Archive for the ‘Eclectic Homeschooling’ category

Article on Homeschooling in the NYT

October 16, 2008

The Anti-Schoolers” by Penelope Green

Interesting. It’s nice to see an article about homeschooling that doesn’t take an extreme position.


For the Love of Literature by Maureen Wittmann

January 6, 2008

For the Love of LiteratureWittmann, Maureen. For the Love of Literature: Teaching Core Subjects with Literature. La Grange, KY: Ecce Homo Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-9797609-9-7. (Available from Ecce Homo Press and Amazon.)

I know Maureen through cyberspace. I put her on my blogroll early in the process of researching and writing Helping Homeschoolers in the Library. I interviewed her here, and she’s also profiled in my book. One of the things I most enjoy about Maureen is that she is a READER who knows libraries and literature well. Among her many other activities, she moderates a Yahoo discussion group called Homeschool Library Connection that is devoted to encouraging homeschoolers to be proactive library users and gives excellent, realistic guidelines for homeschoolers who would like to submit titles for the library to consider purchasing.

Maureen’s passion for homeschooling, literature, libraries, and her faith are all on display in her new book, For the Love of Literature. The goal of the book is to provide homeschoolers who would like to incorporate literature–as Maureen and Charlotte Mason might say, “real books”–into their children’s studies. As such, the bulk of the book is devoted to literary guides broken down by subject: “Art and Music Appreciation,” “Math”, “History,” “Science,” and “Books about Books.” Each section includes books that can be tied into subject areas along with annotations and recommended age/grade levels. To make the guides even more useful, Maureen has organized the art and history sections chronologically, and she has subdivided the math and science sections by topic. Any youth services librarian who browses the lists will see a great number of library staples–for example, math books by Mitsumasa Anno, D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths, biographies by Demi, and the Magic School Bus series. Librarians will also find less familiar books by some smaller, specialty Catholic presses–books about famous missionaries, for instance, and series about the saints.

In addition to the literature guides, Maureen has chapters devoted to using the library, building a home library, the value of reading aloud, information about teaching from a classical or Charlotte Mason perspective, and how to create unit studies. She encourages homeschoolers to get to know libraries with a summary of the Dewey Decimal System and information about what one can and can’t expect from a public library. She acknowledges, for example, that libraries can’t get titles that are out of print and that librarians will be most interested in purchasing materials they know will circulate. She talks about how the library ELF can help homeschoolers keep track of heavy borrowing and how LibraryThing can help homeschoolers organize and track their own libraries at home.

This book will be useful to libraries for a lot of reasons. Catholic homeschoolers are one of the fastest-growing segments of the homeschooling population, and there aren’t a great number of books that address their particular homeschooling needs. This is also a book that will prove useful beyond its originally intended audience. Teachers and librarians at parochial schools may find it useful when looking for materials to supplement their institutional curriculums. Open-minded homeschoolers of many faiths will find useful titles within these pages, and this is a book librarians can use to identify alternate selections from a homeschooling perspective when patrons are looking for books that the library can’t provide. Because Maureen made an effort to include titles that were in print when the book went to press, it can also serve as a collection development tool. Highly recommended.

Interview with Carol Barnier

August 19, 2007

I first became aware of homeschooling mother, author, and speaker Carol Barnier when I attended a presentation she gave on a game she developed to teach children how to read at the 2006 LEAH Convention at the NYS Fairgrounds in Syracuse. I was struck by her commonsense, easygoing, and humorous approach to speaking and educating children, and so I purchased her two books, How to Get Your Child Off the Refrigerator and on to Learning and If I’m Diapering a Watermelon, Then Where’d I Leave the Baby?, for the library’s homeschooling collection, where they’ve spent very little time on the shelf. Her books are popular, I think, because they offer good advice but also because they’re honest, warm, and unintimidating. Carol speaks and writes often about “highly distractible” children and adults, always in the spirit of creating understanding and accepting environments in which everyone can thrive. One of her newest projects, Sizzle Bop!, is an online community “where highly distractible people are celebrated, encouraged, and empowered.” Carol is a busy person, and she went to some trouble to do this interview with me, for which I’m grateful. I think you all will be, too.

Adrienne: I’ll begin with the big question: How did you and your family get started in homeschooling?

Carol: I would love to weave you a tale of lofty thoughts, noble ambitions and great foresight. But the truth is not so grand. Our son sort of flunked kindergarten. Flunked is too strong a word, but he certainly struggled, and he struggled in ways that the other kids didn’t. When it was determined that he was ADHD we began to look at options. Medication wasn’t one of them. It’s not that we were anti-medication, but he had other medical issues that precluded this choice. Next, we began to meet with each of the four possible first grade public school teachers in our local schools. Each one watched him interfacing with her students and her classroom and then declared that without medication, this child would not succeed in first grade. Strike two. Lastly, we checked out local private schools. But this was financially impossible. Strike three.


Interview with Kristin Madden, Part 5

February 17, 2007

Adrienne: Last questions for you: How did you come to write Pagan Homeschooling? I know you’ve written other books on Pagan topics, but have you done other professional writing on homeschooling?

Kristin: As I did my own research and developed a curriculum for my son, I needed to pull together so many different things. I realized that there was a real need for such a book so other parents didn’t have to “reinvent the wheel.” So I wrote it.

I am currently working on a secular book on homeschooling and have considered doing another Pagan one, building on the first. I’ve also written for Home Education Magazine twice and for a couple of Pagan homeschooling newsletters.

Interview with Kristin Madden, Part 4

February 16, 2007

Adrienne: I have a close friend who became a Pagan many years ago now. Since I’ve become more aware of Paganism, I’m continually shocked at how much people misunderstand it and how much my friend has to worry about how people are going to react to her faith. Your Peace Kids group sounds like a positive step in the right direction.

As librarians, one of our primary interests is trying to collect resources that serve the needs of the different segments of our communities. Do you have any recommendations for youth services librarians who might be interested in trying to collect resources to serve Pagan homeschoolers or even non-homeschoolers? (Your book is an obvious answer, of course!) I feel like these resources might be a little harder to find.

Kristin: We use a great many resources that are not Pagan-specific. Myths and legends from a variety of cultures are very popular teaching tools among Pagans. But some of the resources that are difficult to find are books on rites of passage, various Pagan paths and holidays, alternative healing methods, and crafts with a spiritual focus. Field guides and books on edible/medicinal plants of the area are always appreciated. This is a list of some of the better resources I have found.


* Casting the Circle (1990) Diane Stein. Crossing Press

* Beck, Renee & Metrick, Sydney Barbara (1990) The Art of Ritual. Celestial Arts.

* Cahill, Sedonia & Halpern, Joshua (1990) Ceremonial Circle. HarperSanFrancisco.

* Orr, Emma Restall (2000) Ritual: A Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration. Thorsons.


* Madden, Kristin (2002) The Book of Shamanic Healing. Llewellyn

* Madden, Kristin (revised edition, 2005) Shamanic Guide to Death and Dying. Spilled Candy Books

* Buhner, Stephen (1996) Sacred Plant Medicine. Raven Press.

* Cowan, Eliot (1995) Plant Spirit Medicine. Swan/Raven & Co.

* Harvey, Clare & Cochrane, Amanda (1999) The Healing Spirit of Plants. Sterling Publications.

* Brennan, Barbara (1988) Hands of Light. Bantam.

* Melody (1995) Love Is In The Earth: A Kaleidoscope of Crystals. Earth-Love Publishing.

* Raphaell, Katrina (1987) Crystal Healing. Aurora Press.

 Crafts, Holidays, and Spirituality for Families

* Madden, Kristin and Liz Robert (2005) Magickal Crafts. New Page Books.

* Madden, Kristin (revised edition, 2004) Pagan Parenting. Spilled Candy Books

* Johnson, Cait and Maura Shaw (1995) Celebrating the Great Mother. Destiny Books.

* Campanelli, Pauline (1997) Wheel of the Year. Llewellyn.

* Tedder, Lorna and Shannon Bailey (2000) Gifts for the Goddess on a Hot Summer’s Night. Spilled Candy Books.

* Tedder, Lorna and Aislinn Bailey (2000) Gifts for the Goddess on an Autumn Afternoon. Spilled Candy Books.

* Llewellyn’s Sabbat series, various authors

Pagan Paths

* Adler, Margot (1997) Drawing Down the Moon. Penguin

* Harvey, Graham (1997) Contemporary Paganism. New York University Press.

* Madden, Kristin, Starhawk, et al (2005) Exploring the Pagan Path. New Page Books.

Interview with Kristin Madden, Part 3

February 13, 2007

Adrienne: As you know, I contacted you after finding and reading your book Pagan Homeschooling. There is so much attention focused on conservative Protestant homeschoolers, but there are sizable groups of homeschoolers of any number of faiths – and there are probably more Pagan homeschoolers out there than many would guess. What kind of role has faith played in your homeschooling experience?

Kristin: It is true that there are a lot of Pagan homeschoolers that stay largely “in the closet.” Their numbers are very much under-reported.

Our faith is a part of everything we do. Like people of other faiths, our spirituality informs our experience of life in every way. Unlike many of the conservative Christian homeschoolers though, we do not make dogma a central facet of education. However, discussions of spirituality and religion naturally flow from most academic subjects.

History leads to comparative religion, myths, and the development of religious belief. Math has led to the Mayan calendar, the origins of the calendar, and sacred geometry. Science leads to just about everything from astrology and healing to magic and meditation. I could go on but you get the point.

On the flip side, learning about spirituality and religion have led us to incorporate certain “academic” subjects so the two are really very intertwined but in an organic sort of way as opposed to being a structured curriculum.

I must say that having some control over what our son is exposed to has made for a more comfortable and healthier experience for all of us. He has been able to learn about intolerance and differing beliefs (both religious and political) gradually, in age appropriate ways within a safe space. We are able to discuss these situations without worrying about threats to his physical or emotional well being.

And through the Peace Kids group that my best friend and I have led for a couple of years now, our children are able to interact with others of both similar and differing beliefs, learning about tolerance, conflict resolution, and peace activism along the way.

Interview with Kristin Madden, Part 2

February 12, 2007

Adrienne: How would you describe your homeschooling philosophy/methods? Have they changed at all as you’ve gone along?

Kristin: My methods have not changed but my comfort level and trust in the process have increased quite a bit as I have seen the learning happen naturally and those Ah-Ha moments occur. 

I do a combination of school-at-home and unschooling. We homeschool year-round and use a variety of workbooks, text books, home-made worksheets, and experiments. But we also use a lot of games, field trips, movies, computer CDs, and taking advantage of “teachable moments”.  When my son accompanies me on book tours, I make it a point to find interesting and educational moments and locations on every trip. The combination seems to work very well for my son.

Adrienne: How old is your son now?

Kristin: He’s 11.

Adrienne: So you’re in the middle – several years in, several years to go. How are the regulations in your state? Have you ever had any issues working with them or the school district? (One hears so many horror stories….)

Kristin: Indeed! Right in the middle, since he’s in 6th grade now.

New Mexico is one of the easiest states in the Union to homeschool. We are one of the poorest states and therefore have limited funds for tracking and regulating homeschoolers. But the homeschooling communities in NM are extremely active, particularly the powerful anti-government-influence Christian homeschool lobby. I obviously don’t agree with everything they want, but they have been generally good to the NM homeschooling community.

Another point in our favor in New Mexico is the fact that we have one of the worst public school systems in the country. A surprising number of public school teachers have spouses that homeschool.

Albuquerque Public Schools offer a special program designed to attract homeschoolers.  It’s called Family School. Kids register for multi-age classrooms and go to school 4 hours a day for 4 days a week. Parents are required to do varying degrees of homeschooling for an additional 15 hours a week. It doesn’t appeal to the hardcore homeschooler but it does offer an alternative to the traditional compulsory school.

Personally, I have never had a problem with a local school district and, in general, most NM homeschoolers have a pretty good relationship with their districts.