The Socialization Experiments, by Angela Wade
It amazes me how far we’ve come in the past six and a half years. Back then, and from the first hours of his life, my son preferred being alone. He could tolerate brief, one-on-one encounters with a trusted adult, but broke down rapidly at larger gatherings, releasing the frustration of overstimulation through frantic bouts of crying and lengthy naps.
As he grew older, his favorite activities were playing quietly in his room, poring over books, or exploring the backyard on bug hunts–all solo. And while he eventually came to be at ease around adults, in the presence of other children he always froze, sometimes staring for full minutes without saying a word or hiding his face behind my legs.
I was quick to label these peculiarities as shyness, but no matter how unconcerned I seemed on the outside, inside I was scared, worrying constantly about my son’s timidity and its possible affect on his social life.
In short: I didn’t want him to grow up lonely.
Using that fear as my motivator, I began experimenting, purposely placing him in situations where he was forced to interact with other children, hoping the exposure would breed familiarity and eventually take the edge off his reservedness.
At age three he started private preschool, an experience I hoped would jump-start his development, but ultimately proved nothing short of torture for him. He never got comfortable, remarking constantly on the level of noise, the frenzied movement of the other children, and his own inability to concentrate.
Read!, by John Taylor Gatto
Millions of happy men and women through history–many of whom became wealthy and famous–educated themselves entirely through reading, some still do,in whole or part, but get this clear, it isn’t an easy course to adopt, and I believe it only works when an active variety of reading is undertaken, one in which the reader is scrupulous about reading hard every single word, every sentence, every paragraph, constantly producing visual images as you read, converting verbal abstractions into images; if these tasks are approached dutifully, memories of text are virtually indelible, as if written across the brain to be recalled.
Compared to any other place, America is storyland in spades. Among our movies, television shows, advertisements and pop songs, we constantly consume stories, and I’ve learned that admission to elite universities depends in part on the ability of admissions committees to turn your application details into a story to stimulate discussion of your prospects as a prospective member of that college community.
Stories tell us what things MEAN, how to behave, what to strive for, how love feels, what to value and disvalue, how motivation and causality works; at the heart of our national religion is the story of an executed carpenter who taught us how to prepare ourselves to be worthy of eternal life. And to love our fellow human beings.
Bliss at the Farm, by Kelley Casey
Once a week I wake up early, get cleaned up, put on my hat and get into the kitchen before anyone wakes up. I get breakfast cooking and start packing up water bottles, snacks and lunches for the day. When the kids smell the bacon frying and hear me banging around in the kitchen, they shuffle out to see what is going on. When they see me packing the backpack, they quickly come to life, knowing we are headed to their grandparents’ farm. They want to get around as quickly as possible so we can get on our way.
The farm has been in my husband’s family for several generations. When my husband was growing up, his grandparents lived on the farm. When he was young, his mother took him for long hikes and they picnicked by the pond before making the long walk back to the farm house. As he got older, he would explore, fish, and trap on his own. When my husband and I started dating, the farm was one of the first places we went. We took a late night four wheeler ride in the snow. With all the ice and snow on the tree branches, it looked like a magical place. My husband proposed to me up on the hill in the pasture and we got married in the garden behind the farm house. Our kids have developed their own traditions with their grandparents and have many things they look forward to when we visit the farm.
Lessons from My Absent Father, by Nina Jones
I feel pretty blessed to have had both parents for this long, yet I am very sad, due to the uneventful relationship I shared with my father. He missed every important step in my life! Don’t get me wrong–he was a really thoughtful, caring man. My father just never seemed to put forth the effort to be a part of my life. He missed my birth, due to being in Army basic training. I know it was not his fault that he was drafted at the same time he had a wife and baby on the way. It just seemed to set a pattern in my life with him.
He missed my first birthday, my first steps, my first words, and my first day of school. He was not present for on stage performances, high school graduation, or even my wedding. These are things that my husband and I would never allow to happen. We do whatever we need to do in order to be there for our children. There was never a reason given–my father just didn’t show up. Please don’t get me wrong–my father was no dead beat. He ranked high in the Army, he graduated from college, he had a really good job and lived a very secure life. My mother took great care of me, so I never lacked for anything other than his presence.
Feeling Light, Feeling Free, by Seres Kyrie
Both my partner Ash and I grew up in road-trippin’ families. My parents were both school teachers with a homeschooling heart. We spent June, July and August pulling our pop-up behind us and following the trail of Lewis and Clark, tromping Gettysburg battlegrounds and costuming up to visit Williamsburg. Ash was born to a nomadic mother and attending schools literally from Oregon to Wisconsin to Florida, many times moving by train. These shared childhood memories of being on the road prep us to live comfortably on rubber.
At present, we reside on a winding river in rolling Wisconsin. It’s solitary and beautiful. It’s hard to believe that we would leave our residence in the woods to go camping and yet, we always do! About twice a year we both start to get a bit itchy, a bit bored, a bit road-ready. Fortunately, we have created a life on our own clock. Ash works as an artist and I substitute teach, accepting or declining jobs by the day. It’s nice not to answer to anyone or have to ask for time off. Admittedly, my husband would be happy to get the road-trip bug at noon and depart by three. I need a bit more preparation time. But we are both okay without a daily shower; we both have deep faith that the world will not stop spinning if we step away from our posts for a few weeks.
Off the Beaten Path, by Teresa Wiedrick
We’ve been rooted in Kamloops for the last three years. As my husband gave up his small town medical practice, he pursued a shared position so we could explore the world the other half of the year. We’ve travelled to not-so-exotic places, sometimes in our towns’ backyard. We’ve been south to Vancouver Island, north to Fort St. John, east to the Rocky Mountains, and even north to Inuvik in the arctic. This time, though, we were planning exotic: a trip to Kapsowar, a rural mountain town in northeast Kenya.
We’d often been asked why we home educated, and weren’t the kids missing something educationally or socially? In Kenya, as we watched uniformed primary kids walk an hour for their seven a.m. school start, five year old children piggyback their baby siblings, others gathering firewood and water for a full day, and where learning to read and attending high school was a privilege, the question was beyond something to ask. It was not a right for most children to be taught anything; it was an honour to go to school.
The kids also had a solid dose of what it’s like to be different. They were white. Toddlers in the market would burst into tears seeing our washed out skin. They’d not seen muzungus before. Walking past schoolyards, swaths of uniformed kids ran toward us, yelling muzungu, muzungu (white person, white person) and giggling ferociously, unaware that laugh transcends language.
No One Ever Taught Me How to Raise a Man, by Tracey Huguley
I take a deep breath and remember to listen deeply, not only for the words but for what else is also being communicated. I sense that this is a big moment in his life. This is not just about an altercation. This has something to do with him entering manhood. I understand at a deep level that I can never feel what it is to be a man. I respectfully acknowledge that while I am his mother, and I have great wisdom, this conversation is really happening between him, his father, and every man that has ever been born.
Surprisingly, I don’t feel left out. I feel proud of this man that is appearing before me, ready and able to face this situation. I do not support violence, and his father and I went on to discuss all of the alternatives we could think of with him, but in the end, we believed it is his decision on how to proceed. He is going to be eighteen and a legal adult soon, and we will not be there to help him make decisions forever. We have raised him to think for himself and this is one of the biggest moments in his life so far. I feel my heartbeat speed up and I think about him getting hurt, and I exhale. I remind myself again, “This is his life. You cannot make this decision for him.”
My Whole World is Expanding… and I Like It… A Lot, by Miranda Boyink
I live a normal lifestyle. If ‘normal’ means living in an RV and moving whenever and wherever you feel like it. Sometimes I want to go, and sometimes I want to stay.
I started this life in September of 2010 and have lived it since. My mom and dad called it their ‘pipe dream’. And now we’re living it. We thought it would just be a year long trip, but it turned out to be life. Halfway through, we said, “This is too much fun. Let’s live like this until it makes sense not to.” It still makes sense.
I’m fourteen and a half. My dad is a website developer, so all he needs to make money is a computer and a wifi connection. My parents work in the Entry Station of our park to pay for our full-hookup site.
Living on the road is a lot better than living in a house. Experiences and adventures grow in abundance outside of your hometown. Ever swam under a natural waterfall? Ever seen a wild coyote and hear him howling at night? Ever seen a rattlesnake? Ever climbed up a steep, very tall hill and tried not to slip as you head back down? Ever seen sheep being driven right through the park you’re staying at? Ever tasted prickly pear ice cream? Ever gone swimming at 40 degrees Fahrenheit? I have done all these things and more. I’ll share some more as I go on.
Reading from Right to Left, by Penny Tuggle
I had never met a homeschooler, nor had I even heard of homeschooling until 1993. My husband mentioned that a couple of the kids were homeschooled. My first question was, “What’s that?” My next question was, “Why would anybody want to do that?” I wasn’t being disdainful, and I wasn’t curious. I just dismissed homeschooling as something I really didn’t need to know about.
Years later, I found myself with a son who could identify all the letters of the alphabet before he turned two. At three he surprised me by making a model of the solar system on our coffee table with Nerf balls. I envisioned the trajectory of his learning and couldn’t imagine what his poor kindergarten teacher would do with him. So I started investigating homeschooling.
The first two or three books I read included S.W. Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind and Debra Bell’s The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling. I loved Bauer’s book because she advocates a method that is similar to the public school education I had received: lots of Great Books, writing, and Latin. Bell advocates a simplified version of a rigorous education, insisting that her own children always be reading something, writing something, and researching something. I later picked up How Children Fail by John Holt, which explores his experiences with kids who were so “schooled” that they couldn’t think logically anymore. I began thinking, “Do I do this to my Latin students? Was I over-schooled myself?”
Come Outside and Play!, by Renee Sherkness
Remember when we were children and we would hear our parents yell: “Go outside and play!” We understood the message our parents were sending– that “we were under foot” and more than likely comply. I have also been known to echo these words to my children for these same reasons! Little did we or our parents know that we were doing more than getting our children (who we do love and enjoy with us!) out of our way for a short time! According to more and more research being conducted we’re most likely adding years to our and our children’s lives.
While I was doing research for my Nurturing Nature Collection of books for children, I stumbled upon some fascinating studies being done. These studies resonated with my own beliefs that a child’s engagement in nature has a huge impact on us: it may just be the way to ensure a healthy child and a healthy future for all of us.
Nature Deficit Disorder refers to a hypothesis by author Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in The Woods, and is being taken very seriously. NDD’s premise states that human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of physical and behavioral disorders.
Louv claims that causes for this phenomenon include parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of media and TV. Other research shows a correlation between the declining number of National Park visits in the U.S. and increasing consumption of electronic media by children.
I’m Pregnant! Will I Unschool My Precious Daughter?, by Kate Fridkis
You’re not seriously going to homeschool your kids, are you?” an acquaintance of mine once asked my husband. She knows I was homeschooled, so I guess that’s why she asked and why she didn’t ask me.
“I don’t know,” he answered honestly. I was insulted, when he recounted this story. I could hear her incredulous, condescending tone through his words.
My mom always cooked fish for us when my brothers and I were kids, because it was healthy. And I agree that it is healthy, but I never cook fish myself, as an adult. I still don’t like the taste. Some things you don’t choose for yourself when you grow up.
“But would you homeschool your kids?” people ask me, often, in a friendlier tone, when they find out about my upbringing. They ask me in a way that suggests this is the ultimate test. Well, it was chosen FOR you, but would you choose it on your own?
I always respond, “Maybe! I don’t know! Sure!” Or something along those lines. What they’re really asking, after all, is “Did you like your childhood?” And the answer to that is “YES.”
But I am six months pregnant now. And I am thinking differently about everything. My mysterious daughter moves inside me, pushing up, asserting her startlingly new existence. She seems miraculous to me, unbelievable, overwhelming. Like looking at the universe through a high-powered telescope, and there are so many more stars than I can comprehend, and they are all so fantastically, tauntingly far away.
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