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Homeschool and Curriculum

Published May 16, 2015 by lynn k scott

Many people use Facebook as a means to have hundreds of friends, complain about the world or use it as their only interaction with the outside world; my focus is a slight bit different. I now only have a small handful of “friends” (under 30 of them), I primarily use Facebook to buy and sell items and network.

Yesterday, a woman posted she was having a garage sale.  She was a teacher and had 10 boxes of books she wanted to downsize.  If you ever thought no person truly gets giddy at the thought of garage sale, then you’d be wrong.  I adore garage sales and I love going to them when I know they will have specific items.

As with most homeschooling families we may be winding down like public schools.  Summer vacation is on the cusp of summer, yet we have another aspect in our educational world most parents don’t need to consider:  next year’s curriculum. I had already reviewed several “boxed” curriculums, selected the one we were going to use, and started searching for deals to save on the cost of buying new.

When the teacher was able to confirm she had a lot of 4th grade material, my preselected curriculum went out the window. I could hardly sleep that night, because I needed to be there early.  They say the early bird gets the book…I mean worm. Well, I was the first there and the teacher and her mother (a retired teacher), started pulling out all sorts of books for me.

I also kept sorting through the mountain of books and adding to my ever-growing pile of books and supplies.  I primarily kept to teaching books.  Many of them had exercises already in them that my daughter could complete.  While it’s not a Christian-based curriculum, it’s pre-Common Core.  With the family budget being what it is, I conceded that I would download and print the Christian aspects for next year.

The books I received aren’t necessarily a teacher’s manual that would correspond to a student workbook, but there are plenty of options in the books I did purchase.  The woman asked if I minded binders.  She had three of them, full of history, reading comprehension, non-fiction work.  It was sorted, organized and something that would have taken me hours of research, several reams of paper, and several ink cartridges to print out on my own.  Do I need to raise my hand or will a “hell yea I’m interested” be sufficient?

I was able to score some 5th grade learning material as well.  If my daughter needs to elevate her learning next year, I’ll be ready.  I might need to pick up one history book.  However, all in all, I’m fairly sure the materials I walked out of that garage with are easily several hundred dollars.

Not only did I receive books, workbooks, binders, science cards and test prep material, I also picked up some supplies.  I found some study cardboard for project, a table of the periodic elements, a small abacus, a minerals chart with the minerals attached that can be felt and examined.  I found a measurements foam cut-out, miscellaneous shapes and colors (math related), geometric shape models, slices of tree (to see the rings) play money, ruler, protractor, magnets, a compass, patriotic stickers (for projects) etc. I even picked up a brand new game of Mancala.

When all I was said and done, 9 bags and an one hour later, I paid a whopping $53, loaded up my trunk and was on my way. This was not the curriculum I had planned for this year, not even close.  I really needed to put that $53 to other bills; however, I took it as a sign.  It was an immense savings.  Granted, I will have to do a bit of organization and a little more prep-work to utilize these materials, but I believe this was the best decision for our little homeschool.

I will do a couple fundraisers for next year’s curriculum.  Now I can spend the next couple months organizing for the next school year.  My daughter will continue math and language arts through the summer.  It will not be a rigorous summer full of school work, but it will keep her geared toward what she will be learning and we won’t need a week or two of review.

I smiled when I thought about my big score this morning.  Homeschooling allows for flexibility.  This was proven when I was able to choose what materials we’d be using.  I was set on one curriculum, for weeks in fact, and then right opportunity came along, with a bit of flexibility and that was changed in the course of 60 minutes.  Welcome to homeschooling!

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Cucumber Salad

Published May 5, 2015 by lynn k scott

It’s that time of year, when salads will be more prevalent over heavy protein dishes.  No heating up the house while slaving over a hot stove or oven.  Instead utilize fresh, in-season produce to create a variety of quick, cool, culinary delights.

One of my all-time favorite salads is cucumber salad.  I cannot remember or find (via internet search) where I obtained my recipe.  Should someone actually know who’s recipe this is, please feel free to comment so I can edit this and add a link.

I was first introduced to cucumber salad through an church youth group when I was around 10 years old.  Fast forward 30-something years and this salad has survived my ever-changing taste buds. I originally made this using only cucumbers.  As I matured, I found the subtle flavor of red onions (or even shallots) provide a nice flavor to this simple salad.

Cucumber  & Red Onion Salad

2-3 Medium cucumbers (peeling optional) – sliced thin
1 small red onion – sliced thin
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp. fresh dill

This is how I make this recipe:

In a food processor with a slicing blade, feed the cucumbers (whole or halved) through the top of the food processor. Next, do the same with the onion.  There the bulk of your work is done.

Now, if you are a budding chef and want to work on your knife skills, by all means, practice cutting the cucumbers paper-thin.

In a large measuring cup or small bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

Pour mixture over the cucumbers and onions.  Seal with a lid and shake the bowl.  Refrigerate at least three hours to blend the flavors.

I typically will make this up right before bed and refrigerate overnight.  It really helps cut down on “sampling” while the cucumbers marinate.

Some options you can experiment with:

  • add cherry tomatoes
  • add some feta cheese
  • add some Kalamata olives
  • change up the vinegars (apple cider, champagne, red wine, rice)
  • add a pinch of another spice (paprika, chili powder, cumin…)

Lastly, this is a great little educational opportunity.  You can purchase these items at a local farmer’s market (supporting your community), then show your child(ren) how they can be used in a recipe.  Allow your child to taste these items as you prepare them.  They can help push the on/off button on the food processor too.  Have them try a bit of the fresh dill.  Let their mouths experience individual ingredients before they combine into something new.

My daughter tried fresh dill for the first time last night.  She has this habit of smelling first, tasting second. I actually understand that.  I want her to approach food in such a manner.  I want her to use as many of her senses as possible when it comes to food utilization.  She was pleasantly surprised by the how mild the dill was.  She became excited as to what the salad would come to taste like.

Nothing makes me prouder than to stimulate my daughter’s mind with knowledge.  Teaching her how fresh ingredients can be transformed into wonderful dishes.

So there you have it.  Cucumber and red onion salad.  A summer staple in our home.

*Picture to come (posting from work)

School and the Farmer’s Market

Published April 30, 2015 by lynn k scott

Tonight was the opening of the farmer’s market season in our city.  I decided class was going to be held at the farmer’s market instead of at the kitchen table.  That may sound odd to you, but to this country-girl, it made perfect sense.

Farmers Market 4-30-15

Red onions, eggs and dental packets.

  1. Even though the farmer’s market is typically higher in price than my produce stand close to work, they do have some items I can’t get at my regular spot.
  2. I think it’s important for kids to realize there are actual people associated with the food they eat.  It’s not a nameless store with a produce neatly stacked.  It’s the small farms and families that work hard at providing good, quality fruits, vegetables and herbs.
  3. It gives my daughter the opportunity to see “imperfect” produce.  Farmer’s markets often have organic vendors. They are not the large corporations where everything must be perfect before it’s sold.
  4. The lil miss will see onions before they are “beautified” for the grocery store. She will see how they come out of the ground. The same goes for garlic and carrots. Carrots have green leaves?  Yes, yes they do.
  5. I personally prefer non-commercialized eggs.  When I can buy from local farmers, I do.  I definitely don’t mind spending a few extra coin on eggs.  They taste so much better.  Did you know, the breed of chicken determines the kind of egg it will lay?  We used to get 3-4 different colored eggs when I bought from a local farm.
  6. She learns to engage her community and support local businesses.
  7. We meet other businesses in our community. Tonight, I think we found a possible new dentist.  Not to mention, we received free dental samples.

I view teaching my daughter from a variety of sources.

While some people may not see a farmer’s market as a classroom, I can’t help but see all the educational opportunities within her community.

A little home school education

Published April 8, 2015 by lynn k scott

This is a paper I wrote in tandem with a classmate.  We had to do a research paper and an oral presentation.  I suggested this topic, as I am passionate about it.  I felt it was a good time to share this as I just read an opinion-based blog, trying to pass itself off as factual.  While the practice of homeschooling isn’t always the preferred educational model, it’s a viable one for a growing population of parents.  This paper has some technical terms, but I believe my point will be conveyed easily. Considering how horrendous the public educational sector has gotten, I can only see home school numbers increasing; substantially!

resources

   Education has been at the forefront of discussions lately.  Whether someone is discussing a new school year, government standards for testing, school shootings and safety, or are deciding to home school; there’s always a difference of opinion.  This paper will focus on the topic of home schooling and the on-going debate regarding socialization.  Homeschooled children are not at a disadvantage in regards to social development compared to publically educated children.

There are a lot of misconceptions about home schooling.  By 1989, “home schooling had already been given a certain kind of meaning by the popular media:  home schoolers were quixotic idealists, bucking a great big system, engaged in an activity of questionable benefit to their children, a homespun anomaly in an increasingly rationalized world” (Stevens 17).  While the media may paint a volatile picture of parents rebuking the public education system, look at why some parents choose to take on the arduous task of educating their children.

One of the first lessons home schoolers teach the careful observer is that in fact home schooling is a collective project. Home schoolers have always worked together to surmount the multiple challenges that come with doing things unconventionally (Stevens 4).  Albert Bandura’s social learning theory, “humans are social being, they learn from observing others, even without personally receiving any reinforcement” (Berger 22).  Where does it say children must learn from other children?  “In the public school system, children are socialized horizontally, and temporarily, into conformity with their immediate peers.  Home educators seek to socialize their children vertically, toward responsibility, service and adulthood, with an eye on eternity” (Klicka..The Socialization of Homeschool n.p.).

Every so often, the government will get involved and change what they think should be the norm for students to be tested on.  Yet, standardized tests do not accurately assess skill or achievement levels.  For instance, “in the cities of Brazil…street children sell fruit, candy and other products to earn their living…However, most young peddlers are adept at pricing their wares, making change and giving discounts for large quantities – a set of operations that must be recalibrated almost every day” (Berger 241).  It wouldn’t come as much surprise that these unschooled children would do poorly on a standardized test, yet know a real life skill that students are taught.  In the end, does it matter how the child acquires the skill as long as the skill is acquired?

“Vygotsky asserted that educators need to consider the thought processes of the child and design their teaching accordingly” (Berger 241).  In a public school setting, it is not always possible to create individualized lesson plans for the majority of students.  Yet, home schooling parents do this by scaffolding, “support that is tailored to a learner’s needs and abilities and aimed at helping the learner master the next task in a given learning process” (Berger 174)  They prepare lessons and skill building based on their child’s capabilities.

With the introduction of Common Core Standards, on top of the existing issues of over-crowded classes, limited resources, budget cut-backs, school shootings and reduced staff in the public education system, parents are taking back the primary role in their children’s education.   If during a social outing, with other children, should issues arise, the kids can attempt to resolve the problem.  With parental monitoring, “parents on-going awareness of what their children are doing, where, and with whom” (Berger 356), they will assist in resolving their children’s conflicts should adult intervention be required.   It then becomes a learning objective unlike being sent to the principal’s office, where he decides the outcome based on hearsay.

The primary argument people have with keeping their children home, and not in an environment with other children their age, learning and interacting together will have an effect on their socialization skills in life.  To quote Samantha Lebeda responding to her relatives, “Go to your local middle school, junior high, or high school, walk down the hallways, and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son should emulate” (Lebeda 99).  There are things like bullying, “repeated systematic efforts to inflict harm through physical, verbal, or social attack on a weaker person” (Berger 294) and negative influences such as sex and drug abuse, “the ingestion of a drug to the extent it impairs the users biological or psychological well-being (Berger 392).

Vygotsky’s apprentice in thinking, “whose intellectual growth is stimulated and directed by mentors who are usually older and more skilled members of society” (Berger 173).  If children’s behavior is based on social learning, “learn via observing others” (Berger 132), would it not be prudent for them to model adult behavior instead of succumbing to negative peer pressure, “encouragement to conform to one’s friends in behavior, dress and attitude” (Berger 357)?   According to Dr. Larry Shyers, “A child’s social development depends more on adult contact and less on contact with other children as previously thought” (Klicka n.p.).

Most believe that social development is mainly accomplished when children or adolescents attend public school.  Reason being, these learning institutions have an over-abundance of other children and adolescents of the same cohort, “a group defined by its members’ shared age, which means that they travel through life together” (Berger 9).  It’s here that they are able to experience dealing with peers or others outside the comforts of their nuclear family, “a family consisting of a father, mother, and their biological children under 18” (Berger 282).  They come into contact with experiences that could be either more positive or negative depending on the situation, but in whichever case they are developing the necessary social skills that they will take into adulthood.

Public school children also have more access to extra-curricular activities that encourage peer bonding such as sports, clubs, and fun activities such as rallies or dances.  They are also able to join the organization of these events; encouraging involvement with their peers who may have different ideas and opinions contrary to their own.  All this plays a huge role in helping children to build their self-esteem, “a person’s evaluation of his or her own worth (Berger 198) and a positive self-concept, “a person’s understanding of who he or she is” (Berger 198).   On the other hand, a home schooled child, build self-esteem by taking pride in completed work and understanding of learned concepts without undo peer influence.

“Many educators, child development specialists, and social scientists claim that home schooling deprives the child of the ability to develop socialization skills” (Lebeda 101).  It is through social comparison, “judging themselves on the basis of what they see in other people” (Berger 274) that it can be argued, that one would need to develop these skills.  In order for the 4th stage of Erickson’s psychosocial crisis, industry versus inferiority “children try to master the skills that their culture values…as competent or incompetent, productive or failing, winners or losers” (Berger 273).   Based on this, social cognition, “the ability to understand social interactions, including the causes and consequences of human behavior” (Berger 293) could only be achieved in a public school setting.

While educating children in a public school setting it’s still the primary social development option.  “Adolescence is defined in humans as the period of psychological and social transition between childhood and adulthood” (Burnett, Blakemore 51).  It cannot be denied that parents who choose to homeschool, may still provide adequate socialization experiences through private organized sports, volunteering, church groups and community-based projects.  As long as parents are diligent in allowing access to a variety of social activities, the debate regarding enough socialization for home schoolers is a non-issue.

It’s estimated that there are over two million K-12 children currently being homeschooled. Those numbers increase annually.  “Homeschoolers typically score 15 to 30 percentile points above public-school students on academic-achievement tests” (Miller n.p.).  If academics play an important role, then home schooling surpasses institutional learning.  “Home schooling is one of the most formidable educational causes of its time” (Stevens 11).   While its origins may not have been the social norm or preferred education option, it cannot be denied, home schooling has dug in its heels and is here to stay.

CITATIONS

Berger, Kathleen Stassen.  Invitation to the Life Span.  1st ed.  New York:  Worth, 2010.  Print.

Stevens, Mitchell.  Kingdom of Children:  Culture and Controversy in the Homeschooling Movement.  Princeton University Press, 2003.  Web.

Klicka, Chris.  “Socialization:  Homeschoolers Are in the Real World” n.p. Web. 19 Nov. 2014.

Burnett, Stephanie, Blakemore, Sarah-Jane.  “The Development of Adolescent Social Cognition”.  Annals of the New York Academy of Science 1167 (2009):  51-56.  Web. Full Text.  19 Nov. 2014.

Lebeda, Samantha.  “Homeschooling:  Depriving Children of Social Development?”  Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues 16.1 (2007):  99-104  Web.  Full Text.  19 Nov. 2014.

Miller, Lisa.  “Homeschooling, City Style:  Why More and More City Parents are Teaching Their Kids Themselves”.  New York Magazine Oct. 2012.  Web.

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