February 2013 — Late Summer

by Rose-Marie

Previous post: Introduction

I decided to start our nature study journalling with the beginning of Daughter’s first year of school, which began around the end of January here in Australia. Naturally, it took a month to get around to it. Since I can’t remember the truth, I’m going to pretend that was deliberate, as I had come up with a brilliant idea to visit each of the major terrain types in our state, once each season. We live in ‘dry woodlands.’

I need to get another pet hate out of my system, if you’ll bear with me.  I think it is silly the way Australians whinge about the seasons not conforming to an inverted Northern Hemisphere system, when the Indigenous people have perfectly good and, unsurprisingly, more accurate calendars of their own. I am on a one-woman crusade to try and make people notice this and will post this link featuring our local indigenous calendar (which seems true to the Melbourne area and a fair chunk of central Victoria) whenever it comes up in online conversations. Which it just has. Heh.

Just so you all know, I have great plans for my daughter’s handwriting to end up better than mine. I do my best to encourage her to narrate the captions for her pictures, but as I said in the previous post, her learning challenges (Echolalia) get in the way a bit. So, for the foreseeable future, any writing in the journal will be a team effort.


This is the one hand-drawn picture she did about our first round of nature study tours. We went to the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park (would link if I could find a site with decent photos) to see the Mallee and Inland waterways terrain types. Lovely scenery, nearly went insane with the flies trying to climb into our eyes, ears, and noses. What you see below is an ant hill.


Her contribution to the notation was “the sand was orange and the ants were black.”

Next post: Early Summer to Late Winter

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

Homeschooling While Owning a Business: How I Do It All…Or Not.

226558_1922289850788_1631326_nby Cheryl

We are busy. We co-own a performing arts academy, my husband is self-employed, we have three kids, and we homeschool. Some of my friends are amazed at how productive I can be. In one day I can educate two kids, snuggle and care for a baby, clean, do laundry, go grocery shopping, pay bills, order some dance costumes, cook lunch, get dinner in the crock pot, teach dance classes, and bake cookies!

What no one knows is, on days like that, school is Story of the World on CD, a Magic School Bus video, and a page of math for my son and free art time for my daughter. The laundry is washed, dried, and stacked in laundry baskets – not folded. The cleaning consists of loading and unloading the dishwasher in between everything else. The costume ordering is something I missed the week before for which I am now panicking about delivery dates. Grocery shopping was a just quick run through Aldi for something for lunch and a chicken to throw in the crockpot. It was my short teaching day (1.5 hours). And finally, the cookie dough was made a week ago and needed to be used up.

Is that a typical day? No. Every now and then I end up with a busy work day. In December I have to order dance costumes. In April I have recital packets, schedules, and performance orders to put together. Once a month I have payroll. Most of our days include two hours of school, one hour of me working from home, and three to five hours of me teaching. Sometimes, I can overlap the school and work at home hours a little bit. That leaves plenty of time to rest, play, clean, and run errands.

I have only been at this for three years, but here are some helpful hints for working (whether from home or away) and homeschooling.

  1. RELAX! You can’t do it all. (At least not in one day.) Prioritize. Make a big to do list, each day pick the top five to six things that MUST be done first (keep school at the top of the list on school days and add five other things). Mark them off as they are done and start the next day with school again, and then do anything not finished the day before, and finally add to it.
  2. Put chores on a rotating schedule. I tried assigning days, but that was too structured for our lifestyle. I have a priority list: laundry, kitchen, bathrooms, living room, refrigerator, front room, kids room, my room, pantry, garage. If I have time to clean, I do laundry first. If laundry is done, I clean the kitchen. If the kitchen is clean, or if I have at least started the dishwasher, I clean the bathrooms, etc. So, if I have an easy week, the whole house gets cleaned. I may even have time for other tasks – like organizing a junk drawer! If I have a few busy weeks at least the kitchen, laundry, and bathrooms stay clean.
  1. Set your school schedule around your work and life schedule.We start school on August 1. We take a week for Thanksgiving, one or two weeks for Christmas, two weeks for performances in January (a continuation of Christmas break), and we stop formal school in the first week of May. If we don’t take spring break and if we have no sick days, that gets us our 180 days. This year we had sick days, but no spring break. We finished math, spelling, grammar/writing, reading, Latin, and science. We were short a couple of weeks so we did not finish history. We have made up those days with educational trips and activities this summer plus a week of intensive history catch-up.
  1. Ask for help. Sometimes, I get overwhelmed. This year it happened a lot! I was adjusting to three kids and it showed. I started asking my teachers to do things I normally do for recital. I gave up teaching the daddy/daughter dance. It is one of my favorite things to do, but I did not have time. I gave up the opening number. I am not teaching any summer classes. Mentally, I am now in a good place and have had time to plan out all of next year’s recital…almost!
  1. Take time for yourself. Read a book, go for a drive, go for a walk, watch a movie, surf the internet, go to lunch with a friend, or SLEEP!! You need time to reboot and refresh. Whatever you need, make sure you do it!

I am not an expert, but we are making it through. My dancers looked great at recital, the musicals turned out well, the house is clean-ish, and my kids learned a lot this year!

Cheryl has been married for 13 years and has 3 children. She has home schooled since her oldest started Kindergarten. She also runs a dance studio and teaches there 4 nights a week.

In Defense of Twaddle

by Jane-Emilytwaddle

Twaddle is Charlotte Mason’s term for junk literature — books that are unworthy of attention because they are drivel.  Easy series books, comic books — everything that is more brain candy than solid nutrition.  It’s a wonderfully expressive term, too.  I just love calling things twaddle, don’t you?

Living books, on the other hand, are good literature that provide real mental stimulation, an imaginative journey that sticks with the reader.  While I certainly agree that living books are the best kind, I have developed a strong opinion that twaddle has a worthy place in a child’s library and should not be avoided.  So here is my theory — in defense of twaddle.

Any parent of a small child knows that little ones love repetition.  A preschooler will ask for the same book over and over and over again, until the long-suffering mother is ready to set a match to the thing.  Susan Wise Bauer often talks about this love of repetition as a child’s way of figuring out what things in the world stay the same, and what things change.  In a big world where so much is completely unpredictable from a child’s point of view, the fact that Green Eggs and Ham always ends with the fellow eating green eggs and liking them is a happy confirmation that some things don’t change.

As the child grows older, she learns to read.  She is no longer quite so interested in reading the exact same story over and over again, but she still enjoys repetition throughout the grammar stage.   Reading is very hard work that takes a lot of energy at first, and a child learning to read is navigating quite a bit of unknown territory.  Easy series books — stuff like Magic Tree House, Junie B. Jones, and the worst of the lot, Rainbow Fairies — provide practice with reading skills and story structure while remaining comfortingly predictable.  You never have to worry that Jack and Annie will get stuck; they always make it home.  Rachel and Kirsty will always be able to help the fairy and defeat the goblins.  Comic books will do the same thing.  There are no nasty surprises, and meanwhile there is enough variety to keep things interesting as the child absorbs vocabulary, develops reading ease and speed, and enjoys reading.  Twaddle provides repetition with variation, and that is the perfect formula for a beginning reader in the grammar stage.

I want to say it louder: twaddle provides repetition with variation.  It’s the next step up from reading the same picture book over and over again.

Meanwhile, it’s your job as the parent to require a little quality challenge as well.  Reading excellent literature aloud to your child stocks his mind with language that is far above what he can actually read.  It teaches him to appreciate a really great story with good writing, and allows him to focus all his energy on listening and comprehending.  At this age and for years to come, your child will comprehend more through listening than he will through reading, so you can read a complex story to a beginning reader very happily.  Reading aloud is an important activity for a long time, longer than we usually realize.   (I have a theory about that too!)

Of course, you can andtwaddle2 should require your child to read quality literature for school time.  This is where you can make sure that she reads living books if she isn’t reading them on her own.  If she is reluctant but it isn’t that it’s too difficult for her, try having her read aloud with you, alternating paragraphs.

I am a great believer in requiring some reading and allowing free choice for more reading.  A child ought to have both, and my preference is for more freedom than not.  I get so discouraged when I see children who have to do so much required reading from a list (for, say, the Accelerated Reader program, which I really dislike) that they never get to choose their own books!   It’s hugely important that a child have some autonomy about what to read, and in my opinion that should include the freedom to read twaddle.  Exerting too much control over a child’s reading choices can so easily crush the joy out of it.

So I say bring on the Rainbow Fairies, insipid and saccharine little nothings that they are.  They’ll be outgrown soon enough, and the child will go on to better things, having practiced the skills that make more difficult reading enjoyable.

Addendum, 10/18/13: Neil Gaiman, intelligent fellow that he is, agrees with me, and incidentally manages to pack in a lot of other things I also agree with.  Please enjoy this wonderful speech he gave at The Reading Agency.

Jane-Emily homeschools two daughters in California.  She is a librarian who loves to quilt and embrjane-emilyoider, and she’s a Bollywood addict.  Her favorite author is Diana Wynne Jones. She blogs about reading at Howling Frog Books.

Summer Vacation Can Be Educational, Too!

by Emma Anne

We are currently on our summer break. This has consisted of lots of pool time, reading, sleeping in, playing outside, and field trips. This week we went to a local Science museum where the kids learned about world cultures, sea life, and dinosaurs.


As you can see, here she is learning just how easily her head fits in the mouth of a T-Rex!

After an exciting afternoon of learning and studying our local nature, we came home and had our two hours of quiet time. This day, quiet time included napping for my mini-me, and reading Hardy Boys for my big guy.


So that’s a typical day of summer vacation around here. Except for those days where we go to the pool, eat ice cream and run through the sprinklers. Those are fun, too. 🙂

Emma Anne has been married for 7 years, and is mom of 2, plus one once-crazy dog. She’s been homeschooling for 3 years now in NC. In addition to being a wife, mom and educator, she is also a Graphic Designer.

Homeschooling with Haydn (et al.)

violinBy Kirie

When I sat and thought what made our family unique as homeschoolers, my mind immediately went to music. Both my kids have been taking music lessons for over half their lives at this point in time. Our musical journey started with an inherited 100-year-old piano and a 5-year-old with way too much energy and not enough focus, asking to start piano. I shrugged and found the kid a teacher with no expectations in mind.  My fingers were crossed that this child who couldn’t hold a pencil correctly might gain some small motor skills. Homeschooling wasn’t even in the cards for us for two more years. Here we are still trucking, 7+ years later, 5+ on the homeschooling. I had no idea how music would shape our world. Our homeschool is structured with music in mind and it gives a lovely rhythm to our days.

Whenever I talk about music at our house, I like to give some disclaimers:

  1. I have no preconceived notions that my kids are going to be musicians or performers.  Lessons learned from pursuing music can be applied to many things. I felt my own childhood was enriched by the pursuit of music, even though I did not pursue music after high school.
  2. I don’t think music lessons are for every child and every family. It helps to have an enthusiastic adult and a teacher that connects to your child as an individual (I know people who are teaching their own kids or have self-taught kids too, which is great).  Many of the lessons learned through pursuit of music can be learned through dedicated daily practice of any number of things.
  3. I am not a “Tiger Mom.” Not sure how else to put that! I think some people envision me cracking a whip over here. When we started, my goal was is to get the kid to the instrument six days a week as a discipline. That is still my basic goal.
  4. We use the Suzuki method. As my son and daughter age and advance, the use of Suzuki means less and less.  Any good teacher will welcome an involved parent. An involved parent is fundamental to success with Suzuki in young kids, so it makes a great way to start with kids age 6 to 8 and younger. I don’t think there is anything intrinsically magical about the Suzuki method, and Suzuki philosophy can actually be applied to almost anything.   I feel strongly that educational philosophies are great starting points. But connecting to individual kids is where success is found.

I’ve always wanted to sit down and puzzle out the gifts we receive from having music in our lives. So many parents seemed puzzled that we include this as a big part of our homeschool but I never get to have a real conversation about it.

  1. Kids get a chance to work with an expert mentor one-on-one at their own pace.
  2. Community. Kids that practice and play music are generally good kids with engaged families. Not always, but usually.
  3. Understanding the ins and outs of the way your child learns by sitting with them and learning with them every day. I’ve applied these lessons to all areas of our homeschooling.
  4. Appreciation and understanding of the rewards that come with hard work. Even if my kids are crabby all week about practice, they are joyful when they have a good lesson or perform well.
  5. Sense of history and cultural literacy. We learn about the composers we play. We attend concerts and shows with homeschool groups. We talk about where music ties to the past.  The first thing we notice when we walk into an elevator or watch a new movie is the music.
  6. Performance! It is a great life skill to be able to comfortably stand up in front of an audience.
  7. Fighting perfectionism. Learning something like an instrument is so incremental that there is always a way to do better and through that we learn there really is no perfect. We can just keep trying. It has helped my kids who started life so unwilling to want to try anything they couldn’t master immediately.
  8. Focus on the minutiae. We have some ADHD tendencies running around here – parents and kids alike. Stopping everything to focus on some very tiny things like the angle at which our finger hits a piano key, the difference in tone between two notes, or the way our pinkies sit on a violin bow have upped the ability to focus in other areas.
  9. Patience. Mostly for the Mom! I have gained patience in other areas through greater understanding of what makes my kids tick.

 I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.

—Shin’ichi Suzuki, founder of the Suzuki method

Thanks for listening to the somewhat crazed ranting of a musically-preoccupied homeschooling parent!

Kirie is a secular, eclectic homeschooling parent of 2 in St. Paul, Minnesota.  In a previous life, she was a software engineer doing web-based projects and has always been a math geek.  Her family is working on mastering the long homeschooling road trip and has traveled through 30 U.S. states by car in the past 5 years.    She enjoys biking, reading, knitting, cooking, and playing the violin.

Introduction to My Nature Studies Series

by Rose Marie

Virtually everyone thinks nature study is a good and healthful thing to do. Most people think nature journalling is a good thing to do as well, but many find it hard to get enthusiastic enough about it to actually go out and *do* it.

One problem people have is knowing where to start. They want some kind of method to follow to feel like they are doing it properly. Looking out the window, I expect all of us would agree that there is some kind of “method to the madness” but it may not be humanly possible to sort it all out so we’d better not allow that to stop us! I must admit though, I felt a need for guidance when I was dithering aboutwallaby-feeding beginning nature journalling with my daughter. For several reasons, personality and language disorder among them, “draw something” was not something she’d respond to. I wasn’t even sure “draw this” would work, so I purchased some journal pages to get us started. Being in Australia, I purchased mine from Downunder Lit but I have it from a reliable source that North Americans get excited over The Handbook of Nature Study. Apologies to the rest of you, you’ll have to look on Pinterest!

The other problem people have with beginning nature journalling with small kids is, well, it looks like it was made by a small kid! There is something about nature journalling that can make a person feel like everyone else’s kids were born proficient water colourists while your kids’ drawing looks like a dog’s breakfast. What I hope to do in this series is show the evolution of my daughter’s nature journal, right from her first entry. Obviously *my child’s* nature journal could never look like a dog’s breakfast, not even to the unenlightened out there, but I must confess, it does look like the work of a small child. I would like to invite you to keep us company as we journal on…

But first, let me get my pet hate out of the way. I know it’ll come out sooner or later, so better to get it over with.

*There is no such thing as “fake nature” unless it really is made of plastic, ok? Weeds growing through cracks in the footpath are not very interesting in the scheme of things, but they are are as real as anyone else’s farm, mountain or coral reef. If you live in a concrete jungle and all the nature you have to look at is weeds and the neighbours’ hanging baskets, look at them. Seasons affect them. Bugs munch them. They are real! If you don’t even have that, look at the clouds. Everyone has weather and weather is real enough that people spend careers studying it.

*I quite agree that grass isn’t all that thrilling, but learning how to find the grass in your front yard interesting is a valuable lesson. A more valuable lesson than seeing a bear or a swamp wallaby, cool as they are. If nature study was only about the cool factor, we could go to the zoo once a year and call it good.
Ok. I’ve got that out of my system. Moving along…


What a grand beginning…
I think I said she could cut out the picture or stick the whole page in. I guess she wanted to do both.

Next post: February 2013 — Late Summer

Rose-Marie was one of those enthusiastic planners who began researching when she was pregnant with her first. She wanted to homeschool because it sounded like an affordable adventure, then she met her kids personally…
DD is 6 years old and has Echolalia and some processing issues so isn’t speaking fluently yet. DS is 4 years old, has retained primitive reflexes and while there may be a deity somewhere who knows what’s going to happen with this kid, he/she/it hasn’t chosen to inform us. They live on a hill in rural southern Australia without enough solar panels and like it there.

If I Could Have a Do-Over…

by KelKel_do_over

It’s a question you hear quite often in home education circles, sometimes it’s a new homeschool parent asking veterans, to try to glean some wisdom. Other times it’s a veteran reflecting on their journey. After home educating my kids for the past seven years, there are many things I wouldn’t change, but some I certainly would.

The first thing I wish I would have done was to listen to my gut more. For the first couple of years I was sure I would do something drastically wrong because I simply had no experience in educating kids. I wasn’t a teacher, I hadn’t even gone to college. I was simply a mom who wanted to do better for her kids. Too many times I questioned my abilities, which led to questioning of curricula choices, which led to seeking out those more experienced, which led to the now dreaded ‘grass is greener’ syndrome. I should have learned to listen to my gut, my mother’s intuition, after all who knows my kids better than I? Listening to myself would have resulted in me being more of an advocate for my daughter, who is now an eleven-year-old girl who still struggles to read. I would have hunted down those that could help me find out just what is going on in that brain of hers that makes this area of study so hard. This poor child struggled for years because I listened to all those that championed “better late than early” without question, because they had done this longer and knew more than I. All the while something deep down inside kept telling me this isn’t just a matter of a child not coming into her own, or not being ready. She wanted desperately to read, she begged me to teach her, but I just kept saying, “You’ll get it, we just have to give it time, your brain just isn’t ready yet.”

The next thing I would change is giving the kids materials that worked for them individually instead of trying to make the same thing work for all of them, even when it was clear it wasn’t. My gut kept telling me to give them their own programs, but I didn’t listen to it. “Each child is an individual, one size does not fit all when it comes to education,” this is what I’d been telling myself, it’s one of the reasons I pulled my oldest son out of public school, so why then was I trying to force them into this cookie cutter when I didn’t have to? The only answer I can come up with to that question is that I refused to listen to my own advice.

The last thing I would change is all the hopping from curriculum to curriculum because I was convinced the kids couldn’t be enjoying something, since it wasn’t the shiniest or the newest. This last one was something my now fourteen-year-old son recently brought to my attention. For the fifth time I was going to change his writing program, because it wasn’t the newest thing people were raving about on the home education forums. He couldn’t be enjoying what we were using, because people kept saying it makes their writing formulaic and stilted. So I printed out the pages for the new program, which we’d already tried twice before, and left them on his desk. That morning my son gave me a wake up call. He came downstairs ready to do some work and saw the pages for the writing program on his desk. He pointed at it and said “What the heck, mom, I thought we’d talked about this. I like the writing program I’m using, I know you want me to get better at writing, but this bouncing all around is not going to accomplish that. Let me continue with what I’m using, I’ll do which ever theme or package you pick from there and I won’t complain a single time, but enough with the bouncing around, woman!” My son had taken a stand, it was a weird position to be in because he’d never done that before. He had always just gone along with the craziness. I realize now it was craziness, and after I sat down that day to reflect on what he’d said, it dawn on me that I had been going against my gut many of those times. Are you sensing a pattern here?

So when it comes right down to brass tacks, the one thing I wish I’d done differently is listened to my gut, to that little voice in the back of my mind.

Kel is a military spouse of 16 years to her husband, Matt, mom to her 3 children, Everett, Annika Clare, and Lucas, whom she has home educated for the last 7 years, keeper of the 2 dogs and a cat, and grandma to 1 bearded dragon. She is currently living in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

They Said It Couldn't Be Done…

shakespeare-caitilinby Caitilin Fiona

When my dear friend Ana suggested some years ago that we should extend my Shakespeare reading class into the realm of actual theater, I admit, I was dubious. It sounded too large-scale, too daunting, too serious! For starters, my eldest student was 15, and the majority were eighth and ninth graders, with a few younger ones thrown in. It seemed like one of those ideas we all have, the “pie in the sky, dream that would never work” ideas…and yet, somehow, it was so tempting to give it a shot. We did.

Our shot:

We decided to perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as it was fun, familiar, accessible, and short(ish). Our stage was Ana’s backyard acreage, with an outbuilding as backstage. Our costumes were homemade and improvisational. Our scripts were the Dover thrift editions of the play (which have been a real boon to us, as there is no way we could find a full length script at an equivalently affordable price).

We also decided to do our play practice somewhat on the model of our local homeschool group’s drama camp: campers were assigned their lines six weeks or so in advance, and came to the week-long camp with their lines (mostly) memorized. We worked on Shakespeare for one week, every afternoon from 1pm till 8pm, with a dinner break, and performed on Saturday evening to an attentive audience of relatives and friends.

Fabulous. It was nothing short of fabulous. Truly, it stands as a testament to the capacity of teens to succeed at something most people, of any age, would be to afraid to consider, much less attempt! We put on a whole Elizabethan play, uncut, with teen actors, inside of one week. It felt miraculous, (perhaps more so to me than to them!) that something so untested could come off so well.

Those same kids, nearly all of whom are now graduates, were still reminiscing about “our first year” and how wonderful it was when I saw them this summer. It is one of their most treasured memories. And this, this is why we homeschool, guys. This is the kind of opportunity we can provide for our kids, for whom the sky is honestly the limit because they don’t carry the baggage of worry that they’ll fail, socially or otherwise. It is the embodiment of the old saw about “that which is worth doing is worth doing badly,” as that was the risk they ran and passed right over, banners waving.

Since that first Midsummer year, we have performed four more plays: Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth, The Tempest, and King Lear. All have been wonderful, the kids’ acting superb. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Try it–take the leap onto the stage!

Postscript: link to the first year’s play here. From there, you can hunt around on the Shakespeare Camp tab and see other photos and descriptions. Enjoy!

Caitilin Fiona is a homeschooling mother of six children, ranging from sixteen year old twins down to a five year old. Her particular interests in the homeschool universe include teaching Latin, Shakespeare, and Great Books. Outside of homeschooling, her interests include language and languages, theology, cookery and nutrition, movies, and fooling around, er, researching on the Internet.

Summer Self-Education with Professor Freeman

by Amy Rose

What do you do when your Homeschool Moms’ Online Book Club drags a little during the long, hot summer? Our group decided to stop reading books. Instead, we’ve been listening together online to Professor Joanne Freeman of Yale University as she teaches us (and many others) about the American Revolution. We have a Facebook group in which to chat as we listen, and we are having so much fun with it! Some of us have already taught this subject to our children  and are pleased to find we know the people, places, and events of which Professor Freeman speaks. Others in our group have younger children and are fortifying their knowledge before teaching this era of our nation’s history in their own home schools. Certainly, we are all learning.

This is an excellent foundation for an American History course for your homeschooled teens, or if you are really hardcore you could use it for Family Movie Night for 25 weeks. Or simply enjoy it yourself, to add another layer of depth to your own understanding of the era. Professor Freeman obviously loves her work and speaks very animatedly (and often humorously) about the founding of our country. She brings each hero, villain, and episode to life, while skillfully posing the big questions and providing perceptive and satisfying answers conversationally and memorably.

As Professor Freeman explains in the first lecture, the point of the course is to understand why the Revolutionary War was only part of the revolution. She quotes John Adams who said, “The war was not the revolution. It was on the effect and consequence of the revolution. The revolution was in the minds of the people.” We learn more about how the people of the era actually thought through the excellent teaching by Professor Freeman.

What exactly is the course about? From the introduction:

“The American Revolution entailed some remarkable transformations–converting British colonists into American revolutionaries, and a cluster of colonies into a confederation of states with a common cause–but it was far more complex and enduring than the fighting of a war. As John Adams put it, “The Revolution was in the Minds of the people… before a drop of blood was drawn at Lexington”–and it continued long past America’s victory at Yorktown. This course will examine the Revolution from this broad perspective, tracing the participants’ shifting sense of themselves as British subjects, colonial settlers, revolutionaries, and Americans.”

The home page for the course is here: History 116: The American Revolution

The home page includes links to the syllabus, sessions, and recommended reading. (My friends and I did not purchase the books. You might want them for your students, or you might want to just use the lectures as “gravy” for an American History course that you’ve already chosen.)

And here is the first lecture, “Freeman’s Top Five Tips for Studying the American Revolution.”

amy_roseAmy Rose was a middle child growing up in a trailer park in the Midwest with talented parents who struggled financially. Her future life was easy to imagine until one magical day when she was thirteen, her fairy godmother gave her a box of oil pastels and a vintage textbook titled, “England in Literature.” Suddenly the entire wealth of riches found in the history of the West became to her a Holy Grail.  So she grew up and learned how to classically educate her own children who all turned out to be geniuses or at least mostly teachable.

Introducing Sandbox to Socrates

Hello, world!  We are a group of mothers who met–in the virtual realm–through our shared interest in homeschooling, especially concerning classical education.  For some time we have wanted to raise a public voice in support of home education and of inclusiveness in the homeschooling world.  As we discussed the many issues we want to bring up, we discovered that we have some very ambitious ideas, but precious little time to accomplish them as we navigate the daily realities of motherhood and family life.  We therefore decided to start a blog, in hopes of bringing people together to discuss homeschooling while still keeping up with our lives.

We chose our name because collectively, we have raised children of all ages, and we have lots to share about every stage!   We want our focus to be classical, but “classical” includes lots of playtime, fun, and yes–joy.

We are all very different people!  As we write about our lives and our opinions, you will see some variety here.  That is what we are hoping for–to share our different experiences in hopes that we can support others in their journeys.  We have practical ideas, to help you get through the daily work of educating your children, and we love to discuss theories and inspirational dreams.

Home education is big enough for everyone who wants to dedicate themselves to learning and to teaching children.    We are not here to push particular lifestyles or faiths (although you will certainly see us talk about our own in the course of things); we want to support home education regardless of lifestyle or faith tradition.