Being a Technology Rebel

The kinds of homeschool supplies we use in place of technology

So some stuff happened here locally last year that had a lot of people fuming.  The school board decided to consolidate our elementary schools, turning 5 schools into basically 3 while adding a separate middle school (before that, junior and high school classes had been in separate wings of the same building).

Now, we are a rural community.  Bus rides are lo-o-o-ong already.  So this caused an uproar.  Then the public was informed that the changes were temporary, that the board would spend this year re-zoning and next year?  Well, some of the kids who had to move to a new school this year would have to move again.

Yeah.  Parents were not happy.  So a lot of people up and decided to homeschool.  

I get it.  I really do.  But I’m starting to notice that some of those parents made a whiplash decision for what might have been the wrong reasons.  Homeschooling ain’t easy, and it ain’t for the faint of heart.  Right?  But I’m hearing a lot of people say things like, “I’m trying to get them all laptops, but when you have 4 kids it gets expensive,” or “They do their schoolwork online, why do I have to get involved?”

Um.

Yeah.  You’re feeling me.  That laptop lady?  Has not yet started homeschooling her kids this year because they don’t all 4 have laptops.  That’s not homeschool.  That’s playing hookie.

6 Sensational Pumpkin Books for Fall (What to Read Wednesday)

6 Sensastional Pumpkin Books for Fall from Lit Mama Homeschool

If you ever want me to shut up about autumn, you’re going to have to cancel autumn.  I mean, every single thing I love is in autumn.  Just look at the colors in those picture books–they make me feel all warm and cozy and snuggled up next to a bonfire on a crisp fall night with a cup of warm cider in my hand.

Pumpkins are, of course, among my favorite things.

The Littles and I still carve a few pumpkins together every year.  We still wait till at least mid-September to start using pumpkin spice creamer and stop using it after Thanksgiving.  We make pumpkin pies, pumpkin donuts, pancakes, waffles, biscuits.  Yeah yeah.  I’m a pumpkin fuh-reak.

But my absolute favorite thing about pumpkins?  Heading out to the local orchard to pick one.  Oh, we grow them ourselves and we love to stop at roadside markets to check them out, but there’s nothing quite like going to a vast field of pumpkins, riding a hay wagon out to the center and rummaging through 100s to find the just-perfect one.  We love it.  Here’s one of my favorite picks of Littlest from a pumpkin-picking day.  He was about 5 here.  Wasn’t he too cute?

Littles picking a pumpkin at the local orchard

YA Book Review: Twisted

YA Book Review of Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson - Lit Mama Homeschool

I’ve been  a kind-of sideline fan of Laurie Halse Anderson for a couple of years now.  I’ve read Fever 1793 and Wintergirls, and I liked them okay.  Anderson is a decent storyteller and she likes to write about difficult subjects.

Twisted is no different.

It’s about a boy named Tyler, a boy trying to find his way in the world without a true role model.  I mean, his dad is still in the picture, but the dude is just about as abusive as a parent can be without actually beating the crap out of his kids.  Tyler is Con.Fused.  And it seems like everything he tries to do right turns out wrong.  His crush on the popular girl (who also happens to be the daughter of his dad’s boss) is the one thing that keeps him going.  And when she starts to be nice to him, he believes he just may have a shot.  But Tyler has a reputation in town thanks to a prank he pulled last year, and when a party leads to a police investigation, Ty realizes just how flimsy relationships can be.  He’s tired.  He’s had enough of being picked on and blamed and accused.  So he decides to do something about it.

Listen, it’s a good book.  But I’m not gonna lie to you, either: the ending is trite.  It could have been a powerful book, a scary book, a book that made teens stop and think, a book that deserved this opening page:

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson Inside Cover Page - Review by Lit Mama Homeschool

Seriously, when I saw that, I thought, “Aha!  Now we’re going to get into the nitty gritty.”

Well, we didn’t.  Not so much.  I mean, we got to the nitty gritty from maybe a 12-year-old’s standpoint, but we didn’t get to Real Life nitty gritty.  In fact, the ending was so trite I almost through the book through a window.  No, really, I tossed it across the room and it hit a window.  Because the book is about teen depression and abuse and suicide and I expected a little more Real from it.  Real life doesn’t always (actually, it seldom does) work out like it worked out in the book.  This book would be a good starting-off point for a discussion about suicide with your younger teens who aren’t depressed, but I wouldn’t recommend giving it to someone who is already depressed or suffering from abuse.  I feel like it would just point out to them how their own situation is not unfolding in the same way.  And it could make things worse.

That said, Twisted truly is a good book.  Tyler is a very likeable guy with real problems that kids can relate to on some level.  The world is unfair to him, and everyone has experienced that.  I just would have liked a more realistic ending.  I’m not telling you not to read it or not to let your teens read it, I’m just saying to be careful with it.  Remind yourself and your kids that while the book offers hope it may not be in the most realistic way it could have done.  Then you can enjoy the very good story without being let down in the end.

Love wins,

KT

Have You Asked Them?

Is your homeschool working? Ask your kids.Homeschooling isn’t about the mama.  I know, I know, sometimes it feels like it is–all that stress and hope and joy and work all bundled up into one heart.  It sure can feel like it’s about us.

But the truth is we don’t do it for us.  We don’t do it for the money and we sure as heck don’t do it for the glory.  There’s none to be had of either.  We do it for our littles.  We homeschool because we believe in the true education of our children and we believe in family.

And maybe because we like playing school.

So yeah, every once in a while I like to check with my boys and make sure it’s working.  Are they enjoying themselves?  Are they learning something?  Are they starting to consider public school?

I have a short survey I give them every few months.  Their answers almost never change, but I swear I am not brainwashing them.

It’s a simple 10-question sheet I print out for them.  Here are the questions:

  1. What do you like best about homeschooling?
  2. What do you like least about homeschooling?
  3. What is your favorite subject this year?
  4. What subject do you like least?
  5. Do you enjoy having independent classes?  Why or why not?
  6. Do you enjoy having classes with your brother?
  7. Do you prefer having classes together or separately?
  8. Do you feel like you get to socialize/be with friends enough?
  9. Do you ever think about going to public school?  What is one thing you wish you didn’t have to miss?
  10. What is one thing you would change about homeschooling?

If I have them fill this out for me once around the beginning of the year, once at Christmas, and once toward the end of the year, I can keep tabs on how they’re feeling about a variety of things.

So far, even though they are middle school-age, my boys have no desire to return to public school.  Turns out that even though they excelled at public school and both were kind of teacher’s pets, they hated it.  I did not know that when they were attending public school.  They were such good students, their teachers loved them, they had a lot of friends–what was to hate?  It makes me wonder if every kid hates the rigidity and over-structuring of the public school system.  Finding out they never liked public school to begin with has validated my decision to homeschool them more than I thought it would.  It also goads me to be the best teacher I can be, so I know they’re learning everything they can while they’re in my charge.

The surprising thing to me is that both boys still enjoy taking their classes together.  I am always worried that a lesson I’ve planned might end up being too easy for Middle or too hard for Littlest, but I guess I should stop worrying.  They love taking classes together and prefer it over working alone.  Which is good, because I love teaching them as ‘class,’ when we all get to jump in and learn and discuss and follow rabbit trails and do experiments and make art.

Speaking of art, this year it is one of Littlest’s favorite classes.  Its only competition is writing.  This kid can tell  a story, people.  I have been trying to convince him he should focus on it for a couple years now.  Writing prompts and journals of their own have helped him see how much he loves it.  He has always loved to draw.  And we’re doing a variety of art projects this year, including an art journal, so his interest is well-fed.

Middle has proclaimed algebra to be his favorite subject.  No surprise there.  He asked to learn it independently and dove in to his new book the moment Mr. Amazon delivered it.  Math has always been his favorite.

The interesting answer I got from both of them is that they are both enjoying their independent classes.  Completely separately, they explained in the exact same words: “I get to learn at my own pace.”  There’s something in that.  Even though they love having classes together, they also apparently love doing their own thing.  It tells me they will be fine next year when Middle enters high school and they have more separate classes.

Asking your littles a few questions about their homeschool experience can teach you a lot about how you conduct your homeschool.

Don’t forget, you’re doing this for them.  It’s only fair that they get to have some input.  So ask.  And pay close attention to their answers.  You could find out what their focus should be.  You could find out what you need to tweak to improve their year.  You could find out What You’re Doing Right.

And that always feels good.

Love wins,

KT

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