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Volume 4 Issue 3
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Volume 4 Issue 1

Editorial: Labels, labels, labels

by Mary Leppert

For the last several months, Michael, my husband and I, have been working on a book about homeschooling. It will come out in the early summer and will be called The Homeschooling Almanac 2000. The book will be a resource guide for those new-to-homeschooling as well as an excellent resource guide for those already homeschooling. It will have a state-by-state listing including the homeschooling laws, groups to contact, pertinent phone numbers, etc. It will also include "how-to" information about all the different methods of homeschooling. There will be many products listed as resources along with over $500 of discount coupons relating to those products. We were able to show products in our book that are usually unknown to the general public and therefore available only to education "insiders" -- teachers, schools and school districts. Now they will be more easily available to homeschoolers. The Almanac will also have an excellent interview with David Colfax in which he delves deeply into his philolophy of education. It is an excellent interview! There are also several very interesting interviews with homeschooling parents and two grown homeschoolers -- one in college, the other a pilot-in-training in the Air Force.

While working on the book and conducting these interviews, I found it curious that many people who use the same label for their style of homeschooling -- such as "unschooling" varied broadly in their actual practices. It has been making me think about how necessary labels really are. During the course of the interviews, some of the moms I interviewed, when I would ask them what type of homeschooler they considered themselves, (unschooler, school-at-home, eclectic) two or three said "I just homeschool my children, I don't consider myself as following any of those particular styles." As a result, I began to question if I could label what we do at our house. How do we homeschool? What is our philosophy? As I would ask myself these questions, the answer that kept coming back to me was "We're just parents. We teach our son what we think he needs to know; guide him in the ways we think he should grow."

Should I feel guilty for this? It has occurred to me that some homeschooling parents are too worried about telling their children what to do, or damaging creativity by teaching in a learning style that might not be appropriate. I am not saying that we shouldn't teach our children in the style that fits them or let them flourish in the things they are interested in. I am simply saying that we just need to loosen up and be parents and not be dictated to by labels!

For example, this might make some of you "unschoolers" out there cringe, but this week, I gave my son two workbooks and said "You have two weeks to finish these." I did this because he has an internal resistance to this kind of work and I feel he needs to overcome that resistance. A secondary point is that he is more than capable of completing either one of the workbooks in 20 minutes. So this is an example of my really looking at his character and ability and saying "This is what you need to work on." We don't do this sort of thing all of the time. We go weeks with him just reading every day. Most weeks, we do math about three times. During our conference season, we don't do anything that resembles "school" at all. He manages the crew stuffing the vending bags, fills out the bank deposit slips, stamps the checks, and various other "real-life" tasks that he is interested in. We are his parents, and we simply do the "parental approach." Sometimes it's a little unschooling, sometimes it's school-at-home, sometimes we're creative and it's eclectic . . . a veritable potpourri of edumication! A friend of mine related the other day that David Colfax once said "True education is a messy thing." We are definitely messy!

In this issue we have many great articles. Marsha Ransom will be writing a regular column called "Moments With Marsha"; an excellent piece by John Taylor Gatto "We Need Less School, Not More"; Dr. Oliver DeMille, whom you are probably familiar with by now; "Do You Dream In Pictures?" by Dr. Rene Fuller; Jackie Orsi gives us another "Grey Matters"; "Mae Cox's Cooking Column"; "Science Laurisa Style", our regular feature columns, and other valuable articles by homeschooling moms. I hope you enjoy this issue. Thank you for reading The Link.

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