What is School For?

Seriosly. What is school for? Many of you already  know. This video is a good reminder why you may have chosen to keep your child at home, or may want to start. Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing teachers in the public school system. But when everyone is evaluated by test scores, school isn’t what it should be.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Why Math Instruction is Unnecessary.

John is a teacher of math and a homeschooling parent who offers a radical-sounding proposal: that we cease to require math instruction in middle and high school. He came to this point of view over a number of years, as he attempted (and failed) to convince students that the math they were learning was beautiful, useful, or an imperative component of their future prosperity. When he stopped trying to connect math with students and simple tried to connect with the students themselves, he made a profound discovery – kids are suffering from “math anxiety.” If the goal of math is to teach us deductive and inductive reasoning, might games and puzzles be equally effective in developing kids’ reasoning skills – and allow them to fulfill their life missions? “We want to reawaken analytical and critical thinking schools that have been anesthetized by the standard curriculum,” says John.

John Bennett is a math teacher in the San Francisco Bay Area and a home-schooling father of four. An outspoken advocate of education reform, he has presented lectures and workshops throughout California. He uses logic puzzles and strategy games in the classroom (and at home) to supplement the traditional mathematics curriculum. John has written three volumes of Pentagrid Puzzles (Amazon.com)*, a new puzzle form he created to challenge deductive logic and visual-spatial reasoning.

Originally published on Nov 8, 2011 by TedX Talks

This video presentation validated all of the times I have said, “Why do I need to know this? When will I ever use this in the future?” Have you ever felt that way? Comment below. I’d love to hear your take.

*Links added to original text.

Keep Homeschool Super Simple.

Painting

How can homeschool be super simple? Help your children learn while living. There are many variations of how families implement homeschool. From unschooling, to what looks just like tradtional school with textbooks and tests. Unschooling isn’t just letting your children have unfettered reign of all things. It’s not ignoring them or letting them do whatever they want. It’s finding out their passions and facilitating your child’s pursuit of them. When someone is interested in something, they learn. You’ve got to try real hard to stop them. That’s the core of unschooling. Do the things you love. Live your life. As we homeschool, we should be prepared to make the most of every opportunity to help our children learn and explore their passions. The lessons with the greatest impact are those we learned through living, not from a book or a video. It is no different with children. That is the power of unschooling. There is one big concept though, we have to be intentional.

Conception Bay Sunset
The boys watching the sun set over the mountains at Conception Bay, Mexico.

Being intentional is staying in tune with what the kids are doing. Look for the opportunities to weave recognition of learning into what the kids are doing. Be interested in what they do. Have them share with you what they are doing. But please, oh please… No worksheets. No busywork to fill the day. No repetitive mind numbing activities. Practicing, yes. Help them to learn while living, intentionally guiding them through the things they want to do, having them show you what they know. Ask them questions. Go deeper with the things they love.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing – teach your children. Love is paramount. Show your children you love them. It is being strong and not letting them do some things. It is guiding them through their passions with appropriate activities. Ask questions like, “What about that makes it so cool?” and “Wow! Could you show me how you did that?” Show your children you love and care about them. The look in their eyes is incomparable. Joy is the only word I can think of. I cannot remember ever hearing a student describe how they felt about their traditional school that way.

Whale on beach in Baja California.
“Science lesson” on the fly when we find a whale washed up on the beach.

Give it a try. Homeschooling/unschooling, it’s easier than you may think. As a homeschool parent we just need to remember a few things:

  • Be intentional.
  • Be patient.
  • Be flexible.
  • Be teachable

What are we all about here at Casita Keepers? Helping you to be intentional and effective through everyday livingCasitaKeepers

Field Trip of Dreams.

Lady Washington under sail.

Being able to actually sail on a tall ship has been a dream of mine for years. So, when my son had the opportunity to go on a field trip with our homeschool group on the Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain, we jumped at the opportunity. It was so much fun to sail with the crew. One of the biggest surprises was how quiet it was once we were only powered by the wind. It was amazing. We put together a little video of our time on the ship. If you get the chance to go on one of these, do it. It is worth it.

For more info on the Lady Washington or the Hawaiian Chieftain visit the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport. CasitaKeepers

Math on the Water, a Fire in the Sky.

Opti Sailing

Tacking Sailboats - Photo Credit: lexicide.comOK, I’m guilty. I’ve been rocking out to epic 70’s rock-n-roll while my son sails an Optimist sail boat with the junior yacht club. When they were done, one of my boys who goes to a traditional public school comes in and says, “I get line segments and angles now!” I admit, I got a little giddy. This comes from my boy who goes to the public school. For a week now, he had been frustrated when trying to do his math work. He does have good teachers at his school, but how in the world are they going to get to help each of the 30 students in the class. It’s crazy to think they will be able to give enough help to each student.

“Are you sure you don’t want to home school with your brother?” I asked him. He quickly declined. I understand, because he has a super good friend in his class. I would much rather just taken him sailing and have him learned the math by living it. For now, he wants to stay in the school he is at so that’s what we’re doing for him.

But as we approach unschooling, I think about how many math lessons you could skip with this sailing experience. Things like this bring math to the real world. If you child wanted to sail, they would likely have a deeper understanding of line segments, angles, force and motion, etc. than their friends in school. Letting your child do the things they love gives them the opportunity to really learn; not for them to just memorize information for a test, but truly understand.

Have you or your children had any of those “Aha” moments? Leave a comment below. CasitaKeepers