Category Archives: Homeschooling

Why Not?

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Our telephone rang towards the end of dinner one night. My husband picked up the receiver; our neighbor was on the other end.

“Are you hearing noises in the morning?” he asked.

It was an odd question to ask a family with four energetically verbal daughters, 19 chickens (including two roosters), seven ducks a-quacking, and one dog who barks at the slightest provocation.

Are we hearing noises in the morning? When are we NOT hearing noises?

My first response, when my husband repeated our neighbor’s question to me, was guilt. Were our roosters — who crow not just at sun-up, but throughout the day — becoming a nuisance? Did this have to do with my daughter’s ninth birthday party the previous day, when we’d had six rambunctious youngsters telling silly stories and dancing to the music in their heads around our fire pit long past bedtime? Or to that very morning, when four of those rambunctious youngsters awoke in the tent where they’d camped out in our yard, demanding assistance at 6:30 AM?

The answer, it turned out, was none of the above. Our neighbor was simply inviting us to come over and see the white peacock that had settled in his yard.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

(Not) Wheeling and Dealing at Barter Day

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When we began homeschooling our children about two years ago, it was a choice born of necessity: Our family would be spending five months in Berkeley, California while my husband was on sabbatical, and in order to have the flexibility to make the most of our stay (and to avoid navigating the Berkeley public school system), homeschooling seemed the obvious solution. I assumed it would be a contentious, stressful, and painful experience. More than once, I assured myself (and my daughters), “We can survive anything for five months!”

When we returned to Vermont and continued homeschooling our children, it was a choice born of love. The actual experience of homeschooling my children proved my expectations wrong: It felt nothing at all like ‘surviving,’ and more like thriving.

Homeschooling in Vermont has meant that our family has become part of a group known as the “Addison County Homeschoolers.” That’s the name assigned to the group’s email list and its Facebook page, but the group itself is a bit diffuse. In a style that I’ve come to identify as very Vermont, our homeschool group is more like a loose collective of families who tend to do their own independent things, but who gather on occasion for community events.

These community events include a couple of theater productions each year, weekly open gym and sharing times, an annual spelling bee, and a monthly meeting.

This month, the Addison County Homeschoolers came together for something that was once an annual event, but that hadn’t happened in a year or so: Barter Day.

Click here to continue reading about our Barter Day experience in this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent. 

Doing All the Things

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“You should write about this in your next column,” my nine-year-old daughter said.

She was huddled together with her three sisters and our two neighbors, attempting to walk in lockstep across our backyard while cupping their hands to shield a monarch butterfly from the wind whipping through our little valley. They’d discovered the monarch minutes earlier, clinging to a blade of grass in the field. It kept trying – and failing – to fly; whether it was newly hatched or had a problem with its wings, we weren’t sure. The huddle of monarch rescuers was attempting to get the butterfly onto a flowering plant by our front door, where it would be more protected from the wind.

It was a lovely scenario, to be sure: an example of communal compassion. But here’s what really struck me: My daughter was suggesting that I write about it. My daughter, who next month will enter double-digits when she turns ten, is now reading my columns and offering feedback.

It’s just another example of how we’ve moved up to the next stage of childrearing.

Click here to continue reading this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

 

Teaching Our Children About History

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One afternoon earlier this month, my daughters and I gathered around our kitchen island for a snack. I began asking my eldest daughter about a book she was reading. After a few one-syllable responses, she was tired of my questioning. Looking me right in the eyes, she said:

“’Every man his own priest,’ Mommy.”

She was quoting the followers of Martin Luther (“The original, not King, Jr.,” as my daughters are fond of saying.) During the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe, Martin Luther started a movement that changed many of the practices of the Catholic Church and put the Christian faith more firmly in the hands of the people. “Every man his own priest,” was the rallying cry of those who advocated translating the Bible and making copies more widely available, so that people could read and interpret it for themselves.

In other words, my daughter was using a cheeky historical reference to tell me: “If you’re so interested in what I’m reading, read it yourself!”

One year ago I started homeschooling my two oldest daughters, who are now in 2nd and 3rd grades. As much as I’ve taught them over this year, they’ve taught me more. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is just how much children love history.

Click here to continue reading this week’s latest “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.

California Sabbatical: The Surprising Joy of Homeschooling

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Husband: I was thinking we could go to Berkeley for the second half of my sabbatical. We have family and friends there, and I could do research in my old department at UC Berkeley.

Me: Sure, that makes sense.

Husband: And we’d enroll the girls in school in Berkeley for the spring?

Me: Oh no, I’ll just homeschool them while we’re out there.

And so, over burgers at Park Squeeze in Vergennes in the spring of 2014, some very major decisions were made very quickly.

Click here to continue reading about our homeschooling adventure in this week’s “Faith in Vermont” column in The Addison Independent.