Tamara Koz

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since Jul 24, 2018
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forest garden medical herbs pig
Started growing our own food in an urban area and quickly outgrew our space. Also, planted a community fruit and nut tree orchard. Completed our PDC through Victory Garden Initiative. Fast forward to 6 years later and we have a small slice of permaculture bliss in northern Wisconsin. Right now our focus is to use Korean Natural Farming to build our soil and control the odor of our pigs. We are interested in preserving heritage breeds and currently have a Blue Slate turkey and a breeding pair of meishan piglets coming in spring.
Wisconsin
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Recent posts by Tamara Koz

Thanks for asking Joel! He is coming around. He moves extraordinarily slow which can be incredibly frustrating. But I just try to zen out and not let it bother me too much. I feel like it's part of his way of rebelling.  Great go for it. We could have far worse problems. ;) In elementary school it was..."He's reading books during lesson teaching time, again." We'll take it! Lol!

He definitely LOVES to use tools. Thank you for sharing the tool thread. And for the reminder....still need to check that out and share with my husband.

He helped dad dig out some spots for a new grape vine yesterday and he just loved swinging the pick axe...LOL...even though he didn't really even need that particular tool. But he loves driving the tractor mower, operating the snow blower, etc...

He is not a proactive initiator....but that is the end goal, right? He wasn't raised on a farm so he doesn't yet know the value of hard work. I agree with what others have said about setting a good example and finding joy in our own work. Leading by example is so so important. We can only hope that one day it will click. And if it doesn't, well we did all the things....

This whole journey began years ago when we started dreaming out loud. We set goals, we researched, we threw ourselves into teaching ourselves new skills, and we involved our son as much as we could each step of the way....including giving him a voice in where we moved.

He had a rough go of it starting out in life (I'm not his biological mom)....and where we are at now compared to where we started....leaps and bounds.

He is making me more proud by the day. This teenager stuff is no joke though. I keep trying to remember what I was like at that age. That combined with the knowledge of brain research and how long it takes for a young person's brain to fully develop....combined with all the stressors of being a teen in middle school (...plus being the new kid in a new town which is a small town, no less)....he's nailing it.

Has it been a perfect year? Nope. Are there moments I want to bang my head against a wall. Yup....many. Lol. But...considering all the things...I really feel like it's just going to keep getting better from here. We could not have picked a better place to raise our children. I feel so so blessed to be in this situation.

....Sometimes it just takes a little perspective to help me really appreciate a situation....
1 month ago
I have a few more....I went through my daughter's book stash and pulled out some of my faves.

INTERACTIVES:
Seek and Slide In the Garden
ThriftBooks

In the Forest by Maurice Pledger, A Nature Trail touch-and-feel book
Amazon.com

This is my favorite bee book. It is from the perspective of a child and a bee he befriends, hits home, sends a great message, is fun and playful, contains movement/motion, and educates all at the same time.


Sunflower Houses: A Book for Children and Their Grown-Ups
Amazon.com

REGULAR CHILDREN'S BOOKS:

Really any and all books by Eric Carle. Here are a few of our faves:
Mister Seahorse


The Very Hungry Caterpillar


Emma's Vacation by David McPhail
Amazon.com

Alaska ABC Book


Bear and Bunny Grow Tomatoes by Bruce Koscielniak
Amazon.com

Sunflower House by Eve Bunting


Growing Up Cranberry by Shannon Gray

Claude and Sun by Matt Novak
1 month ago
This website posts a lot of free homeschool materials. Also teacherspayteachers.com often offers free resources.

Money Saving Mom

Teachers Pay Teachers

1 month ago
I agree with Nicole on not following a set curriculum for younger ones. They have such a fascination with so many topics at that age, and are so interested in everything, that it is easy to let their curiosity guide the learning. Teaching them what they are interested in at the moment is going to have a much more long-lasting impact on them then telling them, "Okay, Today we are going to learn about: __________."

Young ones make it fun and easy. I don't ever have to ask my 5-year-old to write letters or numbers. She just naturally wants to do when she feels inspired to do so. Sometimes when we make them do certain things or put too much pressure on, it can take the fun out of learning. So I love that she initiates this because I'd much rather have her guiding this process than me saying, okay it is time for you to write now.

Letting them guide their own learning makes it very satisfying for them. When we put them on a schedule or use a set curriculum, sometimes that can suck all the joy out of it.

To me this seems like one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling....letting life and life's natural wonders peak their curiosity and guide their growth. The curriculum IS life.

For instance, rather than reading about plants in a book, growing them from seed to table, teaching them about science by digging in the dirt, harvesting the vegetable, chopping/cutting/cooking and preparing meals, and all of the wonderful joys of sharing food not to mention the rhythm and responsibilities of setting the table, clearing the table, washing the dishes, and the confidence they will build by being empowered to do all these things themselves, rather than having them done for them. And you can integrate reading and writing by brainstorming a menu together, writing a list of ingredients, shopping together, and of course reading books about gardening and nature-related topics.

Speaking of which...did you see the thread about permaculture books for preschoolers? So many great ideas!!
1 month ago
Hello! I am not a homeschooler but I am a teacher and I am also familiar with other homeschoolers, as well as Montessori and Waldorf methods. Here are my thoughts:

How do home schooled kids stay plugged into kids activities (especially in small town areas).  Not being attached to a school seems like it would limit a childs exposure to extra curricular activities (sports, clubs etc.)

1. Recreation programs, clubs and organizations such as Girl Scouts and 4H, summer programming, etc
2. Connecting with other homeschooling families via local Facebook groups or other online forums. Local mom FB groups are very popular and are a great way to connect with other moms/families.
3. Organize field trips, outings, etc (via the FB group or local homeschool community) for social opportunities, and sometimes even sharing teaching days by collaborating on subjects and having one parent teach one subject one day, another take a subject for the next meet up.
4. YMCAs, community centers, community events, church

Is it recommended to start early (our daughter is very bright and could start any time, but I don't want to push her too hard or have her graduate at too young of an age)?
If you are not sure when to start, I would say send her to public school for preschool if your district offers it, and at least kindergarten, maybe even first grade, depending on the district and what and how they teach. For example, where my daughter goes to kindergarten (in a rural area) everything is very age-appropriate as far as amount of time spent outdoors, on play and socializing, movement, music, art, etc. Some districts push academics and literacy way too early. Kids should be learning mostly through play for at least all of kindergarten. In Waldorf education they do not teach children to read until 3rd grade when it is deemed age-appropriate, or when the child shows interest - whichever comes first. In traditional schooling methods, as you're probably well aware, they push literacy in kindergarten now. And have way too much of a focus on academics at way too young of an age. Additionally, most schools do not spend adequate time outdoors, have enough of a focus on movement, or art, music, etc. So, if the district you are contemplating offers any of these options, or better yet - all of them - sending them to school in the younger years can be very beneficial to their social skills and socio-emotional skills. Once they are older and can learn more independently, that seems to be the time to take advantage of homeschooling.

One of the things we have been reading is that home schooling requires much less time commitment than traditional school.  Can anyone confirm this?  We have heard that the total time required of actual learning per day is ~2 hours (especially for younger kids).

All the homeschool moms I know all say the same thing as far as this goes. They say that they grossly underestimated the time commitment. It can be very intense for the parent. Not so much for younger ones, but it can be depending on what materials and supplies you are gathering and preparing, especially if you are planning on integrated subjects/curriculum and/or experiential, hands-on longer term projects - like gardening, raising animals, etc. As they get older, you will be responsible for researching multiple topics, preparing various learning materials likely for several different subjects at once, and planning out the week's/month's/year's curriculum/lessons.

Planning lessons can be very time intensive. Of course this depends on your teaching preferences and your child's learning style, too. But generally for a 60 minute lesson, for example, it will take twice that time to actually plan it. So about a 3 hour time commitment for one lesson to plan, teach, implement. Of course this can all vary, and you will have the benefit of all the flexibility you want as far as your schedule and when and how and what you teach, so there's that. But many moms say homeschooling is exhausting especially when teaching multiple children, which I can attest to, as teaching is very involved. Especially when you are personalizing learning for each individual which often times is the case for homeschooling. But, teaching is also extremely rewarding. As is parenting, as you know. ;)

The time commitment and intensity are why a lot of homeschool moms team up. Lightens the load, makes it more fun and interesting, and provides social opportunities.  

Good luck with your journey. It is definitely a very personal one that depends a lot on the child and family.
1 month ago
If you are interested in implementing a farm to school program in your local community, here are some tips and information to help get you started.  I reached out to the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems at UW-Madison and here is what they shared with me as preliminary steps:

-Sign up for your area's Farm to School newsletters or list servs, to get the latest resources, funding opportunities, and activities in the area.

-Learn more about what is going on at your local school district or districts near you using the USDA Farm to School Census. Many areas may also have maps of school gardens which will allow you to see what the existing network looks like and perhaps give you ideas on who to reach out to for more support/information/ideas. And/or to observe how an existing model works.

-Many states have Farm to School Toolkits and are a great resource for getting started.

-If you are interested in starting gardens, check to see if your area has a garden network already started that you can plug into.

-Farm to school is really a collection of different practices that schools (and early care and education sites) can engage in to connect kids more deeply with the sources of their food. When getting started
1) start small and 2) build a team.

-There are three main 'buckets' of farm to school, and all are a great way to engage in farm to school. Once you know what area of farm to school most interests you, or aligns with the capacities of the schools you want to work with - that will help you in obtaining the resources and ideas that will be most beneficial.

Areas of interest include:
1. purchasing local food for food service operations like meals and snacks,
2. gardens and experiential education, and
3. connecting classroom curriculum to local foods

-As for creating a team, the USDA has a great Farm to School Planning Toolkit for starting a farm to school program, and it starts with building a team. Teams within a school or district lead to more sustainable projects that are able to live into the future as students, families, staff, teachers, and administrators change within the school environment. You can find the Toolkit here: https://www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/planning-toolkit-intro-farm-school-planning-and-building-team

-As for grants, there are a lot of ways to tackle this. In general, a lot of farm to school projects don't require grants. School gardens or taste test projects can be strengthened by requesting cash or in-kind donations from local businesses. Sometimes PTO/PTAs have pools of funds that can be used for F2S activities, or they can start fundraising for F2S activities (another reason to start a team). If you are having some solid farm to school successes, and looking to expand F2S components within a school or district - then grant funding (or other streams of funding) may be helpful to launch this new endeavor.

-A big opportunity is the USDA Farm to School Grant program, which is a big undertaking, and requires at least a few months to put together and submit a proposal. Any grant funding is short term, so it's valuable to take time at the outset to determine strategies for sustaining the project in the long term.  Often newsletters and list servs on these topics will list new grant opportunities.
1 month ago
Exciting things happening in our rural community. Met up with someone who is expanding an atlas that connects consumers directly to farmers, growers, and producers. We decided to team up and expand to do all types of outreach and education, along with other longer-term implementation ideas such as creating an "Incredible Edible Community" by planting community gardens every where in town from police and fire stations and so on, where food is just prevalent, free, and accessible.

Wondering if others have nonprofits like this in their area? And if so, can you please share ideas, websites, resources, etc?

Also, would like to work on developing a *free* sustainability curriculum that can be shared with parents, teachers, schools, etc. Mostly likely schools and teachers will be the primary ones looking to implement this type of education and curriculum. However, as time goes on and more awareness is built around climate change, peak oil, peak water, our food system, building soil, regenerative agriculture, etc,... I believe more and more people will be in search of a starting point or "diving board" if you will, to help teach kids about this stuff.

I feel such a sense of urgency in educating people on these matters. Trying to help people become more conscientious consumers, etc.

Wondering what resources people have to share on this topic. Specifically videos, websites, organizations, possibly even grants and funding?

TIA!

WI Farm Fresh Atlas
1 month ago
Sorry I didn't see this sooner: dried fruit, fresh fruit, chocolate covered fruit, trail mix, beef jerky, dark chocolate, protein bars, health drinks, tea, arts and crafts, outdoorsy stuff (fishing pole, bait, arrows, bug net, etc), seeds for planting, books, stickers, handmade goods, hands-on activities and games, microwavable Annie's mac n cheese cups, pens, pencils, markers, bubbles, chalk, toys, games, plants, applesauce cups, pudding cups, string cheese, recipe ingredients to make cookies/bars/etc, apron, sticker books, coloring books, blanket, new pillow, water canteen, notebook, jewelry, hat, new shoes.  
1 month ago
Anything by Lois Ehlert! Particularly Market Day and Planting a Rainbow.
1 month ago