Available NOW

Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is now available!

 

Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do). This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure!

It’s Been Awhile- and I have News!

There’s so much to say!

First of all, our sweet little family moved from Texas to North Carolina!
We’re ready for new adventures!

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In other exciting news, I would like to explain the reason for my absence from this blog. I’ve been busy writing a book!

Meet Nellie Nova.

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“Nellie Nova Takes Flight” is the first book in the Nellie Nova series. It will be available in the Fall of 2015.

Nellie appears to be a normal nine year old girl. But Nellie is not normal. Nellie is an amazingly gifted scientist who lives in a family of amazingly gifted scientists. One day, her brother, Niles, who is eleven, teases her (as all respectable big brothers do.) This time, however, Niles goes too far when he tells Nellie that girls are silly and no woman has ever changed the world. This sets off a spark of an idea in Nellie’s most amazing mind and sends her down the path to create a time machine and meet wonderful women who made a mark on the world. First stop, Amelia Earhart! With a few bumps along the way and a government agency out to steal her technology, Nellie and Niles are in for an incredible adventure.

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I am really excited about Nellie Nova for a few reasons. First of all, I have noticed that there’s a lack of strong female characters in literature for kids. While I see no harm in princess stories, I think it is important for both boys and girls to see that girls can be more than pretty and do not always need to be rescued. Better yet, Nellie loves science and shows that girls can be scientists and engineers if they want to be.

Something else I am excited about it is the fact that the books feature homeschoolers. There are not a lot of homeschooelers in literature. I think this is a disservice not only to homeschooled kids, but to their traditionally schooled peers as well. Since the homeschool movement is growing at such a rapid pace, more and more kids are homeschooled every year. It only makes sense for homeschooled characters to start becoming more common, not only so homeschoolers have characters they can identify with, but also so that public and private schooled kids can see that homeschoolers are not so different after all.

I’ll be sharing more about Nellie Nova here, but check out Nellie’s facebook page for updates as well!

Why Homeschool Series- Education

Why Homeschool Series

The last post in my “Why Homeschool” series is about the actual education my kids receive at home (and elsewhere as we don’t actually spend that much time sitting around the house!)

I honestly do feel we can provide a better education for our kids. In our experience, our kids are learning so much more at home than they ever could in a public school setting. My kids learn at their own pace. We move from topic to topic when they’ve mastered it. Not before or after.

We have a very eclectic, hands on, child influenced method of learning. Everything we do is an opportunity for learning. Our learning and our living are one in the same.  The kids are very passionate about learning. I believe that passion and drive leads to real learning, not reciting information for a test. In fact, we are quite happy to avoid excessive testing and are quite opposed to the current state of standardized testing. Five hours of standardized testing for five year olds is developmentally inappropriate at best and morally questionable at worst. I won’t subject my kids to it.

My kids are working above the state standards in all areas of study. I could brag about their individual accomplishments, but I will spare you the gushing details. They learn because they want to do so, because it’s never been shoved down their throats. No one has ever made it a chore for them. It’s a lot easier to learn when you can do so in your own way, at your own pace, and in a comfortable, loving environment.

A few months back, Dancer Girl was complaining about her math curriculum. After talking with her and looking into other programs, we realized that there were a few issues with it. The first was that it was too easy for her. The second was that it did not suit her learning style. I was able to replace it with a more advanced, hands on program and she begs me to “do math” now. I love that we have the flexibility to make changes like that.

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Because we have more freedom to learn what we want, my kids have had some really cool learning opportunities. All three kids are currently learning to speak German. Even Little Guy (2) is catching on and is able to say several words and phrases as well as count to 10. When Dancer Girl was really into geology we were able to make it the main focus of our studies. When Science kid was obsessed with Ancient Egypt we mummified apples and went to a museum to see mummies. I love being able to combine passion and learning.

A friend of mine recently made the move to homeschooling after three years of public school. Her little girl told her  that “No one likes to learn. It’s boring.”

That’s not the idea I want my kids to have about learning.
Thankfully, because of their environment, they have only love for learning.

Something else that is really important to our family is playtime. There’s less and less time for playing and the arts in schools these days. As Fred Rogers said,

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”

I really think it’s a disservice to kids to take play out of schools. My kids are able to weave play into their days with ease.  I love that they have so much free time to spend how they want. They come up with amazing ideas, create beautiful artwork, explore nature and just plain have fun when left to their own devices. This kind of time breeds creative thinking and has been shown to be good for cognitive and social development. And you know… happy kids.

My end goal for my kids isn’t that they learn “what they are supposed to learn.” My end goal for their education is to give them the skills to seek out the information they need and desire throughout their lives. My goal is to spark curiosity, to encourage creativity, to inspire innovation and to raise them to be confident, compassionate adults. Yes, when it is all said and done they’ll know who Columbus was and how to solve for X, but they’ll learn so much more than that. They’ll be able to delve into their passions and really learn about them. If I’ve done my job right, they’ll know who they are and they will be able to go into the world and accomplish whatever it is they desire.

Are you happy with the education your kids are getting? Why or why not? Do you think your kids get enough time to play, create and explore? 

Why Homeschool Series – Socialization

Why Homeschool-

Now I’ve got to be confusing those who don’t support homeschooling!

The most common fear people express about homeschooling is that they won’t be “socialized.” Flashbacks to teachers yelling at me to stop talking because “We are not here to socialize!!” aside, I am not sold on the idea that the only way to learn how to interact with others is to be forced to stay in a room with other people your age for seven hours a day. This situation only exists in school. It’s not part of the “real world” for which those opposed to home education claim we are not preparing our kids.

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This week, my daughter attended six dance classes. The age of children participating varies from about 4-10 depending on the class. She interacts with all of them, and the teachers, just fine. She is not afraid to chat with the older girls or the adults at dance and she is always helpful to the younger dancers. This setting more closely resembles “the real world.” No workplace I’ve ever been a part of only employed people of my exact age.

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Dance is not the only social activity my kids participate in by any means, but it’s an example. They also participate in gymnastics, baseball, homeschool groups, soccer, and have playdates with other kids. Our problem is never coming up with enough social outlets as much as it is having more options than time and money. They also go to the park, the library, the store, etc and they interact with people wherever we go. They are not tied to down to the idea that they have to be friends with kids who are “in their grade.” They are happy to befriend just about anyone.

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Science Kid has Asperger’s. Socialization does not come naturally to him. He loves other kids. He’s lovely to be around, but he just needs a little more guidance than your average kid. I have talked at length with the doctors and therapists who work with my amazing guy about schooling options. They all think that for a bright, high functioning, slightly awkward kiddo like mine, homeschooling is the best option. Social skills and academic skills do not have to intermix, so he can focus on schoolwork without worrying about social pressures.  Inversely, he can focus on social skills when playing and not worry about learning. By keeping it separate, it gives him a better chance of success in each area. One of his doctors, who works with a lot of kids with high functioning autism spectrum disorders, says that his happiest patients are the kids who are homeschooled.

I believe that my kids are being given more than  enough opportunities to practice social skills and make friends. I also appreciate that we can choose when a social setting is appropriate. With bullying how it is these days, I am glad we have more control over social settings than we would if they were in school. And no, I do not think that being bullied is a skill we all have to learn. If you would not put up with it in an office, then kids should not have to put up with it in a classroom.

I am not afraid that my kids will grow up to be poorly adjusted individuals because they were not forced to sit in a desk for hours at a time with kids who are exactly their same age.  In fact, I think they are being given the skills be well adjusted, compassionate adults.

Homeschoolers, do your kids have lots of opportunities to socialize? Which ones have been the best for your kids? 

Check back tomorrow for my next post in this series! 

Why Homeschool Series- Experiences

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The second post in my series on why my own family made the choice to homeschool is about the opportunities we have to provide our kids with real world experiences.

It takes less time to teach a small group of kids (in my case 3) than it does a group of 25-35 kids. Because of this, we have a lot more free time on our hands than we would if we put the kids in public school. We are out and about in the real world as much as possible and I truly feel that these experiences have taught my children so much more than any textbook ever could.

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In the past 13 months, my kids have been in seven states, have gone fossil hunting, hiked, gone on a dolphin cruise on the Gulf Coast, seen the redwoods, the Golden Gate Bridge, seen the Oregon coast, hung out on the beach in Santa Barbara, been to zoos and aquariums, enjoyed our local art museum where they saw the works of Picasso, Van Gough and Monet (also- my kids knew these artists and were excited to find their work.) They’ve toured  historic villages, hunted for ghosts in the “most haunted town in Washington,” ridden horses, visited science museums, watched glassblowers create their art, stood on mountaintops, and played in the woods.

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You can’t beat real world learning. On a recent trip to the Gulf Coast, we took the kids to an aquarium. All three fell in love with the dolphins there. On the drive back to the hotel, we saw a pod of dolphins playing in the bay. The kids were so excited! We decided to take them on one of the many dolphin cruises that were held nightly in the area. The kids saw countless dolphins and were able to make a ton of observations about them in their natural environment. This continued throughout the vacation and afterward as the kids researched dolphins online, drew pictures of them and read books about them. Giving them real world context made learning come alive.

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That is why this blog is called “Whole Life Learning.” We are always learning. All of us. The whole family. We’ve created a lifestyle full of exploration and discovery. Each new experience is an opportunity for growth and learning. My kids are not bored in the classroom because the world is their classroom and they will never run out of things to do.

As they get older, we plan to do more of this type of learning. As a family, we’re saving for a trip to Europe. Science Kid really wants to see Stonehenge and Dancer Girl wants to see Monet’s garden.  I am sure we’ll be saving for a long time, but that’s okay. I want Little Guy to get a bit older before we do any extended traveling. It’s exciting for us all to dream about the days we’ll worldschool, but there is so much to learn about stateside or even in our own neighborhood. So much has come from our nature walks and local museum trips.  Being out in the world on a daily basis makes our homeschooling experience rich and fulfilling. I know it’s times like these that the kids are not only learning, but making lasting connections and memories to last a lifetime.

Do you homeschool? What real world experiences have you been able to share with your kids?

Check back tomorrow for the third post in this series! 

Why Homeschool Series- Family

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I am often asked why exactly we decided to learn outside of a school setting. It’s not a super common choice, though homeschooling is on the rise.  I thought I would start my blog out with a series on why my family made this choice. I can’t speak for all homeschooling families and I am not attempting to belittle the choices of others. I am just explaining some of the reasons we’ve decided to keep our kids home.

Family

No matter how you look at it, traditional schooling takes a lot of time out of a child’s day. The days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into years and pretty soon, that adds up to a large portion of their lives spent away from family. Call me crazy, but I love having my kids around (not to say that I don’t need a break from time to time!) But seven hours away, five days a week for a five year old (my state has full day Kindergarten) just seems like too much time. It’s cutting out a large portion of their childhood. Recently, there’s been a push for longer school days or longer school years. This would only take away more time from the family.

My family has a great dynamic. I know we are not typical, but we’re together a ton and we like it that way. My husband works from home at least two days a week, often more. He’s present in a way a lot of fathers (and mothers) are unable to be. It’s wonderful. It’s important to us that we all have a strong bond and homeschooling has helped ensure that we can maintain that bond as the kids get older.

A few weeks ago, my kids and I cut through the local elementary school’s parking lot on our walk to the adjacent neighborhood park. Some students were outside for recess. As they were walking, my seven year old took my five year old’s hand and held it. In front of all those other kids, he had no fear of holding his sister’s hand. It was so sweet. It’s the little moments like that that remind me that it’s all worth it.

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I love our family dynamic and I know that our choice to homeschool has greatly contributed to our family life. I am so thankful we have this opportunity and I know that we’re all better for it.

Check back tomorrow for part two in this series! 

Starting Over

So. New blog. Those of you who have read my other blog may be wondering it they went and why I’ve restarted. I decided I’d like to really focus on homeschooling. In the past, my blog was about general family life, Asperger’s, homeschooling, living naturally… a little bit of everything. Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions about how our family chooses to learn and why we do so. It got me thinking  that maybe I should put it all down in one place. Plus, I am always all about connecting with other homeschoolers and this blog could be a good way to do so.

A very short introduction of myself and my family before I get started:

I’m a mother of three kids- ages 7, 5 and 2. I’m from the Pacific Northwest, but moved to Texas about four years ago. My kids have never gone to traditional school. I don’t claim to be an expert on homeschooling. I just want to share our experiences and why we would not change it for anything.

I look forward to sharing a little piece of my world and connecting with others along the way.