Things I Want To Shout From The Rooftops!

My homeschool philosophy or
Things I want to shout from the rooftops or
Things I seem to say over and over….by Kim McIntyre

1. If you’ve decided to embark on the homeschool journey, good for you! If YOU call yourself a homeschooler, I will too. Who am I to say otherwise? And being a homeschooler does NOT mean I am anti other schooling. Thank goodness we have choices.

2. There is no right or perfect way to do it. There are tons of methods, resources, curricula etc. Chances are what works for one kid won’t work for another. (Maybe even the other kids in your family!) Thankfully, whatever you choose only has to work for your kid. And it only has to work today. It might not work tomorrow and that’s okay because there are tons of methods, resources, curricula, etc.

3. Kids learn ALL the time. Even if it doesn’t really look like it. Even if it doesn’t look like you want it to. Kids often learn in spite of us. Kids’ learning often looks a lot like play and like a lot of fun. Join in! You just might learn a thing or two.

4. You WILL miss things! It’s impossible to teach EVERYTHING. Instead focus on basics (reading, writing & arithmetic), help them figure out their learning style, how to find information and to think critically. Hopefully, you can demonstrate that even adults still need and want to learn things. Hopefully, they will LOVE learning. There is no rush! They have their entire life.

5. High school is just a continuation of what you’ve been doing. Or maybe you are just starting…if so, good for you (see #1)! In some ways it is easier because the kids already know the basics and can clearly express their interests and preferences. (Oops, sometimes that makes it harder!) It’s really great when they can drive themselves to lessons, classes, and activities. You CAN give them a diploma and transcripts (the important part) are not that hard!

6. Going to college is no more of a challenge for homeschooled students than any others. Colleges have DECADES of experience with homeschoolers! Research and prepare but DO NOT WORRY!

7. Savor this moment because it will not last. If it’s a bad one, it will soon pass. If it’s a good one, it will soon pass. Be kind to your kids. Be kind to yourself. It’s a journey…don’t forget to look at the scenery along the way.

Kim McIntyre is a veteran homeschooler with 17+ years behind her. Her youngest graduated from home in the spring of 2014. She has two degrees from the University of Michigan. Currently living in Great Falls, MT and substitute teaching. Quirky fact: She has lived in four different states, all beginning with the letter M. Wonder what the other two are? 

Honoring Women in History the Homeschool Way

March is designated as Women’s History Month and today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate “the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.”

When I talk with people interested in homeschooling, one of the questions they often ask is, “How can I possibly teach my children things I don’t know myself?” This is a great question, because none of us can possibly know everything. We can’t be experts on every field of science, all of mathematics, the entirety of world history, or the vastness of literature. The answer I usually give to this question has many parts, but one of the most important in my own life, is the idea that as a homeschooling parent, I am my children’s partner in learning. I don’t need to be an expert who can answer every question; I just need to be interested in exploring the answers with them. 

Every day, I come across things I don’t know. Today, Women’s History Month is making me aware of the gaps in my own understanding. I love the idea of Women’s History Month, because I want my kids to know about the important contributions of women to our society. And yet, when I look at the way women are portrayed in history, it so often seems to be as an adjunct to men. How Sacajawea helped an essentially male project conceived by President Jefferson and led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark. How Sibyl Ludington aided in Paul Revere’s efforts to notify the patriots. How American women facilitated the male-led war effort in the 1940’s by building airplanes and acting as nurses.

I have this nagging suspicion that there’s something wrong with a view of history in which nearly everything important was done by men. Where the main narrative is a kind of framework of names and dates, of conquest and treaties and political developments accomplished by men. Where those few women we learn about are outliers who overcame their nature as keepers of the hearth to act on a broader, male stage. I don’t really know what to do about that, and yet, having identified it as a problem, I have time to work on it.

I am my children’s teacher today, and I’ll also be their teacher for years to come. If I realize two years from now that I should have explained something differently this week, I will still be able to do that. If we visit Seneca Falls three years from now, I’ll be able to help my children make connections between the historical site of the first women’s rights convention in 1848, and things we’ve learned together this year. I have time to find books and articles that will help me see this issue of women’s history more clearly. In the meantime, I can do my best with what I know today. I can choose books to read with my children as thoughtfully as I can, and have discussions at the dinner table based on what we all understand now.

This week, my daughter is loving a book she picked up at the library, Girls Who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann and Amelie Welden. I’m reading aloud a chapter about women in early America from Howard Zinn’s A Young People’s History of the United States to both of my kids. For myself, I’m reading the inspiring stories of this year’s National Women’s History Month honorees at the National Women’s History Project website.

That’s good enough for right now. The future will take care of itself as we learn together as a family.

— Sonja

Sonja Kueppers is a homeschooling parent of two children, aged 10 and 8, who have never been to school. She is an enthusiastic lifelong learner with an eclectic academic background. In addition to homeschooling her children, she works part-time in the IT field and enjoys playing board games. She has been married for over 20 years to her college sweetheart, a dedicated co-parent who also finds time to bake all of the family’s birthday cakes.

N.A.S.H. Offering Free Teleconferences for School Choice Week, Jan 26-31

“We are excited to have N.A.S.H. participate in National School Choice Week with this special event,” Andrew Campanella, National School Choice Week President.

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REGISTRATION LINK BELOW The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers will hold a series of special events starting on Monday, January 26, 2015 through Friday, January 30, 2015 to celebrate National School Choice Week.

This event will feature online roundtables and forums daily at 4:00 pm Eastern to answer your questions about How to Start Homeschooling, Secular Homeschool Curricula, Types of Homeschooling, Homeschooling High School and how to address the dreaded “Socialization” question. This free event will be held online through Uber Conference. Please see the registration form below for further details.

The National Alliance of Secular Homeschoolers provides motivation, encouragement, and support to families during their homeschooling journey. We view ourselves as partners with our members, our staff, and our community. Our mission is to promote and support secular homeschooling – through education, outreach, and advocacy – as a viable educational choice for families seeking individualized learning for their children.

N.A.S.H. is one of more than 9,000 organizations participating in National School Choice Week (January 25–31, 2015). The goal of the Week is to shine a positive spotlight on all types of education options for children—from traditional public schools to public charter schools, magnet schools, private schools, online learning and homeschooling. Our goal with these conferences is to give specific information about secular homeschooling. There will be a question and answer portion to each session, so that we can help answer any questions you have.

“We are excited to have N.A.S.H. participate in National School Choice Week with this special event,” said Andrew Campanella, National School Choice Week president. “It is because of great events like this that National School Choice Week, in Georgia and across the country, will break records as the largest and most influential celebration of educational opportunity in American history.”

We would like to take this opportunity to thank speakers for their participation in the conference. We have an exciting line up of speakers for each day’s talk. Their biographies can be found in the following link. You may ask your questions live during the conference or email them to our Member Services Department prior to the event with the Subject Line: Conference Question. And don’t worry if you can’t make the live event, we will still take your questions via email and have the events available for download later.

SPEAKER BIOGRAPHIES:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1vGhc4wudsGUjk-uowyiNsxPSgyZUWwKmbyFSxmB7Z8A/pub?&loop=true&delayms=3000

REGISTRATION: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/179tua7bBlZkZiM6cOiFpwn3K3It9IG6BU6CvUA1N8so/viewform

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: nashmemberservices@gmail.com

This Secular Homeschool Blog Brought to you by Selective Mutism

While looking at my calendar a few days ago, I realized that we are approaching our twelfth homeschool anniversary. According to hallmark.com, I should expect gifts of silk, linen and pearls. I’ll drop a few hints and register at Saks later. First, I want to share the story of how we became a secular homeschooling family:

Twelve years ago, my oldest daughter was in third grade at the local, public school, and she was struggling, but challenges were nothing new to her. Born weighing less than two pounds, she’d already been through a lot. Doctors were honest and straight-forward about her prognosis from the beginning and predicted that, if she lived through birth and then survived the inevitable preemie complications and infections, she would have significant developmental and learning challenges. We didn’t know how severe or what kind, so every milestone she met was a cause for celebration.

Visits from a hospice nurse and an early intervention specialist began the same week she came home from the hospital. She was monitored closely and diagnosed with mild to moderate learning disabilities and developmental delays before her second birthday. As she got older, she was easily frustrated, often anxious and stubbornly resistant to change. During her first year of kindergarten, she developed an unusual coping mechanism: she completely stopped talking at school.

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That may not sound particularly alarming, but this wasn’t shyness. And it wasn’t temporary. The following summer, she was formally diagnosed with social phobia and selective mutism, a response to stress that causes someone to involuntarily become mute in overwhelming social situations. Specialists, therapists and developmental interventionists could not get this child to talk. And she didn’t utter a sound at school from the middle of her first year in kindergarten to the end of third grade.

Some resources describe selective mutism as a disorder. Others approach it as an indirect effect of or coping mechanism for a larger disorder like anxiety. Our search for answers was long, frustrating and fruitless. What eventually became apparent to me was that, regardless of what caused the anxiety in the beginning, it was important to remove my daughter from the situation that caused her the most stress (school) in order to allow her to get a proper education and to learn to cope with and overcome her anxiety.

Home education was the answer for us. Initially, I was reluctant. I knew a few homeschooling families, and I didn’t want to be like them. They were church-going rule-followers with traditional family values. I am not. They used religious resources and Biblical study as a guide. I didn’t want that. And I knew no secular homeschooling families. Nonetheless, with her dad’s support, I took what I thought would be a short break from my career in media and dedicated myself to my little girl’s education and well-being.

It was slow going at first. During instruction, my daughter would shut down and stop speaking to me. Then, she’d resume conversation when “school” was over. Eventually, I learned to take cues from her. When she’d stop talking, I’d stop talking, and we’d write notes back and forth until she’d completed her school work. From there, she graduated to whispering when she was unsure of an answer (she was terrified of being wrong.). Then she began talking all the time. Two years later, she was on a stage in front of a crowd reciting lines from Shakespeare as Helen of Troy.

In retrospect, I know I pushed too hard that first year. My naive goal was to get her caught up with her peers in time to put her back in school. One day, it dawned on me that sending her back would likely undo all the hard work we’d done and plunge her back into a silent existence. At that moment, we became a homeschoolers for life.

Rather than overprotecting or sheltering her from the “World of Stress”, I believed that a homeschool environment based on reason and sound observations would allow us to rebuild her confidence, rekindle her sense of curiosity and then gradually reintroduce her to the “World of Possibilities”. Our hard work has paid off.

She is still awkward and uncomfortable in many social situations, but she has learned how to handle herself, make friends, hold conversations, tell jokes and be happy. At the age of 22, she may not know how to drive (yet) but she is learning computer programming and hopes to create her own games and apps. A few years ago, she returned to her old school to meet with and actually speak to her former teachers. Some of us cried. It was amazing to see her come full circle.

Now, I am homeschooling my younger daughter. Although I hesitate to call her typical or average, she has none of her sister’s challenges. They couldn’t be more different. We started this journey to help a silent little girl find her voice, but I continue to homeschool because I’m convinced that I can give my children a better, more realistic and more useful education based on reason. It has been the best parenting decision we ever made.

Natalie West (Guest Post) is a writer in Mississippi.

2014 Conference Vendor Spotlight : Pandia Press

pandia

A premier secular science and history curriculum supplier, Pandia Press is a family publishing company located in central Florida. Pandia Press publishes comprehensive, secular (i.e., nonsectarian) science and history curricula. Pandia’s products are utilized by home educators, co-ops, charter schools, and private schools.

Pandia Press publishes the R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey, History Odyssey, and a very popular history timeline that can be used with any history program.

Pandia Press is owned and operated by Mike & Kate Johnson, homeschooling parents of five children who range in age from elementary to college-age!

Register for the 2014 Conference now to meet Kate Johnson & look at the great Pandia Press materials! While you’re there you can listen to our speakers and meet all of our vendors, all in a safe, secular environment!

Savvy Homeschool Moms Podcast

Our very own Mari Beth Buckroth was recently a guest on the SavvyHomeschoolMoms podcast!

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Listen to her episode here

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Why “Neutral” Science Isn’t Neutral

Are there any science types reading that title wondering who I am? Or do you know who I am and think that I’ve finally lost it? I am not talking about science as it is practiced and taught at most universities throughout the United States. I’m talking about that special brand of “neutral” science found in the homeschool community.

The “neutral” science I’m referring to is science that suffers from omission. These are middle and high school level science courses that leave out the bits they think will offend people because of their faith and philosophy of life, or omit things to obfuscate the importance and acceptance of science principles and theories. Any middle and high school level science course that does not include the main principles and theories that are the foundation of that science is not neutral at all. In fact, they would be the opposite of neutral. “Neutral” science allows for a pernicious form of proselytizing that for the most part goes unnoticed in the homeschool community. It allows for groups such as the intelligent design camp to sneak their views and beliefs into texts that look like they only teach science. Texts that are infused with someone’s religious beliefs are actually well-disguised religious treatise and dogma. They are not neutral, and do not represent mainstream science.

If you had told me a decade ago that I would be arguing against religious extremism in science I would have thought you were nuts. I am a scientist, not a religious scholar, or a religious philosopher. As such I write about science not religion and not philosophy. Unfortunately, in the homeschool community, there are those who write science texts who allow their faith to affect their writings about science. For someone who is a passionate advocate for the teaching of science this is actually offensive to me. It is also disappointing when I see people unwittingly recommend courses that have this sort of religious dogma hidden within them.

Personal beliefs don’t have a place in science courses. It isn’t the job of science to support an individual’s philosophical beliefs. It is the job of science to explain how the natural and physical world works, even when scientific explanations are at odds with the person’s philosophical beliefs. Science by its very nature is neutral. What is neutral for science is to report the facts, accepted principles, and current theories. As a textbook author, I do decide what to include and what not to include in my books. My decisions for this are based on what is taught at well-regarded universities. I choose the best of those courses, look at what they include and how they are structured, and then write courses structured similarly, for the appropriate grade level. This is what you should expect from a course that you are using to educate your child.

How can you as a nonscientist figure out what to use? There are some key things to look for in a middle school or high school level science course that is truly neutral:

  • The inclusion of evolution: Here is a neutral statement from the science of biology, “Evolution happens.” When we talk about the theory of evolution, the theory part refers to the processes of how evolution works. For example, there are theories about how multi-cellularity and eukaryotic cells evolved; no one knows exactly how either of these evolutionary steps occurred. That evolution occurs is a fact. No neutral middle school or high school biology course would omit it. No neutral biology course would omit how all the organisms on earth came to be here.
  • Is the word design used in place of the word evolution? Fashion designers design clothes. Scientific researchers design experiments. Organisms evolve; they are not designed.
  • Is the word created or creation used when discussing how organisms, the universe, or matter came into existence? Organisms evolved; they were not created. The universe and matter formed from events that started with the Big Bang; they were not created. There is simply no evidence that any of these were created. The only topics and statements that belong in science courses are topics and statements that have evidence supporting them. Topics and statements based on a person’s beliefs with no supporting evidence belong in a philosophy course, not a neutral science course. When scientists do not know the answers to questions, for instance: “how the first organism evolved, and what its exact chemical makeup was” or “what it was like right before the Big Bang,” it is inappropriate to answer with personal beliefs.
  • The inclusion of the Big Bang Theory: Here’s a neutral statement from the science of astronomy, “The universe is over 13 and a half billion years old. The best explanation for how it came into existence is the Big Bang Theory. The evidence for the Big Bang Theory grows all the time. The Big Bang Theory explains how all matter and antimatter in the universe came to be, even the matter that makes humans.” This is a scientifically neutral statement. An astronomy course that does not include an explanation similar to that about the Big Bang Theory is not neutral.
  • Another neutral statement, “Humans have been burning fossil fuels in increased amounts since the Industrial Revolution. This has led to an increase in carbon dioxide and other molecules in the atmosphere that absorb sunlight in the form of heat. The more heat trapping molecules that are in the atmosphere, the more heat that is trapped, and the warmer the planet becomes. It is simple thermodynamics. The increase in absorbed sunlight is causing climate change on a global scale.” Any geology or environmental science course that does not include this topic is not neutral.
  • Does the middle or high school level biology course only teach the old Linnaean system for classifying organisms? This is the system that uses kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. This might seem like a minor point, but scientists and universities only use the Linnaean system for naming organisms. The Linnaean system is popular with courses that are not neutral because it supports the philosophy of the “Great Chain of Being.” The modern method for classifying organisms used by scientists and taught at universities is phylogeny and cladistics.

You might think that chemistry and physics are immune and that you didn’t have to worry about those two subjects. The problem is what is being left out. What key parts of these courses are omitted? As Bob Seger says, “Deadlines and commitments; What to leave in, what to leave out.” If scientists are writing these courses, and I’m not always sure that they are, what are they committed to? No scientist committed to adequately educating people in these areas of science would omit these facts and theories. They must be omitting key parts of these science disciplines to further an agenda other than quality science education.

Here’s the problem with a chemistry or physics textbook that omits key parts:

  • Chemistry is the science that definitively proves that evolution occurs.
  • Physics is the science that gives the clearest evidence that the Big Bang is how the universe came into existence.
  • Physical chemistry is the area of science used to study and explain climate change.

Many of the so-called “neutral” science courses omit the parts that provide the evidence supporting these facts and theories. If you use these “neutral” science courses for your middle school or high school chemistry and physics, your child will be left without the necessary science background to understand evolution, the Big Bang Theory, climate change, and other key science principles. If you use these “neutral“ science courses for middle school or high school biology, astronomy, geology, or environmental science, your child will not even be getting the necessary background in these areas of science to understand that science discipline. I think you’ll agree with me, that isn’t neutral at all.

Blair Lee, M.S.

Author REAL Science Odyssey Biology 2 and Chemistry 1 published by Pandia Press

Visit my Blog

blairlee@gotsky.com

I will be speaking about science and creating a Handcrafted Education at the CHN Conference, Torrance, CA, June 19-21 and the HSC Conference, Santa Clara, CA, July 31 – August 3