Blast from the Past: Woodworking with Dad

100_7360-1

Now that our son is not a little boy anymore, we’ve been getting him involved in useful projects that require him to work with his hands.

A few weeks before Christmas, my husband asked dsds15 if he’d like to make his gifts for family members in the workshop. Of course, he got a big yes, because what boy doesn’t like working with his dad?

pencil-box-and-note-card-holder-01

The project my husband chose was a pencil holder (link includes plans) made of pine, a soft and pretty wood that’s easy to work with, which is especially important if you’re new to woodworking. The two of them spent several afternoons working on six pencil boxes, which turned out very well. The recipients were quite pleased, and our son was so proud!

In difficult economic times, working with your hands is quite the skill to have, making a person more self-sufficient as well as more useful on the job. I think we homeschoolers need to make sure our kids can work with their hands so they’re prepared for whatever our economic future holds.

(Originally posted 1/13/09. Our son is now in his 20s and still enjoys working with his dad in the shop. They even built a desk for his room together.)

The Duggars: When Homeschool Idols Have Clay Feet

Though I’ve never watched the Duggars on television, only a hermit would have to be unaware of them, because they’re all over the Internet too. And we’ll be inundated with Duggar reports now that the media has discovered an unreported scandal in the Duggar family some years ago.

This large Christian homeschooling family became idols for some people, who were stunned by their ability to raise children who were so different from the rest of the world. But now we’ve learned that they’re not so different after all; they have clay feet like everyone else, and the specific incident that has caused all the commotion was actually criminal in nature.

I have strong opinions about what went on with their eldest son, but my purpose here is not to air them. I’m more concerned about what this revelation will do to the average person’s conception of homeschooling, and the average Christian homeschooler’s perception of what a homeschooling family can really be. I hate that this news casts a negative shadow on homeschooling. But many in the homeschooling community have asked for this by putting these people on a pedestal.

Indeed, since homeschooling began getting major attention 20+ years ago, some Christian homeschooling families have put themselves up on pedestals, just as the Duggars did, and in every case I know of, they eventually came crashing down, leaving disillusioned homeschoolers in their wake. Without naming names, I’m thinking of a Christian homeschooling mom who was a gifted public speaker with a hidden dark personal life, a Christian homeschooling dad who ran a successful business but let his weaknesses take over and destroy his business and hurt his family, a man who ran an empire that mesmerized many homeschool families while he took advantage of young women volunteering for his organization…..so you see, the Duggars are just the latest in a series of people in the homeschooling sphere who become idols, gain tremendous popularity and then disillusion those who admire them by crashing and burning in a spectacular way.

If you’re one of the disillusioned, please don’t let it sway your good opinion of homeschooling. For every one of these people who give homeschooling a black eye, there are hundreds of hardworking parents who are giving their kids a healthy, happy home life along with a solid education. They don’t go about trumpeting themselves, and they avoid pedestals, but their families are living proof that homeschooling works. Maybe you’re one of them.  🙂

My hope is that more and more homeschoolers will learn to trust their own instincts instead of looking for high-profile homeschoolers to imitate. Maybe this latest episode of “Crash and Burn Homeschoolers” will convince them to change the channel.

Happy New Year!

OK, so I’m a little late. I’ve got a good reason for that: I’ve been busy!

I’ve been quilting, writing, and reading for pleasure most of the time. Yes, I do still cook and clean and spend time with my family, but now that I’m not homeschooling, I can embrace my freedom, and I do!

So if you’re tired after a long day of working with your children, and you still have all your other tasks waiting for you, please know that your day will come: lesson plans will be just a good memory, and you’ll be able to pursue your interests. There really is light at the end of the tunnel!

P.S. Guess what? My Stages of Homeschooling eBook series can now be read for free at Amazon.com! Learn more HERE.

The Commercialization of Homeschooling Hits a New Low

I just received an email from a prominent homeschooling website offering to video-review one of our products and put the review on their website.

How nice of them, right? No, because they’re charging money to do the review. A lot of money.

But the amount isn’t the point. Traditionally, reviews are never sold, because a reviewer can’t be considered unbiased if there’s money involved.

Of course, newspapers, magazines and television stations have always paid reviewers to do reviews (that’s how Siskel and Ebert became famous), but that’s different, because the creators of the products did not pay for the reviews. This is important! It’s how you know a review is an honest assessment, one person’s opinion, as opposed to a sales pitch.

When homeschooling took off in the 1980s, homeschooling magazines quickly sprang up and were soon filled with reviews of books and curriculum: the reviews were written by staff reviewers who were usually homeschooling parents. They shared valuable information and opinions. As a homeschooling mom, I appreciated these reviews when looking for books and curriculum for my children.

Since my husband and I became homeschool publishers in 2003, we’ve submitted our products for review to reputable publications and websites, and have gotten some great reviews which we used in our marketing. But we have never ONCE paid for a review. Paying for a review defeats the purpose of asking for an unbiased opinion.

Sadly, it looks like the commercialization of homeschooling has attracted some people with unethical business practices. So be warned: if you see a review of a homeschool-related product in a magazine or website, it may just be an ad in disguise.

How will you know whether a review is really a review or just an ad? Contact the source of the review and ask if they pay for reviews. Then you’ll have your answer.

If this practice becomes widespread, reviews will become meaningless, and should be called ads or (in the case of video reviews) infomercials.

Thoughts for a Bitter Homeschool Mom

Recently I saw the following comment on a forum where the topic was Common Core:

I pulled my youngest out of school when he came home and told me, with his sweet little lisp, that his teacher said “Africa was in Asia.”

He was in first grade.

Pull your kids OUT! If you think you’re in a “good” school district, think again. Similarly, if you think you’re in a good private school, think again. Please! Both parents don’t need to work — if necessary, downscale. One parent, usually the mother, can easily handle the education of the kids.

Fathers, please heed: As a woman, I destroyed my career for my kids. Any woman who has kids and takes the time to educate them — even if she hires tutors and spends her time driving the little cretins around to various “learning” activities — will sacrifice her future in ways you will never understand. As your career takes off, her career is plummeting. And its not as if she’ll be able to start again where she left off many years ago. It’s over for her. So, please, remember that when your harried wife plunges into despair as she spends her best years (40/50s) trying to rekindle her mind and work-life.

I was completely with the commenter in the first few paragraphs, but that last one blew me away. Wow! She sure sounds bitter and depressed.

And yet I can relate to her. While I’ve never thought of my children as “cretins” (that’s where I began seeing the bitterness in this comment), I understand the despair she feels. Because I’ve been there more than once since I retired from homeschooling three years ago.

If I could, I would remind this woman than homeschooling is not some minor commitment you make in addition to church and Neighborhood Watch and Zumba class. Homeschooling, when done well, will eat up your life. It’s a huge lifestyle choice that requires enormous dedication. And when you’re done homeschooling, the recipients of your efforts leave you (at least if you did it properly so that they’re equipped for independence).

It hurts on a personal level, no question. And it hurts your career aspirations, too. But wasn’t it obvious that the working world would not exactly be pounding on your door once you finished homeschooling? It should have occurred to you that the career thing was not going to be waiting for you during those 20 or 30 years you spent educating your kids.

That said, today we have far more options for work than we had 30 years ago, when I last worked full-time. Thanks to the Internet, you can work from home. You can start selling on eBay, create things and sell them on Etsy, or begin a freelance career in an area that interests you. You can offer your services as a babysitter or tutor and help the newest generation. If you don’t need an income, you can volunteer in your community.

Now that you’re free to spend your day as you see fit, you may become overwhelmed by all the choices you have. And that’s OK. It’s even OK to be bitter, for a little while. But don’t let it become a permanent emotion. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start figuring out who you are at this stage of your life.

Because you were wrong when you said, “It’s over for her.” It is not “over” for any retired homeschooling mom. Personally, I’m just getting (re)started!