Category Archives: Homeschooling

Family Values; Rolling with the Punches

Otto and Mimi

The last couple months have presented some financial challenges for our tiny family unit.  The three of us have made decisions that place us in a different kind of living situation–we share space with my parents.  It’s not the first time my husband, John, and I have chosen this route.  It is, however, the first time we’ve done it with a child.  The constant for our decisions emanate from our family values, which drive our need to help our parents and vise-a-verse, as issues present themselves.

We both come from backgrounds where we learned family is priority.  As kids, we didn’t participate in much beyond our family gatherings, like after school clubs, sleep overs, and team sports.  Rather, weekend outings, vacations, and competition were kept within our family and fostering individuality was at the forefront.  I say that is true for the most part.  We certainly had our extended family and friends in our lives and they played a large role — just on our turf.

I’m honored for the closeness my parents coveted for us kids.  John shares the same values and as an only child, his dynamic was much different from having four siblings to haggle with on a daily basis.  His energies spilled into individual sports, where he was a successful ski racer through college.  Together, we innately pass our value system to our son.

There’s value to be discovered with challenging times in life, as it builds a stronger family unit.  For now, we cope daily with the trivial frustrations, like the varying degree of cleanliness, dietary demands, and schedules from each part of the family.   While my parents get up at 3:00am to converse, which entails a political dissertation delivered by my father and followed by meaningful chatter–John, my son and I are trying to sleep.  I savor the late afternoons to prepare a family meal with the help of my eight year old son while sipping wine, it develops into a cornucopia of food–much too late for my parents‘ taste.  None of us stand our ground.  We do complain at times, but generally we flex.  We cope.  We roll with it.  For the alternative would drive us apart.  And right now, we need each other.

These kinds of situations don’t present themselves within the boundaries of classroom walls. These life lessons teach family bonds…their purpose, their strength, their love and the ability to to roll with the punches of life.

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home

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Home Grown Lessons

Otto

We ski and my kid knows nothing else between the months of December through April.  Living in a small, mountain town lends itself to snow skiing and we take full advantage of our benefits on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe.  The locals here don’t spend their time sleeping in when a strong storm blows through.  You’ll find us anxiously hiking a hill to get first tracks before the sun rises. We enjoy our first cup of coffee and a bowl of Cheerios after that.
Lessons in the pure enjoyment for a sport are those I coddle.  These are the lessons that, at times, are not planned and savor the phrase–carpe diem.  My eight year old son rolls with it, because he doesn’t know the alternative yet.  He understands the initial angst of dragging himself from between warm sheets and back into a pair of ski pants and a down jacket, has more to offer in the long run of his day.  He gets excited about the snow fall and boasts about powder skiing before he’s even on the snow with his sticks.  These are the mornings I revel, because I have the opportunity to teach my passion to my son.  It’s the easiest lesson.
On those days we have sunshine and groomed runs at our local resort, we run hot laps down our favorite run together.  I struggle to keep pace with my son, as he rips through the park, carves perfectly to a speedy stop…and waits patiently for me.  I’m out of breath when I get to him.  He smiles and takes off agin with a giggle.  There’s nothing better.
Fostering the joys of a sport you share with your children builds strong bonds between child and parent.  It’s the stuff you can’t teach in a classroom.  It’s the stuff you won’t find in a text book or on a test.  It’s the stuff that gets pushed aside sometimes, as our lives get busy.  It’s the stuff I reach for ever day.  I grab that time and spend it doing something my kid and I enjoy…together.
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home


What is homeschooling?

When people make polite conversation, it’s usually in a kid oriented forum.  I was sitting in the “viewing room” during my son’s gymnastics class the other night and I heard a woman’s voice behind me, “Which one is yours?”  As if he were a puppy in a pet store window.  While my eyes searched the immense, warehouse space splattered with trampolines, jumping tracks, gym bars and balance beams, I sighted my son on the ground level trampoline in his bright red, t-shirt and it triggered my delayed response, “He’s the kid in the red shirt…umm…with the full head of dreads.”  The woman didn’t take a breath, “Oh, he’s young but obviously very talented.”  I thought Well of course he is talented.  He’s my son.

The woman sat next to me and we chatted quickly about the location of her kids.  The setting lent itself to education talk, which is exactly the topic that ensued.  It made me reflect upon who I am as a homeschool parent.  I ponder the variety of degrees that exist, but never did I have a specific label for it.  Apparently, according to the woman at gymnastics class–her name is Kathy–I am a ‘deschooler.‘  Hmmm.  She, on the other hand, is a ‘homeschooler.‘  Now that I have these labels as part of my repertoire for the discipline of education, I instantly formed a stereotype of myself; I’m the mom who allows my kid to loaf around the house in his pajamas all day, dappling with Wii, watching cartoons, and playing fetch with the dog….Wait!  My kid has a schedule.  In fact, he’s so scheduled I have spent time trying to de-schedule further so he has time for himself, to work on a puzzle, play a game, or even play Wii for a spell.  We do not, however, have a television, so that’s not an option.  Really what we do is fit the academics around his developmental need to bounce, move fast, flip, and flop.  Many parents of boys and active girls will agree when I say, “Feed the energy of your young child and the academics will follow.”  For now, that works for us.

I discovered that I, in fact, do not know all the varying degrees of homeschooling that may exist.  I can only place my own interpretation on it as based on need.  A strong message to further, as it teaches self reliance in the process.  I think it’s best to consider homeschooling a life style, of which was introduced to me by my sister.  She and her husband had a preconceived notion of the life style they wanted for their boys.  Therefore, they followed suit to incorporate the academics coupled with their free style skiing venture for the next few years.  I, on the other hand, walked into homeschooling out of what I sensed as dire need.  I dedicated my career to education as a teacher and administrator and realized I had no business passing my child off to teachers under my charge.  How silly!

From classroom, to homeschooling, to unschooling and potentially anything in between, before, or after…the beauty of homeschooling is untraditional and not part of the mainstream.  It truly is that which is part of your life style.  

Inspired by my conversation with Kathy and information found on at http://www.essortment.com/parenting-styles-unschooling-vs-home-schooling-40561.html

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator


Fostering Choice for Learning…

The most important life lesson I’ve learned in my 17 years as an educator is “education is profoundly individual.”  Less mainstream, but reflective of a growing trend, is the school of thought embracing the one school classroom where family and community values are intertwined with academics to create a strong fiber for life.  These are homeschool and private cooperative learning options.  Although misunderstood in the past, homeschooling and private cooperatives are delivering salient learning opportunities, furthering family/community values, and children with these foundations are being targeted by college and university recruiters across the nation.  Homeschooling and private cooperatives are choice opportunities for children.

There exists a strong bond between parents and their children in a homeschool setting, one that leads to small, cooperative learning environments. I discovered this several years ago in my search for the best academic environment for my son.  I discovered a simple formula.  Educational goals bound by unity and that maintain purity are successful learning outlets for children.  Small classrooms with collaboration between parents and at times using licensed teachers, in a homelike environment strengthen the potential to yield independent, high achieving children who earn choice for higher learning opportunities.

For me, the value in choice for education evolved from my involvement with homeschooling and cooperatives.  They exist in a symbiotic relationship.  For example, parents who homeschool without an educational background may seek support for how to teach, and there are those who want the guidance through transitioning out of the mainstream thought and understanding  a fundamental method for learning at home.  Further, cooperatives can incorporate a more structured logic behind teaching a child with licensed professionals and resources, while homeschooling represents the unique strength from mother and father–to child; fostering self reliance.  Both are ultimately dependent on all parents who are the driving force for defining ethics for education and parent-teachers as the guidance for real life, learning experiences.

Homeschooling and private cooperatives are dependent upon home, community, and the world as a classroom by nature of their existence.  Therefore, by nature, their dependence becomes individualized and developmentally appropriate environments considered learning pinnacles, rather than a standard.  These smaller settings have the advantage for fostering deeper understanding of concepts and encouraging children to achieve at their own developmental level because the learning environment allows it.  Essentially, more time is devoted to concepts because these settings have time to spare. WIth time, developmental levels naturally co-mingle into multi-age, cooperative contexts, where children share leadership and learner roles.  ‘Grade levelsʼ are blurred, suggesting not every child is successful at the same rate and may be more successful in one content area over another at any given time.  The cooperative setting recognizes this because it is a flexible one.

Coveting choice doesn’t necessarily mean a plethora of different institutionalized modes for educating children.  Rather, it can be instilled in our children’s lives as they progress through learning in life, whereby choice is the gift we grant.  My father once said to me, “If you don’t have choice, you have to submit.”  I’m dedicated to fostering choice as a continued option in my child’s life, as the alternative is nothing.

Mom, Educator

Sabrina Albrecht


Reflections from an educator…

Browsing for books at the local thrift stores, used selections from amazon.com, or trading with friends and coupling them with audio book pairs down loaded on-line, can be an inexpensive approach for building your own visual/audio library that is kid specific.

Children crave the visual as indicative of the technological world they live.  Therefore, reading old school style can be challenging for homeschool educators at times.  Research shows that listening to a variety of oral readings is key to developmentally appropriate reading skills including:  tracking, fluency, intonation, and speed.

I recently picked up a Roal Dahl series for my eight year old, which are a wee bit beyond his developmental reading level, but he loves the stories!  So, in addition to mom and dad readings, I purchased the audio book pair for under $5 each.  Because it’s a new context, I’m realizing he takes his reading time very seriously as he concentrates on careful listening in order to keep pace with the narrator.  I’m learning that for him to hold the book on his own while experiencing a different voice and using his very special ‘ear candy’ headphones, is prompting him to read on his own AND more often.  That’s a recipe for an independent reader.

Reflections from an educator, Mom