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Bringing Homeschooled Children to your Permie Homestead  RSS feed

 
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Hi Gang! ( Hi Matt! Great Work! )

Just wondering if anyone else can speak to brining other peoples children out to their homesteads. Let's be frank: Sometimes it can be isolating to live "out in the county." I love our routine, and I wouldn't change a thing for homeschooling my two kids out where the wild winds blow...but sometimes I feel like it's not enough to just be offering my two children this life.

Has anyone turned their home into a hosting site? Had tour days for homeschooled kids, or offered a chance to other homeschoolers to "Come out and pet the goats" or whatever?
Before homeschooling my kids our place had a revolving door for kids of my friends who work. We offered open play, food from the ground, exposure to light/soil/ air etc. now that I have cirriculum on my plate I have backed off on having other kids about (maybe just until our routine becomes more solid...)

Is anyone regularly, or occasionally, sharing their land/projects with the homeschooling community? I feel like this is a valuable piece. In permaculture, we share when there is excess or abundance. If our lifestyle is already abundant, don't we have a moral permaculture obligation to share?? There is room on my soap box! Who's with me?
~Meghan
 
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Location: Grand Valley of Colorado's Western Slope
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Hi Meghan,

You mention having had children in the past to come share your place, your life. I think that would be a good place to start, with children you know.

My children are grown, but I did home school them for a time (90's).

At the time I was willing to host the children from other families, but it turned in to a very trying situation, which I ended. For me, one difficulty was in the visiting children's lack of familiarity with the safety considerations of my place, and their slowness to respond to my instructions. They brought their established behaviors and expectations with them, and were not used to exercising the level of self restraint that was appropriate as visitors to my farm.

One example: climbing on the hay stack, looks like lots of fun, but if it is machine stacked, it is not safe for children to climb on. My expectation: if I say don't climb on the hay stack, children won't climb on it. With children who are accustomed to a more indulgent environment, they climb on the hay stack regardless of the instructions to stay off it. Their parents say "Well he couldn't resist, no harm done is there?".

More recently I had children visitors who were disrespectful, dishonest and disobedient. They opened gates without permission, and left them open, climbed fences not built for climbing, picked plants I did not intend for them to harvest, etc. Their parent was not interested in using the situation to teach her children how to behave when visiting, or anything else.

I don't know if these issues would ever be a problem in your life, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

As for a moral obligation, IMO the moral obligation ends when your generosity and hospitality are not reciprocated. If you open your home to others, you deserve respect, and recognition that you've offered a gift. The gift needs to be received as such.

Good luck with homeschooling. I loved every minute of it!
Thekla
 
Meghan Andrus
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Great response ( and hello to the western slope! my kids were born in Steamboat.)
You are correct: safety does come first. I had a farming friend who said she didn't appreciate "city kids" coming out to play with her kids because those children generally have less capacity to understand limits and safety: For example, understanding of how high is too high up a tree, how far is too far down to jump, how not to spook the pony, etc....so sharing our wonderfulness does come at a cost, and if someone were to get hurt, its on our heads (not the head of the no-appropriate-limits-enforced parent standing idle). Point taken.

Are any homeschooling parents out there in the Permie world NOT homesteading and still finding ways to enforce rules-of-nature appropriate behavior? City kids with Farm-kid sense? Theres a whole other topic!
 
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I think the key to a lot of this is early involvement and by that I mean early examples of good practices - my sons save seed because I saved seed consistently, with gratitude and without preamble.

Traveling to other sites is often difficult and made worse by the way we design communities and roads. If we want kids to be interactive & learn from each other in a positive context, we have to create it. I favor heuristic, student-centered, habitat-based learning where parents/teachers are facilitators & work 1:1 as much as possible. When you start that way you can learn while you do anything & learn together as you do it. Everyday becomes a discovery. I think the habitat component is obviously what we all worry about - "socialization" is a myth - public ed turns boys into cruel monsters a lot of the time or at least wipes away all sweetness & innocence, BUT we want them to interact with folks as much or more than public schoolers do - we just need habitat & routine - i.e. culture. We lack the homeschooling culture to give it the life we all foresee it having. It will take us recreating village life with a central hub in miniature or full size - we have to create the situation for it to arrive.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Matt and Meghan,

I'd love to write a long reply, as this is a very important topic to me. For now, I'd just like to refine the idea of "socialization". I heard a lot about socialization when I was home schooling. As in my children were not becoming socialized, as if the thing that happens in public school is the only possible socialization.

To me, socialization just means assimilating a particular culture or set of social ways. So it is not a matter of being socialized or not being socialized, but a matter of what group and which norms a child assimilates. The home schooled child tends to interact readily with people of all generations, not assuming they are aliens. The public school culture encourages children to interact only with their own age group, and the greater age difference between individuals, the less likely public school children are to interact or bond on a meaningful level over common interests or values.

Now that's a stereotype, as unfair as any other, but as with many stereotypes, it is based on observable trends and observations.

I'm hoping a thoughtful and fruitful conversation develops out of Meghan's question, and therefore want to clarify my understanding of socialization.

I'll quit for now.

Thekla
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Hello all!
We are a homeschooling family with 6 kiddos of our own We have been running a permaculture education farm here for about 18 months now. We have weekly homeschool classes, family workshops , spring break camps, summer camps and also have school groups come through too! We Loveeee what we are doing! It brings so much joy into our lives! We are very busy, it has made our weeks full but so fun!
We have liability insurance and safety is a big concern for us. We go through farm safety regularly with the children. They dont go in with the large animals (jersey cow, horses) at all. We are very cautious with hand washing as well We also are not allowed to feed them based on our insurance though they all seem to love feasting on kale and kale flowers
I am super excited to chat with others doing similar to us! Our oldest daughter is almost 14 and she did her PDC at 12 and her Permaculture teachers training at 13. She is also working with a group of teachers for the next 2 weeks to write a children and family PDC course For her she LOVES to teach other children and youth, she also has been getting asked more often to teach in the public school and waldorf schools here too. Our own children have been unschooled though we chose to use the word life-learning instead. My kids are very passionate learners who have followed their own dreams with the help of mentors and other inspiring people. Our 12 year old daughter has started building a tiny home which is so exciting for her and covers so much school work!
We try to keep our costs for reasonable for the families $75 for a 6 week session of classes, two hours each week.
Our own children (age 3,5,9, 10, 12 and almost 14) find our special needs classes a bit tricky, there are two classes that come weekly for 45 min and the kids are all on the autistic spectrum. My older daughter will help with the classes at times but finds it tricky as the kids are really hard to engage.
I have had one child who is at times tricky behavior wise and I have to stay on him and have warned his Mom unless this changes he wont be welcome anymore as it is too tricky for me to manage when he is not listening and is a liability concern.
I would love to chat more
 
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Location: Texas
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Variability of expectations/behaviour in your environment is indeed a big issue. A million homeschoolers in America means a million different parenting styles and discipline problems on the table...some game of chance to play with your precious homestead. Without preselection of visitors, the self-protection required is no different than the general public, and very possibly worse.

In the homeschool community I grew up in (more like network, as we weren't otherwise isolated from the communities in which we lived) this was not a problem, and disobedience of any adult - especially another parent - was typically disciplined with equal or greater seriousness than disobeying mom & dad. This was in the southeastern US.

I agree that socialization in public schools is a misnomer. Countless hours I have seen of teachers and aides toiling to prevent students from talking to each other in a noisy lunchroom (by screaming at them no less.) I call this anti-socialization. High schools tend to be a concentration of hostile and negative pressure on adolescents, largely from peers. The results are predictable.

We might consider bypassing the issue of the uncontrollable monster-kid in the thread just so we can focus on the unique opportunities collaboration with homeschoolers can provide. For instance, a regular visit from trustworthy homeschool kids can be a huge asset to both you and them. Simplistically: you want the labor of young people but not the whole package at the moment (diapers on up) or can't. They want the farm experience to be a significant part of their education/lifestyle but don't have the means or knowledge to get more than a few vegetable beds (or less) up and running.
 
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Not to stir the pot too much...

But I feel like I need to do some translation based upon my experience with our own school dist.

Socialization = Indoctrination

My eldest son is Autistic and requires specialized services. We for over 5 years have worked with the schools and school district to get my son an "appropriate" education. For 5 years they have failed to educate our son and have been more concerned about trivial matters and not about academics. Our son was actually struck by a teacher and the school district destroyed the video evidence and made excuses for their actions. Yes you read that right he was actually struck by a teacher. When this happened we pulled him from school and my wife has been homeschooling 2 kids. It has been very challenging for her as our Autistic son is disruptive and requires constant supervision. But lo and behold within 6 months time our Autistic son who the school district had failed to educate for 5 years went up an entire grade level in 6 months. Amazing!

One of the things I have observed over time was when socialization came up was the school and school dist wanted the kid to adhere to the set of rules using a cookie cutter method to teach and enforce. I believe what they wanted to do was to create a lot of little duplicates who would adhere to all the same nonsense and that was socialization. They did not want an independent thinker, or someone to have a different view point then they did, that to them was antisocial.

No matter what your beliefs or religion the founders of our country wanted to create a country where you can be different and it was ok to be different. Homeschool gives a person the opportunity not only to be different but to excel in an environment custom tuned to the student wants and needs and educated by someone who is intimately acquainted with the student and parents wants and needs. Homeschool is the only thing that offers so much benefit to the student.

As far as the question of bringing students to your homestead, I would send a notice to the parents to let them know there are some dangers on a homestead/farm and that the student needs to follow the rules and instructions of the host. That way there is no question and the parent needs to discipline and control their child. It is not your responsibility to discipline the kids, so make sure those parents obey the rules!
 
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I've got a lot of comments about this. First, I don't have much of a homestead, but I have 5 acres, which includes 3/4 acre food forest/orchard, the equivalent of 200x3 ft raised bed gardens, hugel mounds, a 26x12 greenhouse and 5 chickens.

We also home school and have a good group of friends that do as well. We also do foster care for 3 additional kids on top of our 2. In our group of home school kids there are 12 additional kids, which come over in groups of about 5. The group includes a wide range of behaviors and kids that need various levels of supervision. Our place is rife with little dangers as thorns and things to fall of of abound, but for the most part kids are fine with it, it's not much different than a natural version of Monkey bars.

With plants, the kids mostly forage kale or broccoli and wild berries, as it's the easiest to identify for them and most the parents are fine with it. With the animals, we had one child dunk a baby chick in the water tank and break another's toe, both were fine afterward and if I would have seen him I would have freaked but apparently to some people, you can't have expectations for the autistic. I'll add now that 4 of the kids in our group have varying manifestations of autism.

For the most part, the kids just enjoy being in a wilderness type setting playing in the forest, etc.

As far as socialization, I completely agreed with the home school stereo type of the "unsocial", in that growing up, I knew 0 home schooled kids that were not extremely introverted, which I attribute to a severe lack of social interaction with people besides family and maybe the family's friends semi regularly. For us, we engage in a wide range of activities with lots of different people of all ages which I believe is vital for being able to be comfortable in new surroundings.

Now, to speak to the case of a child that was struck by the school... that used to be expected of a school. I don't know of the circumstances but I can say as the foster parent of a 6 yo child who frequently causes his regular classroom to need evacuation, regulalry destroys the principals office, kicks, spits on, bites, punches, and scratches the school faculty, a small amount of corporal punishment would completely change this kods behavior. As it is, if my child were in his class, I would have them removed due to danger and frequent disruption of teaching. As it currently stands, the school can walk him to an empty room and stand outside the open door telling him he is not allowed to leave until he writes a 5 word apology. I don't know what the answer is for your child, but I do know that the major contributing factor for the misbehavior of both the autistic children I am around and the foster children I have is a complete lack of consequence and punishment for misbehavior.
 
Christian Hauser
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Location: Texas
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so.....thinking about bringing homeschoolers to the homestead and leaving public school/corporal punishment issues for another thread..

Two basic models have been articulated so far: a few very often, trusted helpers, with deeper relationships, or more kids rotating through in more piecemeal fashion, perhaps for a fee. Both seem to fir the OPs ideas of sharing our abundance (and perhaps the two should be better thought of as on a continuum.)

That's one axis for us to think about. What more choices are there to consider, relating to the OP's idea?
 
Kevin Lessard
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Jesus Martinez wrote:

Now, to speak to the case of a child that was struck by the school... that used to be expected of a school. I don't know of the circumstances but I can say as the foster parent of a 6 yo child who frequently causes his regular classroom to need evacuation, regulalry destroys the principals office, kicks, spits on, bites, punches, and scratches the school faculty, a small amount of corporal punishment would completely change this kods behavior. As it is, if my child were in his class, I would have them removed due to danger and frequent disruption of teaching. As it currently stands, the school can walk him to an empty room and stand outside the open door telling him he is not allowed to leave until he writes a 5 word apology. I don't know what the answer is for your child, but I do know that the major contributing factor for the misbehavior of both the autistic children I am around and the foster children I have is a complete lack of consequence and punishment for misbehavior.


We do not have a discipline problem, we had a school problem. When a school district is so dishonest and corrupt that they destroy evidence then there is something seriously wrong. My son was at lunch and not even in the class room. His teacher came at him during lunch when he was standing in line to buy lunch minding his own business when the teacher hit him. That was the reason why there was video evidence because it was in the cafeteria. This teacher had made inappropriate comments to him a few days before and then when we brought it up he told my son that he was going to punish by giving him more work because he said something to us. We obviously have a bad person here.

The good news is homeschooling has been the answer and he has made significant progress instead of excuses from the school. He is in high school and will be working with his grandpa learning how to be a plumber and do construction work while completing homeschool assignments. It is our hope that he will be a great trades man like his grandpa. And it is something he likes to do.

It is too bad that the school district is so dishonest and corrupt, but what can you do but move on and go to plan b.
 
Jesus Martinez
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Based on my experience, a closer knit group of people works best. This way if there are minor cuts scrapes or bruises you have a close enough relationship with the parents that you aren't going to be sued for gross negligence and if there are behavior issues, there is also the closer relationship with the parents to handle it and just as importantly you know which children need the special handling.

Also, depending on the ages you can use the kids for work assistance or just to teach the younger ones how to do the various tasks Like sowing, planting, weeding, harvesting, etc. My kids like helping me and for some less fun things I pay them a kid sized wage.

Also, with a group of well known kids, you can let them explore on their own as you know them and they know (mostly) your expectations.
 
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We have been trying to forge relationships with other homeschoolers who have similar values to us. We do not host them at our place, since we're presently only on 1/2 acre. Hosting at your own home can be stressful. We were part of a playgroup where the hosting mother said that it was unnerving for her to prepare for the rest of us to come, since she had to get all caught up on everything (laundry, dishes, tidying) in order for the play group to happen. In the case of outdoor education, there may be things that need to be attended to before a group of children can come to the farm. What we are doing is adopting a 'forest school' model. I have a close friend who works at a year round children's camp, so they are hosting my family as well as a number of other families with similar values every other week. the site has a forest garden and earth ship greenhouse!

Meeting with the same group of people over and over again lets you build deep and meaningful relationships. Having a variety of groups peal through means you're constantly reestablishing important norms for physical and emotional safety. It depends on what you feel your purpose is. If it is to share the message of permaculture with as many people as possible, churn the groups through! If the intent is more to build a sense of community, belonging and purpose, than smaller regular meetings make more sense. In this vein...the art of mentoring work, forest school models and coyote's guide mentoring all lend themselves well to teaching permaculture in an life-learning fashion with community building at the heart of the action.
 
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Location: northern VT
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Two basic models have been articulated so far: a few very often, trusted helpers, with deeper relationships, or more kids rotating through in more piecemeal fashion, perhaps for a fee. Both seem to fir the OPs ideas of sharing our abundance (and perhaps the two should be better thought of as on a continuum.)

That's one axis for us to think about. What more choices are there to consider, relating to the OP's idea?


It's possible to combine those two, as is often the case for adult activities, in a two-tier system. Like college classes where you can only attend advanced after passing introductory.
A Level One that's more income-producing, and a Level Two that's less structured, more relationship-building.

For example, "Basic" events, or "Experience the Farm" ie Level One, for first-timers. Short, sampler-type, with catchy names, paid events.
At these events,
1. close observation/supervision
2. a clear and emphatic "Farm Safety" lecture/experience, eg "... and that's why we always close gates. Now let's see who can close a gate properly."
3. AND a non-announced challenge trial, ie an planned opportunity for them to display undesirable behaviors.
For example, after the safety lecture explaining why not to climb on hay bales, at some point the adult seems to be not paying attention when there are bales nearby.
Preferably a similar opportunity for each potential problem.

You don't ever explain to children or parents that there are tests, that kids are passing/flunking.
Though you can say at the start that safety rules are very important and those who master them will be able to become Level Two attendees, maybe "Farm Helpers".

At the end of the event, children who have passed every test receive a certificate of "farm safety awareness" and are qualified to attend Level Two events.
Parents of children who have flunked one or more tests are handed an info sheet which has an explanatory paragraph for each potential area of concern,
with a check-mark next to the area(s) this child hasn't yet mastered, and invited (or not) to attend future level one events.
Children with behavior issues could attend with an adult helper as a team, and the team as a whole gets a certificate or not,
and if invited to advanced events it's clearly stated the invitation applies to the team, not the child unaccompanied.

Might be a litttle late for the original poster, but could work for anyone.
 
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