2017 Adventure Camp

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This year, we sent both children to Adventure Camp in Georgia, at Cohutta Springs Conference Center. It was strange to be without children for five days and five nights, but we were so busy that we almost did not miss them. Almost.

Cohutta Springs Youth Camp

Our daughter (second from the left) with some of her new friends

Adventure Camp is for boys and girls who are 7-9. Our daughter is seven and our son is nine, so this was the first year they were together at camp. He has been there twice before. This was her first time. They missed us and got homesick, but they did not cry. Continue reading »

They had a blast. This camp is on the side of a lake and they have a lot of water activities. Also, they have a gym for rainy days, where they play dodgeball and other games. There is an indoor climbing wall, too. They have horses to ride and a swimming pool. They do archery, BMX, and arts and crafts. Lots and lots of fun.

Boys doing crafts

Our son (in the foreground) working on a craft at camp

With four activities in a day, three vegetarian meals, one hour of afternoon quiet time, morning roll call and evening camp fire, it was a full schedule. They really enjoyed it. Although my heart broke thinking about how independent my children have become, I was glad to hear they missed us and looked forward to coming home.

In fact, the night before their departure, my daughter cried a bit thinking about being without me for five days. I told her missing home is a great thing. It means you have a loving home, which many people do not. She is a blessed little girl for having a loving home to miss. I am not sure she got it, but at least I left that thought with her.

While at camp, she made a friend who was interested in becoming a pen pal. They exchanged mailing addresses with the help of their counselor, who has access to their files. And they look forward to seeing each other again next year. This is the kind of pen pal friendships with which I grew up and I like it.

Which brings me to socialization. The only reason I was OK with sending my children away for five days so others can take care of them and entertain and nurture them is because I know they screen their staff carefully. Also, this camp is through our church conference. Their social interactions are monitored carefully and no bad languages is allowed. They are to keep their hands to themselves at all times. There are rules about boys and girls interacting with each other. Especially for homeschooled children, camp is a great opportunity to flex the socialization muscle and learn how to be in a group setting.

Our children are growing fast and we are growing with them. Hopefully.

SNL Writer Mocks Homeschoolers

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In less than 140 characters, Saturday Night Live writer Katie Rich managed to mock Barron Trump, homeschooling, and school shootings all at once in a Tweet that has since been deleted.

Barron Trump, Melania Trump, Donald Trump

The First Family during the Inauguration

Many are now asking for NBC to fire Rich. It’s one thing to disagree with President Trump’s policies. It’s another thing altogether to attack his 10-year-old son. Most of us will never understand the pressure this child has been facing for the past 18 months, since his father decided to run for the presidency. Imagine what it will be like for him for the next four or even eight years to pretty much grow up in the White House.

Continue reading »

I have a nine-year-old son and I can tell you what I have discovered: he is a child. My son looks older because he is really tall for his age. He already wears size 12 pants. But his mind is still the mind of a child. Bathroom humor seems really funny to him. He wants to play all day. Practicing his violin takes some convincing on some days, as he cannot control his impulses and wants to do what comes easier, which is anything but build more skill on the violin.

There is a lot of pure joy in him – the joy of childhood innocence. I can only imagine a 10-year-old is almost the same and, with hormones starting to kick in, slightly more confused. Why would anybody attack an innocent child?

And why put Barron Trump in the same sentence with homeschooling? He is not even close to being homeschooled. Instead, he attends an expensive private school. That’s the reason his mom decided Barron should stay in New York through the end of this school year. When he moves to DC, he will probably attend another private school.

My speculation is that the SNL writer is as liberal as it comes and liberals do not like homeschooling. They think homeschoolers are awkward, weird, unsocialized, deprived children. Since Barron looked a little detached, awkward, and bored during the proceedings, she probably made the connection with the homeschoolers of her own imagination.

Most homeschoolers I know are polite and articulate. They relish public speaking and competitions. They work very well in group settings and go on to a rewarding college experience and successful careers.

Last but not least, that Tweet mocked school shootings. One of the reasons why people homeschool is because public schools are not safe anymore. The increase in bullying and violence in schools has convinced many moms to put their careers aside and keep the kids home, where they can be educated in the safety of their family’s nest. I am one of these moms.

I am glad to see that the American public is reacting to Rich’s Tweet enough that she has had to delete it, then make her account private, and finally suspend the account altogether. Here’s hoping that SNL and NBC will do the right thing and fire this bully of a writer who is not very funny after all.

Back-to-School Walmart Commercial and Socialization

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During the Olympics, Walmart ran a back-to-school commercial using “Here I Go Again” – a song from the 80s by hard rock band Whitesnake. As I listened to the lyrics, I could not believe my ears. Walmart was making my point for me: going to school is a lonely road. You are alone even though you may be surrounded by a group of children. What ABOUT socialization?

Walmart back-to-school campaign

School socialization is focused on clothes, loneliness and pairing up.

Socialization is used as an excuse by many parents who send their children to school. In fact, I heard it put this way: “For the rest of their life, they will live surrounded by people. So we must send them to spend several hours a day in a place where they are surrounded by people.” The French go as far as sending their babies to daycare at three months in the name of “living in a collective.”  Continue reading »

This song perfectly explains how lonely it feels to go back to school and, apparently, cool clothes from Walmart will help you deal with that issue. Seriously?

Let’s see what the song says first:

I don’t know where I’m goin’
But I sure know where I’ve been
Hanging on the promises in songs of yesterday
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
Here I go again, here I go again

Here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time…

The Walmart commercial does not go any further than this in the song, but if you read the rest of it, you would know it is a song about heartbreak. Singer-songwriter David Coverdale wrote this song as he was dealing with his divorce from his first wife. I feel for the man.

One of the things I don’t appreciate about socialization in schools is the peer pressure to pair up and have crushes. It starts early, folks. Really early. This summer, my son attended soccer camp with some public school kids and the girls teased him mercilessly about having a crush on a particular girl. The thing is, he did not.

Boy starts third grade

My son wore a gray T-shirt on his first day of school this year.

The girl did and she asked her girlfriends to tease him in order to find out how he felt about her. My poor innocent eight-year-old son was so confused and even angry. Not fun. It only reminded me why we stay away from these buildings called schools. So yes, Walmart, you got school socialization pegged: it’s all about pairing up and breaking up, just like the song you chose for your back-to-school campaign.

“I don’t know where I’m going” starts the song. Well, what can I say? Nobody knows the future. But it sure would be less scary for a child if he knew where he was going and if he did not have to face new teachers and classmates every fall. It would be so much easier on a child to know that he is at home with people who love him and his teacher is his mother (or father) – a person who loves him infinitely.

The commercial’s theme is “Own the first day.” It’s all about clothes. Yeah, some school supplies get two seconds of face time, but everything else is about clothes. You know children compare each other’s clothes and feel the pressure to wear specific brands, right?

Thanks, socialization in schools, for transforming us into robots programmed to keep up with the latest fashion trends and for making us feel that our bulging-at-the-seams closets do not contain anything worthy to wear unless we have what is deemed hot by the fashion experts. That’s why Walmart is trying to break that (otherwise bad) concept and market their merchandise as cool (even though it is not).

“On my own,” “like a drifter” and “alone” clearly paint a sad picture: going to school is a lonely endeavor which requires closing oneself up. God forbid that you should show your true self and expose yourself to merciless teasing and bullying. At the end of the day, a child who goes to school faces life’s challenges alone. Thanks again, Walmart, for making my points for me.

Last but not least, the grammar in this song reminds me that going to school is not a guarantee my children will learn better English than if they were homeschooled. Great choice of song, Walmart! Homeschoolers around the world thank you for telling it like it is. Going to school is not socialization. It is over-socialization which stresses out the kids and confuses them and their parents, sometimes for life.

Wonderful Wednesday – Planting a Veggie Garden

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Every spring, I buy some vegetable plants and start another garden in my 4’x8′ enclosed patch in the backyard. The whole thing started when my son was one. I felt inspired to teach him where foods come from. He is six years old now.

I have learned a thing or two every year from working in the garden. About gardening and, also, about my own character. Lately, about homeschooling, too.

This year, I have already gleaned two lessons:

1. Don’t (trans)plant too early. We planted our veggie garden in mid-April. A week later, hail and snow killed it, even though we covered it with a sheet. When it’s cold, it’s cold.  Continue reading »

Plus, the rule of thumb is, plant outside after Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May). But we got in a rush…

Children are like plants. You take children out of the warmth of their home and they freeze up in the cold of school buildings.

Pepper plant shriveled up in my first garden this year, after hail and snow damage

Pepper plant shriveled up in my first garden this year, after hail and snow damage

If you don’t wait until they have had all the mothering needed, well, you will suffer some consequences. Wait for Mother’s Day – the symbol of nurturing.

I have had several parents tell me how their warm and bubbly five-year-old child went to kindergarten and became a cold, withdrawn person as the weeks went on.

Everybody is asking, “What about socialization?” from us homeschoolers. I think we should ask these same people the same question about their children, who meander the jungle of social interactions all alone, for seven hours a day, five days a week. No wonder children are exhausted by the time they come home. No wonder so many of them become peer-dependent. No wonder the family unit has become a joke in most cultures these days.

2. Don’t water inappropriately (while the sun is still shining). The day we re-planted the garden, at the end of May, I watered. It was around 5pm. I thought it would be late enough in the day. It was not. The sun was still shining and it was 77F. A lot of the leaves got burned by the sun, due to the magnifying effect of water on the leaves.

In my rush to get the project done and checked off my list, I forgot to take into consideration the conditions I was working with.

How do I apply this to homeschooling? Well, in our zeal to make our children Ivy League-ready, we might teach them too much, too soon. Absolutely we must quench their thirst for knowledge. Sure, we must challenge them. But too much knowledge, too many demands, too early will lead to burnout.

Vegetable garden in a small enclosed area

My second garden this year.

I have trimmed the burnt leaves. Many of the plants seem to be doing fine, but some will be lost or not produce as much. The same goes for children who get burned out with too many worksheets.

In case you are wondering, I planted tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash, and watermelon.

Here’s hoping that my garden will survive and thrive.