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Friday, July 14, 2017

Are We Destroying Our Kids’ Privacy on Social Media?

The other day, my 17-year-old son took my breath away. He said that he was glad that he was little back before it was the norm to post about all the cute things that kids do on Facebook. 

Ouch.

Now, I take what my kids say to me seriously and this is a serious kid. He went on to say that he felt like there was no privacy anymore. Everyone was posting on the internet what they had for dinner or what cute thing their kid did or what dumb thing their kid did…

kids privacy-001

Let me pause here for a moment to say that the irony that the fact that I am sharing a summary of this conversation on my blog is not lost on me, but bear with me here. Because that’s immediately what I thought of first…not the cute pictures of messy faces on Facebook…the blog posts.

A number of years ago, someone posted on a homeschool forum this sentiment: those who blog about their homeschool and their kids are violating their children’s trust and privacy. At the time I didn’t think too much about it, because I try really hard to write my story on this blog, not my children’s stories. I figure that their stories are theirs to tell. And while I do sometimes share something that they wrote or drew or whatever, I generally ask permission before I do that, because I know that I am sharing someone else’s property and I need their permission to do that.

Generally the kids are all like “yes, please!” and when they say, “please don’t” I respect that. What is the point of asking for permission if you are going to ignore a “no” answer? Generally speaking, my kids were happy that I talked about our homeschooling on the blog.

But Facebook tends to be a different kettle of worms. I think that’s because typically when I post to Facebook, I’m only posting to my friends, whereas if I post to my blog, I’m conceivably posting to the whole world (not that I have any illusions that the whole world will see it).  When I post to Facebook, I think of it as posting to close friends and family, kind of like how I might talk to close friends and family when we get together anyway. And I don’t ask first.

The thing is…when you have almost 300 Facebook friends, it isn’t just close friends and family. It’s a whole bunch of other people, too.

Of course, you can break up your Facebook list and just post to segments of it. How many of us do that unless we have a pressing need to do so?

The truth is that I feel guilty. I think I may have overstepped some boundaries.

My intentions were good, but I wonder if sharing things about my kids both here and elsewhere has just been a bad thing to do. There are a lot of reasons I do share:

  1. To remember!  I cannot tell you the number of things that I have forgotten that I thought I could not forget. And then Facebook reminds me of a picture I posted 5 years ago or a cute kid event. And I remember it as though it were yesterday.
  2. To encourage and share with other parents who are going through the same challenges I am.
  3. Because my kids did something funny, clever, and bone-headed and I want to share it with my friends who will appreciate it. And will pat me on the head and let me know that their kids do that stuff, too.

When we share things online, it’s different from talking to your Mom or your best girlfriend about it. It might be seen by anybody.  It’s also different from keeping a private journal or scrapbook, even though many of us treat blogs and social media pages like personal journals or scrapbooks.

And while my little kids want me to share stuff online (I guess they are little performers), it’s clear to me now that my almost adult kid has changed his mind about that. His perspective has changed, which makes perfect sense, because he’s grown up. He knows more now than he knew ten years ago or even 2 or 3 years ago.

Have we destroyed our kids privacy with social media?

Have we destroyed our own privacy as well? And if so, how has this changed the way we live? And what should we do about it?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hands-On American History with Home School in the Woods, a review

Home School in the Woods is a company that has made a name for itself in the homeschool community by delivering quality, hands-on history studies and supplements for kiddos just itching to learn stuff by doing stuff. I recently had the opportunity to try out and review Colonial Life from the Time Travelers American History series with my creative crew, and they are having a great time with it.

ColonialLife-CoverWithCD

Time Travelers American History Study: Colonial Life

suggested grades: 3-8

available on cd or as a digital download

Colonial Life contains 25 lessons, with every 5th lesson being a “project day” for finishing up any unfinished projects. The other 20 lessons each have informational text to read (typically 2-3 pages), followed by instructions for completing various projects including: beautifully detailed paper crafts, recipes, penmanship, science experiments, a newspaper, a diorama, instructions for making various historical crafts, and more.  If your kids are always begging you to do more hands-on projects or arts and crafts, Colonial Life schedules that all in for you and provides all your instructions. You just need to shop for the necessary supplies.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

2016-2017 Homeschool Wrap-Up

Now that we’ve had a little time off(ish), I wanted to take a look at how our year went. If I wait until August, I’m liable to forget some of the details, so this is the perfect time to go over it all. It’s also the perfect time to work on my 17-year-old’s transcript---in just a couple short months, he will be applying to colleges, so there’s no time like the present to get it ready. This post will focus primarily on the academic side of things---it’s so hard to quantify the non-academic side.

2016-2017 Homeschool Wrap-Up at Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Here we go.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Why We Don’t Homeschool Year Round

Emma knocks on the door and says, “Peter, do you want to take a trip to Oz?”

The summer pretends are in full swing here at our house.  The children spend most of these hot, sultry days pursuing their personal interests. The 17-year-old is writing a short story and reading Flannery O’Connor when he’s not super gluing his drone back together, practicing driving, or helping with yard work. The youngest has pulled out another board game and made up her own rules to play it with the stuffed animals. She loved spending the week at VBS with her friends. The middle kids have disappeared upstairs and are working on something. I’m sure I’ll hear about it eventually. Or not.

Why We Don't Homeschool Year Round at Homeschooling Hearts & MindsAs important as it is for our family to make sure that our children are well-educated, I realized a number of years ago that becoming educated doesn’t just happen in the planned moments. In fact, most of education probably happens in the unplanned moments.

Now, the word education means different things to different people. For some, it will mean being able to read, write, and do arithmetic. For others, it mean being trained for a profession. But there is a whole spectrum of meanings and connotations attached to the word (and more than one official dictionary definition), so I’ll share with you my working definition of education (courtesy of dictionary.com):

the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge,developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life

Notice that education is as much about becoming educated as it is about being educated. And that it’s not all about academics. Sure, academics play an integral part, but are they the most important part?

Is learning to care for others less important than learning the math facts? Certainly not, and yet that’s something we learn by being with others and not necessarily through a lesson plan. That’s not to say that math should be neglected in favor of developing compassion---it’s not an either/or proposition. Rather, either family needs to find the right balance of academics and daily living.

For our family, that means we take a summer break from homeschooling.

That doesn’t mean that we abandon all academic pursuits for a couple of months. It means that the academic pursuits take a backseat to other things. So, while we may play some math games or read some history, these are just a small part of what we do all day.

Other families will have different ways of finding this balance, and that’s as it should be. Part of the reason we homeschool is because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all way to live and learn. There was a time that we did homeschool year round and with younger children having that predictable routine in place can be a real blessing.

As the children have gotten older, though, it has been an equal blessing to give them more and more free time to pursue their special passions and interests. Change can be a good thing, so be sure to reevaluate your homeschool each year to see if what you are doing is still working for your family.

Do you homeschool year round?

I’d love to hear what works for your family---please share in the comments!