Category Archives: Musings

A crate full o’music

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Doing some reorganizing and decluttering and look what I found! An entire crate FULL of kids’ music! That’s right! This is a square milk crate and it truly is ONLY filled, right to the top, with kids’ CDs!

Yes, I did have a bit of a kids’ music habit once upon a time…having been a preschool teacher whose specialty was music and movement circles (ask me about my afternoon dance times, back in the day! I ROCKED OUT to these tunes with the kiddos!!) Those experiences I then took with me years later to a mommy and me science class I created and ran at a local science center for awhile with fun circle times, which led to me opening my in-home mommy & me biz I ran for around 3 years…so fun!!

But in my defense, not all of these CDs were collected by me. I did start reviewing kids music on my local website around that time as well…and asked children’s performers to send me their music for review. And send me they did! So a whole lot of this are review copies…(and a lot are, sadly, not very good…but I’ve not yet had the heart to get rid of them.)

Well now I’m in the process of decluttering…and I’ll be going through this whole crate, slowly but surely… and I would like to bring to all of y’all (that still have littles), some new reviews and recommendations for some of MY favorite kids’ music that is out there!

Because I know some AMAZING STUFF!! And if you think kids’ music is boring, you are SO WRONG! I actually enjoyed some of this stuff so much that I found myself even listening when my kids were not in the car! And to THIS DAY these tunes put a smile on my face and make me sing and dance like a crazy person! I just need a couple preschoolers to join me because my 11 and 16yr old s are just not havin it, lol! Maybe I can borrow my next door neighbor’s preschoolers for a dance party from time to time, lol!

But I’m telling you!! Kids musicians are some seriously talented musicians and are worth looking into…Because while I totally get that people want to expose their little ones to good quality, “real” music…and I totally AGREE with that…they SHOULD still grow up with adult music as well…I do still feel like children are missing out if they don’t ALSO get to have music of their own. Music that was written by people who GET THEM. Who get how important it is to be silly…who write songs on topics that littles can relate to (vs adult topics that kids don’t even understand), that write lyrics that are so quickly and easily memorized and belted out at the top of their lungs and felt down to their toes because they are songs with a child’s heart, that kids KNOW. Because they talk about things that kids can relate to, that kids can understand, and that kids can totally get behind. And they are catchy!

Because true children’s performers are children at heart and they GET children. They love what they do, they love their audience, and it shows in their music and the children can feel it in their songs.

And  did you know some popular regular performers offer kids CDs in addition to their regular music? (Kenny Loggins and They Might Be Giants immediately spring to mind)…and there are some performers that you know in other areas that might surprise you as amazing kids’ performers (my favorite is John Lithgow!!) and some famous kids’ musicians started out as regular musicians for just adults…like the most famous of all kids’ performers, Raffi!  Amazing performer with an amazing story! I HIGHLY recommend his autobiography!! LOVE THAT GUY!!

And some of my favorite kids’ performers you probably haven’t even heard of yet…but you will!

Anyway, I digress…I’ll share some of these CDs in future blog posts..but if you’re eager to take a peek at some of what I’ve got in this crate, head over to the music review section of this blog…I already reviewed quite a few of them. It’s just not been updated in a very long time.

More to come! Stay tuned. I think I’m going to reach behind me and pull out one of these cds from that crate now to set the mood for what I’m working on next…

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Multitasking is not a Badge of Honor

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multitaskingThis post was inspired by my (at the writing of this) 10yr old son. I wrote this post several months ago and for some reason never hit publish. Since then I got offtrack with all that I wrote here. Today I rediscovered this post …at a time when I really needed to remember what I had written here, and rededicate myself to my quest to change my life in this way. I am publishing it now to remind myself of all this post contains and how important it is to me…and in the hopes that it might help others as well. I really needed to read this today, when I’ve been spinning out of control for weeks, months, and at all time lows, deep in the throes of perimenopausal hormones and fighting to learn how to work with, not against, my ADHD self.  If this post rings true to you as well, I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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novasciencenowI don’t remember what started the conversation, but the subject of multitasking came up in the car recently and my son started quoting me the facts he learned in an episode of Nova ScienceNOW (a favorite show in this house…), where they talked about how multitasking is bad for your brain.

My 10yr old son really made me think about my multitasking and how it’s affected not just my life, but his.

just-when-you-get-used-to-pmsthey-tell-you-youve-got-perimenopause-82179I’ve been doing a LOT of thinking lately about my life and how I feel about it. At 45 and a half years of age, I’m in the throes of perimenopause and all the hormones and emotional roller coaster that entails, which has caused a lot of self reflection…How I feel about my life, my stress level, my busyness factor, my inability to follow through on any sort of regular daily routine (a lifelong problem), and ESPECIALLY: the multitasking ridiculousness of my life due to my drive to always be accomplishing something because of that NEVER.ENDING.TO DO LIST!!

Not long ago I finally started to really face what some things are doing to my life.

So I took the Facebook and Facebook Groups apps off my phone (to stop the constant compulsion to check my feed and the inevitable distractions that causes), and I’ve started making a conscious effort to cut back significantly on much of my multitasking, and instead FOCUS on tasks and people, ONE.AT.A.TIME. At least, as much as possible…and for the most important stuff.

There is, of course, some multitasking that is relatively harmless. Listening to a podcast while doing dishes, for example….Or watching tv while folding clean clothes….some things just don’t need you to really focus. But a lot of things are done significantly better when my attention isn’t divided, I’m learning. And PEOPLE, deserve undivided attention.

I’m only just beginning, so I’ve not gotten very far yet. Babysteps. But I can already feel a difference. The removal of Facebook from my phone alone has been HUGE. The rest is going to have to be slowly, but surely. It’s a tough habit to break. I don’t even realize I’m doing it half the time. But I DEFINITELY was feeling it. I just didn’t realize what it was until now.

That constant NEED to be doing something, but then never really feeling accomplished, never really feeling like I am successful…always feeling like a failure because my to-do list never seems to get smaller and the things I try to accomplish never feel up to par.

Now I know why. Because they CAN’T be up to par, when I’m dividing myself to the level I was. And on some level I guess I knew this, because I haven’t been able to feel truly happy. Sure, moments of it…but in general, overall with my life…that constant low level unsatisfactory feeling like I am reaching reaching reaching and just NOT getting it!

And I thought the solution was to TRY HARDER. WORK HARDER.
DO.MORE.THINGS.

It’s not.

I have started to realize the cost of the frenetic life. I’m starting to realize that the solution isn’t to work harder, but to SLOW DOWN.

So I’ve started forcing myself to sit and reflect and journal again each morning, like I used to always do, prior to motherhood. Back when my life was less chaotic. Back when life was slower. (Although I didn’t realize it at the time.) Because this was always a very meaningful thing for me…and I had forgotten it’s impact on my life. The importance of quiet time to sit and reflect and JUST BE, cannot be overstated. I am finally realizing how huge an impact it’s had on my life…my neglecting this for so long.

My emotional life has been less than fulfilled for some time, (due to my never ending quest to be successful at all things, yet sabotaging myself every step of the way with bad habits like multitasking)…but with the onset of the emotions of perimenopause, I’m reaching a critical junction in my life where something has to give. And I’ve finally realized that it’s time to make some major changes.

I’ve always rejected the insane pace that is the norm in our culture these days.

I have never had my kids involved in a multitude of activities, driving them to and from events on a daily basis with little time for anything else…nor have I had myself involved in organizations or groups that involve tons of meetings and activities on a regular basis that would keep our lives so full that we constantly have no time to be home or spend time with friends and family.

I have absolutely refused to live that life. It is part of the reason that I homeschool, to keep that madness from my children’s lives…that work schedule that the public school forces on the children, overloading them with homework and the culture to fill their after-school time with extra-curricular activities.

But I’ve since learned that it’s not just the public schoolers living this way, as I do still see this same crazy over-filled schedule in many homeschool families.

It’s our country’s modern culture. You see articles on the web daily about how childhood is gone, children are no longer allowed down time, and free play and boredom (both extremely valuable things) have been practically eradicated in our modern society. I’ve prided myself in not allowing this lifestyle into my children’s childhood.

And yet…I’ve somehow allowed my own daily life to be equally as stretched through multitasking.

We all do it. Women are renowned for our excellent multitasking abilities. We pride ourselves on it!! We see it as a badge of honor, we brag about our abilities! But I have long been reading here and there about how multitasking is not necessarily a good thing…I’ve been reading that  when you do many things at the same time, you do none of them well. Oh you may THINK you are, but you are kidding yourself.

Recently this has been coming up again and again for me because this is a huge topic in the business podcasts and Periscopes I listen to and watch. Multitasking is a big no-no if you want to make it big in business. You HAVE to focus HARD if you want to get anywhere in business. You need to CONCENTRATE your energy at the task at hand and give it your UNDIVIDED ATTENTION so that you are doing your BEST.  Otherwise, you are just doing half-assed work.

HO.LY. CRAP. If this is what they say about multitasking while working with writing articles for a blog post or social media or working on creating content for a product…WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT MULTITASKING WHILE RAISING A HUMAN BEING????

HOW CRAPPY HAVE I BEEN DOING THINGS AS A MOM???
AS A HOMESCHOOLER???

All these years….multitasking my mothering….my homeschooling….only half-assing it, only giving partial attention to my children most of the time, as I’m constantly busy with all these THINGS I am constantly trying to get done…which are constantly pulling my attention away from them!

I’m not suggesting that we should devote 100% attention to our children 100% of the time. That’s simply impossible, and we do deserve our own time. But I’ve long read about the value of setting aside focus time for separate things. Time for the kids, time for the work, time for the projects in your life, etc. I am starting to see the value in this.

Today my husband forwarded me this article. This article is very eye-opening. No WONDER I was feeling drained all the time, constantly feeling compelled to check my Facebook feed all the time and being pulled into article after article, and thread after thread….constantly being distracted. And NO WONDER I’m never able to maintain any sort of a routine with those distractions constantly!

Here’s another article: “Why Multitasking is Bad for your Brain.”

And here’s that video of Nova SciencNOW that addresses this issue again, in case you missed it above. It’s really an excellent and eye opening segment, I highly recommend checking it out. I have the link set to start right at the multitasking part of the show.

And here’s the article that is mentioned in that show, “Is Multitasking Bad for Us?

Here’s a quote to think about from that article:

“Do two or more things simultaneously, and you’ll do none at full capacity.”

And, what they learned from research they conducted:

“They put students through a battery of tests designed to measure their cognitive capacities when not multitasking. What they found, Nass says, was shocking.

High multitaskers were bad at filtering irrelevant information from relevant, something that, one might suppose, a multitasker should be especially good at. High multitaskers also had diminished powers of mental organization and extra difficulty switching between tasks.”

And this is an article linked to in that article that is good as well (in case you missed it.): “Why the Modern World is Bad for your Brain”...In this article, I found this quote particularly telling:

“Once we start multitasking, it’s hard to stop. Each time we complete a small task—sending an email, tweeting, etc.—our brains are blasted with a dose of the reward hormone dopamine. It feels good, which means we’re likely to keep bouncing back and forth between tiny, unimportant goals without getting anything major done.”

It’s like a drug! I totally have been feeling that. And breaking that cycle is hard.

And:

…(our brains are) “not wired to multitask well… When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

Now this is REALLY interesting, I think (emphasis mine):

“…a neuroscientist at Stanford, found that learning information while multitasking causes the new information to go to the wrong part of the brain. If students study and watch TV at the same time, for example, the information from their schoolwork goes into the striatum, a region specialised for storing new procedures and skills, not facts and ideas. Without the distraction of TV, the information goes into the hippocampus, where it is organised and categorised in a variety of ways, making it easier to retrieve.”

And:

MIT’s Earl Miller adds, “People can’t do [multitasking] very well, and when they say they can, they’re deluding themselves.”

This article also talks about how shifting your attention back and forth with multitasking  causes your brain to burn up the fuel (oxygenated glucose) it needs to stay on task…which leaves us feeling exhausted and disoriented. And multitasking effects decision making and impulse control. Well HELL. Maybe I’m not ADD, I am just suffering from information overload and I just need to stop multitasking! Sheesh, I am starting to really see where my problems lie now! (Though, I do still suspect I am ADD….I don’t think multitasking to the degree I have been doing it has helped me one bit.)

So….the little changes I’ve made….I’m already feeling in big ways….

Since I took the Facebook apps off my phone, I do still plug in to Facebook via my laptop, but I’m much less compelled to sit at my laptop all day. It doesn’t pull me in like my iPhone does.  And now I feel much more motivated to get things done daily around my house when I don’t have those apps pulling me in from my pocket every minute of every day.

I’ve already felt more at peace. Not just from the slowing down, but also, because there’s been SO MUCH negativity on Facebook lately, especially in the news. So I’m not being bombarded so much by it. PHEW.  In fact, I’m finding that now that I’ve had a break from it…I don’t WANT to plug back into Facebook very often. I’m even going most of the day some days without checking it…I suspect I may get to the point of going days without it even.

I’m not anti-Facebook, though. I do see the value in it, and will not completely unplug from it. But I feel like I’m on the right track here. This is a much better way for me personally to interact with it.

And … I’m getting much more done around my house and with my kids!

And…where I used to start my day lost down the rabbit hole of my Facebook feed…checking back all through the day while trying to accomplish other things (and getting lost down the hole again, inevitably)….now I’m sitting and journaling and having quiet time in the morning to reflect on my feelings…and it is making a change in my emotions as well.  Instead of getting caught up in the waves of emotions that all the news on my Facebook feed and dramatic threads in Facebook groups pull me into….I am now getting control of my emotions and how my day goes by making a conscious effort to limit my time on Facebook and focus on tasks at hand, instead of constantly dividing myself. And instead I am working through MY emotions and life in my journal, and having a time of peace to reflect and sit and just BE. Which always benefited me greatly, years ago when this used to be my regular routine. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to remember this.

Another thing that I’ve recently unplugged from is podcasts/audiobooks. I had this serious compulsion to multitask by plugging in podcasts or audiobooks while I work around the house, so I could feel I was getting MORE DONE. Always with sound pumped into my ears. Never time to just think. I have stopped doing this as well. And it’s really weird, going back to being alone with my thoughts instead of trying to get through more podcasts at 1.5x speeds, so I can cover more business info and learn how to further my biz. Or learn something educational to share with my kids.

I’ve realized that there is great value in being alone with my thoughts. And maybe the podcasts can be saved for other times…for a focused, allotted podcast listening time…but for now, I need the quiet, thinking time more. I’ve really missed that. I hadn’t realized how extremely valuable that time was to me until now.

I feel like my whole body is just starting to go AAAAAAAHHHH, thank you. Finally, she’s slowing down. And my relationships with my family members are improving. Because when you’re plugged into a device or staring at a screen, or trying to accomplish a million things at once all the time…HOW do you find time to focus on BEING with your children or your partner? When I would realize I couldn’t remember the last time I looked in my children’s eyes, I realized that I needed to slow down. I’ve been struggling with this for some time…this is not a new revelation for me…yet that compulsion to constantly keep so many plates in the air and multitask to accomplish MORE all the time…I just couldn’t let go of that. It’s taken my 10yr old pointing out the research saying how bad it was, for me to go in and FINALLY really read it and watch the video he referred to and really READ what the research says (do a Google search yourself: put “multitasking bad” into a search a see HOW MANY articles come up!!)

And finally I have had my lightbulb moment that it is time to make this change to our lives, to our homeschooling, to our home. It’s time for me to lead by example and teach my children how to focus on the task at hand, to unplug from everything else and FOCUS. On tasks, but especially on PEOPLE.

Because plugging my earbuds in to listen to a podcast at every available moment so I don’t miss any opportunity to learn another biz tip….or watching videos on my phone all the time….or having the tv on all the time….or constantly browsing through my Facebook feed or chatting with friends…or sitting at my laptop constantly….that doesn’t teach my kids how to prioritize or how to focus and get things done.  And it certainly doesn’t make them feel how important they are.

And in this crazy information age, with things coming at you from all directions ALL.THE.TIME…people skills and the skill to focus on tasks at hand are things they really need to learn. And the first step is to model it. And just about every single person we come in contact with in our lives these days is certainly not modeling it….face in screens, 24/7 multitasking…..No, that’s my job. They learn the most from me, the mom who is home with them and teaching them every day about all the academic things that they need to learn….and life lessons are part of their learning. This is important.

Time to get down to business and go focus on my kids now! 🙂

One more article before I go:
Don’t Multitask: Your Brain will Thank You

 

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Overwhelm

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Me, on my exercise bike, listening to mellow music to calm me…writing this post this morning

I shared the state of our school room/art area/”Big room” last post…That actually hasn’t changed yet.

So today I want to talk about overwhelm.

You know the feeling. I know you do. You can’t be a mom in America and not me intimate with the feeling.

But I feel like homeschoolers in particular are familiar with this feeling because the weight of our children’s futures are weighing on us. More so than those that trust others to educate their children.

We know that WE are it.

And therefore we cannot screw this up. And lest we forget (we never, ever do), there’s usually plenty of friends and family that will point this fact out to us. Kindly or otherwise. Indirectly or straight out. It’s never far from our thoughts, like it or not.

And don’t forget that there’s still the house to deal with, the finances (directly or indirectly, depending on your family…in ours my husband brings in primary income but I supplement, as many of us do…and we both worry over things getting paid), the responsibilities of social activities and enrichment activities for kids (and hopefully you too!) and all the other things that come up in life you don’t plan for.

It’s a LOT.

Overwhelm is just kind of a given. And it’s ridiculous.

I just don’t accept this. Life just doesn’t have to be this way. I reject this lifestyle. I deliberately do not over schedule my children. I deliberately do not do a zillion activities…and yet the few things I do insist we do to enrich our lives keep encroaching on our happiness and making me feel like I can’t breathe!

My 10yr old son just now asking me to add time on the computer because he finished his chores. Something’s been accomplished this morning!! He’s one of my reminders that all this is worth working out. HE is worth it.
My newly turned 15yr old daughter, on my way back down the hall, back to my interrupted exercise after adding time on the computer for my son. SHE is one of my other reasons why figuring all this out is SO worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should I drop them all? No, I don’t think so.

I do continue to look for ways to drop things I can and I say no constantly to new things (mostly because we cannot afford them, but also to not add more to our plates)…but I really think my problem is more mismanagement.
I suck at planning and follow through. Seriously.

My Great Summer Purge and Clean is the only area in my life I seem to plan and implement well. Why is that?

Probably because over the summer I have no other commitments. I can focus entirely on just the Purge & Clean. But that’s just not possible the rest of the year.

So I will have to find a way to pull what works for me from the Purge & Clean and tweak it to fit my life the rest of the year. And make a working plan.

Areas for focus (no particular order):

  • Mealtimes–need a plan for planning and prep, since I detest every aspect of meals. Delegate where possible. Kids like to help. Just need to plan ahead.
  • Homeschooling–My Experience-Based Learning system works well for us but needs me to make time for planning and I just haven’t made time for this this year so it’s been seriously half-assed. Time to find a way to simplify and fix this. There has to be a way I can make this work better with how my life currently is.
  • Family Time–I am so busy trying to accomplish all the need-to-dos, that I just don’t make time for quality time together…just the 4 of us. This has to change.
  • Work time for me–this is getting better because of my time during the kids’ enrichment classes…but those are ending soon and time will need to be carved out again from our regular home days.
  • Kids’ play time with friends–classes ending means I will have to figure out a way for them to still have friend time
  • Podcast time–this has been a bottom priority for far too long
  • Adam and me time–need more time spent focusing on quality time for just the 2 of us
  • House management–not as bad as it used to be…kids help a lot more, but I need to delegate more kitchen duties and we need more general tidy up times and weekend deep cleans as a whole family. Schedule it in. That’s the hard part. We suck at schedules.
  • Money management–huge source of stress…don’t even want to go into this, but managing what we have better is a start…and then making time for me to be able to bring more in would be huge. And necessary.

I’m sure there’s more I’m missing right now, but I am neglecting things I should be doing this morning by writing this post. So I’ll stop there.

I think pretty much everyone can relate to all of the above. Seems pretty standard complaints among American parents…definitely homeschoolers.

If you are feeling the overwhelm too…I’d love for you to join me in my quest to make a plan to get a handle on the overwhelm and wrestle it to the ground.

The holiday season is coming…and as we all know, that usually brings with it its own overwhelm. Let’s see if we can’t get a handle on our lives beforehand and face the holiday season, whatever you celebrate, or don’t, with more enjoyment than perhaps we’ve been able to in awhile.

I know that’s MY goal! I made it through my daughter’s birthday…Thanksgiving is coming next…I want to look forward to December, not dread it like I usually do.

I can’t do that if I’m going into the season already behind…already completely overwhelmed.

Join me, and lets get things “good enough” to experience some happiness and contentment again, shall we? Let’s give our kids back their moms and pack up the drill seargant basket case they’ve become far too accustomed to.

I want to enjoy my kids, my husband and my house again…don’t you?

Let’s do it!!

Start writing out your plan today of how you can make that happen and put your ideas in the comments below. I sure could use the moral support…I’m sure you could too!

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An open letter to religious homeschool resource creators

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open-letter

Hi! You don’t know me from Adam (LOL!) But I just wanted to take a second to put a bug in the ear of all the bloggers, podcasters, Scopers (that’s the people making broadcasts on the new Periscope app), curriculum developers, authors, etc  out there that are producing resources in this booming industry for homeschoolers.

I have a request.

My request is for you to think about us secular homeschoolers.

It’s not a requirement…or a demand…hence the word “request.”

Myself and the many many other non-religious homeschoolers out there would like those of you out there that are open to this (NOT expecting  everyone!) to think about us. Specifically, think about including us in your audience by leaving religion out of your content.

There’s a zillion religious homeschool content creators already out there…how about you do something different and go nonreligious so you can include more of us?

Now…before you get upset with me and feel your beliefs are under attack…I am NOT suggesting you give up or even slacken YOUR beliefs.

Nor am I suggesting that ALL homeschool resources should be religion free. NO.

That would be unfair and unreasonable. Of course you are entitled to your beliefs and your beliefs absolutely will and should shine through in your content. I am not suggesting otherwise.

And of course there is a huge audience for religious content. That won’t change.

What I am suggesting is that for those of you that are concerned, truly, with being “inclusive”…and I mean inclusive in the dictionary sense…not in the sense that I have overheard more than one religious group suggest means to include non-believers so that you can “share the Word” (which essentially means sneak attack/ambush people, because you really had no intention of respecting their beliefs…your intent was always to convert them to your way of thinking. Nothing “inclusive” in that, that’s just sneaky and many of us are not interested in being converted. What then?)

I mean TRULY inclusive, where you would like to include and share homeschool resources with all.

Then please think about providing more non-religious content so that ALL homeschoolers may benefit from it. 

Leave out the scriptural references, and the constant references to God and prayer.

Obviously, if your entire curriculum, blog, podcast, etc is based around this, this won’t work for you….and I’m not asking you to completely change.  Realize that your audience is probably just believers like you, but that’s totally fine.

I’m talking to those of you that have a lot of what could easily be secular, non-religious content that just would take a little tweaking to make it so. To those of you open to this idea, think about just not using those religious references and instead open up your audience more. And in so doing, you’ll be providing so much to those of us that, in comparison to what’s available for religious homeschoolers, have so little provided to us currently in the homeschool world.

I see posts daily. Literally daily. Posted by secular moms begging for references to secular resources. There’s some out there, and some of it is really good…but there’s just not enough. WE NEED MORE.  So think about it.

And at the very least, give a heads up on religious content in materials reviewed for those that may wish to avoid it. Thats just being thoughtful. We appreciate that.

Because secular homeschoolers are on the rise. And while religious homeschooling may still be the majority…at the rate things are going in America, with more and more families becoming dissatisfied with the public education system, I expect that secular homeschooler’s numbers will continue to climb exponentially annually. It already is THE fastest growing population of homeschoolers currently and I don’t see that changing.

And yet the vast majority of resources out there are still aimed at religious homeschoolers and we secular homeschoolers continue to find ourselves having to wade through so much to find something we can use and share with our kids. Often things that are not specifically labelled as religious, turn out to be surprisingly so! This is extremely frustrating, and when time is very limited, wasting time is just as bad as wasting money.

So if you want to really stand out…make your content secular. Even if you, yourself, are not. Because then you’ll hit a bigger audience. 

And believe me, the secular homeschool community is big on sharing when new secular content is made available. We WILL share you! And there’s a LOT of us. Not as many as you…but we are many, and growing.

Judging just by how often we get comments on our secular homeschool podcast, the Savvy Homeschool Moms, there’s definitely a need and people are desperate for something different.

There’s already tons of religious homeschool content creators.

Be different. Include US. 

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Education is a mindset

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Not sure where this train of thought will take me…but I woke up today and immediately got on Facebook, as I always do, and got into a conversation on Facebook that made me think…

The conversation content isn’t entirely relevant because my thinking went into a different direction, as often happens, and got me thinking about why I have the opinions that I have about education. I have been exposed to a fair bit of “alternative” education…first in college at the child development programs on campus where our classes were combined with actual preschool programs to put our learning right into action…then at Harmony Day School, a private preK-3 child-centered learning program (seriously the BEST school that ever existed! I was devastated when it had to shut down.) and finally at SCICON Outdoor School where I taught hands-on trails out in nature about all sorts of science topics, and locally at The Discovery Center, where I taught more science classes and worked on some neat programs off and on for years. 

All these experiences helped build my educational philosophy and showed me how bad the public schools are doing things, because I know, first-hand, what education COULD look like! 

All that experience really built my views on education…And then, of course, my experience substitute teaching in many Fresno area public schools for a few months just cinched it for me. 

You couldn’t pay me to put my kids in any Fresno school.  Yes, it was that bad, in my mind. Not horrifically bad, send the news crew in, bad….but made me want to cry, watching what children go through in ANY public school environment…and how this system systematically destroys kids’ love of learning.

There are exceptions, of course, I know that. I have had friends over the years that taught and still do teach in public schools…but good teachers can only do so much with a broken system. And it’s hit or miss, mostly miss, on getting them!

So, back to the topic of this post….what do I mean that education is a mindset???

Well, even among homeschoolers, I find myself in a minority in my thinking…I strongly believe bringing the public school home is at best, a bad idea, at worst, disastrous!!

Traditional homeschooling…the default for every homeschooler unless they happened upon something like Waldorf or Montessori or unschooling first…is essentially the same educational philosophy as the public schools. It’s the mindset that learning is all about getting as much info into children’s heads as you can before they leave home. The idea being that that will make them more prepared for life and hence, more successful.

NO. That just makes them fed up with stuff being forced on them and as a result, most end up hating learning and everything related to “education.”

You can’t prepare your kids for everything life is going to throw at them. Best get that in your head right now.

What you CAN do is teach them how to deal with life in a healthy, productive way, and one of the most important aspects of that is they need to know HOW to learn and even more importantly: they NEED TO LOVE LEARNING!!

Because learning is THE only thing they really need, education, academic-wise. 

If they know HOW to learn, and do not shy away from learning….and are GOOD AT learning….then they can do ANYTHING!! 

Because EVERYTHING is on the Internet, people! It’s easy to learn pretty much anything nowadays!! It’s all just a Google search away. 

Of course, I still believe kids need a foundation of learning….they need to know how to read, first and foremost…

They need to know basic arithmetic. And luckily there’s tons of creative ways to learn that these days…dry curriculum should never be tolerated. 

And there’s a zillion topics in science and history and geography and the arts that can and should be learned in childhood…as a foundation to build upon….NOT in a cram-as-much-into-them-as-we-can way….but here’s a thought: 

Use these important topics to teach that whole “love of learning” thing and the HOW to learning.

Instead of seeing science, history, art, etc as subjects to pour into your kids…to fill them with as much as you can while you have them….see them as a MEANS to the final end (love of learning)….See them not as a list of topics to check off that you’ve exposed your kids to (and HOPE they remember)…see them as the ingredients needed to show your kids the HOW and WHY of learning.

The recipe is as follows:

To make 1 ADEPT, LEARNING-LOVING Child, ready for the world….

Ingredients:

  • 1 child which you adore 
  • 1 loving, open-minded parent to dedicate their time to the above child’s learning
  • 1 loving and enriching home environment
  • 1 library card
  • 1 computer with access to the Internet (can use the library’s, if necessary)
  • A steady stream of interesting topics to explore, both virtually and physically, found via library and Internet.

That’s it! So long as the guiding adult shows excitement for learning and instructs the child how to find information…and keeps the environment full of enriching activities and resources (which DON’T have to cost a lot of money…in fact much doesn’t cost anything at all!) …and just keep pursuing things that interest the child, sprinkled in with introduced topics they might not have stumbled upon themselves (this is where I differ from unschooling, which tends to entirely follow the child…I’m a firm believer in introducing topics to kids because they don’t know what they don’t know!)

It’s truly not that complicated. The actual method you land upon to deliver the above ideas will depend on you and your kids…but just know that this is not rocket science. I think we, as homeschool parents, tend to make things much more complicated than we need to.

Now, what does this actually look like on a day to day basis? I’m still working on that. But I wanted to have a sort of mission to fall back on to refer to when my resolve is waning or I am flailing at providing that enriching environment.

I think it’s time to create a mission statement, people. For now, you can refer to this post for inspiration…but next I’m going to figure out how to create your own homeschool mission statement to hang on the wall and refer to when things are tough.

Keep your eye on that mission, your purpose, your end goal and do not give up! The end result is a wonderful thing: children who love learning, and know how to learn ANYTHING.

I think that makes it all worth it, don’t you?

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