Archive for the ‘Unschooling’ 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.


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.

Interview with Kristin Madden, Part 1

February 11, 2007

Paganism is a largely misunderstood religion in the United States. A lot of people are unaware of the Pagans in their own communities, partially because Pagans often choose to maintain a low profile to avoid confrontation. Thus, their numbers become underreported and they wind up underserved by institutions like public libraries. A lot of homeschoolers talk about facing these same sorts of issues, so I was doubly intrigued when I first came across Kristin Madden’s book, Pagan Homeschooling. After reading some more, I decided to ask Kristin – an active writer, speaker, teacher, and homeschooling mom – for an interview. I was thrilled when she said yes. I hope you’ll find her thoughts as interesting and compelling as I have. Here goes:

Adrienne: We’ll start with my standard question: how did you get started in homeschooling?

Kristin: I didn’t originally intend to homeschool. When we moved to New Mexico from Connecticut, I knew that the school system was poor and expected that we might do private schools. While I was working as a field biologist, my son spent 2-3 days in first one daycare center and then what was supposedly the “best” daycare facility in the city.  We had ongoing problems with neglect and violence. The last straw was an incident in which the teacher sat by and watched much older children push and punch my then four-year-old son. Fortunately, I happened to be there when it happened, and I pulled my son out of the center immediately.

He was too young for kindergarten, so I decided to explore the homeschool community, the regulations, and what was written/what families said about the pros and cons. I chose to give it a year and see how things went. And we both loved it. We found an active and diverse community that focused on the best interests of their children. We discovered clubs and activity groups and classes that eliminated any fears I had regarding socialization. And we found that he responded extremely well to learning at home.

The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas by Linda Dobson

January 21, 2007

Dobson, Linda. The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12. Roseville, CA: Prima Publishing, 2002.

In The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas: 500+ Fun and Creative Learning Activities for Kids Ages 3-12, Linda Dobson offers readers a compendium of ideas and activities she compiled from homeschoolers worldwide. Chapters center on particular subject areas, including chapters that focus on things like group activities and life skills. In her introduction and throughout the text, Dobson and her guest authors emphasize that many activities naturally cross subject lines and many of these ideas take a multidisciplinary and multisensory approach. As a librarian, I love the way books and libraries are incorporated throughout the text. The math chapter, for example, includes a booklist compiled by Holly Furgason called “Read Math” that features librarian favorites like G is for Googol by David M. Schwartz and Math Curse by Jon Scieszka. The chapter on history includes a number of sources one can use to identify historical fiction titles. The chapter on life skills includes a couple of activities to help kids learn how to use the library more effectively. “Decipher the Dewey” by Calandra Johnson even shows how learning more about the Dewey Decimal System can reinforce math skills. Overall, this is a practical resource that will be useful and inspiring to a wide range of homeschoolers, no matter what their philosophy or amount of experience. I’d recommend it for any collection.