This is going to be interesting, or maybe not...the title of this post serves as fair warning. I have often said, "I am a hands on, not afraid to get my hands dirty, organic process kind'a person." Composing Blog posts is one of those things I do while, driving into town (yes, technically distracted driving, but there are no devices anywhere near me), taking a shower, sleeping (or trying to), washing the dishes, standing at Farmer's Market, in the rain, selling Mike's shiitake mushrooms, cleaning the house, walking to the post office or anywhere for that matter, and .... well, you get the idea.
There is always a post or two running around my head, except when I stand at my computer with an unscheduled stretch of time (like right now). Nothing, nada, zip, "hello in there", the echoes are frightening. But, I have always subscribed to the notion of inertia. If I just stand here noodling on FB and looking at all the interesting things people send me about our (screwed up) educational system, I don't get anything written and I tend to be more pissed off about how kids are being harmed by today's (yesterday's and tomorrow's) educational policies and I will still be just standing here, no motion or blog post to speak of.
So, all my science educator friends, I am attempting to create motion and hopefully, the fingers that start typing will continue typing until this post is written, edited and published. Actually, pretty good so far, I think. Hey, I'm still typing and I haven't gone back to FB, yet.
This same concept applies to kids. If they are active participants in their education, they will be happier, more interested in learning about the world around them, better able to handle the challenges that arise, and conversant with all of the soft-skills (Yes, those, the ones I spoke about a couple months ago and that are necessary to becoming a successful adult.)
Now for the analysis: Did I achieve the desired results? Well, my fingers remained in motion, and a new blog post exists. I'll let you be the judge on whether it is successful or not....
As always, thank you for reading and responding...
Some of those fare-wells were sad and frankly devastating, others bitter-sweet, but this last leave-taking was filled with joy, gratitude, as well as tears. My baby girl has fledged the nest. She and her brother left yesterday morning for their beloved Camp Unirondack for the entire summer. MacKenzie is a dishwasher and Ian is, for the second summer in a row, a camp counselor.
It is what we do as parents...love, protect, nurture, discipline, nourish, teach, provide good examples and a foundation of beliefs, encourage, support, praise and then watch them fly free. They will take all we provided into the world to do their own version of living and loving. Good-bye babies. We love you.
On this, the final day of our Pilot Program, I would like to take time to thank everyone who has participated in this on-going endeavor. It has been an amazing six months. I have grown and learned more than I could have ever imagined. And, as we focus our attentions on the Summer Workshops and Fall membership, I am including the following for your consideration. It is a concept that is close to my heart and the reason Deep Root Center exists!
Kids are competent! This is a message that needs to be broadcast far and wide. I have seen it with my own eyes as I help children navigate towards independence. Multiple You-Tube videos, blogs, and articles are documenting this fact as well. I am completely flabbergasted when people are astonished when a teen, tween or young child shows competence or 'outstanding' achievement in something they are passionate about.
We just don't give our kids the time, resources, place or encouragement to be amazing. Those are the only reasons these publicized accomplishments seem extraordinary.
There are so many examples that have circulating the Internet through social media in just the past few months. Logan the thirteen year old in Aspen CO, who is “Hack Schooling”. All of the kids in 2013 TedX prize winner Sugata Mitra's “hole in the wall” experiments in India. Jacob Barnett, another 'homeschooler' who says, “forget everything you know.” Nikhil Goyal a teen-ager from Long Island who wrote a book about the broken public school system and who tours the country giving speeches.
This is just a small sampling. Can you imagine if every kid had the opportunity to follow their passion? This world would be an amazing and awesome place to be sure.
Again, Thank you! Pass it on!
Our family received the following letter in the mail, yesterday. So, I felt a follow-up to yesterday's blog was apropos.
MacKenzie, my daughter, has been an independent learner this last year of her high school education. In the fall, we met with the Guidance Counselor at Colton-Pierrepont. We explained she would be homeschooling for her senior year and asked for all of the appropriate papers that need to be filled out and filed with the school Superintendent. We sent a letter of intent along with MacKenzie's IHIP (plan for the year). Each quarter, we sent a report listing each class on her plan with the content covered, and the number of hours she worked on each subject that quarter.
Last week we sent her final quarterly report along with correspondence requesting a letter from the superintendent stating that she has completed all required courses in New York State. This letter is MacKenzie's diploma and just one way for a homeschooled student to document completion of high-school. This along with a transcript are on their way to Hampshire College, where she has been accepted and is deferring admission until Fall 2015.
In recent weeks, I have had multiple opportunities to talk about Deep Root Center. Usually by the third or fourth sentence, I introduce the word homeschooling. It is after all the legal mechanism for kids to leave school and become independent learners.
In those numerous conversations, there have been almost as many reactions. Homeschooling is one of those loaded words that most people have a gut level reaction to as soon as they hear it. These range from very positive to very negative, but are very rarely neutral. Most people have heard of someone who is homeschooling their family. They may have even heard the term unschooling which for many invokes a mental picture of children running wild; who will never learn to read, write or add two numbers together. Some people would like to explore the options, but fear they won't do it right and want to make sure they are following the rules set by the State. The second most voiced concern is about socialization.
Homeschooling is, to use that old axiom, “a means to an end” for self-directed learners. It doesn't necessarily mean Mom, Dad, and kids sitting at the dining room table with worksheets and text books carefully replicating the curriculum found in the public schools, although it can. It doesn't mean kids are only in the company of their family and have no interaction with the outside world.
Most independent learners are out in the community talking to a variety of people from all walks of life. They know how to converse comfortably with adults and their peers. They are using resources within their community to explore their particular interests. Homeschoolers have an uncanny ability to search out what they need and then go after it. They understand how to set goals and follow through. They are conversant with the soft-skills touted by college admissions personnel and employers. They are not defined or limited by their age or grade-level. And those unschooled kids are by no means illiterate, wild, or crazy. They are often the most sought after college or job applicants.
In terms of documentation, it is important to keep track of everything. This can be done in several ways, there is no right and wrong as long as your child's plan and schedule is accessible by the school superintendent. A portfolio of highlighted projects, and essays is highly recommended. It is easier to keep track of these daily or weekly rather than trying to replicate or recreate a half- semesters worth of activity just for the quarterly reports.
College admission counselors are looking for interesting, enthusiastic, creative, inspired, and self motivated young people. Applicants will prove their potential college success through portfolios, well written essays and the all important admissions interview.
Homeschooling is the legal mechanism for your child to become an independent, self-directed learner. Deep Root Center is here to provide mentoring, resources, classes, one-on-one tutoring, social opportunities and any other support you may need to navigate this awesome path.