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On free-range kids and letting go of labels

kari3picmo

Written by Kari Patterson of Sacred Mundane.

Spring’s come early to Oregon and the chickens are laying again. The picture below is the real-time view from my perch here on the back porch, as I watch the kids creating animal farms in the yard.

Yes, “animal farms” are as simple as they sound: tupperware containers filled with worms, spiders, centipedes, snails and slugs.

To the left are the chickens.

We joke that we only raise the finest “free-range” chickens. Of course they are free-range, we leave the gate open and let them roam around the yard during the day.

Achieving “free-range” is much easier than it sounds.

But “free-range” is a funny thing, right? It’s a label we attach that conjures up an image that’s probably far from reality.

More and more we are becoming label-obsessed and label-dependent, and while I’m certainly not here to take issue with the food industry (I’m just happy to have food on my table!), I’ve noticed that the label-happy mentality sticks itself to our homeschooling habits as well.

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Authentic writing activities for kids and teens

Authentic Writing Activities for Kids and Teens

Written by Angie Kauffman of Real Life at Home

I have loved writing since I was a little girl. I was always writing stories and creating projects. It was just how I was naturally bent.

Most of my kids have been considerably less enthusiastic about writing. Because of their natural inclination against writing, I have sought out a variety of authentic writing activities beyond the standard five paragraph essay in order to encourage a love (or at least like) of writing.

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Paradigm shift: Curriculum is not something you buy

sarahm5

The following is a guest post written by Sarah Mackenzie of Amongst Lovely Things.

What if we’ve got it all wrong?

What if it doesn’t matter which books we use, which history projects we take on, how many lessons of math we accomplish in a year?

Homeschoolers spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about “curriculum,” but what if, when we compare spelling programs and choose math books, we aren’t really talking about curriculum at all?

Curriculum isn’t something we buy. It’s something we teach. Something we embody. Something we love.  It is the form and content of our children’s learning experiences.

Saxon Math isn’t the curriculum. It’s just the book that we use to teach the actual curriculum, which is: math.

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Are you a weird (enough) homeschooler?

karamainpicmoWritten by Kara Anderson of Quill and Camera

People ask me every once in a while.

They lean in close, touch the top of my hand and say it in a way that I think is supposed to mean,

“Of course I’m not referring to you … ”

“But aren’t some homeschoolers a little, you know … weird?” they ask wrinkling their noses or raising their eyebrows.

Yes. Probably.

BUT.

I often think that many of us are not weird enough.

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5 tips for avoiding the comparison trap

laura2picmo

Written by Laura Thomas of This Eternal Moment.

I crouched at the starting block for runners of the first ever Olympic Games in Olympia, Greece. As someone who loves to run, you could say that it was, well, a moment to cherish.

I closed my eyes and could imagine the strong athletes with focused brows, the crowds of spectators on the grassy hill to the left, and the moment of truth when the race actually began.

Would they keep their eyes on the path and the finish line ahead or would they allow their gaze to wander to the crowd on the hill or the competitors on their left or right?

Their focus would likely play a large role in securing or endangering their victory.

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