• Picture shows the backs of a teenage boy and his younger sister walking down a path in autumn.

    Switching to Correspondence Courses for Highschool Credit

    We’re taken another step in our homeschool journey. I’ve spent a huge part of this past week going through and trying to ensure that my teenager gets credit for grade nine, even though were homeschooling, so that he can do grade ten correspondence courses this year. (Yes, yes, I know I should have done this months ago, but I didn’t know about this particular source of correspondence courses or what the requirements would be.) Anyway, it is a very interesting task. I go through the Ontario curriculum requirements for the courses that I believe he has completed and for each item in the requirements I have to describe how he…

  • Picture of the book Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
    books,  history,  homeschooling,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  politics

    Little House on the Prairie Books and the Problem of Messy History.

    It is a perennial questions in homeschool circles, whether one should read the Little House on the Prairie books with one’s kids or whether the racism in it makes those books ones that should be put aside. The books have the heroine’s mother saying “The only good Indian is a dead Indian” and one of them has the father engaging in blackface. I started reading the Little House books with my oldest child sometime before he turned six. I had forgotten about what they contained. We came to one of the first examples of racism in it and he said no way would he listen to the rest of the…

  • homeschooling

    Christy’s Notes for New Homeschoolers

    1) Homeschooling doesn’t need to look like school at home, particularly for the younger years. It is okay to not spend a full day at schoolwork. It is okay to take time off because the weather is beautiful and you want to go for a hike. 2) For the most part, schools these days just keep your kids at their age level. If you’re planning on homeschooling for just one year, you don’t need to worry about whether your child completes exactly what they would at school or not. The school isn’t going to check. The school is just going to put your child in with their age-mates next year.…

  • Biblical history,  homeschooling,  Houseful of Chaos Press,  religion

    Being Non-Religious in a Christian Context

    The question was posed to me recently about how one might go about explaining Christianity to an atheist or agnostic child who will be exposed to Christianity in a homeschool co-op or local community. I assume we have several goals in mind. The first is to keep everyone safe. Another goal is to be respectful. The other is to be truthful. This can be tricky if the Christian community is actively teaching that it is the only path to salvation or other exclusionary language. It can be tricky if the children are really young, and have difficulty dealing with the idea that these friends and teachers are correct about some…

  • history,  homeschooling

    A Potential Resource for Looking at WWII

    Want a really different way to talk about WWII with your child? I’m reading a book right now that is a memoir of a Taiwanese man who was in university in Japan at the time of WWII. While I’m not finished reading the book and I’m not sure how much of it I’ll share with my kids, I know I’ll be reading them some of it. I want to read to them about the schools and hospitals, the systematic racism, and the little bits about how the country mobilized for war. The little details are fascinating. It is too easy to teach ‘history’ as the story of the west and…

  • homeschooling

    Online Classes – alternatives to Outschool

    Live online classes can be plenty of fun. One of the most popular places for them these days is Outschool, which is sort of the Uber of online classes. Outschool has hundreds of teachers who are private contractors, writing and listing their own classes. There is a convenience to having so many online classes all in one place, but there’s also a problem. As Outschool grows they get to set the rules and teachers become replaceable. So it might be worthwhile to check out these smaller locations. Places with Multiple Teachers: Gifted Conference Planners – specializing in classes for gifted learners with different teachers teaching science, creative writing, math, literature,…

  • homeschooling

    Riddle Writing Instructions

    Writing riddles provides a chance to practice several different things at once. The riddle writer has to think about the qualities of an object and how they can describe that object in vague terms. With each clue, the writer has to imagine how others might understand the clue. Writing clues which could be understood in multiple ways helps prevent the clue from being to easy. Sometimes it helps to start by picking a theme for riddle-writing. Riddles can be used to review science terms or to encourage one to think about a historic setting. A reluctant writer might enjoy writing riddles about things from his or her favourite movie or…

  • homeschooling,  poetry

    Train Poems

    If you’ve ever read a Thomas the Train Engine story, you might have noticed that the trains tend to speak in a particular rhythm. “I’m going to burst! I’m going to burst!” cries Thomas when his boiler is plugged with fish. “I hope it’s all right, I hope it’s all right,” Annie and Clarabelle (the train cars) whisper to each other. There’s a rhythm to the train cars speech that resemble the sounds of the train wheels jostling over the tracks. The stories are of course in prose but well written prose often contain elements of poetry. Thomas the Train Engine’s original author, Revered Wilbert Awdry, isn’t the only writer…

  • Picture shows a small Minecraft village.
    homeschooling,  minecraft,  politics

    Political Studies through Minecraft

    I have reopened my Minecraft server in light of the Covid-19 restrictions and the need to have extra online social activities for children. I host events a couple of times a week on Minecraft and Zoom, and the children play on the server whenever they want in between those events. One question came up recently that introduced some very fun questions about political studies. Some children asked if they could have special areas on the server where they set the rules. A child demonstrated what he meant with a list of rules and the punishments he wanted to enforce. Was this allowed, he asked? So I’ve been thinking about that…

  • Picture shows a child's hand holding a styrofoam skull. Text is "Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare: Alas, Poor Yorick, I knew him."

    Introducing Young Children to Shakespeare through Play

    I love Shakespeare. As a teenager, my best friends and I would hang around in the attic of my house practicing acting out Mid Summer’s Night Dream.  We didn’t understand all the jokes at first, but annotated books helped us learn them and we became familiar with the rhythm and language of his works. I still hear my best friend’s voices when I read certain lines of the play. Later, as a parent, I was excitedly to introduce my children to his work. I started when they were very young, still at an age where they were playing with wooden blocks. We took to reciting a passage from Macbeth over…