HUUH-L Archives

Homeschooling Unitarian Universalists, Humanists & those on other roads less travelled

The Discussion Page 
The following is a list of topics shared in the email list, HUUH-L

during its first two years of operation (1996-1998)
(Edited and incomplete due to privacy and lack of space) :
  • MATH

    >Are adoptive families more likely to home-school (in all its forms) than others?>Are UU's and/or humanists more likely to adopt children into their families than others?

    I am also new to huuh but not to adoption or homeschooling. We adopted our two sons six years ago from Russia. We are beginning year five of homeschooling.

    I work with adoptive parents and yes, a good percentage of us do homeschool. A lot do out of frustration with the school system. We are trying to keep our kids healthy and secure, build self esteem, etc. Adoption itself is a trauma for the kids- a total change from everything they knew. On top of that, kids coming from other cultures have more adjustment issues and those coming from orphanages have all kinds of issues- developmental delays, attachment problems (I could go on...). I did not want my kids to have more labels, more scars and more issues than they came home with!

    We tried private schools for each (pre-school and kindergarten)- problems with both. They have been doing very well at home. In school the boys would be "problem children" but at home they are mostly a joy.

    Don't know about the UU percentage of birth to adoptive kids. Maybe someone else does.

    Well, I can only speak of what I personally know: today we had our region's homeschool conference (the non-denominational type homeschoolers), and met several new (to us) folks, who, upon hearing that we had just adopted J., told us the stories of how their adoptive children arrived in their families.

    And we also know of a number of people from our local UU church who are adoptive parents.

    As far as the concentration of adoptive parents goes, I would have to say that among the various groups of people we know, UUs and homeschoolers adopt more children than others.

    I have heard >that you shouldn't "mess" with birth order in a family. I wonder how true that is? Does anyone have any experience or advice about what age child I should consider bringing into my family? I'm thinking about everything from giving birth to adopting up to about age 10 I guess. (I don't think the teenager would be very happy about another teen.) It is difficult but not impossible to successfully bring in an older child than those already in the family. We did this in 1989 by adopting a 14 year old girl we already had an 8 year old son, 4 year old daughter, 3 year old daughter, and a 2 year son ( adopted 90 days prior to the 14 year old). So the older one displaced three children at once! The oldest in the family, the oldest girl, and the newest (baby). We had plenty of issues to deal with but worked thru most of them. Some we will never completely get rid of, such as the intense jealousy between the two girls and their mutual dislike of each other. They can sometimes be in the same room for a few hours without being mean to each other, but longer than that is pushing their limits. Also, remember that just because a child is one age by birth that is not necessarily their developemental age. This is especially true for children that have been bounced around in the foster care system. Therefore it is important to consider their developemental age at time of placement as well as their actual age. There are some great resources for families considering adoption, Adoptive Families of America and North American Council on Adoption are great national organizations that can refer you to local support groups and recommend excellent books on the subject to help make a good decision. Involvement in a good support group can be a life saver for adoptive families, seek out one in your area before you adopt. They can offer guidance that professionals lack. If anyone is interested I will forward the information, e-mail me.

    Also, why is the baby's position not sacred but the oldest child's is? The oldest child can accept having a sibling the same age or older given the right preparation and a good choice of children. Most agencies have experience with this and are willing to work with families thru these issues. Good luck on your journey into the wild and wonderful world of adoption.

    if you go for a 4 year old you won;t be messing with the birth order'll just add a middle to an oldest and a youngest!

    The idea of adopting a 4 year old is very appealing, however, please do some research into attachment disorder before you adopt. Sometimes love is not enough for some severly unattached children, and they NEVER bond with your family. Check out the adoption boards and really, really research this and think about how your family will be affected if you receive a child incapable of attaching. Many adoptions work out just fine, but be aware that some families have severe problems because of this. I don't want to throw a wet blanket on your adoption, just want you to go into it with your eyes open. Any agency you go through should be able to give you info on this as well.

    <<A.has known all along what was coming, but now that it's here, he's acting out in scary ways, such as slapping and biting us, something he's never done before. He's also having real temper tantrums, something else which he hadn't done before now. Does anyone have any ideas, experiences, advice?>>

    Sounds like he's having a lot of confusion with this.

    First, I'd make sure he knows you won't love him any less. It's not like love needs to be divided up like cake, it can get spread all around and just grows :-) And that you can still have time alone together.

    Often times young kids don't realize it's okay to feel 2 ways about some things. Let him know it's okay to want and not want a new child to join the family. Exciting things can also be scary. And it's also okay if he feels angry with you and with her. But it is *not* okay to hurt someone because of those feelings. You could try brainstorming with him for ideas about what he could do when he has these feelings.

    A big help to me was the book How to Talk so Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk by Faber and Maslich (sp?). It really got me to see that my daughter isn't being off the wall when she gets all bent out of shape over loosing and old dirty shoelace. It was something that was just as important to her as one of my valued treasures. And I have to treat the emotions with respect (even if I'm still cringing over the cause :-/ )

    i have an a., who was an only for 4.5 years, at which point he received a sibling, i. (almost 3 at that time) from russia. he anxiously awaited the arrival of his brother, told everybody he could about him, helped prepare etc. about 1 week after i. was home, aedan had a long conversation about i., and how we really should send him back. how he really didn't want a brother etc. that was 3 years ago. they are now inseperable, sometimes being best buddies, sometimes arch enemies. they are almost 8 and 6 now, and sometimes, a. still wished we could send ivan back, although he would never say it to him. i. is now the classic pesky little brother, ( i had one and didn't like him either!) they have both grown in such incredible ways that i can't even begin to do it justice by explaining it here. they valiantly stick up and protect each other during any time of perceived parental injustice. they always try to make each other feel better if one is sick or sad. and they will even admit, when alone (rarely), that they actualy miss each other.

    give it time and love. your a. will settle in as soon as he knows that he is not being replaced. also realize that it may be a year or longer before your family settles into a working routine and existence. as for the social workers, if they are truly trained professionals, they understand what is going on. they may recommend family counseling, which you may or may not want to do. you need to make it clear with them that aidan does not have the option or opportunity to harm the new child. they just want to be comfortable with your committment to the whole situation.

    I hope you have been reading A. books about adoption - if not, start now!! Is A. adopted also, or is he your biological child? It will make a difference in understanding his mindset at this point in time. In either case, understand that he is acting out right now from fear: fear of losing the exclusive relationship he's enjoyed with you all these years; and fear of this Strange New Being who has entered his life. These are two fears you can work through using all of the suggestions from any of those standard parenting books (T. Berry Brazelton, Dr. Sears, etc.) that are out there with sections aimed at helping an older child accept a new sibling.

    But there's another fear that A. is probably reacting to right now that is unique to the adoption/foster care family: the realization that Family Is Not Forever. I imagine that he understands all too clearly right now that grownups can take children away from their parents, or that parents can give away their children, and have them placed in another home with a totally different family. He is probably trying very hard right now to comprehend the situation that would cause this to happen. It is not uncommon for children to devise "tests" that, in their own minds, will determine under what circumstances a mommy and daddy will give away their children - and WILL IT HAPPEN TO HIM? This is mostly seen with older foster children who go through a "honeymoon" period with their new families, then turn into absolute monsters to determine just how bad you have to be for this family to get rid of you. In his own mind, Aidan may be trying to see if this might hold true for him too - kind of a horrific behavioral experiment, but very common in children trying to cope with the stress of understanding this new dimension to "Family" as they have known it. Reassure him over and over again - and have the adoption caseworkers tell him too - how very difficult it actually is for parents to be allowed to place their child into adoption or foster care. Have the caseworkers reassure him that their agency tries everything they can to keep the child with the parent(s) before allowing the placement to happen. He must understand from you that his place and belonging in your family is not in jeopardy - in fact, it is not even in question - and that the circumstances that have led to J. coming into your family are very, very unusual, and only happened because a whole lot of people finally decided, along with the birth parents, that going to live with a new family was the best way for J. to grow up to be healthy and happy.

    Also understand that, no matter how hard you tried to prepare him for J.'s arrival in your home, he has not had 9 months of excited anticipation watching you grow with his baby sister and being part of all those plans for her arrival. The arrival of an adoptive or foster child always comes as a big shock to children. (Our second and third children were both emergency placements, and our oldest - at 2 years and again at 3 years - had to cope, along with us, with just one hour's notice in each case!) Aidan is undergoing severe shock and stress, and that fact should not be minimized.

    These issues are very difficult for children and their parents. Does your county agency have a post-placement counseling service? If so, request working with those social workers as a family unit. (Unfortunately, post-placement counselors are a rare specialty.)

    I assume from your description of A.'s behavior and the concern expressed by the adoption caseworkers that you all are being referred for family counseling - is this to a county clinic? A word of caution. We, too, went through county DSS for our placements, and because of the insurance issue (our children are all special needs kids and were given access to federal medical assistance because of preexisting conditions that disqualified them from affordable private insurance or HMOs), we've been shuffled into county mental health services in an attempt to provide us with family counseling. These caseworkers are FAR too overloaded! They have good intentions at helping, but many of them are fresh out of a Master's program in clinical social work and have only a bare bones basic background in behavioral psychology, let alone the experience needed to work in a field as specialized as adoption/foster care needs. If you don't get the help you need from county services, go elsewhere! Try to get a solid referral for a therapist - we spent several thousand $$$ on a recommended child/family psychologist who in the end threw up his hands in frustration at the difficulty that our daughter's case presents, and at that point we had to resort to county services. To say we're not satisfied with the level of counseling we're receiving is an understatement: it's like putting a bandaid on a severed artery.

    Also find out if there's an adoption support group in your area. You need the help and support and nurturance of others who understand what you're dealing with.

    Congratulations on your adoption! Our 2 are also adopted, only in our case the eldest came at 23 months and the baby came a 4 1/2 months. Our son was 7 when our daughter arrived. It's only since she's been mobile that he's expressed a wish that we'd never gotten her! I think this is a universal feeling among siblings of toddlers. It's hard to have to put up all your big kid toys with the little pieces, and keep your special things put away all the time. Here it is 2 years later and my son still complains about this. I remember my sister complaining about me as a child, too! So much of what A. is going through is normal stuff put on top of a huge change in the family dynamic. It's probably a good thing that you have some outside help, the counseling might help him vent some of his anger, and may provide a pressure valve for you, too. Your kids aren't the only ones under stress right now!

    Congratulations on your addition to the family! You've probably heard the story about the man coming home to his wife and bringing with him a new wife. He tells her that he's brought home another wife to love, and that he *knows* they'll be great friends. This in no way diminishes his love for her, he now has two of them to love.... I'm sure this is what this feels like for A. I'd suggest giving A. extra love and nurturing attention. (Of course, I don't know what you're going through and what you've tried already, so forgive me if I'm just stating the obvious that you've already thought of!) Snuggle him into your bed for stories at bedtime and naptime, praise him every time he is affectionate with J., and give him special "big brother" priveledges and responsibilities. Be sure to hold him and rock him and give him lots of touching--back rubs and tickles. Five is more of a baby than it seems when we compare them with infants, and they still need lots of nurturing. If your husband or you can take him out for special walks, bike rides and individual time while the other is home with the baby, it can help him to know that he still has a special relationship with you.

    Is he more likely to lose it when his blood sugar is low or he's over tired or over-stressed? Is he reacting to your stress--perhaps your stress over making a good impression on the social workers? My middle daughter's blood sugar will suddenly bottom out and she really loses it--so we have learned a lot of tricks to help --like giving her nutritious snacks and avoiding sugar. She also has allergies that affect her emotionally--especially wheat and eggs and chocolate. If she has any of these, look out!(even now, at 19, but now she knows very well how to avoid them!)

    My oldest daughter was 6 when her sister was born, so we have the big age difference too. The oldest used to be such a night owl--and her sister was always asleep by 8 or 9pm--so she got lots of individual attention at night. We'd cuddle up in my bed and play board games or cards, then I'd read aloud until she was sleepy. This also worked well in the morning when the baby got me to herself for a while before her big sister woke up! If it seems like A. is just overwhelmed by everything going on in his life right now, I'd suggest cutting back on all activities that add to your stress and busy-ness. It might help if he can verbalize his feelings--or perhaps make his own journal (dictated to you--pictures by him?) to talk about how he feels every day.

    I just thought about your kids' ages--and was struck by another thought. It must be much harder to take a new sibling who is already mobile than it is to get one at birth--and watch her grow and learn during that first year. J. is already at the difficult age for the older sibling--when she can get into his things and he has to be careful of her safety. That sure adds a challenge---but one that we all get to eventually. Enlisting A.'s cooperation--letting him know that if the baby picks up one of his toys that he doesn't want her to have, he can gently get it back by trading it for something else, not by snatching...talking about teaching J. to trust the world to be a good place and to be a good, kind person herself...asking for his ideas on how to accomplish this.

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    Obviously the very cheapest place is the library ;-) And a library in a neighboring town to us has software to borrow, so it's worth checking out. (By the way, the Dorling Kindersley software titles are *all* considered excellent.)

    If you're looking to build up a home library, don't overlook library book sales and yard sales (particularly in towns that value education). Sam's Club and others often have Dorling Kindersley books and others at excellent prices but you never know what you'll find. Most large bookstores have remainder tables.

    One of the best places for cheap fiction is Scholastic Book Clubs. The packets are meant for schools so each comes with 30 flyers, but the prices can't be beat. Homeschooling groups often have someone handling these, but you can do it on your own. There are about 6 of them for the various age groups (Toddlers, Pre-K, K, 1-3, 4-6, 6+). There is also a Homeschoolers packet, but the discounts aren't quite as good and they don't come out as often. Scholastic also offers software in 2 separate sets of flyers.

    Scholastic Book Services 2931 E. McCarty Jefferson City, MO 65101 (800) 724-2424

    (Scholastic also publishes Scholastic Place, a free 500+ page catalog of all their paperback children's and teacher's books. You get 25% off on orders over $25.)

    If you're looking for specific books, many larger book stores (Barnes and Noble, Borders and others) offer educator's discounts to homeschoolers. It depends on the local manager whether it will be done with a smile or a hassle.

    If you have access to the Internet (beyond mail) there's also Amazon Books . I think they offer 15%-20% off of millions of books. They're at

    For really cheap books get the Dover catalogs. The full catalog has everything, but only a few pictures. Their specialized catalogs illustrate everything.

    Dover Publications, Inc. 31 East 2nd Street Mineola, NY 11501 The children's catalog offers wicked cheap books (generally <$4): classic books, coloring books, paper dolls, stencils, cut-and-assemble kits, stickers, activity books on many subjects and historical time periods. Great for history activities.

    Some discount homeschoolers catalogs are:

    Bright Spark Press Super Learning Tools Catalog, 20887 N. Springs Terrace, Boca Raton, FL 33428-1453

    Rainbow Re-Source Center, P.O. Box 49, Kewanee, IL 61443

    Timberdoodle, E. 1510 Spencer Lake Rd., Shelton, WA 98584 (800) 478-0672 (to request a catalog)

    Finally, if you're planning a trip to Boston, the best source of remaindered books is New England Mobile Bookfair in Newton. (Despite it's name, it's a regular bookstore.) They offer 20% off all new books and have a remainder area that's larger than most bookstores.

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    << We have
    not started homeschooling yet, but have been considering it for several months and will probably begin within the next 2 weeks. Our 2 oldest children (in 3rd and 4th grades) are vehemently opposed to the idea. We are choosing to homeschool because we are extremely disappointed in the low standards and expectations set by the school, and how far behind (academically) our children are compared to peers at other schools (and these are children who are at the top of their classes and attend 1-day gifted pullout programs!). We are hoping someone out there has had experience beginning homeschooling while their children were not actively in favor of it, and would be willing to share their experiences. >>

    And JDJ wrote: <<If you,the parents,insist on the children quitting regular school,against their wishes,then that is coercion, if you allow them to continue going to the education mill, you will not [IMO], be acting in their best interests. * It occurs to me that,with a little constructive plan-ahead work, perhaps a viable solution would be to 'start' them on a (an?) hs curriculum, after they finish school for the day....>>

    I guess I haven't written my "coercive parenting" post yet. This is one of the situations in which I think parents should make the decision. Children this young don't know enough to make such a big decision (like most kids I've run into, they would make it for social, not educational, reasons), and although I think it's certainly appropriate to get their input (ask what exactly they think they're going to miss and try to provide it another way, have them go parttime, etc.) it's not fair to ask them to have that responsibility.

    Our situation was a little different and probably easier than yours, because Alex had never been to public school when we decided to homeschool. She had been to my partner's tiny alternative school for three years, so we were changing from "school" to "no school." We started talking about it a couple of years in advance, and for a while she was vehemently opposed (this was when she was six or seven, I think). We finally sat her down and asked her what she thought was going to be so bad about homeschooling. She said, "I won't ever get to play with my friends, and I'll have to stay inside all the time." After some more conversation it became apparent that she was confusing homeschooling with homework! Once we reassured her that she would have plenty of playtime with friends and that she would probably end up with more outside time, she said, "Oh, okay, great!"

    When she graduated from Drinking Gourd and her friends were going off to public school, she had some doubts. We listened to her, but we were very clear that this was our decision. I don't consider this coercion (a loaded word) but appropriate assumption of our parenting responsibilities. JDJ's suggestion of making juicy activities happen in the afternoon is fine; but if the school environment is being harmful to them (and I include ongoing boredom for gifted kids extremely harmful) then that harm is still going on. Or else it will function as manipulation to try to get them to make the decision you believe is right for them. I think it would be okay for you to just go ahead and make the decision; listen to their feelings; try to find alternative ways to fill their perceived needs (lots of time to play with friends if it's that contact they're afraid of missing; classes (school or community) if they like the contact with teachers...) Remember that they don't know yet what it's going to feel like to homeschool. They may not realize that they can still have friends; they may not be imagining a social scene that doesn't have cliques and bullying. They may not be able to imagine an education tailored to their individual needs.

    It helped immensely that we got involved in our local homeschooling group the summer before we started homeschooling. Alex was able to see it as a regular thing to do, and to have homeschooling peers.

    Alex is very solid in it now. She published a book this year (!! a whole other story!) and is travelling around our state speaking to kids at various schools. So she's getting to visit these schools, and I was wondering if she would decide she was jealous of those kids and want to go to public school. Instead, when a child asked her about homeschooling and asked if she was ever going back to school, she jauntily said, "Nope!" Although she sees the dozens of kids all playing together, which I know is attractive to her, she also sees the boredom in the classroom, the regimentation, the sexual harassment and bullying on the playground, and is relieved that she doesn't have to put up with that. I'm especially pleased because we're not unschoolers; we're using pretty clear structure (although with as much choice for her as we can) and she still is basically content.

    Of course, as she gets older (as with the structure/nurture parenting balance in general) she'll be making more and more decisions on her own, with our role becoming more and more one of advice and support.

    Although I haven't run into this problem myself, I have seen some discussion about it from others. Some ideas that I thought sounded good included allowing a child to continue in the art, music or sports at the school so that they would still be able to spend time with their friends during the day. Also, some parents let their child go to school and eat lunch with his friends because that was what he felt he was really missing out on.

    If you can find out the specific things about homeschooling your kids are feeling badly about, maybe you can provide for their needs and still homeschool.

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    >A couple of years ago I read something about the "Raising Kids God's Way" curriculum and was horrified. Gary Ezzo is not a doctor or a psychologist. He has a degree in christian education. He parented two children in his twenties. Yet, he wrote books and is teaching classes on a method of child rearing that he claims is "God's Way." Both the medical profession and the la leche league say the methods in his book "Preparing for Parenthood" are dangerous and damaging. In some other books he recommends a sturdy rubber stick for discipline in older kids and recommends striking a toddler's hands with a stick if they play with their food. All of his books are wrapped up in bible verse that seem to justify his methods. For instance he justifies letting babies "cry it out" by saying that Jesus dying on the cross is proof that we need to let babies suffer.

    >I had thought that this junk was something on the fringe and not something for reasonable mainstream Christians. Then someone mentioned it on my local homeschool e-mail list. I am totally shocked to find so many on my local list think the book is wonderful. Talk about culture shock. I'm feeling very sick to my stomach. It's like coming to a pot luck and finding a lot of the dishes are crawling with maggots. These are wonderful women that I have respected....and now I find they follow a child rearing method that "preaches" that infants need to be taught from birth to be submissive.

    >I had thought of asking my church about renting our social hall for a homeschool dance until I noticed the plaque on our wall about our status as a Welcoming Congregation. On one hand I am proud of us and would like to be vocal about that, but on the other hand, it is so alien to what other homeschoolers believe it would make me and my children a total pariah in the local homeschool community for them to see this plaque hanging in our church.

    >After thinking about all this stuff, I decided to sign off the local email group. It is supposed to be a support group, but I can't support child abuse and they can't support me on my path. I have decided to move away from all groups where I need to compromise my values in order to belong. I am feeling really alone right now. I'm so glad for HUUH.

    I'm sure everyone has heard the expression from the bible...spare the rod and spoil the child. Someone told me a long time ago that the rod is the staff of the shepherd and it is used to guide the sheep not to hit them with it!

    Your description of Ezzo is shocking. (I have never heard of him) However, many organized religions have been the refuge of people doing destructive things in the name of good, or a god.

    I have a similar story. It's a little long though, and predates our homeschooling ...

    Several years ago, before we began hsing our son, he was in what seemed to be perpetual trouble on the 45 min (in the city!) bus ride to school. He had difficulty with the long aural assault of the ride, and he was really an innocent, in that the street smart city kids really knew how to set him off, and get away with it. The vice-principal of his school was good friends with the bus aide, so when she (as I believe) decided to maneuver him off the bus, the vp of course believed her. The bus ride almost always gave him a bad start to his school day. He was often in trouble in class, for acting up. I did my best to get N.'s side of the story, and challenged the school's story. The vp was not interested in that kind of discussion; his premise was that N was bad, and had to be made good. In the course of many visits to the school, the vp made a very memorable comment to me, and I knew that I had no hope of finding common ground with him. He leaned across his desk towards me, and said, almost in a whisper, "Sometimes you just have to beat 'em!" This from a school administrator! I was so shocked, I have no memory of my reply. I did, however, relate this story to the principal of the school, in confidence, and told her that I thought it was completely inappropriate for him to say such a thing.

    epilogue: N. was put on a different bus. Bus problems diminished, still had problems in school. A year and a half later we pulled him out of the school. Incidentally, this is supposed to be one of the best schools in the city. The vp was gone from that school the following year. Unfortunately, he's still in the system.

    I don't know if there is a moral, unless it is that sometimes, retreat is the best action possible. I hope you find the support you need.

    Before I tell this story, I'd better say upfront I don't agree with this kind of child abuse (just can't call it child rearing). So I don't want this to sound like a vote for the spanking way. I'm unable to even go in the Practical Homeschooling forum on AOL, where people agree that using a weedwhacker cord on a baby who is squirming during a diaper change is an appropriate method of punishment. I'm not ignorant of the extent and the lunacy of these people. Having said that.....

    We have some friends who are UU's and homeschoolers. They are very good parents, IMHO, and their daughters are lovely girls. They don't spank, they treat their children with great respect. She's a LLL leader. However, in another life and family, he was one of those fundamentalists who go way overboard, and he learned his parenting from those conferences (like ATI). He learned to spank for every biblical sin, using a wooden spoon. The whole ball of wax.

    When I asked him how he could justify having done that, he told me how violent and repressive his birth family was. I already knew quite a bit about them and they are one of those nightmare families where violence and molestation are the norm. He said for him, going to the "biblical" way of raising children was a positive step forward in parenting. He learned not to hit in anger, how to control his violence. Even using those methods, he was moving toward breaking the pattern of abuse he'd grown up with.

    Thankfully, he's further down the path now. I believe he's a good father, and I've never seen him be anything but loving and respectful of his daughters and wife.

    I really feel that I have a point to make. I don't think my friend's story is the norm. But I never see black and white, although I'd like to sometimes, and I wanted to share this in order to muddy the waters a little. <g>

    << I am a therapist, foster mother, and a mother. I used to not believe in corpral punishment at all. There was one child was only one child I have used corpral punishment with, and it seems to be the only thing he responds to when lost within himself. I hate using corpral punishment. I use it as a last resort. I think we should be careful not to judge people. A friend of mine really believes in corpral punishment and she has a wonderful child. I think what is most inportant is that you care about your child. That what one does comes from their heart and not what some book or person tells you.

    A sharing of my experiences. >>

    Having been a product of a home where corporal punishment was the norm, I have to say that I disagree. I was a terrific child according to most adults because I always obeyed and led an exemplary life; I made my parents proud. My parents may have cared for me, but the way I was treated never relayed that care. Do we accept spousal abuse in our society? I think not. So why is it acceptable to hit your child in the name of discipline. My father used to break ping pong paddles on my sister (she was a "terrible" child, no self restraint, never listened). However, if my father had done that to my mother she would have beaten the crap out of him and then called the police.

    There have been times when I have had to stop myself from hitting my child; it is what I grew up with. However, I have consciously made a choice to find other ways. I don't want my daughter to be scared of me. I don't believe that fear is the way to discipline. Every time I hear a parent ask a child if he/she wants to be spanked, I cringe. Of course, the child doesn't want to be spanked. I feel that the parent is controlling the child, not teaching the child to limit him/herself.

    >And this is true. They share a room and have control over it. There are certain rules, like no food allowed and no major structural changes without parental OK. But otherwise they can do what they want. It's just that sometimes it gets to me, especially when they get all freaked out that they can't find something and when I point out to them that if they picked up their room, the lost object might be found.

    I used to let it go pretty much. The exception was for cleaning day. If they didn't straighten it up by the time I was ready to clean, then they had to dust and vacuum. Of course, this didn't always work very well either. (They'd say they'd do it themselves and then it wouldn't get done.) It worked better when I hired a housekeeper and that person needed to clean the room, so it HAD to be done by a certain time. Still there were areas of displayed work (on top of dressers, on book shelves & desks, etc.) and stored items (under beds, in corners, in closets, etc.) that could never really be dusted well. Since my son has asthma and dust allergies (besides allergies to other things as well) and I've given him the opportunity to come up with his own solution, but it has been unsuccessful (he consistently breathes at only 80% capacity), I've decided to buy a lot of plastic boxes of different sizes to store things in. Some are clear and can still serve as displays to some extent. They'll be much easier to dust. I can't control his space (or life) very much or for very long since he's now 14, but I'd like to at least try controlling his environment for at least this next year to see if he can breathe better and then maybe he'll choose a cleaner environment for himself because he can see that it helps him breathe better. (Breathing has to effect the brain and how well one learns.)

    I have three boys (5, 9 and 10) that share a room. Generally it looks like a disaster area. I have found that approaching the mess with a shovel and garbage bag gets the message across. We only had to actually shovel the junk out once. Sometimes I think we can waste too much energy worrying about the little things and forget to notice the rest. For instance my 10 year old found an interesting book yesterday and read it all in one day! I knew he was a good reader, but I'm proud of him!

    I suppose we must hang in there and keep our cool. 

    >It seems to me that insistence on people not smelling too bad, being rude, etc. has nothing to do with coercion. It is a matter of living with other people in a considerate way. If you say (kindly) to your son, "Honey, I hate to say this, but when you don't take a shower I can smell you all the way across the room, and it's something like living in a gym locker" (is that kind enough? <g>), you aren't Enforcing the Law like Big Mother--you're just expressing your feelings like everyone in the family should be allowed and encouraged to do.

    I don't know about all twelve year olds, but my twelve year old would probably have a hard time understanding the problem with smelling like a locker room. He doesn't notice that type of thing. If I approached him as you suggested, his response would be "so what?" The natural consequences of smelling bad is that I don't want to get too near him or do things with him. Even if I tell him the reason for his ostracism, he is still going to FEEL abandonment because he expects unconditional love no matter how bad he smells. It is so much more straightforward and less painful to simply establish an expectation of reasonable personal hygiene. I think that eventually he will understand that the consequence for poor hygiene is ostracism. I don't think he needs to experience the pain of it first hand to learn this lesson.

    Now, if your son says in good
    >faith, "Mom, when you wear that particular perfume it makes me have to gag," and instead of taking his feelings seriously you order him to his room for being fresh, I'd say we're getting into the realm of coercion.

    I don't understand what this has to do with setting limits and rules of behavior. I think that to continue to wear perfume that makes a child sick would be a selfish act rather than an act of coercion. If the child were exaggerating an opinion I would suggest that he use more tact. I think I deserve at least as much respect for my feelings as my child does for his.

    >Am I being too idealistic to think that a family can be a basically democratic community? It has one huge advantage over most would-be democracies: the people actually love each other. Is it too much to hope for that everyone will offer each other common courtesy (with lapses, naturally--we're human) and not have to scream and yell and force one another into being decent living companions?

    Most organisms for a large part depend upon genetic information (instinct) for survival. Humans are unique in our lengthy childhood and in our need for extragenetic (learned) information. I could not imagine expecting my newborn to have the same ability to reason and make predictions as I have. With my extragenetic (experience-heightened) ability to predict consequences, often I play Cassandra to their Polyanna. That isn't a lot of fun, but it is necessary for their survival.

    My son has jumped off the roof of the garage about a dozen times and has never been hurt and it sure is a lot of fun (Polyanna). But the Cassandra in me predicts that one time he is going to land wrong and it's going to mean a broken leg, a broken arm, or a broken there is a rule against this even though it isn't a rule that was decided by popular vote. My sixteen year old has a curfew, not for my convenience and not decided by popular vote. It is a boundary we set in order to keep him safe. Raising the curfew is a rite of passage that he looks forward to.

    Bottom line, our family is NOT a democracy and I don't pretend that it is. I have a responsibility to set boundaries. Some people feel it is wrong to set boundaries and make rules. I wonder if it is wrong to expect a six or eight year old to make complex decisions about household finance, nutrition, and whether to stay up all night playing video games. On what could they possibly base their decisions? Prior experience? Instinct?

    In our family, we do love each other, listen to each other, and my children are given increased responsibility and decision making capability as they get older. Sometimes that feels like a democracy especially at the age they are now. I lived in Samoa for a few years while in high school. In the traditional Samoan village, there is a chief who makes the decisions for the village. The villagers don't follow his rule out of fear. They do so out of respect. He is wise and they trust that he is looking out for their best interests.

    Tell me if I'm crazy. I
    >don't have kids yet so this is all just optimistic theory. However, I've worked with others' children a lot and I find that treating them with respect and acting like a real human being whose feelings can be hurt and who demands respect for herself goes a long way toward teaching them to be kind, polite people.

    Setting boundaries does not preclude treating children with respect. However, I do insist that they treat others with respect as well. Children are not small adults, they are a work in progress. I need to get mine teeshirts with "Under Construction - Pardon the Mess." Sometimes they are a mess. They are going through a lot of stuff. They are not kind, polite people sometimes and it has nothing to do with any example I set.

    Today my son broke a rule by firing his cap gun in the house. The poor dog is terrified of the noise it makes and cowers and shivers. I warned him first, but when he continued to frighten the dog, I took the gun away. I insist that he treat the dog humanely. He was very angry and threw a temper tantrum and knocked around the furniture a bit. He loves me and I love him, but even people who love each other get angry and lose control. I warned him of the consequences if he didn't get control and he pushed a small table over. He finally calmed down and we took turned telling our side of the story. It works really well to let him talk himself out and then I get a turn to say everything I have to say. I am respectful and I don't interrupt him and I expect the same treatment. He felt better when we were through talking, but he still spent a few hours in his room as a consequence of pushing over the table. If I don't follow through on consequences, my words won't mean much in the future. These little incidents of coercion happen a lot...but I still feel that I treat my children with respect and take their feelings seriously. Acknowledging anger is not the same as allowing them to get away with busting up the house in a rage. I try not to be arbitrary, but they need to understand that "no" doesn't mean "maybe" if they argue enough, and consequences should be enforced every time, not just when "I really mean it."

    >I agree, but I also think family resources plays a role also. A family on a farm where everyone has to >chip in to help and where they don't have video games or cable TV is a totally different >environment than one where parents are seen watching TV when they're taking a break and there >are a multitude of possible distractions.

    Let me just chip in here as one of the "farm family" parents. Our kids feed animals, clean pens, gather eggs, haul feed, pitch hay, mow grass etc. etc. etc. Farm chores take about half an hour a day during the winter, an hour or more during the summer.

    Activities around here include riding the horses, fishing the stream, playing in the woods, wrestling with the dogs, riding his bike to town to see friends, going to the library, hunting for kittens in the barn, well, you get the idea.

    You know what Johann likes doing most? You got it -- playing computer games. I think the only way for this not to be an issue is just to choose not to have the equipment. Otherwise, it's either hands-off or rules. We've recently taken to giving Johann feedback on how much we see him choosing to play, and ask that he do some self-regulating so we don't need to become authoritarian. So far, so good.

    Back to the top of the page


    >I'd love to see an ongoing discussion on this topic: How do the UU Principles & Purposes support the concept of homeschooling?

    Me too!

    My introduction ... I was born into a "practising" UU family and was involved in churches in many cities in the midwest as we moved around. I'm not actively involved with a church now because of time and distance. My husband has been involved in one Presbyterian church for 51 years so this makes our life interesting. I'm also on the Unschooling and TCS mailing lists.

    My children are 12, 11, 10 and 2. They have never been to school. We consider ourselves to be "unschoolers" and I feel that there is a direct relationship between the UUA principles (copied below) that describe my personal values fairly precisely and philosophy of homeschooling we embrace.

    I think that UUs (and the rest of society) sometimes fail to see "children" as "every person." If you're African American, poor, on death row, or a lesbian, we can see your "inherent dignity and worth" but if you are under 18 ... we can tell you what to do, how and when to do it, what's "good" for you, and what's not, etc.

    This *age* thing is where many church friends may struggle with accepting homeschooling.

    Looking through the principles below, it is very clear to me that school is not a good place to live them (the principles that is).

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to the conversation on this list! Laurie ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association:

     The inherent dignity and worth of every person;

     Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;

     Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

     A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

     The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;

     The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;

     Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

    <<How do the UU Principles & Purposes support the concept of homeschooling?>>

    <<They don't!>>

    But they do. Though whether individual UU's actually practice that is another matter. UUism is supposed to accept all beliefs yet many Christian UU's say they feel beat up by other UU's many of whom are running from Christianity.

    I wonder why UUs should find it easier to accept other religious beliefs and other lifestyles yet look down on other choices for education?

    Perhaps the UUA should offer seminars in debate so UU's can argue with and question someone effectively without attacking that person's beliefs :-/

    >...before i knew any better, my children (whom we unschool, this is our second year - 2 boys, 6 and almost 8) went to what i thought were harmless preschools. tho, by use of the churches as their bases there was a little bible ed. my boys are now very curious about the whole "god" thing, death and where you go, reincarnation, etc. in fact they have formulated that when you die, you go to heaven/space and from their you let "god" know what you want to come back as, and boom, there's your next life! not bad. to top it all off, we live in the fredericksburg, va area and are surrounded by very exclusive, vocal christian homeschoolers. i and my children have been referred to as "unsaved". in response to this attitude i am starting a "radical" support group, whose purpose is to welcome all in their pursuit of home education as an educational option. our family is not religious but spiritual, we have a local UU fellowship and i am debating whether or not to pursue joining it. i would welcome and all thoughts on the matter.

    I think you should definitely check it out. It's been my experience that UU R.E. (Religious Education) can be a great place for our kids to get the acceptance that they don't find elsewhere. My kids have some pretty strong opinions of their own about the origins & meanings of life and have heard alot of the same things you describe in some of the communities that we have lived in. UU RE has always been a safe haven for them. Most churches/fellowships have a broad range of material that they pull from for curriculum.

    << Yet I have the guilty feeling that I am "bailing out" on them. You know "when the going gets tough, the tough get going". >>

    Yep, sometimes the tough get going--right on down the road. You can show your kids that they have choices and alternatives. In another life, my career was counselling women--incest survivors, battered women, rape survivors. I've met too many people who thought being tough meant staying in an unhealthy situation. I know it's not comparable with your church. It's the idea of sticking things out that I'm comparing. If you had said anything that led me to believe there would ever even be the consideration of an RE program in your church, I might have encouraged you to stay and helped with ideas toward that goal.

    >>And yet I hvae beenassured that they (most of them) want to grow and are thrilled to have me and my kids. I am worried that they are going to see my leaving (if I leave) as a reaction to the big scene last week, --me getting chewed out by that guy! <<

    They're talking the talk, but they aren't walking the walk. And so what if you left because of that scene? He was not demonstrating UU principles, yet he is modeling something to you (a new UU) and your children.

    You still have to do what you think is right.

    Now that I realize you have older kids, not just a lively toddler, my going to the park idea with a teenager is not appropriate (except for the toddler). The bigger kids are ready for (and need) RE. I think you should go to a board meeting and ask if this church is willing to support an RE program or not. These retirees had kids once and if they're life-long UUs, they did RE themselves. Some may still enjoy it. You won't know until you ask.

    I'd also get some advice from the district (if you have no minister, which I think you said...). If you have a District RE Consultant he or she could be a great help as I imagine many Florida churches have the same problem -- lots a retirees and few kids. I visited my mother this winter and went to a UU church -- at least 100 adults in attendance and the only kids were mine and the minister's. Otherwise talk to the district executive. There may be some special Florida answers to this problem.

    >Church services and small children are not compatible? I disagree. >But I >realize I may be in the minority... among UUs. Ever attend an all-Black Baptist service? Kids warmly welcomed and wiggling everywhere! In the pews, under the pews, being passed from lap to lap. :D Halaluya, Sister!>>

    I love it!! That's what my feelings were on the subject. Maybe in a large congregation there might be too many kids and the noise level would be too disruptive, but I honestly can't imagine that one child in a small congregation can really make that much noise. I just can't imagine that it would be much fun for your baby....that would be my biggest concern.

    I recognize the guy who gave you a tongue lashing...he exists in every congregation I suspect. The one who doesn't do anything but complain. We had one we dealt with recently at our church. He was upset that we won't kick kids out of the youth group who break rules. We chose instead to hold peer counsel. He thought there should be zero tolerance and we felt that the youth group should be governed by the youth and we didn't want to set arbitrary rules (as much as possible). He raised a big stir and tried to elicit help for his cause by phoning and visiting everyone from the president to the senior minister. We talked about it, but we didn't let him push us around and he eventually left the church. The congregations are governed by democratic process.

    When I went to another church, the children were expected to attend the service. I had three little kids from four years old to infant. It was miserable for me and my kids. We brought small toys and they'd crawl around and under the pews, but it was still tough. It was so nice coming into our UU church with an active RE program where the kids were expected to act like kids and play and jump and sing (for the most part...although there have been teachers who don't understand this).

    >Church services and small children are not compatible? I disagree. But I realize I may be in the minority... among UUs. >>

    Unfortunately, this is a common complaint among UU parents, yet there's that old joke that a UU is nothing but an agnostic with kids. At an adult re meeting one night, a non-member who has participated in discussion groups at our church for years asked why he should care what goes on downstairs (in YRE). He said his needs were being met and that was all he cared about. I must admit, I lectured him. I told him he'd better care because without those kids in that program, their parents would not be writing checks upstairs to pay for the facilities to house the discussion groups. I may have gone on in that vein for a while. <g> He had made some other unpopular comments and I was venting. But I was venting the truth. Without the parents of growing children to give new life to our religion and our fellowships, it will not continue to exist. It's that simple.

    >He then tells them a story that relates to the topic of the "adult" sermon. There's >always a wonderful moral or thought to chew on. As the children file out, the adults >sing "This Little Light of Mine," a capella. This is an important part of the service that the adults seem to enjoy as much as the children. I believe it helps the older and childless adults appreciate the children in the congregation (it also provides food for thought for the adults--note the title, Time for ALL. . .). I can't imagine our services without it, frankly.

    We have the children's penny pot. Any child that wants to put money in the large jar that sits on the floor. Then we have a regular man that reads from a library book, and I've not noticed if it relates to the message or not. But it's read in front of everyone, and everyone seems to enjoy it. Then as they leave for their classes, we sing, "go in peace, go in peace, may the light of love surr...ound you,...every...where you go". I think the older members like it a lot too.

    A few years ago I began going to our small but strong UU Fellowship. It is made up of mostly older individuals whose children have long since grown up and are gone :) Needless to say there weren't many young children there. In the last year we have grown as a fellowship enough to move into a larger building and are getting more and more younger families coming in! Several of our older individuals realized if we were to survive at all in this very devout Southern Baptist area we must understand our children and our young families will be the ones to continue the fellowship. We must take care of, support, and encourage them. We have a great woman who is our RE person and now have a committee to help her! We also have many of our older and wiser :) individuals read stories to the children at the regular service. Many of these people have made an extra effort to ask us if there is anything we need at the fellowship for the children aand to please speak up! This has taken time and a few growing pains but when a few start talking to each other a few more notice and become involved! I agree most certainly with the idea of contacting your district RE! They are most helpful and you can usually borrow curriculum from them to get you started! The have helped us in many ways including our homeschooling:)

    >We've been going through this same dilemma in our church. A lot of energy has been spent on it--including workshops with UUA and district personnel who deal with such issues. I think there's a big push for more and more growth, bigger churches, from the UUA, yet not all UU's are comfortable with the idea of a more systemized church. It will be interesting to see what happens. As someone said, many churches give voice to wanting to serve everybody, but not all are willing to make the changes that will allow that to happen.

    As someone who's been actively working in the "system", I can attest to the fact that that is absolutely true. The idea of keeping small fellowships small is not supported by the UUA (at least not with their time and money because they thing it is a waste of resources, which is understandable).

    >I was appalled with some of the ideas our Interdistrict Exective had about how our fellowship could grow.

    Our congregation is struggling with it, too. We live in an integrated county and haven't solved the problem about how to integrate. The UUA thinks we're racist and insults our members outwardly. We may be racist, but we're trying not to be - after all, why haven't we participated in the very popular white flight?! We have received little help due to the impression that we don't really want to grow.

    >She said we had to spruce things up a >lot. Spend a lot of money on the building and grounds, because these people expect a certain look.

    We did this and I felt the same way as you, but it does make all of us feel proud of our building now that it looks better and it helps reflect a caring attitude.

    >In response to my thoughts, she replied that we can't help them unless we can get them in the door and we need to appeal to what they are used to in their day cares, schools, and offices. I realized we were never going to see eye-to-eye on this one. I'm too weird, I guess. :-)

    I don't think so, but you may have a lot of wishful thinking (an optomist, maybe? - like me) that people who don't know you might ignore the appearance and just look for the goodness in the people. Unfortunately, there aren't enough people like that, though I am one myself.

    I decided to stick it out when things were bad (a stubborn board chair and individuals who felt they owned certain territories of the church were obnoxious and others didn't want to take steps to change it), because I believe in the basic goodness of all people and can help make change happen. I feel I have helped make change happen and I believe things are getting better. Whether or not we're going to be able to "save" our church, though, is yet to be known.

    No church can be all things to all people, and you're absolutely right to be true to your own standards. So many UU's define ourselves as what we're *not* that we sometimes lose sight of the fact that we truly do stand for something, and that our "something" may not appeal to everyone. For example, our congregation has lost a few liberal Christian families who felt more at home in the nearby liberal Methodist or Congregational churches because they found our ideas a bit too radical (we're a pretty middle-of-the-road congregation as UU's go), and I disagree with some others who feel that we should find a way to keep such families in our church. I feel that we should respect their own feelings and intuitions about their own spiritual growth, and that it's right for them to leave and find a church that suits them better. It's like we tell our kids: "Don't try to please everyone else --- just be yourself, and the friends you're truly meant to have are the ones you'll find." I think it applies to congregations, too --- if we just continue to be who we are and reach out our welcome to others, the ones who come to us are the ones who are more likely to stay.

    >>I see some significant differences between the school system and the church. One is that the schools are slower to change. It all depends on the church, of course, but an individual congregation can change radically over just a few years; this is extremely rare in a school because it's required to kowtow to the entire public school system of the city (and usually state, and even federal govt to some extent). A few new members on a board, or a new minister, can turn a church around 180 degrees, though you still may not want to wait for this to happen! A second difference is that an indifferent church is not as destructive as a bad school, though again, I would not presume to make this determination for you and your child--you may decide that the church is indeed being destructive to his spirit. A third difference is admittedly a very personal one for me: I feel much more committed to my church than to my local schools. I'm reluctant to give up on my church even when it drives me up a wall, because I think UUism has so much promise and is so much better than any alternative. Perhaps this all goes back to difference #1--I'm just a lot more hopeful that I can make a real difference in my church than in my kids' schools (when I HAVE kids, which I don't yet--maybe I'll feel differently when I do).

    Yes, it would certainly be a loss to your congregation if you left--they sound as if they need you, not because you're the treasurer but because you are bringing patience, love and persistence to an important issue that they don't want to deal with--but you need to balance your hopes of making that congregation a better place with your need for a place that is right for you and yours NOW. Best of luck in making this difficult decision. (Note: leaving the congregation might help them too. Five years from now they may finally start an RE program because they have grown tired of losing fine members like you.)

    >We will be implementing a new Sunday service routine this year. For the first 15 minutes the kids will be upstairs in the service, for Joys and Concerns, announcements, singing, etc. That part of the service will not, however, be child-oriented, just child-friendly. Then they will go down to YRE, which will continue 15 minutes past when the service ends. This gives the parents 15 minutes after the service to get a cup of coffee and get downstairs to resume their parenting duties (anybody else have problems with this sometimes?).

    >I think the homeschoolers in our fellowship--all 2 of us, but more joining!-- have made an impact in the involvement of children in our YRE program. Our churches are a good place to start in reinvolving the family.

    It seems that your experiment in having children in the service in very similar to the one we will be implemening this September. There has been quite a lot of resistance to the idea. The children will be in service for 15 minutes where there will be a "focus" on children, whatever that means. The paid-staff want to have control of this, or at least give "training" to those of us who want to lead this portion of the service. I am pretty tired of "professionalism" in American culture and it seems we can't get away from it a Paint Branch. We will see what happens!

    We have ALWAYS invited the children to participate in the first 15 minutes (child-friendly but adult-oriented) of each Sunday worship service. (Parents of infants and toddlers usually find it easier to get their wee ones settled in childcare before service starts.)

    Service starts with an Opening Reading, Opening Hymn, Words of Welcome, Sharing of Joys and Concerns, and then a Message for the Young and Young at Heart (aka "children's story"). Since we are currently lay-led, a lay leader conducts this part of the service, although when we have a guest minister preaching, they usually do the children's story. Sometimes the children's story is simply a book read aloud, sometimes it is a story that is dramatically interpreted - all depending on the service leader's level of comfort and expertise in storytelling. We try to have this story tie into the sermon topic so that it adds to the flow and unfolding of the entire worship experience, rather than just sticking in something for the kiddies. After the story, the children exit with their RE teachers. (We don't "sing them out" like some of you do, but that's a real nice touch and I might suggest it to our Worship Committee.)

    We wouldn't think of NOT including the children in the opening segment of worship. It gives them a much better idea of what this whole religious experience is about, and why they go to church on Sundays. It keeps all the generations bonded together. And yes, the children sometimes do share their own joys and concerns. When a six-year-old shyly announces that she just lost her first tooth, the entire congregation rejoices with her. When a twelve-year-old's dog dies, the entire congregation offers words of condolence and comfort to him. Our kids feel they have a real place within this congregation.

    It works - and works very well - for us. Our congregation has always made our kids a top priority (after all, they're the future members of the church!) It's sad to think there are so many UU churches out there that don't make their kids part of the whole experience. If you belong to a UU society that wants to "keep kids in their place" (i.e. downstairs and out of sight), or offers no RE programs or childcare during adult services, get involved in making changes that will prioritize the children. Find out who else in the congregation feels the way you do, and start your own committee that will present your ideas to the Minister, the Worship committee, the RE committee, the Board, and any other related structures you have in your own church. Ask your District Executive/Consultant for contacts of other UU societies with successful RE programs in your district and talk to them. Get obnoxious if you have to. Get in your Board's face if you must. You'll be making your church ever so much stronger, and ten or fifteen years down the road you'll be thanked for your wisdom and foresight.

    There's been a lot of talk over the last few days about various churches not involving children in programs and/or respecting them. I don't think this is a function of your church per se but a function of our society that sees children not at unique/authentic individuals who are capable of knowing what they want.

    Children are so smart from the moment they are born. I do child care in my home and am always angered when one a parent of one of the babies I care for talks about their child like they are not even there.

    <<<<To swing this around to homeschooling, your problem is akin to the problem of taking our kids out of school, and leaving the problems behind instead of putting our energies into the system. What happens when it's too late for our kids, and the system still hasn't changed?>>>>

    Wow. What an excellant, true comparison. Thanks for making that so clear to me. I am not willing to put my energies into improving public schools, at the expense of MY children's education. Years roll by too quickly. Change might not occur quickly enough to benefit my kids. Same with this church.

    Let me give two examples from my experience: UU church X which is a medium-large congregation. Sunday attendance runs about 350, a third are children. Once a month is Children's Sunday where service begins with everyone gathered in the sanctuary. Children leave 10 to 15 minutes into the service after a "Children's Story". It takes a couple minutes for the 100+ kids to leave thru the one set of double doors so there's plenty of time for a leisurely rendition with the song being sung 3 times thru. The choir joins in and makes it a round. It becomes almost a lullaby, a beautiful reminder of our love and cherishing of our children.

    Contrast UU church Y which is much smaller. Sunday attendance is perhaps 100, 25 or so are children. This congregation has the children gather in the sanctuary *every* Sunday and has a formal "story time" built into each service, usually presented by the DRE. In addition they use "this little light of mine" to symbolically include the children in the service after they leave. (If any of you are unfamiliar with this, basically as the children enter the sanctuary they go to the front and light a candle which is placed in a specially decorated box of sand. The lighted candle symbolizes the child's continued presence with the congregation after they have physically left for RE.) In this congregation, it takes about 10 *seconds* for the children to pour out the completely open back end of the sanctuary. The choir director, in an effort to get the song sung before the children have all left, revs up the tempo to a loony tones pace and everyone breathlessly races to finish the verse ASAP. Completely negating the beautiful sentiments of the song.

    So much depends on the implementation for the "moment" to work.

    I am all for anything that will benefit the small congregations! Ours is a group of 12 - 15 who have been meeting for over ten years in our present incarnation. I am the only net-head in the group; one other w/e-mail. Our family has maintained our CLF membership even with the local group existing.

    We have a small school divided into four groups - pre-school, K-3, 4-6 and youth. When I started, we had one class in the middle - K-6. if we aimed for the lower ages, the older kids were bored. If we tried to aim for older kids, the younger ones couldn't keep up. We met together for story and discussion and then broke into interest groups with the option of kids going where they wanted. Surprise, the groups self-selected into K-3ish and 4-6. We also lost several of our sixth graders who didn't fit in with either the K-4 or the youth. When we did plays, the younger ones, no matter how well they acted ended up being in the chorus because they couldn't read lines at try-outs. Now we have the k-3 and 4-6 plan and all the children are much more involved.

    One of the issues is reading levels. When everything is oral, anyone can shine. When there is reading involved, the younger ones feel left out. The older kids prefer to have some reading and research involved in their classes. Also the level of discussion is more satisfying for both groups. I know a good teacher can balance all these factors, but let's face it, in a small church those who volunteer and are liked by the kids may not have these skills and there often aren't enough volunteers to have an age range of K-6 adequately staffed to make the age range work.

    Except for the youth, who have chosen to keep to a 7th grade lower limit, I would be flexible about borders. If a child in 3rd grade was a wizz-bang reader and could handle a serious discussion with a 6th grader I would have no problem with that child moving up, or with a younger child moving down. In fact we have one now who is moving into 4th grade, but has close friends in K-3 and may not want to move up. It will be her choice. Her friend is in 3rd grade because he was held back once. He is a poor reader but a deep thinker. Although he is the same age as the girl, he would be frustrated in the older class because of the reading.

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    Hi all, I am just starting home schooling and am enjoying this list. I have 3 children ages 9-17. I live in Wyoming, here the kids do not have to attend school after 8th grade. My oldest has had so many problems (he has ADD and suffered from depression this last year) I pulled him from school after I was told that high school is a privilege not a right in this state. They would not help him or make any changes in the way the classes went.( they would not call me to tell me he had cut class, he was possibly suicidal at the time and they knew it) Our drop out rate for the freshman class this past year was 70 students out of a class of 300. Our reported rate for the school is over 25%, this is what the school district admits to. I decided my other children were not going through this crap. They also have ADD and I will not medicate them so they will fit in. I have enrolled with Clonlara school for the next year. MY oldest is looking forward to being home schooled, he used to enjoy learning I am hoping that he will again. He asks me questions like "I won't have to do supid worksheets will I?" He has a mind like a lawyer very logical. I started out looking in to doing school at home straight textbook stuff. I did not feel comfortable with it. I knew I would have to do something very different than school to get my oldest back and keep my 8th grader agreeable. So Clonlara seemed the best choice for us. I would like to hear from others who use them. I appreciate this list for the lack of "gag me with a spoon religion". I have taught my children to ask questions and think for themselves.

    We used Clonlara last year. I loved them and really like the teacher we were assigned. They will help you as much as you want to be helped, or leave you alone as much as you want to be left alone. It didn't work very well for my eldest son because he had such a phobia about recording keeping. He does a lot and is pretty well rounded, but it was a real struggle getting him to keep track of it. We talked about setting goals for him to meet instead of keeping track of his time. The private school diploma isn't accepted by our state colleges. The Georgia Board of Regents decided this year that all homeschoolers have to pass six SAT IIs in order to qualify for college. SAT IIs are subject specific competency tests. We can't really afford all that testing and Clonlara, so we are just going to do the testing. I would reccomend Clonlara to anyone just starting out...especially with high schoolers. It really helped to hear that we were doing fine. Homeschooling is a scary step to take...always in the back of your mind is the worry at maybe the "professionals" are right and you are ruining your children's life. It is good to have a "professional" on your side.

    We were pointed to this list by a posting to the unschoolers list where I've been lurking for lo these many weeks now (and another thousand thanks to the poster), largely dissatisfied but hanging in there for the occasional message of support or educational insight, amid the endless messages concerning whose child should be "matched up" with whose (yawn!). But on the Internet homeschooling lists, as in our local homeschooling groups, our family --- our Unitarian, vegetarian, organically-grown, eco-feminist, somewhat pagan family --- have been misfits from the get-go. And then, as others have pointed out, we are misfits within our own Unitarian congregation because we homeschool our kids. But we are more fortunate than some --- we have 5 homeschooling families in our congregation of 200 or so, and that number may well grow --- I've fielded numerous questions from other members of our church who are *more* than interested in homeschooling.

    Our kids have been homeschooled from birth, and our approach could best be described as "child-led, with a hovering parent ever in attendance to lead and guide." John Holt would probably disapprove of the "hovering" part, but it's not that I don't trust our kids --- I'm simply unable to free myself from the well-inculcated notion that we should be covering certain subject matter in a timely fashion. Wisconsin is a blessedly laissez-faire state as regards homeschooling, but even the non-intrusive form that we file each year with the Department of Instruction dutifully reminds us to cover those all-important basic areas of instruction for those all-important 180 days of "seat time."

    I use Saxon with all three of my children. I really have liked it. Saxon does have a website, but I don't have it's address at my finger tips at this moment. All of my children can do basically self study with the book. Saxon also has a placement test.

    Tried it. Hated it. Anybody want to buy a barely used Saxon 54? Saxon is the standard for some homeschoolers, others can't abide it. We've had many a roaring debate on AOL over Saxon vs anything. College math professors say it doesn't teach kids to think and understand the concepts.

    FWIW, we'll be using Problem Solving in Mathematics by the Lane County Mathematics Project (published by Dale Seymour) and the Key to... series. My almost 13 year old loves the Problem Solving book and has requested that I get him the next grade level. I had already planned to get Key to... , but a 14 yo hs boy came to my chat Tuesday and said he loves doing that series of math books. There are several books for each area--decimals, fractions, percents, measurement, algebra, etc. He said he likes being able to finish the books, and that he retains what he learns well. It was good to hear that from somebody who is actually using the program.

    >>Also the Logical Journey of the Z???? by Broderbund is supposed to be good for pre-algebra<<

    Zoombinis is great fun. My 6 year old can do most of the games, but my 12 year old enjoyed it too. So did my 29 yo brother!

    My curriculum for next year is BASED on evolution. We are combineing science and history and working our way to social sciences with the formation of ancient cultures. There is some great books out there and museums that are quite close. We are finishing our Calvert School curriculum this week. We used it because it was a real quick solution. Can't wait till those chains are broken!

    >I've been trying to figure out what to do for math this year....

    >My twelve year old is very bright, but has ADD.

    I am working with 3 middle schoolers with ADD and/or Learning Disabilities. The thing my girls need is the slow building on skills and incremental learning. I have not yet began working the Saxon I have purchased for them That will come in a few weeks. Two will use Saxon 76 and one Saxon 1/2. I have heard some complaints from others that it does not teaching logical mathematical thinking skills. I indeed to use daily experiences to teach those skills (sewing, cooking, redecorating their bedroom, etc.) This is our first year of homeschooling so we will see how it goes.

    >A Pro-One is supposed to be really good.

    We have Pro-One Middle School Math and Grammar. The girls enjoy using it. I like the step by step approach it uses. Again, these are kids with varing degrees of ADD/LD problems. We also have Math Blaster Secret of Lost City (Episode 2). The kids enjoy playing it. We use it as a fun way to drill but not to introduce new material. I am looking to add the higher levels of Math Blaster to our inventory when the girls are ready for it.

    <<My fourteen year old ... seems to have a bit of phobia about Algebra and keeps asking why she has to learn it at all.>>

    I'll warn you guys I often get on a soap box about math. I'm a "learn math from real-life" proponent. Math is rarely approached as the tool it is. It's like being taught to hammer by just being handed lots of different hammers, nails and woods. After a few days of hammering, anyone would wonder what the point of a hammer was. No wonder many people wonder why they should learn math. It's more rewarding to learn math by building things, investigating architecture, navigation, astronomy, etc.

    <<I'm considering using Saxon 1/2 for both of them.>>

    Saxon takes pounding nails to an extreme. One nail at a time. One kind of wood at a time. Then go back and review. :-P It is successfully pushed to homeschoolers since so many people fear math.

    So, right off the bat I'll blow all my credibility ;-) and recommend 2 workbook series: first is the Key To series. There are separate units for Decimals, Fractions, Measurement, Percents, Geometry and Algebra. They are very "user-friendly". Quotes I've collected from AOL about it are: "quite complete; explains things well with plenty of practice; good for "cookbookery" of math, lean on whys and wherefores of math; lacks real life problems"

    Also highly recommened by homeschoolers on AOL is the Lane County Problem Solving in Math series. These are divided by grade (4-9). They use a guided discovery approach. "works for younger kids too! Good strategies for problem solving, lots of interesting problems to solve. Focus on strategies and multiple methods for solving problems. Lots of open-ended problems. Teaches specific techniques to solve problems: Guess & Check, Look for a Pattern, Make A Systematic List, Make & Use a Drawing or Model, & Simplify the Problem"

    You can get these at a discount through:

    Bright Spark Press 20887 N. Springs Terrace Boca Raton FL 33428-1453 email: web:

    Two other math catalogs:

    Pig Out on Math PO Box 910 Montpelier, VT 05601

    Cabisco Math 2700 York Road Burlington, NC 27215-3398

    Here's some fun places to go to explore math that I've been collecting in a database so please excule the formatting. The quotes following are lines I paraphrased from AOL recommendations.

    -- Discovering Geometry: An Inductive Approach absolutely wonderful book; great place to go after Key to Geometry -- Harold Jacob's books are excellent. I've never heard a bad thing about them: ----Mathematics, A Human Endeavor Jacobs, Harold RETROMOM: indepth problem solving. It is really creative and interesting and, IMO, would be great book to do together with a child. We've had the whole family engaged in a couple of the problems and it was great. ---- Geometry Jacobs, Harold great place to go after Key to Geometry; pretty straighforward, quite proof oriented, humorous, but not easy ---- Elementary Algebra Jacobs, Harold explains things in such a way that you discover the algebraic principle for yourself

    Using math in a fun way:

    -- Family Math Stenmark, Jean shows math haters that math is more than computation, it's involved in all of life, word problems, logical reasoning -- Human Calculator RETROMOM: Great! Fun, tricks on how to do complex calculations in your head; also a video and a computer program (though apparently it's hard to find) -- Learning Activities from the History of Mathematics Swetc, Frank J. variety of historical problems for 1st yr algebra; brief historical sketches on 22 mathematicians -- Joy of Mathematics, The Pappas, Theoni each concept just a page or 2 on nature, science, art, music, philosophy, history, literature -- More Joy of Mathematics Pappas, Theoni -- Mathematics Calendar (one for kids and one for grownups) Pappas, Theoni -- Logic puzzles such as the games books put out by Gardner, Martin -- Math for Every Kid Van Cleave, Janice -- Math for Smarty Pants Burns, Marilyn -- I Hate Mathematics Book, The Burns, Marilyn -- Mathemagics Benjamin, Arthur; Michael Brant Shermer math professor and human calculator shoes how to do complicated math instantly in your head

    Fiction and non-fiction about math:

    -- Art of Mathematics King, Jerry "reveals the beauty of math, accessible to all readers; explores dif btwn real, rational, complex #s, diff btwen pure and applied math; connection btwn aesthetics and math" -- Flatland Abbott, Edwin set in a 2D world; great read-aloud -- From Five Fingers to Infinity Swetz, Frank J., ed. fascinating collection of illuminating articles on math history from ancient tally marks to the recent solving of Fermat's Last Theorem -- Journey Through Genius Dunham, William (me: my husband can't say enough about this book. He says it's the best book he's ever read about math.) -- Math Smart Junior, Math You'll Understand Lerner, Marcia fictional story of 3 kids bored on a summer day who end up having wild adventures (like mole takes them underground to teach them about negative numbers, they have a pizza party to go over mutiplying fractions, their search for Mysterious Mr. X leads them into algebra) (also approximation, order of operation, decimals, ratios and percents, probability, graphs, geometry, negative numbers) Learn decimals with lemonade, save a kitten w/ Pythagoreon theorem. -- Mathematicians Are People, Too tells the lives of mathematicians and math concepts; stories that make math come alove and feel the human connection, interesting, informative and easily readable sotries for kids about lives of great mathematicians -- Mathematics for the Millions Hogben (I think this is the one Einstein raved about) -- Mathematics for the Nonmathematician Kline, Morris historical and cultural development of math -- Nature's Numbers: The Unreal Reality of Mathematics Stewart, Ian rec by Bill Berlinghoff; Highly readable. Fibonacci numbers, other mathematical systems/patterns in nature. Author of Mathematical Recreations column in Scientific American -- Professor E. McSquared's Original, Fantastic, and Highly Edifying Calculus Primer Swann, Howard; John Johnson authors have lavishly spread their humor, poking fun at the 'gobbledygook' and mystique of math wile putting across the ideas of analyis; math ideas are extremely well and accurately presented -- Professor Weissman's Laugh with Math cartoon style, helps lighten up some difficult topics -- Puzzlemania magazine subtle way of introducing math -- David Macaulay's books (Unbuilding, Pyramid, The Way Things Work, etc.) -- Wonderful World of Mathematics, The Hogben, Lancelot kids history of math. "It's big, like a picture book, and shows daily life in ancient times when mathematical ideas were being explored and discovered for use in practical applications" Check Barnes and Noble reprints (out of print)

    Video: -- Nova: The Shape of Things. rec by RETROMOM geometry for kids

    <<Another thought is use computer software instead of a textbook.>>


    <<Pro-One is supposed to be really good.>>

    Pro-One is *dry*.

    Here's some that aren't:

    -- Logical Journey of the Zoombinis by Broderbund. This doesn't even seem like math but it is really wonderful. -- Edmark's Mighty Math series. All are good and I think they just released their Algebra Title. (Buy one get one free until July 30th I believe.) -- Dorling Kindersley puts out *wonderful* software. Not a clunker in the bunch. They might have a math program.

    <<My experience last year was that we do better just having a few things to do and finishing them, rather than have a bunch of stuff to do and run around in circles all I think it will be either textbook or software, not both. (maybe some fun game software to reinforce).>>

    Well, maybe you can do both by backing off the concept of getting math concepts down one by one and embracing all of math. It really will fall into place if allowed to be used rather than practiced.

    Hope there's something here that stirs up some passion for math :-)

    I'd just like to add that Bright Spark will match the lowest price you find. Her prices are very good to start with though, and I've never found any better.

    Great Christian Books carries a workbook and teacher's guide for Mathematics: A Human Endeavor. The book itself has only a few answers in the back, which drove me nuts for the ones I couldn't get. It is a fun book though. One you could probably find at a decent library.

    One more good book is Mathematical Mystery Tour. It starts with fibonacci numbers, using pine cones and flowers for examples and goes from there. I found it at our library, but somebody always reserves it away from me. Published by Zephyr Press.

    We use Miquon math and plan to go on to Saxon math next year. (My oldest is 9).

    But thought I'd mention something I just saw in a catalog. The catalog is : Bluestocking Press PO BOx 2030 Shingle Springs, CA 95682-2030 1 800 9598586 Fax 916 642 9222

    On the cover it says , "Finally! A Math Series We Recommend Enthusiastically! (That caught my attention!)

    "The math series we began offering last year has met with huge success. THIs is a series that helps students learn to *think mathematically*. In this series , emphasis is placed on the solution process, understanding how to solve the problem, rather than on getting a right answer." et c etc etc

    The author of the series is (apparently) a well known author of college math texts, Margaret Lial. "She has been writing textbooks for over 20 years and is highly respected." etc

    Book 1 in the series is called "Basic College Mathematics" The authors say that most average 7th graders could handle this book. "BCM was written for college students who didn't acquire their math skills in elementary or high school. . . . . NOTE : If you have a math phobic student, or one that is late beginning their math studies, this is a great morale booster. Instead of being behind in his/her studies, the student is now using a college-level math book! . . . ." And I see these books are available in software version too.

    The series goes on from that one (above) ; there is Algebra, Trig, Geom, Calculus, Business math etc. There are recommended orders of the books, depending on whether the student is college bound, not college bound, will be a math or science major, etc.

    We have Logical Journey of the Zoombinis. I love playing it, tho it moves a tad slow for me. It is helping me to brush out some of the cobwebs!! :) My 11 yr old (a 6th grader with ADD) can work on it well, tho he doesn't have a very logical mind. My 7 yr old (1st grader, with ADHD + a few other labels) is VERY logical so they work together. I got mine from a christian source (as I am christian) but I think some of their comments could be offensive to those of other beliefs. (Unless you just ignore their homey little letters & commentaries. Just read them for the necessary info & filter the rest). If I can dig out their address, I'd be happy to pass it on. It was highly recommended as was the Lost Mind of Dr Brain. I have that also & think it is just "ok". The puzzles can be challenging, but it really moves s-l-o-w. It just won't hold my kids interest. My boys like the Math Rescue & Word Rescue. They also enjoy Super Solvers Outnumbered. (It is great for my older boy, but the time limit is too short for the younger one. It does have a great customized drill level) We have Turbo Science which has a lot of terrific information, but a dorky story line with rude characters. I use the book that came with the disks for reference. Heck, it taught me things I never even knew about. Who said homeschooling only teaches the kids!! :) THis year Hubby plans to help out with the history & geography. We have the Cornerstones of Freedom book set as well as another one to get us started.

    >You don't use any curriculum? What about as they get older and may wish to prepare for a technical career or college? Do you use computer software at all? My son, who's now 14, wants to be a computer analyst or something, so he uses a lot of computer books and software.

    Well, Dana has an interest in being "some kind of scientist" she says. Geologist, veternarian, who knows. She's very quick and very smart -- taught herself to read at age 4 and hasn't stopped since (she's 10 1/2). So I told her that if she wanted to be a scientist, she'd have to go to college, and if she was going to college to be a scientist, she'd need to learn stuff like chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, etc. She asked me to explain all those things and after I did, she decided that she wanted to start by learning algebra. We bought an algebra textbook that was recommended in GWS. So Sky does algebra with her when she's in the mood. I think they've worked through 2 or 3 chapters in the last few months. It's a challenge for Dana because she has always refused to learn her multiplication and division tables but to figure out each problem individually. So it can be slow going. She gets it and she enjoys it, but it's frustrating for Sky...

    We also bought a video tape series on chemistry from a place called the Teaching Company. We havene't looked at it, but we also bought a world history one that we've watched some of and it's pretty good.

    I've always pictured that Dana would take community college courses in preparation for college. The thing is, she learns so fast that I figure that if she's ready to learn something, she'll just learn it. That's how she's been so far.

    Sayer, of course, is too young for speculation. At almost 7 he shows no interest in learning to read (but loves being read to) but has quite highly developed math skills. He's a killer at Monopoly.

    Neither Dana nor Sayer are that interested in computer stuff except to play games. They really prefer doing things like building houses in the woods and having extensive fantasy games with their lego people...

    They both have great self-esteem, wonderful personal values (they both take the UU principles quite seriously), and strong critical thinking skills. I think that's all kids need. What kind of factual information they learn somehow doesn't seem all that important in the big picture.

    I wanted to comment on C's statement. I'm not quite so easy-going as he implies. There's a certain amount of agonizing about detouring from the curriuculum I've laid out, but I'm learning to be more free form and "go with the flow."

    Here's an example from the spring. At some point, N. asked about Adam and Eve. When he has such a query, more and more, I attempt to go to the source rather than simply answer the question. Because I work for a church, we were able to easily put our hands on 3 different versions of the Bible and read the two creation stories from Genesis, comparing the different interpretations.

    That started it, in fairness (and acknowledgement of my UU leanings) we couldn't just leave it at that, so we started looking at North American Indian creation stories, that lead to creation stories from around the world. (By the way, I have a recommendation for a wonderful book, with beautiful illustrations. It's called: "In The Beginning, Creation Stories from Around the World" by Virginia Hamilton.)

    After creation stories, it's just a hop to the concept of Mythology, so we started to explore Norse Mythology which led to Greek and Roman Mythology which has transformed once again to a current exploration of Fairy Tales. Eventually, I see it evolving to a study of Folk Tales.

    That's how and why I abandoned, the hodge podge of 4th grade literature selections I made way back when I had to write an IHIP (Independent Homeschooling Instruction Plan) for the school superintendent.

    To clarify my homeschooling ideology: make it interesting, make it pertenent, pull as much from as many different disciplines as you can, interweave and support each new concept with examples from literature, music, art, science, philosophy, and history. My son has thrived on this approach.

    <<In the member welcome letter, someone mentions "unschooling with more structure in some areas". Is there a definition of unschooling that says that it shouldn't have any structure? That's not how I see it, what do you think?>>

    I think it really depends on the child's learning style. Some people naturally need more structure than others. If the child chooses structure -- or a parent suggests it and the child is fully free to choose or reject it -- that's still unschooling. If the structure is imposed by the adult then that isn't unschooling.

    <<I feel I need structure and in teaching that to my children, I feel I'm also teaching them self-discipline and organizational skills.>>

    Of course there are other ways of learning self-discipline and organization that come naturally out of daily living like being responsible for chores, a part time job, a hobby, a newsletter. Structure needn't be artificially imposed on some other activity like learning to achieve that.

    My church asked me to do up their mission statement in calligraphy. I'll finish it because I want to do a good job, not because I was required to do math homework, or history in a particular order in school ;-)

    >Of course there are other ways of learning self-discipline and organization that come naturally out of daily living like being responsible for chores, a part time job, a hobby, a newsletter. Structure needn't be artificially imposed on some other activity like learning to achieve that.

    I don't see it as being artificial. I need some sort of structure in my work and learning, too. It helps to have goals and keep track of what I've done, etc.

    >My church asked me to do up their mission statement in calligraphy. I'll finish it because I want to do a good job, not because I was required to do math homework, or history in a particular order in school ;-)

    We're not doing a particular order of what we need. As a teenager, the goals are according to his personal goal for his future. He wants to attend college, majoring in computer science. We've had the discussion about not having to go to college to get a job in computers, but the argument his father gives is that the people he knows who got ahead (is making good money) in the industry without the education had to work a lot harder. I don't know how true that is, but he seems to have bought that for now. So we checked in to what he needs for college and the goals are according to what he needs to get in college. He doesn't need Biology in his sophomore year and chemistry in his junior year, or whatever the usual criteria is, but he does need biology and chemistry. He doesn't really need history and English at all - he just needs to be able to read and write well. So those are optional. His computer game development is definately Computer Science and he gets a lot of credit in that area.

    I must confess I do use some coercion, though. He really prefers not to do any reports of any kind and we've set up a one-per-month requirement. He agreed to it initially realizing he needs to learn to write papers for college, but he resists when it comes to the end of the month and he hasn't done any. 

    >>Another concern, when the kids get older, how do you keep them motivated. [Please, this is a serious question so don't give me 'tripe'] I have seen moms pull out here hair trying to get the kid to "do anything".

    I have noticed that when we feel they're not doing "anything" --they're actually doing quite a bit.
    I think by "anything" we mean anything that looks like school. I have to remind myself of this --that they learn so much in ways that don't look anything like school--no papers to show for quizes, no sitting and studying from a book...

    When, years ago, I was nervous about the same thing, I made a chart with sections for things like (I don't remember what the actual categories were--but this is the type of thing) "word study" (this can include many car games and rhyming songs, scrabble, alphabet magnets on the fridge, foam letters in the bath, computer games, pig latin...), "imagination" (this is as important to a well educated person as math!performing for friends and family, make-believe, dress-up, dolls and miniature figures, playing house, ), "scientific thought" (watching how the water pools on the bath toys? bubbles? magnets? asking "why?" looking at non-fiction picture books, growing a plant or a garden), social studies (discussions about values, people, politics, watching or listening to the news, UU church school studies of other religions, learning to get along with their friends and siblings, shopping--and talking about the various jobs people do, travel, even reading things like Asterix!), art (lots of scope here!)mathematical concepts (counting change, many games, cooking, weighing, balancing, measuring, doing workbooks, adding up how much it would cost to buy a dream wish list--and how much would have to be saved each week to accomplish it), music (lessons, singing, playing by ear,dancing, listening to a variety of good music, attending concerts) literature (this includes you reading aloud to them--and anything they read, live theatre productions ) creative writing (notes to friends, invitations and thank you cards, lists...)physical education (dance lessons,sports, bike riding, gymnastics, running, climbing, skating, sledding, skiing, swimming, swinging, hanging off the side of the sofa ;-D...) you get the picture? Once I had the categories and started to note just what had happened in a week that fit into them, I saw that there was a lot more going on that it seemed.

    >>Lastly, if kids are totaly un schooled, how do we get them to sit though instruction [like gymnastics], story time, support grp 'classes'... It can be very frustrating!

    and, as M says, often their desire to learn things comes in bursts and there are long periods of
    rest between the bursts.
    I feel that my role as a homeschooling parent is to provide a rich environment that will inspire their desire to explore and learn about many things in the world around them, and to model that interest in creative brain-work myself. If I too am unschooling--following my own passions and creating things from my own imagination, my kids are more likely to do the same. School would have us believe that learning stops after school ends--but we all know that we've followed our interests and taught ourselves or found mentors or teachers to teach us things we want to know all through our lives. It's a healthy attitude toward life.

    >>Lastly, if kids are totaly un schooled, how do we get them to sit though instruction [like gymnastics], story time, support grp 'classes'... It can be very frustrating!

    As I've seen my very UNschooled daughters go on to college and university, I've been amazed at all that they've learned by following their own inspiration, and how capable they are when they do go on to a classroom situation. They aren't burnt out with being instructed and told what to do so constantly, and when they go to a class it's not because they are a captive audience, it's because they have chosen to be there--and that shows in their focus and behaviour. My daughters have often been amazed at the lack of focus of others in classes--and frustrated by their interruptions. If you have seen homeschooled kids who are disruptive in these group situations, then perhaps they aren't old enough or haven't chosen to be there or they need to be helped to understand just what is expected of them in such a situation. It really isn't anything to do with unschooling or not--some kids take longer to develop that kind of attention span and ability to sit quietly. These are often the kids who have real problems fitting in at school!

    Perhaps this is partly the old confusion of just what we mean by "UNschooled" --and I have a feeling this means something different for each family! Some people seem to feel it means doing absolutely *nothing* that they deem educational --leave it all to the kids to find their own way.(and the definition of "educational" comes from the school model of education! They may feel comfortable with explaining how to hammer a nail--but feel it's not following their unschooling philosophy to explain how to subtract numbers. Personally, if it seems appropriate to explain something, even "school" subjects, and the child is interested, then I still feel that's unschooling) at the other end of the UNschooling spectrum, are people who have all the workbooks and science kits and just don't do them every day. I consider my kids unschooled, as they are the ones who guide their own educations, but with input and inspiring environment provided by me. I'm not saying there is any "right" way --there are as many ways that work as there are different personalities. --but I am saying that unschooling--that is, letting a child direct her own learning, does work--and works well. --and we who have been through the school system have to struggle to let go of our mental picture of what we think learning looks like. It seldom looks like the school model!

    I think many homeschooling parents worry too much about what their kids are "learning" and that "learning" must involve written reports, worksheets or other documentation (and please, my apologies to those of you in states where this is a requirement).

    The longer we homeschool (kids are 7 and 10 and have never been to school), the more I realize that play is life and play is learning and that however they spend their day, they are learning more than you and I probably do.

    I guess we would probably be defined as radical unschoolers as we have never done anything formal and have very few "rules" in our household. The only ones I can think of at the moment is that the kids have to brush their teeth every night and can only watch one video per day (due to power constraints, we have solar power and TVs use a lot of energy). They wake when they want, eat when they want, sleep when they want, bathe when they want, choose their own clothes and do their own grooming. They can't go to the swimming hole alone and they need to tell us if they're going deep into the woods. I just asked everybody and this is it as far as any of us can remember.

    And, guess what, no slugs, no overeaters, no kids playing endless computer games. What we have instead are vibrant children who cannot be stopped, who know more I think sometimes than I or their father do.

    Nothing is "taught." All "subjects" are part of life. Maps on the wall, NPR news, discussion about what is happening in different places in the world as it is reported -- this does not mean "reports" on Peru or India or Afghanistan. I mean the same kind of conversation adults would have, with any quesions answered that are asked. Figuring out how to make change or do a bank deposit. Emailing a friend. Singing songs. Taking walks in the woods and discovering a salamander, bringing it home, identifying it via a book, checking out its environment and food needs and setting it up so the kids can watch it for a while, and then returning it to where they found it in the woods. Going to church and participating in the service and RE. Asking questions about laws and crime and jail while on a half-hour car ride.

    Why are we in such a hurry for our kids that they have to "learn" prescribed things? They are *kids* and should be able to play, have fun, have a childhood. It'll be time to "grow up" all too soon! They can't help but learn -- being left to self-regulate, having loving, supportive parents, learning how to manage conflict without violence, being exposed to life, watching their parents live their own lives -- what messages are they learning from us? There are no "facts" other than knowing how to read and how to do basic math that I think kids "need" to know. The rest will just happen.

    Not all homeschooling parents have mom at home and dad off to work. Besides the fact there are same gender couples out there hsing, there are also families where mom and dad have committed to part time work so that they share in being with the kids. This is our choice, and I highly recommend it if your family can swing it.

    I have noticed that the kids go in "cycles" -- they have days or weeks when they do seem to sit around more playing compuiter games and reading and generally hanging out, then the energy builds and they want to know everything and the encyclopedia is dragged out and they read the newspaper and a million questions come at me. I have learned to respect the cycles and try to keep up with them when they're on a "learning" spurt. It is fascinating to watch. I appreciate the "down" times that much more and think we adults could learn from our kids -- learn that we too need the down times when we want to hang out and watch TV and read light novels and not seem to accomplish much. I know that with some rest, centering, and recuperation that the "growth spurt" will come again.

    I got involved with John Holt personally back in the late 1960s over a "free school" which had hired me as their "coordinator" -- that is a long story but basically the kids ran the school and hired the teachers. I found John and had long conversations with him over our situation. He was a great and gentle man.

    I can't compare John and Jesus because I didn't know Jesus ;-) -- but Jesus had a simple message --his "Good News" -- and John had one just as simple -- "LISTEN TO THEM" -- the person can tell you the most about what is wrong and what is right. When Jesus preached his Good News you had to be ready and able to hear it. In much the same way, John wanted us to be ready and able to listen to our kids.

    That is so simple it is almost absurd -- and so was what Jesus said. If people cleared their minds and listened to one another -- and especially their kids -- this would be a different world.

    >What tape series is it? My eldest son and I have been talking about attending a conflict resolution workshop. So far there hasn't been one scheduled that is convenient.

    "You can get anything you want: The Secrets of Power Negotiating" by Roger Dawson from Nightingale Conant Corp., 7300 North Lehigh Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60648 (1-800-323-5552). I think it was rather costly, though. It was intended for business people, I think, but is pretty easy to understand if a child can focus and sit still for a lecture. Tapes are always good for car trips if you have a 20 min. ride to the pool or something. Younger children would probably hate this, though. If someone's inspired, they should make one for kids, unless there's something else out there.

    >>Homeschooling is a scary step to take...always in the back of your mind is the worry at maybe the "professionals" are right and you are ruining your children's life.

    >On the non-scary side, my oldest homeschooled got a full scholarship to Bates at Lewiston, ME, so I wouldn't worry a bit. Second is going to Reed, also on scholarship. Colleges, at least, appreciate our efforts!

    It's always scary to buck the system. As Unitarians we have practice with unconventional beliefs, so this is simply carrying our independent thinking a step further into another area of our lives. My oldest too has gone on to university from homeschooling all her life. ---Extremely relaxed UNschooling actually! --and her GPA was 4.0 last year. I heard a wonderful comment the other day. A friend said that when she gets calls about how to homeschool a highschool age child up to the standard of schools, she says, "What do you remember from high school? Just teach them that." --I'm not sure this would take a whole day.... Just looking at the results of public education should cure us of insecurities.

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    Great UU sermon bt Mark Belletini --

    An article in today's paper relates that scientists have recently tested the DNA from a neanderthal and found that we are not related to him. Although we share a common ancestor that was probably a squirrel or something similar, neanderthal was a "dead end" and homosapiens come from an entirely different line of evolution.

    Well actually I must stand to correct my guess. Accourding to the article in the Washington Post that I just read, and printed out, the Neanderthal is a Homindea from the Hominoidea catagory. Yet the studies that where done showed that we did not derive from them, yet they are a off shoot branch of Hominines that split from the line we are from about 500,000 yrs ago. Now in reality if this is true this places the connection only 300,000 yrs before the appearance of modern humans. And most probably the "squirrel" connection was more in the millions of years ago. Probably the split was between us and the Australopithecus and to add the study proves the "out of Africa" theory and and the probablitiy that is where the modern human came from. The Washington post web site is:, its still one of my favorite papers.

    >BUT, while we're on the subject, a pet peeve of mine is when theories are presented as facts, and without fully explaining the assumptions those theories are built on. For example, carbon dating methods presuppose a steady & measurable rate of deterioration which may or may not be true... but you have to start somewhere. >I just wish it were made clear that most of this stuff is a collection of working hypotheses which may or may not end up being *true*.And that some of the most interesting stuff that scientists do involves *proving* it's all wrong and having to come up with new attempts at explainations....

    even more so, i think that there should be a life disclaimer that "truth is relative".

    >I am puzzled by this. What connection do you find between evolution and ancient civilizations? Biological evolution is much too slow a process to be >evident in the space of time elapsed since such civilizations, isn't it? >Human progress and the development of civilizations is not evolution, and in >fact, it's sometimes a matter of opinion that humanity over the course of time shows "progress." Sometimes it is more of a regression.

    I think there is a little confusion here. No and yes about there being a link or a equate. In the curriculum we are starting starts with the theory of the big bang and the start of the universe, the progress that is shown is not progress meaning better just progress the length of time. How we are all from those single-cell organisms therefore we as life on this planet are all connected to the one source and to the universe. How can we teach the history of this country if we ignore the cultures that were already here. How can our children understand how our goverment if we ignore the ancient empires. Yet to avoid the same mistakes made in history to realize that we all came from the same microscopic soup so to destroy other forms of life on this planet is to harm something that we are in some way related to.

    . Anyway, I hate to think of human history >being confused with biological evolution. Or is there some connection I haven't thought of?

    Well ofcourse the "human like" forms or really Hominoidea arrived a bit later than the other life forms, yet as they developed the "pack" and later to the "tribe" we can try to understand how we as humans developed our social connection. Yes we humans are very much a part of biological evolution.

    The decision to homeschool was cemented in this household when we >>discovered that the local high school curriculum excludes evolution, because it's so controversial. The thought that a family would homeschool to INCLUDE evolution is one the HSDL would not condone, I presume.

    We didn't homeschool because of evolution, but a funny thing happened last year that reminds me of this. Last year Nick News came to interview my RE class about the proposed law before the Georgia legislature that would make it illegal to teach about evolution. I have heard that one fourth grade class literally had a chapter in their science books cut out. Very bizarre!!! I had no prior warning that these guys were coming and had some car problems so I was about ten minutes late. It was really embarrassing to show up ten minutes late and have a camera crew waiting and expecting me to lead a discussion about evolution vs. creationism. The kids did really well under the circumstances although it was really sad to hear how little they know about the beginning of life on earth. Seems the teachers avoid the subject altogether since it is so hot.

    My outspoken daughter told the interviewer that she is homeschooled and she can learn about both creationism and evolution and make up her own mind about which theory she thinks is correct.

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    >>Plaza Sesamo is Sesame Street in >Spanish.

    I wonder if you can get those on tape? Does anybody know? I really wish I had them when my kid was younger. But I got him Disney Sing-a-longs in French and they scared him to death! (It was kindof funny!) Maybe I didn't start early enough? <<

    Yes you can get the Plaza Sesemo on tape- our library has several and I have a list here in front of me that Borders can special order. Also get lots of Disney in Spanish.

    I just happened to get a foreign language catalog in the mail yesterday that has a number of things for all ages:

    Calliope Books Foreign Language Materials Rout 3 Box 3395 Saylorsburg, PA 18353

    and another one that also has materials for all ages:

    Multiligual Books and Tapes 4748 University Way NE Seattle WA 98105 1-800-21-TAPES

    They sell the Story Bridges and Springboard tapes people on AOL have recommended. As well as Dr. Suess and other fiction books in other languages.

    Scholastic is a good place to get books in Spanish if you has access to the book club. I know they occasionally offer Magic School Bus and Clifford in Spanish.

    Don't overlook Dover either, for some very inexpenisve stuff:

    Dover Publications 31 East 2nd Street Mineola NY 11501-3582

    ask for their children's catalog, or they may even have a foreign languages catalog.

    And for the computer is all the software put out by Syracuse Language Systems. (Some only available for PC :-( ) And as luck would have it, they're having a sale (until Sept 30) on their All-In-One software for kids (Mac and PC). We have this and it's fun. This has games in 5 languages (Japanese, Spanish, French, German and English). It's regularly $24.95, but on sale for $14.90 ($9.95 + $4.95 s&h). It says call 800-SYR-LANG and give them the secret code: SNAIO (that's an eye and an oh). You could also check their website:

    And while I'm on a roll, if anyone's interested in Asian languages, or good kids books about and from Asian countries:

    Asia for Kids Master Communications PO Box 9096 Cincinnati, OH 45209-0096

    Where else can you get books for little kids in Tagalog and Mandarin? A really nice catalog. (Most books are in English, some bilingual, and some a foreign language.)

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    We spent a long time on Egypt. We built a killer pyramid out of sugar cubes. We had intended to do it to scale, but it would have been too huge as there are over 1 million blocks in the one we used as a model. We used the pyramid in Pyramid by David Macaulay. I'm afraid the sugar cubes melted in the humidity, but it was neat while it lasted. We also did a salt dough map of the Nile and made a sarcophogus for each kid with the story of their life in pictograms. Playing with rubic puzzles helped my twelve year old understand hieroglyphics and how some symbols represent sounds and some symbols represent whole words. The Egyptian mythology is interesting and now that we have moved on to Greece, it is interesting to catch the similar thread in the different stories.

    >Do you have any titles for the studies of ancient civilization?

    I found this great book that is really good for my 8 yr old called: Lucy and Her Times By Paseal Pieg and Nicole Verrechia, ISBN 0-8050-5062-0 . Its about the Lucy discovery in Africa and it has some great details. I would start with Africa, we are not there yet for we will start with the big bang and go from there to formation of the planets ect...For those on the pagan path, teaching about the astrological energies from the planets is really interesting too, and that will tie in later when we are studying Greece and Jason's quest.

    In Sept. we will be approaching ancient >civil. in the same manner. I have ordered a book on ancient Chinese inventions due out in Sept.

    I just LOVE ancient Chinese culture, there is such a wonderful sense of balance in the strenth and softness from each Dynasty.

    >They also have another on Roman inventions. I haven't previewed it yet but >hope it will be workable! I have also been getting TIME LIFE'S series on ancient civilizations which includes what is going on all over the world at >the same time. It looks to be well written.

    There are also some great videos that were specials on PBS and A&E and others that are available for free rental at our library, they are a good added extra for a special treat.

    A fascinating book that I have been reading lately is A History of Knowledge : Past, Present and Future by Charles Van Doren; ISBN: 0345373162. I haven't gotten past the first chapter yet, but the first chapter was very interesting. It talked about how the different government systems developed and what "hook" they had to get people to follow. Another good book that talks about the evolution of human thought is Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan. I read this years ago in high school and just found a copy at a book sale for $1. For that matter, Cosmos by Carl Sagan is a good book. I also have Isaac Asminov's Chronology of the World that starts with the Big Bang.

    A lot of the really good stuff on evolution and the development of human thought and mythology is a little beyond by twelve year old and fourteen year old. My sixteen year old is really getting into it, though. We started last year with Ancient Egypt and will probably go back to pre-history when they get a little older.

    We spent a long time on Egypt. We built a killer pyramid out of sugar cubes. We had intended to do it to scale, but it would have been too huge as there are over 1 million blocks in the one we used as a model. We used the pyramid in Pyramid by David Macaulay. I'm afraid the sugar cubes melted in the humidity, but it was neat while it lasted. We also did a salt dough map of the Nile and made a sarcophogus for each kid with the story of their life in pictograms. Playing with rubic puzzles helped my twelve year old understand hieroglyphics and how some symbols represent sounds and some symbols represent whole words. The Egyptian mythology is interesting and now that we have moved on to Greece, it is interesting to catch the similar thread in the different stories.

    Dover books has a lot of resources that are dirt cheap (Dover Publications, Inc. 31 E. 2nd Street, Mineola, N.Y. 11501). They specialize in books that are copyright free and most are under $3.00 with many for $1. We got a wonderful book on Egyptian Mythology that has the hieroglyphics on one page and the english text on the following page....pretty hard to read for long, but interesting. Another big hit with my kids was Arthur's Ancient Egypt CD ROM. I got it in a set of educational CD's at Toys R Us for $5.00. Also, there is literally tons of interesting resources on the internet.

    We have moved on to Ancient Greece. We didn't move on because we ran out of material, though...we just felt like we needed to make some progress if we were going to make it through to modern times before the kids reach college age.

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    << Has anyone gone on-line with their children to find them flitting here and
    there, reading nothing, skimming along clicking on every bell and whistle? >>

    More often they find me doing that!! :-)

    >>At the age of 13, she can
    >>misjudge the intent of some of these people. Usually, a response from Mom is enough to make these characters go away. I have, on one occasion, had to report a person who got their account pulled because of lewd coments over
    >>to my daughter. For us, having the computer in a common room is the most effective means of guaranteeing that we approve of what is going on.

    >Did she tell you or did you just happen to look over her shoulder when it happened? I find those chat rooms go pretty fast and I would have to stand their constantly to be lucky to catch anything. What I have found, though, is that teens will use four letter words to be "colorful", but I can tolerate that as long as they're not discussing sex or anything like that.

     My daughter was the one to call my attention to it. And, yes, it was of a sexual nature. This concerns me more than anything else when it comes to my daughter on the computer. I don't know if she would've said anything if she were not in the middle of the family already. 

    >A friend of mine has a Mac and has a program that speaks what's being
    >allows us to monitor from the next room, discretely. Anyone know of a program
    >that for 486?

     A young man who is blind and in college has something similar on his pc. It may be worth contacting one of the organizations for the blind to inquire into this further, as they may have some worthwile recommendations. 

    >Y'all have run into one of the subtle problems of privatizing 'Net censorship. Most of the following is a generalization of experience with CyberPatrol, but I think it is generally applicable, especially because some providers have used CyberPatrol as an included component in their proprietary "parental control" filtration software.

    >The suggestions for what is to be filtered comes from a cadre of independent contractors who spend all day surfing the Web in search of things to be offended by. That cadre has been seriously infiltrated by the Religious Right -- evidently as individuals more than in any organized form. This has skewed both the extent and the content of the block lists.

     CyberPatrol, so far, has been very responsive to CUUPS and other Pagan organizations as well as GLAAD and other lesbigay groups when they are contacted as to sites that have been blocked. However, their initial reaction is to block a site and then to unblock it when it is pointed out to them that the site is not one which is cult and/or pedophile/explicite sex based. The way that we handle this problem is to have the computer in a room that we are all in. This limits where my daughter goes simply because the parental figures are always lurking somewhere in the vicinity. It has, also, helped because she has been IMed by some less than desirable people. At the age of 13, she can misjudge the intent of some of these people. Usually, a response from Mom is enough to make these characters go away. I have, on one occasion, had to report a person who got their account pulled because of lewd coments over IMs to my daughter. For us, having the computer in a common room is the most effective means of guaranteeing that we approve of what is going on. 

    >>Our method of dealing with this is to have the computer located in the living room, where we are constantly aware of what is going on with it. For those of you who want to know, get on the Internet and get a copy of Net Cache Explorer. It will tell you where your computer has been.

    >Then what do you do if it's obvious that someone went to a site that you deem inappropriate?

    Ah! Good question! I teach internet classes in which we discuss exactly that issue. Interesting to hear the range of responses!

    For us, I don't check up on where anyone has been. Doing so doesn't really fit in with our approach to communication right now. I don't know how I might feel about this at another time.

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    My son tells people we're Druids: "You know, the ORIGINAL church of England," which can be dangerous where they were boycotting Disney before the Baptists said to. I got into serious trouble with the local fundamentalist homeschool group by offering to do some labs and demonstrations in evolution. I'm a geneticist by training, and I really didn't know evolution was a dirty word.

    >Mainstream Christianity (and the vast number of homeschoolers I know are mainstream C) is NOT focused on creationism, courtship, restoring American as a Godly nation. These homeschoolers surely are as fed up with the stereotype these leeches promote as we are.

    When people ask me about our 'secular,' 'unschooling' group, they refer to it as 'non-religious' or 'non-Christian.' After being bugged by that for a long time, I realized this, and it's what I've been telling them: Almost all home-schoolers have a religion, and it's very important in their lives. We're all concerned about our children's values, and that's part of why we homeschool. We are an *inclusive* group.

    >>And yes I know about the Va power mongers, I live in Va. They run for office and fail misrabley, yet they have lots of $$$$$ to keep themselves where they are.<

    >Bless your heart having to live that near them <G>. I'd bet hard money that they are either subscribed to this list or have this list forwarded to them.


    << I keep hearing this phrase come out of her mouth, "we believe in..." I just feel REALLY icky about that. I'm keeping it to myself, I know it is none of my business. >>

    If this were my sister, I'd have to agree. Faith isn't believing what others tell us we should believe. It sounds like your sister is really searching for some peace in her life. I would question whether she will find it by swallowing the hook of religion again and again, but that seems to be her path. Some of the UU principles are hardest to follow with the ones we love the most.

    Don't take your sil's choice of faiths personally! It sounds as if she prefers her religion to be prepackaged, that's all, without requiring her to do much thinking about it. Some folks are just more comfortable being told what exactly to believe in, when and how to worship. She may actually be intimidated by your ability to actually think for yourself in these matters!

    >you know, it's funny, but it has taken me almost a year to get used to being looked at as if we all have 2 heads! i keep trying to explain that unschooling does not mean ignorance, but some of them just don't get it!

    Not all fundamentalists feel this way. I have a fundamentalist sister who is homeschooling six children and though she uses curriculum some of the time and of course, the Bible, she also uses life, field trips and many other methods of learning which she recognizes as "unschooling". She supports the idea. Actually, I think Gatto, who seems to be a supporter of unschooling, may also be fundamentalist since he criticizes the teaching of evolution in public schools. This is an area that many of us has in common. It would be nice if we could find more common ground and lessen the "us" vs. "them".

    We live in the middle of the city of Winnipeg and there are not many home schoolers. Thus the children that my boys play with do not really understand why they stay home or what we do. On top of that, their best friends are the children of a Mennonite Minister down the street. My boys have been told on several occasions that they are going to HELL! I respond that they have to believe in a place for it to scare them. Fortunately, we do have a wonderful RE program in the church. That contact with rational people has been a life saver on many occasions. Of course, there are still many UU's here that don't understand why I would choose to keep the boys home for their education, so I too am cheering loudly for this list. All of a sudden I feel like I am not alone!

    >We have >>to avoid extensive discussion of religion on our state homeschooling list because of the potential for flames there between the fundamentalists and the more liberal homeschoolers. We've had many heated discussions and a few that almost classified as flame wars. The unspoken rule we seem to have developed is that we are all free to mention our beliefs, and resources that support them, but we do not delve beneath the surface on those issues.

    >It's really difficult sometimes. I once corrected someone when they said something about those "pro-abortionists." I simply said that the correct term is "pro-choice," and that I didn't think there is anyone that actually wants abortions...the idea is that women should be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies. You would have thought that I was personally killing babies in my back yard by the hate that came through my modem. Even though we lost a number of fundamentalists from the list that day, I've never really felt comfortable and safe in that community since that incident. I was impressed by a recent discussion on another seemed that everyone was very respectful of each other's beliefs. I still wouldn't want any of them to find out that my daughter has a goddess altar in her room and is learning to read tarot cards.

    >Not only do I feel like I need to keep part of my life hidden, but so many of the concerns I have with my children are concerns I can't bring up in that forum and I feel really alone about it. For instance, my oldest is sixteen and alcohol, drugs, sex, and independence are areas of concern. So far he hasn't had any opportunity to experiment with alcohol and drugs, he decided that he is too young for sex (although he waivers on this a bit sometimes), he does smoke cigarettes although I think that has run it's course and he's about ready to quit. He was invited to a party for one of the kids at YRUU that just graduated...someone that my son really looks up to and tries to imitated. My son was busy and couldn't go, although he wanted to. I found out later that there was an open bar and a lot of didn't dawn on me or my son that it would be that kind of party. I felt really lucky that he didn't go, but then again he's sixteen and it's not unusual for sixteen year olds to be exposed to that. I know I was exposed to it quite a bit by the time I was sixteen and by seventeen, an active participant. Most of the parents at church just send their kids off to school every morning and see problems like this as part of life. Other homeschool families would probably avoid us entirely if I even mentioned concerns like this.

    "Home education is not an end in itself, but only a God-ordained means of accomplishing God's purposes in the home, in the heart of a young person, and in society as a whole." Doug Phillips - HSLDA

    "If this generation is to rise up and call America back to its biblical foundations, it must surely come from the ranks of America's homeschoolers. Doug will discuss the historical significance of the home school movement, the true objectives of home education, and the importance of a long-term multi-generational vision of victory."

    "Many have failed to embrace the responsibilites inherent in their high calling as home educators. We need fine tuning in our teaching strategies. He (Doug Phillips) will discuss current problems and suggest solutions."

    Worshop and keynote descriptions for an upcoming homeschool conference

    I know there are "moles" on this list. We have them because the mere thought that there are UU, Humanist & "those on other roads less travelled" homeschoolers sends some homeschoolers into fits. How can homeschooling be "God-ordained" if the heathens <G> are homeschooling? Ah, there is the rub. We heathens need to be spied upon, weeded out and if not eradicated from the movement then at least be brought under the regulation of those who are God-ordained to "lead" the movement. We need our own "Interfaith Alliance" to help reclaim homeschooling for everyone.

    I hasten to proclaim that I'm not the mole--even though I live in deepest, darkest, South Carolina! My homeschooled son tells the casual enquirer that he's a member of the original Church of England. They translate that as Anglican, he means Druid. If he said Unitarian, they'd think he was mispronouncing Rotarian.

    The decision to homeschool was cemented in this household when we discovered that the local high school curriculum excludes evolution, because it's so controversial. The thought that a family would homeschool to INCLUDE evolution is one the HSDL would not condone, I presume.

    >My fourteen year old daughter received a letter from one of her friends yesterday. The friend went away to church camp and got "saved." She wrote that she can no longer be friends with my daughter because my daughter's lack of belief in one God is holding her back in her religious growth. My daughter cryed her eyes out. It was so hurtful. "Some beliefs are liked walled gardens..." I wish I had all the words to that poem. <

    This happened to my daughter in public school. I think it happens to a lot of us, but not always in our face. The poem is by Sophia Lyon Fahs and is in the hymnal - #657:

    It Matter What We Believe

    Some beliefs are like walled gardens. They encourage exclusiveness, and the feeling of being especially privileged.

    Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and deeper sympathies.

    Some beliefs are like shadows, clouding children's days with fears of unknown calamities.

    Other beliefs are like sunshine, blessing children with the warmth of happiness.

    Some beliefs are divisive, separating the saved from the unsaved, friends from enemies.

    Other beliefs are bonds in a world community, where sincere differences beautify the pattern.

    Some beliefs are like blinders, shutting off the power to choose one's own direction.

    Other beliefs are like gateways opening wide vistas for exploration.

    Some beliefs weaken a person's self-hood. They blight the growth of resourcefulness.

    Other beliefs nurture self-confidence and enrich the feeling of personal worth.

    Some beliefs are rigid, like the body of death, impotent in a changing world.

    Other beliefs are pliable, like the young sapling, ever growing with the upward thrust of life.

    You wrote of a situation your 14 yo had w/ a friend writing a letter saying they could no longer be friends because they didn't believe the same way... Well, my oldest daughter is fast approaching the same situation w/ a friend next door! She was in tears last week too. We also had a neg. response too, with the local Christian HS Assoc. in the area of religion:) We were to sign a statement of faith that excluded most religious beliefs incl. Mormon, UU, Jehova W., Homosexuals, etc. I signed and added an addenedum after being told there wouldn't be a problem! Needless to say, we received a letter stating we could not be a part of "Their" group and our dues were returned. My children were very upset, etc.... because we have raised them to be accepting, tolerant, loving, people who can think for themselves. Anyway it was a difficult time for our family. I was a PS teacher and found the same intol. w/respect to prayer in school and it could only be a certain religous prayer. I had a lovely child from India that year and was concerned if prayer in school past here it would be cruel to him! And others! Obviuosly we were a minority. 

    >No one feels quite as free to criticize as members of one's own family,

    When we first ventured into the hs world 3 years ago, our families were by far our biggest critics. My husband's (rather conservative) family seemed to have the most difficult time understanding our choice. However, as they have seen Sara's (9) enthusiasm for learning and for what we do continue to blossom, they have opened their minds, albeit gradually, to the hs idea. I must add, we are not in the same state, therefore we do not find ourselves dealing with their criticisms (they call it concern) on a daily basis. Fortunatley, one of our biggest supporters is my sister who does live near us-and who, by the way has one daughter (10) in ps and another (4.5) headed to ps kindergarten next year. When we do enocunter criticism from family I just try (not always successfully!) to remind myself that their concerns really do stem from love for their granddaughter/niece, and that Sara herself is the best spokesperson for our choice...

    As a side note...while I'm sitting here reading over the mail, Sara and a neighbor girl (10) are playing nearby. They decide to put some things away before dragging more out (yay!). As Sara's friend is shelving some books she comments to Sara, "You are sooooo lucky to homeschool. My school is so boring and my teacher is mean." This is not the first time I have heard this from her, and I find it saddening. And at the same time it serves as a wonderful reminder that our choice is what's best for us, no matter what others choose to believe...I really like the suggested Mantra-my child, my choice! Hang in there and keep your chin up. You know your children better than anyone. Take care~

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    >When I discussed homeschooling on the UU mailing list, I was beat up pretty badly. >So many UU's are educators that as a group, they don't like homeschoolers.

    I had this very same experience at a UU church in AZ. I always felt like being a UU homeschooler was like being both a communist and a libertarian.

    I was treated like I was intolerant of the NEA and Multi-cultural education, oh and don't forget anti-social and I will make my child anti-social too.Then I get the socialization lecture.

    >I think that UUs (and the rest of society) sometimes fail to see "children" as "every person." If you're African American, poor, on death row, or a lesbian, we can see your "inherent dignity and worth" but if you are under 18 ... we can tell you what to do, how and when to do it, what's "good" for you, and what's not, etc.

    >This *age* thing is where many church friends may struggle with accepting homeschooling.

    I've gained the same opinion in the congregation that I was most recently affiliated with. There was an invisible wall between the RE wing & the rest of the church that we were always trying to tear down. Many adults were just generally *suspicious* of the goings-on of the teens in particular. We had a pretty neat, and not terribly conforming, group of teens for two years that just kind of disappeared after awhile. My impression was they were tired of being doubted. It seems alot of the adults wanted the teens to prove themselves to the rest of the congregation, but we rarely got support for what the teens were doing.

    Sad... I hope this is the exception in UU congregations.

    On the topic of UU acceptance of homeschooling: IMHO, there is ALOT of *intellectual* snobbery in UU'ism in general, which translates into expectations regarding education & credentialing. Homeschooling concepts could prove very liberating for our UU brothers & sisters.

    Unfortunately, I dont think it is. You just described the church that we attended in the Phoenix area for over 6 years. I joined to find a spiritual family for my kids, but after all those years, my kids(and all the others) were never really accepted or appreciated. This is why I have done nothing about joining another UU church here in MN; I'm afraid it will be the same.

    >On the topic of UU acceptance of homeschooling: IMHO, there is ALOT of *intellectual* snobbery in UU'ism in general, which translates into expectations regarding education & credentialing.

    Exactly!! I couldn't have said it better. By homeschooling, we are virtually saying that we can do a better job of educating our kids than the people who have the credentials.

    As DRE, I tried many times to find ways to meld the kids with the rest of the church. I encouraged having the kids do the music for the congregation or having the kids do the greeting, anything that would involve the kids in more of the doings of the church. I was fought on all fronts. The adults who werent comfortable with kids expressed concerns that newcomers wouldn't think we were polished or professional enough - Gee, what if the kid plays the wrong note?! And the professional educators - and we had 2 with PHD's - felt that the kids should be in the RE classrooms getting their religious INSTRUCTION. Especially as UU's I had a hard time with this religious instruction thing. I guess cause my beliefs fall more into the 'life is a spiritual journey' concept.

    OK, so alot of us have had this same experience with the church and its obvious that we are a minority, but perhaps with this forum, we can act like a majority and find a way to change this UU attitude toward kids. Wouldn't that be great!

    Ahhh yes, the socialization question. Here are some of my really long thoughts. Pardon those on other lists with me, yes, this is that same post. Ok, here it is. I guess there are those that think of homeschooling as a chance to slack off. Those that don't do anything but *stay* at home. Those that just want thier kids at home for work or whatever. But I don't think like that, I just can't understand it. I guess they do exist. But homeschool is not that to me, and it just doesn't occur to me that people think like that, but I guess they do.

    All the homeschoolers I know, admittedly, they're all fundamentalists christians, are busy with activities, and 'socilazation' up the kazoo!! We ourselves are a familiy of artistic roller skaters. All of us, myself and her dad compete. So practice is most every day, and she has friends that are also club skaters. Then there are the sessions. Roller skating is family oriented, and not a sleezy place. Then there are all the skate meets all over the state, and nationals all over the country.

    I will never understand the solization question. Don't kids have a life other than school? If they don't, if that's all that's being used for socilization, that's really sad. We are busy. We have another life other than school. Don't kids have other activities? Any and all activities 'count'. Is school the only place they will have other kids their age around? Do you want to do anything else like piano, dance, other musical instruments, skating, tennis, ect? If you are looking for just the school to do the solization situation, that's really a cop out.

    Building school gives them examples of what it's like to have to fight for attention, jealously, bigotry, you name it, all the petty stuff teenagers have to go thru in school. Ya know, just the normal stuff. Well, in real life, you have some of those situations, but not quite. It's not in a school setting the same way. It's only one place, one example of socilization. A negative one at that for a large part, and certaintly not the say all and end all.

    Building school only gives you social interaction with a limited amount of age groups of people in a non real life like situation. With homeschooling, kids are actually exposed to way more variety of real life situations; you have the chance to get out into actual life. Homeschooling is not just about staying at home. Relate to different age groups, for example. And more kinds of situations. Homeschooling gives you this opportunity to get out and experience these real life situations. As a result, the child will have a more rounded life like situation, and way more variety of these experiences like they would in life. Way more realistic, and way more than just one, with mostly one age group of people.

    Actually, the socilization question is pretty limiting and insulting. It assumes you are very limited, because it assumes you don't do anything else. It also assumes that building school is *all* there is, and/or other situations are not as good. That thinking is very untrue. You mean that's all there is to life is building school? That's all you are gonna do is send kids to school, and then home, and you you're so proud of their socilization? Wow, that's all their gonna get? That's all there is in life? That's like people thinking that vegetarians just sit down to eat side dishes. There are only a few kinds of meat, but there are *tons* more vegies out there. There is more than one source other than school, school certaintly isn't better. My daughter has a very strong solilization. She is very thoughtful as a friend, deep thinker, feeling soul that is fun to be with. I'm talking about with her friends. She's a great friend to others.

    This is possible to get without going all over the town doing this and that. There is actually nothing to 'make up for' by not having building school. When I see how great a person she is, I also see that she developed that outside the 'great solilization capitol of school' that people beat you over the head with.

    Actually, she has more social skills than those that go to building school. She's run across more petty, mean, unthoughtful, hatefull, rude, nasty kids that do go to this 'great capitol of socilization' building school. Why if it's so great, if it's the only way of socilization, or if it's the best, are these kids so bad at getting along with others? Why aren't they more soclicized? WHERE *ARE* their social skills?

    Quite frankly, most of what we see coming out of building school is pretty bad overall. I know, a generalzaton. But what we see personally is. The kids have pretty crappy social skills. Clearly, school is not the best sociliaztion place. They get socilization, more variety of it, with the other stuff that they do.

    Again, look at the quality they get in the school that has nothing to do with life. They have to fight to *learn* thru all that social crap. My daughter has the opportunity to learn, and also develop social skills, without having that very difficult stuff interfere with learning. It's hard to combine all that survival stuff and also learn. Do you *remember* school? A large part of it is a social fight for survival, that's not being dramatic. And what we experience first hand with these people is indeed kids that are quite hateful and defensive cause that's what they need to survive in building school.

    My daughter has had the round of normal stuff like mean kids, learning who your true friends are, blah blah blah, and she's got it thru other sources. So if it makes people feel better to know that you can get socilization of the negative stuff thru sources other than building school feel better, then feel away, cause that part of sociliazation happens anywhere.

    But I am glad that she got it outside of the *learning* situation. And I hear more and more people imply that that's the kind you need to feel. More and more imply that you have to go thru that at school, implying that it makes you a better person. Bull. Like I said, school does not insure, or give the edge of social skills AT ALL. That can be proved by looking at the kids, the situations, ect. That would also mean that my daughter's social skills are just imagined, luck or whatever. HA!

    I suppose some that homeschool to avoid people. Socilization. But I don't understand it. I can't protect my daughter from all the negative aspects of interaction with kids. She's gonna get that regardless. But she's got enough of it to survive, and still turn out a thoughtful, socially skilled person. I can't protect her from all the emotional bumps and bruises of life. That's not what homeschooling is about. That even happens within homeschoolers socilizaton. And nowhere have I said that homeschoolers come out more 'nice', or 'perfect' than other kids.

    But homeschoolers get it without being within the learning enviornment, which if you didn't get by now, I highly value. Actually, we see homeschooled kids get *way* more socilization, better overall chances to develop a variety of skills than building school kids. If anything, they are the ones that seem to be lacking in social skills, and opportunities for a variety of them. A generalization. Unless they do have other activities.

    >>I've been nonplussed by the rejecting attitude many members have toward the children. >>I'm convinced it's not because they don't like children, but it's because they think >>of the "upstairs experience" (our kids are largely confined to the basement) as a matter of high >>seriousness that will be "spoiled" by the shenanigans of the younger set. Members have >>told me (even parents of younger kids) that they boycott our Intergen services because >>we couldn't possibly offer a "quality" service when children are wholly integrated into it!

    >This is not an experience that all UU churches have. Though my home church does have that problem, I believe it's an attitude that has carried over from the '50's & '60's & really is the result of a vocal minority among the elders (we did a survey & the vast majority of members said they wanted the children in the worship service as often as every Sun.!). In another congregation that I worked for, a new "fast-start" congregation, they had the kids in the service every Sun. Their attitude was much better toward the children and youth. I hadn't even thought of this as an issue and it saddens me that we can't count on all UU churches being welcoming to all members of all ages. Our church has had a history of having the children's service upstairs, where the Sunday School classes are. The children only used to come downstairs for a few Intergenerational services each year.These were often very boring for the children and they couldn't wait to get back upstairs. This has meant that the adults who aren't parents or teachers didn't even know most of the children. There hasn't been any animosity toward the children, just distance. We did have the "Secret Buddy" program which has been just wonderful and has brought some of the older and younger members of the congregation together.Another nice touch that I think has served to keep the adults and the children on friendly terms is our "affirmation" which we do just before the children go to classes. We speak and use sign language to do "We are the festival.(stamp!stamp!)We are the light!(stamp!stamp!)We are the Beacon(stamp!stamp!)Burning brightly in the night!(stamp!stamp!)Since we're upstairs, we say we're "letting the adults know we're up here" which really delights the kids! This is taken with a chuckle by the adult congregation. Last year we worked to change our program and bring the whole church together.All this year we have had the children in the adult service for the first 10-15 minutes of every Sunday. It has been a great success! We have made sure that those first minutes of service are planned around the children, with storytelling or a skit performed by the children. I designed and an inspired seamstress sewed, three beautiful "story quilts" that the children sit on at the front of the room while they hear the stories. After the children's portion of the service, the children's chalice is lit and carried upstairs as everyone sings "Go Now In Peace." Of course the children didn't want to give up the affirmation, so we do that as soon as we get upstairs! This year our church did the "Decisions for Growth" program,and in one goal-setting workshop participants set the goal of more involvement between the adults and the children in the church. Another project we did this year to bring more adults and children together was a "talk show." The children planned who they would interview, what questions they would ask, made a backdrop for the set and video taped eachother as they interviewed adult members of the congregation. (A great idea, but unfortunately the quality of the resulting video is so poor that we can't get much out of it! We'll have to learn how and try again next year!) The UU church my mother goes to in Bellingham also has the children involved in the beginning of their services. The UU church I remember as a child in California did not have the children in with the adults, but I remember *loving* what I did in the Sunday School!

    While I have had many probing questions asked about homeschooling, my congregation has been very supportive in light of the fact the UUs are usually very supportive of public school and often work as professionals within the public education system. While they might not always agree with my way of doing "education", the membership has been wonderfully supportive, including our DRE. I am so grateful for the opportunity to explain homeschooling in an environment where homeschooling is not the norm. I feel priviliged to have found UUism

    >Of course, support of the public school system should not mean intolerance to homeschoolers. The public school system is in a real bad way in most areas. We shouldn't have to sacrifice our children to that system in order to support it.

    Actually, I think we better support the system's quality by showing that there is another choice. A monopoly isn't necessarily motivated to improve, but when they have competition, they have to try harder! Perhaps we are helping the school system rethink their methods and improve for those children who still choose/have to go to school.

    My take on your question is tinged with a bitter-sweet humor. Our church goes back to 1630 and right next door to it is the site and presence of the first public school in America -- it is about 100 feet. When our ruling class began to mess with our society regarding the schools (forced busing), people left -- if they could have taken the church with them, they probably would have. The Boston schools were basically abandoned. After a long home schooling education out west, both my kids went back into the Boston public system, they were the ONLY white kids in their classes -- just like they would have been in rural New Mexico. The Boston system is now more racist than it was when I was a kid --only in this version there are NO white kids. Until the rulers decide to bus white kids INTO Boston schools --people will vote with their feet and get the hell out. I would expect if the politicians try that one -- half the young families will move to New Hampshire. Serious people here don't even use "Dorchester" as a return address -- they are so ashamed of it.

    The church itself lost a lot of people -- most of those who stayed on were too old to make changes and did not have kids. The church now has few parents of young children -- the Mather school just celebrated it's 350 anniversary a few years ago -- Mrs Barbara Bush showed up with a lot of secret service -- It was great PR --but nobody showed up wanting to enter their kids in the school :-)

    I don't think there are many UUs who even think about homeschooling around here. Most of those to whom it might have any relevance are long gone. Everybody thinks its great that we have the first public school next door --but nobody is the slightest bit interested in it personally. Maybe the rich UUs in the Boston suburbs are against homeschooling -- but they are almost totally irrelevant to anybody anymore. The public schools here are a joke -- and the suburban pundits have big "kick-me, I'm a liberal" signs around their necks.

    I tell people that I can follow the progress of the Boston schools in all the test papers that litter the streets everywhere (the kids wreak havoc on the environments around the schools). There isn't any progress -- that isn't the plan. The best they can do is to keep lowering the expectations and watch as the kids fail to meet those. The great "new idea" is school uniforms -- that's supposed to fix everything :-)

    The church was not what we had hoped. It was quite the experience of being the minority of a minority.:-) Homeschooling is not a polite topic of talk..........

    The RE program managed to loose my 5 and 3 year old while I was teaching a RE class in another building. ( and I was the assistant RE director) Needless to say when the in charge people did not think this was a major problem we decided to go it on our own again. We were hoping that the church may give us some shelter living in the Bible Belt. After assessing their response to this we figured they would be of little to no help and maybe even a negative point. So here we are solitary. :-)

    >Yeap. My epiphany came when I heard the negative emotion in my son's voice when he referred to Christians years ago. I knew he had had little experience with Christians and that his POV was derived from what he was hearing from me. So I did some deep and long soul searching, didn't like what I saw, have been trying to change that in myself as well as work toward building bridges where I once helped created breaches.

    Someone sent me a joke yesterday that was about what would be different if the twelve apostles had been gay men. I was really offended. Then I started to think about other jokes she has sent me that made fun of different religious groups. There really isn't any difference. Making fun of a religious group should have been just as offensive to me as making fun of a group of people who have different sexual needs. I guess my different feelings may be because I often have felt preyed upon by religious groups, whether by isolation (I grew up in Morman Utah and know all about catholic children not being good enough for Morman children to play with) or proselytizing. My husband was raised Morman and I joined the church after we were married (I'm embarrassed by it because it was more like putting on a dress than an actual conversion When I expressed serious questions about the beliefs, I was told that I wasn't praying the right way...I even was told that I should just say I believe so often that I convince myself of it. I guess that is the Dorthy and Toto tactic. "There's no place like home...ther's no place like home."). I heard from the inside how Morman parents should protect their children from worldly influences. The memory of it still makes me cringe and feel kind of icky. On the other hand, I can't remember a gay or lesbian person every pushing their beliefs on me. In fact, the gay and lesbian people I know have worked really hard to come to terms with their own prejudices about who they are.

    The ideal would be to combat prejudice of all kinds, but the reality is that a lot of UU's have a lot of scars...I guess the you could use the same arguement in the debate about public school bashing. Sometimes it helps the healing to be able to turn the monster into a clown or at least kick it around a little.

    >Although I must also confess to my own religious prejudices, there are three religious groups that I have decided to avoid: Southern Baptist, Mormon and Pentacostal. If that means I'm intolerant, so be it - I tried to be accepting, but I can't handle them and I can't handle the messages my kids have gotten from them in the past.

    How can you avoid these as a UU? We sit next to them in church. <grin>

    My wife is Latter Day Saint (Mormon) and I am UU but not too much of a secular humanist. We have attended the UU church together on many occasions when we lived in Tucson. There was a couple that was Jewish-Catholic also. In fact I always heard the UU Church was famous for accepting mixed religion couples, giving them a common community to be able to worship in without having to change their beliefs. I attended the American Atheist meeting in Tucson for a few months out of curiosity and found they respected the UU Church. They used to joke that UU's are Atheist that want to sing in a choir.

    My wife and I run a homeschool group in Northern Indiana. My wife is very devout Christian. How homeschool meetings do not push any religion (sort of like a UU service) but we do promote community among homeschoolers. The way it turns out, many people end up in our group who have been shunned by one of the "religious" homeschooling groups. We have a difficult time describing our group because we are in no way "anti-" religious, so we can not call ourselves a "nonreligious" group. We thought of calling ourselves "Secular" but that did not fit. We encourage homeschooler to embrace their particular religion and use it in their homeschooling. We considered "non-denominational" but that inferred that we have a religious focus that is non-denominational. In the end, we just left it at "The Informal Homeschool Discussion Group."

    We have a good working relationship with the public schools. They send people to us who withdraw for instruction on how to homeschool.

    >I had thought that this junk was something on the fringe and not something for reasonable mainstream Christians. Then someone mentioned it on my local homeschool e-mail list. I am totally shocked to find so many on my local list think the book is wonderful. Talk about culture shock.

    It's always disconcerting to walk into beliefs that are completely foreign to ones own theology. I don't know that I have any sage advice, except to fall back on the old "It takes all kinds to make a world." Christian fundamentalist beliefs seem to be the ones that most often leave me staggering in incomprehension.

    The most recent example from my life was when a Presbyterian minister (the husband of a co-worker) looked ruefully at his 2 year old daughter and said, "If you ever need proof of Original Sin, all you have to do is look at a child."

    !!!!????? HUH, excuuuuuse me?

    Then I realised, that in his theology, we are *all* sinners, born and bred.

    When faced with beliefs like this, the most I can hope for is to "agree to disagree." The hard part is getting the fundmentalists to "agree".

    I hear you! I received an email ad about a new science curriculum. It sounded very good but living in the Bible Belt I emailed a simple question "does your curriculum use christian reference in it's interpretation of your information". The answer in short that all the presented information is scientific and they do not hestitate to give the correct biblical explanation of those facts...............

    If I had not become so jaded in the Bible Belt I would not have thought of that question and would have probably purchased the software...........jeez it's such a strange mind set that I have to even think of this every time I purchase something or attend something so simple as a parenting program.

    I have worked in the field of child abuse prevention and I was the program director for the SC Parents Anonymous. There are many "tolerant" christians in my support group that practice and support biblical based parenting. That would easily fall into the category of child abuse. The group may eventually split and form a group of the truely radical homeschoolers. Guess I'll be one.....though I don't feel that radical unless you measure me by the christian bible.

    When dealing with the christian right I always remember that they come to the bargaining table with a seperate agenda and foreign to most of us. Their god and bible have given them the mission to conquer and to remove those people who refuse to see the light. We come to the table for a common understanding and ability to coexist peaceably with no one having the "true path to god". They have been given the true path and those not on it are in the league with the devil. How do meet in the middle with that?! I don't know and I have relatives who have lost their lives in the attempt to come to the table. Fundamentalism is a frightening thing for people who believe that god is big enough to speak to different people in different ways so that she may be heard. :-) Or for those of us who believe Einststein's theory that energy can be neither created nor we continue on not to "heaven" or to "hell".

    >The ideal would be to combat prejudice of all kinds, but the reality is that a lot of UU's have a lot of scars...I guess the you could use the same arguement in the debate about public school bashing. Sometimes it helps the healing to be able to turn the monster into a clown or at least kick it around a little.

    Enough UUs(at least us converts <G>) do seem to come with so lots of scars. I usually call it excess baggage and gunnysacking. I wish we had a (required <G>) recovery room, retreat, program for the wounded. So many UU's I've met want to define themselves by what they use to be "ex-whatever" rather than what they are now (sing it loud I'm UU and I'm proud <G>) that I wish we had a sign at the door that said "Leave your excess baggage at the door"

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    My brother has 10-year-old twins who are both autistic. He and his wife have home-schooled the boys since they were preschool-age. Initially, they (the parents) were trained by a Massachusetts group called "Options" (founded by Barry Kaufman), and since then they have been educating themselves through reading, trial & error, and involvement in an organization for parents of autistic children. While they have used a variety of resources, over the years the number one resource has been and continues to be - people! They have a large number of friends, college student interns, and professionals (OT, PT, music teachers, swimming & PE, etc) who form a large "faculty" to work and play with love and intentionality with the boys. Depending on a child's disability, there most like is a parents organization, a journal, and lots of other resources available. As my brother found, with perseverence and a willingness to learn actively (rather than passively let "experts" handle things), homeschooling a disabled child because a whole-family, whole-life experience!

    I knew if I searched deep enough I could find a homeschool special needs web site:

    << I am an exceptional children's teacher in the public schools, so I have resources available to use. However, the only resources that I have seen for private use are generally too expensive for one family to take on for their child. >>

    My friend who homeschools her DS daughter doesn't use any special materials. She uses the same books and materials she uses with her other kids, only at Kelsey's level. Kelsey goes on field trips with our group (with a few exceptions), participates in our programs (she danced for us for our art fair), and pretty much does whatever her family does at her own level.

    One advantage to homeschooling is that we can use whatever works for our families, without worrying about that whole system of grade level or other ways of catagorizing. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

    My oldest and my youngest (and probably me) have ADD. I tend to think of the ability to "focus attention" as something similar to having 20/20 eyesight. Using eyesight as a metaphor, my eyesight is not 20/20 and I need glasses when I do things like work on the computer or drive at night. Most of the time, I do just fine without my glasses. My son needed glasses to read the chalkboard when he was a school, but he doesn't need them at home. If the teacher had not used the chalkboard when working with my son, he wouldn't have needed the glasses at school, either. But the public school teacher needed to use the chalkboard in order to teach to the group and didn't have the resources (or desire) to deal with my son's special eyesight needs. Some people have eyesight that is so far removed from 20/20, they need glasses all the time in order to function in day to day life. Everyone understands that. I just wonder if every person needs to have 20/20 vision all the time...or even most of the time. Maybe a person could function just fine with 20/60 vision and never need to have any kind of corrective long as they aren't expected to read the chalkboard from the back of the classroom. Some people are short and can't reach high shelves. Being short has it's disadvantages, but we don't expect them to wear stilts around in order that they might be the same height as everyone else.

    I just wish ADD could be corrected as easily and completely as correcting eyesight with glasses and I wish the strategy for dealing with it were as simple as just lowering the shelf. My eldest son absolutely refused to take any kind of medication and my youngest had serious side effects on the medication. Ritalin and all it's counterparts are very serious drugs. The standard correction for ADD doesn't work for my children, so we are developing other strategies to deal with their problems. I really think that I am ADD and have just developed strategies to help me fit my square body into the round hole I need to be in sometimes. This is really apparent to me this week since I lost my day timer and am running around like a chicken with my head cut off and can't seem to accomplish ANYTHING without it. son would not make a good accountant (he would definately need medication if he chose that occupation) and we probably will avoid jobs like that when looking at career paths. However, there are careers that don't require an attention to detail and where his "multi-tasking" mind will be an asset. Avoiding situations where he won't do well and looking for situations where he can use his strengths is one strategy. Making lots of lists and notes is another strategy.

    << I just wonder if every person needs to have 20/20 vision all the time...or even most of the time. Maybe a person could function just fine with 20/60 vision and never need to have any kind of corrective device >>

    I don't know if I can carry this metaphor on as it might describe ADD, but I thought as much about correcting my eyesight. I'm far sighted and have astigmatisms, so I can see without my glasses. I decided not to wear any for a couple of years. When I went in to have my eyes tested, my astigmatisms had worsened from not being corrected. So, now I wear my glasses like a good girl. :-)

    There has been several coments on the subject of kids with ADD on the list lately, and I felt the need to respond. Let me begin by introducing myself briefly. I am a public school teacher. I teach high school resource classes. My 13 year old daughter has decided that she did not want to go back to middle school because of the problems that she had with some students. The problems were so severe that we ended up pressing charges against one student in particular. She is being home schooled by a friend of mine who is homeschooling her 2 daughters and, so far, it is going well. My 21 year old son, my daughter and I are all ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). I am going on medication when I begin work on my masters degree. The intensity of the study is very difficult without medication. My son keeps a prescription, but only takes his meds when he has a major project that he is working on that requires intense focus. My daughter is on meds on a daily basis year round. Her ADHD is more severe than ours and she does not like the lack of control that she experiences when not taking her medication. True ADD is a physiciological condition resulting in the misfiring of neurons in our brains. It is not something that can be controlled by sheer will alone. I have live with this condition all of my life and know this too well. I went undiagnosed until my adult years, when it made a lot of things make sense to find this out. I am not saying that anyone who has ADD should immediately take medication. As stated, my family handles it on an individual basis, according to what works for that particular person.

    My oldest is ADHD and the best thing I did for her and myself was to stop looking for the expert and their package. :-) It takes more time and energy to do it yourself but who is the better expert on your child?! I educated myself on the "terms" of her disability and made written observations on how she would "learn" during her normal day. With this information in hand I began designing unit studies when needed or just learned to grab those magick learning moments and build with her! It also allowed me to give it up when something was just not working without that really loud voice that says "but, you spent $$$$ for all of this and they said it works.....what are "you" doing wrong?!.....)

    So Long Guilt and hello creative energies!

    I should say that I was program director for Parents Anonymous of SC and worked with the National office also. So my contact with "experts" and "curriculums" was not a quick pass in the night! :-) Remember! Remember! Remember! There is no other expert on your child but YOU! Others are merely consultants that provide you the tools you need to do your work!!!! You may only use one tool here and one tool there and leave most of their stuff on the table. Really it's okay to design something that works for this child and your family. There will probably not be another solution just like yours.....cuz not one other child is just like your child nor will one other family be just like yours! :-)

    I don't know how you feel about herbs, natural foods, etc. but alfalfa is supposed to be excellent for asthma. Also cat's claw. My step mom has started taking it for her asthma (she lives with cats) and said it's helped alot and she isn't even consistent on it. Just a thought - I can't imagine not being able to breathe 100%.

    Another good thing is honey from your area...perhaps you could find a local beekeeper and ask about buying some of her/his the bees have been gathering pollen from the area in which you live, it would help to accustom your body to the local greenery...

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    >And if there really are other non-fundamentalist homeschoolers out there, they wondering the same thing. Really the only way to handle it is to start your own group by advertising in libraries and churches and grocery stores. >Many fundamentalist groups are happy to advertise secular groups in their newsletter since they'd prefer to purge their membership of the secular people anyway!

    That's what I'm trying to do. I went to the library and asked if they'd do a back-to-school program for homeschoolers (everybody - I understand some people who attend Christian groups aren't "really religious") and I would help (I would like a list of atendees with more than name & phone number). They said they'd be happy to set one up for sometime in Sept. I have to follow-up because I haven't heard from them. I'm also planning to do a sermon on Unschooling in Aug. and plan to advertise widely. I'm hoping that will help to develop a better local support network. I'm trying to avoid starting a group of my own because I'll be busy enough as it is. 

    M's post caught my eye because I also felt uncomfortable among the fundamentalist Christians who dominated the support groups in town. Although the one support group which we attended regularly did not require a statement of faith and knew I was not a Christian (they didn't know that I was agnostic, however), I always felt like the odd person out and that I had to be careful about what I said. (When my younger son, at age 4, announced to several children that he didn't believe in Jesus and they responded that he would go to hell, I knew we were headed for trouble!) As far as I know, there are no other homeschooling families in my UU congregation. So a few friends (whom I knew to also be uncomfortable and unhappy with the existing groups) and I got our own group started, called Families Learning Together. We are open to anyone, regardless of faith, method of homeschooling, educational philosophy, etc. In one year, we have grown to 36 families! Children range in age from infants to teenagers, there are families of many different religions (and some of no particular religion), families who unschool, families who are pretty structured, and families who are somewhere in-between. Indianapolis is a good-sized city, and we are also drawing people from up to an hour away, but I never dreamed the group would grow so big so fast.
    I have met some wonderful people, and my children and I are finally making some good homeschooling friends.

    M, you might consider getting a few friends together, deciding on a name and a contact person for your group, and then "advertising" in Growing Without Schooling and Home Education Magazine. It worked for us!  Probably 90% of the families who have joined our group got our name from these two sources. People who were planning to move to Indianapolis have even contacted me by mail or email to find out about the group prior to their move!

    Good luck in finding like-minded people who are homeschooling. They are out there - it's just a matter of finding them!

    On the topic of religious right and home schooling ... I would encourage anyone feeling a lack of support to form a home learning group that is focused on education. We have done that here and a little more than two years after its formation we consist of over 25 families and about 80 children. We also have a group in the area that requires a "statement of faith" to join and they have begun referring people to us (we didn't advertise or ask them to do this). We have also sent one or two people that were looking for that type of group their way. Our group has several UU members but also a mixture of other religious backgrounds. Since our focus is providing our children with the best possible education this diversity is just one more opportunity for learning.

    Here is hoping everyone finds a comfortable support network for their home learning efforts. We have found it extremely beneficial.

    << But how do you find people who just want to live and let live and be free and hang out and do stuff with their kids? >>

    I found those people through La Leche League. I'd never heard of hsing until the leader of my LLL group pulled her son out of his private Catholic school. A couple of months later, I went to a LLL conference and there was a session on hsing. Who knows why I took it? My son was miserable in school, but I hadn't a clue about hsing. That session changed our lives. Now I belong to a rather loose group of hsers of several faiths, several styles of learning. We run the group cooperatively, although there is a core of us who do most of the planning and executing. We've not had any problems with any exclusivist Xians coming and trying to take over, as many groups have. Frankly, we scare them to death. The few times we've shared classes at the nature center (in order to have enough bodies), they have stayed completely and obviously away from us and our children. We continue to behave normally toward them, but stay away from sharing adventures with them as much as possible.

    I wish you the best of luck starting your homeschool group. Some of us started an inclusive homeschool group in our (Everett, WA) area. We came up with some groundrules which I'm passing along just to give you something to start with. Go ahead and use them, change them, or pitch them!

    Melting Pot Ground Rules "Celebrating Diversity"

    1. The group is open to everyone regardless of religious faith or spiritual belief or lack thereof.

    2. One of the most important guidelines- Respect for others spiritual beliefs and homeschooling styles- No preaching or trying to convert.

    3. No dues or committees- very informal group

    4. kids welcome at all meetings

    5. low cost or no cost activities and events

    6. no "how you should homeschool" meetings 

    >I am looking for other ideas. I particularly need ideas of how to find the "wannabees", those who want to homeschool but feel they can't.

    My wife and I are the local resource for homeschooling. The "wannabees" as you call them find us. We meet in our home one day a month. The meeting is informal and free. Because the meeting is free we can put up fliers in all the libraries and we have given the library reference desk at every library within 50 miles information on our meetings. We also have given this information to the public schools - particularly to the truant officers. They refer families to us.
    I also met with the county Juvenile Judge to explain homeschooling to her. She ended up ordering one of the Juveniles to homeschool! We also sent press releases to the local newspapers and radio stations. We have had front page coverage in the paper and been interviewed on the radio for 2 hours at a time. Of course we have had less coverage or been interviewed for a few minutes on some stations. We also send letters to the editor about homeschooling. We have become the local resource for homeschooling. Libraries even call us and ask for advice on what homechooling books to carry.

    We don't require a "statement of faith" like allot of groups do so we get many people who have been shunned by the fundamentalists.

    If you offer this free meeting once a month, you can then tell people about your other services.


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    MATH (See also CURRICULUM)

    I strongly believe in learning math as part of real life. Although D. (age 10) requested to learn algebra, so we have a textbook for that, all other math learning has been done from regular life.

    When we built our house I was impressed by how much math carpenters have to know, and know it well. (And yet carpentry has often been pooh-poohed as a "lower class" occupation, you know, one for the non-college bound kids.) I was an advanced "A" math student in junior hi and high school, yet I struggled with the math to figure out rafter angle cuts, stair risers and treads, etc. The math I learned was never related to real life.

    My favorite ways, and what I think are the most useful to "life," to learn math is through carpentry, cooking, gardening, banking and handling money (deposits, withdrawals, balancing, interest, percents), figuring out times and distances in travel, keeping score in games, playing Bridge, and playing Monopoly :^).

    If my kids grow up to be able to build a house, prepare food from scratch, keep their checkbooks balanced and save money, and be able to get from here to there, I figure they've learned their math well. If they're fascinated enough to do algebra and trigonometry and calculus, then great. If not, does it really matter? I can't say it benefitted my life much.

    One thing that's been proven to boost math abilities is participation in group singing. I'm sure any other music education would work as well, but the group singing for young children built certain neural pathways that are useful for math skills.

    My son (13) has a great musical ability. He was in his first opera (Benjamin Britton's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream) just after he turned 8, and had a solo part. My daughter (6) can't carry a tune in a bucket. She takes after my husband's family. The music director at our church changed the rules for children's choir after S. was in it for the first time when she was 3, making her ineligable to sing. I haven't given up though. We still sing at home and in the van. She also goes to certain women's services with me where we sing and chant. I don't know if it works, but music is sure a fun way to work on math!

    <<E. (my ADD youngest child) made me read all the math stuff over several times really slowly so that he could picture it all...and he made me define all the words he didn't understand. He is very interested...he just needs to get through all the early junk and get on with the good stuff.>>

    Does he? I bet if he just persued the fun stuff, when the basics presented a stumbling block he'd be motivated to learn it on his own so he could keep going.

    It'd be a shame for the love of math to die because there are hurdles of drudgery in the way.

    True story: I got C's in math -- really just computation -- until 9th grade. Then I hit Algebra and could do away with most of those pesky numbers and work with the concepts. I aced the rest of the math courses in high school and went on to get a degree in electrical engineering.

    Someone pointed out that most people really don't grasp the concept of multiplication until 6th grade or so. So you can spend all of 3rd grade memorizing the multiplication tables or spend 20 minutes in 6th grade.

    (Though truthfully, my multiplication table has gaps in it, but with a little tweaking it works just fine.)

    When we started homeschooling last fall with our almost-nine-year-old, I thought real-life math sounded like a great way to do it. I imagined coming up with projects that went with the concepts she was working on. The problem turned out to be that when Alex is working on a project (cooking, building something) that needs math, the last thing she wants to do is stop and think about the math. She doesn't want to figure out how many cups she needs if she's doubling the recipe. She wants me to TELL her so she can go on and keep cooking. She even gets impatient if I talk through the problem so she can hear me figuring it out.

    Of course, I do still think that it's important to do these projects and point out that they need math! But for actually learning the concepts and facts, which takes regular practice and, for much of it, sequential learning, it's being better for my kid to do it separately from her projects.

    Maybe you you should try having her do all the math work before she sets up to do the cooking, art work etc... Thats what I do with my daughter in projects I want to be fun, but also want her to see the "real life" reason for learning certin things.

    If you look at the cooking as just another exposure to math rather than another practice session in it, it will probably go much smoother.

    If someone wants some fun ways of practicing computation (and some other fun math things I've collected):


    The best place to get cheap games is yard sales, flea markets and the Salvation Army. I found S'Math for a $1. Of course, no rules :-/ But often if you find one missing pieces you can find 2 of the same game and combine them for less than the price of a new game.

    * Card games like Black Jack (21), Solitaire * Knock Out - game that uses addition and a lot of logical thining and is really fun * Krypto - sophisticated card game * Mancala - teaches math in a very subtle way (ages 6 to 99) * Mastermind * Mastermind for Kids - has animals rather than pegs, can be played cooperativly by having 2 or 3 discuss what a good move would be (ages 5 to 10) * Monopoly * Quarto - an attribute, 4-in-a-row game * S' Math - game like Scrabble with numbers and operators (ages 6 to 99) * Set card game - find the pattern (ages 4 to 99) * Triominos - for addition practice (dominos with 3 sides and numbers instead of dots) Yahtzee * 24 - there are various levels of this card game available. The object is to use various combinations of operators on the numbers to get the number 24. * Rack-O - strategy and numerical order * Perudo * Six Cubes * Uno * Yahtzee * Battleship - use the old paper method, or you can get it free from shareware sites. Great for learning coordinates. * MindTrap - lots of thinking questions. Some easy. Some hard. * Monopoly Jr. or any board game that uses 2 dice * Trouble

    Chinaberry catalog sells a dice game that looks fun (as well as lots of great literature):

    Chinaberry Book Service 2780 Via Orange Way, Suite B Spring Valley, Calif 91978

    Videos and computer programs

    Multiplication Rock (audio and video and computer game) Math Blaster series (if you kids like timed games) James Discovers Math, Millie's Math House and Edmark's Mighty Math series all very good math programs and have some computation in them.


    Family Math Stenmark, Jean (ages 4 to 17) Games for Math Kaye, Peggy (ages 3 to 8) Grocery Cart Math done in a grocery store for data collection and then some analysis at home; avail from Bright Spark Press (ages 8 to ?) I Hate Mathematics Book and Math for Smarty Pants by Marilyn Burns (anything) Anno, Mitsumasa (ages 3 to 10) Half Magic Eager, Edward subtly introduces some math; and a good read too Guiness Book of World Records (everything measured every which way)

    Cuisinaire catalog has a good selection of math fiction. They also have a web site:

    with their catalog and monthly math puzzles on various levels.

    =========== * calculator with large keys and display just for goofing around with. Scholastic puts out a book called Calculator Math or something like that.

    * Toy catalog and an allowance. (I've heard Lego and American Girl catalogs are often used for this ;-) Sure a quick -- and fully motivated -- way to learn planning and computation

    * Map out something on the lawn or a football field that your child is studying like the Mayflower, a castle, a dinosaur.

    * When your kid has two friends over, give them a handful of candy and see how they solve the division problem themselves. Let them talk about it without interfering.

    * Graph M&M's or jelly beans by color. Boy did my 5 yo and I have fun with this. We had 8 or so of those little packs of M&M's at Halloween and we drew up graphs for each and then a big one. We compared and predicted. Great math activity.

    * At a large family (or church) get together have the kids do a survey about favorite type of candy, heights, shoe types. Have them make a graph to show their results. Collecting, organizing and displaying data are math skills that are often overlooked.

    * Magic Square - in a 3 by 3 square fill in the numbers 1 through 9 so that each colum row and diagonal adds up to the same number.

    * Make a blank multiplication chart on the computer. Have kids fill it in any way they can.

    * Make another multiplication chart and color in the patterns for each number (all the 4X or all the 9X).

    * Throw the dice 50 times and record the products, then discuss which numbers were thrown most often & why.

    * Use a math journal to keep track of different multiplication patterns you can find around the house (Such as 5 windows with 6 panes each, 8 chairs with 4 legs each, etc...) Try to find something that works for each "fact" - draw it & illustrate the drawings to make a book.

    * War variations: -- Play with 2 piles. Each person turns up 2 cards. The highest sum wins. Also can use subtraction, multiplication, division and have either highest or lowest win. -- Try War with 3 decks and use mixed computation. -- Use face cards (J=11, Q=12, K=13, Jokers can be 0). -- Can play fraction War with 2 cards and making proper fraction where posible. -- Can use red for negative and black for positive and play integer war.

    * "Mark Out" -- Make a numbers grid (4X4 or 5X5) or even a number line can work - put all different kinds of numbers between 1 and 100 on the grid or line - the same ones for each person who is playing. Using 3 dice (standard 6 sided or even the fancy D&D dice with even more sides), each person throws the dice and attempts to use any combination of computations (add, subtract, multiply, divide) to get the 3 numbers to equal one of the ones on the board or line. The first one to mark out a line wins (play the grid like Bingo). You can do this with a 100's chart trying to get "4 in a row."

    * Using a set of counters (or snap cubes or anything that feels the same) blindly choose 3 to place in a bag so you don't know their colors. (They could all be the same color, or all different or anything in between.) Draw out just one, mark down what color it was then replace it in the bag. How many draws does it take before you're certain of the colors in the bag? Good intro to statistics, sampling and probability.

    * RETROMOM - Place in a covered container (butter tub works great) a combination of cubes of different colors. (For instance, 4 blue, 2 red and 2 yellow). Write a list of clues that will allow someone to solve the puzzle (what's in the tub) in about 5 turns. Give kids a set of materials that has more than what is in the tub, plus additional colors (I gave them about 25 cubes with red, yellow, blue, and green to build from.) Tell one clue at a time, having kids build a possibility, from their store of the same materials, for what is in the tub, with each clue. There may be several possibilities each time (that's the point - seeing that each step can be interpreted differently but still be right). Start with broad clues, go to more narrowly defined ones. For instance, my clues looked like this:

    1. I have fewer than 15 cubes 2. There are only 3 colors 3. One color has the same amount as the other 2 colors added together (their sum). 4. Altogether there is an even number of cubes 5. The 2 sets of colored cubes with the lesser amounts are equal 6. There are no green cubes

    Review clues as you go. Write them down on paper so they can see.

    At this point I stopped. There were still a couple of possibilities. I then showed them the answer and asked them to create a clue that would tell the answer. Could they guess my clue (all 3 sets of cubes has an even number in them?) There were lots of ideas & great clues. My kids finished this off by wanting to write clues for their own & to try to "stump" me. 10 year old spend all afternoon playing around with it.

    I was reading Contact (Carl Sagan) aloud during a car ride yesterday. At the beginning of the book, the narrator was giving little tidbits about the early life of the main character in the book. She (the main character) is fascinated by math. Eric (my ADD youngest child) made me read all the math stuff over several times really slowly so that he could picture it all...and he made me define all the words he didn't understand. He is very interested...he just needs to get through all the early junk and get on with the good stuff.

    I also think that when you are learning math you are not only learning how to do MATH, but you are learning how to look at problems from different angles, use logic, and think in abstracts. I want my kids to be able to do mental summersaults instead of just walk along the same straight path. I think math helps them learn to do summersaults. Does that make sense?

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    << I was wondering, does anyone have any resource suggestions for pre-K ? >>

    Your back yard, your kitchen, the library, the sand box, the woods, the beach, the bathtub....for the 5 and unders, life is learning. Read a lot to her and have plenty of art supplies available. Teach her the alphabet in sign language. Help her write her name with chocolate pudding on a cookie sheet or a big table. Go for walks. Buy her a little trike and let her learn to ride it. Count things, like the number of butterflies you can see in your yard. Cut up fruit and talk about halves and quarters. Estimate which glass will hold the most--a tall thin one or a short fat one. Sing songs. Beat on drums. Listen to your hearts with a toy stethoscope. Stuff like that.

    I'm jealous! I no longer have a little one --my youngest is 11! 20 months is such a delightful age. I'm always surprised when I hear people talking about homeschooling toddlers! That's what they've been doing since birth! Isn't it funny that we even use the term "un-schooling" for learning independently? Our society has just unquestioningly accepted school as the only place for learning, and our language reflects that. Unschooling toddlers, like unschooling older children, is called "LIFE!" For inspiring a toddler, you just need to have the raw materials for exploration, and talk a lot and read a lot and show an interest in life around you and respond with respect to their questions....that's about it. Of course, feeling secure and loved are the most important part of their learning --as Dr. Neufeld (a psycholigist who spoke at both LLL conferences and homelearner's conferences here in BC) said, unless a child is "satiated" with love and security, she is spending most of her energy seeking it.

    To provide the raw materials of learning and exploration, you can't have one of those "sterile" houses that don't look like people live in them! (gee, there goes the tidy house!)You need: books, paper, pens, blocks and construction toys, craft and art supplies, imaginative supplies like dress-ups and puppets, music and instruments--singing and dancing, exploring nature... plants, animals....fantasy...humour....whatever goes into your life...and those little sponges will automatically soak it up.

    For exploring language, I have found that playing with letters and sounds is as fun as playing with ideas such as "what sound does a cow make?" I have foam rubber letters in the bathtub that were as valuable as anything else for teaching Tessa to read. She used to play with them every bath--asking for the sounds they make. When she knew the sounds, I would put two, like "at" on the side of the tub, then ask her to make the "at" say "cat" --or mat, rat, hat, sat, fat...etc. This was just a casual game, and she enjoyed it. I would not have done it if it felt remotely like quizing her, or pushing her to parrot back "right" answers. The games with sounds seemed to lead directly to reading by the time she was five.

    I think we also need to realize that education doesn't need to be on the school's list of required subjects to be important. There are other lessons that are equally or more important that your child is learning just by being around you. She is learning to be kind to people and animals, to be honest, to be tolerant and respectful of differences, to value herself, to take care of herself and her things ---these are the immeasurably important lessons that can be learned much better with loving guidance and example in the home environment than in an institution.

    There is more published for this age group than any other due to the many child care facilities now. I'll also bet the web is filled with things. As a matter of fact, I know of two - and They should have lots of ideas. I was a home day care provider for 12 years and didn't realize I was doing something akin to homeschooling at the time.

    Another alternative sand-type play is the rice bin. Just get a couple of those huge bags of cheap rice and one of those big plastic rubbermade-type bins with a lid. Children will hang over the edge and play for hours with this. They even like having a dust pan and brush nearby to sweep up the rice to put back in spills afterwards! Put sand toys, measuring cups, scoops, etc in and they will love it. We had one of those --oh dear, I can't think what to call it, but when one pour sand or rice in the top, it flows out the bottom, turning a wheel as it goes, and going down a chute into any container underneath. (does that make sense?) For a La Leche League conference play room we put the rice and sand toys into a plastic wading pool--and it was in constant use. Plastic wading pools are cheap and make great sandboxes.

    I thought of a couple more things that my daughter enjoyed as a preschooler.

    There's a cassette tape I got from Chinaberry: The Orchestra read by Peter Ustinov. It's a very good introduction to the orchestra and music, even for adults.

    Stories by Robert Munsch. (I can't recall the titles, but I believe he has 3 cassettes out. At some point I had all 3 then squeezed them onto one 90 minutes cassette and passed them onto the library.) These are really funny. Not traditionally educational, but well motivated practice in listening skills.

    If you have a Spanish channel in your area. Plaza Sesamo is Sesame Street in Spanish. Since preschoolers are used to not understanding most of the words they hear, they just gather the gist of the conversation, watching Sesame Street in Spanish isn't all that much different.

    There's also Teach Me Spanish and More Teach Me Spanish tape and book sets. (They aren't that expensive, but I found them in our library.) These are mostly familiar tunes sung in Spanish. (There are also other languages available.)

    And the Lyric Language set with the Family Circle kids which comes in various languages.

    Oh, and Timberdoodle sells 2 Sign With Me 4-video tape sets to teach infants to 3 yos to sign. I borrowed it from the library for my 6 yo and she really liked it, but then she loves watching babies and is also interested in sign but not enough to work too hard at it so it's a good combo ;-)

    Timberdoodle E 1510 Spencer Lake Road Shelton, WE 98584

    Get a couple cans of cheap shaving cream, and spread out an old shower curtain or vinyl tablecloth, outside. Let the kids make sculptures in it, and spread it all over. (Make sure they crawl to the edge of the plastic before standing up, --it is very slippery.)

    Collect your child's extra drawings and beautiful artwork, arts and crafts projects. Go to a local nursing home and pass them out to the residents. When some elderly person's face lights up, your child will both feel appreciated, and start seeing the value of community service, at a young age! Go for a "nature spy". Thats a walk, where you talk about all the cool stuff you find! (acorns, pebbles, flowers, leaves).

    Iron broken crayons between wax paper. Iron fall leaves between wax paper too. (Mail these to your poor friends in Florida, who are missing out on this fall beauty!!)

    Talk to you pre-schooler a LOT, and explain the things you see around you. And be prepared for the "where do babies come from" question! Now why did I think this question came at age 9 or 10??? My first child asked me all about this, at age FOUR!!!!!!!! I was not prepared!!!

    Sing all the time!!! Eensy weensy spider, I 'm a little teapot, Rain rain, go away, silly songs, folk songs, (the "We Sing" series is great) . . . my kids love oldies too! You should hear my 9 year old sing "House of the Rising Sun", and my 7 year old sing "Quinn, the Eskimo". They know the words better than I do!

    Your back yard, your kitchen, the library, the sand box, the woods, the beach, the bathtub....for the 5 and unders, life is learning. Read a lot to her and have plenty of art supplies available. Teach her the alphabet in sign language. Help her write her name with chocolate pudding on a cookie sheet or a big table. Go for walks. Buy her a little trike and let her learn to ride it. Count things, like the number of butterflies you can see in your yard. Cut up fruit and talk about halves and quarters. Estimate which glass will hold the most--a tall thin one or a short fat one. Sing songs. Beat on drums. Listen to your hearts with a toy stethoscope. Stuff like that. >>

    Also say words and have her hear the word and say what the first sound of the word starts with. Then play games of words that start with the sound 'm', etc.

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    I started homeschooling initially because the public school was not meeting the needs of my children by any stretch of the imagination. I was very angry about that for a long time and felt totally inadequate to give them everything they need. Gradually I began to realized that there isn't any school that could meet the needs of my children as completely as homeschool and the teacher at Clonlara helped me reach this comfort level.

    Recently I did an article as an assignment for a class I am taking. I did a lot of research and I couldn't find anything really negative about homeschooling, even in the teacher trade publications. One journal, _Technology and Learning_ ("No Place Like School," February 1995, page 4) had an editorial where the author questions the need for schools when every child can learn by connecting to the information superhighway. In the editorial, the author comes to the conclusion that schools are still necessary for a large number of children who are not safe in their homes. The school is a warm building that offers free lunch, supervision, and socialization. What is left unsaid, but can be deduced, is that for children who have safe homes, caring family supervision, and socialization opportunities; public school may not be necessary. Both the National Association of Principals and the National Parents and Teachers Association have adopted resolutions opposing home education, but their reasons are very vague...socialization is the primary concern as far as I can tell.

    The longer I homeschool and the more research I do, the more confident I become that this is the only thing that will work for my kids, but it was very scary at first.

    < I ran across Mary Pipher's book called "Reviving Ophelia" and even though the author didn't specifically reccomend homeschool, the book really cemented in my mind that junior high is unheathy. >>

    My husband and I both read that book AND her more recent book "The Shelter of Each Other", which goes into a detailed account of a homeschooled family in Nebraska. I don't see how anyone could read Reviving Ophelia and then go ahead and send their daughter to a public junior high school.

    I am a great believer in homeschooling, but I have noticed a lot of anti-school, and in particular, anti-public school bashing on this list. This always upsets me. It's not just here--I hear sweeping condemnations of public schools, and read them in the paper, all the time. Believing in public schools availability "for the masses" is pretty condemnatory. Just remember, there ARE good public schools and good public school systems. My daughters have been in GOOD public schools for many years. We also had a niece living with us for 5 years who graduated from a public high school. I have substituted in our public school district for years. I see good, wonderful things all the time--caring teachers, involved parents, challenging curricula, super teaching of kids with special problems. We have had our share of fights over the years over various issues, especially regarding accomodations for our daughter's ADD, but also over other really stupid policies or with obnoxious administrators. Our schools have been FAR from perfect. I believe in homeschooling, not because I think other schools are terrible, but because homeschooling can be terrific, and because of course not all public schools are good. Also, some kids will thrive in homeschool because it is right for them. But I am happy with my daughters' schools, not because they are better off away from their home environment but because they are thriving. I have thought about homeschooling over the years as a very viable option if I wasn't happy with the local schools, and it has never come to that. Yet we are very good, very caring parents! We have moved to a new part of the country, and I am still thinking along those lines. The public school system here is supposed to be very good, but I will reserve judgment till I see it in action. My daughter will enter a large junior high, and I will monitor closely to make sure she has the organizational help she needs and that it is a positive social experience and that she is challenged intellectually. If things do not work out, despite efforts to work with the schools, I will homeschool. One of the most appealing things about homeschool to me is that kids' time is used so much better. Emma would have more time to devote to art and music and the other things she now has to do after school. And I am sure she would get as far or even farther academically. I think homeschooling is great! But I also think public school is an incredibly important piece of a democracy. I am very happy that they have the privilege of attending a school paid for and run by all of us. Our public schools are diverse ethnically and socioeconomically, which is one of the reasons we chose to move to this area. I do not knock homeschooling. Homeschools are wonderful. Schools can learn a lot from them, (although of course they can't reproduce them). It is great that you are enthusiastic about homeschooling. But I think when we find something we love and care about passionately, there is a temptation to overcriticize the alternatives. I am guilty of that all the time, for example, when talking with fellow Unitarians about other religions. Then, when I am talking with people of other religious backgrounds, I have to pull back and remind myself again that it's easy to become arrogant about our own choices and forget that intelligent, well-meaning, successful people who are raising beautiful children are doing it within a tradition I have thoughtlessly belittled. I am really sounding off, and I definitely don't mean to be criticizing any one person, or even just this list in general. Again, I have listened to a lot of generalized public-school bashing, and it upsets me. When I saw some here, it triggered that general annoyance. I think all of you are terrific, and your kids are lucky to have such caring parents.

    >I am a great believer in homeschooling, but I have noticed a lot of anti-school, and in particular, anti-public school bashing on this list. >This always upsets me.

    Sorry this upsets you. Remember though, that this is a place where we can feel free to give our opinions that we perhaps can't be so open with elsewhere. I'd like to feel that we needn't censor our opinions here. Of course, if you want to put in a good word for the public system, you're entitled to your opinion too--and some of us just might learn something!

    My opinion of the school system is pretty low. I feel that there is a lot of wonderful work done there--and lots of wonderful, dedicated teachers--but I think the system itself is flawed. I wouldn't throw the schools out with the bathwater though. Here in BC there are a number of "alternate" public schools--and they do some interesting things--some great things. There are public Montessori schools, a school called "Discovery" with a more child-led program, and the Fine Arts school my middle daughter graduated from, that I'm very fond of--but I would still opt for homeschooling's benefits, given the choice. I think that's a key word: choice! Ideally there should be a number of good choices, including homeschooling, to meet the varying needs of different children and their families.

    I agree that we have to be careful outside of a private place like this list to not get too arrogant and thoughtless of others' choices in schooling, religion or lifestyles. We had a problem in our youth group for awhile with Christian bashing. They wouldn't have dreamed of criticising the Eastern religions, but somehow, Christianity seemed to be "the other side." We do need to watch the example we set.

    >Just remember, there ARE good public schools and good public school systems.

    There were also "good" slave owners but that doesn't change the truth that /that/ "peculiar institution" is, was, and always will be morally reprehensible. I put public schools on the same level as slave dealers. I don't care how clean and comfortable the boat is or how kind-hearted the captian and crew are; they are still vile partners in enslavement. Compulsory attendance laws enslave children and parents. I'm four square against compulsory attendance laws. But not against schools in general.

    I can't argue with you on this. I understand that you don't agree with compulsory attendance, but to see you equate school attendance requirements with slavery kind of stops my desire to converse further on that head dead in its tracks. But just one question that might help clarify this for me: if the law says that children may either attend public or private school or be homeschooled, does that qualify as compulsory attendance?

    What would you call coerced (under threat of fine, loss of freedom, loss of family) incarceration (without due process) for a minimum of 4 hours per day for a minimum of 180 days per year for a minimum of 10 years (in some areas 12-13 yrs)?

    Since "enslavement" sticks in your throat (and it was a wee, just a wee bit, hyperbolic), then would you not at least call this an injustice? What crimes are all children guilty of to deserve that their freedoms be removed from them at age 5 or 6? Maybe children are born tainted by sin afterall. We most certainly could not treat adults in this manner. Okay, we did treat adults in this manner during the draft and some of us called that enslavement then also. Would you have objected to anti-war protesters calling the draft enslavement?

    I do acknowledge that the community has a vested interest in the "education" of children (and all people residing)in the community. I could go for statues similar to those of colonial times. But compulsory attendance laws are not the same as compulsory education laws.The courts have ruled in the past that public schools can not be held liable for educational malpractice (failure to education)[See Holt's Teach Your Own - Legal Stratgies]. Basically only homeschoolers in some states are held provisions in the compulsory attendance, truancy or homeschool laws that translate to compulsory education.

    Have you read much about the introduction of compulsory attendance laws in the US and the agendas of the folks advocating them? Enlightening, to say the least.

    >>Homeschoolers sometimes foregt, I think, that many of the parents in this country do not have a choice whether or not their kids go to school. Financial reasons, divorce, illness, etc etc often force families into a one way street -- school.<<

    I go back and forth about this. See, these people *should* have a choice. Of all people they *need* to have choices. Where the heck are the choices for them?

    I have 10 kids and went through a horribly bitter divorce three years ago. I have remarried now, but I was the single-parent-homeschooling mother of nine children for a while. :0

    It was horrible. I have homeschooled 15 years, and I was determined my children would not go to public school or any school, single parented or no. But as a single parent, my homeschooling/working options were almost zero. Who would I have gotten to possibly *babysit* so many children if I returned to work?? First of all, it would have to have been someone sympathetic, not only to homeschooling, but to unschooling. And can you imagine what I would have had to pay?? Daycare centers aren't set up for kids older than 4 or 5 for all day care. Not to mention that I live way out in the country, far from bus lines, far from jobs. I'd have had to be gone from home at least 12 hours per day.

    I could not have asked anyone to "homeschool" the kids, because in our state (WA), children may be homeschooled only by their own parents. Since I was going through a divorce, I needed to be squeaky clean and legal, homeschooling wise, lest my ex use my lack of compliance with regulations against me somehow (and he would have). As it was, he reported me to Child Protective Services and the local school district both-- strictly for harrassment purposes. (Both reports were dismissed quickly as unfounded. Sigh.)

    So what is my point, you ask? :) I guess it is this. Unless we go ahead and bash, even, public schools and talk up options, options, educational options, no compulsory education, alternatives, occupational options, etc., divorced and otherwise disenfranchised or marginalized people will never *have* any options. We need to brainstorm, come up with ideas for those who are trapped and cornered, as I was. Only squeaky wheels can get grease. If we don't talk up what's wrong, how will anything ever change?

    I made it through my single parent homeschooling years but only with tremendous difficulty. I never did get a real job. I had a home business which brought in a very small income. Friends helped a lot. I came close to losing my house and everything I had a coupla times. The reason I made it? An anonymous long-time homeschooling single mom repeatedly bailed me out, got me out of foreclosure, sent money for food, etc.

    Had I not been as committed to homeschooling as I am, I'd have given up at once, sent the kids to school, gone to work-- and been miserable and so sad forever!

    I do think we need to be sensitive to the feelings of people who as yet can only send their kids to public schools, though.

    I know so many people who would homeschool if they could. Not everyone has that choice, which brings us back (aren't you thrilled) to compulsory education laws and slavery. If the options of private and home education are not actually available to everyone, then there is no real choice. Usually, as in other matters, the poorer you are, the less choice you have.

    When I was a homeschooling contact person in San Francisco, I talked to many poor working moms who were desperate to get their kids out of school. They could see their kids were not learning and were succumbing to a social environment that could get them killed. Those kids would be better off spending their days at the library.

    Middle class white folks usually don't have a problem withdrawing kids from school if they know enough to say they're putting the kids in private school. Poor black single moms will have social services sicced on them instantly. Their only hope was if an "umbrella" school would donate services.

    For families going through divorce/custody disputes, illness, or financial hardship, onerous compulsory ed laws make their situation that much harder, by taking away choices.

    << I often carry on the debate within myself - It is my ethical belief that I must care for others ... and so how can I support better schools for all, when I myself am not a schooling parent? >>

    Modelling good parenting is much more important than supporting a system that has tried to take over for all families, not just the ones in need. People have told me how much my lifestyle and choices have influenced them. In fact, at church last Sunday, a gay friend told me how stunned he was that I would actually care enough for my son to take him out of school, to say no to something that everybody is "supposed" to do. He said it has helped him say no to certain behaviors and institutions that are expected of him too. We never know how our actions affect others, but they do.

    >>My dream would be to be elected to the County School Board, committed to supporting homeschoolers, trying to establish Illich-like "learning centers'", helping strengthen public schools, and supporting the civic good<<

    The woman who wrote most of the OH hs code, a long time hser and foster parent (she breastfed and hsed her foster kids), is now on the state board of education. Unfortunately, she struggles with the status quo, and her strong religious beliefs work against her. I think we all know enough about how that has been a problem for school boards. Still, I like knowing it's possible for a homeschooler to have some say at the state level in all areas of education, not just hsing.

    << I also pay for the public schools, and I don't feel that by sending my kids to them I am receiving welfare. >>

    You may not be, but surely you've known parents who start their children to school as soon as they can, ready or not, so they won't have to pay for daycare. In fact, an extremely large number of parents use the schools for nothing more than daycare. They aren't involved with their children's education; they are asking the government to raise their kids. Then there are those who send their kids to school to be fed. Check out how much money we spend on free breakfasts and lunchesin schools. This is not welfare? As for Libertarians, yes, you may expect to find more among homeschoolers than in other places. At least this has been my experience.

    >>I think even people who do send their kids to the public schools can learn from the homeschooling movement, and on that basis I am interested in this list. I am sorry to have provoked you, but I don't really know why you seem so angry about my comments. I only intend to point out another perspective.<<

    What you actually said was that you didn't like hearing us bash the public schools. You weren't asking to learn about homeschooling, and I hardly think we are so ignorant as to not realize that most people who send their kids to public schools, as you do, find them to be more satisfactory than we do. But let me give you another perspective.

    My son was in a very good, well-funded public school system for 4 years. He was a successful student and it still sucked. I've homeschooled now through 4 years. I've seen it from both sides. Now I give a lot of time and energy to helping people who want to homeschool to do just that. I spend hours every week hosting chats and answering questions. I also spend way too much time trying to extricate myself from discussions with teachers and ps parents who want me or other homeschoolers to defend homeschooling and to admit the public schools aren't all that bad; that it's as valid a choice as homeschooling. Well, I would be glad to debate that subject in the appropriate forum, but in a place where the purpose is support for homeschooling, I don't want to hear how unfair we're being to the public schools. It is not relevant and it is not supportive to those who are recovering from their own and their children's difficult experiences in school.

    >Joining a homeschooling list and not wanting to here them condemn public schools, >is like joining an atheist list and not wanting to hear them condemn Christianity, >or like joining a militia list and not wanting to hear them condemn government, >or like joining an pro-choice list and not wanting to hear them condemn pro-life, >or like ...... well, you get the picture.

    This is an interesting thread. Anna? commented earlier that UUs are occasionally guilty of bad-mouthing other religions. Of course, the reason for this is that so many UUs are victims of various kinds of religion abuse. At a guess, at least 2/3 to 3/4 of UUs are working through their escape from whatever religion they were brought up in.

    When I was younger, I was always kind of shocked by some of the bitter things I'd hear fellow UUs say about other religions. I was brought up UU, and was taught to respect others' beliefs. As I gained more perspective, I realized that many folks had been hurt by religion, and needed to express that hurt. It can take a long time to get very reasonable about things like that.

    Many home schoolers are homeschooling because they (in the past) or their children (more recently) were damaged by schools. For most people, abuse they personally have suffered is as nothing compared to how they feel about their children suffering such pain or risk. There are plenty of people around who have good reason to be very angry with public schools as an institution.

    I think it's important to distinguish between the ideal of public education and the reality. Do urban public schools like those in Chicago, East St. Louis, and Camden, that Jonathan Kozol described really serve the needs of children? In the "best" suburban schools I see children lose the love of learning until by high school few will read a book unless it's assigned. Many of the finest teachers quit teaching because they can't continue daily to face students who have no interest in what they're saying except whether it's on the test. But, that's not the fault of the students -- the system of schooling teaches them that the grade, the credit, the diploma, are the rewards that count; they abandon learning for its own sake as worthless.

    I read college history papers for 25 years, at least. Those students were from the top 10-20 percent of their high school classes. The writing was _unbelievably_ bad. I mean that literally -- every semester I was surprised anew. Even worse, in a way, was how boring they were. Those kids were marking time in college, as they'd learned to do early in life.

    I wholeheartedly and passionately support the right of every child to an education. The public education system is at odds with that ideal (and most private schools have the same problems). I used to think the system could be fixed. John Holt, Ivan Illick, and their friends used to think so too.

    I put my energies into the ps system and they sucked me dry, spit me out, and walked away. The parents I organized turned their backs as soon as their child's problem was handled. That was all they really cared about. I foolishly thought all of us were working for ALL the children.

    Every single hser I've met so far has cared about children. All children. Thanks to all you hsers. You've restored my faith. There will still be wise and loving adults on this earth. . . . to pass on more love and wisdom!

    There are many studies that show homeschooled children are adequately and even better socialized than public school children. Here is a list of notes from Chris Kickas Book The Right Choice Home Schooling that pertain to socialization studies.

    "Socialization Practices of Christian Home School Educators in the State of Virgina," a study of ten Virginia home school families, performed by Dr. Kathie Carwile, appeared in Home Scholl Researcher, Vol. 7, No. 1, December 1991.

    Dr. John Wesley Taylor, "Self-Concepts in Home Schooling Children" (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International), Order No. DA8624219. This study was done as part of a dissertation at Andrews University. The results of the testing of the 224 home-schooled students was compared to the testing results of 1,183 conventionally schooled children.

    Dr. Mona Delahooke, "Home Education Children's Social/Emotional Adjustment and Academic Achievements: A Comparative Study," unpublished doctoral dissertation, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles, 1986, 85.

    Dr. Linda Montgomery, "The effect of Home Schooling on Leadership Skills of Hom Schooled Students," Home School Researcher (5) 1, 1989.

    Thomas C. Smedley, M.S., "Socialization of Home Schooled Children: A communication Approach," thesis submitted and approved for Master of Science in Corporate and Professional Communications, Radford University, Radfor, Virginiia, May 1992. (Unpublished)

    Dr. Larry Shyers, "Comparison of Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Students," unpublished doctoral dissertation at University of Florida's College of Education, 1992.

    Dr. Brian Ray, "Review of Home Education Research," The Teaching Home, August/September 1989, 49.

    Univeristy of Michigan-Ann Arbor, study of home school adults by Assistant Professor of Education, J. Gary Knowles, Associated Press article entitled, "Univeristy Study Says Home-taught Children Won't Become Social Misfits," appearing in the "Grand haven Tribune" 9 March 1993.

    yes I agree with you. And actually my son has become MORE social since he has been at home simply because he is much more comfortable with himself which is half the battle of socializing. He is very comfortable with adults and positive with those around his age group. The Neo-Pagan group Earth Chalice that we as a family are involved with at the UU near us, has all noticed a huge change in him. Earth Chalice has been very supportive of my choice to HS, I have distanced myself from the rest of the church, we find a smaller group much more for us. And I agree about the Socialization of the "building" schools, I find it very scary, esp the gangs.My other HS friends and I joke that what is called socialization there, adults would be sued for.

    I told a friend of mine about my decision to home school & of my dread in telling my parents. (I'm sure you all are familiar with feeling like a Little kid around your parents) My friend is a PS teacher yet she encouraged me to seek my children's best interests and do what * I * felt was right for them. She sent me this little story & I feel others of you will enjoy it also. It fits our philosophy so well.

    Bird Woman' by Suniti Namjoshi

    Once there was a child who sprouted wings. They sprang from her shoulder blades, and at first they were vestigial. But they grew rapidly, and in no time at all she had a sizable wing span.

    The neighbours were horrified. "You must have them cut," they said to her parents. "Why?" said her parents. "Well, it's obvious," said the neighbours. "No," said the parents, and this seemed so final that the neighbours left. But a few weeks later the neighbours were back.

    "If you won't have them cut, at least have them clipped." "Why?" said the parents.

    "Well, at least it shows that you're doing something." "No," said the parents, and the neighbours left.

    Then for the third time the neighbours appeared. "On at least two occasions you have sent us away," they informed the parents, "but think of that child. What are you doing to the poor little thing?" "We are teaching her to fly," said the parents quietly.

    >There is not support for homeschoolers among UUs, I think, because of the notion that public school is necessary to the growth and devlopment of a democratic society.

    If we can learn anything from Colonial history it should be that a democratic society can indeed develop sans compulsory attendance. There were statutes/laws acknowledging the Tutor/Elizabethan social policy that education of children (servants, apprentices) was the responsibility of the household - parents & masters. Yes, there were some free/publicly funded schools but viturally no compulsory attendance. There were laws & fines regarding attendance to weekly religious instruction at local churches. And yes there provisons that towns of certian sizes providing schooling for township children, but again it was not compulsory. The from the years between the Revolution and the late 1800's/beg. 1900's ( again yrs without complusory attendance for the most part) we ought to learn that a democratic society can develop and flourish (and heal) without compulsory attendance.

    Seems to me, since the national adoption of compulsory attendance laws a learned voting populace has faded away. I would think that a learned voting populace is more necessary to the growth and devlopment of a democratic society than public schools.

    The population was largely agricultural until the late 1800's. It was much easier to be successful without an advanced education then. Granted technology is making it easier for us to receive an advanced education now, what with PCs and the internet, but not everyone has access to the internet or even a computer or even parents at home who care. I believe public schools are necessary.

    Of course, support of the public school system should not mean intolerance to homeschoolers. The public school system is in a real bad way in most areas. We shouldn't have to sacrifice our children to that system in order to support it.

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    In Washington State, one of the methods to become legal to teach is to take a short course in homeschooling. Here in Wisconsin, I teach a one day seminar through the University Extension Office called Introduction to Homeschooling. There is a similar one through U of NV in Las Vegas. Yes I get paid, a wee bit - pays for a magazine subscription. Mostly it is a service for those who don't know they know a homeschooler, it gives them a place to start. Otherwise, it seems rather silly. There have been some graduate level seminars on homeschooling, and more and more education classes for undergrads are including an hour or so on us.

    >I live in NC, which would make it impossible to homeschool a child with Downs Syndrom. It is heartening to hear of places that will allow/encourage that. Here, hsers must take standardized tests, which eliminate the possibility of hsing any child who is EMH or lives with other, more severe handicapping conditions.

    Have the NC laws changed? I was under the impression that although NC homeschoolers are required to standardize test yearly that that the test scores were not used to regulate homeschooling. Here in TN where the test scores /are/ used to control homeschoolers (for those registered with the state) homeschoolers can and do homeschool children with special needs. If a child would be exempted in from testing in public school they are not required to test in homeschool.

    >In Manitoba, the government allows homeschooling because they then don't have to spend any of the tax money on those kids. There is one man in a small office who spends a small amount of his time filing registrations and reports for homeschoolers. A family has to be really dedicated to buck the system when all costs (books, supplies, etc.) are in the family budget.

    It's the same way in Georgia. Either we turn our children over completely or we are completely on our own. There is no middle ground. My eldest son would love to attend a chemestry class at the public high school or play in the school orchestra. It would be nice to have a resource room and maybe a person to ask questions of.'s an easy choice in this state. Wisconsin is very permissive with respect to homeschooling --- we file a yearly form with the DPI and that's it --- but our public schools are also some of the "best" in the country (as measured by test scores), so it's not like there's a mass retreat from a deplorable educational system or anything. 

    >I believe they had a court case in California where the courts decided that the schools had no obligation to actually educate kids! They could not be held liable for anything --- no matter how bad they were.

    I believe most states have laws about compulsory attendance rather than compulsory education. It seemed strange to me until someone pointed out that to require education by law, education then must be defined. And how do you define education without imposing requirements that others might find restricting? Homeschooolers benefit greatly from compulsory attendance laws. It's hard to be absent from homeschool!

    I just got off the phone with someone who keeps tabs on government happenings; she says they just passed a whole bunch of new regulations in NJ, including homeschoolers having to ask for permission! I have to look further into this.

    >Don't believe it till you see the law in writing. Then call HSLDA to see if its true. They answer questions even if you are not a member.

    Everyone has an agenda.

    Answers to questions will reflect the agenda of the person (lawyers are people) or organiztion supplying the answer. Homeschoolers need to understand the agenda of any person or organization suppling legal/legislative information. I'm not saying that any lawyer or legal defense organiztion would out and out lie about homeschool laws, what they really mean, how the laws came about, what part they actually played in getting the laws passed. Unless one is testifying in court one is not obligated to tell the whole truth.

    >Interesting... This doesn't sound like the same group he described. He corrected me in that it's not a legal defense group, just a resource group & went on to say that it was run by a right-wing Mormon.

    And???? What are folks suppose to assume about HSLRA because one of the founders is a Latter Day Saint?? So far I've yet to see religion be an issue within HSLRA ranks or platform. The sooner folks come to grips with the fact that homeschool politics (internal and external) make for the most unlikely yet interesting bedfellows, the better off we will all be. You will find allies in the most unlikely places. And enemies where you thought you'd find support. How many here really feel supported by the folks in your societies and fellowships? Yet we are ready to turn our backs on support because the person is a "right wing Mormon". Sara, please don't take my words too hard. Knowing the folks in HSLRA and how hard they work, I'm just a little upset at this disdainful attitude toward HSLRA because of religious prejudice.

    The group was founded by a LatterDaySaint(aka Mormon) and a Roman Catholic. BFD! In most parts of the country the LDS & RC are about as welcome in homeschool groups as UUs or the leadership of the NEA. There are UUs serving as state directors, for crying out loud!! How often do you see that homeschool organizations???

    >I think we're talking about two different things here.

    Nope, we are talking about the same group. HSLRA successfully fought HSLDA tooth and nail over what HSLDA was trying to do to MI

    >Boy, was I off-base. I wish my illusion had been the reality. It would be great if we had a legal resource to counterbalance HSLDA, wouldn't it?

    Don't discount HSLRA as that resource because of religious prejudice. HSLRA doesn't have a religious agenda. The investigative research that of some of the members of this group are conducting is very enlightening. If any group stands a chance of helping enlighten homeschoolers about the power mongers and helping homeschoolers become empowered it is the folks in HSLRA, IMO.

    Here's a website for you to visit which will eventually get you to the state laws:

    Many people in many states choose not to notify their school district or other governing body that they are hsing. There are lots of underground hsers not signed up with anyone! There is broad debate about this in the greater hsing community. Some folks feel that what they do is none of anybody's business, other people think it's important to stand up and be counted.

    >You hurt the other homeschoolers in your area by your example when you register if you do not have to. By doing so you make registration look like >it is not a big deal so the school can come back later and lobby for forced >registration "after all its not a big deal and many homeschoolers are registering anyway."

    Most of the homeschoolers in my area are notifying, and the Unschooler's Network located here advises it. Many notify and even send in a curriculum each year, which I don't plan to do. I believe they are doing it to be "above board" meaning if a nosy neighbor sees your kids outside, and reports you, the school will already have on file that you are home schooling. So I see that side of it, but I also agree with you. Would I notify my district if I sent my kids to private school? It's not required to notify to homeschool, but it seems around here it's already understood that you do, because many do it. That's why I'm procrastinating!

    >Homeschooling in Oklahoma is constitutionally protected. There are no reporting or testing requirements, no certification of parents, no religious exemptions required in order to hs here.There is a somewhat vague reference about "equivalent education" and "180 days of schooling", but since hsers do not register with the state, there is no followup on these rules.

    >About the case. . .I am currently opposed to home schooled students accessing public school services in Oklahoma, because I want the state to continue to stay out of my business. Once they start allowing hsers to participate in public school sports, classes and clubs, they will require curriculum submission, report cards, testing, ect. of those participating students. When the machinery is in place, it will be easy to require ALL hsers in the state to register, submit, and so forth. I realize to many of you this may be just grousing, but we love our freedom in hsing here in OK!

    I live in Texas, and it's the same way. No registration, nothing. I know other states don't have it as well. Many states are always on HS'ers for something. I heard horror stories all the time from the unschooling list. So those of us without any checking up on *would* be in that circumstance! I totaltly agree with Valerie 100%!!! That is just another way to get access to us!! This is a way to infrenge on our freedoms as homeschoolers. Without it, we are hassle free. Don't *ever* think the government wants to do something nice for you without having strings attached! This looks like a legal trap intended to trap homeschoolers so they can get more control over them like they do in other states. It's obvious when there is an interaction between classes, ect. that there is going to be required testing, and all the things Valerie mentioned.

    >This is a way to infrenge on our freedoms as homeschoolers. Without it, we are hassle free. Don't *ever* think the government wants to do something nice for you without having strings attached! This looks like a legal trap intended to trap homeschoolers so they can get more control over them like they do in other states. It's obvious when there is an interaction between classes, ect. that there is going to be required testing, and all the things V. mentioned.

    Though I'm not a libertarian, I do believe it would be nice to simplify society so we don't have these kinds of hassels. I don't know what can be done, though. I recently learned of a new organization which is working on that very end: The Simple Society at It's so new most of those pages are still under construction.

    << I would be very interested to know how other people handle the notification to home school. >>

    Here's mine for my 13 year old:

    B will use a developmentally--appropriate, integrated curriculum. We will plan his learning together, based on his interests, so I can't state in advance which specific topical areas we will cover, however we expect to cover the following subjects.

    He will read from self-chosen and parent-chosen literature on a daily basis. He will engage in reflection on those literature pieces in one, or many of the following ways: journal writing, book reviews, conversations, drama based on the books. My goal is for B to enjoy reading, to read for pleasure, to gain exposure to a wide variety of genres, and to be able to reflect critically on what he reads.

    B will read content-area non-fiction materials as needed to support his chosen areas of interest. He will reflect on these pieces in one, or many, of the following ways: journal writing, writing an article for submission to a magazine, discussions, development of a scrapbook in an area of interest. My goal is for B to learn to read critically for information, to understand and be able to reflect on the materials he reads and to be able to compare them to other sources of information, and to learn how and where to find written resources as needed.

    B will study science as it relates to the areas of his interests by watching science videos, reading related written materials, conducting scientific experiments, keeping journals, making and recording observations, visiting scientists in their work places, taking classes at the Dayton Museum of Natural History and at the Expericenter in Miamisburg, and through cooperative classes with our homeschool group. My goal is for B to experience a wide range of scientific exposure in his areas of interest, to develop a positive interest in science, to learn to think scientifically, to develop a respect for the work scientists do and to understand the importance science has in his daily life.

    Writing, spelling and grammar will be covered as part of B's writing processes. He expects to do creative writing, to do letter writing, to write lists, to create and write drama pieces, etc. My goal is for Brandon to enjoy writing, to gain skills in both the writing process and in technical skills required of an edited piece, and to develop a sense of power over the written word.

    History and geography will follow the same plan outlined for the above subjects. B will read historical fiction and non-fiction, participating in field trips such as the Renaissance Festival, Carillon Park and the Fair at New Boston. We expect to integrate history and geography into our study of other subjects through one or many or the following ways: the use of time lines and maps, discussion, journal writing, cooking, plays, road trips, invention building, Scout camping trips and art. My goal is for B to appreciate the nuances and fluidity of history, to recognize his place in history, and to enjoy and understand the importance of a knowledge of history.

    Health, physical education and safety will be continued as a part of our daily living skills. B will learn to care for his body and his physical environment through one, or many of the following ways: shopping for and preparing food and discussing the necessity of a healthy diet, fire drills, exercise both as play and as part of a structured group experience, and through Boy Scout classes. My goal is for Brandon to appreciate the necessity of a healthy body and to learn to care for his body's needs as he understands them.

    B will learn art and music through both self-chosen and structured methods including one, or many, of the following: art classes at Rosewood, DAI, or the K-12 Gallery, piano and guitar lessons, choir singing, listening to various styles of music, learning through reading and videos about the people who have influenced music through history, and working on self-chosen art projects. My goal is for B to appreciate a wide variety of art and music experiences while understanding the importance of art and music as it pertains to history.

    B will learn math through participation in daily livingócooking, building, shopping, etc. In addition, he will begin using the Key toÖmath series and the Lane County Mathematics Project Problem Solving in Mathematics, grade 7. My goal is for B to gain conceptual knowledge of mathematics as well as an appreciation for the daily application of math in his life.

    Last session, the legislature here in Georgia tried to sneak some pretty tough guidelines through. If the legislation had passed, it would have required that parent have a bachelor degree and submit curriculum and undergo testing and more stringent reporting. The homeschoolers in the state managed to block that, thank goodness. That would have been a nightmare. The bill was sponsored by a rep from a rural district that had integration problems and her perception was that homeschooling is another way to promote segregation.

    Instead, the legislature put together a committee to study homeschooling in our state. There was a LOT of opposition to this study by the homeschooling community. I personally thought it is a good thing to open this up...ESPECIALLY in Georgia where the standardized test scores are among the lowest in the nation among public school kids. I think the homeschool movement has a lot to be proud of. Our children are is the ultimate in parental involvement (something that has been proven to be more important than any school program they could possibly come up with). I really can't find much negative that the opposing side could bring up with the committee...although the opposing side has a lot of power and money can turn over a lot of rocks to find homeschooling failures. I can't imagine that the worst homeschooling failure would be any worse than the high percentage of graduating seniors who can't pass the competency test that is now required in our state. I saw a news article a few months ago about one high school who passed out almost as many attendance certificates as it did diplomas during it's June graduation exercises.

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    I highly recommend the book Clean and Green, which has lots and lots of "recipes" for environmentally safe cleaning products you can make out of vinegar, baking soda, borax, etc. I use the stain removal section all the time. The author, Annie Berthold Bond, also mentions various ready-made products that are safe to use. (I have something to add to it, too: Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds, undiluted, is FANTASTIC stain remover--I use it on my carpet, clothes, etc. The theology on the labels is also very interesting!)

    (I hope I'm not breaching netiquette by mentioning a specific product. I don't have any financial interest in Dr. Bronner's...unfortunately!)

    BTW, the only thing I've found environmentally safe products can't do as well as the bad stuff can is bleach things white. Chlorine is the liquid from hell--I firmly believe it should be a controlled substance--but it's true that it is the only thing that turns things WHITE WHITE WHITE, if you care about that. My solution is to keep a little bit around for rare events, such as spilling ink on a really good shirt, and use only a few drops, instead of pouring it liberally into every white load of laundry the way the chemical co's would like us to do. I think the alternative to chlorine bleach on an industrial scale is something called oxygen bleaching (environmentally responsible textile and paper companies use this method), but as far as I know there's no way for an individual to do that.

    Here's the laundry soap recipe from MORE WITH LESS COOKBOOK by Doris Janzen Longacre.

    Laundry Soap (makes 9 lbs)

    Clean grease, using either method: 1. Boil grease in an equal volume of water. Remove from hit; chill by adding 1 qt. cold water for each gallon of liquid. Remove firm fat from top. 2. Melt fat and strain through muslin. Place in iron, enamel, or stoneware container (never use aluminum).

    5 c. cold water Slowly add to cold water: 1 can lye

    Stir to dissolve and allow to cool (may take several hours). Melt grease; allow lye solution and grease to come to correct temperatures: -sweet lard or soft fat @ 85 degrees with lye solution 75 degrees -half lard, half tallow @ 110 degrees, with lye solution 85 degrees -all tallow @ 130 degrees, with lye solution 95 degrees.

    Pour lye solution into melted fat in a thin stream with slow, even stirring. Too rapid pouring or stirring causes separation. Stir slowly 10-20 minutes until mixture is thick as honey. Pour into wood or cardboard box lined with damp cotton cloth. Cover with old blanket or rug to retain heat. Let stand 24 hours. Remove soap, cut into bars and store where air can reach it. dry in even temperature 2 weeks to age.

    To use in automatic washer, you must have soft water. Shred soap finely on a grater, or cut in pieces and melt in small amout of hot water before adding to washer.

    ********************************* Granulated Soap (makes 13 lbs)

    Prepare grease as above Mix together: 1 can lye 1 c. pure borax 3 qts. cold water

    Slowly add: 4 1/2 lbs. warm melted grease. Stir, stir, stir, frequently thoughout the day with a wooden spoon. When the mix becomes firm and can no longer be stirred easily, wear gloves and crumble the soap. A pastry blender works well to break up particles. Do not double recipe. Used about 1/2c. to a washer load of clothes.

    I don't see how these recipes would ever turn into soap.

    I have been making soap for several years and have yet been 100% successful because what you need are EXACT weights and EXACT temperatures. Different fats saponify (turn into soap) in different relationships with the lye. Thus you need different amounts of lye for different amounts of fat.

    This is the basic recipe I use which can be used as laundry or hand soap.

    Use a GOOD scale that weighs in ounces and have 2 identical thermometers.

    12 oz Red Devil Lye (approx 1 can -- but be exact) 32 oz water

    Dissolve lye in water. BE CAREFUL. I do it by using a gallon glass jug (that your thermometer will fit into) and stir with the handle of a wooden spoon as I slowly pour in the lye into the water. Avoid the fumes. The water will get hot so be careful. Set aside to cool. Punch 2 holes opposite each other in the lid. Makes for easier, safer pouring later.

    In a big stainless steel pot dissolve your fats --

    24 oz coconut oil 24 oz olive oil (cheap and cruddy the better) 38 oz vegetable oil, preferably solid Crisco, but canola oil will work

    When the temperature of the lye and the temperature of the fat are the same -- some sources say anywhere between 90-100 degrees F, though I've just heard recently that 80 degrees is the best temp. The main thing is that they are the same temperature!

    Slowly pour the lye into the fat, stirring constantly and in a consistent manner. Some people say it will turn to soap in 7 minutes, other say it takes 20-60 minutes. In any case you keep stirring and don't stop until it "traces" which is that when you drizzle some across the top of the mixture it leaves a trace before sinking in. Manily it gets kind of thick and creamy looking.

    You can add 4 oz of fragrance or essential oil at this point if you want to or 8 oz pulverized oatmeal or 4 0z cornmeal if you want a hand soap to "scrub' more.

    Now you can pour into your prepared mold -- I use a cardboard box lined with a plastic bag or freezer paper.

    Now comes the important part -- it must stay warm and covered and undisturbed for several days. Find a place to put your box, cover with a board and some blankets. Don't peek! Leave covered for 18-24 hours then uncover so it can start to harden. Let it sit undisturbed another 12-24 hours and then you can remove it from the mold and cut into bars. You then need to set the bars on some racks (avoid metal if you can, I use old refrigerator racks that are plastic covered) of some kind, undisturbed, for several weeks for it to dry and cure. It's ready to use in 3 weeks. I just cut into rough bars and then fix them up after the curing time is done (if I give them as gifts, otherwise I just leave them rough for us -- use them a couple of times and the rough edges are gone...)

    Good luck with your soap. Some people absolutely love making soap. I don't really, but think of it as just another job to do around the house. I make sure I've got good music on the tape deck or the news to listen to while I'm stirring.... mine has never saponified in 7 minutes!

    I make soap, with and without tallow. (when I need tallow I go to my local butcher, ask him for a large box of fat, --free--, take it home and render it myself). Tallow stores nicely in your freezer. An invaluable book is _Soap: Making it, Enjoying it_ by Ann Bramson. It's in paper back and most bookstores have it in stock. I also just got another one called _The Soapbook: Simple Herb Recipes_ by Sandy Maine. It has basic soapmaking techniques and lots of wonderful herbal recipes. Elaine White also has a soap book out called _Soap Recipes_. She has techniques for making batches of soap using your blender--smaller batches, which is nice if you like to experiment. AOL does have a soapmaking folder buried in the crafts section. It takes some digging to find it, but it's very helpful.

    When you make vegetarian soap, the main ingredients are olive oil, coconut oil, and Crisco and lye. Some call for palm oil, but these are the usual 3 fats used. The lye is easily obtainable at any grocery store, I use Red Devil. The books give exact supply lists and detailed instructions, but if you can take one soap workshop or know someone who makes it, it is helpful the very first time.

    You'll also need molds. I've found the simplest ones are those plastic frosting cans. I cut the bottoms off, leave the lids on, turn them upside down and pour the soap in. When it's time to remove it, I simply remove the lids and push the soap out! (Then I cut it into bars, nice perfect circles.)

    Soapmaking is a lot of fun--messy, not safe with small children, (because of the lye--watch it, it burns!) but very satisfying. One batch lasts us about a year.

    >I don't see how these recipes would ever turn into soap.

    >I have been making soap for several years and have yet been 100% successful because what you need are EXACT weights and EXACT temperatures.

    I agree that exact weights would make things easier, but remember that plenty of people have made soap over the years/centuries with wood ash, rather than precise amounts of lye. I think it can be done, but is just much harder.

    >You can add 4 oz of fragrance or essential oil at this point if you want to or 8 oz pulverized oatmeal or 4 0z cornmeal if you want a hand soap to "scrub' more.

    You don't mean 4 oz of essential oil, do you? It just takes drops if it's the real thing, right?

    >Good luck with your soap. Some people absolutely love making soap.

    Yuck. I can't imagine loving it.

    >>You can add 4 oz of fragrance or essential oil at this point if you want to or 8 oz pulverized oatmeal or 4 0z cornmeal if you want a hand soap to "scrub' more.

    >You don't mean 4 oz of essential oil, do you? It just takes drops if it's the real thing, right?

    I've never tried this part of the recipe, but I did try to add essential oil to another recipe years ago and a few drops didn't do anything. It's a pretty big amount of soap and pretty stinky. I got this recipe from a professional soapmaker, so I'd trust it. Seems expensive though... but she gets her oils in bulk at wholesale. Maybe the 4 oz holds for fragrance rather than ess. oils... but you definitely need more than a few drops.

    The Foxfire Book (the original) has an article on soapmaking, including even how to make lye from ashes.

    In the first recipe, how much fat are you supposed to use? Also, a big warning about when mixing the lye solution: WEAR RUBBER GLOVES, ADD THE LYE SLOWLY TO THE WATER, AND DO IT OUTSIDE (BAD FUMES). The lye and water solution gets to about 180 degrees, so be careful when you touch the glass jar you've mixed it in. The fumes clear pretty quickly, but you don't want to do this indoors unless you're right under a vent fan. Try not to breathe the fumes. Keep some vinegar on hand in case you get any lye on yourself. It will neutralize the burn. Both the lye crystals and the mixed lye solution can burn. Be careful about stray lye crystals. They look like salt crystals, but will burn.

    It helps to mix the lye in a glass juice container. Take an awl and punch 2 holes in the lid. This will help you control the stream as you slowly pour it into your fats. Use wooden spoons when stirring, and I use 2 thermometers, one for the lye and one for the fats.

    I just made a batch of lavendar bath soap yesterday. Should be enough to get us through a whole year.

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    I recognize my children in your description of passivity. My son gets up from building his computer and asks me how do I get a muffin out of the muffin tray? How do you think ? After ripping the top off of one and complaining that the results were my fault.....I had to stop and laugh.  Is passivity just a tool to get attention? Jerk you around ? It works pretty well around here.

     Are children more passive than they were 10 years ago? 20 years? When we were kids? Your post led to an interesting discussion over breakfast about screen based activities--t.v., video games, computers and passivity. You know, the medium is the message. Does passivity mean our children aren't thinking? Are they maybe just shell shocked from the information bombardment they subject themselves to?

     I don't know. People still know how to think despite the effects of t.v. being around for 50 years or so. It is a different world our children are growing up in. Who really understands the impact it is having on their brains and how they think?

     Has anyone gone on-line with their children to find them flitting here and there, reading nothing, skimming along clicking on every bell and whistle? It seems to me that media experiences are designed for shallow contact----little bits of information, whether it is words, pictures or sounds just being hurled at us in rapid fire succession. Sure makes it difficult for children to learn how to engage, concentrate, take time to reflect, think and share.  Pretty tough to think about denying our children access to technology though. I like the computer myself.

     Has anyone read any of Howard Gardner's work helping to define different types of intelligence? As hs we have the opportunities to help our children use their particular gifts and modalities to engage the world. 

    <<>Suddenly, whether or not the garbage gets
    >taken out just plain is not important! It is not that they are trying to be difficult, it just really is not a major concern for them.

    >I can buy that to a degree, but since both of my teens seemed not only not to want to do it, but >argued against doing it and procrastinated after being reminded at opportune moments, it really >appeared more that it was a rebellion against parental "control."

    Yes, they are distracted by a lot of things going on in their bodies and minds. We can forgive them some of their absent-mindedness and apparent need for help when they should know how to do it themselves, but we need to have sane lives, too. I don't think it's too much to ask them to follow through on chores they agreed to do.

    Yes, the main point I was trying to make (and probably was not clear enough about) is that the Prathers believe that we should ask *less* of our teens, not more. That this is often the age at which responsibilities are poured on, where more is expected, yet it would often make home-life more peaceful if less were expected. You would really have to read the book "Spiritual Parenting" to get the full gist of this argument (actually, this is a fairly small part of the book--but reading the entire book leads up to this discussion). The Prathers do a much better job of exploring this notion than I have presented here. And they do speak with some authority--they are the parents of grown children and have also served as youth ministers to many others. I suspect that you (and others) will not buy into some of their ideas, but I really think it is worth reading. It is *so* different from any other parenting book I have read. There is a lot more stuff in this book
    worth discussing, but I will save it for a parenting list, since it is not really a homeschooling issue. 

    <<> Something that has helped me to get through the teen years is to
    >drop the 1
    >off of the beginning of their age and think of them as the same way that they were then (12 becomes 2, 13 becomes 3) with hormones mixed in just to add a bit of excitement. <g>

    This reminded me of something I read in the book "Spiritual Parenting" (which I highly recommend by the way--it is by Hugh and Gayle Prather--they are Christian, but they write from a more non-denominational point of view. I think if you have a belief in any kind of spirituality you can get something out of this book--it really changed my approach to parenting and I am not Christian. I cried in a couple of places, where they were giving examples of the way spirituality is often shown to us through our children if we will just listen and watch).

    Anyhow, in this book, the authors make the point that while we typically expect more of teens than we do of say 9-11 year olds, they believe we should not. They contend that 9-11 year olds (approximately--this age range will vary by child) are in the "I want to please my parents" mode, and can often take on quite a bit of responsibility. Then, they hit the teen years and the hormones are flowing, they are concerned with things like how they fit in with their peers, what they are going to do with their lives, how are they going to express their individuality, etc. Suddenly, whether or not the garbage gets taken out just plain is not important! It is not that they are trying to be difficult, it just really is not a major concern for them.

    I found this to be a really intriguing point of view--certainly not one that I had seen expressed anywhere else. It makes a lot of sense to me. Of course,I do not have teens yet..... 

    Our version is think of their brains (mental processing) like a 7-9 year old's smile. They've lost their baby brain cells (ways of processing) and, although they are fully formed inside them, their adult brain cells are not yet usable. Nothing wrong with counting on your family for some jello on the tough days. 

    I had been reading the posts about passive teens--and feeling that I had something to contribute, but I was so afraid of stepping on toes that I almost didn't post it. I'm so relieved that my thoughts weren't taken as criticism (as, of course, they were not intended to be!) and that you both felt they were helpful. whew! It sure feels good to be listened to and really HEARD.

    >I think one mistake I make is to expect my young teen to act like an adult, and I get panicked when he doesn't. Still, I reassure myself that nearly all the adult role models in his life are busy and self-motivated, and that other adults (me included) survived growing up.Still growing - C

    I think this is the kind of lesson we all keep learning and re-learning as long as we live. Just because I've learned it with my first two, doesn't stop me from worrying all over again with my third. That's a good point, C--in fact, it's a very important point--that role models are the major influence in a child's life.

    If he sees you busy and self-motivated, he'll know that that is what adults are like, and he'll probably follow your example. If you were drudging away at a job you hated, and sitting in front of the TV every night--and then telling *him* to be self-motivated--I doubt if you'd ever succeed in helping him to be a self-motivated, intellectually active adult. (mind you, he might do it just out of a healthy rebellion!;-D) This is the kind of thing we can all reassure eachother of from time to time!

    ps--in mulling over your statement about expecting a young teen to act like an adult, I have another thought that has occured to me while watching my two young adults go through their teens. That is, that when the teen --stuff?-- starts (homonal crazies? identity crisis?) they become for a time much LESS mature or sensible than they were at ten or eleven. It seemed that they reached a wonderful peak of competence at 10-12, then spun out for a few years of struggling to make sense of the world through their new identities--and then, when they came back to earth, came back as the wonderful people they were before. Each child seems to have her own original way of going through this--and both my older daughters have done it very differently, but they have both done it. I think that the fact that I wasn't leaning heavily on them--giving them the responsibility for their own actions, and kept the lines of communication open helped them get through it somewhat more safely than some.

    <<Even with deschooling, re-thinking ed, knowing home ed is the way to go: I and other parents I've talked to, still have flashes of worring about diplomas and job prep, living skills, lazy kids, lazy parents, what if they never pick up a book voluntarily, don't write legibly....>>

    We're starting our 9th year of homeschooling and I don't think the flashes of worry ever go away.

    Of the three teens I wrote about in my previous note, one of my sons and my nephew were homeschooled, my oldest son was not. I still had the much the same worries about all...

    >This is where we need to butt out--and let them veg until their own intelligence and passions drive them to independent action. The passive teen may be giving a message--and that is that they need time to figure out just who they are and what they are interested in pursuing in their lives. This is so hard for a parent to do! It's so hard to let them sleep in and mess around with computer games and seem to do nothing for months at a time. It's hard to have faith in them that they actually WILL come to the point where they will make their own way in their lives--and make and follow their own goals. I firmly believe that that is what we need to do. It is scary. Of course we still need to be there to support and discuss and give our (asked for) input, but we need to let them take control of their own lives.>>>

    >> Oh gosh, you just summed up what I really felt about my son and his problems with having seemingly no direction as a senior in high school. I think you
    are very right, especially since my son has had some serious health problems, maybe he needs this time for inward thinking. What may look like to us wasting time, has indeed something great going on in the subconcious. Thanks for the boost, I think I will TRUST him to come to some decisions in his life, and just be quietly a little scared, and quit worrying about what others think and let him take control of his life. I think sometimes they do wait and think well mom or dad will decide this for me, and by not, maybe we are giving them a real boost in their ability to develop self discipline and confidence!!! THANKS, I feel better about all this deep inside, it feels right. :)

    I definitely believe that teens need lots of sleep and a relief from pressures during the early adolescent years. I think of the amazing bodily changes they are experiencing and am reminded of how much sleep infants need during those first years of amazing change and growth. My experience now with 3 teenage boys (2 my sons, 1 nephew who lived with us a while) has been that from *about* 12-16, their energy is pretty much nil for academic work, and that it is very hard for them to think beyond the present moment. Somewhere around 15 or 16, all of these boys took flight in their own ways, all in primarily positive, very individual directions.

    As I saw this pattern, this need for sleep and downtime, I began to think about the demands our society places on teenagers--heavy loads of work from school, extracurricular activities, jobs, learning to drive, social situations with decisions to make about drugs, sex and alchohol, and violence in school and the streets....yikes! It is no wonder to me that so many teenagers are stressed out and emotionally troubled.

    There's another possibility, too, that I think should be considered. Teenage teething! I never thought of this until my son Shaun mentioned how sore his gums were with his wisdom teeth erupting and how cranky and irritated it made him feel. I've mentioned this online on AOL and was soundly poo-poohed by psychologist, but I think it deserves some real consideration, if only as something more to add to the equation when trying to figure out what's going on with teens.

    Finally, I have real reservations about 18 being adulthood for many teens, particularly boys. Of course, lots of teens are ready for that and are very independent and certainly should have the right to make their own way in the world. But so many aren't and there shouldn't be a social stigma attached to ones who need a few more years in the nest and aren't quite ready for adult responsibilities. 

    >> both of my teens are staying up late at night, and getting up late and my daughter was quick to point out to me, I think it was in a Zillion magazine issue or Contact, that as far as studies go teens do need more sleep and they function much better when they stay up late and get up late in the morning. Very contrary to what is being taught to public school teachers, they tell you to do the most important subjects, tests, etc. first thing in the morning when their students are fresh???? What could I say when they pointed this out to me??? Didn't need the research to tell me that, we saw it right before our eyes, but it is nice to be validated.

    Hearing so many other families with the same things going on with their teens,
    makes everyone feel okay about how they are handling things, although public opinion is certainly against this type of approach, but they are against so many things, just because it rocks the boat and the habits already sit down for society. We do have to live within society, but if we want things to change for the better we don't want our children just to accept that "that is the way things are"!!!

    One of my all time pet peeves, that people say to me, "well, how will your children learn to get to work on time, take tests, handle responsiblilties?? I just think maybe they will invent a new way of looking at
    work, like their own business, working from home in their own hours, maybe these children will be the ones to reshape society, because they felt they had choices. This could be so my husband just landed a job where he can work totally from home, and also maintain our home business, so these goals aren't so far fetched.

    >One of my all time pet peeves, that people say to me, "well, how will your children learn to get to work on time, take tests, handle responsiblilties??

    ooooooooooooooooooooooo---- this one burns me too. It's just so lacking in a clear, intelligent view of human intelligence. (you can see my La Leche League roots here again if I say that it makes as much sense as the old advice to start infants on solid foods long before they're ready for them just to "get them used to the spoon!") --as if a person can't adapt to new situations and new needs! My oldest daughter, who slept in late all through her teens--and followed her own night-owl tendencies all her growing up years-- has done very well in university and in the demands of her various jobs. She has taken tests, gotten to work and classes on time--and is a very level-headed, responsible person. No problem. sheesh! 

    I have two friends -- siblings -- who were homeschooled before anyone knew what that meant (they are 30 and 38 now). Their parents literally left them alone -- completely. The older one -- a female -- stopped living with her parents at age 13 and moved to a commune (all with their blessing). At age 13 she had a steady boyfriend/partner/lover who was 22 yrs old (who she met on the commune). They did multitudes of things together -- mostly farming (the commune was a farm) and then travelling overseas for a year once she turned 16. They stayed together for 13 years, on the commune, and then moved on to other partners and other life experiences.

    The younger sibling, a male, stayed with his parents on a different commune (this being the late 60s, early 70s). He then moved to the commune where his sister was, also at age 13. He taught the adults on the commune how to do all the wiring for the dairy barn they were building, and he was a computer nut.

    Neither of these teens had any "parental" oversight. There were adults in the commune (ages 20 to 40) to provide any needed direction -- which was hands-off and offered only when asked for. They were trusted to figure things out themselves. (and sleep when they want, eat when and what they wanted, etc etc)

    Today the woman is a successful carpenter with her own business, with a partner and 2 kids. She would never homeschool her kids -- she always felt ashamed that she didn't know "what other kids know" -- cultural stuff, not so much "the basics." She never acquired any more education past her GED.

    The man is has a bachelor's degree, and I think a masters as well. Human services slant. He struggled in college because he didn't know how to spell. he is now he computer guru for the human services corp. that he has been working for, designing computer systems to help developmentally disabled people function better in society. He doesn't plan on having kids, but doesn't have the anti-homeschool feel his sister has.

    >Last summer I asked my son what he wanted to do besides visit his grandparents since he was too old for computer space camp and he rejected every suggestion, including the Mountain, SUUSI, and UUMAC. I chose UUMAC for him because it is in our district and thought he could meet area teens there.  He loved it and wants to go back next year.

     I just had to interject here that I love UU retreats for our teens. Thanks to many of them and what they had to offer my son, he will be graduating with a degree in religion and philosophy this May. And my daughter is so excited because this will be her first SUUSI in the teen dorm. What a wonderful experience for teens as well as a great way for them to meet people from many different places that are "like them". 

    Has anyone thought about conscientious objection and the draft?

    Yes, I was surprised that there is no place on the registration form to object.

    >My husband said he hasn't heard of 18 yr olds having to register for a couple of yrs. He thinks it is because anyone under 19 is required to have a Soc Sec # at birth.

    Don't you believe it. The kid turns 18, he gets his registration stuff in the mail. It's just a card you fill out. I mentioned to Duncan that there are people in the UU congregation who would be glad to tell him about c.o. status and how to best apply for it,but he just filled out the form, no doubt figuring that if the draft was reinstated (as opposed to registration, which is legal rigamarole), that would be the time to object/ask for alternative service. Meanwhile, my college roommate is on the board of the War Resisters League in NYC and is glad to send info to those who request it. She asked me a year or so ago how to contact interested homeschoolers but hasn't followed thru on any of my suggestions on writing to GWS or HEM, etc. I think they are looking for volunteers for regional WRL offices. As I recall, you can search for War Resisters League on the web and gets lots of info. For parents of younger kids, they have an excellent sheet on war toys. 

    >I believe others who simply didn't register either were not pursued or were just given the chance to register if discovered--discovered usually when applying to college and seeking student loans, etc., the eligibility for
    >was/is (?) tied to registration.

    Good point. Yes,student loans and later loans and some other stuff is tied up with registration for the draft, and that is stated explicitly on your card. Now that everyone is suppossed to get a soc sec # by age 2, everything is connected and THEY will find you! Another issue that has bothered me since I was a teenager (and I was one of the first 18 year olds to vote...actually I first voted at age 17 the year 18 year olds got the vote due to a wrinkle in maryland's voting law) was that women don't have to register for the draft. Why? I guess I just wanted a way that my objection to war would be NOTICED, but I still think it's wrong.I'm sure this comes of some unreasonable, convoluted, thought pattern, but there it is! 

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    D.'s comment about not feeling comfortable inviting the other homeschoolers in her (former) local group to her social hall because of the Welcoming Congregation plaque is ironic. I must say, I would almost certainly feel the same way. But the broader meaning of welcoming gets called into question, here. I guess the only way to reconcile it is to ask, "Must we welcome into our homes those who would despise us and cast us down?" I honestly don't know the answer. Is there any hope of influencing them, and perhaps changing them? Do we have the right - or desire - to steer them away from what we consider a "wrong" belief?

    Our church hosts several other congregations, including a Jewish congregation and a fundamentalist congregation. (It was pretty fun when the fundamentalists and the Pagans met on the same night) I'm not too clear on the details, because I was out of town for the annual meeting, and I haven't read the minutes, but I think that our "welcoming congregation" decided "not to extend the agreement" with the fundamentalists.

    I have mixed feelings about the Welcoming Congregation movement, as it relates to sexuality. I have known many gay men and lesbians (ok - cliche as it is, I worked in theatre for almost 20 years). I am not gay. I think that I am accepting. But _must_ we announce to all that we welcome gay men and lesbians? How about another sign for NASCAR enthusiasts? Pro-wrestling / mud wrestling lovers? Gamblers? Mothers? Fathers? Home schoolers? Pagans? If our acceptance of homosexuality or any other "life style" is real, it will be shown through our actions, and word will get around.

    I am the Chair of the Welcoming Congregation committee at the UU Church in Greensboro. Some of the comments that have been made, I have been quite offended by. If people are not comfortable with symbols saying that our congregations welcome the lesbigay community into our church homes, then that is something that they should process. Do we hide our Jews, our Buddhists, our Social Activists when we use our churches for outside functions? Then, what is it about the lesbigay community that makes us want them to stay "in the closet" (pun intended) for outsiders? I am an out bisexual. I have seen the damage done to my children because their mother was not considered "normal". My daughter, at the age of 5 or 6, was one of the victims of an attack on a building during a christian concert sponcered by the local MCC church. People stormed the front of the building and threw rocks and used baseball bats to break down the wall of windows that was the front of the church. We were all terrified. Thank the gods, no one was hurt seriously. No one was ever caught or prosecuted, though. Today, at the age of 13, she is still fearful of the words "gay", "bisexual", etc. being used in public for fear that someone will hurt us. At the age of 11, she quit girl scouts. On girl scout Sunday, the minister at the Quaker church where her scout troup met did a whole diatribe about how lesbigays were bad and going to hell. This so infuriated her that she would never go back. I can go on and on with similiar stories, but, I think that you've got the point. One out of every 3 successful teen suicides (not attempts, successes) are attributed to questions of sexuality. Doesn't that scare you enough to want our children to have a safe haven, whether they are UUs or homeschooled or not, that they can turn to in our congregations? We are not in the same cat agory as NASCAR fans. They cannot loose their children for their love of racing. Pro wrestling enthusists will not be fired for their love of the sport. But, these are all a reality for my daughter and I. As they are for other families whose parents are not "normal" heterosexuals.

    That must have been a hard letter to write. Thanks for reminding all of us that when we talk about a program such as Welcoming Congregation, we're talking about the lives of real people. If we aren't truthful about the things we are ashamed of though, we won't hear stories like yours that help us keep our perspective.

    I meant no offense in my comments about the welcoming congregation sign. Perhaps I have a problem with the sign in our particular church because it seems like an empty promise.

    And I did not mean to equate society pressures on NASCAR lovers to society pressures on lesbigay (thanks for the new word) lovers. My point is that true acceptance sometimes means that it is not necessary to point it out, i.e. if I accept you for the way you live, do I really need to put up a sign? Obviously, in your community things are pretty bad for you, and perhaps the answer is yes.

    But if the real effect of the sign is to prevent someone from inviting others to her home church, because she fears their reaction to the sign, what's the point of the sign?

    I'm just asking, but is a haven what you have/seek in your church? I honor that, and would never mean to suggest you give it up to please anyone else.

    I understand what C. was saying though. The almost identical question was brought up at our church during the Welcoming Congregation process. It shouldn't matter to anyone what occurs between consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom. I'm thinking of a wonderful couple who work with our youth group. They have two children beautiful children who have two Mommies. They are so much more than lesbian...they are scuba divers, parents, business people, hikers, dog owners. By specifically naming them lesbian, we are setting them apart from the rest of the community and making their sexual orientation seem more important than all the other parts of them.

    Also, not only is it something to think about when inviting people to our church, but there is actual fear that the group that bombed the gay night club might target our church. My daughter was talking about her fears about that just last night. However, we both still agreed that our church is doing the right thing. With so much hate, we need to speak our love loudly and clearly...even when it is dangerous. Maybe one day, we will live in a society that doesn't define people by their sexuality or skin color. Then we won't need to specifically state that we welcome lesbigays.

    >I can go on and on with similiar stories, but, I think that you've got the point. One out of every 3 successful teen suicides (not attempts, successes) are attributed to questions of sexuality. Doesn't that scare you enough to want our children to have a safe haven, whether they are UUs or homeschooled or not, that they can turn to in our congregations?

    Bless you A. Even though we are a Wecoming Congregation, I still worry that we still aren't a safe haven for everyone...I guess we are safer than most, but we still have a lot of work to do. I have been struggling with the youth group putting each other down by calling each other gay or telling gay jokes. They hear it at school so much, they don't even think about it...its so much a part of their culture. There is also some misinformation and maybe a little fear. The kids know I am on a crusade and watch themselves around me, but just keeping their mouths clean around me is not enough.

    My junior high RE class had a discussion with the lesbigay couple who work with the youth. The couple know all the gay jokes and they think it is funny when they walk into a room and they can tell when someone is telling a gay joke because of the pause in conversation. They went through a lot of self hate and then acceptance in dealing with the issue in themselves. These little faux pas are small potatos to them. But I hate it and am embarrassed for us. On the other hand, the kids love and respect these people without reservation. When the kids call each other "gay" they aren't thinking about these warm loving people because they don't really think of these people as being gay. They are so much more than their sexual orientation.

    I teach a workshop designed to work with teens. I have taught it at Welcoming Congregation Conferences and Youth Advisor Training retreats. It is a lot of fun, but really hits home for these kids. I am getting ready to do the workshop at our church with the middle schoolers. If you want the information about doing it at your church, I can send you some information. 2 books that I highly recommend to help both you and your kids understand are "Two Teenagers in Twenty" and "Homophobia: How We All Pay The Price". I use these as primary resources in the workshop. I have taught RE to teenagers for more years that I care to remember. Many of my former students are adults now. I am proud that we created an environment where these young people felt love and acceptance. I have even had one come back to me and tell me that he had, on more than one occasion, considered taking his own life because of his sexual orientation. But, thanks to the love and acceptance that he got from us that he still cannot find within his own family, he has made it. We are so much more than our sexual orientation. But, when we are in danger everyday because of it, it makes it difficult to think that others love us because they don't think of us as gay. It will only be when the heterosexuals come together with us, as the whites did with the blacks in the Civil Rights movement, as the Christians did with the Jews against the Nazis, that the homophobes will learn to keep silent and, possibly, realize that they may be wrong.

    >But if the real effect of the sign is to prevent someone from inviting others to her home church, because she fears their reaction to the sign, what's the point of the sign?

    So, by taking down the sign, we can be more welcoming to fundamentalists, and if that makes us a little less welcoming to LesBiGay uu's then that's just too bad? Aren't the priorities a little screwed up here?

    I do have a problem with people saying, "I don't really think of them as gay...they are so much more than lesbian." Remember that what you're talking about is NOT just "what I do in the privacy of my bedroom." You're talking about who my family is, and part of my deepest identity. It sounds like what we liberal whites used to say, "I don't think of her as being black." Well, why were we eliminating from our perception of that person a wonderful, rich part of her being? When I told my best friend in college that I "didn't see her as black," I was deeply insulting her--saying that her blackness was a bad thing that should be overlooked or ignored. When those teenagers make jokes that put down gay people, while not thinking of that couple they respect as gay, you're right that they still have a problem. They are NOT "loving and respecting these people without reservation." They are loving and respecting them while ignoring the fact that they're gay, and they still have the idea that there's something wrong with that difference.

    I agree that maybe someday we will have a society in which differences in sexual orientation, as well as all other differences between people, will be seen as wonderful and interesting and no big deal. As you say, we're far from that place now! And we'll be there, NOT just when the hatred and violence stops, but when no-one assumes that they or anyone else is heterosexual. Remember that if you "don't see me as lesbian," then you're seeing me as heterosexual--which blots out part of me.

    You know, I went through the fear that being open would bring on more hatred in 1992 when we fought off a terrible measure in Oregon--one that would have put into our state constitution a statement that homosexuality is perverse and abnormal. Before that campaign I was much more in the closet than I am now, and I started out terrified. By the end of the year I had discovered that the more out I am, the more out we all are, the safer I felt. And the many, many churches and other community groups who came out loud and clear supporting us (in spite of very real danger) have changed my views about my community forever.

    There is an awful lot of hate in our state. One metro county passed a resolution to discourage gay and lesbians from living there. A few months ago a gay bar was bombed. I think our congregation needs to make a statement of love and support to counter some of the hate and hysteria out there. When the voice of hate is so loud, you need to declare your love in a loud voice as well. I think it is right that we have a plaque, I just don't think it would go over well in the homeschool community. We have been talking about a dance since last spring; someone has offered to let us use their church, but they haven't followed through; our UU church is centrally located and the income would be nice for our congregation. It seems it would work out perfectly. I guess just as long as I have everyone's share of the expenses before they see our plaque and walk out in horror, there should be no problem. Maybe I should take a risk.

    On the other hand, I made a list of all the commitments I have this fall and it pretty overwhelming. I think I need to direct my energy into things that will make a difference. I don't think confronting the homeschool community is going to make a difference.

    When I signed off my local homeschool e-mail list, I thought that I was destroying any hope of a social life for my kids. However, just a few minutes later I got a call about an week long acting workshop for my kids that will turn into an acting troupe for homeschoolers that meet once a week. Also, I got a call from a chorus my daughter is interested in. They want her to join an ensemble group of older teens. We'll be alright after all.

    I just feel heartsick about those poor infants who's mothers think they are teaching them they aren't the center of the universe. The poor infant isn't even cognizant that the universe is something separate from their person. It is hard to just agree to disagree when innocent children are being harmed. I think the systematic breaking of a child's will into submission is harmful (and this curriculum says right up front that that is the goal) agreement to disagree about this with me. I HATE it. I think it is HORRIBLE. I can't change it, though. I can decide NOT to support them and just change the topic of conversation to soccer teams and homeschool ballet.

    Maybe we need to be "loud" about our acceptance of gays and lesbians to be heard over the death threats, abuse, discrimination and social shunning that the "love your neighbor as yourself" crowd scream from the pulpit and curriculums to their children. Jews and gypsys all went to the camps thinking that this could not happen in "todays" world and surely someone will hear us and help.......................

    I am Romanian gypsy and I have vowed to never go quietly again. They will surely destroy those that walk with the devil. Sir I believe that is us no matter how we try to make our message of acceptance "quiet". If it is too quiet then what good is it?

    Our views are in direct opposition of theirs and we are raising children on a parallel lines of belief........parallel lines never intersect..........

    "First they came for the homosexuals and I was silent ..."

    I don't think I was saying that silent acceptance of gay men and lesbians is the best way to fight violence against homosexuals. And perhaps I have not seen and have certainly not experienced the hate that you all describe.

    Creeping hatred can grow to engulf a society, and laws like Diana described to "discourage" gays and lesbians from a "community" sound an awfully lot like Germany in the 1930's. (I just read "Maus" for the first time ...)

    Perhaps as a white man of English and German ancestry I won't experience the threats and violence that Jews and gypsys have, at least if I stay in this country, and hide my earth-centered spiritual beliefs. Perhaps as a white man I _must_ add my voice to yours, in opposition to those who would destroy those who "walk with" their devil. But it's so easy to let it slide...

    As a lesbian homeschooler I have to say that you need to understand what that Welcoming Congregation sign means to me. Wherever I go, whatever group I enter, I can never be quite sure if I and my family will be accepted. Maybe most people will be friendly; maybe some people will keep their distance or try to keep their kid from playing with mine; maybe someone will say something hurtful and offensive to me. Maybe someone really thinks I should have my child taken away, or that I should be dead. I have to be on guard all the time (or else hide and lie about my family, a course that feels so emotionally unhealthy that I rarely take it any more). But when I see that sign, I know that the people in that congregation have worked through their issues about homosexuality and are ready to welcome me. I can relax. I can focus on getting to know people, finding out what we have in common, opening up and offering my gifts to the group.

    If you happen to be heterosexual and therefore approved by the mainstream in your relationships and family, you can't understand what this is like. I joined this list partly because I assumed I would be accepted here as a lesbian. I have to say that your post has made me feel much less safe here. What you said made me feel that you would rather not put out to the world that you accept and welcome people like me. That's pretty clear. I know other people on this list probably don't feel this way. But I need you to know that your hesitance to be openly welcoming can hurt real live people like me.

    Another sideline on the issue of whether homeschoolers of alternative values feel comfortable in fundamentalist homeschooling groups: that's not an issue for our family! We wouldn't be welcome in these groups, even if we did decide to deal with the differences in values! I know that I'm extremely lucky to have an eclectic, alternative homeschooling group here, so that I don't have the same problem. (We chose this alternative college town on purpose!) And no, I don't spend time around people who "would despise us and cast us down." I get enough of that from the media.

    Please understand that I am searching for my own understanding here. I feel very badly that you feel less safe on this list because of my comments. I need you to share your perspective with me, because you are absolutely right - I cannot, through personal experience, know what it is like for you. I did not participate in the discussions in our church leading to the adoption of the welcoming congregation status. Your comments are helping me understand.

    This is what I am understanding: For you, when you enter an unfamiliar place, for your own safety you must make the assumption that you will not be welcome, or that you may be harmed. In a UU church, if you see a sign or a notice in an order of service that it is a welcoming congregation, then you can feel a little bit safer.

    Am I getting close?

    Being of earth based spirituality (me too) you too are automatically on the hate list. I have family memory to keep me vigilant I hope the Goddess keeps you vigilant.....some believe the dark times are near.

    Yes, you've got it! Thank you so much for listening!

    I've not been a member long at our fellowship, much I don't know about it's history. I keep missing newcomer meetings. But I do know this cause he personally said so. One of our gay members is out with more than us largly cause of the welcome he got with our fellowship. Since he was supported with us, it gave him the courage to come out with others. :-} He has been open with praise for this group and it's support. That was before I got there. Our fellowship has a reputation for being welcoming, period. Diversity period, whether sexual orientation or religious views or what.

    A couple of Sundays ago, one of our guests said that she was entering the seminary, our welcomes inspired her. I don't know her sexual orientation, it's just an example of a welcoming fellowship. I do know that our visitor chair person personally phoned me, and invited me to many things. She was not pushy, but she did really do a great job trying to include me in functions even though I didn't attend fellowship that much.

    I personally know they are with us pagans. They don't care if I'm purple or pagan. Being pagan is not unlike being gay. I'm not saying I know how anyone feels as a person, or group, no one can. But pagans and gays have much in common. We also live so much of our lives in closets. Having to hide out and not talk. Having a cherished natural part of us being treated like it was a horrible dangerous contagous thing that would convert others and send them to hell. Having to not wear a pentagram, a symbol of faith easliy and naturally like christians wear their crosses. Another hiding out and devalueing ourselves. To do so would open us up to the burning times in countless places. Having to not know that our inward feelings and beliefs can cause us physical harm and disownment, lost jobs ect.

    At our UU, I wear my pentagram, and even had my picture taken with it on. I'm a legitimate person there, I have a legitimate religion there, I have meaning and worth there, my spirituality is as good there as christianity, agnostics, atheists, buddhists, ect. How many other places, and with other people than UU's or other pagans can pagans say that?! Not many, trust me. It has given me support in other areas of life, the confidence in who I am has helped me more than words can say. I'm proud to be UU and pagan, and proud of my fellowship at Waco Texas. So believe me, when you show an interest in welcoming visitors at a UU felllowship or church, you never know what you are helping to set into motion for that person! Profound self worth!

    A couple of days after Ellen came out on her tv show, I was at an Adult RE committee meeting. Somebody brought up the show, and another person said she didn't watch it and couldn't see what all the hoopla was about. Another said, what difference does it make anyway, if Ellen is gay. I think they meant to be accepting of it. I said it made a big difference to me, because my brother is gay and it's important to me that people see homosexuality as just another way humans are. I truly believe that we have to see something in order to accept it. We have to see famous people who, while they aren't necessarily unafraid, can stand in the public eye and be gay and normal.

    What's too bad is that we need Welcoming Congregation. Until most places are safe (none of us are safe every place) for our gay and lesbian friends, we need to shine a light on ourselves, showing that we are a safe place. Prejudice and hate won't go away if we ignore them. They go away when we show that love and acceptance is a better way.

    Yes, UU is the only place I'm out too. And speaking of acceptance, One of our members had a conversation with his teenage son. He told him, "Dad, I'm ok with you being gay, but do you have to be a vegetarian?"

    My partner and I are home-schooling her 9 yo grandson. (At 64 am I the only Crone on the list?) I am a DRE at a UU church. She doesn't go to church - organized religion gives her a rash, she says, but is very supportive of my work there, does graphic work for me, and has, on rare occasions even sung at a service I have done. She also designed and donated space for the church website. We are both pagans. The Welcoming Church is a moot factor for her, but for me it is quite significant.

    Our church is not an official WelCon (the initials don't work too well). We do, however, have several open lesbians, including myself. They knew about my life when they hired me and the question never came up. I do feel safe here. It's a small church - about 35 kids in RE - and we are like family.

    The last church I was active in was a strange experience. I came out there several years before the WelCon, while I was leading an adult AYS program. I hadn't planned to come out, but there were questions I couldn't answer from the closet. When another member of the group came out he was asked about children. He had no answers from his experience and I did. I couldn't listen to some of the comments and spoke up. Most people were accepting or even supportive, but from others (mostly outside the AYS group) I sensed an attitude of, "UUs are accepting, I am a UU, so they are accepting for me. I don't have to pay anymore than lip-service to this issue." They would be as friendly as ever, but when a group of us gathered around a table at a party, they were always on the other side of the table. When you're afraid, nuances shout.

    On the other hand, there was the woman who took my kids in the other room and played games with them so my then lover and I could dance together. Some were honest about their discomfort, and some men seemed to find it a bit erotic. It was like trying to find my way through a mine field. I never knew if I could trust some people. Would someone try to short circuit my career or try to get my children taken away? The process one goes through to become a Welcoming Congregation ensures that the issues have been discussed, misconceptions dispelled, and that this is indeed a safe place.

    Our congregation is in the process of becoming a Welcoming Congregation. For the past several years my family has been very involved in the Lesbigay community as supportive straights. I have learned a great deal. The issue of sexual orientation is not only a bedroom issue. I am able to talk about my husband to others with their acceptance and understanding. If we were not straight that would not be possible in many settings. If you are straight, try going through one day and not refer to any part of your personal life as a straight person (in other words, closet yourself). This means no references to wife, husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, etc. You can not hold hands, greet with a kiss, or in any way demonstrate any sign of closeness and intimacy. Your children will not be able to show off with pride the gifts brought back from a business trip by your partner because they would then "out" you. Imagine not being able to take the necessary time off work because your partner has died and no one at work knows you were a couple. (We have watched this happen too many times in our circle of friends.) We have tried this experiment and boy is it tough! We are willing to put ourselves in jeopardy along with our lesbigay friends by going to the gay bars with them, attending Gay Pride marches and placing pink triangles and rainbow flags on our vehicles and place of business. Our simply being there is supportive to them and lets our friends know that we want to share in all of their life. They in turn share in ours by being friends to our children, and helping and supporting us during difficult times.

    Our children have learned to be very accepting and supportive of others with any differences because of their involvement with the lesbigay community. I have seen them stand up to homophobic remarks made by friends. My son has been the only friend to an openly gay classmate at the tender age of 13. To the point that when his family kicked him out he lived with us for 6 months. My son took quite a bit of heat at school, to the point of being label as gay himself. This has been a true learning experience for my entire family. We want our friends and their children to know that this family is a safe place to visit and share their lives.

    I hope I don't offend anyone by my position. I have noticed in some of the postings a pronounced leaning toward heterosexism. When my son is old enough to date girls -- When my daughter gets interested in boys -- or similar statements. This is a natural attitude. However, you are home schooling your children because you think it is best for them. Do you realize that if your son is Gay or your daughter is Lesbian you may be doing irreparable damage to them? It WILL happen to someone on this list, statistically 10% of your home schooled children will be Gay or Lesbian. It is not enough to say Gay is OK or to have Gay friends or to speak out against homophobia. You are sub-consciously sending the message that it is NOT OK for your children, only for your friends. I was aware of my sexuality at the age of seven! Some of you have said you are home schooling because your children have difficulty socializing with their peers. Perhaps that is because they are different! Perhaps that is because they are Gay or Lesbian! And remember, heterosexism is a subtle form of homophobia in and of itself. It does no good to speak out against homophobia if you are practicing it yourself however subtly.

    Just to let you all know on this issue that there is a second Welcoming Congregation in the works -- a kind of" what to do after you've done the initial work" -- you're right, the issue has to be kept alive and people kept up with issues and feelings. A plaque on the wall is not enough.

    Also Keith Kron (head of the Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgendered office of the UUA and a dear friend of mine) is getting ready to re-write the initial Welcoming Congregation to update it and to include stuff about transgendered people.

    If anyone has any comments about the Welcoming Congregation materials, please forward them to me privately and I'll make sure Keith gets them.

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    Youth & Young Adults

    We are lucky to have a secular homeschool group in our area. We are just so spread out all over the city it is hard to get things accomplished. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth the trouble. Most of the activities are for littler kids. There is a teen group that is pretty active that is a combination of our secular group and a christian group, but my kids haven't been too interested. If it wasn't for YRUU, they probably wouldn't socialize much with age peers.

    We are all really active in YRUU..there are 60 youth enrolled in the program and we do a lot. So far, we are the only homeschoolers in our congregation, but I have had people stop me and ask questions...some of the kids also ask a lot of questions and I have had quite a few express a strong interest. It makes me nervous to talk too much to the kids because I don't want to cause family problems. I supplied a bunch of literature and catalogs to one mom and she has decided to homeschool next year...that will be neat.

    >I don't know why I never noticed it before, but there are very few members in the 18-24 age range...In a congregation of over 1,000, I could count them on three fingers. It's really strange because there are several colleges in the area. Since then I have talked to others and they all say about the same thing. I really think this separation between the youth and adults has a lot to do with it. When they get too old for YRUU, they have not developed any ties with the larger community and drop out. This age range doesn't represent much in the way of pledge money, but they are the future. I would rather have a church composed of a committed community than a church that is constantly filled with people coming and going...does that make sense.

    You're right. Just a couple years ago UUA noticed this problem and started a push toward creating Young Adult groups, but these groups generally go all the way to age 35, so depending on the church, that might not be a comfortable place for 18 yo either. Does your church have a Young Adult group? The UUA's says: "YRUU serves all Unitarian Universalist youth ages 14-20 in North America." Of course it's up to each church, district, etc. to set their own age groupings. some still have 12 yo's in YRUU whereas others have formed Junior YRUU groups. Youth ages 18 - 20 make good assistant leaders in YRUU. Someone should talk to the RE Committee about this, unless you have a special Youth Programs Committee (over 1000! - you could have all kinds of things for everyone!).

    >>I don't know why I never noticed it before, but there are very few members in the 18-24 age range...

    My daughter was in our church's very active youth group for several years. They were a very tight, well-bonded group and though they made lots of very human mistakes, I can look at all of them with genuine affection. I felt it was a mistake the way that they were all booted out of the youth group at graduation. They really hadn't changed so suddenly in their needs, and this left them without this kind of support. I have noticed that there is a natural change in their church/social scene as they enter college and grow away from home. Wouldn't it be better to let this stage end more gradually and naturally? I know this makes for difficulties in saying just where it should end--and difficult to know when to put the younger teens in with them. I'm still pondering this one! My daughter has felt unhappy about being kept away from dear friends who are just a year or two younger just because she had graduated. We don't have hard rules about what ages of adults are allowed to be together! I think that without strict age guidelines, this would naturally solve itself, since, as they grow in age and experience, they will be drawn to those with experiences they can relate to. She also has been struggling with her involvement with Young Adults. The group she has been involved with govern themselves, which I can understand--yet, I am disturbed with what I see. They have had one young woman in charge for several years longer than the term should be, and this woman has already passed the upper age limit for that group. She seems to be using her position there to have power and the group has become exclusive--even to the point of voting for who they will let in! I think this is outrageous! Their reason for this is that they had a bad experience a few years ago with a member who was difficult. I wish they could have guidance and advice--to let everyone into the group in good "Unitarian" style, and if there are difficulties, deal with them and learn from them! As I rant here (sorry!) I realize that some of this difficulty lies in our "school mentality." We are so used to having children segregated by age, whereas our homeschooled children are used to socializing with all ages.

    >You're right. Just a couple years ago UUA noticed this problem and started a push toward creating Young Adult groups, but these groups generally go all the way to age 35, so depending on the church, that might not be a comfortable place for 18 yo either. Does your church have a Young Adult

    Ahh, this is a sad holdover of the public school mentality of forcing children into age segregated classrooms. We see it all the time. Among homeschoolers children play with younger and older children while their public school counterparts are saying "yuk" to such and idea.

    I agree with you. School is a type of community (although unnatural and definitely undemocratic). I think the trick is to make sure that your kids have other opportunities to be part of other communities. This might be an acting community that is centered around the neighborhood theater or the community of docents at the local museum...or part of a church community.

    We are really working on bringing our YRUU kids more into the community at our church. It used to be that they were ushered into the basement and trotted out once a year for the Youth Service. Now they are taking their turn once a month serving coffee and taking part in the main worship service.

    I was so pleased this year by our coming of age ceremony. Last year it was a little add-on to a regular service that was totally unrelated. This year "coming of age" was the theme of the entire service. It was so wonderful. The sermon was about all the different "coming of age" events in a persons life. It was great and made the kids feel important rather than excess baggage.

    I just finished a lay ministry program and one of my duties is to take part in the worship service. I hate this part because public speaking is very painful for me, so instead I am coaching certain members of the youth group to get involved in my place. It is the perfect opportunity for these youth to show themselves and take their place as a member of the community. I'm really excited about the changes that have come about. Some of it has happened because of initiative I have taken, but most of it is serendipity and other people simultaneously having some of the same ideas.

    Anyway, this whole discussion is about something that we have been working on in our congregation independent of the homeschool issue. Young people have inherent worth and dignity...sometimes you have to remind UUs of that fact.

    >>I find living in harmony with teenagers a real challenge.

    >Oh, yes!! My oldest is 14 and life with her is getting very difficult. Someone please tell me how long this goes on?

    I'll take a stab at this one. Yes, it's been like the saying: I don't need drugs, I have teenagers, that's as far away from reality as I want to get. Or something like that. Like Joyce's daughter, mine started a little at 10. It was up and down over the years. This year, she is smoothing out some. It's been her first year of highschool, and her work has been practically independant of me. That's contributed to the new attitudes. Here's one too. Just take it for the spirit intended, not a prostilizing thing. :-} But when I've been more Goddess empowered lately, she has too, and she is having a spiritual growth spurt like me. That's really smoothed out things. I remember having those during the teenage years off and on myself. Intense stuff added to the other intense teenage stuff. Having that spritual element blend into us discovering ourselves. And we've been having more sisterhood contact with other pagan/witches. She's blossoming as a feminist. Although the expression blossomnig probalby makes some cringe.

    I noticed that when she was little, we would have to have a certain time together, doing things together. That was essential for her later in the day to feel satisified. I remember that if she didn't, it 'coincieded' with her being more restless, more irratible in the evening. Ok, outright bitchy. Without fail. We've always been close. If she had her time with others more, she would miss this time, and this always happened. She has always been psychic and sensitive to other's, and she would need the time to unwind from them. If she didn't have it, there were difficult evenings.

    Now, it's been the other way around. If she doesn't get her alone time, same thing. And since homeschooling, that's way more important. She's got to have her time away from me, and everybody, and then she's fine. There's got to be that balance. Neither hermit nor social butterfly.

    This has been my daughter, if that helps anyone else with theirs.

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