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Archive for the ‘homeschooling’ Category

Don’t. That’s really the only word applicable here.

If you are like me, you will be lucky in that your parents (or, in my case, parent) will support you. My folks never questioned any of my choices, not even the dicier ones like selling all my belongings to travel the U.S. on a Greyhound bus, solo.

You probably won’t be that lucky.

But what about friends? Or your church? They’ll support you, right?

No. Well, let’s classify that: if you attend a church where most of the families homeschool, yes. The church we were attending: no. But they didn’t support us when we brought Chrystal into the family. The senior pastor’s wife pulled me aside and said, in all earnestness, “You don’t have to do this, you know.”

No, I didn’t know. And I will *never* regret the decision to bring my niece into my family and to introduce her as my daughter. Never.

EVERYONE will ask, “WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?”

You didn’t even know that was a childhood concern until you decided to pull your child out of the indoctrinational halls of public education.

What the hell is ‘socialization” anyway?

Merriam-Webster defines it as: : the process by which a human being beginning at infancy acquires the habits, beliefs, and accumulated knowledge of society through education and training for adult status

The Psychology Dictionary defines it as: 1. The process by which we learn social skills. 2. The process that employees adjust to a working environment. 3. The process where people become aware on lifestyles and behaviours.

SOCIALIZATION: “Socialisation is the process by which we learn social skills.”

The first words out of your best friend’s mouth (unless she/he is already a convert to homeschooling) will most likely be these: “I don’t know about this ‘homeschooling’ idea of yours. What about ‘socialization’?”

Now, you could quote The Princess Bride. “I do not thin’ that mens what you thin’ it mens.” (Translation: I do not think that means what you think it means.) And you’d be right, because your best friend doesn’t have a clue about what that word means.

She means: But they won’t know how to stand in line for crappy food in the cafeteria, be embarrassed by the school bully, don cute little cheerleader costumes, and learn about sex by reciting johnny m*f*r behind the gymnasium.

Yeah. Let’s talk about “socialization”.

Unless you are one of those rare (but highly profiled) monsters who is planning to chain your child to a metal bed and hide them in the basement, feeding them the spare moldy bread crumbs, there’s a pretty slim chance that your child will not be properly socialized by the time she/he enters the adult world. She might be naive, but she will know how to fold a dinner napkin and sit down to dinner with people older than her. (And she will know all about s*x because she stole your copy of The Color Purple from your private bookshelf because she didn’t know it was forbidden to her.)

But she’ll miss The Prom!

Big friggin’ deal. Want to know what *I* did for my prom? I designed it, created the dance cards, decorated the school gym. I waited for someone to ask me out. No one did. I spent that night babysitting a wailing infant and a sleeping toddler, trying my hand at chords on my employer’s guitar. It wasn’t the best prom ever, but I made good money and the person who hired me to babysit her children is still a friend of mine.

My husband doesn’t even speak to the person he took out for prom.

Besides, homeschoolers actually have worked out ways for their children to enjoy the same benefits as publicly schooled kids! My son’s first date was to a homeschool dance when he was just 13. I sat in the car outside and read a book, but her father stayed inside and played chaperone. OOOOO fun.

My son developed a lifelong love of dancing which later led to community college courses in swing dance and going out on the town with a core of swing dance friends he made.

But he won’t get to play on the football team!

Back up here. If your goal in life is to raise a professional athlete, and your child has the talent to make it, public school may be your best option. You can still raise a very aware young person by being involved in every step of their education. Still, even *if* you are a homeschooler, most states allow your child access to the athletic programs. Believe me, if your homeschooled athlete has the talent of a Tim Tebow, I’m pretty certain a public school will make all kinds of allowances to allow your child to play – or to please you in the academic portion of their program. That’s not even a valid argument.

Let’s talk about what homeschooled kids can do that might make them more socially acceptable. Private music lessons, sewing lessons, crewing on a hot air balloon. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts. 4-H, FFA, volunteering at an old folks’ home, participating in the Society for Creative Anachronism, Civil War Reenactments, Rendezvous reenactments, local theatre, Civil Air Patrol… Are you getting the idea?

We did: Cub Scouts, 4-H, private riding lessons, hot air balloons, Renaissance Faires, sewing lessons, band (just off the top of my head).

The sky’s the limit. Well, not quite: YOU are the limit. What you say “NO” to and what you say “YES” to will matter. What you are willing to shuttle your child around to/from, will matter. What you can afford will matter. The same as publicly schooled kids, your demographics and personal core beliefs will matter.

Socialization, however. is going to happen no matter what you do. It will happen according to your child’s personality and temperament. Grandparents, neighbors, other parents, and playmates will all have an influence on your child’s socialization – whether you want them to or not.

My children were not allowed to swear, but if we spent a weekend with my husband’s father – well, they learned every swear word in the book by osmosis. It wasn’t my place to correct my f-i-l. If he couldn’t filter his own mouth, then I had to explain the words to my kids. I wasn’t going to stand in the way of their love for their grandfather (or his love for them), so I interpreted. You have the choice to filter your family.

My own father judged children by whether or not they connected with him. He didn’t like children who would not talk to him as if he was their peer. He loved kids who could sit at the table with him and engage in an adult conversation, and kids who showed an interest in what he had to say.

We crossed cultural boundaries. Don’t be afraid! Our children attended a Christian Romani funeral. If you don’t know who (or what) the Romani are, look it up. I still have very good Gypsy friends, but they aren’t on Social Media. If we happen to meet in Portland, we hug and kiss.

Funerals, weddings, folk gatherings, art museums, camping, hiking, skiing, boating – life is limited by your imagination.

If your best friend still thinks your children are not properly socialized… You may need to adjust to the next season in your life and a new best friend. But keep the old one, if you can. Old friends are gold.

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I am the mother of a child who knows more than I do. My father tells me that all seventeen year old kids know more than their parents, and I suppose he is right. My 21 year old would laugh and tell me that he knows more than I do, and that he always has known more than me.

I am frustrated tonight because the current teenager knows more than I do about how to get a high school diploma and what a diploma is worth. I don’t get credit for having raised the other two before her, because how they obtained their current place in life doesn’t count. She knows more than me.

For instance, she knows that she must attend a public (or private) high school in order to receive a legal diploma that will gain her admittance into the tattoo school of her choice. She knows that because the websites she has been visiting tell her that she needs to have attained a high school diploma. They do not specifically say “a public high school diploma” or “a public or private high school diploma”, they simply state that she must have graduated from high school.

The first child that I raised decided that she knew she did not “need” SAT scores. I nagged and prodded her to schedule her SAT test, but she kept putting me off. She was fairly certain she needed neither SAT scores or a high school diploma to get into the college of her choice: she merely needed to apply. That child never attained a high school diploma, but she does have a bachelor’s in Christian Ministry with a minor in history. She skipped her SAT and applied as a college transfer student using the few credits she had earned at community college while killing time being a home schooler.

The second child needed a high school diploma. He enlisted and the military requires an actual physical diploma in hand. I ordered one from an old online acquaintance who sells home school diplomas online: http://www.homeschooldiploma.com/  I highly recommend her diplomas. The military certainly liked the one my son has. We also combined some home school credits with community college credits to prove he had attained the equivelant of a public high school education. This was all silly maneuvering: the boy scored so high on his ASVAB that he had his pick of military careers. He went into satellite communications.

So here’s the third child, several years later.

And the family and friends, several years later. People who never peeped a sound when I homeschooled the other two kids suddenly feel like they have the right to tell me how to educate this child. “Send her to public school” is the popular mantra among some very close friends and family members. Hello? Did I send the other two to public school? Did anyone say anything then? Why is this child any different?

And why, pray tell, would a public high school diploma be more important than a homeschool diploma to a tattoo parlor, of all places? Are they more academic than the university my oldest attended? Because the university didn’t blink at the fact that my oldest didn’t have a high school diploma. They even gave her grants and scholarship money. Hello!? What is wrong with this picture?

I am on a rant of course. It isn’t just the public high school diploma, but if she were to return to public school, she would have to pass the Oregon State CIM/CAM exams in order to receive a public school diploma. CIM/CAM is a joke – the Oregon equivalent of “Goals 2000” (brought to you by ex-President Clinton), a pork barrel nightmare of an education bill, second only to Mrs. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind.” Or maybe visa-versa: No Child Left Behind is second only to Goals 2000. No matter: it is the attempt of a government body to impose upon the American public regulations that are unnecessary, burdensome, expensive, impossible to enforce, and easily swallowed (hook, line and sinker) by the masses. Don’t get me started.

I never started homeschooling because of religious conviction: I started homeschooling because of my own educational philosophy that was in direct conflict with laws being passed by legislatures without public votes or input. I started homeschooling because I felt there was no other alternative to the dumbing-down of the masses. I told my kids that if the U.S.A. was ever taken over by dictatorship or insurgents, the first people they would kill would be the ones who think and who are educated. US. But we need to be the ones who think, because (perhaps) we can prevent such an atrocity from ever happening.

OK, slap me across the face. I was ranting about how Chrystal is insistent that she be allowed to return to a substandard charter school that is earning F- reviews even in the public sector and is in constant peril of losing its Federal tax dollars because of the high rate of failures and drop-outs — OH, hey, but she’s been talking to some of the teachers who still teach there. OF COURSE, they want her to return: a returning student = tax money returning to the school! Oh, DUH. That’s why I started homeschooling: to prevent my tax dollars from supporting public education, Goals 2000, and Oregon’s CIM/CAM requirements. Imagine that.

But Chrystal knows more than I do. She knows more than Arwen and Levi. And she is going into a career that requires a certified public school high school diploma because… Because?? Why? No one has yet answered that. Why does a tattoo school require a public school diploma over a homeschool one when universities and colleges don’t care? Even the military is amenable to homeschooling if you approach it correctly.

If you listen to the critics of homeschooling, it would be because homeschooling can’t prepare you for the academic rigors. If you listen to homeschool advocates, it would be because a tattoo school is looking for the Few, the Dumbed-down, and the Unquestioning.

Somehow, I think it is really the child, not the tattoo schools. I would bet my bottom dollar (now there’s a phrase that must have a secret meaning) that the tattoo schools will accept a homeschool high school diploma, no questions asked. I just need the kid to wake up and realize that. And I really need well meaning friends and family to let me do this. I *do* know what I am doing. The other two kids actually turned out pretty good. Not perfect, but I never wanted them to be perfect: I wanted them to THINK. And that they do quite well.

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I come home from work with all these grand ideas about what I am going to accomplish in the evening – and it never, ever happens. I’m always tired. Tonight, I was achey on top of being tired (I don’t mean physically tired: emotionally and psychologically tired) (I was physically achey). So nothing got done, not even the laundry. Well, I did mop up the bathroom floor, after the teenager mopped it.

No, this is not a criticism on her cleaning: she did a good job. It’s just that the cat really let loose a foul-smelling stream of urine and it permeates the bathroom. To the cat’s credit, he was pretty doped up and traumatized. If I back up a little, I can explain (please do): this morning I took Nimrod to the vet to have his little balls snipped off. (I can say that, right? snip, snip…) He went along very willingly, even took a nap in the truck as I drove the half mile to the vet’s. He’s traveled before in Chrystal’s company, no big deal. What he has never experienced before is being left in the hands of sadists and anesthesiologists. He fought anesthesia desperately and when he came to, he was desperately upset that he didn’t know where he was or where Chrystal was. He was still quite groggy when my husband picked him up, and he peed all over the cat carrier, himself, and the towels in his carrier.

Chrystal tried to clean him up in the bathroom (confining the mess to one room). She got him somewhat rinsed off, washed the rags, and deposited the cat carrier in the garage. Then she tried to mop the bathroom to get rid of the smell.

Poor Nim. He really had a bad day and my bathroom reflects that. But he will be so much happier when he awakens fully, finds himself in familiar surroundings, and can indulge in real food. Food solves everything.

I rinsed the bathroom after the mopping in hopes of clearing the air.

And that was all I accomplished tonight. The weather has turned cold and wet and typical: no gardening for me. Chrystal has been holed up in her bedroom reading Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series (Language Arts, for homeschoolers, plus history albeit fictionalized). I’m impressed with the questions Chrys had been asking about the series. “How is it that Ayla is so superior?” “Why is she an Aryan princess?” “Who said Cro-magnon man was blond haired/blue eyed?” “Isn’t it irritating that she invents everything?” (Answer: I only read the first two books in the series. I got so tired of Ayla’s superiority that I couldn’t force myself to open the next book in the series. I’m ready now, but only because I finally forgave Jean Auel for using one character to span the length of time and invention.)

While she’s reading Jean Auel, I am reading Brian Jacques. I just finished “Rakkety Tam.” It’s another mousie adventure, this time pitting a lowland Scots squirrel against a wolverine (gulo gulo) named … Gulo. I read the Redwall books just to polish up on my molespeech. Burr hurr aye. Chrystal is the only one of my kids who will read Brian Jacques and share in the adventure with me. She refuses to speak molespeak, however. Oi’m gurtly afeared oi takes offense at that. Oi thinks they thinks oi’m not in moi roight ‘ead.

This post has no point. 🙂

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I was talking to a good friend earlier today who inquired as to how Chrystal is handling being homeschooled. This friend is a couple years younger than I am, and to all intents and purposes, a bit of a hippie: until it comes to some of the off-the-wall things I believe in, like midwives, breastfeeding on demand, homeschooling and cloth diapers. I don’t know why she can’t wrap her mind around those concepts, but she can’t: she constantly emails me coupons for paper diapers so I can pass the savings on to my daughter. Meanwhile, I am paying for diaper service for said daughter, so she can enjoy the infinite benefits of cloth and saving the environment.

24 years ago, when I was fast approaching parenthood, I was also considering all of these elements: I’d already chosen a midwife to deliver my baby. I was well read on how to wash my own cloth diapers (I didn’t know there was such a beast as diaper service – that came as a gift when I had my second child. A blessed, blessed, blessed gift). I was well indoctrinated by La Leche League. And I didn’t know a person could homeschool their own children. What a concept!

I fell into homeschooling. It wasn’t on my radar until I found myself in a fight with a school board and the encroachment of “Goals 2000”, part of the premise of which was to remove local control of schools and centralize education away from parents. The fight with the school board was not going well and we were losing our local school in a merger with the rest of the school district. The five minute drive to the grade school would now be a forty-five minute bus ride into town, and the blended class room of 1st-3rd grades and 4-6th grades was turning into block style classes in a junior high setting. Pardon, “middle school” – oh, whatever. It wasn’t my idea and I was rebelling.

I turned to the library for help and I found books on homeschooling. The one that turned my head around was by well known author David Guterson (“Snow Falling on Cedars” and “East of the Mountains”): “Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense.” Guterson was then a public school teacher who was homeschooling his own children. I now had an alternative to what was happening in the school system.

I started on this journey as Arwen entered 7th grade and Levi entered 4th grade. Statistically, most people homeschool the younger years and send the children off to high school, but I have to be different. We’d had a good public school experience up to that point in time, but I didn’t see it improving over the one-room school house and I was very concerned about the quality of education my children would be getting. They’d already studied the Oregon Trail history to death, with barely a mention of the American Revolution, the Civil War, or any history outside of the borders of the State of Oregon. What? There’s a WORLD out there?

I considered, weighed, studied. And I filled out the little form required by the State of Oregon, mailed it to the ESD and effectively removed my children from the tax base of the school district we resided in. Every homeschooler hurts the school tax base in Oregon because that tax money you pay now stays in the General Fund and is not dispersed to the school district because your child’s head isn’t being counted in the class room. It was a pretty effective little protest as well as a way to take things into my own control.

We could not afford a curriculum: I looked at all the Christian classics. Sonlight, Abeka, Bob Jones, ACE – not a chance. I wasn’t into this because of my religious leanings: this was about education. Well-rounded education that includes reading “A Catcher in the Rye” or “Lord of the Flies.” I figured I could do this with the library and a few well chosen book purchases, and maybe a lifetime membership at The Learning Tree. Everyone else I knew who was homeschooling was sold on curriculum, but I was determined to wing it. I picked up a list of The Classics (literature) at the local library, broke down and purchased Saxon math books, and dug out my antique grammar books. We started out with a schedule and charts and a real sit-down quality time together.

That dissolved pretty quickly. I’m not disciplined enough and my children were born rebels. I don’t know where they got that gene. We gradually descended into eclectic homeschooling: a little of this, a little of that, and whatever filled the gaps: field trips, museums, clay art. Somewhere along the line, Arwen discovered the music of artist Selena and set out to teach herself Spanish using Selena music and my college Spanish books. She spent two years on the project. it was the beginning of my somewhat slow path into unschooling. (I’m not all there yet, but I’m leaning!)

Children age. Mine entered that realm of pre-adulthood with collegiate dreams, yet here we were, homeschooling. The community college offered courses that sixteen year olds could enroll in. Arwen jumped in with both feet: history, language arts, and a drawing course (no live model). Levi followed two years later but chose math, writing, swing dance classes, and a drawing course (with live models). Making a long story shorter, Arwen eventually applied to a university using only her community college credits. She was accepted and awarded a small scholarship and grant money. We joke that she never graduated from high school, but she now has a college degree. Levi chose the military and used his community college credits plus a creative homeschool transcript. He happened to score very well on his ASVAB, giving him his choice of military careers. (He’s currently considering his future post-military: he’d like to teach writing. This is my child who shares my love for Edgar Allen Poe and Tolkien.)

Enter Chrystal. She came to live with us just as I was re-entering the workforce full time. We tried homeschooling, public schooling and private schooling. For the past three years, she has attended a public charter school. She did well the first year, but the second year caused her to struggle. By the third year, she was in serious decline. She’s just not cut out to sit in a classroom and take arbitrary instruction on subjects she isn’t interested in. For the past three terms, she has built up the Failing marks. (That’s a GREAT transcript to show prospective employers or schools…)

So I pulled her out. Arbitrary. I’ve been here before: homeschooling a high school aged kid. I think I know how to do this (let the child go). So I find it highly irritating when a new person comes onto the scene and questions my decision with the same skepticism my in-laws held when I first pulled my older children out of public school. (Yeah, my in-laws: the ones who did not graduate from high school. Those ones. They were the ones who had a problem with the concept of homeschooling. If my dad, the college-educated, had a problem, he never said so. And my mother was always my biggest support.)

I love my friend. She’s a lot of fun. She is an actress at heart and a lover of Renaissance Faires and Faerie Faires, a reader, and a strong female role to introduce my children to (I love strong female role models). But she is pretty darn close-minded at concepts like home education.

I will let Chrystal tell her. In the three weeks since I withdrew her formally from public school, I have watched her attitude change. She’s happy. She’s learning. She’s reading for pleasure. She’s remembering facts. She comes down and talks to us. She’s blossoming. She’s reading The Teenage Liberation Handbook. By the time the fall community college classes come around, maybe she will be ready to pick up a course or two. Maybe not. She only needs nine credits to graduate from high school, all very easily reached as a home schooler. I already know where to purchase her diploma and have the template for a transcript. She’s a smart kid: we just had to pull her out of the classroom to find her.

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Since the sun (and its subsequent warmth) has taken leave of us, abandoning us to the coastal onshore flow typical of a bad Rose Festival season (or is that a ‘typical’ Rose Fesitval?), I must digress from my garden to something else. My garden is in a holding pattern, waiting for warm and real sun.

We no longer homeschool any of our children. We were hopeful the youngest would wake up and return to the fold, but her school counselor caught wind of our plan to subvert the public system and convinced Punk Child that she should remain in public school. I have not had any clear direction for this child and have allowed her to steer her own course. I am, however, disappointed that she has chosen to return to the high drama and low academic standards of her public charter school. If she has learned anything, it has not been academic, but has been dramatic and probably unsavory. Certainly it has not piqued her curiosity to learn more.

Over the course of the past few days, I have managed to read some blogs that are decidedly anti-homeschooling. My favorite is the poorly executed argument put forth by Portland’s own Russell Shaw. He starts out his argument with:

“Obviusly there were and are political reasons for this. Lots of home-schooling parents run with the creationists. Creationists are easily led, and they vote.

But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.”

Obviously, Mr. Shaw learned to spell in a public school. I am only mildly amused by his poorly put together “argument” which would never stand in a good old-fashioned debate. But I’d love to try.

“There were and are political reasons for this.” Mr. Shaw does not give us what those might be, but let me enlighten the reader: Goals2000 or the Educational Act for the 21st Century as passed by the Oregon State legislature in 1991. No Child Left Behind Act, the brainchild of the past two presidents (but more commonly associated with Mrs. Bush). We have stripped schools of funding, increased the student:teacher ratio, removed the arts from the curriculum, taken away recess, and removed incentives to learn. Public schools are forced to ‘teach to the test’ in order to keep their government funding, force feeding children with rote memorization of facts they will never remember because they have no personal incentive to remember them. More government, less parenting. The school and the state are replacing the parent as nurturer and teacher.

Shaw follows that sentence with “Lots of home-schooling parents are creationists.” Whoa. Beware of any argument that begins with a generalization and offers no statistical data to back up the statement: Lots of. That could be twenty or twenty thousand. It could be one-third of the homeschooling movement or two-thirds. What we can be certain of, it is not ALL homeschooling parents. I could take on the hyphenated home-schooling(it’s homeschooling, Mr. Shaw) and the lack of capitalization for Creationists, but Mr. Shaw’s lack of grammar is obvious from the beginning. Or should I write “obvius”?

I lean toward Creationism, but not all Creationists agree with each other. There are folks who believe in a strict six-day Creation with no dinosaurs and no exceptions. There are Creationists who believe in a metaphorical six days. They believe there were dinosaurs. They have no problem with portions of Darwin’s Theory, but they expect the theory to be treated as such: an unproven theory. An idea or guess at what happened. And there are strict Evolutionists who believe that one single cell amoeba multiplied to its little heart’s content, mutating and evolving until it became what we now know as millions of creatures, from insects to mammals and everything in between, including fish and birds. They reject the “Theory” portion of the Theory of Evolution and accept it as fact. Probably none of us have it right.

“And creationists are easily led, and they vote.” Is that so? And where does Mr. Shaw think he will lead us? Or do you suppose that we vote because we are leaders, not followers? Perhaps we started our homeschool journey without the support of our friends or family or church? Would that not make us leaders in a movement considered by some to be subversive, rather than followers? If we have removed our children from the institutions of public education for whatever reason, are we not making a statement that we will lead and not follow? I think even my non-Creationist homeschool compatriots would agree with my conclusion: we are leaders, not followers. We are not easily led, Mr. Shaw, and that is why we removed our children from the State’s control. I always told my children that if they could be anything, they should be educated. Whenever there is a coup, it is the educated who are targeted first. There is a reason for this: people who think are a threat to any government that seeks to control its people. I homeschooled my children not because I wanted them to believe in Creationism, but because I wanted them to step outside and look back in at the government and the control it seeks to exert on us as a free People.

The fact that we vote should surely be in our favor: this is a Republic, after all. A democratic Republic, at that, where one vote (in theory) has power. Except in Oregon, where a non-vote is the same as a no vote, therefor nullifying all library levies because most folks do not vote in library levy elections. Mr. Shaw should know this: he is an Oregonian.

“But as to other reasons for this blanket surrender to home school advocates- I for one, have never understood why.”

What blanket surrender? Who surrendered?

Mr. Shaw’s blog continues along that line of thought. I never quite understood what his objection to homeschooling is. He ends his rant with: “One such scenario: kid comes home and tells her parent that “today our teacher said the universe is 14.5 billion years old, but we learned in Sunday School God created the world 6,500 years ago..”

Then, and only then, is the most appropriate time for the parent to get involved.”

Really? That merely sounds like an invitation for discussion and exploration: a perfect teaching moment when the child is ready to explore the options and choose for him/herself.

As for that being the only time a parent should get involved, I beg to differ. No, I don’t beg: I simply do disagree. I started my children in public school. I got involved when the kindergarten teacher sent home math homework. I categorically disagree with the current popular thought that homework belongs in kindergarten. It does not. In the subsequent parent-teacher conference, I won.

I got involved when a teacher (4th grade) began to read a substandard book out loud to the class. I went to the teacher, borrowed a copy, read it in an hour and reported back that I preferred that my child be allowed to go to the school library to read something at her reading level. The book I disagreed with is of no consequence; it merely was a substandard story written down to children. The child in question was reading “The Jungle Book” by Rudyard Kipling and enjoying it. I won.

I got involved when the State stepped in and began to remove local control from our smaller school districts. I fought in every forum and school board meeting to prevent the closure of the two-room school my children attended and to prevent the opening of a district-wide middle school with a 30:1 student:teacher ratio. I lost.

And the district lost our tax dollar because we pulled our children from public school and began our homeschool journey. The two children that continued through high school are now successful adults. One is a graduate of a university undergraduate program and the other opted for service in our armed forces.

Even now, when I have one in the public system, I find myself displeased with the quality of educating that happens in those ‘hallowed’ halls. It is all about teaching to the test to ensure the school in question will continue to have Federal dollars to keep the doors open the following year. Of course, all you get out of any education is what you put into it. I attended public schools and I can spell words like ‘obvious.’

I can also make the educated decision to home educate my children because I am displeased with the system in place on the public level, and I relish the fact that I live in a nation where I have the freedom to make such a choice regarding my own family.

And I vote.

And if you’re wondering about the title of this blog and what opinionated horses have to do with it, add an apostrophe and a five-letter word to that phrase. you’ll have my opinion of Russell Shaw.

I don’t intend to promote him or anything, but if you’re interested, his rant can be read at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/russell-shaw/lets-restrict-home-schoo_b_49013.html

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I’ve been thinking about this for a few days. I believe I should come clean: I homeschooled my children because I wanted them to have the best education possible, and it wasn’t possible through the public education district we were in. Besides, the school board categorically did not want my input, so I thought something un-Christian: to-H-with-you.

Now, I tried not to teach my children to swear. Once upon a time, I could swear like a drunken sailor and was mighty darn proud of my potty mouth. Long before I began to homeschool, I began to retrain my mouth so my children would not make the same mistake I made when I was a little girl. I repeated a bad word. In context, I might add, but my dad was not impressed and “blistered my behind.” OK, he really didn’t: we were never physically abused, but it FELT like he did because I am a middle child, hyper-sensitive, and I was only repeating what I’d heard him say.

I was a “good mom” and threatened to wash my kids mouths out with soap if they ever said a bad word. (Arwen swears I made her taste soap once. I probably did. I don’t remember. I was a young mother and I plead the Fifth Amendment.) I even went so far as to change the way I swore. “O BOTHER” replaced “Oh S#@%!” to the point that the children made fun of me and called me “Winnie the Pooh.” I’m actually more of a Rabbit than a Pooh. Arwen would be Kanga and Levi would be Tigger.

What I was never very good at was NOT LAUGHING. This is crucial when raising children. If they catch you laughing, you cannot discipline. Nothing they do can ever be funny.I think Levi was 12. Arwen was old enough to know the #1 Rule by heart: Don’t Tattle. The expanded version of Don’t Tattle is this: “Is there blood?” If there is no blood, then deal with it. If there is blood, then Mom better deal with it. Usually, there is no blood and the dispute can be settled amongst kidlets.

I sent Levi and his little buddy down to the pasture to clear out the culvert. Half my pasture was underwater because some silly beaver decided the culvert was a good place to build a dam. this happened with regularity: the beavers filled the culvert and we ripped out the sticks from the culvert. The culvert ran under a narrow road that separated two ponds; the beavers did not need to make two ponds into one. there was plenty of wild space for beavers without flooding the pasture.

Arwen and her little friend tagged along with the boys. I suspect they were just there to harass and harangue. What else do older sisters do? I was never an older sister, so have absolutely no idea what I am talking about. Fortunately, my little sister is gone and cannot testify against me.

I don’t remember what I was doing. I do remember that Arwen showed up in the house, panting and chomping at the bit. I just knew she was there to tattle.

“Is there blood? No blood, go away.”

“MO-OM.” When kids say mom with a hyphen, you know they’re tattling.

“Levi SAID A BAD WORD.”

Oh Boy.  I studied the innocent faces of the two girls. “Really? What did he say?”

“Welllll…” Arwen is like me and has to tell the whole story. “He was standing in the pond and pulling out the sticks from the culvert. There were a lot of sticks and mud. Suddenly, a whole lot of water came out and hit him and knocked him over and he said..” Her voice dropped to a whisper… “the ‘S’ word.”

I laughed. This little video went off in my brain and I saw my son standing on the downhill side of the culvert, removing the key piece of wood and mud, and getting slammed in the chest with a rush of water from the high end of the culvert. And he yelled out what I would have said.

OH SH%$#! Blub blub blub. Then he stood up, soaked and covered with little daphne insects, mud, crawfish poop, dragonfly larvae and mosquito larvae, and repeated himself.

I probably should have washed his mouth out with soap. Then again, he was probably looking forward to a whole body shower. In clean water. With soap.

So blame me if my kids swear. I laughed. It’s all over when you get mom to laugh.

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