Monday, September 29, 2014

Busting the Socialization Myth - Part 2

In Part 1 of this article, I attempted to show that homeschoolers are definitely not suffering from a lack of socialization. Rather, they experience a level of social interaction that produces the kind of people I think everyone desires.

I attempted to prove that homeschool kids don't actually live under rocks, possessing only Bibles, granola, and slingshots. We do actually go out into the world and interact with other humans. A lot. But since we are homeschoolers, a lot of our time is spent at home, with our families.

And this is actually the perfect training ground for social interaction.

Interacting with family members gives ample opportunity for kids to learn how to relate to others, while in the forgiving and comfortable environment of their own home. They learn by waking up and greeting family members with a good attitude, eating breakfast cheerfully (even if oatmeal is NOT their favorite), looking people in the eye when carrying on conversation, speaking in complete sentences, completing tasks alone or with others, and hundreds of other incidents while under the instruction and observation of parents who love them and desire their best.



They learn to properly greet a stranger at the door, answer the phone, discuss a favorite book, ask (and answer) questions, listen patiently to a toddler (or any sibling) ramble on about a "boring" topic longer than they'd wish, and when to put their phones away and be present with the people in the room. They don't disappear to their rooms when company comes, but sit around the living room and join in conversation with the adults.



But there are a couple of other things that people confuse with the need for socialization: the fear that homeschool kids might be weird or immature.


Nicholas reads about Tigers with his safari hat, because every day has its own costume.

I actually know plenty of people homeschool moms who are afraid their kids will be weird. But what they're doing is buying into the very same thought process that if you aren't just like all the other kids out there, you're still doing something wrong.

Some of you want your kids to be super smart, super talented, and graduate at 15. But you want them to look and act like all the other kids. It just doesn't work that way. The reason it seems that kids raised at home are "weird" is just because they are different.

But consider: they are literally developing their own personalities without the influence of a classroom full of children in which the leaders determine what's cool and what's not. They get to be who they are! Isn't that what everyone, the world over, tells us we should do??? Be Yourself. Unless what you are is not pre-approved by the cool kids. Then don't be yourself. It's just too weird.

This excellent article "Why are homeschooled kids so annoying?" hits the nail on the head. "And what do I mean by “annoying”?  I mean what people mean when they say that homeschooled kids are annoying.  I mean kids who ask too many questions and know too much information and like certain stuff and refuse to like other things and don’t care what other people think about their silly hobbies and their know-it-all-ness."

If your kid recites a list of dinosaur facts a mile long for fun, embrace it! If your daughter reads and writes for 8-10 hours, be thankful! Bug collections, Rubik's cube obsession, castle drawings, electronics tinkering, perfecting headstands in the living room, dabbling with endless pasta recipes...they all spring from your child's inner person. It's who they are, or at least developing who they will become. And the end result is going to be someone who has explored all the different little rabbit holes until they found their main path to adulthood. They will have traveled that path without ridicule, teasing, peer pressure, and bullying.


In the meantime, maybe they will wear some weird stuff, or tell you "cool things about wolverines"  till your eyes start to cross.


Maybe you'll walk into a room and see your daughter doing schoolwork while it looks like she's playing Headbanz. Maybe your son will only wear camo for the next 18 months of his life. Maybe your son will carry around a thick book of geography, memorizing everything he can about the jungles of South America.

Maybe your daughter will wear a sock sticking out of her pants every day because she's a wolf and the sock is her tail, and she plans to grow up and be a "baby wolf scientist." My cousin did that as a little girl! But you know what? That same cousin is now 20, pursuing a political journalism major in college, and producing a talk radio show in Washington D.C. in her spare time. Yeah. I'd say she's pretty normal. No; actually, she's above average. And she was raised at home, socialized under her parents' protection, and has turn into a very likable young adult. My just-turned-18-year-old daughter was asked to be a shift manager at the local Starbucks, before she reached the age to be eligible. Her boyfriend's boss tried to promote him to manager at the fast food place where he works, before he turned 18. All three of these kids never set foot in a public school, and did not receive the indoctrination socialization that the world out there mistakenly desires for them.

What about immaturity? Again, I think the wrong label is being slapped on a lot of kids who are actually innocent. I know a LOT of  kids who are an interesting mixture of innocence and maturity. They are overjoyed with simple pleasures and love to laugh and have fun and play like kids, but they have a level of maturity that makes them responsible, understanding, and smart kids.

Childhood innocence is something to be treasured. And it's the very thing that's missing in that holy grail of public education call socialization: it's the exact opposite of innocence. The innocence of children is snatched away, not only by peers, but by the school's teachers and curriculum. I don't need to remind you what's being taught to very young children in schools that is far ahead of their ability to understand, let alone need it.

So, please, moms and dads who are afraid that your kids will be messed up because they are raised at home: quit listening to the "experts" (seriously, though!) and let wisdom be your guide.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6

Be patient through those years where your kids are kinda different from the other kids. Love them, support them, encourage their interests, and wait. If you raise your children yourself, God will bless your efforts a hundredfold!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Busting the Socialization Myth, Part 1

If you've homeschooled for any length of time (or ever even MET a homeschooler), then you're aware of the great concern over socializing our children. There are lots of great arguments out there against this crazy notion, so I won't try to top them. I'm here to prove that it's all a myth anyway.

In the last 30 days, my children (all homeschooled, all their lives) have had more time with friends than this mama has the energy for. But it's not really just about having friends, is it? Socialization is interacting with other people. And these homeschool kids have it down.

Example: My daughter Chloe turned 14 this month, and had a 10-hour party with 13 teenage girls. This scenario might send most parents running to the fridge for an overdose of comfort food, or prompt utterings of "I'm gonna rent a few movies and stay out of their way," in the wake of a Hurrican called Drama.


Not this bunch. They are all friends. With each other. No drama.

I didn't run this party. I provided snacks, cake, and decorations, and they did the rest. They coordinated their own activities for HOURS.




At the end of the night, they turned on music under a tree in the backyard and practiced the dances they learned at Cotillion.

Oh, did I mention Cotillion? It's the monthly gathering of teens who sit down to a formal dinner, dressed in their Sunday best, and eat with manners. The guys escort the girls to their seat, get their drinks, and bring them dessert. An etiquette lesson accompanies this. 


And then when dinner is over, they learn real dance steps. 




I never tire of looking at 50-60 teens dressed in skirts and slacks laughing, talking, and learning formal dances.


And then there's our local co-op. We meet weekly for a few hours of classes taught by many  moms (and a few dads). And even a few teens. 

This semester we have four teens teaching classes to younger children. My 6-year-old is taking one of these classes, and it's his favorite one. These kids must submit a class description and a 10-week outline to get their class on the schedule. They decide the cost of the supplies needed and set a class fee. They prepare weekly lessons. They instruct children in art, animals science, stories and crafts, and Minecraft. 

These kids interact with other kids. And adults. People of all ages, really. They are friendly and fun. And as far as I can tell, they're all pretty normal. : )

The fact that the world at large is much more concerned about social skills than education is a little silly. 

Learnin’, schmlearning- those kids need to be among herds of other kids their exact age in order to learn how to be normal. 



Last night I took a carload of girls to a Newsboys concert. I teared up just a little watching all of these girls sing worship songs in an auditorium with a couple thousand other people. They openly declared that they are Jesus Freaks, that God's Not Dead, and nobody worried what other people thought about them. My daughter. Her friends. 

That makes a mama happy.

We like socializing our kids. But we really like overseeing this socialization. That's why we participate  in small groups of like-minded families, where we get to supervise their social interactions. The rest of their time is spent actually being raised by Mom and Dad in the best possible training situation for real life...the family.

Which is the subject of Part 2. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Preschool Busy Bag Swap


Welcome to the 400Things Busy Bag Swap for Preschoolers!

To kick off Preschool Week here at 400Things, I'm hosting an online Busy Bag Swap for Preschoolers.



What is a Busy Bag Swap?

It's an easy way to get a box full of fun, educational activities to keep your little ones busy and learning at the same time. In this case, 20 moms will participate by creating one busy bag project 20 times, and then swap with the other participants, resulting in 20 different activities. Instead of dreaming of, purchasing for, and assembling 20 different activities, you will create just ONE (multiple times) and receive 20 different bags!

If you have preschoolers, you already understand the need for some creative new playthings. Moms, grandparents, homeschool families, preschool teachers, co-op teachers...this works for anyone.  It also makes a great gift!

What does it cost?

Just the cost of your activity plus shipping. You will want to spend no more than $1 per bag on supplies.

How does it work?

I'm glad you asked.

1. Choose your activity. You will be creating this activity up to 20 times, so choose wisely. : )

2. Email me at 400things@gmail.com to join. Please provide the following info:
    Name, mailing address, and chosen activity.  This email is your commitment to join. Please do not      send a "maybe I'll do this" email. Once committed, please follow through.

3. Create! Assemble 20 identical busy bags. You have 2 weeks from the commitment date to complete the project.

4. Ship completed busy bags to me, and include payment for shipping your complete set back to you. You may include a money order, or pay directly through paypal at 400things@gmail.com. No personal checks, please. Send $12.35 for a Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box. This is how I will send your new set of busy bags! (If you're a local friend, you can skip the shipping cost; however, I'll ask you do do pick-up and delivery of your items.)

5. Wait with anticipation by the mailbox!

So, what shall I make?

There are SO many great ideas on the web, so I'm going to point you to my Busy Bags board on Pinterest. (Note: this Board contains busy bags for lots of ages; check to be sure that the one you choose is Preschool appropriate.) But don't stop there! Google "busy bags" or "preschool activities" or create something new.

Some of our favorites from past swaps:

Color sorting (works great with wooden beads, too)

Felt Lacing Shapes (no link)

Lacing Foam Shapes

Each activity needs to meet the following criteria:
· *Self-contained:* This way, you can just grab a bag and GO (without
having to add a number of supplies to the bag in order to make it useful).
· *Transportable: *Yes, they will definitely be used at home, but
parents might want to be able to grab a few bags to take to a restaurant, a
waiting room, plane trips, car rides, etc.
· *Convenient:* None of the bags will have supplies that require
major set-up *or* clean-up: (no paint, watercolors, liquids, sand, dirt,
etc.)
· *Inexpensive:* Don't spend too much money on this project!
· *Easy to Make: *Don't spend hours and hours and hours making your
activity.
· *Re-usable:* You want these activities to last a while so that your
other children can use them in the future. Therefore, avoid activities
where you would have to buy new supplies to re-stock the bag. This is why
lamination is important for some of the activities. 
*Storage*  Use a gallon-size FREEZER bag for durability.
· *Include instructions:* Make sure the activity has a clear name or
instructions for use. Laminate this if possible, or write on Ziploc bag
with a Sharpie.
· *Preschooler appropriate*: The activity needs to be appropriate for
ages 2-4. Every child is different, so busy bags may be simple and some
will be more advanced. That's okay. Variety is the spice of life!

Please plan accordingly. You will need to purchase supplies, assemble Busy Bags, and ship them to me within 2 weeks of signing up.

*If however, you do sign up with full intentions of participating, but then realize that for some reason you are unable to continue, please let me know right away, so that we can contact someone else who would love to be involved.*
Try to invest *no more than about $1 per bag*. (Use those Michaels, Joanns, & Hobby Lobby coupons!!) This ensures that each bag is of approximately equal value.

Also keep in mind your schedule AND your budget. Some of you may have more time than money, vice versa. If you have the time, you might be willing to print and cut and sort flash cards or felt shapes. If you don't have the time, but have a few extra dollars, you might be willing to purchase manipulatives that just need sorting into bags.

Other important info:

I will take up to 20 participants. If more than 20 are interested, I'll start a waiting list in case someone falls through. 

I will not share your personal information with the group. You'll just get a big ol' box of goodies in the mail!

January 13 is the start date. I will continue to take names until I receive 20 requests. From that date, each participant will have 2 weeks to complete their task. So....let's begin!

Join 400 Things by subscribing at the top of this blog page so you won't miss a post, and go like my Facebook page. Please share this swap with your friends!

Preschool Week has been extended, due to illness in our home. : ) So, there's still time to join the Swap. 

Below is a list of the activities so far:

Felt Color Links by Jill

Matching Color Shades by Heather




Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Day in the Life

Welcome to a day-long glimpse of our lives! This is a very typical day in our home. There's a little bit of everything thrown in: homeschooling, playtime, homemaking, and chores. So, let's begin!

8:00 I wake up. The little boys (5 and 8) are awake. The girls (3, 13, and 17) are not. I go wake the girls and start a breakfast of cinnamon toast and apple slices.

8:20 While I read the Bible aloud, the kids eat their breakfast. Then we discuss plans for the day.

8:40 Big girls start their independent schoolwork in their rooms, while I do memorization with the 3 young ones. We practice:

  • Books of the Bible
  • States
  • Presidents
  • Catechism
They get a couple of chocolate chips for rewards. I also begin sharpening pencils.

8:50 3-year-old asks to do her "pretty book" for school (like this one). 8yo does copywork from the Usborne Science Encyclopedia (his choice), and 5yo plays a game on the iPad. It's extremely counterproductive to have both boys at the school table together. 




I sharpen pencils for the 2nd time.

9:30 I sort and clean beans for the crockpot in preparation for dinner. 8yo finally finishes copywork, and chooses his read-aloud also from the Science Encyclopedia. And now 13yo asks for help with her math. 3yo helps with the beans. 


9:35 The boys are released to play outside while I help 13yo with math.

9:45 It's too cold to play outside! I pull out the rubber stamps and ink pads for a "busy" activity.


10:00 13yo finishes math and goes to shower. I teach 3 and 5yo to make thumb print animals. 3yo cries because she doesn't like ink on her fingers. 


10:15 Time for 8yo to do math, and handwriting for 5yo. 3yo puts stickers on paper. 17yo informs me she is going for a 2nd math lesson today. Yipee! 


Next, 8yo gets to choose a new book to read to himself, and chooses one on dinosaurs. He reads silently for a bit, then switches to reading aloud in a British accent. : ) 3yo goes off to play and I put laundry in the dryer.

10:30 8yo finishes reading and is off to play. 5yo does math flash cards and 100 Easy Lessons. 13yo is crocheting. 

10:50 I do a lesson on thinking with 13 and 17yo. They will read my blog post on "Changing the World One Comment at a Time" and practice writing effective comments. (Oh yes! I use my blog as instruction for my kids as well as for entertainment for you folks!) 

Where is my pencil sharpener?!? While 13yo finishes her writing assignment, 17yo checks the status of her Origami Owl business website. Then I check my blog, emails, and FB. All this time the little kids are watching a video. Then I check both writing assignments.

11:30 More laundry and then Sonlight with all the kids. We move to the living room with a stack of books. Today we read about Alexander the Great, catch up on timeline activities and prepare to discuss the rise of Rome (beginning tomorrow). 5yo copies the cover of the World History Atlas, and 13yo continues crocheting. 




12:15 I start lunch while 13yo cleans up the kitchen. While eating lunch, we all watch Drive Through History - Ancient Greece to wrap up our study of Greece.

1:00 School is finished! Time to clean up the books and put 3yo down for a nap. This is typically Quiet Time for all kids, but sometimes the boys ask to play outside for QT, and I say yes. Like today. If the weather's nice in the winter, I'm going to get those boys outside! They also get a candy cane.

I try a new recipe (Paleo Party Mix) and prepare to sew for awhile. I'm making my husband a t-shirt quilt for Christmas. 

1:30 I listen to Persuasion by Jane Austen while sewing. 

2:30 Sewing project went as far as it could today, so I switch to computer time (eBay, blogging, Usborne, etc.).

3:00 3yo wakes up from her nap. She gets a candy cane, too, and plays with her brothers while I finish up on the computer. I just remember to take ground beef out of the freezer for tacos. Oops!

3:30 5yo asks if I will go outside with them. Okay, I will. It's a nice day for December. The boys climb trees and ride bikes, while 3yo swings and walks with me. Then we all hike around the property.






4:00 We come back in for a few minutes before the little ones go back outside with 13yo to play and ride bikes some more. I check the laundry and season the beans. I finish up my computer work (finally).

4:30 Kids come back in to play. 13yo asks me to print out something for her brothers that will be their Christmas gift: instructions for making duct-tape swords. She will give them a folder with these instructions and several rolls of duct tape! Then off to clean my bedroom. Sigh.

5:00 3 of the kids watch a Spiderman episode while 17yo reviews her CPR training and watches The Next Great Baker. I fold laundry.

5:20 Little boys put away their laundry.

5:30 17yo points out the beautiful sunset, so we step outside and snap a picture. Then I replace several light bulbs and open mail. Christmas cards: yay! 



I look longingly at the book on my bedside table and wonder if I'll have time to read today.


5:45 I send 5, 8, and 13yo upstairs to clean up their bedrooms. 3yo asks me to braid her hair. I settle a squabble between the boys.

6:15 Start cooking dinner and another load of laundry. Boys play Minecraft. 8yo creates a Minecraft castle for Alexander the Great. 13yo crochets while watching Pride & Prejudice. I make refried beans and serve up tacos and burritos.

6:40 Dinner!

7:00 Hubby calls; he's on his way home from work.

7:30 Big girls play Boggle while little ones watch. I go through grocery ads and make my grocery list .


7:45 Hubby is home - bearing chocolate! 

8:40 UPS driver delivers my Discovery Toys order. Fun! I pay bills online. Very thankful for internet. : )

9:30 Hubby and I give new Christmas ornaments to each child - a yearly tradition.

9:45 Hubby puts little boys to bed while I put 3yo to bed - our nightly ritual. 

10:00 I call my mom to discuss Christmas stuff. Hubby and I go over our budget, bills, and Christmas lists. 

10:30 Big girls go to bed.

11:00 Wrap Christmas gifts while watching Pride and Prejudice.

12:15 Bed!

Thanks for joining us for this glimpse into our day. 
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