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Homeschooling

Why I Don’t Use THAT Popular Homeschool Booklist

That super-popular homeschool booklist? I don't use it. This is why.

You know that free homeschool book list? The one making the rounds across the homeschool world — along with the various free and low-cost curriculum offerings by the same author — the one which also includes a not recommended list dozens of titles long?

I don’t use that list.

I know, I know. It’s trending in popularity. It’s everywhere. It promises “wholesome” and “appropriate” titles, and ranks each one according to its “moral merit”. (It also provides a separate, but very lengthy, list of books which the author believes should be avoided.)

Don’t get me wrong. I do agree we should avoid certain books. Some books — like ones about the occult — aren’t even worth the paper they’re printed on. Libraries, too, are full of quizzically-named books like “Help! Haunted Werewolves ate the Cafeteria Lady*” — these always make me scratch my head. Literary merit? Moral value? Highly debatable! (*not an actual book.)

But the author of this particular recommended/not recommended reading list isn’t referring to books about werewolves and lunch ladies. When this book list decries books of questionable merit, it cuts out books like Clara and the Bookwagon (due to unkind parents who don’t value education), as well as Tirzah and The Year of Miss Agnes (because the main characters decide to pursue a path other than childbearing.) There are dozens more books similarly not recommended; this is just a sampling.

I’m taking a deep breath here.

Maybe you have parents who were less than kind to you.

Maybe you struggle with infertility.

This does not make you less than.

This does not make you “of questionable merit.”

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Use THAT Popular Homeschool Booklist”

Homeschooling

Thinking Beyond Grade Levels (& a Timberdoodle Announcement!)

Thinking Beyond Grade Levels When Planning Your Homeschool Year

If you’re brand-new to this blog, coming over from Meet the Timberdoodle Blog TeamWELCOME! I’m so thrilled you’re here.

I’m Gina Munsey, a second-generation homeschooler and a third-culture kid, child to homeschool pioneers and missionaries. I was born in Southern Mexico (Oaxaca wuh-HA-kuh specifically, thus the name of this blog), and then spent my formative childhood years behind the Iron Curtain in the former Yugoslavia. (Fun fact: I was in Germany the day the Berlin Wall fell, and came to America just after the tanks rolled in to Yugoslavia, but before Sarajevo fell.)

After stints in the Midwest, Florida, and the West Coast/Best Coast AKA California, I now find myself in the idyllic historic town of Franklin, Tennessee, just outside Nashville. I homeschool my neurologically gifted 8-year-old, and our school days usually involve an abundance of books, lots of math, and yes, Mandarin Chinese, too. I’m expecting my second (miracle!) child this fall, so our school days are about to get a whole lot more…interesting.

And a whole lot more heavily caffeinated.

I’m in the thick of planning for it all now.

Are you like me? Do you love planning for a new school year? I definitely do. I obsess over delight in all the new catalogs, text about curriculum endlessly with friends, click through book preview thumbnails until my eyes cross and water, shuffle through my note-ridden index cards, and track down all the used book sales in the area, tempted to buy enough schoolbooks to teach at least half a dozen more students than I actually have.

Homeschoolers love to talk about curriculum, don’t they?

Whether it’s in person or online in my FREE homeschool community for outliers, people always have questions about curriculum.

But curriculum really can pose quite a conundrum for our differently-wired kids. If there’s anything I’ve learned through the years of being a child to homeschool pioneers — and now a second-generation homeschool parent to a neurologically gifted, asynchronous child — it’s that homeschooling allows us the immense privilege of creating a completely personalized custom education for each child.

Continue reading “Thinking Beyond Grade Levels (& a Timberdoodle Announcement!)”

Homeschooling

Diverse US History Books for Kids

I’m frequently asked for recommendations on diverse US history books for kids, especially to supplement American history curriculum.

There’s only so many books you can read about George Washington, know what I mean? And honestly — why would you keep reading about the same handful of people over and over, when there’s a whole wonderful world to embrace?

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Homeschooling

Teach Art Appreciation with a 365-Day Calendar

Teaching Homeschool Art Appreciation with a Daily Calendar

Homeschoolers make art appreciation too complicated — too fussy, too drawn out, too obscure.  I see so many questions in forums and Facebook groups, posted by moms wholly intimidated by the idea of teaching art to their children.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to tackle all the art at once.

You don’t have to learn how to draw like Leonardo da Vinci.

You don’t have to be an art historian.

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Poetry & Words

7 Things Evangelicals Can Learn from the Liturgical Church

Why do evangelicals ignore ancient church history? Why do nondenominational churches reject liturgy? Why is there such a gap between American evangelicalism and global Christianity? //
7 Things Evangelicals Can Learn from the Liturgical Church
When I was rebranding this blog, I wanted to include the term “liturgy” in my tag line. But my multi-faith writers’ group quickly said no. Liturgy, they said, was synonymous with Catholicism. I countered liturgy simply meant “the work of the people”, as in

  • our habits,
  • the intentional environment we create,
  • our patterns, and
  • the way we worship through the consistent choices we make daily.

Everything we routinely do is our liturgy, I argued. Besides, even in the context of church, Catholics do not own the term. Many Protestant worship services contain liturgical elements. My colleagues dissuaded me. I compromised, concluded I’ve spent too much time reading the dictionary, and went with the word “rhythms” instead.

But the exchange stayed with me, and I haven’t been able to stop asking questions. (I still like the word “liturgy.”) Why do we tend to think liturgy is Catholic? Don’t even the most seeker-friendly emergent evangelical churches practice many repetitive liturgies of their own invention — for example, in the distinct and recognizable way a worship team continues to play chords and pluck guitar strings while the leader transitions from singing to prayer at the end of the first set of songs, every single week?

Why are so many Christians determined to reinvent and rename the entire church experience, swapping out every term for something more relevant and hip?

Why do evangelicals shun the concise ancient creeds and write forty-page Statements of Faith instead? (Seriously, why?)

Why do American evangelicals think there’s an inverse relationship between the quantity of art in a church in the the quantity of holiness? Why is “church art” dismissed as religious in non-denominational circles?

Has America’s history of intense individualism really had that much effect on the way we view worship? (In other words, can we blame our uniquely-American hangups on the Puritans?)

Continue reading “7 Things Evangelicals Can Learn from the Liturgical Church”