Home Educating in America

27 May

Wow…I can’t believe 4 weeks have already passed. I have been completely overwhelmed by the array of resources.

A library that actually has the books that I need! And in an order in which I can find them! (Our library in the UK has no system for its picture books; they’re just shoved onto the shelves) A library with programmes for children; my son has been to two so far: one about dinosaurs and one about plants. The children listened to stories on the topic, danced around to songs, and made a dinosaur craft at the one, and potted a marigold and planted some sunflower seeds at the other (the seeds have happily sprouted).

I’ve been able to have a good look at some of the books I’ve been thinking about buying, like Mudpies to Magnets, to see what’s good and what’s not. Too many good ones…my suitcase just isn’t going to hold them all.

And the books on home schooling…too many to get through in 3 months! Linda Dobson, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto, Mary Hood workshops on cassette, periodicals…

I’ve even met a few home schooling families at the library.

What else have we been doing?

I’ve taken my son to the park a few times, he’s been playing outside a lot, we’ve been walking the dogs around our fields, playing croquet, experimenting with the treadmill, playing Monopoly, messing around with pattern blocks and Lincoln Logs, arts and crafts, a few little fun science ‘experiements’ (like mixing colours, making ‘slime’, etc) reading LOTS of stories, he’s been spending lots of time with his grandparents, using the dog leash as a pretend fishing line, and as always, playing with his Hot Wheels.

He also attended an art class at the local art center/gallery. Come to find out, it was taught by my cousin, Jenny, whom I haven’t seen for over 10 years! We had a lovely time catching up, and my son loved the class. It was entitled ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.’ The children traced automobile shapes onto black paper and outlined the shapes in pastels. They smudged the chalk to make it appear as if the vehicles are moving. It was something we could have done at home, but the group setting was great, and my son got to to work with pastels, something I may not have thought of, and he loved it. Jenny taught him a few techniques. They were also read a story and played a little game where they had to guess the vehicle being described. I watched with pure joy as my very bashful son called out answers.

After the class we went to the arts and crafts shop to purchase some pastels. I was surprised by the different kinds and was unsure which ones to buy, when who should we run into but Jenny! I asked her to recommend some and we went home with a nice set of pastels and some sketch paper. (Oh, and some powdered temperas which were on sale).


We’ve been reading a lot of books by Shel Silverstein. The first one was The Giving Tree. This is a very interesting book that some people actually hate. Most people want the traditional happy ending and are opposed to children being exposed to any emotion other than ‘happily ever after’. This book really invites a whole range of emotion and makes you think. There are many ways to interpret this book. It’s a story about a boy who spends lots of time with a tree that gives and gives to him until it’s reduced to a stump, and essentially the boy, even when he is a stooped old man, gives nothing back (except his time). The tree, never complaining, seems to be happy with the arrangement, but the boy seems to lead an unfulfilled life, thus bringing him back to the tree time and again to try and achieve some happiness. Make of it what you will. I think it’s a thought-provoking book of selfless love and teaches about giving and appreciation: the boy lacks appreciation so much that it brings it to your (and hopefully your child’s) attention. Is this lack of giving the cause of the boy’s unhappines? Is the tree really happy? My son and I loved it.

We’ve also been reading The Missing Piece and The Missing Piece Meets the Big O. These are more of the feel-good variety and are wonderful stories about shapes seeking life partners and happiness. The way the shapes go about it humorously mimic humans’ search for love and fulfillment and really make you smile.

We have lots of other great things planned, including the summer reading programme, which we will not be participating in (I’ll talk about why), a butterfly walk, programmes at the nature center, trips to Kingwood center, and more.

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Posted by on May 27, 2008 in When we were in America


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