Our Curriculum

Curriculum generally comes right after “socialization” when people are thinking about homeschooling and it’s just as unimportant in the big picture as making sure you’re kid is properly socialized. When you go to research the history of education you’ll find that it generally begins at the advent of writing, as if no learning took place prior to man’s ability to write things down. If you watch the cool documentary, “How Beer Saved the World” it’s amazing all the learning that took place prior to writing stuff down. The theory in this documentary is that writing and tracking inventory began with beer and I don’t remember a whisper of that in any school I went to. What about you?

There are so many awesome things to learn about and if you’re going to homeschool make sure you put learning things over seat work and “doing school.”

All that to say we do use curriculum and we do take breaks from each of them depending on the ages and issues our individual kids are experiencing. I’m going to share on this page 1-what we use and then attach links to the 2-why we use it and 3-how we use it. When you’re asking other homeschoolers what they use make sure you include the why and how it’s being used. Tons of curriculum gets purchase with great intentions and never gets used. Let’s start with the single thing we’ve been using the longest with out changing.

Bible there have been attempts at curriculums, Awanas,  church children’s programming  but over time we’ve found that actually just reading our Bible and drawing pictures or discussing is the simplest and easiest thing to do.

Writing – 17 years ago when my oldest was 11 and I realized that I didn’t really know how to write and none of the curriculums I found were helping me as the teacher I went to the South Texas Homeschool Associations convention and decided I’d spend the day in a series of writing workshops but at the end of the first one I’d written a simple paragraph and suddenly understood the simplicity of the writing process. Andrew Pudewa, a homeschool dad and founder of Institute for Excellence in Writing is our go to for  writing. Over the years his company has continued to develop things like phonics, videos and a variety of other things we’ve used.

Math – At that same convention 17 years ago I attended a Math workshop that made sense to me, I invested for all 4 kids at a huge $$$ amount and was super excited but they kept complaining so we changed math curriculums many times up until we adopted and I told Michael that the original Math U See was what worked best for me as the teacher and it has prompts to remind you that subjects like clocks and measuring are best learned with real life application.

Science – We picked up on Apologia probably 10 years ago and have been using both the jr high/highschool level and then we added the Young Explorers series. However, the author of these books got bumped from his own company and has developed a new series that we’ll also be using, while pulling from his previous books that we own. BUT then we just stated Matt Power’s Permaculture Student and wow is that way more fun! Instead of doing experiments with marshmallows and gum drops we’re harvesting real food from our own effort!

History, Literature, Geography, Worldviews, Government, Arts & Activities- The winner is – Tapestry of Grace – I spent a year developing an  ancient roads program for our homeschool co-op and someone showed us this in 2005 and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. However, if you look it over and think you’re going to do everything listed it will eat your lunch! We pull out our favorite parts.

Languages – We’ve used some online resources and Memoria Press but none of my kids are terribly interested in languages. We’ve found languages work better in a group due to the conversational nature of the topic.

Other – that great unknown subject that your child has yet to show an interest in.

Scouting – this subject has driven much of the best of our homeschooling adventure, career development options and friendships. I’m just struggling with the structure and cost that goes with it as I’m getting older. We’ve attempted some small things but haven’t figured out how to maintain a consistent adventure with friends without having people pay. Pretty sad but . . . . maybe this problem will lead us to an awesome solution! For more than 10 years we’ve been using the above curriculum with small detours into other things. There are a few great reasons to stick with the curriculum that you purchased. 1- it’s paid for, 2-you know more about it then the new one, 3-your kids know the flow, 4-you’ve probably purchased stuff to go with it. By staying the course you are reducing both your costs and learning curve. Check out the individual links for the subjects to see the why and the  how of our homeschool.

How to Homeschool

Possibilities. How to Homeschool is full of so many possibilities that I had no idea existed 28 years ago when I started looking into the subject. Our family’s “how to” has changed over the course of the years in a kind of ebb and flow that goes with our family dynamic more than anything else. First you have to figure out why you’re going to homeschool. Then you have to decide that you’re going to be a resourceful, self reliant grown up and figure out in all the world of schools and the history of education what your learning home is going to look like.

Here’s where each path diverges. I’ll try to organize it as clearly as possible so please give suggestions and I can redo this as I get more questions.

1-Why you’re thinking about homeschooling will make a difference in how you get started. The point is to get started. 

Check with your state to see what the laws are. HSLDA Home School Legal Defense Association is a great help with this information.

Joining – maybe you’re starting to homeschool because a friend has invited you along on their journey. That’s pretty easy if you can just do what they’re doing to start with.

Urgent Removal – while working at the local homeschool store a few years back almost 100% of the families coming in with older kids who were removing them from government schools said it was for safety and to avoid bullying. They had to get their kid out of there! If you feel there is an urgent need of some sort to pull your kid out then do it and come up with the plan later. If your child is stressed and hurt they’re going to need a break.

Planner – you’re not sure but you’re thinking about it and what it would look like. Depending on your current schedule come up with a mock homeschool experience for you and your kid by starting with just a Saturday, maybe a couple Saturdays or an entire weekend. Some of the best homeschool materials have free samples that you can try or just free stuff online like this:


Phonics and Reading: Go to the library and get some books, read out loud to your kid, watch some youtube on whatever level your kid is at and just do that. It’s not as complicated as it sounds. Mostly be patient and work on progressing your kid from one level to the next.

You’ve probably watched a lifetime worth of cat videos on youtube and weren’t even aware that there are hundreds of speech therapy videos on just the letter r.

Sticking with our 9 year old example you can do “guided reading” which sounds complicated but is basically reading with them. Most libraries will let you check out two of the same book and you just start with the super easy ones first. We adopted our 5th kid when he was 10 and I did this a ton until I could see where his real level was, not the one on his government school report.  You can see in the 13 minute video above that while the teacher is doing guided reading with some students she’s trained the rest of the class to do independent work quietly at their desk. If you have more than one kid there’s your example of what’s going on with the herd while you’re helping one kid.


It goes like this for every subject out there.

2-Who you’re thinking about homeschooling. 

Are these your children, one single child, your grandchildren, someone else’s kid? Can you make all the decisions with the kids or are there other inputs into your plan? If it’s not your kids you’re going to need to communicate clearly with the parents. If it’s your kids you have amazing opportunity to tailor the plan.

3-What are your goals?

It’s really important to figure out what your goals are before you start even though this changes as you go you need to think about it and set some goals that you can work toward. When I started my husband was opposed to homeschooling thinking it was for weird hippie type people.  My goal was to impress everyone with how awesome I was at teaching kids and I lucked out with my first kid reading at 4 with no program but going to the library and reading whatever the librarian said was good for each step along the way. There was no homeschool specific curriculum that I knew of at the time (this was before the great www universe) and it wasn’t until 2 years later we started getting free private school hand me downs.

Once I had a reader my goal was to create a rich environment that allowed freedom to do a variety of things. I checked out Kinder and 1st grade math books from the library and copied down the problems to create our first math books. I’m talking all by hand on dot matrix green lined paper!

4-How much does it cost?

This really depends on you and your budget. A few months ago I was telling our 28 year old how we were doing more hands on experiential learning in the Montessori style and had moved away from the textbooks he reminded me that that was exactly how we’d started out before we could “afford” curriculum. Now that I’ve done all my research and love all the curriculum I own for all levels of all subjects any of my kids have ever been interested in we find that we aren’t that interested in curriculum!

If you eat you can turn that into a lesson – history, art, science, math and with no curriculum needed.

On the other hand you can spend a great fortune and order an entire year of private school books, workbooks, manipulatives, and video resources for a couple thousand dollars.

It’s your homeschool so you get to decide.

5-I can’t homeschool my child, we don’t get along

I’m amazed at how often I hear this and the parent thinks it’s something the kid is doing and sometimes it is! The majority of the time it’s the grown up who isn’t wanting to grow up. If you have a serious problem with one of your kids and you, your spouse and your other children all get along fine without them present than by all means put that one kid in school.

Two years ago now we put one kid in school because I couldn’t see how to change what I’d been doing for years and this kid couldn’t figure out why he should behave. During that year in school we both figured some stuff out but I regret that I couldn’t stop the “school” portion of our life and deal with the deeper issues. A year ago if anyone told me I’d be homeschooling this kid again AND having a blast watching him think and find projects of his own I wouldn’t have believed it. He came to us at 10 with a shelter/government school mentality that we couldn’t seem to shake but that one year in school where he spent 12 weeks of shop class on safety topics and in the final 6 weeks make one single useful item, he wasn’t impressed since he’s had the chance to help build airplanes at a neighbors shop where the safety briefing was, “Don’t chop off your finger or poke your eye out.”

I had to give up alot of things I love “school wise” this year to focus on this kid and help him find some things to be passionate about. At first I was angry but now I know that he’s worth it! After all the years of homeschooling and learning to do a better job I was still stuck in the “school” needs to get done mentality:( I’m not sure why I couldn’t see that before but watching him think and talk about ideas and make things and rework them as he’s listening to other people’s ideas makes giving up those things so worth it and it’s changed my perspective on those things I loved so that in the future we’ll be doing things differently.

6-How do I plan? 

Step 1 – get your house in order. If you’re considering homeschooling a great way to start is by organizing your house both physically and with regular chores. There are many resources for doing this based on number of children, your kids ages, your lifestyle etc. Before you start homeschooling if you “own your home” and get a schedule set up where everyone in your house is pulling their weight, homeschooling will fall in line.

Step 2 – Spouses have to be on the same page. Come up with a budget even if that’s no budget because maybe one parent has to quit their job to stay home and homeschool. Set some small goals for the household and school to get started and set up a time to get together and review. We have monthly family meetings which are really helpful in a household with 9 people 🙂 When the kids were younger we had to spend more time planning but now it’s more staying in the rhythm of the week that makes the family meetings less necessary.

Step 3 – Start slowly! When we adopted our then 10 year old his report card had so many subjects! When I asked him about the various classes he didn’t remember doing music, computers was playing games, and many of them were once a week or every other week things he was evaluated on. Don’t let that fool you into thinking you have to do all of that every day.

We do math all year long, just a bit each day because we only school 4 days a week and we take month long breaks from history, writing and other subjects but reading and math are super regular. This is so ingrained that there are Saturday mornings that my 8 and 9 year old get their math out and sometimes I let them:)

Step 4 – learn google spreadsheets or excel


If you like the cute calendar with stickers and stuff, do it! If you want something more efficient spreadsheets hold alot of information for alot of subjects, people, supplies, and activities. There are many, many examples of lesson plans for you to browse through until you find one to copy and adapt for your own.

So, setting up a homeschool plan for the first week, depending on your kids ages you can just do chores, math, reading and be done. Now if you want to give this an extra boost you can have a no electronics week that first week and encourage them to find something to do. This will help you find out what they naturally gravitate toward so you can put it in the planning. I have a craft kid and a soldier kid so I try to be sure to have a wide variety of craft materials on hand and we buy soldier kits for the different history eras we do.

If you have the money and want to buy curriculum go right ahead but I’d recommend looking around you at the free options in the real world that you can do that first year. Your kids are probably curriculumed out and connecting to learning through the art, history, science or children’s museums can be really awesome.

7-Find a mentor

Things go wrong and while you can read alot online to glean some excellent help sometimes it’s most helpful for someone to come over and actually look at what you’re doing and offer suggestions. Don’t feel like you have to do them all but having an extra pair of eyes is great. When my mom came to live with us we made some great changes because of things she noticed that we hadn’t because they’d become routine. Let people speak into your life and be willing to try different things.

8 – A Family Goal

We’ve noticed recently as we’ve moved into learning about Permaculture that there are many new families homeschooling because they have a family goal to eat and live in a more sustainable way. We’ve been amazed at how this one “subject” permeates our life of learning and has an aspect that is interesting to everyone. The 3 and 4 year old love being outside, the 8 and 9 year old love watering, watching seeds come up and harvesting things, our 16 year old is building quail cages/tractors so we can raise quail for eggs and meat and my husband is learning to make beer, wine and mead. I get to do the weeding 🙂

Maybe a family business, ministry or other opportunity can be a starting point for developing how the learning happens at your house?

Think outside the “school” bus/box and ask yourself what does the world need more of? Do that

Why Homeschool?


Hippies were homeschoolers when I was growing up in So Cal and of course they were kids who didn’t have to go to school and could run free and wild all over the Agoura Hills. Just like we did in the summer but they got to do it ALL year long! I remember hating school from the beginning because it meant getting on a bus, sitting in a class with very little outside time instead of hanging out at the lake that we lived on with friends. Many of the kids in our neighborhood would carry their shoes to the school bus because you didn’t really need them at Malibou Lake but the bus driver wouldn’t let you on without them. Which is how I felt about school, I didn’t really need it. My mom literally had to pry one brother on to the bus at the beginning of the school year for a few days. He would push off the door with hands and feet, screaming!

I was robbed for a great portion of the year, of the freedom to explore and learn naturally because I needed to be on task, level, not left behind or whatever jargon they used then, which turned out to be a futile task for the first series of teachers whose responsibility it was to keep me on task. As I child I knew the difference because when there wasn’t school we learned through a marvelous set of adventures to museums, the tide pools, playing around the edges of the lake, building forts, shooting things, taking care of chickens and a garden and sometimes getting to watch tv at the neighbors. This “schooling” consisted of  Kindergarten, First, Second, at government school, a move to private school for Third, another year of Third at a different private school, followed by  Fourth and finally Fifth grade when I learned how to read and made it to the “on level” phase of being educated. Years later the irony of this was given to me by a man from India who’d grown up out beyond the reach of school and he and his two brothers were sent to school when they turned 11. Without a day of schooling before 11 they went on to acquire multiple degrees, masters and PhDs. He said it was very confusing in America where they spent so much time educating kids instead of letting them learn through play and work. I couldn’t get “on level” until 5th grade but I graduated 2nd in my highschool class? Who decided this was good?

Check out the great google universe for the history of “education” and you’ll find mostly that it starts with man’s ability to write and keep a record of how smart he is. It’s as if no learning took place prior to the ability to write and you know that’s crazy, right? Learning is a natural process we all go through and the more we align the process with nature and solving problems with young children the more thinkers we’ll raise. So, before you start thinking about “educating” your kids at home you have to separate the concept of systematic indoctrination with real learning. Indoctrination requires testing and scores and teaching kids to respond correctly to those tests and scores so the people in control can gain more control. Kind of like Pavlov’s Dog where the adults are testing the subjects over and over again.

While most homeschoolers simply transplant the education system to their home, which makes it super easy to give up because there’s so much  boring seat work and grading and scoring!!!!! there is a growing number who are thinking about real learning, thinking, creating and producing something with their children that is real. It’s not that there aren’t reasons to get your kids out of the government education camps and just do school at home, for example:

Conservative – you say you’re for limited government and to live your belief taking a handout from the government doesn’t seem very consistent. You say you don’t want your tax dollars to go toward abortion, welfare, food stamps but you have no problem taking your neighbors money for your kids schooling?

Christian – you know that “Train up a child in the way he should go” I think there’s an implied “you” in there. Don’t steal from your neighbor . . . .  this list is really long.

Libertarian – you say you believe in freedom but not for your kids?

Anarchist – I don’t have to tell you why.

Communist – um? Wait! Your kid should be in the camp so he can learn to be dependent on the system.

Freeing your kids from the system is the priority so that we can grow the free thinkers in our country and limit the government’s control over all our lives. When you let the system decide when, where, how you live the majority of your day, you’re not as free as you have the potential to be and your willingness to be a slave to that system affects the freedom of the people around you.

Why homeschool? Basically for the same reasons those early hippies did, freedom!


Zue’s Zoobilee

Are you the kind of person that hates the zoo? Loves the zoo? Thinks you should take your kid to the zoo regularly? Thinks the zoo is evil? If you’re on the evil end there’s a little x at the top of your browser tab that you can check.

BUT if you think a connection with the zoo is a great way to teach your child about a diverse set of animals follow along as I show you how you can spend 4 hours at the zoo with a 3, 4, 8 and 9 year old. (sometimes a 16 year old too)

Our zoo is small but constantly improving so we enjoy what’s available locally.

We start by buying an annual pass so if we have one hour or four hours we don’t worry about having to stay and get our monies worth if someone is acting up. They know we’ll leave if anyone is misbehaving so they’re really good 🙂

I can bring all the snacks in the world but they’ll still want popcorn so we bought the refillable container and it’s just $1. Except we have two because usually there are 6 of us. If you spill your groups popcorn it’s all gone so the keeper of the popcorn has to be careful.

We also take binoculars that we’ve purchased one at a time over the years. You can wear them or put them in your backpack BUT if you set them down somewhere I get them for the rest of the trip.

As I’m writing all of this I realize that one of the reasons we have fun at the zoo is because we have boundaries! It reduces stress and maintains realistic expectations. They can trust me to follow through the same each time.

The last rule is the two little people that are 3 and 4 can’t be at the front of the adventure and they can’t be at the back, just like the animal herds the little people have to be in the middle. Now if we get to the zoo, like we did two weeks ago, and I didn’t realize that government schools had Monday off, we just go home. We go once or twice a week and it isn’t worth it to stress with people that are rushing through the zoo trying to see everything in one hour.

Our zoo offers a couple things for additional costs like:

1-A Carousel

2 7 2016 299 2 7 2016 300

2-A Butterfly House

2 7 2016 3062 7 2016 307

3- A Train

zoo train

4-And Shops – we don’t go into these unless someone has money of their own.

The first three we rotate through using a discounted pass if you buy all three. BUT we don’t use all three on one trip we do one special event every third or fourth trip to the zoo. The really cool part about this IS they will remember doing them “ALL THE TIME” when really they went about twice a year to each one 🙂 It’s a great way to say yes. Yes, we’ll ride the carousel again but today we’re . . . . .

Our zoo has other things besides animals that are fun when it’s not crowded like:

1-A river bed with toys to play with.

2 7 2016 301 2 7 2016 302 2 7 2016 303 2 7 2016 304 2 7 2016 305

2-Lorry feeding – you can walk in for free and the nectar is $1 which a kiddo can earn.

2 7 2016 337 2 7 2016 338 2 7 2016 339 2 7 2016 340 2 7 2016 341 2 7 2016 342 2 7 2016 343 2 7 2016 344 2 7 2016 345 2 7 2016 346 2 7 2016 347

3-There are goats to pet and we sometimes take a math manipulative with us to extend the time at an enclosure. Everyone takes turns from enclosure to enclosure getting to count the animals. An Abacus is great because each row can represent a different animal or you can add up the animals at each stop as you go along.

2 7 2016 348 2 7 2016 349

4-There are indoor children’s play areas that often have an animal out that kids can get a close look at.

2 7 2016 350

5-Then there are the animals! We have flashcards and other sorting games that we take with us at different times. If we’re going to focus on cats we have an animal classification  flash card set that goes with us. Maybe we’re just looking at necks at the zoo, now that’s fun!

2 7 2016 405 2 7 2016 2982 7 2016 406 2 7 2016 407

6-Then you have to take the same picture every few times in the super awesome picture taking spots so you can look back and see how much you’ve grown!

2 7 2016 408 2 7 2016 409 2 7 2016 410 2 7 2016 411

7-Then there are all the little animals that often get overlooked. We don’t look at everyone every time and we take turns “picking” what we’re going to see.

2 7 2016 412

8-Story Time at the Zoo! I try to take at least one book with me to read in a place where we’re waiting for the animal to get fed or trained. My current favorite is the Eric Carle series. During our Dr. Seuss month we take many books to the zoo because Dr. Seuss grew up going to the zoo with his dad and drew lots of his funny animals while waiting there.

9-And here’s a few more days you can try:

Shapes and Lines




Story book animals like Paddington

We’re going to need more than 4 hours!


Permaculture Student Chapter 2

We started Chapter 2 Wednesday February 3, 2016 and here I am trying to come up with a plan and Paisley wants to watch the video because they can hear the opening music.



2 7 2016 797

Check out our lesson plan here. Remember it’s a work in progress

We opened with an challenge for the adults to write down the name of as many plants in their yard that they new the real name of, either latin or the local name. This kept them busy while the kids watched about 6 minutes of the video on diversity. The parents have access and can watch the videos at home too. Our adult winner could name 37 of her plants! I was so excited that I posted it on facebooks “Unschooling with Permaculture” page and Matt let me know he has like 600-800 species? We have our work cut out for us.

We were learning about diversity and the kids were cutting up magazines, gluing and coloring. This combination of activities takes a long time at this age and allows for lots of conversation.

2 7 2016 799

While the kids were making their diversity posters the adults were watching some videos on swales and discussing how each person might use that on their property.

The kids finished out their evening by playing Paul Wheaton’s Permaculture Playing Cards

2 7 2016 798

First thing the next morning my son Jack wanted to play those cards but we’re saving them for Wednesday nights so they’re special 🙂

Chapter 2 – Week 2 – February 10,2016 – stay tuned!

Response to Uncle Jack

uncle Jack

Here’s my husband Michael, son Luke, Jack Spirko and oldest son Erick at Jack’s tree planting day. They learned a lot and came home and got stuff done 🙂

For some strange reason our grand daughter Paisley looks at this picture and can name everyone, even “Uncle Jack” who’s not her uncle, who she’s never met and she won’t be convinced that he’s not but the two uncles in the picture don’t get to be called uncle. Who knows how the mind of a three year old works 🙂


On The Survival Podcast January 18, 2016  with Jack Spirko at the 1:08 minute mark he ponders how homeschooling can alter the landscape of the nation. I believe there is nothing else that will and I’d like to convince as many people as possible that the future of our nation hinges on removing as many children from the control of the state as possible. Doesn’t that sound alarming!??

My goal here is to convince every single person reading this that ALL children should be returned to their parents or guardians for their education and upbringing. However in the interest of maintaining my freedom to homeschool I’ll settle for 20%!

While I wish everyone was alarmed at the state of our nation I’d like to remind you of this most basic piece of our history. How a once fierce independent nation of the strongest people who ever existed began this journey:

“When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

The political bands of the government school today amount to a straight jacket and any freedom loving person should feel impelled to figure out how to separate themselves from its clutches. Is there one area of your family’s life that doesn’t fall under the control of the school district in some way?

What time you should go to bed, get up, what you should eat, when you should eat, when you should poop for God’s sake, when you should take vacation, holidays, days off, which vaccinations you should get, who you hang out with, and then after hours of sitting in class do you have homework or is it like our local government school that doesn’t send homework home because it’s unfair to the kids who’s parents won’t help. EVEN if your kid doesn’t go to school or you have no children you get to pay taxes.

Then there’s the supposed purpose of government school which is learning, yet they control what you learn, what you think about what you learn, how you learn it, when you learn it and all the political correctness that permeates this massive putrid system. If you want to find out how we got here in less than 100 years there’s a great read, “The Underground History of American Education,” by John Taylor Gatto

At the 1:08 minute mark Jack Spirko says, “We the people that actually want liberty in our lives have to do something, for ourselves and our families.”

The problem is the solution

Problem #1 – Family: Due to the influence and prominence of public school in the lives of families the family system has been broken down over time and people don’t even know it. We have one of our 7 kids who went to government school for 1 year and before he ever went to school for one day he started saying he was a “Bulldog.” I hate sports with a passion, not games like baseball or basketball but the sports mentality that robs people of their personal and family identity and makes them one of the group. I pretty much feel the same way about religion when someone says, “I’m Baptist,” vs “I go to a Baptist church.”

The family is the primary system of any healthy community, city, state or nation. The more we separate families and legislate families the worse our nation will become.  Even at church the government school dominates the calendar. Try having an event at church for the youth on a Friday night when there’s a football game. sheesh! Even the church who you’d think is about family puts the school at the center of their agenda. That’s how controlling we allow it to be.

I hate to say it but even homeschoolers are slaves to the government school calendar when they participate in church, most sports or other events, even our scout group’s calendar isn’t about seasons but about school calendars. Yet homeschoolers largely will tell you that they put their family first.

In the time when families worked together it wasn’t the nuclear family of today but grandparents and other members working toward a common good for the family unit. Family members had to work out their differences to continue to work together because their wasn’t the “all caring state” to look out for them if they couldn’t get along with their family. There are many homeschool families with family businesses that are highly successful as a family and in business.

Then there are the friends and neighbors! We’ve been so blessed with people teaching us and helping us and I can’t say enough about looking around you for people to be part of your community. If your bio family sucked develop a new one! If in the problem lies the solution and the family is the problem, 1-fix your family situation, 2-start by fixing your own issues, 3-can’t fix your family, gather a new one.

We lived for a time with both sets of in-laws and my mom lived with us for 10 years and it was awesome and helpful for everyone involved.

Maybe you went away to college and you love the town where your job is but it doesn’t put you near family that will work with you, maybe you can rethink your location?

The Problem is the Solution

Problem #2 – I Don’t Know How to Educate Kids

The problem is neither does the government school. Not if you’re talking about real learning so that you can continue learning for a lifetime. Not if you’re talking about real skills verses testing and scoring for pay increases.

Think about how you learn new things and you’ll find out how learning takes place. If you don’t know how to fish can you teach your kid to fish? Maybe you can youtube it and figure it out, you can go to walmart and ask the guy behind the counter who loves to fish, you can go to a free state park fishing day. Now repeat that for whatever your kid wants to learn!

Everything you could possibly want to know about learning is somewhere in the vast google universe so the solution here is for you to love learning and pass that on to your kid.

The Problem is the Solution

Problem #3 – I Can’t Afford it

1-You can’t afford to not work to take time to homeschool your kids? Look around you and see who’s homeschooling. More and more homeschoolers are taking in a kid and trading skills instead of funds. I loved Jack’s idea about a group of families who don’t have to work full time pooling their resources. This is a great idea to think about with friends!

Seriously, if your parents will let you move in or you buy a different house together so that you can help each other out do it! We have friends who sold their house and her mom’s house and bought one house together so that they’ve reduced their expenses. Do you have older kids that have moved out that might move home and you guys can pool your resources where everyone wins?

Our 25 year old daughter is getting divorced and lives at home, she goes to work everyday and I watch her awesome 3 year old. I also watch a 4 year old and get paid a bit for that so we can go on fun field trips. Our 21 year old is saving up for a house, has a real estate investment, 401k, pays all his personal expenses, car, insurance, phone etc and lives at home so he can save up AND handles all our IT issues! ALL wins and work because we get along.

2-You can’t afford to buy curriculum?  This is really ironic because the curriculum isn’t the solution you might think it is. I was telling our 28 year old how I was trying a different unschooling Montessori style approach with a Permaculture Student  twist using Matt Powers, Unschooling, with our 8 and 9 year old and while I was explaining the different things we were doing he said, “That’s exactly what we used to do.” That is before we could AFFORD curriculum! Today the inner webs have literally thousands of resources for subjects that are free. Start learning

On a personal level you could work on what Jack talked about 1-enabling ourselves to do more with less, 2-Taking ourselves out of the debt system.

The Problem is the Solution

#4 – I want to but I can’t. If you want to you can find a way. start looking around you for a community of people that feel the way you do. Ask the other parents at your kids school.

Some other topics Jack touched on:

What Binds Us to the System

You’ve got to start by freeing yourself from what you’ve been conditioned to believe learning is and what real learning is. Instead of looking at replicating the government school into your home or small community start thinking about all the free classes that are offered around your area, the public library where the librarian will give you a starting book list at your kids level and then help you develop an entire reading program. They LOVE to help kids read and it’s free. Except for the part about not turning your books in on time.

If you’re thinking, “The only way for me to homeschool is for us to give up one car and I’ll be stuck at home.” Again start looking around you and what’s in walking distance. What neighbor is doing cool stuff? We were a one car family for many years and are again (because my husband traded his car in for a plane) so once a week we take my husband to the van pool have a great adventure and then pick him up from work and all go to our homeschool scout group together. It takes effort, planning and communication but one car works. We have a neighbor that keeps bees and he taught us how, a neighbor that builds airplanes that lets the kids use his tools and gives them little scraps of stuff they made to take home. You’d be surprised and whenever anyone mentions anything close to not really liking homeschooling I remind them that I’m saving the tax payers a minimum of $10,000 per kid and that $10kx7x13 years is alot of savings, and that it’s in their best interest for everyone to homeschool 🙂

If like Jack mentioned, we want to raise independent self reliant thinkers, it’s going to have to start with the grown ups growing up and being independent self reliant thinkers of their own. Figure this out!

On Taking Matters Into Your Own Hands

So, you’re in the system and don’t see a way out. Try some civil disobedience inside the system! It’s crazy to me when I hear a parent say what’s wrong with their school but they can’t do anything about it, even when that parent knows there are more people who feel the same way. If there’s a problem stand up! Let’s say there’s a bad 2nd grade teacher and you know your kid is going to have to be in that classroom. Stage a protest and get as many parents as possible to take time off, enlist the grandparents and don’t send your kids to school until that teacher is fired, or principal or whatever the problem is. Just one year of government school taught me that the sacred cow of the system is attendance. You want to make a change? Get a group to not attend for a day or week especially during testing season 🙂 Be sure to let them know and follow through if they don’t listen. Do this over and over again and you’ll start seeing change. Government School is a business and they’re in the business of taking home a paycheck which comes to them by way of your kid showing up at school. As a school teacher my mom would recommend this to parents but they didn’t think it would make a difference. She said if parents knew how precarious every decision was to the whims of change and how much control they really had by just not showing up one day the system would be entirely different overnight.

If you can’t move out, stand up for your kid where you are.

Homeschool Infrastructure

I’ve only been homeschooling for 25 years and all of that in Texas but the idea of a central homeschool location or infrastructure to me is anti what the freedom to be had in homeschooling is about. I’m not talking about true cooperatives but most of the infrastructure is the same controlling overlord type system that school is and it doesn’t facilitate the independent self reliant thinkers and these larger groups are driven by the same, get to college, syndrome as the government schools. In our town we have the only homeschool  501c3 nonprofit with it’s own building that I know of in the country and it sits empty most of the time because the group that manages it has a very narrow view of “exceptable.” Again they’re focused on all the things that government schools are, including testing.

If you’re looking for independent self reliant individuals, it’s going to be up to others like them to join together where they are and use the www to make the learning happen. I’ve learned over time that it doesn’t take a dozen families (my former dream number for co-op) to make it happen 4-5 families can put together a great experience for their kids and focus on things they’re really interested in.

Removing One Child is Better Than Voting

I’ve been a hardcore, you must vote, voter since I turned 18, so 35 years and I can’t believe I might not vote in November! But I do know that removing kids from the system is what’s going to change our nation. When we adopted a 10 year old just after Obama’s first election, this little guy came into an extremely conservation homeschool co-op and said that he’d voted for Obama, that he helped get Obama elected. The other kids just were blinking their little eyes at him . . . . “You can’t vote until you’re 18,” they said. But he insisted that he’d voted for Obama at school and wouldn’t be persuaded that his vote didn’t count.

A few weeks ago while at the children’s museum I was privileged to have a conversation with an Obama voter that homeschools – for some reason she didn’t like my friend and I. We didn’t care at all that she had a different opinion than we did but she needed us to agree with her. She said you couldn’t take all the people that were in “care” of the state and make them self reliant. I agreed and told her I just took three of them.

Where We Are Now

I’m tired. Tired of having a dream of time doing what we love and torn between that and cooperating in the homeschooling community without the government school guidelines breathing down my neck because to many people think their kid can’t “graduate” from highschool unless they have the full four year course load on their transcript. They think their kid can’t get into college unless they have that transcript perfect and pass the SAT. The truth is they’ll take anyone’s money. To get into our local college at 15 our oldest took a math and writing placement test, placed AT the college level so the law says they have to let you in because they can’t discriminate based on age. This thanks to a law suit by some 8 year old’s parents I believe.

We were part of homeschool  co-ops for 15 years on the government system/schedule and 2 years ago I quit and have been pondering how I get back to a community without the “curriculum” eating up all the time for the individual learning activities my kids would like to do. Actual skills within a society of free thinkers. Not 36 weeks on the government school schedule! I want to be in the garden in March and September when the weather is beautiful here! So our 8 & 9 year old can sell basil seeds they harvested at the farmer’s market with my mom and our 16 year old can make quail tractors and work at the local pond builders to learn some skills.

But I know I’ll figure it out and I don’t need a dozen families, just a few friends who want to try something new and different in a community that’s already known for different. My friend Bill tells me I always manage to find a niche in a niche!

You’ll all probably raise children very much like yourselves which is ironic for all the rebellion in the world, so be a better you and start thinking how your problems can become solutions.

Tipping to Homeschooling

Tipping to Homeschooling

Are you for freedom? Are you aware of the gap between the freedoms you think you should have verses what you’re willing to grant others?  Throughout history it seems that freedom comes when the masses rebel against the queen, in our case the bureaucrats, and demand their freedom OR as in the case of Ghandi you simply refuse to participate in the queen’s games. In any case, my freedom depends on the willingness of those around me to allow it. It’s crazy but true! Our neighbors vote our freedom in and out of style in an ever shifting scheme to control people. Well, let’s be honest and say we vote for 4% of the rules while 96% is decided by the un-elected bureaucrats.

I want the freedom to homeschool my children and grandchildren. You might say, “Well, you have that.” What you may not know is, I have that temporarily, right up until one single bureaucrat decides I can’t. Even though the law in my state says I can legally homeschool there are many, many cases where the state has stepped in and removed the children from a family because they don’t like homeschooling. Or a neighbor lies about what’s going on or . . . . . in the freest homeschool state in the union, homeschool parents live in fear of the state.

The state wants to regulate that children don’t belong to their parents and I’ll agree with that if they’ll also regulate that THEY don’t own the children either. We’re ALL wanting to be free 🙂 My children don’t belong to me, they’re a gift and a blessing that I’m responsible for teaching to be a truly productive, thinking, contributing member of society.

Freedom, is it safest when it’s practiced by more people? Imagine if the state of Colorado decides to revoke the freedom to smoke weed. People have moved there to have this freedom so I’m thinking it will be pretty hard to pull that back, even though I believe smoking weed is stupid, I’m for freedom. According to the 80/20 rule from Gladwell’s “The Tipping Point,” protecting my freedom to homeschool means I have to convince 16.6% more kids to talk their parents into freeing them from the government school and joining the ever growing homeschool movement. Current numbers seem to rest at 3.4% of kids are homeschooled a growth rate of 61%+ in the last nine years which means at the current pace we’d reach the magical freedom rate of 20% homeschoolers in . . . I don’t know that math BUT I do know that if we could double the homeschool rate this year to 6.8% and again next year to 13.6% on the third year we’d break the freedom barrier!

How does one convince 16.6% of the kids to walk away from school? I’m not even talking about the national average of drop outs that’s at more than 25%.  If you really want to know your school’s 9th to 12th grade drop out rate find the number of 9th graders and subtract the number of 12th graders and you’ll get the real number. Some schools are using their “dropout” number from 11th-12th grade. Our local highschool last year said they had a 25% drop out rate but the 9th grade to 12th grade difference was almost 40%.

Actually how do you convince the parents of the kids who hate school to free them? In Jack Spirko’s The Survival Podcast from Monday January 18, 2016  he asks some great questions at about the 1:04 minute mark and on.

“What do we do as individuals? How do we start making a bigger difference, cuz this is what’s going to happen. The ability of the state to influence our lives is going to do what it always has, it’s going to grow.”

Having been through the state adoption system for our three youngest kids the idea of the state gaining any more control is terrifying. By force of a gun they can take your children and really do just about anything they want without consequence to the actual perpetrator in the state bureaucracy.

In response to Jack Spirko’s podcast, this blog I’ve just been thinking about is going to have to happen if I want freedom for my children and their children. In order for the state to loose it’s grip we have to remove ourselves from their grasp.

Join me in freedom, in the freedom we have in Christ, or of Ghandi’s civil disobedience, Martin Luther King Jr’s voice, Rosa Parks refusal of stupidity and this, this  unknown man

Tianamen square 1

Together, without the “assistance” of the state, let’s figure out how to take back control of our lives and give our children the freedom that all of mankind longs for in their soul.

Clown Training

Clown Learning

Is your child’s school working for them? Do you get the sense that they are safe, happy and loving learning, progressing at a healthy pace of their own, developing their sense of self in a positive way? If you’re answer is yes then you should go back to whatever it was you were doing before you clicked over to this link. This article is going to be about the Clowns and Jokers that run your kids school and you probably don’t need that kind of stress where you might have to reevaluate what you’re doing. These aren’t the articles you’re looking for, move along.

This Steelers Wheel song came out in 1972 Stuck in the Middle With You but it wasn’t until I got older that it seemed to apply to so much of what’s going on in the world around us. There’s a line, “Clowns to the left of me. Jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.” The year it made sense was 1982 when I started what I thought would be a journey to teach kids in school even though I hated school growing up, I was going to be different. I was right about the different part.


Do you have an experience that you can think of and say, “Exactly! This is how it feels right now.”? Clowns & Jokers are running the asylum, and Donald Trump wants in on that too?

When I think of Clowns & Jokers in the area of “education” and learning there’s this excellent example of stupidity in what people consider learning that takes place at the gas pump. While driving through the tip of Oregon we stopped in Pendleton and had to fuel up. The pump at the station looked exactly like the ones in every other state including the pay at the pump card slider BUT I couldn’t slide my card, or pump my gas! A nice young person came out to do it for me. When I mentioned that that seemed pretty stupid he informed me that they had been specially trained to protect the environment. I’ve been pumping gas from all the various pumps that have come along since 1983, before this kid was born but he’s had special training? Really? Since 1885 people have been pumping gas for lanterns and cars but in 2014 with all the advances in technology we need special training to pump gas correctly?

My neighbor has an old time gas pump something like this:

This gas pump is complicated right up until someone explains that you have to actually crank and pump the gas up into that glass tank before it goes into your car. Simple? We’re on driver #5 in our family and we’ve shown each of them exactly once how to pump gas and they haven’t lite themselves up yet!  So, how do you convince an entire state of people that they can’t pump their own gas because they won’t protect the environment? Gas is expensive and I’m guessing not very many people pour it all over the place between the pump and their car not to mention if you’ve ever spilled gas even once you’re careful for the rest of your life because you smell and worry about a spark blowing you up. Sadly I speak from experience.

How do you convince people that things are good for them that aren’t? What it really comes down to is convincing people that they are inept and incapable of doing things so you can “help” them. While I don’t know why people choose to allow themselves to be treated like children I do know that we aren’t children and that the average 11 year old could pump gas if it wasn’t against the law (did you know that?) and the average 11 year old is far more capable than our current society gives them room to be.

It takes time to convince people that they can’t do something on their own and it takes lots, and lots, and lots, and lots, and lots of repetition where the empire reminds the children that they’re stupid but all will be taken care of for them.

Here’s a game for you to play. Make a list of all the things you do everyday and next to each one write where or how you learned how to do that activity.

Driving – Michael taught me 🙂

Cleaning/housework – my mom

Cooking – my mother-in-law (my mom makes great salad)

Baking – my mom – I did have a class in jr high but everything they taught I already knew from my mom

Computers – Michael 1983 compact lug-able, currently Greg my 21 year old

Grocery shopping – mom

Gardening – mom

Budgeting – mom

Piano – a few private lessons along the way

Assorted crafts – mom

Lesson planning – on the job

I know you’re going to say but you’re a stay home mom so it makes sense that the things you do every day your mom taught you. Well, I’ve had some jobs along the way and on the job training for all of those. But we’ll make Michael’s list

Van Pool – his mom taught him how to be polite

Computers – 1 computer course in college accounting school and the rest on his own, with friends, learning in community

Communication – through relationships with people

Speaking – a couple years of teaching at a Career Transition Workshop and being Scout Master

Business Objects – online training

Essbase – week class then on the job

Guns – the current fascination 🙂 which requires field trips, online resources, lessons from friends

Selecting, processing and cooking meat – dad

House Building – dad-in-law

Grilling – neighbor Mr. Cargill – best neighbor ever

Car repair – Mr. Cargill

Just since we were in college the world of technology has advanced and continues to advance at ever increasing giant leaps and the “educational” world can’t keep up but the good news is you as an individual can. Unless you want to be a very specific character on the stage, doctor, lawyer, indian chief, you can learn just about anything you want to know on your own, online or from someone who is actually loving what they’re doing. There’s something really exceptional about a lesson from someone with an accidental passion for a subject.

Are you in Clown Training Mode? Are you learning something right now? How are you learning about it? Do you have a choice as to what you’re learning, how you’re gaining that understanding and what the outcome is? If not, that’s very sad, you should find something new to learn. What about your kiddos?  If you want you’re child to be a life long learner, an independent self starting thinker you’re going to have to start by setting an example of being a learner, rescue them from the indoctrination camp and bring them into your camp of how real learning takes place. What do you really wish your child knows? What one thing do you know that they love more than anything?

If you’re kids in the government indoctrination camp try making a list of the things that worry you and take it to their teacher or principal and see how much they listen to you. I understand that everyone can’t train up their own child in the way they want them to go but maybe if you start thinking about what you really, really want for your child you might figure out how to free yourselves into a world of true learning in a state where the people are smart enough to pump their own gas.

If you’re homeschooling and you’ve just stuck school inside your house and are staying on “track” with an expensive co-op that is stressing you out. Stay tuned . . . . .