Tag Archives: education

Let’s Talk About Technology.

I love it. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to have my consciousness downloaded into the cybernetic brain of an anatomically correct android.

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That being said, I have decided, and my hubby agrees that Jack should have handwriting before he has a tablet.

What do you guys think? What’s the screen time policy at your house?

I mean, I let Jack watch T.V. of course, and he watches videos online and plays games on my phone sometimes. But something about letting him have his own tablet bothers me right now.

I see a lot of kids that do, and while I’m not questioning it for them, I’m questioning it for us.

If it works for you and your kids great, I’m just saying that in Jacks case I think it’s better to put off electronic tools like that until he’s learned to use, well, old-fashioned ones.

Ideally, I’d also like for him to use a computer and become computer literate for the most part before he has his own tablet for leisure or even educational purposes.

I’m also not a fan of screens in the bedroom for naptime or bedtime.

I realize some of you let your kids have tablets and let them use them in bed, and I have no desire to judge you for it. I get it, we all gotta do what we gotta do, and I respect that. This is just how I’m parenting at the moment.

I think it’s healthy to talk about different parenting styles and policies and I’m interested in hearing from those of you whose kids do get something beneficial from their personal screen time.

Drop me a line in the comments.

 

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My Big Fat Homeschool Post

Ok, if you’ve been following along with this blog you know I’ve been struggling to decide between traditional school and homeschool for Jack (who’s 3). This decision has been weighing heavily on my mind, but I have finally agreed with the support of my husband to homeschool Jack. As parents, we do have a choice in how our child is educated. Whether it’s traditional public school, private school, or homeschool, etc. There is ultimately more than one option.
However, homeschooling is challenging if not impractical with parents working outside the home. But, homeschooling is about having the freedom to organize and guide your child’s lessons under your time constraints. But I understand how traditional school wins over working parents. Before I go any further, I’d like to fill you in on my experiences with traditional school, because these experiences have directly impacted the fear I have of public education.
I started preschool at age 3 (which was early or extra preschool back then) I did two years of preschool before entering kindergarten. I hated it. I hated everything about it. I hated the other kids, but more than that I felt vulnerable, I was talked down to, misunderstood, misrepresented, and ridiculed, this continued into kindergarten and on through elementary and middle school. I was bullied and teased, punched, kicked, and sexually harassed ( and if you don’t think a kid can be sexually harassed by another kid you’re dead wrong).
An empathic child cannot just merely IGNORE A BULLY.
Speaking of empathy, where the fuck is everyone’s?
Also, bullying begets bullying because I was bullied and I bullied. I am no angel.
By the time I reached 5th grade I was labeled as having a learning disability (related to my struggles with math). This label followed me on through high school. It affected my self-image and self-esteem. I didn’t care about school or grades at all. Fast forward to now, and I’m 29 years old and a second-semester freshman at the local community college majoring in English. I have a 3.8 GPA (but I haven’t taken a math class yet). Math aside, I think I might have been a better student had I been educated less conventionally. Perhaps my self-esteem wouldn’t have suffered, and I might have completed college much earlier.
Some of you may recall from my Charlotte Mason post, that traditional public schooling formed in England out of necessity. With little access to books necessary to facilitate independent learning styles, children had to gather in school houses where the teacher would instruct them from a book, and share her knowledge, which she attained by her ability to read and access books. Additionally, modern public schooling in the United States was born out of necessity, not so much because of a lack of books, but because both parents labored long hours outside the home and the children needed someplace to be.
Today, kids and parents have access to public libraries for books and home computers with a high-speed internet for online classrooms. K-12 public school online seems like a fantastic alternative. I don’t know much about it though, but I’ve seen it advertised and I wish I would have had access to something like that growing up.
Historically, public schools in the United States were designed with the assembly line in mind. Each pupil required conditioning so that someday they might become a factory worker like their parents. In my assessment, public schools are still ugly, dull, often windowless, prisons. The state mandates the curriculum, and the budget favors athletics over the arts. The classrooms are overcrowded, and the textbooks are out of touch. The teachers are borderline abused by the students and the administration. And don’t get me started about the cuts to what they so delicately refer to as “special education.” Or the rampant reports of neglect and abuse committed against students with various disabilities.
But what about socialization?
Here’s the rub, I don’t give two fucks about socialization if Jack is a shy, sensitive, 42-year-old man someday because he was homeschooled that’s just fine by me. Plus, you’re not allowed to talk in fucking class! And let’s be real, kids are assholes, childhood friendships form again, out of necessity, it’s survival. I understand that friendships are meaningful, I want Jack to have friends, I believe he can and will make friends even if he’s homeschooled if he so chooses. I will go out of my way to find activities to include him in where he’ll have the opportunity to bond with children his age.
I just don’t believe Jack has to endure 6 hours of mind-numbing school on the off chance he might have a meaningful encounter with a kid his age at recess or lunch because again, YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO CHAT, LAUGH, OR PAL AROUND DURING CLASS.
I know what you’re thinking…
Homeschool kids are “weird”…all the ones I remember growing up were…but I was jealous as fuck of them. They were ALLOWED TO BE WEIRD. They didn’t have to hide it or attempt to work around it regularly. All that energy can instead be spent on pursuing their EDUCATION. Weirdness is not a crime; I’m weird, my husband is weird, our kid is weird, my favorite people are weirdos. I’ll take an odd duck over a normie any day of the week. Weirdness or shyness is not equateable to handicap or mental illness.
Public school is discriminatory toward introverts. My report cards came home with little notes like “does not participate in class” which is like saying “does not raise hand or shout answers” or “sits too quietly and listens” and then of course if you’re too energetic during class you need ADHD medication, but that’s another matter.
My point is, INTROVERSION IS NOT A PERSONALITY DISORDER. It’s an entirely acceptable state of being. Every introvert learns how to adapt as a means of survival into an extroverted world by the time their an adult.
I don’t trust the school system with my child, not with his body, not with his heart, and not with his mind. I don’t want the administration to stamp out any part of my child’s spark. I know there are great teachers out there who do right by their students, I know, I had a few, but it’s not enough.
Now, I have a feeling that someday Jack may ask to go to school, and when he does, as long as he is old enough in my assessment to advocate for himself and adequately defend himself, I will allow it. I realize that’s a clever little loophole, but I promise to trust Jack. I believe in my kid, since the day he was born, since the moment I laid eyes on his little two-pound body. Childhood is such a delicate and precious time I know that sounds cliché as fuck, but it’s all too true. So I’ll just be one of many of Jacks teachers, and his home and his backyard and his community can be his classroom until he’s old enough to decide what he wants for himself.
As for curriculum, I’m exploring options. I’m into the Charlotte Mason method but with supplementation for things like math with software or an online program … I’m also interested in public school online so if anyone has any info on that front to share I would appreciate it. If any homeschool mom’s or dad’s out there (who haven’t already been scared off by my cursing) want to comment below with links to their blogs or other tools I would be very grateful. I’m also interested if anyone has had success using an umbrella school. I’m also interested in linking up with a group of homeschool parents and kids in Northern California who meet for socialization etc.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I apologize if anyone feels attacked or alienated by this post. My intention is to convey my personal thoughts and feelings on the matter. I realize that homeschooling is a challenge and ultimately easier said then done, but I have to at least try.

 

Recommended Reading | A Charlotte Mason Education: A Home Schooling How-To Manual

As some of you may know, I am struggling to decide whether or not to homeschool Jack. I have plenty of reasons for and against but have not entirely made up my mind. Plus, it’s hard to say if homeschooling will still be practical for our family by the time Jack is five. I’m also considering a satellite or hybrid public education as a viable but possibly more expensive option, and I am looking into “umbrella schools” as well.

Jack is only three years old now, which is apparently pre-school age according to his pediatrician. However, I’m not interested in placing him in preschool at this time. I don’t think it’s necessary and I’d like to continue to nurture his mind and indulge his imagination at home while he’s still little.

In addition to researching how to homeschool within the confines of the law here in California, I’m also reading up on homeschool theories and methods. I came across the Charlotte Mason method while doing a little browsing on Pinterest and some of her theories caught my attention, and while looking over Charlotte Mason books on Amazon, I found a brief overview / how to guide by a woman named Catherine Levinson.

Levinson breaks down Charlotte Mason’s teaching philosophies into short chapters organized by school subject. The book itself is a quick read; I burned through it in a single weekend.

At first, glance what’s great about the Charlotte Mason method as noted by Levinson is that you don’t need to purchase a curriculum, you simply need a library card.


About Charlotte Mason
Charlotte Mason was born in England in 1842. She was taught at home by her parents and went on to become “founder of the homeschooling movement” She wrote Home Education and conducted home schools in England through mail correspondence. She began a monthly magazine called the Parents Review, and its purpose was to support the parents of her schools who opted for home education because they didn’t want their children in public school and couldn’t afford private school ( I can relate). Charlotte believed children are “born persons” with “love for learning” and we ought not to kill that love. With that in mind, lessons begin officially at six years old when a child is old enough to sit and focus on various subjects.

Whole Books and Living Books
Charlotte emphasized using what she referred to as “whole books” and “living books” A whole book is essentially a novel, and the opposite of a whole book is an anthology. A living book is the opposite of a textbook, and more like an accurate historical novel or a biography.

The Method
The method consists of short morning lessons on a large variety of subjects. For each subject, you set the timer. Younger children have a shorter attention span, so each lesson lasts 15-20 minutes. The afternoon and evenings are spent on free time, hobbies, crafts, and exercise.

Literature- is the most important aspect of the Charlotte Mason method. Classroom style education was developed in Europe without funds for books. Teachers had to convey knowledge to children through lecture and the use of a blackboard. Charlotte thought that this style put a child in danger of receiving “too much teaching and too little knowledge.” Her message was “don’t get between the child and the book, don’t talk too much, and don’t lecture.” She felt lectures were a waste of time and a strain on a child’s attention and that that energy is better spent on good books that delight children’s minds and stir their intellect. Children read to themselves when they are able, and anything outside their ability or depth is read aloud to them. They will also benefit from first-hand exposure to well-composed writing. She advises parents not to drill young children in composition and assures them that “they will be able to write if they have had good books.”

Narration- is another important aspect of the Charlotte Mason method. The child uses it as a tool to assimilate information and re-tell it. Children listen closer if they are expected to re-tell what they’ve heard. The parent reads aloud from the book being used for the lesson for 10-13 minutes doing their best to keep the child’s attention. After the parent is finished reading, they ask the child to tell them about what was read. The rationale behind this is that most kids narrate easily because human beings enjoy re-telling a story or event to a friend or loved one. Children begin narration at six years old, and they do it orally. Then at ten years old, they start to write out their narrations while the parent avoids pointing out errors in the writing at this stage.

Poetry- is also important especially poetry relevant to the child’s age. For example, a parent might read Wynken Blynken and Nod aloud to their six-year-old student while the student plays quietly or draws. This approach is different than that of literature narration, but a child should be able to memorize and recite the poem from hearing it like this.

Art Appreciation- calls for children to learn about pictures from the pictures themselves; this begins at six years old at 10 minutes a week. The child looks at the picture closely absorbing every detail. Then when the picture is removed from view, you ask them to describe it. Trips to museums to see original works in full-scale are also essential. Children are encouraged to create their own illustrations and parents are encouraged to supply them with quality tools.

Music Appreciation- can be organized as a lesson, or selected pieces could be played in the background during other subjects. Children are encouraged to try out different musical instruments for themselves and attempt to learn one with practice.

History- centers the lesson on literature including firsthand accounts of historical events whenever possible. Starting at age six children are read forty pages per term from a large well written and illustrated book. Visiting historical monuments in person whenever possible is also encouraged.

Geography- lessons use a travel guide rather than a textbook, because of the literary language, again the children are read to, and then they narrate. The idea is to inspire a child enough to want to experience the world and other cultures for themselves. Children also learn to use maps, and compasses, as well as learning about rivers.

Regarding Math- Charlotte wanted people to study math for its own sake. Narration is incorporated into the lesson when a parent asks a child to tell them all they know about the concept they have just studied, either after a course or after a daily lesson. Children are taught the concrete before the abstract and young children use “counters” for as long as they need. (Math is the only area in which purchasing a curriculum and using additional learning software might be helpful/necessary for parents.)

Science- lessons call for children to head outside even at pre-school age; they observe the scenery while parents point out the details. Nature walks are necessary to make observations and collect specimens. Findings are recorded and illustrated in a nature journal. Flowers and leaves are pressed in a notebook to return to later. A field guide is implemented for identifying both flora and fauna. Attention is paid to the ecosystem in a child’s own backyard or at e neighborhood park. Some parents even make arrangements to visit nearby farms.


Additional lessons include handwriting, which begins slowly and then advances to transcribing passages into a copybook. Spelling is also practiced, as is a foreign language.

Another significant aspect of the Charlotte Mason method is its emphasis on the bible and Christianity, which may be applicable for some, but serves no purpose for us. I do appreciate Charlotte’s emphasis on morality and the formation of good habits, but some of the attitudes don’t sit well with me.

Furthermore, Catherine Levinson is deeply religious, and this book is peppered with her feelings about what is appropriate and what isn’t for her family. She “censors” art books and forgoes stories about ghosts. However, none of this by any means turns me off of the method itself.

Overall, I find the Charlotte Mason method as outlined by Catherine Levinson both encouraging and inspiring, but just as I do with everything, I take her philosophy with a grain of salt. For my part, I would ditch some lessons and adapt others to include the use of technology. The method itself leaves plenty of room for adaptation. The thing I love most about the Charlotte Mason method is that good books, in hard copy, are at heart of nearly every subject taught. This quaint, yet brilliant approach to learning speaks to my soul, and I hope to have the opportunity to teach Jack at home in this meaningful way.

For now, Jacks lessons are unpretentious and informal, and they include but are not limited to:

Intro to Fashion-

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Flower Appreciation-

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Intro to Photography-

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Plant Appreciation and Irrigation-

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