Home education magazine

Here is a Preview of our Next Issue: September-October 2014

As HEM moves into our exciting future in full support of each person – whether child, teen or adult – creating thoughtful, electric, passionate, peaceful, wild, innovative, unique, serene, exuberant, productive, caring lives … each in our own way, we invite you to take a look at a preview of what’s coming up in our next issue, below.

Leaning on the NOW to guide the FUTURE, by Erin LaBelle

Son number two gets up each morning and goes to school so he can be with his friends. He is thirteen, and when he was ten, he chose school. Although he knows he has the freedom to walk away at any moment, he chooses to stay in an environment that is not always emotionally healthy in order to be with his friends.

Son number one, who is fourteen and learns outside of school, decided he would apply to a new STEM high school in our area for next year. This school is on a medical school campus and focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. It also offers three years of entrepreneurial/business classes. He wants to learn in community and our efforts to connect with other homeschool teens desiring the same thing have not been fruitful. It seems in our area that most homeschooled teens either join an e-school or attend a brick and mortar school for high school. The ones who continue to learn outside of school are not eager to create a learning center and may not have the same social needs of my son.

SAHM as My Feminist Act, by Kate Fridkis

Feminism with a capital F, the united front, is firmly planted behind the career woman, nudging her gently, incessantly forward. And because identifying apparent opposites seems to be a compulsive human pursuit, the flip side of this support system is too often a wholesale dismissal of women who choose not to work full time outside the home. Even though, of course, many of these women also earn money, plan to return to outside jobs later, or otherwise move fluidly between the supposed poles of work and home. Even though, of course, it would be more sensible to acknowledge that they are doing something valuable regardless of their earning potential.

If I call myself a feminist and a SAHM in the same piece of public writing, I am sure to receive a flurry of furious responses. Feminism as popularly represented can feel hostile to people like me, who skate along the lines that divide things up into conveniently simple categories. Feminism can sound like a brash, loud, totally certain approach to every subject, which often results in rejections of the women who don’t seem to fit the cause. And yet feminism is too important a cultural idea to ignore. As a woman, I am bound inextricably to the concept, I am indebted, and I am freed. I want to shrug and walk away, to not have to think about it, but I can’t. I am a part of the story of feminism, it’s just not always clear, to me, to everyone else, if I’m a villain or a hero.

What Do Unschoolers Want From Public Schools. by Suki Wessling

The most obvious reason for wanting to maintain a relationship with public schools is financial: we all pay taxes that go to our local schools, but homeschoolers do not get any benefit from that money unless their children are enrolled in a public school program.

“It is a misconception by some education professionals and many citizens that homeschoolers take funds away from the public school districts,” wrote one respondent. “In reality, the exact opposite is true: homeschoolers contribute the exact same revenue to the districts, but do not cost the districts anything. Homeschoolers are a net financial benefit to the districts.”

“I resent that my district receives funding for my son but has directly told me that they are unable to handle his educational needs,” wrote a respondent who has a child with special needs. “While I have taken on the task myself, the least they could do is allow us to use some of the funding they already receive in his name. Funding for homeschoolers shouldn’t be much different than charter schools.”

Though it is unlikely that unschooling parents will receive no-strings-attached cash handouts from the government to support their children’s education, it is the case that school districts across the country already serve some of the needs of homeschoolers in a variety of ways. In my own homeschooling life and from the poll results, it’s clear that the public school system could offer more.

The Littlest La Leche League Member, by Emily Brooks

Growing up, I learned a lot at breastfeeding support groups.

I am the first of four kids, and my mother, Lulu Huber, has been a La Leche League leader for twenty years, and involved in the organization for more than twenty-five, before I was even born. One or two of us were nursing for something like twelve years straight. I consider this to be an accomplishment, as well as a gift to us, from our mother.

Kids like to imitate those adults they look up to. My sister and I, five and three, would play “La Leche League Meeting,” sitting in our little wooden rocking chairs with our stuffed animals and nursing them as our mother nursed our first baby brother. By the time the next baby came along, the three of us kids, brother included, all were play-nursing our special plastic baby dolls.

I admit I had a bit of distain for those plastic baby bottles that often came with dollies. I knew their milk wasn’t real. It didn’t have the benefits of immune system support, vitamins, and nutrients that breastmilk had. I was fascinated with how the liquid disappeared when I tilted the toy bottle, and I settled on the orange juice baby bottles as a compromise. But most of our baby feeding play was all natural.

Class Dismissed: A Film About Learning Outside of the Classroom, by Jeremy Stuart

As my own family began our foray into the world of home education it became clear to me from the response we got from friends and strangers alike, that most people, despite many of them being dissatisfied with the current educational model, felt like they had no choice about their children’s education. They weren’t aware that they had options and if they did, they had no idea how to begin. Also at that time, there were a couple of documentaries about education that were making the rounds, Waiting for Superman, and Race to Nowhere, both of which I’d seen and both of which I’d been disappointed in for their failure to present alternatives to conventional schooling. Why was nobody talking about alternatives? Why were people so willing to just go with convention despite it being so clearly broken? I felt also that there was much misunderstanding in the general public about home education, so I decided to make a documentary about it to challenge their assumptions and to highlight the fact that children who learn outside the classroom can be successful.

Communicating from My Heart, by Janet Elizarraraz

At the birth of a first child, we bring to life promises made pre-kids about how we’ll parent. I remember back when I was about 14 years old at a family function, and I heard what appeared to be sorrow coming from my dad that his grandchildren would not speak Spanish. The language would end with us, his children. I cemented into my future that that would not come to fruition–at least not with mine. So began a process of finding a mate that would support my intention to maintain a Spanish-speaking household, and thankfully I found a wonderful Mexican national to share my life.

Even though he and I had only spoken to each other in Spanish, when our first son was born there was an awkward pause within me that didn’t feel completely natural. My heart language I lamented at the time was English, having lived the majority of my life in the states, but hell if that was gonna stop me on my quest of “creating” highly functional Spanish speakers–Spanish first and English eventually, and by default.

Going Public, by Rebecca Pickens

Almost immediately after I tell the reporter we’ll begin school, Jo Jo (age five) disappears. He returns with his pens, paper, and a collection of Star Wars books which he lays down in front of the wood burning stove. The cat takes her position, as she does every morning, beside Josiah to watch him sketch Chewbacca. I smile as I notice it is a picture of Chewbacca viewing the very Aquarium we visited the week before. In a while I know he will get up for a bowl of apple sauce and go on to the computer to search for more Star Wars images he’d like to draw. He’ll type all the words himself and talk in a loud voice when his research leads to especially outstanding discoveries. “Mom, I just found out that Tatooine used to be covered in oceans! When Luke Skywalker lived there it was desert. We all know that. But some guys looked at fossil records and it seems like a long time ago there was a lot of water and other things on Tatooine too. I’m going to draw an ancient map to explain this to you.”

Lastly, Elias, age seven, sits on the couch with the reporter and me. He answers her questions about farm chores he does with his dad. They talk about his goats’ crazy antics and about his pet shrimp named Weaver.

The Curriculum of Bootie’s Happiness, by John Taylor Gatto

I found a new way to measure the crisis in American society in a British newspaper recently. According to the London Economist, 70 percent of the world’s lawyers live in the United States. That figure depressed me horribly the instant I read it, because in the ancient tradition of common law there are only two categories of offense that warrant court action: 1) breaking a serious promise–which gives rise to contract law and, 2) encroaching on someone else’s rights–which gives rise to tort and criminal law. It is a clear signal how far America’s community has decayed–to a point we should all be frightened.

To support 70 percent of the world’s lawyers, Americans must break a boatload of promises to one another, and frequently damage each other by encroaching on rights. In healthy communities, most disputes are settled by face-to-face encounters between contending parties with community opinion deciding justice in details of the matters under discussion. We have apparently forgotten how to live together in communities civilly, in a way in which disputants in a nation like ours, blessed with material abundance (a nation that did without police forces for its first 200 years), should be ashamed of. How did the contentious present come about? It isn’t merely an academic question, because the next stage beyond this is revolution. Violent revolution.

John Holt on Piaget, Theories, and Genuine Learning, by Patrick Farenga

This is the great and fatal flaw in Piaget. Even in the early sixties, when his work was just beginning to come into educational fashion, I knew, simply from what I had seen of young children in schools, and even younger ones out of schools, that he was just plain wrong in much of what he said about children’s thinking, what they could and couldn’t do. How had such an intelligent and observant man made such serious mistakes? There seemed to me then three serious flaws in his method, which was basically to study children’s thinking by asking them questions about it. (These flaws, by the way, are inherent in all psychological research of this kind, whether done with children or adults.) The first was that they didn’t understand the real meaning of his questions; the second, that he didn’t understand the real meaning of their answers. The third, perhaps even more important, was that the children were often not even trying to tell him what they really thought, but, like all people being questioned by some higher authority, were trying to guess and give him the answer they thought he wanted.

Unschooling in the UK, by Anne Marie Brian

I started off trying to be like a teacher. I spent a fortune on workbooks and I had a copy of the National Curriculum, which was impossible to understand. The BBC Learning websites were useful for making some sense of it all. But I was exhausted. I was trying to be a school teacher without the backing of a school. I could not force Callum to do anything, and I would get cross if he refused to, for example, keep a daily diary, which I thought would ensure Callum did some writing every day. Fortunately, I belonged to the Education Otherwise Yahoo email group, and gradually I began to learn about Autonomous Education and how it could work. All I had to do, they said, was to provide a “stimulating environment,” so that’s what I did. We had the Internet at our disposal and I really don’t think I could have managed without it. I would suggest and gently guide Callum, and we did projects about animals, lots of art, a bit of French (I went to an evening class to brush up on my school French), and we watched educational TV programmes. We found lots of educational science and maths games online.

My Journey to Change, by Tabitha Hall

A walk for miracles! I love being in the space of miracles! I started looking into ways I could participate in the trip. One of my biggest challenges was child care. The walk was nine days, walking 15 to 20 miles each day. There was the travel time to get there and back, a few days on ether side to adjust to the altitude and a few days to integrate the experience. It was easily going to be a three week trip and I had never left my homeschooled children for more than a few days. At first it seemed impossible. A friend with a child of similar age who was also interested in the trip and I were talking and we had the thought: we could do this together with our children!

I discussed this idea with the group leader, who happened to be my mother, and we started looking at the logistics of it all. Did we think the children could do it? How would I raise money to take three people on the trip? What type of extra help would I need?

I decided to start training, fundraising and planning the trip and see were it took us. We started walking a few miles and then adding a mile or so every few days. Soon we were walking five miles a day. We started picking up our pace so that the five miles was going faster. Sometimes we had time to walk farther but it was more important to us that we were walking every day–and that was quite a commitment!

My Child’s Right to Privacy and Personal Boundaries, by Mark Hegener

Even infants express needs for privacy: some prefer to enjoy the freedom of movement that can only come from being put down, for example. When crawling and walking begin, most want to revel in the freedom of being able to explore their environment at will and won’t enjoy the confinement of a crib or playpen. At the wee age of two, toddlers often want to be left alone to experiment, explore and study something of interest–the workings of a toy, patterns, sounds, etc. If we’re interrupting the process with our comments or actions, we’re not only disrespecting their learning process but denying their right to privacy. As our children age, their needs for privacy typically increase as their bodies and brains become increasingly more capable.

When my daughter was eight she had a huge interest in writing and in keeping journals. She would spend hours a day at times, writing in her journals. It was clear that she saw the journal entries as private and not something to share with anyone. I knew how critical is would be for me to never tempt myself to read her journal under any circumstances. She is an adult now and has lived away from home for many years. She stores an entire chest of filled journals in my home and I have yet to be tempted to open and read a single page. I know that I could probably learn a lot about her if I did and even likely be able to resolve many conundrums that exist for me about her childhood and teen years. It is clear to me however that whatever I am destined to learn or resolve about her will come from our conversations and not from my invading her trust in me.

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