Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring 2013 Belly Dance in Bryan, OH

Belly Dance with Rita Helena

When: next session begins Thursday, April 4 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.
Classes will run for 5 consecutive weeks for $50

Where: the Community Center on Buffalo Rd., Bryan

Topic: class will focus on a new choreography for drum solo or group performance. New students are welcome!

Please contact Cindy at Parks and Recreation at 419-633-6030 to register. Hope to see you there!!


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Homeschooling: Christian Curriculum Warning for Catholics

Here is an interesting segment from the Keeping It Catholic website that will hopefully help you in choosing your homeschooling materials:

I am still unclear on what exactly about (company name deleted) is anti-Catholic as opposed to just being non-Catholic..... I realize their history up to a certain grade leaves out the Catholic material and I have heard not to use their history and science after this grade. I would appreciate some specific examples of how they are ANTI Catholic.

The discussion was off and running! The following reply is the most edifying -- because it comes from a person with firsthand experience as a "Biblical Christian."

Well, have you asked yourself why they leave out the Catholic material in the history? I'm a convert from Fundamentalism. We were very careful neither to give the Catholic answer on anything nor mention anything in the history books that might cause our children to be open to Catholicism down the road.
Our view was that Catholicism was one of the many wide roads straight to perdition. Our school loved to get Catholic kids in so they could gradually wean them from their faith and make sure they learned all about Sola Scriptura (only the Bible) and Sola Fide (only the faith) so well that they would never return to Rome. (At the time I approved, until I saw the truth of Catholicism. It was then that I realized we should never have been so narrow as to tolerate such interference with parental authority-- because that's exactly what we hated about the public schools!)

Abeka, Bob Jones, and Alpha Omega were our favorite resources. When a Catholic parent asked about homeschool materials, we loved sending them to these three companies. Why? We knew that the entire slant of their educational program would range from Protestant to anti-Catholic. Like the public schools, we all knew that the way you train and educate a child will determine his whole outlook on life as an adult. After all, the Scriptures say, "Train up a child in the way he should go...."

That is why, when it comes to history, the Protestant publishers gloss over or omit the Catholic contribution and point of view. The child will never know it and, therefore, can never refer to it. Eventually, it will be easy to convince the child to become a "born-again Christian" (meaning a Protestant one or even a fundamentalist one!).

The Fundamentalist Mindset Toward Catholicism. If the Catholic contribution to history isn't important enough or influential enough to mention, then all the things that happened through the good influences of the Catholic Church can be credited to other cultural elements. So the Catholic Church can be effectively written out of the history books. With this kind of educational approach, the bad things that happened in history can be blamed on the evil influence of the Catholic Church. All the good things can be credited to the "Reformation" or various "enlightened" heretics who held the protestant-type positions long before breaking with the Catholic Church.

We screened our history books very carefully to make sure that no hint of good was written about the Catholic Church. We understood even a morsel might lead our children into slavery to the Catholic church and then to hell!

A Specific Example. When Alpha Omega carried a homeschooling book written by a Catholic, they apologized for it in their catalog's advertising blurb. They explained that they thought the book had some useful material in spite of being tainted. As a fundamentalist, I appreciated the warning and thought it was very conscientious of them.
 Reading books were another issue. They could use verses and stories that promoted sola scriptura and sola fide and re-emphasied those ideas until they were totally ingrained. The rules were -
-Never hint of Tradition as being from God; always indicate that Tradition is of man and never of God.
-Talk about ANYONE from the Bible as a good role model--except Mary or Joseph.
-Talk about any good religious leaders - provided they aren't Catholic. A good Jewish leader is better than a Catholic as an example for our children, because a Jewish person doesn't have the whole truth. As for Catholics, the fundamentalisst view is that a Catholic has chosen to ignore the truth in favor of the evil constructs of power hungry men and idolatry.

How truths are worded is important. Mostly, fundamentalists know it is important to use a way of wording upon which almost all Christians agree upon. By not presenting an obvious denominational slant, the loyalty to a single creed is weakened. By organizing words and phrases in a way with which a Catholic can agree or won't "catch on" (to the Protestant definitions, of course), the issue at hand is not offensive and Catholics tend to agree with it. Eventually, Catholics become comfortable with other, similarly worded, comments that are, if analyzed, anti-Catholic.

Why do "Christian" publishers do this? It's not because they have an agenda to hurt Catholics. It is because they want to be absolutely certain that their children are raised to view the Bible and only the Bible as the authority in their lives. Tradition (meaning the Tradition of the Catholic Church as upheld by the Magisterium) has no place in the faith life and neither does the Catholic "faith and good works" doctrine.

The Christian publishers want to ensure that children grow up totally convinced that faith is the only thing they need to be "saved." There is no place for good works; it is only your faith that gets you to heaven. No matter how much good you do, you have to build up a rock solid "faith" feeling inside yourself about God. The strong message is that if you don't accept this view of salvation, you really don't have faith in God and your soul is totally lost. As a fundamentalist, you have to check that "faith-feeling" meter on a regular basis. This, of course, clashes with the fundamentalist once-saved always saved teaching, although the alleged reasoning even behind that is "it's a faith thing."

Catholic parents have to ask themselves: If Christian books are written to permeate Protestant fundamentalism into children, why would a Catholic parent want to use them?

For Catholics making use of these kinds of books or curricula, the end result is serious. The children become accustomed to hearing about faith and other matters from the Protestant view.
There is no mention of the Holy Trinity, the Virgin Mary, St. Joseph or the Saints, the need for confession after repentance, etc. Those parts of Catholicism become alien to children because the curriculum is permeated with fundamentalism. For example, when the children do hear about Mary (as taught by the Catholic Church), it is so different from the simplified, watered down religious commentary in their "Christian" curriculum, that they have trouble connecting with the truth about the Virgin.

Language is a very powerful thing. How the faith is presented fits with the entire theological construct. If the book or curriculum presents information as the fundamentalists do (because some Catholic truths cannot be stated in the same way), and a child is exposed to this approach daily and yearly, which will the child understand and choose? Will he choose and believe the one to which he is accustomed, or the one that sounds "odd" to him?

Another example -- if the child finds that the only mention of Mary is "once there was a young Jewish girl named Mary. God chose her to give birth to the Baby Jesus," then the theological understandings of Mary as Mother of God, and the Immaculate Conception, are alien, and the foundations for understanding them are not there. The child needs to hear exactly what the Angel said to Mary, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee." The child needs to hear Mary's responses, "How shall this be accomplished, since I know not man?....Let is be done unto me according to thy word."

The child needs to know that the Holy Spirit (God, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity) came upon Mary and caused her to conceive God (Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who is both divine and human). This builds the foundations for understanding that Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos). Repetition is needed for mastery of the concepts in the story of the Annunciation.

Parents need to know that if the truths of and about the Church are downplayed in the rest of the curriculum, it weakens the concept that this "religion issue" is important . The fundamentalist language in Christian books and curriculums will never allow anything good about Catholicism to be included; the complete truth and the real answers will never be found in a "Christian" curriculum.
As a convert to the Faith, I have given much thought to all of this. Now I use Catholic religion and history and reading. I want to be sure that my kids learn to be Catholic. I have the same dedication I once had as a Protestant because I understand the underlying premise of nondenominational materials...but it was a long, somewhat painful road to get here.

Keeping It Catholic: Charlotte Mason Red Flag

“Every education teaches a philosophy; if not by dogma then by suggestion, by implication, by atmosphere. Every part of that education has a connection with every other part. If it does not all combine to convey some general view of life, it is not education at all” (G.K. Chesterton, The Common Man).

My Keeping It Catholic homeschooling guide, by Marianna Bartold, finally arrived! As I mentioned before, she red flagged both Charlotte Mason and Maria Montessori. I have read the whole CM portion (her objections to Montessori are basically identical), and the author makes what appears to be a fair argument for cautioning against some aspects of Mason's worldview. Her reasoning is based on the perceived evidence that Mason's philosophy is too laced with heresies such as rationalism and naturalism, and is inspired largely by the Enlightenment figure, Jean Jacques Rousseau. One should be aware of these issues, by reading Mason's own words, Bartold suggests. (Note: Having now read a significant amount of CM's writings, I have found none of those heresies suggested by Bartold nor any infatuation with Rousseau.)

The good news is that the methods used by Charlotte Mason which I like, such as living books, narration, and copy work, were actually borrowed from classical education. Bartold herself says that the classical method can be applied to any worldview, be it Catholic, Protestant, atheist, etc... In and of themselves, then, the educational methods used by Charlotte Mason are not problematic. Furthermore, she understood children and how to effectively teach them. Scholasticism is the Catholic philosophical application of classicism. Since this is all new to me, I'm going to have to read the whole volume and come back to distill what I have learned.

What about unschooling? It is not mentioned in this volume in the Red Flags section. However, Bartold does object to the idea she perceives in the CM method that the teacher is only a facilitator of the child's education, which is a belief embraced by some unschoolers. (I did not, however, get the impression that Mason actually thought this way in my own readings.) Child-led learning is said to be the inheritance of Rousseau's influence, so it is perceived negatively. The idea that children naturally desire to learn is denied, a point on which I vehemently disagree with Bartold. She understands John Holt to have been an atheist, but I have no idea whether that is true.  

My idea of Catholic unschooling, as I have put it forth, is that the parents must actively teach their children along with the child-led, auto-education (self-teaching). Merely "strewing" educational materials in the hopes that one's children will find them and be interested is simply not adequate. Radical versions of unschooling do not fit with the parental vocation. In my opinion, there is certainly room for interest-led learning and a relaxed, gentle approach, but the education of the child in every area of life, including academics, is the primary responsibility of Catholic parents. The child cannot be left largely to his own devices in that case.  

What I argue along with other unschoolers is that the "traditional" means used in public schools need not apply in acquiring an excellent education. So can I, in good conscience, be a "Catholic unschooler"? According to my definition, yes, I think so. This is true especially since Bartold thoroughly covers various learning styles and the four basic human temperaments and advocates that the parenting/teaching style should correspond to the child's individual needs. Custom-designing the education is thereby encouraged, which also fits in with an unschooling mindset.

On that note, look again at the quote by C.K. Chesterton. According to what he said, it logically follows that a child cannot get what qualifies as a true education, according to a Catholic conscience, in the public schools. The general view of life espoused in the schools is secular humanism, a religion at odds with any form of Christianity and many other faith traditions. For the Catholic parent, this leaves only the options of homeschooling or a Catholic school. If public schooling is absolutely unavoidable, then Catholic parents have to be even more diligent in countering the ill effects and in firmly establishing the Faith as central to the child's education. It seems to me that this would be a nearly insurmountable task, but with God all things are possible. The challenge for the homeschooler is to keep it Catholic, for the Faith to permeate the entire education.

Bartold lists St. John Bosco as a good source for Catholic educational philosophy and methods, who is also designated as an inspiration for Catholic unschoolers in Suzie Andres' books. So since I have much more reading to do, I think it's time to take a hiatus on the subject for now. Have a blessed Holy Week, everyone! Next time you hear from me I will be a bona fide Catholic!!

Friday, March 22, 2013


Oh joy, oh rapture, a purple crocus is blooming in my yard! And three more are ready to pop open at any moment. The sun came out, and the day warmed up, so we took the dog for an evening stroll and picked up a friend of Beezy's to play at our house. We asked her friend about seeing some kids out today during school hours, wondering if spring break had already started. No, she said, they just had "early release."  Isn't that a prison term?

Anyway, I want to write about unschooling and get away from "what we did for school today" type posts, even though we still regularly do formal lessons. I want to be sure to note, though, that Beezy likes the workbook pages she does and all of the books we read, so she is not being forced to do things she dislikes or coerced to learn things about which she has no interest or does not yet have the readiness to understand. I am also not requiring her to sound words out anymore. Interestingly, she will often sound them out on her own, and I have noticed that she regularly self-corrects in her reading, because the story does not make sense when she makes a mistake. This tells me she is not just decoding words; she is comprehending the material. If she asks what an unknown word is, I just tell her, and it seems to stick much more quickly without my insistence on the burdensome practice of sounding out.

Since I want to focus on not separating life from learning and our Faith, then it's important to just describe the magic inherent in everyday life. I am much more attuned now to simply having real conversations, rather than trying to create "teaching moments."  If Beezy is interested in a conversation her dad and I are having, we just include her and answer her questions without dumbing anything down. Her advanced vocabulary reflects this.

Beezy watched Tom and Jerry cartoons on video this morning. She did her piano homework and practiced playing. A great deal of time was spent creating a theme poster for her 4-H meeting tomorrow, and I will try to get some pictures of it posted here later. It reads, "4-H Is the Cat's Pajamas!" Beezy has been wanting to wrestle with her dad, but he has been sick. Tonight they had a pillow fight and all kinds of fun. He is reading to her now, and I think we will all watch a Super Friends video before bed.

I am still recovering from my sinus infection but am feeling better. Tomorrow I have a retreat all day for RCIA, and only a week will be left before my full entry into the Church! It's beginning to look like spring...

German Homeschooling Family Seeks U.S. Asylum (and the new U.S. school curriculum disaster)

I was made aware of this case a couple of days ago. It goes to trial April 23. The Obama administration wants to deport an evangelical Christian German family, the Romeikes, that fled their country because homeschooling is not legal there. If they return to Germany, they face the possibility of steep fines, jail time, and their children being taken from them. They have been living in Tennessee since 2006 and were granted political asylum in 2010, which has since been overturned. This is a threat to all homeschoolers in the U.S. This is yet another attack on religious liberty by this administration. Readers, please share any additional information you may have on this critical issue.

This headline is also disturbing (

"A new curriculum for public schools across the United States will soon make it mandatory for at least 70 percent of all assigned books to be works of non-fiction, eliminating classic works that have influenced great thinkers for centuries"

That's it--our public schools are doomed. And how long before the administration tries to force this on homeschoolers and private schools as well? How do more dry, "informational" textbooks and the elimination of classic literature prepare children for college and for life? How much more boring can school get? Parents need to mutiny!! Take to the streets and protest! This crazy plan, called the Common Core Curriculum, is hopefully going to crash and burn fast, because the results will be even more illiteracy and a higher drop out rate. That's the only hope.  47 states have already signed onto this. God help the USA.

And this!  (

What on God's green earth?????? This is America? No wonder they don't want students reading books like Orwell's 1984...

"Students in Texas to be monitored with microchips"


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Steubenville, Football, and Rape

"The pictures from Steubenville don’t just show a girl being raped. They show that rape being condoned, encouraged, celebrated. What type of culture could possibly produce such pictures?"

When I was in college, a rape crisis center worker came to my dorm to talk about rape. She told us that the rapist is usually someone the victim knows. He is most often like her, similar in age, race, and socio-economic status. Rape occurs equally during the day as at night. One in three women will be raped in her lifetime. A young woman I knew was gang raped on the OSU campus while I was there, around 9:00 p.m. The best way to avoid being raped? Be aware of your surroundings. Don't look down. Walk with good posture, look confident. The rapist is a coward and wants an easy victim. If you look like you would fight, he won't choose you. If you are attacked, scream and run, and yell "Fire!", because people are more likely to help if there is a fire than if you are being raped. Hold a key between your pointer and middle knuckles in such a way that you can jab the eyes or the jugular of your attacker. Also carry a whistle on your key chain.

I was almost raped my senior year of high school. I went to the party of a classmate whose parents weren't home. A boy I had been friends with since the 7th grade, Louie, suddenly said, "You're looking pretty sexy tonight", grabbed me by the arm, and dragged me to the basement. I thought he was being funny. He was my friend. Our lockers had always been right next to each other due to the proximity of our last names in the alphabet. I don't know how much he had been drinking. I nursed the same beer the whole evening, so I wasn't drunk at all. Thank God. He pulled me into a bedroom, pushed me onto the bed, shut the door, and turned off the light. I got up and turned it back on, still thinking Louie was being funny. But he did this repeatedly, and suddenly I knew I was in terrible danger. He was a big guy. The last time I turned on the light and tried to open the door, by best friend saw me. "What are you doing?" she asked, smiling and laughing, and then the look on her face changed as she registered the look on mine. She got our party host, and the two of them forced the door open on Louie. Later upstairs, he asked me, "Why didn't you let me rape you?"

At school on Monday, Louie looked down at the floor while at his locker. He avoided eye contact with me. He never apologized. I didn't tell my parents or any school authorities. I don't know why. Maybe because I wasn't hurt, maybe because I thought my dad would kill him. Maybe because I didn't hear about rape until college. I was never told what to do...

What would have happened to that girl recently in the news in Steubenville, Ohio, if it was still the '80s? She woke up practically naked, not really knowing what had happened, but fearing she had been molested. The two boys who digitally raped her were sentenced to at least one year in juvenile prison, and possibly until they are 21. It was a blogger who first exposed the damning twitter and Facebook messages and pictures. This is one case in which technology has served the good. Yet the blogger received no shortage of hate messages. Why? Evidently the high school football team is the pride of Steubenville. According to the blogger, even the middle aged dudes sitting in the stands are fanatic, reliving their own football glory days. The two rapists were on the team.

Football doesn't cause rape. But excessively glorifying sports, and the star players, can lead to a certain entitlement mentality, a certain arrogance and exaggerated sense of power. An exemption from the rules of decency, evidently. I was a freshman cheerleader. On the bus traveling to away games, a player would shout out, "What makes the grass grow?!" The rest of the team would shout in reply, "Blood! Blood!"  If we won the game, much celebration happened on the way home. If we lost, there was silence. There is too much emphasis on competition, on winning, over the benefits of learning teamwork, good sportsmanship, and doing one's personal best. Having played the game together should be reason enough to celebrate. Are players even aware of such phenomena as character building? At least when I was in high school, and I was a manager for the football team, the whole team went to church and prayed before school on the day of a game. Prayers were also said in the huddle on the football field. God having been kicked out of public schools, this no doubt would be forbidden today.

In the last couple of years I remember reading in a magazine about a high school cheerleader who was raped by a basketball player. I don't know the outcome of that story, but while the events were being investigated, the boy was allowed to continue playing on the basketball team. Not only that, the girl was expected to continue to cheer for him at games; otherwise, she would be kicked off the squad! She was ostracized by school administrators, teachers, and coaches. The accused boy was, after all, a star athlete.  This is the risk a girl takes if she reports the crime of rape, which is not sex, but violence. We must empower our girls to tell someone any time they are violated in any way, or threatened or verbally abused, and they need to be supported by parents, school officials, and the community. And these teenage boys need to be tried as adults. The age of reason is seven. By 16 a young man clearly should know the difference between right and wrong. A crime is a crime is a crime.

Louie was a football player, which did not cause his behavior but may represent a contributing factor to what happened in Steubenville and other places. Louie always seemed like a really nice guy. He wasn't. He was a potential rapist, and I was a virgin. Parents, talk to your kids, both girls and boys, about rape as soon as they are old enough to understand. Don't be in denial about what really happens in schools, at school related events, and among school peers outside of school activities. The rape avoidance techniques I mentioned above would not have helped Jane Doe of Steubenville, because she was too drunk. Women get drunk faster than men, and it takes less alcohol. Girls need to be aware of the dangers of drinking beyond car accidents. My grandpa told me when I was very young that if I was ever at a party and put my drink down, to never pick it back up and drink it. Why? Someone might have put a drug in it. He didn't say "date rape drug", but that's what he was talking about. Jane Doe suspected she had been drugged.

College fraternity parties are also notorious for very dangerous, bad behavior. I had a boyfriend who belonged to a fraternity, and the young men in this group had conflicting attitudes toward women. They wanted the prestige of attractive females at their parties, but a woman was "just a girl", and a relationship with a girl should never take precedence over "the Brotherhood." Women were props, not people. It was just creepy, and misogyny was rampant--tell your daughters to stay away from frat parties at all costs.

I don't know what is happening in the youth culture to dehumanize these kids, but pure evil is at work. Parents, teach your children well, and protect them. It is your solemn duty. The stakes are too high to leave it to chance.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Self-Designed Catholic Homeschool Curriculum

As I increasingly orient our homeschooling to the Catholic Faith, I'd like to share what we are using for "curricula", considering that term in an open source, unschooling kind of way. That is to say, by way of seamlessly joining learning, life, and the Faith. Using my little way of the fleur de lis, with faith formation at the lily's center, I endeavor to be vigilant in keeping Beezy's home education Catholic. Our curriculum is self-designed and utilizes "living books" as much as possible.

The most important resource, of course, is the Catholic Bible. (We use the Holy Bible, RSV, second Catholic edition). I checked out a Catholic Children's Bible from the library but decided it wasn't going to work. It paraphrases the stories and then explains their significance. I could tell it would be tedious for Beezy and would not work well for her age level. Even for older children, though, this does not fit into the Charlotte Mason philosophy of using original sources and letting children make their own connections regarding the material. The Bible as it is written has always unfailingly held Beezy's attention. I only got the children's version because it was suggested on the Mater Amabilis online Catholic CM curriculum site.

I have been teaching the Rosary to Beezy, and we have covered all five Joyful Mysteries, reading the stories from the Bible to meditate upon as we pray the Hail Marys. At her age (8), one decade at a time is plenty. For copy work, she has written out the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. We will continue with the Fatima prayer and the Salve Regina (Hail, Holy Queen), as well as the Apostle's Creed. This also covers memorization/recitation.

Since yesterday was the Feast of St. Joseph, I read a St. Joseph Story for Kids from I especially liked this, because it discusses doing chores as a gift of oneself. I could almost hear the wheels in Beezy's head turning! We are almost finished reading, Kateri Tekakwitha: Mohawk Maiden by Evelyn M. Brown. This is from Ignatius Press, which has a whole series of novels about saints. I read a chapter, or part of a chapter if it is very long, and Beezy narrates it back to me. This book also falls under the subjects of history and Native American studies. We previously read, Our Lady Came to Fatima. 

Today Beezy asked me who the "Glory Be" prayer is addressed to. When I told her, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, she wasn't sure exactly what that meant. She knew the Father was God, and the Son was Jesus, but who was the Holy Spirit? I just so happened to have a book I was planning to begin today, A Young Person's Book of Catholic Signs and Symbols by Francis Tiso. This book begins with the symbol of the circle representing the One God, and then proceeds to the Trinity. Love those moments of synchronicity!

So there are several ideas for beginning a Catholic-based curriculum. You probably already have a Bible and a Rosary. I simply type the prayers on the computer to print out for Beezy to copy, and the books come from the library. Easy breezy lemon squeezy! Not all of your resources have to be Catholic per se. For example, we are reading Little Town on the Prairie for American history/literature right now, and we are using a basic, "Time and Money" workbook, plus a toy clock with movable hands, for math. The important thing is to avoid curriculum choices that are anti-Catholic or specifically eliminate Catholic historical content (or which contain a Protestant bias). You want to be sure that the Catholic point of view, or point of conscience, as it is expressed by Keeping It Catholic, is upheld.

Speaking of KIC, my book had not been sent due to a warehouse error, but I have been assured it has been shipped, so no doubt I will be giving my feedback on the Keeping It Catholic Homeschooling Guide soon! Tonight Beezy's religious education class, which meets weekly, prayed the Stations of the Cross, and I joined them, participating in this ritual for the first time myself. Ten days until I'm Catholic, thanks be to God!!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

March Winds

The winds are famous where I live. Real tornadoes, like in the Wizard of Oz. Tomorrow is the first day of spring. I could handle these March winds, if spring would come. If the snow would find somewhere else to fall. Since starting antibiotics Friday, this is the first day that I feel like I'm getting better. My husband is still in the worst part of it. And Beezy is getting a bit bored!

We'll see our friends at the library tomorrow. We'll all be healthy again. The sun came out today, and there is new, green growth all over the yard. Right now, though, it just seems like Lent is short for lament. My back is healing but still doesn't feel right. I want to exercise, but I know I need to give my body a couple more days to recover from this nasty sinus infection. I think back to when I first felt the inspiration to explore unschooling. I became a collage artist overnight. I parted my hair on the opposite side from usual and styled it to accentuate streaks of gray. I felt light, full of joy, free!! Now I feel like I'm stuck in the waiting place again, and there is always something or someone standing over me with a bucket.

I keep having to practice patience. I have to wait to get on with some things. And while I have always embraced change, it takes courage to get up in a hot air balloon during a tornado and sit on the throne in a new land. Ask Oz. He felt like a phoney. He thought he was a phoney. But when he did what he was good at, when he decided to just be the kind of wizard he really was, it turned out that he was great and powerful indeed. He wasn't the wizard Glinda had expected, but she had hope that he was the wizard they needed.

Oz didn't want to merely be a good man. He wanted to be great. But he learned that he had to be good first. He had to want what was best for other people. He had to care about something bigger than himself. That's how I look at homeschooling. It's about my whole family. It's about waking up in a land with more color, with strange creatures, finding a room filled with gold. Sure, Oz made some mistakes along the way. Some doozies, truth be told. He learned humility, too, and suffered remorse. He made amends. Whether the witch ever forgives him remains to be seen. She is ultimately responsible for who she chooses to be.

Whatever the outcome, I don't think the wizard will regret going to Oz and meeting his destiny. The regret would have been staying in the circus doing cheap parlor tricks. Playing at being a wizard. Even when spring comes, my back feels great, my infection is gone, and I'm finally, finally Catholic, life will not be perfect. Strong winds will still blow. If they didn't, we wouldn't know that we had the courage to stand strong, and that the tricks up our sleeves were real magic after all.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

What Eleanor Roosevelt Said

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway.
You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
  --Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 - 1962)

They will tell you that you are wearing the wrong shade of purple. When you stop wearing purple altogether, they will say that the problem is that you need to lighten up. When you laugh, they will say that what you are laughing about isn't funny. The former First Lady was right--you just can't win. But who are they, anyway?

"They" are the ones who prefer to find something wrong with you rather than to look too closely at themselves. They are the ones whose misery loves company. It won't matter what you say or do, what color you dye your hair, or whether or not, as Pope, you choose to wear the fancy red shoes. Their picture of you will always be as of a glass half empty. They can't stand to see your cup overflowing. They want you silent and dressed like wallpaper.

The only regret you will have is listening to "they". They are the loveless, clanging cymbals. Do not allow them to gong you off the show of your own life. It's the only one you've got.

The Gong Show

The Value of Routines

"Some parents, instead of being rigid about routines, feel they are helping their children become more flexible human beings by never 'imposing' a routine upon them, but this usually has the opposite effect. In our experience, we have found that children who have no consistent patterns in their lives tend to grow up into adults who are constantly seeking security and stability, and who, due to their fear of instability, are often unable to be truly flexible and creative. Consistent routines which are based upon the child's real needs provide a sense of security which frees the child to develop a strong sense of self-esteem" (, "Oak Meadow and bedtime").

This reflects my intuition toward implementing a flexible but more purposeful schedule and providing a more specific focus to our homeschooling as I explore the subject of unschooling. How can this make sense, the idea that unschooling led me to reinforce the importance of a routine? Aren't these diametrically opposed concepts? According to Oak Meadow, it's quite the opposite. It's common sense that children, and maybe teenagers especially, feel more secure when they have certain things in their days that they can expect, and when they are clear about their family's values and boundaries. Consistency for children was a key Montessori concept.

Beezy is so used to being read to at bedtime that it is almost inconceivable to her if it doesn't happen--such as because a parent has a sore throat or we stayed up very late watching fireworks. This ritual makes her feel secure, as do prayers at meal times and before going to sleep. She seems to feel similarly secure when we have a designated "school" time, and she wants to be finished with it by the time the school kids get off the bus. Then again, she gets excited for those days when the family takes a field trip on a Friday instead of doing school. It appears that both routines and variety are the spice of life!

I think that the key is balance. Routines don't have to be rigid, and they don't have to signal boredom, either. There can be a great deal of flexibility within a schedule--a new food to try at dinner, a new ecosystem to explore in your science studies, a different park to visit, a special feast day to celebrate or saint's life to learn about. Being spontaneous is perhaps more fun when it represents a break from the usual routine! I always had the same bedtime growing up, so it was exciting to get to stay up later for a special TV show. Certainly some rules should be broken (ie. Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus), but other limits actually provide the security needed to safely explore increasingly greater autonomy. There is no such thing as freedom without limits in this life. People can't fly of their own power because they don't have wings, just as snakes can't walk for lack of legs. Unlimited freedom can become its own cage, with children who grow up to be adults lacking in a sense of self-discipline and self-worth. I'm glad I had a curfew when I was a teenager, and I'm glad that when I turned 18, my dad granted my request to have it extended an hour. He could trust me not because I had always been given limitless freedom, but because I had shown self-discipline within the imposed limits.

I don't think unschooling is about letting children do whatever they want, whenever they want. Unschooling is about giving children what they need.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Families, Be Who You Are!

Families, be who you are!  --Pope John Paul II

Who are you?  --the caterpillar, from Alice in Wonderland

Some family weeds clearly need to be pulled and healthy flowers planted in their place. Weeds such as active alcoholism, untreated depression and mental illness, anger issues, abuse, harsh judgment, and unloving attitudes are not who we are. These are merely the weeds obscuring the proper growth of the roses, lilies, violets, and hydrangeas that reflect our true nature. Before we follow Pope JP II's advice, we need to answer the caterpillar's question. If you are accustomed to the chaos of a disordered life, like found in those weeds mentioned above, you may look around for examples of "normal" families in order to chart a different path. This may be helpful to take a look at how a well-functioning family navigates the world. However, if they are a family of daisies, while yours is really a family of hibiscus, well, you can see the potential issues. Each plant has different needs of sunlight, temperature, soil, and water.

There is no one right way to be a family. Nor is there one right way to be homeschoolers or to raise happy, healthy children. There is no one right pace to learn any particular thing. There is no one body of knowledge necessary for any one child to learn by the age of 18. There is no single, correct diet for people to eat, or best place for everyone to live, or most perfect method of discipline to follow. There is, in my opinion, one true religion--but the possible paths to Truth are endless. Figure out who you want to be as a family, then be who you are. Be who you are, families, without feeling that you need to justify yourselves to anyone. If your life is joyous, if you accept yourselves exactly as you are, then you are on the path to freedom. Your garden will still have weeds, for that is our fallen nature. But we are made in the image of God.

Tidal Learning

When I was researching unschooling, I discovered a mother who coined her own label, tidal learning, to describe what she does. She had noticed a certain ebb and flow in her homeschooling activities. Sometimes there was a lot of formal instruction and a set schedule, while other times, such as when a baby was born, life more resembled unschooling. I think that we all have high and low periods of activity. For example, in her book Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach talks about the necessity of "filling the well" in order to stoke the creative fires. There are periods of seeming dormancy, followed by spurts of intense creativity. Without the low tide, there is no high tide.

We have been sick at my house all week. When we're sick we need to rest. It's such a simple thing, but I think there is this fear of falling behind. We must consider that sometimes burning the candle at both ends is exactly what leads to injury or illness. If we don't hear the message to slow down, sometimes God will allow us to be in a situation that requires an abrupt stop. This happened to me years ago, when I was really tired and needed a break but did not take one. I got into a car accident and broke my knee cap. I wrote a lot of good poetry following that period.

Lately Beezy has been having an explosion into writing. She is really interested right now in learning to send text messages on the cell phone. Real life applications of writing are best for improving the skill. The more we read and write, the better readers and writers we become. I saw a love letter she wrote to our dog in the bathroom today, next to Daisy's bed. The desire to write is natural in a child who sees others writing and wishes to be able to communicate in this way. Beezy wants to spell words correctly, and she gets disappointed when she doesn't. I encourage her to just write as best she can. If she asks for help spelling a word, I give it to her; otherwise, I allow the inventive spelling that is natural to children who write words as they sound to them. When I was a Montessori teacher, a child wrote a story, and the last thing he wrote was, "C N". I puzzled over this, working it out in my mind, then smiled when it became obvious--"The End".

Learning happens all the time, even during sick days. Even when it looks like you are doing nothing. The seeds have been planted, but it takes time for the flowers to appear. And before the flowers come stems and leaves. After the bloom, flowers fade and fall off. Next year the process happens all over again. Look to the seasons, to the processes of Mother Nature, to understand that it is no different with us. When the moon calls, the tide rises. And when the time comes, the waters subside. Simple as that. Keep it simple.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wabi-Sabi Homeschooling

If you fiddle this way and that with the flowers and consequently they wither, that will be no benefit. It is the same with a person's life.  --Sen Soshitsu XV

I found this quote in The Wabi-Sabi House: the Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty by Robyn Griggs Lawrence. I have written of this book before in regard to decorating one's home. Now I am pondering its applications to homeschooling. Wabi-sabi strikes me as an unschooling way of living. Arranging flowers as they are found in nature, un-arranging them, you might say, is like allowing a child's natural learning processes to shape her education. To let her be herself, not try to turn roses into daffodils, or vice versa. Using organic colors, natural materials, and items from the great outdoors--bird nests, feathers, rocks, wildflowers--to beautify one's home is akin to ditching a commercial curriculum in favor of custom designing (or un-designing) life to best meet the needs of your children. To allow spontaneous discovery, curiosity and interest-led learning, to give a child the respect of letting her make her own connections. And not assuming that I know more than she does.

Example:  Yesterday I thought I had a "teaching moment" to share with Beezy as we were watching the chimney at the Vatican online and waiting for the smoke to signal whether or not we had a new Pope. I started to tell her about the smoke when she assertively proclaimed that she already knew all about it. How? Did they talk about it in religious education class? No, her grandma, who is not Catholic, told her. I didn't even know about the meaning of the smoke colors until I heard about it on Catholic radio! And that was just yesterday. We do miss some things by not having TV, evidently.

I am beginning to understand, truly, even though I have been saying all along that anyone can be your child's teacher. Homeschooling opens up opportunities for education in the whole, wide world, not limited to the home or the child's parents. This is exactly how I want it to be! And this is what happens sometimes when we try to "teach" our children, when we assume that they will only learn something if we directly put the knowledge into their heads--we insult them. Even if Beezy had not already known about the smoke, I could have waited for her to ask why we were watching a chimney, or until the smoke came out and she wanted to know why everyone was cheering. I was the one who received the lesson this time. So humbling. So wabi-sabi.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam!!

Wow, what a monumental day! I so wanted to go on Facebook and talk about the new Pope, but I gave FB up for Lent!! I shared the historic moment with my daughter this afternoon, who because she is homeschooled was able to sit beside me and watch EWTN's online coverage, each of us sharing an ear bob of the headphones. I cannot describe my feelings when I saw the white smoke and heard the joyful roar of the crowd waiting in the rain at St. Peter's Square. Or the awe I felt when I saw Pope Francis for the first time, so humble, such love and gratitude in his voice. I was looking at the Vicar of Christ on my computer screen. The Vicar of Christ!! I will never forget it, and I am so happy to be coming into this Church in 17 days. Thank you, Spirit of God, Ruah Elohim, for this blessing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Discerning the Child's Needs

Beezy is sick and has been running a fever since Saturday. Thankfully we are going to the doctor this afternoon. It has got me to thinking about how different I can be toward my child when her needs are so clear:  cold medicine, herbal tea, saline nasal spray, tissues, good books to read to her, movies to watch, Tylenol, and lots of tender loving care. When she is ill I am gentler, more aware of what I need to do to help her.

More often I think adults react to children without taking a moment to be mindful of their underlying needs. Our culture focuses more on disciplining behaviors that are determined (often arbitrarily) to be undesirable. When a child is throwing a tantrum, or hitting someone, or running through the house, the automatic response is to punish the behavior, to scold (and therefore humiliate) the offender. My experience with Al-Anon, a support group for friends and family members of alcoholics, gives me valuable insight and a different response. This is the practice of the acronym HALT, which originated in AA. If you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, you are to halt what you are doing and take care of that need in a healthy way, therefore lessening the chance that you will drink (or if you are the loved one of the alcoholic, before it can manifest in some other self-destructive behavior).

In a similar way, when a child is out of sorts we adults need to HALT for him. Is the child hungry, angry, lonely or tired? When Beezy was much younger, she would become overstimulated in large groups of people. Her dad and I could sense when this was happening, and we knew it was time to leave the party, street fair, or whatever crowded place we were in before she had a meltdown. Other hidden needs might be to feel included, to be paid attention to, to have some one-on-one time, to go outside and release some energy, to be comforted, to be accepted. There is always a need underlying the behavior, and the primary goal ought to be to meet that need, not to simply stop the behavior (or worse, punish the child for it). When the needs of children are discerned, the appropriate action can then be determined, which may indeed include a natural consequence such as a time out, having a toy or privilege removed, or making an apology. The adults in the situation may very well be contributing to the unacceptable behavior, and we need to take responsibility for our part in the problem. Is our own hunger, anger, loneliness, or sleep deprivation, or other problems such as grief and depression, coloring our view of the child?

There is also the issue of expectations. Not everyone has the same ideas regarding what is or is not acceptable behavior, or about what the natural consequences should be. For example, I imagine that there could be a large gap between how an unschooling parent sees and handles behavior issues, and how more traditionally minded people view them. Generation gaps, religious beliefs, and pop psychology are other possible influences. This is why observation of children is so important. This is why the adult needs to HALT before reacting to a child, before judging and making assumptions. Lording over children is disrespectful toward them. It is failing to see Christ in the child, and to me that is unacceptable behavior.

When I was in my Montessori teacher training, we actually had classes specifically on how to observe the child. We even took a field trip to the zoo to document in writing the actions of the animals in minutest detail. We did not draw conclusions; we just objectively watched and recorded what we saw. It requires more of the adult to be an intent observer, to objectively evaluate what is really going on with a child and to adequately meet her underlying needs. It is easier to blame the child, or if he isn't yours, to blame his parents or his teachers. They may be contributing to the issue, but when has blame ever solved a problem?

What I hope to gain from pursuing Catholic unschooling is a better relationship with my child; in fact, I think all of the relationships in my home will benefit from this approach to learning and life. When I become impatient or frustrated or distracted, I want to remind myself to be present in the moment, to really see my child as the amazing person and beautiful soul that she is. I want to extend the gentleness to her that I do when she is sick, at all other times.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Unschooling--Freedom within Limits

Maria Montessori's philosophy of "freedom within limits" is a wonderful guiding logo for the homeschooling family. Especially for Catholic unschoolers, or unschoolers of any faith tradition that recognizes the vocation of parents as the primary educators of their children, this concept provides the understanding of supplying healthy boundaries within which they can learn and grow. The Catholic Church's magisterium, or teaching office, gives guidance through the catechism and encyclicals to help parents find this balance between respecting children as persons and giving them the freedom to learn according to their own, internal guidance and interests, while outwardly directing them in the way they should go. In a Montessori classroom, the teacher is called a Directress (or a Director if male). If I think of my job this way, as the Directress of our domestic church, providing a rich environment for child-led learning, offering my help in a relaxed manner, then we can have both a flexible structure and the freedom to allow the day to unfold in the simple act of living.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Catholic Collage Unschooling

"The edge of unschooling is not a solid line. It will depend on the principles by which a family intends to live, and the philosophy of learning and parenting through which they see the world."
--Sandra Dodd

I am awake with stomach discomfort, so I am up early. Checking my email, I found this gem from Sandra Dodd's blog, Just Add Light and Stir. I must say, I really admire the brevity of her posts! They're daily meditations that say something meaningful in a small space. Another blog I recently found, Stories of an Unschooling Family, has also been key in helping me to assimilate this concept. Do you ever ask God for a sign? Last night for no apparent reason I went to one of my bookshelves and opened a journal that I began writing in March of 2009. At the top of the first page I read this:

Educating a child for life


Four years ago I wrote this? My daughter was four years old, and we had decided not to send her to preschool, but to plan on homeschooling. I commented on the Montessori precept of "follow the child" and how it would gel nicely with John Holt's unschooling philosophy. And four years later I am just now coming back to this? I thought it was curious that since unschooling has come to the forefront of my mind, I have also been thinking more about the Montessori method and getting back to some of those principles. It is all coming together, and I think it's time to stop doubting and just trust the Holy Spirit in this. It's all well and good, and even necessary, to think through making such a change and evaluate all the angles, to use our God-given faculties of reason. But at some point comes the time to "leap, and the net will appear."

I also think it no coincidence that I will be entering into full communion with the Catholic Church at the end of this month. I will officially be a Catholic! This has been a long journey, and I already thought of myself as Catholic before beginning RCIA. I wrote a lot about my new religious path, and eventually I realized that after a certain amount of pondering, it is time to put the elements into practice. I think this is true in regard to unschooling. I have been reading and writing and talking about it. I have been testing the waters. Now it's time to jump in, or at least to wade out and really explore life away from the safe shore. So what do I want to call it? For now, Catholic Collage Unschooling. For me, this ties together the use of Charlotte Mason, Montessori, John Holt, and any other approach that is effective for my child with the teachings of the Church. There is truly no line between life, learning, and the Faith. If we believe, we can walk on water.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Why Label My Homeschooling?

What is behind my apparent need to label what we are doing as homeschoolers? After all, I have never liked labels, I am a very difficult person to label, and in many areas of life I am quite eclectic. Why not just say we are eclectic in our educational approach? That would be true in a way, but I really do not want to use the word eclectic in relation to our homeschooling. I feel strongly about this, and so I can conclude that there is a very good reason I am being internally guided away from it. People describe my personal style as "bohemian". This is fine as far as clothing or home decor go. It's a little more specific than "eclectic", but like eclectic, it is vague. I don't go around in hippie clothes, and I don't own a suede purse with fringe. I do, however, have a red velvet, vintage 1920's couch in my living room.

Like I said before in the Romeo and Juliet analogy, how we name things does matter. Words have power, meaning, influence, and deep symbolism attached to them. This is very similar to the belly dance posts I have written, about the trouble with muddied labels like "fusion". Belly dance is the English term for the social, cultural dances of the Near and Middle East. To divorce the dance from its heritage, to replace the music with some other style, to add break dancing and hip hop and still call it belly dance is a bastardization. There are particular ideas, values, philosophies, and intentions behind words. There is a reason that the pen is mightier than the sword. What I call my dance influences the actual dance I do and the music and costuming I choose as surely as the word "rose" conjures passion, sweetness, love...and danger. Just ask Romeo and Juliet.

Ultimately, the label I choose is for the edification of me and my family--and not for anyone else, although it might be useful in a discussion about homeschooling. That our homeschooling is called Catholic is of paramount importance. It keeps foremost in my mind the ultimate purpose of raising a saint in our home, which is a domestic church. If I specify Charlotte Mason as our primary teaching method, I give myself effective educational practices with which to guide me. If I use the term unschooling, I remind myself to relax and to draw no lines between life, learning, and the Faith. Would I homeschool the same way if I had no labels at all? No. And I say this with confidence, that the process of definition creates healthy boundaries. It has already changed my approach to not only homeschooling, but to living more purposefully. Life should be a very deep pool in which to swim. It's like Mary Kay Ash said--"If you aim at nothing, you're likely to hit it."

With belly dance, knowing everything you can about the origins of the dance, and dancing that style with respect, integrity, and humility, is a necessary discipline to becoming a true artist in this field. Only after mastering specific forms of dance can one rightly fuse those elements into something new. Only then does the word "fusion" have any real meaning. Labels can be limiting, yes, but true freedom lies within the limits of one's practice. Naming what we do gives form to our practice. And we can always change our minds. Our boundaries can be flexible, but they shouldn't be made of jello. There really should be a reason for why we call our dance, or our homeschooling, by the name that we do, and we should be clear about these matters for ourselves in our purpose. What's in a name? Everything.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Carefully Laid Homeschooling Plans...

I spent a lot of time on Sunday making a homeschooling schedule for the week. I thought I could use it as a prototype for generally ordering lesson times, to make sure things like learning the Rosary and practicing piano were accomplished. Then yesterday Beezy's first question was, "Is there school today?" She really didn't wish to do school. Yet somehow she quickly decided that she wanted to do shaving cream writing (based on a variation of Montessori's sandpaper letters), because "it was always my favorite thing." And she wanted to do it first. This was a strange coincidence, because very recently I had been thinking about getting the shaving cream back out. Beezy is still having trouble telling "b" from "d", so a relaxed, three period lesson on these was perfect! We then proceeded with following my original plan for the day. The entire lesson time was only three hours, including breaks for showering, getting dressed, walking the dog, playing, and eating. She also had her piano lesson later on.

This morning when she got up, Beezy asked what we were going to do. I had planned Tuesday as an art day, including a picture study via the Charlotte Mason method. When I talked about cleaning the art easel, refilling the paint cups, and setting up a new arts and crafts area, she didn't seem all that interested. She asked if she could watch "What About Bob?", which she is doing now, in the company of our dog. The thing is, if she wants to be able to do art, we have to keep our supplies in  good condition and have organized access to them. That means she needs to help with these processes! Everyone living in a home needs to pick up after himself and have age-appropriate responsibilities. Everyone benefits from an orderly, well-run household. 

 Bill Murray in "What About Bob?"

We'll see how my art day ends up unfolding. I anticipate that Beezy will be more willing to graciously help with my plans after having been allowed to watch her movie first. I cannot be too attached to my schedule. I have to allow flexibility and for Beezy to follow her interests as part of her educational experiences. At the same time, she does not understand at this point how much she will benefit from a beautiful arts and crafts area, and since "all kinds of cool crafts" is the interest she told me she wants to pursue, then she should have a hand in how this is accomplished. And she already found a basket with lid in which to keep the paint cups. I will put on some great music and let the transformation begin! 

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Homeschooling Fleur de Lis

"In the Middle Ages the symbols of lily and fleur-de-lis (lis is French for "lily") overlapped considerably in Christian religious art. Michel Pastoureau, the historian, says that until about 1300 they were found in depictions of Jesus, but gradually they took on Marian symbolism and were associated with the Song of Solomon's "lily among thorns" (lilium inter spinas), understood as a reference to Mary. Other scripture and religious literature in which the lily symbolizes purity and chastity also helped establish the flower as an iconographic attribute of the Virgin. It was also believed that the fleur de lis represented the Holy Trinity" (Wikipedia).

I was inspired by the fleur de lis to come up with my own "little way" of homeschooling, under the patronage of St. Therese and the Blessed Mother, but not necessarily under the label of unschooling. Though I have not yet received my Keeping It Catholic book, I think I have read enough on unschooling to see that it is problematic for the Catholic homeschooling family, possibly even in the less radical forms. The Faith is supposed to permeate the entire educational experience, and because unschooling does not put forth a clear educational philosophy and method (at least not to my satisfaction), I think I am safer calling what we do ''relaxed CM Catholic homeschooling".  But we'll see... And even if Charlotte Mason was heretical in her worldview, as Marianna Bartold proposes, living books, narration, and nature journals are not used exclusively in the CM method, and these and other techniques can certainly be employed in a Catholic homeschool, as long as the books and materials used are not in conflict with Church doctrine. In this I agree with Mater Amabilis, and I have found some book suggestions on their online curriculum list to try. 

As to the fleur de lis, the central petal represents Catholic faith formation; the left petal stands for order on the homestead; and the one on the right is CM, open source learning. The base of the fleur de lis in my little way corresponds to the Holy Family, with Jesus at the center and Mary and Joseph on each side. I think St. Therese would agree with keeping it simple in our homeschooling so that we do not break our heads over it, as she was wont to say. I want my family to be grounded in the Catholic faith in all things; I wish to continue to bring order to my home and yard (for how else can anyone who lives here relax?), and order is also necessary for the blossoming of Beauty; and I feel that using the CM method in a relaxed, Catholic way gives me a firm foundation for educating my child, along with keeping the good aspects associated with unschooling in mind as we seek open sources for learning.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Open Source Learning

Yesterday my DAR group met and heard a program about 4-H in our county. The director talked about the opportunities in 4-H for children to learn many life skills, including public speaking, setting and reaching goals, good decision making, and leadership. Older kids have an opportunity to be of service to younger children, being trained in such skills as conflict resolution and sensitivity. And of course children work on projects which follow their interests, such as animals, sewing, cooking, robotics, theater arts, creative writing, and woodworking, among others. Beezy is old enough now to join 4-H, and I will soon be hearing from an advisor! This is one of those resources homeschoolers can point to when people ask about socialization, by which they often really mean socializing. It is also a group that unschoolers in particular can use to support the philosophy of open source and child-led learning.

In the evening I took Beezy and her friend to the McDonald's Play Place. When the girls told me they were ready for something to eat and drink, I gave them their money and pointed to the line! They were both uncertain, having expected me to do the ordering for them. I gave them few instructions beyond, "Stand in line, tell them what you want, give them the money, and get back your change." They both ended up doing this twice, also learning where they needed to stand and wait for their orders. This was a simple but perfect example of a real life learning experience, the practice of responsibility and self-sufficiency. I dare say they enjoyed it! Since I had my DAR meeting, lesson time yesterday was a little short, but the physical activity at the Play Place counts as gym, and the experience ordering one's own food was also educational. Just having a conversation with a friend provides a chance for personal growth and self-expression, politeness, waiting your turn, etc... There were tons of kids at McDonald's, so the girls interacted in a large, mixed age group. At bedtime I read to Beezy, as usual. Learning is certainly not limited to a designated "school time"!

I am finding that all of the things I think are good about the unschooling philosophy--child-led learning and auto-education, pursuing personal interests, respect and gentleness toward children, giving children freedom to be who they are, trusting the natural learning processes, and restraining from overly interfering in the education of children--can all be accomplished without proscribing to unschooling as the particular homeschooling method used. These tenets can be incorporated into a wide range of homeschooling styles and methodology. In the unschooling literature I have read, there seem to be only two camps acknowledged--either unschooling or school-at-home. There are so many other viable choices, and in truth, I see a certain rigidity at both ends of the spectrum. I think that as long as I build my homeschooling on a solid Catholic Christian foundation, the rest will fall into place, for I will be guided by the Holy Spirit, who indwells my husband, my child, and myself. Here is found the true origin of trust.