curriculum includes all those student activities, academic and non-academic
When thinking of advocacy in homeschooling, images of religious causes come to mind. In modern homeschooling, despite a secular approach, advocacy, be it environmental, cultural/ethic-specific, or political is a huge part of the philosophical and practical. At least for the homeschooling parents. But what about the kids?
Several years ago, I discovered Meatless Mondays (or Meat Free Mondays, as its known in the UK). Moved by its mission, in a nutshell is to raise awareness of the climate-changing impact of meat production and consumption, I started a campaign at my school. Pumped up and stoked to offer my students an active opportunity to make change, I was surprised that their initial resistance was based on a fear of vegetarianism. You’d think I was asking them to eat nails. “No meat!”, some almost cried. Of course this was optional, there were no incentives and we were only talking about one meal on Monday, lunch. As the weeks passed the protests ceased. In fact, most of the students admitted to enjoying the change and the challenge. On the superficial level, they noticed a difference in how they felt, their energy level, their openness to try new foods. Still some of them had a sketchy understanding of eating meatless. Their solution to no hamburgers is double orders of fries or pizza. On a deeper level, they began to sort out the connection between consumption, supply and demand and the impact on the environment. What they all realized was the power in action as a means of advocacy. It was one thing to discuss the impact of mass farming but it’s another to experiment with a solution that they could contribute to. In essence to walk the talk. They were empowered and they constructed their own meaning of all they were learning. Most of them went back to eating burgers on Monday, because that was not a practical or really heart-felt way for them to advocate. But all of them looked at other organizations, individual and collective strategies to make a positive impact.
It seems it's only during senior year that students are asked what they want from their education and how well prepared they feel about the next steps in their learning journey. Even at graduation, guest speakers offer advice and their truths, gospels according to their triumphs and stumbles. Yet, aside from the usual suspect questions - "Where do you want to go to college, and what do you want to do after college?", few conversations are initiated where students get to really speak their mind. So I asked how they experience school (traditional and home school) and learning in their lives, and about our role in preparing them for the future?
I am not a big pancake fan. I'll occasionally have a craving for one and usually I reserve satisfying said craving for a decadent Sunday brunch out. Sometimes I order Eggs Benedict instead. My daughter likes pancakes however, and she is especially fond of the butter and syrup that accompanies the pancakes. Pancakes are not a part of our weekday breakfast routine. They can be a bit labor intensive and even when our mornings are not super busy, saving them for the weekends works out best for all. Especially the chef. In the same way that I view pancakes as an all-Americana breakfast fantasy (remember, I'm a former expat), the vision of making them (from scratch and not the significantly more user-friendly box) was for quite a while equally fantastic and delusional. There is something about pancake batter that conjures up deep issues of femininity, haus frau and gender role expectations. In my head, I'm Nigella Lawson, in reality I'm frustrated and covered in flour. But my love for pampering my daughter's carb requests (I'm convinced everything she eats goes to her thick long hair), the smell of cornbread and the taste of apples and walnuts traditionally urges me to rise above my pancake insecurities and jump in there.
By now it's pretty clear that I am a "city mouse". Even when I lived in the countryside (way yander pass the suburbs), the urbanite in me stood as tall and strong as those big trees holding up the sky. The fact is I feel incredibly alive when I'm buzzing around town, seeing, meeting and engaging with people I might otherwise only see in cars passing or Netflix. When I had my daughter, I thought for a long minute about moving to the outskirts of the city. Better schools, cleaner sidewalks, a backyard. And homeschooling would be that picturesque image of frolicking children discovering the world within their well-landscaped space. Then I woke up. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with that image except that it's not very inclusive; even when the children are Black, Yellow or Brown. Yet homeschooling in the big bad city is not always a walk in the park; especially to those for whom a "park" is almost as far as the nearest suburb. Here are a few insights for tapping into that "bright ideas, big city" magic.
Traveling has become the new norm. Today, not just youngsters but families too are going on long road trips and excursions. They call it ‘Edventures’, long trips where children learn on the road. Homeschooling while traveling, or roadschooling, is now considered as an attraction rather than a consequence.
Roadschooling, or homeschooling while traveling involves educating children with the help of resources of a country or state as the information database. It has become a popular alternative to public schooling. Though this type of schooling is undertaken by parents while traveling full-time, it is a more hands-on approach. Today, there are proper regulations and services to help parents school their children on the road.
In April, I gave a small F2F workshop for a group of parents looking to create a homeschool co-op, hosted an online workshop about inquiry-based teaching and learning, visited a school for an accreditation evaluation and attended a rigorous and super fun 3-day accelerator as a 4.0Schools Essentials Fellow. Whew! Every day I had "parent hat" on, some days I work my "lawyer hat" and other days I was solopreneur, creative director, education guru and juggler of many balls, plates, assignments. You get the picture.
In the midst of all this juggling, I thought "Geez, if I added full-time homeschooling on top of this, it might all come tumbling down." It's never been a newsflash to me that homeschooling is super demanding - after all, I an a former educator. One-on-one teaching sounds like a breeze compared to making personal connections and offering individualized support to 20+ students, yet it can sometimes be even more demanding; especially when the student is also your child. With that in mind, I've revamped my programs to express a wholistic and unbiased view into your homeschool experience. The coaching programs and soon-to-launch app are designed with empathy, conscious parenting, honor toward your unique lifestyle issues and preferences, as well as a commitment to progressive whole child educational best practices and a deep appreciation for academic rigor and excellence.
Are you considering homeschooling and not sure how to get from A to B (forget about Z) or are you struggling to consolidate all of your child's activities and learning so it makes relevant and 21st century sense? Check out the Foundations or Lifestyle Programs. Want to sleep on it still - no worries, pop me an email and we can discus your options and maybe design a program so uniquely suited to you.
The number of homeschooled children has been increasing drastically over the last few years. Religion and culture preservation is no longer the sole reason for families who start homeschooling their children. The family profile of homeschooling has also evolved over the past 40 years to become more inclusive and diverse on all socio-cultural-religious and economic levels. Yet the resources and strategies available have not caught up to the lifestyle demands and educational values of the new demographic. Many parents, with all their good intentions, struggle to create cohesive and quality curriculum models that are manageable, modern and affordable. I totally empathize as a parent and former teacher. The valid feeling that one cannot have it all looms overhead and clouds your vision of how to proceed. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you jump into homeschooling.
When I began transforming my Project XQ contest submission from imaginary "better" American school design to easily accessible, sustainable and global education framework, I had urbanites, diverse, multi-cultural, and African-American families in mind. With recent governmental shifts in public education policy, homeschooling is increasingly more attractive and in some cases, the only alternative to educating their children.
Homeschooling in the United States has been on the rise, especially in the African-American community. While most of the motivations behind the African-American parents homeschooling their children are similar to the ones shared by homeschool parents in general, there are a few which are more relevant to them as African-Americans.
A few days ago, I attended a professional women's networking conference. The event was jammed-pack with smart and talented women from millennials to baby-boomers, corporate bosses to solopreneurs, singles, married ladies, moms and grandmothers. These women were diverse in ethnicity and nationality as much as in age and industry. As we swapped business cards and email addresses and considered potential partnerships and collaborations, I was continually asked what 21st Century learning really meant. At first I thought my elevator pitch needed tweaking, but soon realized, they were asking me as if I had insight into a trend and buzz word that had baffled them for quite some time. Their approach was with a gentle lean in, sometimes a tilt of the head and a sincerity that was surprising and much appreciated. The conversation reminded me of instances where one bumps into a fitness trainer or chef and is compelled to ask if crossfit will really help them drop that vanity weight in 30 days or if it's tumeric in the secret sauce. I answered their question with a question - "what do you think it means?" and so the much needed conversation began.
The year between my 12th and 13th birthday, I likely took over 10 exams. These were not the usual middle school in-school and benchmark tests. These rigorous sessions were kick-butt collages of questions, essays and interviews designed to assess my knowledge, understanding and ability to apply my learning in tangible, relevant ways. This progressive testing took place over 30 years ago. Then it was alternative albeit effective, and now, despite a societal tendency to hit the default button of stale testing, the process and reasoning behind it deserves a welcome comeback.