4 back to school resolutions to keep in mind this year

Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling. She really did buy 24 tubes of glue sticks.

Love146 Round Home Library

For many of us, it is Back to School season, and with it, all the hopes, relief, and excitement of a fresh start. In a way, it is like the beginning of any cycle, be it the New Year, new house, or new job. You get a chance to do over and somehow get it right this time.

I was at the back-to-school section of a store the other day and overheard a mom exclaim, “I love new school supplies!” She was selecting designer notebooks, fashion folders, and neon paper with her daughter, who kept asking which items and designs she ought to pick.

There was a time when I had shun back-to-school sales. Who needed another dozen brand new #2 pencils? What was wrong with the clothes already in the closet? Was there really a need to plop down $200 for a new “school” wardrobe? But, there in that store, listening to the mom and daughter gush over their shopping, I admit, I too, felt some of their excitement.

There is nothing like a crisp, blank notebook — with its potential to be filled with new ideas and learning — to give you a sense of all that is to come. I watched the groups of parents and children browsing the aisle, each with a shopping list, no doubt sent to them by the teachers. “We need six pencils,” announced one Dad to his son. Those teachers are pros. They know exactly what is needed to be ready to go.

Homeschoolers are a different story. I hear lots of resolutions about how this year, it’s going to be different:

  • This year, we will take more field trips.
  • This year, we will learn hands-on.
  • This year, learning will be fun.

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On waiting for reading readiness

reading

Contributor Amida writes for Journey into Unschooling. She didn’t read fluently until she was seven but ended up with a degree in English.

One of the first goals I had in homeschooling was to teach my child to read. As a first-time homeschooler (and  mom), I was excited, ambitious, and determined. Before my son turned one, I had amassed an impressive collection of classic and bestseller children’s books.

I read Horton Hatches the Egg in the middle of the night while breastfeeding. I sang Mother Goose rhymes throughout the day and read Green Eggs and Ham and The Little Engine That Could every single night. I made a flannel board and decorated it with a colorful felt alphabet and coconut tree ala Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

My refrigerator was covered with magnetic letters and, at one point, I even had flashcards taped on all the furniture. It was, I admit, over the top and looking back, borderline obsessive. But my son did learn to read at three and by the time he hit kindergarten, he was already way beyond grade level.

By my second child, I had calmed down considerably. I did continue to read to him and introduced the same phonics lessons, but I was definitely not as compulsive as before. And I waited until he was five to start. Still, after some intense practice, he “caught up” one magical summer and was reading at grade level by the time he started school again in the fall.

Then my third child, a girl, came along.

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Learning through community service

flowerWritten by contributor Amida of Journey Into Unschooling

About five years ago, I signed my family up for a community service event. It was one of those random, spur of the moment deals. I saw a posting somewhere to participate on some restoration work at a local park and decided to give it a shot. With a two-year-old on my back and seven- and ten-year-old in tow, we set off.

I am a total introvert and don’t exactly shine in the meet-and-greet department, so I was cautious and nervous, to say the least. Worse, they started off by making a big circle and doing “fun” introductions — you know, give your name and dance move, that kind of thing.

Luckily, I survived and we spent an awesome day learning about the native plants and visiting a tide pool afterwards. And as it often happens in our close knit homeschool community, someone knew me through a mutual friend, and we got to meet and became great friends. Small world, right?

It is in this small world, though, that I have discovered a whole new lifestyle.

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10 homeschooling stereotypes (& their rebuttals)

classroomWritten by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling

So you’re thinking about homeschooling. Here are a few basic items you need to get started:

  • A designated school room, where you gather to teach the kids their lessons every day.
  • A schedule, obviously, so you know which topics to cover every day.
  • A curriculum, so you know what to teach them every day.
  • A degree, preferably in education, so you are qualified to teach them every day.

Got everything? Good. Let’s get started…

This seems to be the general idea of what goes on in our house daily. I probably thought the same when I first researched homeschooling, and while it may hold true for some, this type of environment and structure doesn’t work for us.

Since I get asked a lot about our personal experience, mostly on the hows and whys, I thought I’d share some of the most common homeschooling stereotypes I’ve come across along with my rebuttals.
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TV will rot your brains

he-man

Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling

I grew up on a lot of TV. The first show I remember ever watching was a cartoon called Xiao Tian Tian. I had lived with a lot of other kids and every dinner, we’d all grab our bowls of rice, leave our families, and gather around the tiny screen to watch. I don’t recall a single dish I ate, but can still hear the theme song in my head…

We got our first TV set when I was around five. It had turn dials, rabbit ears, and no remote control. The first show that came on was Wile E. Coyote trying to catch his Road Runner.
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