Homeschooling, How To

Uncovering the Worldview Hidden in your Homeschool Curriculum

Uncovering the Worldview Hidden in Your Homeschool Curriculum
Are you trying to decide what homeschool curriculum is right for you? Homeschool publishers often sort curriculum into secular, neutral, and Christian categories, and further divide science resources into Old Earth Creationism, New Earth Creationism, and evolution. Even with those categories, when you’re faced with dozens of catalogs, or hundreds of enticing vendors, it can be hard to know what a publisher’s worldview really is. The truth is, the nuances of worldview go far deeper than those already weighty topics.

But as a second-generation homeschooler who’s had some close scrapes with fundamentalism, I know first-hand how important it is not to cut corners when evaluating a publisher’s worldview. You have to take the time to uncover what the authors are truly trying to get across.  When I’m trying to unearth the worldview of any given curriculum, I start my search by looking at the author’s perspective on on rules, religion, race, and women.

Here are the seventeen crucial questions I ask when trying to determine a homeschool curriculum’s worldview:

  1. Does this material assume all girls should grow up to be wives and raise children, or does it empower and inspire girls to follow whatever path God calls them to, recognizing that not all women marry, and some struggle with infertility?
  2. Does it highlight women and girls as independent actors?
  3. Does it tell stories of women beyond focusing on their roles in a family?
  4. Does the material promote compliance with a set of rules, or does it allow for freedom and grace?
  5. Does this material present a morality-first viewpoint, emphasizing outward virtues and traits with the goal to get the child to imitate certain character values, or does it recognize that it’s only through a heart surrendered to Jesus that a person can only be truly transformed?
  6. Does the material oversimplify good and evil and present it as an easy-to-spot either-or choice; or does it teach analytical and critical thinking skills, discernment, and problem-solving?
  7. Does the material only present what to learn and/or believe, or does it also provide context and a “why” behind the belief?
  8. Does the material present history predominately from a Western perspective, or does it also present facts from a non-European point-of-view?
  9. Does the material perpetuate the idea of “otherness” by teaching about non-European cultures using stereotypical depictions, or does it allow for each culture to have its own strong, rich, identity?
  10. Does the material mainly contain books with white main characters, or does it offer books with nuanced, fully-developed, non-stereotypical heroes and heroines of diverse backgrounds?
  11. Does the material teach (implicitly or explicitly) that the “primary” actors in history or literature are white? Who does it teach my child to identify and sympathize with?
  12. Does the material attempt to “Christianize” certain historical events, or does it recognize that every event has more than one side?
  13. Have I truly evaluated the content and worldview of this material, or am I simply choosing this material because it’s popular in homeschooler subculture?
  14. Will this material allow my child to be challenged to the best of his/her God-given ability, or am I simply choosing this material because of its price point / ease-of-use / etc?
  15. Will this material equip my child to follow any number of career paths God might have in store for him/her, or am I choosing this material because I want my child to follow the path I have in mind?
  16. Is this material based on fear and reliance on man’s own goodness to combat what is perceived as evil, or does it promote courage and a reliance on Jesus?
  17. Is this material designed primarily to shelter and insulate my child, or is it designed to inform, equip, and empower?

What essential questions would you add?

This list above is excerpted from an interview I originally gave with Amanda of Sicily’s Heart & Home, on the topic of Christian education as equipping, not as sheltering.  

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Homeschooling, Life in Photos, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: A History of Weather

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

We spend the mornings together, side by side, she a constant inquisitive spirit, eager, joyful, full of wonder. We sit at the table together, the sun casting shadows through the curtains and across the stacks of books. Sometimes she slowly exclaims “Wow!” and sometimes she shrieks “Tell me more about it!” But always she wants to know more.

I read, she listens. She reads, I listen.

Civilizations.
Atoms.
Voyages and discoveries,  light and darkness.

We turn the pages together. We marvel at the lines in the paintings of the masters together.  We look up into the vast distance of the galaxies together.  We talk of good and evil. We talk of beauty. She asks for more about Moses, more about Joshua, more about Sarah, more about these men and women who walked before. Her voice recites truths, her fingers are just beginning to dance across the piano keys, her little self is flying through books like there is no end to adventure.

Because there is no end to adventure.

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Core A :: An Intro to World Cultures :: Ancient Romans :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

billy_collins_history_of_weather

Life in Photos :: Sonlight Science A :: Biology, Botany and Physics :: Homeschooling on the Oaxacaborn blog

 

Babiekins Magazine

Social Enterprises, Homeschooling, and more in the Latest Print Issue of Babiekins Magazine

Babiekins Magazine - Trendsetting Kids Fashion Magazine for Children and Parents - Summer Print Issue 6

Over this summer, I had the privilege and honor to be a part of two more cover stories in the latest print issue of Babiekins Magazine! (Is that cover pure happiness, or what?) I want to give a big shout out to my incredible team — Kelly Roper Photography, Elizabeth Pettey Photography, Priscila Barros, Leslie Schor Creative, and Liz Jacob of Yellow Finch, all of whom worked tirelessly (and sleeplessly!) to make this issue a reality. You ladies rock!

The first story I wrote for this issue is all about the founder of Isabel Garretón, Inc., an incredible trail-blazing immigrant woman who was producing socially conscious garments long before eco-fashion was a business trend. I really enjoyed talking to her about cultural identity, what it means to really “feel American”, and the complicated issues which accompany managing a social enterprise.

I also was able to share my thoughts on homeschooling as a part of the big Creative Education special feature in this issue. As you know from reading my blog, I don’t think homeschooling is the only option, nor should it always be approached as a lifelong option.  For us, it’s the path we’ve chosen for the time being, almost entirely because, despite studies like this, Florida state law is an absolute stickler about the cut-off ages for entry to kindergarten — or any other grade.

So, we’re homeschooling, although I don’t always approach it from a traditional homeschooling mindset.  In this Schoolkins article, I talk about this eclectic perspective, my own positive experience being homeschooled as a child, and how I think it’s important to look outside the homeschool circle and plug into the community at large. I also share my somewhat controversial thoughts on the harm of downplaying academics.

I hope you’ll be able to pick up a copy in your local bookstore; otherwise, you can always order a copy directly from Babiekins as well.

Rug c/o Rugs USA, one of the sponsors of an upcoming education-themed #schoolkins interior design editorial, premiering soon on Babiekins Magazine

Homeschooling, Poetry & Words

POETRY & WORDS :: Homeschooling Kindergarten

Velveteen_May_Aveline_ALE_2

It’s grown on me, this place, this place of swamps and heavy air and tangled underbrush rustling with the sound of lizards, great and small. Oh, the monsoons and the swirling hurricanes on either side of this peninsula don’t do anything for me. And with all the orange-beaked egrets in the world are nothing to the beauty that is the thirsty earth, the hills of golden grasses, and the twisted, reaching oaks of Sacramento Valley. There’s thick damp mist, here, that rests solidly and perpetually across the marsh; but there is nothing in the low clouds that can compare to the distinctive September aroma of scorched earth and wildfire, and nothing in the flatlands that compare to the piles upon piles of tall clouds stacking up against the Sierra ridge, across the horizon. One man’s hazard is another man’s beauty. Tectonic plates shift and the earth shakes on one edge of the world, and the low water tables rises and the earth sinks on the other edge of the world. There is no place safe.

But it’s grown on me, this place.

This place with all its oddities and all its weird news headlines and its slow, endless stares.

Billy Collins knew about the stares. They’re ubiquitous here. Even the animals look, slowly, here in the place where there is “no more snow…no hexagrams of frost…no black sweater”, only “those birds with long white necks”, who “swivel their heads / to look at me as I walk past / as if they all knew my password /and the name of the city where I was born.”[1]

Velveteen_May_Aveline_ALE_4

But, I’m carving out my place here. This little one is carving out her place here. This little one who’s been raised here — this little one who thinks 72 degrees is winter, this little flatlander who thinks overpasses are such freakishly huge mountains, they necessitate shrieking each time we drive across — she’s been helping me see my place here.

Maybe I’ve shrieked a little, too, as I’ve metaphorically driven over high areas that seemed scary to me, areas where it was hard to keep my focus on the middle of the road and not at the unknown dropping off at either side. Just over a year ago, we suddenly started school because my three-year-old wouldn’t stop begging for “more worksheets, p’ease!” and I had no idea where it was gonna go. I wasn’t planning on a particular homeschool path, really. I just waded in to the waters, wishing they were clear, wishing I could see the bottom, wanting to turn back and sit with my feet dug into the shore, but knowing my little one was literally begging for “more school, p’ease”.

But now, a year later, we’re all in.

This little one just finished a full year of once-a-week Chinese language school (and Chinese folk dance). And she’s almost done with her first semester of Yamaha piano and voice. She finished the stack of preschool books ages ago, learned to read Chinese first, then she learned to read English. Now, the crazy kid is half-way through Kindergarten math, and just finished Kindergarten Science. She cried during Spring Break (“No school?!”) and cried when she found out summer meant no school. 

But in Florida, she’s not legally old enough for Kindergarten.

I did hours of research, and toured the private Christian school near us anyway, to see what pre-kindergarten would offer. I wanted it to work; the teachers and administration tactfully told me it probably wouldn’t.

So, friends, we’re all in. We’re all in, despite all the experts saying it’s too early for formal academics.

We’ve grown into homeschooling, just like we’ve grown into seeing the beauty in the rain-soaked jungle around us. <3

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Aveline is wearing the Ale Dress in Earth Poplin from Velveteen

Adoption, Christmas, Humanitarian

CHRISTMAS :: 18 gifts that matter for #GivingTuesday (and every day)

#GivingTuesday is a terrific opportunity to look up and away from ourselves. Of course, this outlook shouldn’t be confined to just one day a year, but I can’t argue with a movement that encourages us all to reach out. And so, in celebration of Giving Tuesday, here are eighteen different ways to give a gift that gives. A gift that loves. A gift that matters.

For more information about a particular gift, simply click on that photo.

Image Map Provide EDUCATION IN CHINA Provide for FOSTER FAMILIES IN CHINA Provide ORPHAN CARE IN CHINA Provide MEDICAL CARE IN CHINA PROVIDE REFUGEE RELIEF around the world PREVENT human trafficking and exploitation Provide CLEAN WATER around the world FEED A HUNGRY BABY for a week PROTECT vulnerable women Provide WARM COATS AND SHOES CARE FOR Romanian orphans SUPPORT a crisis pregnancy center in Taiwan Sponsor a baby in a TAIWANESE ORPHANAGE Provide SURGERIES for infants and children in China Provide EVERYDAY NECESSITIES for care centers in China Sponsor the EDUCATION of a child in Ethiopia Build a HIGH SCHOOL in Ethiopia Provide a VOCATION for an adult or care for a child

1. Love Without Boundaries | EDUCATION | Provide education and school access to at-risk children in China ($10+)

2.Love Without Boundaries | FOSTER FAMILIES | Provide a family environment through foster care to orphaned and at-risk children in China ($10+)

3.Love Without Boundaries | ORPHAN CARE | Provide access to care, hope and healing to orphaned and impoverished children in China through LWB’s programs ($10+)

4. Love Without Boundaries | MEDICAL CARE | Provide medical care and surgeries to orphans and infants/children whose parents would not otherwise be able to provide care. ($10+)

5. Samaritan’s Purse | REFUGEE RELIEF | Provide tents, heaters, food and more to displaced people ($125+)

6.Samaritan’s Purse | PREVENT HUMAN TRAFFICKING | Provide education in at-risk locations to empower potential victims to recognize and avoid exploitation and trafficking. ($100+)

7. Samaritan’s Purse | CLEAN WATER | Provide a water filtration system to give 3,500 people access to clean water ($20+)

8. Samaritan’s Purse | PROTECT VULNERABLE WOMEN | Provide literacy classes, maternal/child health education, protection and support for victims of gender-based violence, and more. ($30+)

9. Samaritan’s Purse | ONE WEEK OF FOOD | Provide food for a baby or nursing mother for one week. ($9+)

10. Samaritan’s Purse | CLOTHES & SHOES | Provide warm coats, clothing and footwear to displaced people in refugee camps. ($25+)

11. Anchor of Hope Romania | FOSTER CARE | Provide family-like environments and other vital care for orphans, abandoned babies, and at-risk young people in Romania. (Any amount) To give directly to Christian & Marie Burtt, full-time missionaries serving in Romania with Anchor of Hope, click here.

12. Taiwan Xi En | CRISIS PREGNANCY HOME | Provide nurturing care for infants and expectant mothers at the Taiwan Xi En House of Hope. (Any amount)

13. Taiwan Xi En | SPONSOR A BABY | Provide diapers, formula, clothes, shelter and caring nannies for abandoned and at-risk infants 0-2y at the Taiwan Xi En Orphanage. ($50/mo)

14. Show Hope |  SURGERIES | Provide heart, cleft lip and cleft palate surgeries to orphans and infants/children in China. ($65+)

15. Show Hope | EVERYDAY NECESSITIES | Provide diapers, food, and clean drinking water to the special needs orphans living at the Show Hope care centers in China. ($12+)

16. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | EDUCATION & FOOD | Provide access to education and nutritious meals for a school-age child in Ethiopia. ($19/mo)

17. Adami Tulu + Ziway Project | HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION | Provide the resources necessary to build a high school so the Adami Tulu + Ziway students can continue their education. (Any amount) Or, donate in honor of a loved one, and send a card to a friend! ($20+)

18. Lifesong for Orphans | WHERE MOST NEEDED | Provide life-giving care for children, and sustainable micro-business opportunities for adults, in Bolivia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Ethiopia, Liberia, Zambia, Cambodia, India and Ukraine. On #GivingTuesday [2 December 2014] only, your gift to Lifesong for Orphans will be multiplied 4x through a matching grant when you give using this link. (Any amount)


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