Homeschooling…Actually Lifeschooling is More Like It!

On Saturday, 11/20/2010, the village gathered at our new home.  Yes we moved once again (that was twice in 4 months) but this time it was to a house!  Yes, an actual house.  LOL

And we only had a week to unpack (majority of the stuff – several boxes ended up in my office for the time being).  I was quite the busy mama with helping to pack, move, unpack, organize 2 big events back to back (Saturday was the Family Love Village and Sunday was our son, Andrik’s blessing ceremony) and both gatherings were at our new home.  Pheww…talk about needing a vacation!

But I do have to say that both gatherings were very successful – besides the part where I lost my camera. Yes the camera that had all the wonderful photos and footage of the homeschooling workshop.  Sighhh…so unfortunately there won’t be any fun images for you to see for this post.  Sighhhh…ok moving on.

So although it was a cold and somewhat drizzly/rainy night, alot of families showed up!  I was very excited because not only did my cousins, Maya Hackett, Elrik and Franz Jundis travel from up North (Elrik who was also visiting from the Philippines) come down to be guest speakers but so did the author of Deschooling Gently and Zenschooling, Tammy Takahashi, as well as her son Cameron, along with Michelle Barone and Renee Smock.  And oh boy we’re we all in for a treat with this wonderful panel of guest speakers!

Before I continue on, I wanted to give you references of what homeschooling and unschooling is?  Most parents, if not familiar with it, think of homeschooling as your child learning by themselves and isolated.  Of course the first thing that comes to mind to most parents is, “what about socialization with your child?  This could affect their social skills since they don’t interact with other children”.  Well this is quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.  There are definitely ways to have your child(ren) socialized (if not already in a group homeschooling type of environment) and that is by joining homeschooling/unschooling groups.  And once you start researching groups, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with just how many groups are really out there in Los Angeles!

Ok back to what homeschooling and unschooling is.  I actually found a good post on the definition of homeschooling by one of the guest speakers, Tammy Takahashi.  For more great insights on homeschooling, (or as Tammy likes to put it, deschooling gently and zenschooling), check out her blog called Just Enough and Nothing More.  And one of the other guest speakers, Renee Smock actually gave me some really wonderful and informative links on unschooling and one of them gave a great description.

So back to our gathering. I hate to admit it but not only did my camera get lost that weekend but my notes for that night weren’t the best.  Not only was I hosting but I was also communicating back and forth with Andrik’s nanny, Cindy who was watching our kids so that the parents could fully focus on the guest speakers.  So I had to be the messenger to the parents whenever their children were asking (a.k.a. crying) for them.  Lesson learned – must have my tape recorder at these meetings from now on!

So please forgive my not-so-organized notes of the evening.  But although I won’t be able to share all of the golden nuggets of information given that night, I do have a wonderful list of references and books I will be sharing at the end of this post to make up for it.

The evening began with the guest speakers introducing themselves and how they came about homeschooling/unschooling their children.  So here are the notes from that night, or at least what I was able to decipher from my chicken scratch.
My cousin, Elrik Jundis (Chairman of the Philippine Permaculture Association) has been homeschooled since he was young.  At the age of 7 years old, he learned how to cook and organized the meals for 30 boyscouts (which is very impressive for a child that young to do, if you ask me!).  Throughout his life, Elrik has been drawn to a Montessori style of homeschooling and actually worked in a Montesorri school.  In his experience, Montessori can be a perfect place to develop a child’s sense of awe and appreciation for the divine. Also in his experience, it is one of the best systems for creating independence and critical thought.  Him and his wife are currently homeschooling their 2 year old son, Ravi with this method.

I’m sure most of you would like to know what Montessori is.  So here are a couple of links to peak your interest:

1. Montessori Method
2. Montessori Education
3. FAQ on Montessori

One great description that I would like to share on here is the concept of how the protection of the “best” in each child is through respect of choice and concentration:

“The most important discovery that Dr. Montessori has contributed to the field of child development and education is the fostering of the best in each child. She discovered that in an environment where children are allowed to choose their work and to concentrate for as long as needed on that task, that they come out of this period of concentration (or meditation or contemplation) refreshed and full of good will toward others. The teacher must know how to offer work, to link the child to the environment who is the real teacher, and to protect this process. We know now that this natural goodness and compassion are inborn, and do not need to be taught, but to be protected.”

My other cousin, Maya Hackett (Elrik’s sister) also spoke of her experiences of being homeschooled.  Since she didn’t like being told what to do and thought outside of the box as a child, the traditional school system was actually stifling her learning (which both her brothers could attest to, I’m sure).  She has been unschooling her 3 boys with a Waldorf-inspired learning environment.  An extraordinary author of her own blog, Urban Organica has a medley of posts on the types of wonderful experiences her children learn in this type of environment.

For more details on the Waldorf Education, here are a couple of links to peruse through:

1. What Is Waldorf Education
2. Why Waldorf Works
3. Waldorf Education - a marvelous interview with Sarah Baldwin of Bella Luna Toys

And here is a brief description of the Waldorf Education:

Developed by Rudolf Steiner in 1919, Waldorf Education is based on a profound understanding of human development that addresses the needs of the growing child. Waldorf teachers strive to transform education into an art that educates the whole child—the heart and the hands, as well as the head.

My other cousin, Franz Jundis (the youngest brother) didn’t actually speak on the panel but held the loving space as a homeschooler for the gathering.  And even though no words came from his mouth during the presentation, his loving soul vibrated throughout the room.  And can I just say, not only is Franz an amazing healer, he gives thee BEST hugs!  :o)

Tammy Takahashi, author of Deschooling Gently and Zenschooling, shared her experiences with homeschooling her 3 children.  She shared the importance of being adaptable.  Unfortunately the school system is not teaching our kids how to adapt in school.  If we open ourselves to being flexible, especially when children are struggling or butting heads, we can take the blinds off and see what works for the child.    Children intuitively understand this.  They naturally adapt to homeschooling – parents do not.  What parents can do is just trust and know that our children will adapt.  You have to be really aware with your children to know what they are into, what their interests are.

There are 3 ways to choose for education:

1) Homeschooling – where education isn’t in a traditional style.  This gives you freedom for you and your child.  You create your own curriculum.  Under the homeschooling umbrella is: Waldorf-based philosophy of learning, Montessori, being tutored (which is very detail oriented) to name a few.  There are different styles of homeschooling/unschooling - it just depends on what fits for your child and your family.

2) Enroll in a charter school – you meet with a counselor who provides guidance with a curriculum.  The beneift of this is it’s free.  The downside is it requires some standards, such as testing.

3) Independent study programs – which provide legal protection but the downside is you have to pay just like any private school.

Cameron Takahashi – Tammy Takahashi’s 12-year old son was the most inspiring guest speaker on this panel.  It was his first time being a guest speaker and I have to say the villagers were impressed!  He got the most questions from us that’s for sure and spoke eloquently and intelligently with his answers.   He shared his experiences of what it’s like to be homeschooled and how socialization is definitely not an issue.  He’s a very busy kid with homeschooling groups that he is a part of – one being the Huckleberry.

Renee Smock – a wonderful woman who homeschools her children (ages 6 and 8 years old).  Unfortunately this is where things started to get foggy and where I was getting pulled in several directions and was unable to write down notes.  Which of course I feel awful that I was unable to write anything down.  She was definitely a very sweet woman who gave us an aloe vera plant as a housewarming gift!  Although I was unable to take notes at this time when she was speaking, prior to our gathering, she gave me a plethora of resources on homeschooling and unschooling.  I have her to thank for majority of the links that you will see listed below.

Michelle Barone – a licensed marriage and family therapist, as well as, a Certified NET Practitioner, Neuro Emotional Technique, which is a exceptional mind/body technique for trauma, stress reduction and changing unhealthy patterns.  (Note to self: must have her back to be a guest speaker on this topic).

She holds four life California teaching credentials (K-12), Adult, Learning Handicapped and Severely Handicapped.  She has published numerous articles for parents, is a contributor to The Homeschool Book of Answers by Linda Dobson and presents workshops on a variety of topics pertaining to families. She has been homeschooling since 1987 and is one of the founding mothers of the largest secular homeschool support group in the Los Angeles areas. She has also been an expert witness for homeschooling custody cases and is the author of Finding Your Way.

Throughout the presentation, several parents were concerned about their kids being able to be socialized while being homeschooled.  Michelle wrote an excellent article on this topic called “Socialization and the Homeschooled Student”.

Again, although I was unable to offer alot of important things mentioned in the actual presentation, I think there are definitely alot of resources available for your reading pleasure!  And speaking of resources, here is the list I had mentioned earlier:

WEBSITES/LINKS:

1. Tammy Takahashi

2. Michelle Barone

3. Urban Organica - this is my beautiful cousin, Maya Hackett’s blog on unschooling her 3 boys along with her creative crafts and yummy recipes.  I absolutely LOVE her blog! She just recently moved her blog to here.  I figured I’d give you both links so you can get a taste of her past posts and her new posts.

4. Sandra Dodd

5. Joyce Fetterol

6. Beginning to Unschool

7. Why I chose Unschooling, by Joyce Fetterol 

8. The Roll of the Unschooling Parent

9. Teaching vs. Learning

10. Life Without School Community Blog

11. HomeSchool Association of California - if you join their yahoogroup, it gives great resources and topics that homeschooling families share.

12. Wee Folk Art - blog on Waldorf homeschooling and crafts

13. Mudpies & Butterflies - a wonderful resource of a woman, Jessica Deltac, who creates/coordinates village parkdays & excursions throughout Los Angeles for homeschooling families

14. Huckleberry - Center for Creative Learning based in Newhall, CA

BOOKS:

1. Deschooling Gently by Tammy Takahashi

2. Zenschooling by Tammy Takahashi

3. Finding Your Way by Michelle Barone

4. Parenting a Free Child by Rue Kream

5. Sandra Dodd’s Big Book of Unschooling by Sandra Dodd

OTHER GOOD LINKS/BOOKS ABOUT LEARNING & EDUCATION:

1. Books by John Holt

2. Better Late than Early by Raymond Moore and Dorothy Moore

3. John Taylor Gatto

There are many different styles of homeschooling/unschooling.  And yes – it can be overwhelming to decide which to choose.  For my son, I will be exploring a blend of Waldorf and Montessori to see if this resonates with what he enjoys and thrives in.  My best advise to anyone interested in homeschooling/unschooling is to go through these links and resources on this post, do your own research and feel from your heart what you feel would be best for your child and your family.  I hope this post has inspired you to learn more and just know that if you do take this path with your children, you’re not alone. There is a plethora of resources, support groups and community out there!

After this gathering, one of the moms had thanked me for organizing this topic and had referred it as “lifeschooling” – which as you can see from the title of my post, that I loved her description of it.  And it really is true – homeschooling, unschooling, Montesorri, Waldorf, Secular, whatever you want to call it – it really is about engaging with your child/ren, really honing in on what interests them with learning and most importantly, joyfully experiencing life with them.

I would like to leave you all with something that Tammy’s son, Cameron expressed to us adults that night that truly put a smile on my heart and what I feel is the epitome of what learning is all about:

“There is ‘seeing’ learning.  There is also ‘hearing’ learning.  And then there is ‘feeling’ learning – which is experiencing…”






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