Thursday, May 21, 2015

Finding our Style and Radical Unschooling

This is something I wrote back in December, but just wasn't ready to post it then.  After rereading it and making a few small adjustments, I am ready to post this now.  I apologize that this is out of order from everything else.  Happy Homeschooling, friends.

  Although the boys have been on hiatus for the past few weeks, and may continue until after Christmas, I am constantly doing research and trying to learn more about homeschooling and different learning/teaching styles.  I started out thinking we would be more traditional in our style, but in looking into other styles, I considered unschooling. 

    One of the tools I like to use for information is Facebook groups.  I have joined several homeschooling groups of different types, two of them were unschooling groups.  I did find them very informative and am glad that I joined them.  I learned that although the unschooling philosophy, in regards to academics only, does have its merits,  I might still use a curriculum to teach math.  I also learned that I would not be a good fit for radical unschooling.  I do not want to have to give up who I am as a parent just to fit a philosophy. 

    I found that radical unschoolers (RU) are very all or nothing with their thinking.  Basically, it's not just letting children learn what they want to when and if they want to, it is letting them decide when they want to go to sleep and wake up.  What they want to eat and when they want to eat.  What they want to watch, for how long, etc. Or what games, internet searches, etc.  It is trusting your child to know how to make the best choices for themselves.  My problem?  Even the best child has a tendency to want to look up porn or watch a show that isn't appropriate for their age.  RUs do not tolerate limits or worksheets or anything that looks organized by a parent.  Or at least that is the perception I am getting.  Here's the thing:  I have no problem with anyone who makes this philosophy their family lifestyle.  Good on ya mate.  Just don't get mad at me for not doing things exactly like you do. 

    In the end, I left one of those groups and then came to the conclusion that we are more eclectic homeschoolers, integrating different styles and methods that suit us as a whole.  Some how, that feels liberating.  Like by knowing and accepting this, I can accept that how I do things may not be how someone else does things and that does not make us wrong or them wrong.  It just makes us different.  That's all right.  I will not look down on a fellow homeschooler or unschooler or even a public school family for their preferred style.  I hope that I will gain the same respect from others  that I choose to give them.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Preparing for Round 2 (pt. 1)

    The next few posts are going to be my reviews and experiences of a homeschool convention and what came of it for me.  I have included a ton of links this time that I hope you will find helpful.
Two weeks ago my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to attend the THSC Homeschool Convention and Book Fair in Arlington, TX.  While there, we attended a few workshops, checked out the different exhibitors, and perused the numerous vendors for a bit of shopping.   By the way, if you are new to homeschooling or even an old pro, and haven't yet attended a homeschool convention, I would highly recommend finding one near you and attending.  It is a wealth of information and a great way to meet like-minded families.  If you're in the southern portion of Texas, check out the one at The Woodlands, just north of Houston.

    The first workshop I attended was titled "Preparing High Schoolers for STEM futures" by Embry-Riddle College's David Hernandez, where the speaker talked about what STEM is, what programs and activities use STEM, and what career fields STEM can lead to.  This gentleman was gracious enough to email us the power-point he used in case we missed something in our notes.  My oldest is part of a robotics team, which turns out is a great start toward a STEM career, plus he's really great at math.  I think we may finally be finding his path.  It's funny, neither of us had really considered that until now.  It had always been ministry or archeology or something.

    The second was "Breathing Life into Language Arts" with Rosie Watson, and highlighted Total Language Plus, a language arts program that is fully literature based.  I really liked this one.  The way the program is set up is, you pick three to four books for the year, reading one at a time.  Instead of rush reading the book, you break it down into six to eight units (weeks) and really break it down.  All of your grammar, writing, vocabulary, spelling, critical thinking is based on the book.  This curriculum starts at the 3rd grade level and goes up to 12th grade, with books like Charlotte's Web, The Whipping Boy, To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Hiding Place, etc.  At one point Rosie talked about an assignment she had given for the book "The Bronze Bow".  The assignment was to write a letter to the main character.  The response from one of her students was absolutely beautiful and inspiring.  One of the things about this program that really appeals to me is that each book covers two to four grade levels, which means that I can use the same book and study guide with more than one child at a time.

    The third workshop was one my husband attended, called "Limited Language - Limited Mind" with Jean Burk, author of College Prep Genius. This one focused on preparing students for college SAT.  Although it wasn't quite what he thought it would be based on the title of the class, he did say the concept made sense.  Sadly, as my husband is not the best at relaying information, I do not have much I can offer on this one.

    After attending the desired workshops and parting ways for a bit (he needed to do a little shopping of his own), I went on to explore all the fantastic vendors that were set up.  But that adventure will have to wait for another post.   So visit again soon to find out what I saw and what I ended up purchasing.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

THSC Homeschool Convention & Book Fair

    This weekend is the THSC Convention in Arlington, TX.  Though it starts today, I will not be there until Saturday.  I am looking forward in eager anticipation to this adventure.  There will be speakers and topics ranging from Sonya Shafer: The Quiet Schooling of Nature, David Gibbs: The Future of Home schooling in America, to Crystal Payne: Raising Kingdom-Minded Kids, just to name a few. The Duggar family will also be there.
    There will be exhibits; Becky Muldrow: How to Earn a Bachelor's Degree During High School, Martin Cothran: The Classical Thinking Skills Program, Erin Karl: The Language Arts Tool belt, and David Hernandez: Preparing High Schoolers for STEM futures, and so on.  Wrapping this whole experience up will be the numerous vendors, with their different curricula and materials to view and purchase.  A virtual wonderland for home educators.
    This will be my first convention to attend.  I have taken the tips of The Pioneer Woman on how to prepare for attending a homeschool convention.  I have pre-registered and booked my hotel room.  I have been studying the schedule, list of speakers and workshops, and have narrowed it down to a number of specific workshops I would like to attend.  I am working on my plan how to make the most of my day.  All that is left is to attend, look up, smile, and chat with other homeschoolers.  I have my backpack loaded and ready to go with a notebook, pens, water bottle, crackers, etc.  I thought about a nice open tote, but decided that I want my arms free and no worries of a shoulder bag slipping from my shoulder.  I have my list of vendors I want to make sure to check out, as well as a short list of specific items to look for.  All that is left is to finish packing my overnight bag.
    All right.  First time attendee excitement?  Absolutely.  I wish I could have attended last year.  But I think having trudged through the past year as we have I at least have a better idea of what I want to gain from this convention experience.  Oh, and a fantastic bit that I just discovered:  If I miss a workshop, I can catch an audio recording of it later!  Now, I know that there will be things for kids to do.  I am not bringing mine with me this year.  First time, I just want to go with the hubby and soak it all in.  Maybe next year.  Thankful for this opportunity.  Thankful for family willing to watch kiddos so hubby and I can attend.