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Homeschool Resolution Time – Or Is It?

 

happy_new_year

New Year’s Eve is “amateur night”.

After all the partying, the alcohol, and the gluttony of Thanksgiving and Christmas….who could possibly have any enthusiasm for celebrating New Year’s Eve?

Amateurs!

These are the juveniles that either can’t handle their alcohol OR who stand in Times Square all night when it’s 10 degrees WITHOUT any alcohol!

Now who wants to hang out with these people? Definitely not my wife and I. We stay in – and have for many years now. When we had a TV I would DVR the footage of the Times Square ball drop and watch it, unceremoniously, a month or so later.

But this year was going to be different.

We were in Vienna, Austria! Staying at the Ritz Carlton!

This year our hopes were up for a very different experience.

We rested up in the afternoon and walked to the public square by Saint Stephen’s Cathedral around 10pm. It was jam-packed with people. There was an opera playing on the stage, stalls selling “bier” and mulled wine, occasional fireworks igniting underfoot, etc.

But then the stage was taken over by the worst, 80s cruise ship band we ever heard around 11pm. I mean it was really bad and hard to believe that was what Vienna’s budget could afford on the grand stage for all those people. But the Austrians (laced with “bier”?) were digging it – high-fiving and hugging each other, dancing, hooting and hollering, etc.

We could only last until 11:20pm before heading back to the hotel. We tried. We really did but our hopes were dashed and old prejudices confirmed yet again.

amateur

There’s apparently no translation to German!

My wife and I both feel the same way about New Year’s Resolutions. They represent “amateur hour” for people who don’t have any well-defined goals and ambitions. I mean, honestly, for 95% of people, if not more, they are a joke. The fact that people only stop to articulate goals once per year….and then unapologetically break them within weeks is pathetic.

Homeschooling Goals

So what does this have to do with homeschooling?

Well,….EVERYTHING!

As home educators we are striving to do the very opposite of “school”. We want to unlock the full potential of our children, in every possible way.

So we are looking for the ultimate, proven formulas for success and achievement.

Where might they be found?

Well I submit they are in the “self-help” and “personal coaching” industries. They can be found reading Tony Robbins, Napoleon Hill, Steve Chandler, Brendan Burchard, Tim Ferriss, et al.

These are the superstars that are so good at motivating others and generating results, that they can command millions of dollars from the most successful people on the planet.

And guess what…

Every single one of these gurus has their clients articulating and working relentlessly toward clear GOALS….365 days a year.

You know how disparagingly we, as homeschool parents, look at “school parents” who are excited when their kids read a single unassigned book or when they take their kids to 2 museums per year?

Well that’s probably on par with how the self-help gurus see the masses out there with their once-per-year, soon-to-be-broken New Year’s Resolutions.

It’s great to have fun craft ideas, quality workbooks, and great reading lists mined from the cornucopia of homeschooling resources out there…

But if they aren’t scheduled or hemmed in by a deadline….they just might never get done!

And beyond a short term checklist, if you truly want to unlock your kids’ full potential, I would encourage you to work with and toward intermediate and longer term goals.

In other words, not just “an hour of math per day” but also “6th grade Khan Academy math done by March 1st”. Not just “I want to someday publish a children’s book on Amazon” but rather “I’m going to publish my book on June 1st”. Et cetera.

Yes, I know. Goals can change. Life’s distractions abound.

But I promise you, many magical things will happen once you start incorporating goals into your life and into your homeschool on a permanent year-round basis.

 

Dan (8 Posts)

Husband to Inez. Father of John and Christine. Homeschool Coach, Accelerated Math Teacher. Former derivatives trader and future scratch golfer! Follow our learning adventures at HomeschoolDad.com.


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Socialization Starts at Home

Every once in a while that old question about socialization comes up:  How will your kids learn how to get along with others if they don’t go to school?

Because we all know that siblings come from the womb full of love and eternal patience for one another.  They never argue.  Never glare at one another.  Never annoy each other in any way.  We’re all just one happy family who are never challenged by each other.

{wink}Socialization Starts at Home @The Homeschool Post

From dictionary.com:

so·cial·i·za·tion

noun

  1. a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.
  2. the act or process of making socialistic: the socialization of industry.

I think when most people talk about socialization, they are referring to the 1st definition.

Learning how to get along with other people is a part of being human.   It’s a part of learning to be a productive member of society, allowing  us to work, live, play, and have a fulfilling life.

Now, when I was in school, I did have to learn how to deal with other people.  Sometimes it was a matter of self-preservation.  It would have been impossible to avoid the society of others in a building with hundreds of other people.

But my children are also continually learning how to get along with other people.

It happens when the 14-year-old decides to avert his eyes while the 5-year-old attacks her PB&J in her preferred manner (from the top-down and inside-out) instead of sneering at her.

It happens when she decides to eat it the way that’s been modeled for her by her family.

It happens when the 10-year-old gently directs her younger siblings to knock on the door before bursting into her room when she’s changing, instead of screaming bloody murder.

It happens when the next time they actually do knock on the door.

Kids who live together, play together, and learn together also have daily practice in:

  • respecting the differences of others
  • respecting the privacy and personal space of others
  • conflict resolution
  • the consequences of conflict escalation (ahem)
  • compromise
  • repentance and asking for forgiveness.

I’m not saying that children who attend school don’t have the same opportunities, as they surely do.

But the stakes are higher at home.

Your family is a part of you.  Those knuckleheads at the local school may have a lasting impact on your child’s development, but I’ll tell you something—I’m in contact with exactly one person I went to elementary school with and a couple of people I knew in high school  and college (and only in the form of occasional FB comments).  I can choose not to deal with those people if I want.

But family relationships that don’t work out can leave a gaping wound in a person.  It may seem like you can get away right now, but eventually you may want to come back.

Family life is hard.

Extending grace to those who haven’t caught up to you developmentally stretches you.  In a way, homeschooled kids can be naive if they haven’t had to deal with some of the social ugliness that can happen at school…but in other ways, they can be more mature in their ability to accept other kids of different ages.

I won’t lie to you—sometimes they don’t get along at home.

It’s been a bit hairy at our house lately with the teenaged hormones flying around.  The heat and other stressors also come into play.  But in the real world, people sometimes have difficulty getting along.  This is another opportunity to learn.  As difficult as it is to see my kids fighting with each other, I know that we’re on the right track whenever I see them interacting with other people.

The other night we visited with some friends.  Six kids altogether and only four adults.  Yes, we were outnumbered.

But all the kids (ages 5 to 14) played together without incident for over 2 hours while the adults hung out and talked.  This wasn’t a case of the bigs watching the littles, but people being actively engaged with one another and enjoying one another’s company.  The only tiff happened at the very end when everyone was tired and we were getting ready to leave (and it was between two of my kids).

I see daily evidence of my children finding their place in the world.

I see it when they interact with other kids at the pool or park.

When they talk to the lady at the post office.

When they ask the librarian for help locating a book.

I see it when my oldest child leads his fellow Boy Scouts.

My kids are growing up in a safe home environment, not sheltered from dealing with the rest of the world, but supported in their growth.

How do you respond to questions about socialization?

 

Susan Anadale (6 Posts)

Susan is a wife, a mother, a Catholic, a teacher, a writer, a philosopher, a seamstress, a maker of things, an imaginer of worlds...I blog about our lifelong journey through learning at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds (my brain on the web).


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Sex Ed for Homeschoolers, Part 1: Too Little, Too Late

HSBAPost_Fletch_SexEdRecently on the Homeschooling In Real Life podcast and blog, my wife and I discussed the topic of teaching our kids about sex. As you might imagine, we found that sex education continues to be a subject matter that parents struggle to discuss with their kids. Even as I typed and titled this blog post, I’m sure there are some readers who will choose to click right on past. Although “Sex Ed for Homeschoolers” continues to be a topic many of us don’t always want to talk about, I propose that it’s time we get serious and start talking with our kids about sex.
If you have read my previous articles here on The HSBA Post, you will know that I am not one to shy away from a good discussion. At HomeschoolingIRL, we chose to confront this topic head on and began the discussion out loud with our listeners calling it: “How Do I Talk To My Kids About Sex?”  A highlight of this episode was an informal interview I did with graduates from homeschool, private school and public school. I asked them a simple question: “How do you feel your parents did teaching  you about sex?”
The response to that question was overwhelming and revealed to us that we need more than one episode on this topic. As homeschoolers, there is more for us to learn and discuss about this subject. In the meantime, I’ve developed a few things to share with my readers and plan to do so here on the Homeschool Post in several parts.

Too little. Too late. 

First, most of the graduates I spoke with answered me loud and clear: They DO NOT believe their parents did a very good job teaching them about sex. I recognize I was speaking with younger, more recent graduates, and they have a tendency to be a bit more critical of their parents. That was to be expected.  My own sons are the first to critique my parenting skills. I did the same thing. At the same time, I did have a few young adults who reported positive experiences learning about sex from their parents.

However, whether positive or negative, nearly every single response from homeschooled, public schooled and private schooled graduates followed a simple theme: my parents shared too little information and it was given to me too late.

 

Following up on these discussions with some of the homeschooled graduates, I found three repeated patterns. The parents either said nothing, or they addressed the subject of sex from a strictly biological perspective or they used a canned purity curriculum without discussion. That left most of the students I interviewed to pick up the details about sex from either their friends, the internet or school (non-homeschoolers).

 

Tight Lipped Parents

In part two of this discussion, I plan on tackling the topic of transparency, but in the meantime we need to start talking about our silence on the subject of sex. That sentence sounds funny huh? My fellow homeschooling parents, we can no longer choose to be silent with our kids on the topic of sex. I’m not pointing fingers at you, I’m speaking from experience here.
In our past life, we decided to over-shelter our kids. We lived in a homeschool bubble of conservatism where we had limited discussions about tricky subjects like sex. Shaded in very good bible verses encouraging us to “not awaken love before it’s time” we didn’t want to give our children an appetite for sexuality. So we just ignored the discussions. Until when? I don’t know. I guess we were going to wait until we believed our kids were “old enough to handle the heavier subjects.” Regardless, let me be clear with you: We blew it! Our first two sons have been very honest with us. We showed up to the discussion too late and we were underprepared for what they wanted to discuss.
My encouragement to the reader is that we cannot afford to be silent on this topic. From advertising, to entertainment, to sports, to the workplace, the world has saturated our culture in the topic of sex. Our kids are going to be bombarded with images and phrases from a very young age. It is imperative that we show up and help them navigate through these things.

 

The Birds and The Bees

Regardless of their answer to my question, most of the homeschooled responses expressed dissatisfaction with the “biology only” education they were given. Most grads shared that their parents taught them the basics of anatomy and how the reproductive system worked. Some told me that their parents referenced farm animals or family pets to illustrate the actual mechanics of reproduction. Essentially, sex education in these homes boiled down to a unit study on reproduction. Although scientifically accurate, most of these kids said they were either confused or laughed it off and learned about human sexuality from friends or the internet. Friends and the internet? That was the better option? I don’t think so.
Again, as homeschooling parents we get to enjoy the daily interaction with our kids in every other subject. I think we are missing an opportunity to speak with our kids about the topic of sex. Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting a “one and done” discussion, but a regular ongoing dialogue. A discussion that considers our children’s ages and then matures as our children mature and prepares them for the world they live in.

 

Purity Curriculum

Most of the graduates I interviewed spoke positively about their parents who used purity curriculum. Most said that their parents dedicated a special time or a weekend to discuss purity with them. We use a purity study in our home and I cannot say enough about the curriculum offered from Family Life Today that we have used with our daughters.
However, we had a few of these young adults mention that their parents still chose not to discuss anything with them. They were provided bible verses and studies about purity and then told to return if they had any questions. One response stated that the materials were implemented alongside their other subjects, but again without discussion.
As I mentioned earlier, we are either not showing up to the conversation or we are getting to the conversation too late and unprepared. For those parents that are having “the talk” with their kids, can I recommend one thing further? Instead of one conversation, would you consider making it a healthy ongoing dialogue? Along these lines, I had the opportunity to interview my friend Barret Johnson from I.N.F.O for Families. He has written a tremendous book called “The Talks: A Parent’s Guide to Critical Conversations about Sex, Dating and Other Unmentionables” where he puts together that very premise. These should be “talks” that start young and continue into adulthood. That is exactly what I am recommending.
Our kids are not stupid and in every other area of their life we hopefully encourage them to strengthen their curiosity. The same should be true about God-given sexuality and we should not be afraid to have the conversations with our kids. If you are struggling with this topic or lost in knowing how to go about it, I strongly recommend picking up a copy of “The Talks,” by Barret Johnson.
In part two, I plan on discussing transparency and the choice to be honest with your kids and the fear that may bring to some parents. In the meantime, what do you think? How has it worked in your house? I’d love to hear your comments.
From one dad to another,
Fletch (13 Posts)

Fletch has been married for the past 23 years. He and his wife Kendra are the proud parents of five sons and three daughters, all of whom keep them laughing and on their toes. During the day he can be found fixing people's teeth, but in his spare time you can find Fletch stretching out a pair of flip-flops, creating a new pizza recipe, playing the drums, or rescuing a piece of his tie-dye wardrobe from his wife's donation pile. You can find him online where he writes on his personal blog, theMangoTimes and every two weeks you can hear him on the HomeschoolingIRL podcast which he cohosts with his wife.


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