• homeschooling

    stopping the (home)school work struggle

    One struggle I’ve faced homeschooling – and I know others face it too – is getting a child to do schoolwork when the child would prefer to whine, fuss and procrastinate. I’ve seen it discussed on homeschool forums and noticed a number of people suggesting two things: switching curriculum or going to unschooling. I want to talk about why those aren’t great solutions and what I would suggest instead. Switching curriculum is not a solution because although the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it isn’t magical. Curriculum is a bit like a relationship. In the excitement of falling in love with something new, we…

  • activism,  homeschooling,  politics

    the day after the American election

    I started blogging right after Stephen Harper was re-elected. Back then my blog was called “Another Step to Take…” I was sitting in shock, staring at election results, and feeling horrified that Canada could re-elect someone so blatantly bad. I had been out knocking on doors during the election. I had helped drive people to the polls. Blogging was something I started doing as another step, started the day after an election, for trying to work for changes the next election. I started off blogging about politics. Since then my blog has shifted. I’ve blogged more on homeschooling. I changed the name of the blog to “Houseful of Chaos” reflecting…

  • accepting criticism,  communication,  homeschooling,  how do we know what we know is true

    Someone’s judging a homeschooler! Call out the troops. Or maybe, don’t.

    Sometimes I read something someone else writes, and I recognize in it something that connects with other issues. Today I saw a post titled “Maybe we haven’t been critical enough of our fellow moms….” I saw it posted on facebook, and in most of the comments on facebook people were being very critical of the blogger, saying that people need to mind their own business and not judge. For my part, the post and discussion threw me into all sorts of confusion. The sense I had from the article was not that someone wants to stick her nose into other people’s business willy-nilly, but that someone was trying to tease…

  • homeschooling

    doing schoolwork while thinking out of sync

    Being out of sync with the world can make school work hard. I think back to the time I was a teenager homeschooling through a correspondence type program where I had to fax my test and assignments to a teacher far away. I hated multiple choice tests so I wrote commentary all through my social studies multiple choice test, explaining why none of the answers were entirely correct. That particular teacher agreed that I could just write essays instead. I was relieved. Essays I could understand. I watched this past month as one of my kids struggled with an assignment. His class at school was studying biodiversity, and how life forms are…

  • homeschooling

    Choosing to homeschool, again.

    I wrote back in July about the decision to send my previously homeschooled children to school. They started school at the beginning of September, and I’m writing now with our one-month update. Two out of three children will continue in school. The third is going to be homeschooling again. Going from homeschooling, to sending them to school, to homeschooling one of them took me on a very weird rollercoaster of thoughts and emotions. I had mixed feelings about them going to school. I have mixed feelings about the one coming home. To some extent I expected that. However there were things I didn’t expect. I want to write about those things…

  • homeschooling

    sometimes staying home is better than the extracurriculars

    As a homeschooler, I’ve felt at times like I’m a bit of a failure as far as extracurricular activities go. I hear people talk about how they provide socialization and the chance to follow one’s passions. We’ve had varying degrees of success at different activities, but most of the various activities we’ve signed the kids up for have involved us herding them into the car against their wills. I’ve tried to look at the extracurriculars from my kids points of view. They end up being dragged away from things they like doing. I’ve tried to encourage them to make friends, but an hour a week with someone telling them they should…

  • I feel like I'm looking ahead too, at an unknown path.
    homeschooling

    into the unknown: preparing myself to send my children to school

    I sighed in the grocery store the other day. The store clerk, seeing I was watching my children, made a comment expressing sympathy about how it was only the beginning of summer holidays. I smiled, paid, and thanked him. He doesn’t need to know how much he misunderstood. To me this isn’t the beginning of a summer of having the kids around all the time. My kids have been around me almost constantly since they were born and this particular summer I am in mourning for the fact that my time homeschooling is coming to an end. This isn’t the beginning of a two-month time with the kids home, it…

  • education,  games,  homeschooling,  mathematics

    my experience and plans teaching with Minecraft

    My kids and I are eagerly working on our minecraft server these days. We build scenes and then add non-player-characters (NPCs) the scripts of which we write using a plugin called Betonquest. The boys built a fairy kingdom full of mushroom houses. With their help, I wrote up conversations for the fairies based on Shakespeare’s fairies in A Mid Summer’s Night Dream. We added a nine men’s morris board built of a grass path, like the “the quaint mazes in the wanton green” that the Shakespeare’s Titania had said was “for lack of tread are undistinguishable.” For each snippet of Shakespeare I had the characters quote, I added the option for…

  • homeschooling

    using an incomplete knowledge of Shakespeare for meaningful discussion

    I have written before about reading Shakespeare with kids so they gain some familiarity with the stories and another time I wrote about reading it with kids as part of discussion on language and exploring complex ideas. Today I write about yet another reason to read Shakespeare with children. Today my argument is that Shakespeare gives us a chance to look at the incompleteness of our own knowledge and what scholarship means. We get to do that, all while enjoying the works of a master who filled his works with such amazing jokes and clever ideas. A few years ago my husband gave me a couple of copies of The…

  • homeschooling,  politics

    I homeschool with a village to help me.

    There is a meme I’ve seen going around on facebook and twitter that says “I homeschool because I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my child.” The meme is sad on so many levels. It is incredibly sad to think of people feeling so isolated and at odds with their “villages.” Whenever I see that post, I have this urge to assure people that not all homeschoolers feel that way. I homeschool but I am grateful to the village that is helping me raise my children. I am grateful to the librarians who help us check in and out the huge stacks of books. I’m grateful for their…