homeschooling, they may wonder if there could be a connection.

Photo credit: The Gonzales Tran family
Photo credit: The Gonzales Tran family

They may be concerned about homeschooling simply because they do not have any experience (yet!) with healthy, well-adjusted, well-socialized homeschoolers. It’s likely that they were indoctrinated with the belief that schools are the only place where children can learn what they need to know to succeed socially. Homeschoolers typically prove that wrong, but it may take some time for the people in your life to see that evidence unfold.

It may help to remember that these questions are generally posed out of love and concern for your child’s well-being. Be patient with the process and assure them that with your attentive care, your children are doing fine.

How do I make sure my children get what they need?

Decide for yourself what social and behavioral skills you feel are essential for your child to learn. Consider your child’s developmental level as you set your expectations. Stay tuned in to your child and his or her needs, and follow your inner compass in figuring out how best to meet those needs.

Make connections with others in your community and include your children in those interactions. Model socially appropriate behavior in different situations and support your children as they practice interacting with various people. Many homeschoolers find that socialization comes easily and naturally as part of their everyday interactions with others.

So the next time a well-meaning friend asks, “But what about socialization?” just smile and invite them to become part of your child’s ever-expanding social network.

Gotta Get Outside!

Each season in New England, where I live, brings a different type of outdoor play. Fall brings the crisp, cool days good for hiking and biking and playing in fallen leaves. Winter is full of building snow people and snow caves, skiing, snowboarding, ice skating and ice fishing, sledding, and hiking. Spring takes us outdoors to enjoy sunning and fishing, kayaking in full rushing rivers, canoeing on lakes in newly melted waters, and playing in mud! Summer lets us rest by the lakeside, take trips to the ocean, bike, hike, and picnic.

When we can’t “go somewhere”, the city streets may look boring to some kids, but in my neighborhood I see a group of kids that really love playing outside! Some have unicycles that keep them happy up and down the sidewalk. They’ve gotten really good at it! They also have a permanent hopscotch pattern made on the street. They seem to enjoy endless hours of tossing a ball back and forth. As the beautiful spring season brought them outside, I got to thinking about all the wonderful street games there are to play. At our library we have a terrific book, Go Out and Play!: Favorite Outdoor Games From Kaboom. It is newly published by Candlewick Press. I recently discovered Kaboom which is an organization dedicated to getting kids to play! Check it out! Here’s a terrific list of games to play: The Games

Stamp Collecting

“The word ‘philatelist’ means a person who practices philately or stamp collecting. It comes from the French word ‘philatelie’, which was derived from the Greek words ‘philos’, meaning loving, and ‘atelia’, meaning exemption from tax which also came to mean ‘postage is prepaid.’.”

American Philatelic Society

The American Philatelic Society is the largest, nonprofit organization in the world for stamp collectors.

When I was little and traveled with my family, we didn’t have computers for emailing and so we wrote lots of letters to family and friends. We also made a tradition of mailing ourselves letters to our home! We would go to a post office in a country or town that we were visiting, and purchase a stamp. Then, using the stamp, we would mail the letter home to ourselves. It was fun to see the letters and the stamps when we arrived home. I don’t have a very big collection of stamps, but the ones that I do have hold some wonderful memories for me.


Webcam stands for “web camera.” A webcam is basically a video camera that inputs to a computer that is connected to the internet. People on the internet can then see what is being videoed. You can read more about how they work here:

We are really fortunate today that some amazing locations around the world have webcams set up to view things we might not otherwise get to see. I like to go to webcams in foreign countries. I started doing it when I was taking a trip to Greece and I wanted to see what the people in the town I was visiting were wearing. Seriously! I couldn’t decide what to pack for the weather. Watching the people there for a few days gave me a hint as to what to take with me! Of course there are other really cool webcams set up that show animals and even birds. On the roof of the W.E.B. Du Bois Library in Amherst, Massachusetts, a pair of peregrine falcons have a nest. They are raising their chicks and today (May 8, 2014) you can see them in action on the webcam. It’s amazing to watch the parents take care of their young. I arrived at the camera just when the pair were switching roles and I got a terrific view of two fluffy white chicks! Go to W.E.B. Du Bois Falcons to watch!

Thanks to Oak Meadow Faculty Chair and Social Studies Teacher, Ted Thornton, for sending me to this webcam!


The NEW Industrial Revolution

One thing I really like to do is go to our local library and browse through the magazines. It’s a real treat because I would never order so many magazines and I certainly would never be able to keep them in the perfect order they do at the library!

Last week I happened upon an April 2014 issue of Popular Mechanics. It isn’t something I usually read, but the heading on the cover caught my eye. “25 Makers Who Are Reinventing the American Dream,” really inspired me to continue reading! I was spellbound for a good hour as I read about each of these interesting young new innovators. The write up on the woman Limor Freid really intrigued me. It wasn’t her vibrantly hot pink hair that intrigued me the most. It was her inventions and her mission. She was busy at M.I.T. studying for her master’s degree when she started a company called Adafruit. When I went to the website, read all about the company and what they offer, I felt like I just won a million dollars!

If you enjoy tinkering with electronics or are a budding engineer, you will love this! Try making the “MintyBoost” that charges your mobile device and is made in an Altoids tin!


What's a Wiki?

So many of my students have been using Wiki sites for their research and bibliographies, that I thought it was time to say, “STOP IT!”

Seriously! A Wiki site is not a reliable source for valid information. All Wiki sites are created and edited by ANYONE. That’s right! ANYONE. Any person that has a computer and the internet can put information onto a wiki site. Wikipedia is an example of a wiki site in which many people can edit, collaborate, add and delete information. There are no actual “authors” of the content. For this reason wikis are not used in schools as a reliable resource for information. Oak Meadow, like most schools, does not accept their use.

However, it may be fun to participate in the process of a wiki. It is an evolving creation by many! Here is a link to get you started:


Morse Code

It is so easy to send a text message these days by way of cell phones or the internet, that it is hard to imagine that at one time there was no way to communicate with other people a distance away unless you used the postal mail. When Samuel Morse invented a way to send messages that were a code of electrical impulses, our lives changed forever! Those dots and dashes could be sent and translated over a distance making it possible to send emergency messages to places throughout the country. Many of you are studying, or will be studying, about magnetism and electricity in the 8th grade physics course. I found this fun website that translates a sentence that you write into Morse Code. You can then click “play” and hear the dots and dashes of the message. Send something to a friend! Here’s the Morse Code Translator.

Magic Moon

moon over water

The Moon
by Robert Louis Stevenson

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

In the first and second grades, the Oak Meadow curriculum suggests creating a monthly calendar to observe and understand the rhythmical monthly cycles of the moon. In third grade, the syllabus explores the moon cycle and its effect upon the plants and animals. The fourth grade astronomy block offers a more extensive study of the moon, including a focus on lunar eclipses.


bloodredmoon03Next week, a total lunar eclipse will occur in the late evening of April 14th and in the early morning hours of April 15th .  It is known as the blood moon eclipse and will be visible across North America. This blood moon tetrad will reoccur three more times at intervals of six months. The video clip by NASA explains this special event in further detail. Here is another video clip from “The Weather Channel” to further whet your appetite! 


Many poets have written inspirational poems about the moon. The famous Robert Louis Stevenson bookStevenson poem, “The Moon”, has even been put into a lovely book format, whimsically illustrated by Tracey Campbell Pearson.





The following poem was written by Olivia Freitas. Perhaps it would be a good one for your children to learn and recite in preparation for viewing this upcoming, extraordinary phenomenon of the magic moon.


the moon the moon
shining brightly in a pool of water
the moon the moon
glistening so brightly on the ground
the moon the moon
like a white shining marble floating in the sky
the moon the moon
what would we do without the moon