Are you new to homeschooling, unschooling, or any form of alternative learning?*
I've compiled a list of ever-growing resources on this page. Bookmark the ones that resonate with you, and dive in to the fabulous world of life-long learning!
This video stands as the go-to for many people when trying to explain why people choose something outside of the traditional realm. Sir Ken Robinson, is an English author, speaker and advisor on education in the arts to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. He says we can’t improve a broken model with education anymore. It’s not a linear thing. Learning…education…it’s organic. It grows and develops in everyday life. This video is from a TED talk Sir Ken Robinson did, and it has circulated in every homeschool community I know:
First, let's get this title thing cleared up. How do I explain this type of schooling? My eyes are glazing over all the many things we can say we're doing - homeschooling, free-range learning, unschooling, radical unschooling, deschooling, world-schooling, leadership education, etc. This article is a resource for defining the many labels that are out there.
For our family, we "unschool", and when asked, our children say:
The world is our school, and everyone is our teacher.
Defining Your Schooling
- First and foremost, my goal is NOT to have everyone unschool, homeschool, or any other alternative school label. It is to create LIFE LONG LEARNERS. I have a series on unschooling here that really explores unschooling and how to foster lifelong learning, no matter what your schooling style is:
Want to create a life-long learner? Read this series:
- Want to hear from a grown unschooler? This one is a now-23-year-old laying out what unschooling really means to her: I'm an Unschooler: Yes I Can Write. And here is one about the top six reasons she was glad she was unschooled.
- And how in the world do you cover all subjects with unschooling? HERE IS YOUR ANSWER
- WHAT ABOUT SOCIALIZATION?? Of course, this comes up all the time, and I wrote a whole blog on it. READ THIS and don't worry about it any more. I had an awesome article that has since been pulled, but basically, the bottom line is that homeschool kids have the world at their fingertips with many, many opportunities not only to socialize, but to do it in a broad way that includes people of all ages - not confined to one geographic location and age bracket. Here is another article on socialization.
- Help your kids think mathematically HERE. This is a classic example of how to incorporate subjects like math into your daily living.
- Join some FB groups on homeschooling, unschooling, or whatever you want to call it! (there are more TN-exclusive homeschool groups at the bottom of this page)
Hands-on Learning By Travel
As we embark on our own travel adventures, we've started to explore more and more families who get their education while traveling. Here are some great blogs and FaceBook groups to get involved with:
- What is World-Schooling? This blog was the first one I started following when I was exploring non-traditional school options. They traveled the world with their daughter from age 5-13, having her learn with peers in other countries and embracing every learning opportunity they could. Read about how little "Mozart" has had an education full of life experiences!
- Worldschooler House Swap/Sit
- Traveling Homsechoolers
- FullTime Families (RV FB Community)
If you are considering travel as a main thing for your family while you homeschool check out the Family Adventure Podcast - this is what got us over our initial fears and motivated us to not wait for "one day"!
Have an Older Child?
Here are some great online/virtual/alt. ed options:
Prepare to get sucked away with awesome ideas!!
You'll find all kinds of fun boards to check out!
My girls love doing yoga, and Jaime's stories are a great way to get them started - her "Zen Den" and "Peace Out" programs on mindfulness are pretty awesome!
This is a great educational art page - step by step instructions on how to draw/paint fun things from an amazing illustrator, Rose Gauss. This site (and the upcoming book) is a great place to get cute drawing ideas for kids of all ages and skill levels.
Clara had a painting day with her YiaYia - and ended up with the cutest snail painting (Rose posted it on her site here)! Rose just so happens to be the illustrator for the I Wanna Be... series, written by YiaYia (Joanne Miller).
Because, magic. It's so worth it and the girls love the mail they get! The theme is that magic truly comes with kindness, so there is a positive message and a reminder to love and be kind in every letter. Only caveat: fairy dust. All of our letters have to be opened outside - no glitter in our house! (Update: they now put the glitter in a little baggy - so much better. The girls got a box of goodness from the fairies this month that was awesome- little magnifying glasses, a cloth bag, chocolate rocks and a vial of lavender buds for creating their own fairy magic!)
The Birds and the Bees
On dealing with puberty and womanhood (sorry guys, I have three girls so my focus is on the females here, although some of these resources will work for either gender:
- You'll see in my book list that I recommend "It's Not the Stork" and "Beautiful Girl" as great books to educate little ones on their bodies. The "It's Not The Stork" series has three versions based on your child's age, and each one builds on the other - they are excellent!
- I also recommend Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom and Mother-Daughter Wisdom by Dr. Christiane Northrup.
- I haven't gone through this personally, but a friend highly recommends it: Body Health Image for kids
- Additionally, check out this site for girls: http://www.deannalam.com/mother-daughter/
- For older kids, check out this blunt and honest sex talk
- Let's go ahead and watch this one on empathy as well - very powerful.
Non-Traditional Education in TN
*This is specifically for those looking to move to TN, our home state. Now, there are a TON of resources in the Christian circle - being in the midst of the "Bible Belt", there are so many excellent co-ops and groups to really get connected. The Christian homeschool groups are robust and super supportive here. So this section is specifically for the crowd who is looking to homeschool and may not necessarily be Christian, or don't want a religiously focused group/resources.
1) What is it like to homeschool in Nashville as secular, eclectic homeschoolers?
Honest opinion? I'm a Nashville native. I've been to public, private, homeschool and group classes, and now I'm faced with teaching my own children. When I tried to find a co-op, I experienced THIS. The suburbs of Nashville tend to fit some pretty religious stereotypes. However, this is NOT all of Nashville, and there are some really cool groups that have formed since I posted that blog post. There are different forms of co-ops - some where you leave your kids for others to teach (set up more like college classes where they go a few times a week and then have work they can do at home), and/or one where parents get together and collaborate to teach different topics/subjects.Here are some I recommend in the secular arena (there are some fabulous ones that are Christian, and all but one that I know of requires either a pastoral recommendation or a statement of faith. (CHET is one that I have heard great things about - more like a school that is only a few days a week, Christian-based, but pretty open and supportive of everyone.)Non-religious focused co-ops:
- Common Ground Enrichment Program: This is a great one if you want to be involved in teaching not only your kids, but their peers as well - all the parents collaborate and take turns leading topics in their area of expertise, and it's a great way to connect and collaborate teaching and learning. This meets once a week.
- Cool Springs Montessori Homeschool Enrichment Program: This meets 2 days a week from 9-2 and is for kids ages 5-12. My oldest daughter went and loved it. It's the Montessori style in every way, adapted to homeschoolers.
- Nashville Waldorf Co-Op: We did this for a while and the girls loved it. It's pretty laid back with wonderful waldorf-inspired events and field trips. They bring in different teachers and you can a-la-cart which classes your children do - mine did Spanish and drama there, and had the rest of the time to free-play with friends, do handwork, eat community lunches and more.
- MHS Co-Op - Murfreesboro Homeschoolers: This was started by a friend of mine I met at the Waldorf Group - sounds great, just too far away for us!
For the best place to stay connected to events going on in Nashville, check out the Nashville Homeschool Calendar. This is open to all homeschoolers, and many of my Waldorf-inspired unschool friends go to these events. I've found the more Waldorf/Montessori focused in their homeschooling style, the more religiously tolerant I've found - a big part of these models of education.Additionally, there are a ton of great groups on FB to get connected:
- The Farm School Satellite Program - (this one is run by Jacki Willard - she is with the Farm Satellite School which many families opt for as their "umbrella" school) - I highly recommend the Farm Satellite School - they are super easy to work with! - more details below)
- Unschooling Families (this my FB group)
- Eclectic Homeschoolers of Middle TN
- East Nashville Unschooled - Obviously stationed in East Nashville area, but open and an active group.
- Diverse Homeschoolers of Middle TN (most of the Common Ground Enrichment Co-Op is in this one)
- Dickson County Homeschoolers (this is just an active group - not necessarily secular)
- Curriculum Re-Runs Sale (this one is focused on homeschool resources)
2) How to you handle the homeschool laws for TN?
You can just register with your local public school, or a lot of my friends have registered through the Farm - this is what we're doing as soon as registration opens up for the fall: http://www.thefarmschool.tv/. Technically it's not an umbrella school - we are acting as a "satellite campus" for the Farm School. We have to enter in attendance and then list what we're doing - it's pretty simple, and they help you CYA so you can simply focus on your kids vs. submitting gobs of forms or testing! If you have questions about it make sure you've joined that first FB group above, and also you can reach out directly to Jacki Willard and she can help you transition in!