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Home Schooling and Earth Connection  RSS feed

 
Alison Thomas
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I read an interesting article the other day by a 16 year old girl who had gone to school.  She was lamenting the fact that all her learning was so unconnected to environmental good-husbandry.  I'm hoping that by home-educating we can help to guide our boys to making better choices for our planet in their own lives.  Maybe not all schools leave out this connection but if our local one does, the school day is so long here - 8am to 5pm and Sat am - that it leaves precious little time for us to fill in the gaps.  Does anyone else home school here?
 
Leah Sattler
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my daughter is almost five. I homeschool albiet rather informally right now because of her age. very related to your topic is one of my biggest beefs with typical schools. it is that information is not made relevant to the real world. they treat learning as if it is memorization of a series of facts. they teach for tests. my niece is learning her multiplication tables. she doesn't even seem to understand what multiplication is. she could not deduce an answer when she didn't know it. they just concentrate on memorizing the tables so they can pass the tests. I recocknize it because the same thing was done to me as a child. intelligence isn't about how many facts you can cram in your head! intelligence is what your mind can generate  with the information it was given.

of course I have many many issues with typical school situations. the time involved you mention is another. very little time in school is actually spent in meaningful activity. it is extremely extremely inefficient. in my home state of oklahoma the state acknowledges that 3 hrs of one on one teaching is worth a whole week in public school! what are they doing with those kids for 7 hrs a day?

some other reasons among others for my decision include, socialization issues and lack of accomodation of different learning rates and styles in typical school settings.

 
                      
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We homeschool both of our kids. It works great for us but I have to say it is not for everyone and I place no judgement on people who send their kids to public school.

My oldest is 12 and youngest 8 and they have never been to public school. They have learned the important things like the love of learning, to follow their hearts as well as how to grow food and milk our goats. They are very social people that are comfortable with other kids or adults. They are interested in bow-drilling fires, tracking, wild foods, and plenty more. Life is too short to keep them locked inside, in my opinion. Our goal is to live as close to the seasons and cycles of life as we can. Sending them to school just wouldn't work for us.
 
Leah Sattler
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my dh is slightly leery of the homeschooling idea. but I think he is coming around. he previously had no concept of school other then a classroom situation. and he will sometimes ask "did you guys do school today?". meaning did we sit down and specifically "work" on some scholastically minded paper or book. of course sometimes we do that, but often "school" is just part of our life and my answer might be "yes, we did school........we planted carrots and we read books and we baked a cake" sometimes I explain that we talked about seed germination and genetics with the carrots and measurments and math with the cake. I think he is getting it.

yesterday he took a day off work. my daughter wanted to "play school" with a different teacher....dad! awesome! they did a math worksheet but she wasn't really into it. my husband let the activity die and went outside.......and happened to find a cowkiller ant, caught it in a jar and proceeded to look up what it was on the net with my daughter alongside.......I came in and asked what they were doing......and his answer was "science" ....yes!!! he gets it! of course in a normal male fashion I (the resident scorpian hunter) was sent out to find a scorpian to pit a fight with the cow killer....ok, despite my mentioning that we were breeding some seriously bad karma we proceeded. (the insects ignored each other completly) I was just happy to see that he "gets it". that learning can be appropriately structured around life experiences if just a bit of care is taken to direct it.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I love this!  Thanks for posting it, Leah!
 
Alison Thomas
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Brilliant Leah, glad he's 'getting' it.  It's not always easy to explain to those who don't home-school just what it means in your family as each family approaches things differently I find.  My friend asked me the other day how we ensured that we were covering all bases so I told her about the previous day...

And, as it goes in home-educating, the geese attempting flight brought our family discussion round to Icarus. This led to a small geography 'lesson' (about the Icarian sea), a small biology 'lesson' (about which birds would have feathers big enough), a small science 'lesson' about the properties of wax, then a small science 'lesson' about the sun, and that led onto a BIG discussion about the solar system and lots of artworks being created by the boys to show all the planets. Then them raking out a gift they had been given last Christmas called 'A Moon in My Room' and they couldn't wait for bedtime to see it working properly. Rowan was all triumphant because he already knew about the term gibbous moon (having picked up on it when he was just turned 3!) And so ended another day of home-schooling.

Schools just can't be that fluid.
 
Leah Sattler
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heninfrance wrote:


Schools just can't be that fluid.


that is one of the beautiful aspects of homeschooling. relevance relevence relevence. These aren't sets of facts to be memorized and regurgitated during a test only to be tossed. Each time the children come across whatever it was that stimulated the information to be brought out they are reminded and thoughtful about it. My husband was impressed yesterday. when he was trying to snap some shots of humminbirds my daughter mentioned that they could fly upside down if neccessary. he was skeptical. she went to her book and mag collection and found the specific tiny old torn magazine that had a blip about hummingbirds and brought it to him to defend her position. that brings up a whole 'nother aspect of homeschooling . we have conversations about things. it isn't somebody standing up in class telling her what to think. she is comfortable saying.. "no I think your wrong, and here is why". It frightens me knowing that many kids are raised to simply believe what they are told and not think critically and use their own knowledge base to determine truth and value. in fact many people believe  the public school system was in fact based on this idea of only educating the individuals in society enough that they can become good little workers and not so much that they can question authority.

even if I know she is 'wrong' about something I allow a little wiggle room and mention that she has a really well thought out idea and that it is worth investigating. I really want to foster ideas and logical thinking and confidence in her own thoughts. not just fill her head someone elses ideas and conclusions.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Bravo! Very well put, Leah!

Here's a little irony for ya. I went to a parochial school from K thru 8th grade.

On occasion, we would take a short walk to a nearby river that had dams in it. There were trees, native plants, fish, etc. Did we go there for science or biology studies...NO!

Was it a nature walk..did we learn about native plants, talk about how pollution affected the river or all the dead fish? NO!

It was for bible studies. GRRRRRRRRRR! 
 
Leah Sattler
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thats sad. As far as private schools go around here there is one montessori academy that is tiny and the rest are all religion based private schools of varying denominations. I had considered a private school. but not with those choices. I want religion and education to be seperate for us, although I respect others choices for their own children. I have been disenchanted with religious views of life for some time and could not present the world through those glasses in a genuine fashion to my children.

I went to public school thru 7th grade. our school had a "nature" center on the property. years before a creek had been carved out and goldfish released and there was a trail. I think we went out there twice as a class the two years I was there. and there was certainly no time to talk or ask questions, it was all the teacher could do to keep 20-30 rowdy middle schoolers from getting into trouble while they were out there.

most of my memories of school consist of getting up and going to the next classroom. sit down. teacher talks. hands out a paper or reading assignment before being sent to the next class.  often we ran out of time to do  the assignment in the classroom and  it was sent as homework which I did on the bus ride back and forth. in the 30 minute busride back and forth I could do all the work that was handed out in the 7hrs I was in school. school was the biggest waste of time in my life so far. I remember being asked to memorize my multiplication tables in elementary school. no one told me what multiplication was. that wasn't important. what was important was that when someone stuck a test down in front of me I could have the answers. of course the sub par math education has haunted me forever. when things got too complicated to 'memorize the answer" I was crippled in the math department and already irritated and frustrated and not willing to even try. I really didn't "get" many basic math concepts until I was a young adult. I look forward to actually getting to learn a little right along with my daughter.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Yes, crippled is a good way to describe my math skills, thanks to that same school. I am basically disabled without a calculator! 
 
Alison Thomas
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Interesting.  Have you ever read John Holt's book 'How Children Fail'?  He is one of the leading lights in home ed but started life as a maths teacher and was for many years - highly respected too.  He realised that children just weren't getting maths and was always at pains to try to find a way to pass on the understanding not just the mechanical learning by rote.  He became so disillusioned in the conventional school system that he left it.  Interesting that the 'system' failed you both on math.

My guys do maths when we're gardening.  They love counting out the larger seeds and then I'll notice they have LOADS out and say that we only need half that amount etc.  My 6 year old worked out what a half was without being told and is now happily dividing things into quarters and thirds as we've progressed.  My mum and sister were visiting and thought it was just a fluke, that he'd learnt it mechanically, so tested him no end.  And every time he amazed them by getting it right    A good moment.  Interestingly, he knows the difference between dividing something in half and dividing it into two.  I wonder how many 'system' learners would get that subtlety? 
 
Leah Sattler
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good for him! fractions is another one of those things that no one ever bothered to help me understand as a child.  I could add subtract multiply divide fractions through memory of the process but I didn't understand them. I make it a special point to play with math for my daughter. it is a fun game for her and I want to keep it that way.  last night out of the blue while laying in bed trying to sleep she asked me what two fifties equaled. the first inklings of multiplication. she asked what four 5's equaled. so....we counted her toes. a little light was beginning to turn on. she continued to ask and I simply gave her the answers. It wasn't about her actually being able to figure it out at this time it was about her realizing there was a different method for "adding" that involved the concept of multiplication by a particular factor.

we have pente beads that we use for counting formally. my goal is not so much to for her to be able to sit down and do equations. its for the wheels to start turning when it comes to manipulating numbers. I think because numbers are so abstract it is doubly important to introduce them early and without pressure. I don't care if she counts on her fingers and toes and uses beads or whatever as long as she understands the concept I am confident the rest will roll around in time.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I haven't read that book, but it sounds interesting. I do remember hearing (in the past) that the way mathematics had been taught basically ruined generations of girls, math-wise. I believe this was in reference to baby boomers, but obviously baby boomers aren't alone in this.

I vividly remember that NONE of the boys in my (very small) grade school had trouble with the way they were teaching us math (they called it "the new math" in the late 60's/early 70's, but plenty of the girls had trouble. If we were failing, behind in our studies, etc. we had to stay after school & work on it. Basically a study/detention with very little help/supervision. It really sucked.

I went from this very small private grade school (8th grade had 8 kids in it) to a public high school (Senior class had over 500). I had algebra in my freshman year, 30 kids in the class. 90% of them had studied pre-algebra in 8th grade. Not me. I was sooooo lost. Failed the 1st semester. Requirements to graduate were 1 year of math OR 1 year of general business. I switched to general business & passed.
 
Leah Sattler
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somewhere...I read that girls tend to actually exceed boys in math till a certain age and then fall way behind (a generalization of course and possibly an out of date one). pointing to some turning point. could be hormonal or cultural. when I really started struggling in 6th grade my teacher was worthless. he would do a few equations on the chalk board and gave this sense of "see, this is how you do it" then he would hand out worksheets that had to be turned in the next day. leaving me (and probably others) looking at the worksheet that looked like it was written in a foreign language. he was not accomodating to you if you asked for help. he would just do a few more equations on a paper in front of you with little to know explanation, making the assumption that I knew all the terms and definitions and steps. I remember walking away sort of think.....geee that just explains everything....sarcastically. I took to simply copying another students math paper before class so I had something to hand in.

I got interested in math again when as a young adult someone gave me a book called "natures numbers" that made everything relevant and intriguing.
 
Matt Baldwin
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Long time lurker, first time poster....
We've homeschooled our 7 children in one way or another since the oldest were 3-4 years old. Each child needs different styles of instruction, so we customize as necessary. The older 4 (10, 12, and 13 yr. old twins) are about 80% self-study; we do give them "work" that they are expected to complete each week, some do it all in one day, others do it thru the week. Our 3 year old is learning basics of reading, mainly due to "wanting to be like the big ones". The other two are pretty young, so we haven't started real school with them yet (coloring only). It varies from season to season how we handle it; fall/winter there's usually a lot more book work and class type "stuff", spring/summer is almost pure hands on. Garden work, working with animals; butchering, egg collecting. The older boys will be helping with our next hog slaughtering, they've watched enough times, now they're gonna jump in and do. After that I'll sit back and watch them do all the butchering
For those of you looking for help with math, we've found a math series that works for everyone - it's called "Life of Fred". If you never thought you'd find a math book funny, check out this series!
 
Matt Powers
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We homeschool our boys. I think experiential education through immersion in a system of Permaculture is ideal to teach Permaculture, but that doesn't mean you need to have it all setup. I think picking educational experiences creating and/or maintaining an element of Permaculture is the best way to create lasting learning, i.e. if we build a compost tea brewer & use it, they are likely to want to understand the biological mechanisms in it. I'm working on a Workbook & Textbook series that will have all this in there. I'm trying to have it ready soon for everyone looking for this kind of material.

As Matt Baldwin suggests every kid is different, permaculture is as or more multifaceted. There's room for everyone and their interests.
 
Jessie Twinn
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We're just beginning our homeschooling adventure and will be enrolling our eldest in the new year (we're in Australia and the school year begins at the end of January). My eldest is nearly 6 1/2 but shows little interest in reading and writing. He is however, doing very well with maths. We suspect both our boys might be on the Autism Spectrum so that's probably also lending to being mathematically minded. We did times tables whilst panting corn seeds. We planted them in rows of 4 across the garden bed. We added them up with a 4+4+4+4+4 etc but then I explained that we coud say 4+4+4 OR 3 lots of 4 which we say properly as 3x4. He got it straight away. We then went through 1x4=4, 2x4=8 and so on. He struggled a little at 11x4 and 12x4 but I was so proud of him. We did 3 times tables the other day in similar fashion and he answered like a pro. You'd think he'd learned it before. I did well at school with maths but it never seemed applicable to life. With my son seeing it clearly applied he was able to blitz the 15 minute lesson and now just gets it for other similar talks. We're yet to convert the lesson to paper but at the moment I'm not sure we need to.

One thing I would LOVE to see is some level of a PDC written and prepared for kids. I've not yet done my PDC (here's hoping for 2015) but having it in a format for say "up to 8 year olds", "9-13yo" and then a "14 to adult" or something like that would be awesome. Even formal schools would be so much better with PDC incorporated into the curriculum.
 
Burra Maluca
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Jessie Twinn wrote: My eldest is nearly 6 1/2 but shows little interest in reading and writing. He is however, doing very well with maths. We suspect both our boys might be on the Autism Spectrum so that's probably also lending to being mathematically minded. We did times tables whilst panting corn seeds. We planted them in rows of 4 across the garden bed. We added them up with a 4+4+4+4+4 etc but then I explained that we coud say 4+4+4 OR 3 lots of 4 which we say properly as 3x4. He got it straight away. We then went through 1x4=4, 2x4=8 and so on. He struggled a little at 11x4 and 12x4 but I was so proud of him. We did 3 times tables the other day in similar fashion and he answered like a pro. You'd think he'd learned it before. I did well at school with maths but it never seemed applicable to life. With my son seeing it clearly applied he was able to blitz the 15 minute lesson and now just gets it for other similar talks.


That all sounds very familiar!

My son would much prefer to read about things, rather than stories. He never liked writing, but writing up reports on projects he'd done was ok. As for memorising times tables, we used Widget Workshop and his 'homework' would be to devise a widget/game which would multiply two random numbers together and you would 'win' when you had, say, a hundred right. Then he'd get to to 'test' it. We'd vary the parameters every day, so sometimes it was multiplying, sometimes dividing, sometimes adding, sometimes finding complements, but the end result was that by the time he'd tested the day's game, he'd done an awful lot of mental arithmetic.

He's gonna kill me if he reads this now....
 
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