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September 2015

by Mary Ann Kelley
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Raspberry Pi, Archaeology, History, Current Events, and Opposition from Grandparents

From the Editor

Our September issue includes a new Ask Jeanne post that many of you will be able to relate to –Jeanne responds to a homeschool mom whose mother and sister do not approve of homeschooling and are making spending time together difficult with their constant criticisms. On a more upbeat note, here are some fun activities you might enjoy with your kids as we head into cooler weather and colorful leaves:

You will also find several educational resources below along with our monthly teaching calendar.

Enjoy the newsletter!

Warm regards,

Mary Ann Kelley

Teaching Calendar

September 16, 2015 — Collect Rocks Day

September 16, 2015 — Mexican Independence Day

September 16, 2015 — Mayflower Day

September 17, 2015 — US Constitution Day – Constitution was signed today in 1787

September 19, 2015 — International Talk Like a Pirate Day

September 22, 2015 — Yom Kippur

September 24, 2015 — US Supreme Court Established – 1789

September 24, 2015 — Dr. Seuss dies – 1991

September 25, 2015 — Native American Day

September 25, 2015 — Bill of Rights proposed to states – 1789

September 26, 2015 — Johnny Chapman (AKA Johnny Appleseed) born – 1775

September 27, 2015 — Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles)

September 30, 2015 — Elie Wiesel born – 1928 (Holocaust)

October 4, 2015 — Sputnik launched – 1957

View the entire calendar »


Educational Resources

Stossel in the Classroom

The 2016 Stossel in the Classroom DVD for educators is a free resource created with video segments covering social studies, civics, economics, government, science, law, business, and psychology; both English and Spanish subtitles; and an accompanying Teacher Guide (also in English and Spanish) containing lesson plans, graphic organizers, activity suggestions, viewing guides, assessment, and vocabulary. Descriptions of the segments included in this year’s DVD can be found at the featured link. The DVD from 2015 is still available at no cost as well.

Free Reality-Based Learning Courses

Valerie Strauss, the education reporter for the Washington Post, is one of the most important voices speaking out against the status quo in education today. Recently she highlighted Marion & Howard Brady’s new reality-based curriculum projects in her column at the Post. Marion Brady says:

“Saying that learning is natural, that stress is counterproductive, that free play and the so-called ‘frill’ subjects teach in powerful ways, that standardized tests are counterproductive, invites heated argument. To say that present corporately driven education policies have been a monumental waste of time, money, and talent invites being dismissed by those setting education policy as too out of touch with reality to deserve continued reading.”

The Bradys have created Investigating World History and Investigating American History, both free reality-based courses designed to avoid the read-and-remember approach taken by most history curricula. The approach provides a rationale, procedures, and student materials to transform students into active learners, and gives them conceptual tools to analyze historical change
and is appropriate for adolescents and above. The courses are entirely free and downloadable on the website.

Archaeology Lesson Plans

The Archaeological Institute of America creates education projects that “focus on ancient material culture and stress archaeological approaches and ways of thinking. Background information for the teacher will specify the nature of the evidence that survives. Some projects can be adapted for use with college students and adults. Our goal is to put students in the shoes of a variety of ancient people and enable them to compare ancient and modern lifestyles. We also aim to place them in the role of archaeologists, historians, and researchers who must observe closely and interpret critically. In carrying out projects, students will learn what evidence survives and understand how gaps in available information limit our understanding.” The lessons 15 mini and regular lessons are listed by topic and grade level and are available at their website.

The Henry Ford Educator Resources

In addition to their on-site education programs, The Henry Ford (the website of the Henry Ford Museum) offers over six dozen online resources for educators.

Most of the lessons focus on the industrial revolution, exploration, and innovation, but there are many topics covered from slavery to auto racing. The resource listing can be filtered by theme, medium, or academic subject.

Recent Blog Posts

Instead of Curriculum: Tech with Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi for Learning to CodeThis year as I was making my rounds as a homeschool evaluator in Virginia, I ran across a number of homeschooled kids who were using an affordable mini-computer called a Raspberry Pi in order to do computer projects and learn programming. According to the Raspberry Pi Foundation: The Raspberry Pi is a low cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a computer monitor or TV, and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. It is a capable little device that enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games. Read More…

Ask Jeanne: Work Full Time and Homeschool Five?

Ask Jeanne: Is it possible to work full-time and homeschool?I work full time, and so does my husband. There is no way I could stay
home and be a full time mom. We have 4 high schoolers and the youngest
is in intermediate. The youngest we have the most trouble with, and I
am at wit’s end trying to get her at grade level of her peers without
medication. I have read about families who work full time and still
homeschool their children. If I could make this work in our lifestyle,
I would be interested in learning more about it. In addition, I
would like to start a “trial” period during the summer months. Are
their any resources available for summer curriculum and assistance
for full time working parents? ~ A Working Mom Read More…

I’m Not Homeschooling At You

TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: I'm not homeschooling AT you; I'm just homeschooling.It’s not a good practice, but I admit it.Sometimes I read the comments.The ones that follow online articles about homeschooling.Some of the comments are by people knowledgeable about homeschooling.Some of them are by people who are interested in education and willing to learn about homeschooling.Some of them are by people who are doubtful about homeschooling.Some of the comments I enjoy most are by parents who don’t homeschool but who are supportive of all kids, regardless of the approach to education.And some of them are by parents who send their kids to school — and who are really, really upset with me for homeschooling. Read More…

Featured Article

Deschooling vs. Unschooling – What’s the Difference?


My Ask Jeanne response to “Don’t Homeschool My Grandkids” has been shared many times, generated much personal email, and garnered many comments, including questions about what to do when grandparents don’t like homeschooling and criticize the decision.

“Anna” recently left this comment:

Hi all, so I have made the decision to homeschool my son again for his 4th grade year. He also has a two-year-old baby sister whom I also intend to homeschool. I homeschooled my son up until 3rd grade, when I made the choice to allow him to go to public school because of personal health issues. Also contributing was the fact that my mother and younger sister would not stop arguing with me about how he needs this that or the other that he can get “more” of in public school, which I knew was wrong, but here I am having this argument again, and I don’t know how to deal with them. They have a tendency to be very opinionated — mostly behind my back but in front of my children. I don’t want to tell them they can’t take the kids anymore, but I’m tired of this! Do you have any suggestions that might help dealing with family that disagrees with you??? PLEASE HELP!

Anna, you have a similar situation as the grandmother who originally wrote in to me to learn how to persuade her son and daughter-in-law not to homeschool her grandchildren. The situation is one where the boundaries are confused. The grandmother who originally wrote to me, your mother, and your sister all have problems understanding the boundaries around who gets to make decisions for children.

It’s the parents. The parents get to make the educational decisions for children, including homeschooling.

That means — you get to decide.

That said, I always suggest that the first step is to consider whether the anti-homeschooling person is right in your specific case.

Are you a substance abuser who is currently drinking or using drugs? Do you have a physical or mental illness that is not responding to treatment, leaving you completely unable to supervise or educate your children, and you don’t have anyone to help or support you in making sure your children are well-cared for? If those or similar situations apply to you, then you will want to consider the opinions of your mother and sister.

That’s not the case? Then they’re your kids, and you get to decide.

The second thing I suggest when someone is faced with family members who doubt homeschooling is to provide information about homeschooling to correct any misconceptions they have.

Start by reflecting their concerns back to them to see if you can figure out their precise worries.

Say something like this: “You’re worried they won’t get (social time, good math skills, that special teacher, help for their reading delays, a high school diploma — whatever they’re mentioning).”

When they express specific concerns, you can — because they are family members who are important to you (not everyone who disapproves of your homeschooling gets this step!) — give them examples of how homeschoolers do address that potential problem. You can share articles or blog posts or books or examples you’ve read about.

You can also share general information about how homeschooling works, if they seem to have any big holes in their understanding. Some people really don’t know that homeschoolers can attend college or vocational school, that they may be successful starting their own businesses, that they can learn to speak a foreign language or do advanced math.

Sometimes general arguing never manages to get this specific — where you acknowledge their concern about the children they love, and you address the actual concern with information. That’s because it’s so easy to get into defensive mode and just start fighting back when someone starts badgering you. However, the power of acknowledging concerns about homeschooling can occasionally be transforming. Many people stop haranguing once they feel sure they have been heard. Given specific information that addresses their concerns, caring family members feel able to back off, because they now have new evidence to balance their worries, and they feel they’ve gotten through to you — because you’ve acknowledged their fears, even if you haven’t changed your mind.

But acknowledging concerns and providing information isn’t always transformative. Sometimes even after concerns are heard and information has been provided, people want to be in charge of your decisions and your children. They want to exert their authority where it doesn’t belong.

If you try the acknowledging and informing process and the meddling doesn’t stop, then you have to to deal with your own boundary issues.

Remember the grandmother in the original Ask Jeanne column? Her son was refusing to talk with her about their decision to homeschool, and her daughter-in-law was sticking to her “we’re homeschooling” line even when the grandmother pressured. I do believe the grandmother was feeling frustrated that they wouldn’t argue with her, wouldn’t negotiate, wouldn’t defer to her wishes.

You need some of what they’ve got.

It’s hard. We’d rather the important people in our lives agree with our major decisions. But when they don’t approve, we have to have big ol’ adult boundaries, being responsible for our decisions.

We address their concerns, and then we move on to the fourth step — to the “Pass the bean dip” stage… Read the rest on TheHomeSchoolMom »

Ask Jeanne a homeschool question

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer has homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a recent news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Jeanne teaches writing and literature for her youngest son’s homeschool co-op, and she is a student of how learning works – at home, in the music room, in small groups, in the college classroom, on the soccer field, and in the car to and from practice. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne conducts portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress. To read more of Jeanne’s writing, inquire about a homeschool evaluation, or ask her to speak to your group, see her blog, At Each Turn.

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