30 Days of Homeschool: Day 21 – History

(30 posts about free resources for homeschooling)

“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Winston Churchill

“We learn from history that we learn nothing from history.”
George Bernard Shaw

“History doesn’t repeat itself; human nature repeats itself.”

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30 Days of Homeschool: Day 20 – Geography

(30 posts about free resources for homeschooling)

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: Today I was reading about the author Flannery O’Connor. While she pretty much stayed in Georgia all of her life, she had an “uncanny grasp of the nuances of human behavior” (http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Flannery_O%27Connor). So knowing physical locations, traveling, and seeing the world are not essential to educating smart, well-balanced, and even possibly famous and influential people. But if you’d like to teach your kids about your neighborhood, city, state, country, or the world, then here are several places to get physical, viewable, and dynamic maps.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 19: Vocabulary

(30 free posts about free resources for homeschooling)

“Who needs a large vocabulary when you can just make up any word at any time? It makes life a whole lot more emeaglibop.”
Jarod Kintz, How to construct a coffin with six karate chops

“Don’t use a five-dollar word when a fifty-cent word will do.”
Mark Twain

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: One of our great joys as parents is hearing our children speak gooder and gooder (just kidding…) as they grow up. Part of this process is expanding their vocabulary. Just learning vocabulary can be downright unproductive, if not a cause of regression, because we can throw so many words at them without context that they don’t grasp the meaning or purpose. We can also allow our own inadequacies to stand in the way, acting as if an expanded vocabulary – including understanding lots of nuances, permutations, variations, situations, synonyms and antonyms – isn’t important. What you consider as an appropriate vocabulary range is certainly up to you, and how you teach it is up to you, too. But I suggest that it’s like starting a fire in the great outdoors – when you prep for a fire, you get twice as much wood ready as you think you’ll need.

Since vocabulary is just part of the whole of communication, we need to show them that there are differences between how we write emails and leave voicemails; between how we talk to our friends and to our parents; how we talk to our neighbors and new people; how we write a letter to our grandparents and to a senator. While we may want to impress an audience, we don’t need to impress our friends. And, kids, your parents WILL know if you’re talking like an improved and more intelligent you, or like someone else.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 18: Community

(30 free posts about free resources for homeschooling)\

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. “
–John Donne

Titus 2:3-5
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: We were made to live in community. I don’t mean that we have to be social butterflies, extroverts, party-goers, or have to join a group. I mean that we, even as a family, aren’t meant to live in isolation from other people (seclusion is not the same as isolation). You may be  introverted/introspective/contemplative,  but if you are acting as a silo or an island, then your homeschooling will probably lack something. It’s one thing to be off-grid, or keep private, or seclude yourself in the woods, all in order to minimize bad influences to your family; it’s another thing to be out-of-touch with the world, to be isolated. Since homeschooling is part of our freedom, you are certainly at liberty to school as you see fit – homeschool away! But If you find that your homeschooling gets to feeling a little lonely, or you seem to be in desperate need of help from others, then below are some free ways to ask for help; I’d go so far as to call it training instead of help.

As the Bible verse above shows, the Apostle Paul assumed 2 different kinds of women – older, experienced women; and younger, less experienced women. I’m going to expand this principle, in this post, to include homeschooling, since parenting (the principle applies to fathers, as well – they need training from older dads, too) and homeschooling are inextricably linked. The fact is this: parenting/homeschooling does NOT come naturally. There’s so much to it that one needs someone older and experienced to train new parents/homeschoolers. Never be afraid to ask for help – more likely than not, an experienced homeschooler is more than willing to help out in some way.

NOTE 1: I’m a Christian, so I speak from that viewpoint. But these articles are directed toward helping homeschoolers in general. While much of the media focuses on homeschoolers being Christian families, the reality is that many non-Christians homeschool for the liberty and the high educational quality offered.

NOTE 2: Support group, to me, sounds like someone is in trouble, but that’s not what it means. When you come across “support group,” it’s just a generic term used for lack of a better term – it doesn’t mean that homeschoolers needs fixed.

Religious Affiliation:
Ask people at your church or whatever your religious affiliation is (I’m not a religion expert, so I won’t attempt to name them all) for help. Someone there will be happy to help and answer questions. I’d suggest that you have them over, or take them out for, lunch or something. As people have asked me in passing, “What tips do you have?”, I’m always at a loss for some quick tip, because it sounds so trite in passing. So ask them, “Would you have time this week or next to sit down with me? I have some/lots of questions and I’d like your help.” We’re so inundated, as a society, with the concept that tips and tricks  and time management are the way to go, that we think that a tip offered on the fly will help; but in the end those quick-tips, without any real grounding, are quickly forgotten and not understood without context.

HSLDA’s page – http://hslda.org/orgs/Default.aspx – has a list and also search options for finding a homeschool support group. Just find one and drop in. Once people find out that you homeschool, you’ll probably get all kinds of offers to join their co-op. It takes boldness to be willing to attend something and be ready to say, “It’s not for me.” But in the process you’ll probably find a contact, or even a friend, for the future. The disclaimer at the bottom of their page bears inclusion here: “HSLDA provides this listing as a courtesy to our website readers. Inclusion of a group does not constitute HSLDA endorsement of the group; parents are encouraged to research the philosophy and practices of any group considered.”

Meet Up:
You may be able to find something here: http://homeschool.meetup.com/. I’ve never been to a meetup, but maybe you’re up for checking one out. It’s an option that seems to have worked well in other arenas. Like we teach our kids: it’s not real freedom unless you know all of the options.

Public School:
Surprisingly, you may be able to find other like-minded souls at public school. I know that many schools are supportive, or at least benign, towards homeschooling. So you may find someone to connect with their. You should be aware of what you may have to sign. Like HSLDA, I’m not going to fight for any homeschooler to have the rights to access to public school facilities – I just want homeschooling to remain part of our liberty. So proceed with caution. In the news at times you’ll find that a school board member who was voted actually homeschools his/her kids, so there are allies in public schools.

Sometimes you just need to sit down and talk with your family. This can provide 2 important points of connection: 1. Share ideas and stories with those closest to you, so that you can realize that you’re far from alone; and, 2. Encourage those who are skeptical with all that you really do. Although homeschool is perfectly legal in all states, there can still be pressure on you to conform. So getting to talk to your loved ones who are skeptical can encourage both you and them, as you get to actually speak out loud what you do, and so that they can see that, though you are non-conformist and non-traditional, your kids are really doing quite well, if not surpassing.

“Tribes” is an expanding concept. Think about a physical tribe – a people group, with a common bond, living together to survive and thrive. Virtual communities can be the same way, but you’re connecting across the internet to accomplish your goals. The second m-w.com definition fits it well – “a group of persons having a common character, occupation, or interest.”  If you’re following a blog with lots of subscribers, or looking at joining an online group that has all kinds of people, all across the nation or globe, that have the common link of homeschool, then that’s a tribe. The other ways that I’ve mentioned about connecting are based on physical/in-person contact, but you may find that, because of your locale, situation, or interests, virtual works well, or even best, for you.

Home Educators Associations:
In Indiana, we have the IAHE, and you probably have one in your state, if not also in your city. This is a great place to get connected with someone else. They have conventions, but those usually aren’t free. But if you know someone who has a booth at the convention, or know one of the speakers, then  you may be able to obtain free tickets.

Happy Homeschooling!

30 Days of Homeschool – Day 17: Effective Communication

*(reminder: 1 – this is just 1 of my 30 posts about free resources for homeschool)

Earlier this morning, I read this article, about effective communication in business, on Inc. and thought it fits perfectly with schooling at home – some great words to heed.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 16: Online Books

(30 free posts about free resources for homeschooling)

I mentioned some of these yesterday, and I figured that “online books” needed its own post. There are a whole lot of great books offered for free online. Sure, it might be tedious to browse through what’s there, but you do what you can with what you have. You probably already know about the free books from Amazon and B&N, so I’ll skip those.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 15: Free Online References

(reminder: this is about free resources for homeschool, in 30 non-consecutive posts…meaning: there won’t be a post every day, but there will be 30).

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: Gone are the days when college-age salesmen were at the door constantly to sell you dictionaries and encyclopedias. I’m a bibliophile, so I certainly don’t mind hardcopy books. And there’s still the occasional salesman. But the advent of e-books and online access has really put the hardcopy industry under duress. With each age of change there’s typically some kind of silver lining. In this case, there are SO MANY free resources out there that their influence can’t be ignored. One set of hardback encyclopedias used to cost $300 +, and you didn’t get free or cheap updates; now an online resource can be free, though you may have to skip around to put together the information you need. This helps homeschoolers a tremendous amount. Even if you don’t have a computer, you could potentially go to a friend’s house (a friend who has a computer, of course) or use your public library, and access these quality resources – all for free.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 14: Free Curricula

(reminder – 1. this is about free resources for homeschool, in 30 non-consecutive posts…meaning: there won’t be a post every day, but there will be 30 🙂

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: There are those who like to use what they have, some like to unschool, some like to buy this and that, and still others like the framework provided by a curriculum. This is for those of you who prefer the last option, yet don’t want to spend the money on it.

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 13 : Load up your computer with free software

(reminder – this is about free resources for homeschool, in 30 non-consecutive posts…meaning: there won’t be a post every day, but there will be 30 🙂  )

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: I’m always on the lookout for free or low-cost things for PCs, servers, mobile devices, et al. The computer isn’t necessarily free, but with a computer and an internet connection (or if someone you trust can give these things to you on a thumb drive) then you’re set!

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30 Days of Homeschool – Day 12 : Public Libraries

PREFACE/ENCOURAGEMENT/PONTIFICATION: Public Libraries are about the only government institution that is unanimously liked and used. Here’s a good article to help you appreciate your library and those who work there: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/03/13/so-you-want-my-job-librarian/

The public library is a GREAT place! We are blessed to live close to one. We’ve been going there for almost 15 years, so we’ve developed a relationship, and it’s fun. You can easily get books, movies, periodicals (hey, you’ve already paid for them with your taxes), and perhaps many other things, and then just take them back. One of my favorite things to do is to check out a whole bunch of books on a topic, peruse them (no need to read it all), get lots of information on a subject, and then send them all back. What a great deal! Yes, it’s a little bit of a hassle, but then there’s no need for 1) lots of money out-of-pocket (leading to buyer’s remorse), 2) persistent storage on my shelves, and 3) getting stuck with the myopic opinions of only the authors that I could afford if I had to buy the books.

A few things about it:

1. You may not have a library in your town, or perhaps not a good one. Do what you can. While out-of-town patrons typically have to pay some kind of fee, it may be worth it. Paying $25 or so for access to resources may be better than having to pay $200 to purchase those resources. Remember liberty? Part of liberty is that you are responsible, and that others aren’t required to give things to you. If you don’t have a library, please take to heart that it’s not a strike against you. It just means that it’s not required for you in your homeschooling. You may want it, but may not need it.

2. Not all libraries are places to check things out. You may have one of the newer types of libraries where there are just computers there, for the purpose of getting online and reading on-screen. I’ve heard of them, but have never been to one. Kind of a new thing, and many librarians wonder about the efficacy of the design – but take what you can get! 🙂

3. Our library is not great at promoting – we actually have to be there to hear an announcement, so we often miss things. But that’s OK – we do what we can. If your library is like this, then getting to know the staff comes in handy because they’ll start mentioning upcoming events when you come in. ALWAYS be nice to the library staff – they’re (generally) hard-working and knowledgeable people who really love to help people.

4. Your library may have online access to study resources, homework assistance, etc. Check it out – you may be pleasantly surprised. It could also have resources for downloading (e.g., audio books), which can come in really handy.

5. If you check out things like math books – anything that your kids will actually possible mark in – then just give them the task of writing things on paper, not in the books themselves. This helps both ingrain the lessons better and teaches them responsibility and stewardship.

6. Be prepared to spend a little for replacing materials. We haven’t had to do that in all these years (well, maybe once), but it can happen, so keep that mindset.

Happy Homeschooling!