Category Archives: Parenting

Jargonsmith Merge with Home Grown Hub

I am so happy to announce that Jargonsmith has merged with Home Grown Hub to offer learning opportunities for homeschooling families locally AND in blended learning environments on-line.  We are excited to be working with families across the US and beyond our boundaries, including Australia, Canada, the UK and even Spain.

We invite you to join us at www.homegrownhub.org AND check out our events, blogs, and courses!

Sign up to be on our email list so you don’t miss anything!!

Visit us on Facebook at  https://www.facebook.com/HomeGrownHub

We will be hosting Monday Homeschooling Discussions on FaceBook beginning June!  Don’t miss out!

Happy Homeschooling,

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home

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The Basque Table

The Basque Table

Basque of Northern Spain

The Basque Table is a borrowed title from author Teresa Barrenechea with Mary Goodbody

As we ready ourselves for Basque Studies to begin April 16, we reflect on who we are as a family in our community.  Although we have no bloodline connections with the Basque people, we share the fact that our parents and grandparents immigrated to America and we share cultural contributions within our society.  Our venture to learn more about the Basque is to discover the Basque influences that continue to thrive in our Nevada communities.  We are most eager to share the experience of Basque food, as it lends itself to the culture of a people.  For the Basque, their food is the topic of daily conversation.  They take their meals, both lunch and dinner, very serious!  It’s an honor and a luxury in their culture to head home for these meals, no matter what age.  The Basque embrace shared time with family and friends as a major part of their meals to the extent that children often do not move out of the house until married and sometimes they wait for the birth of their first child.  This is an obvious sign of the strength between child and parents in the Basque culture and legend suggests it just may be due to the culinary art produced by mom.  We embrace strong family bonds for ourselves and hope to learn more from the Basque.

My husband, our son, and I are Native Nevadans.  I have subtle memories of Basque peoples as a child, through the eyes of history from expeditions my father took us in the Southern Nevada desert.  We hiked a lot and explored the ghosts towns of the old west often, where remnants of the Basque people remained in the form of rickety fences for housing their sheep, a lone plaque noting a trail they frequented.  However, I do not recall recognizing the Basque for their culture, traditions, and as a people who played a role in the formation of Nevada communities.  As a parent, and a teacher, I am intrigued with learning more about the people who were part of the establishment of the old west.  The Basque, to me, seem to be the quiet people of our land whose old world traditions continue to thrive here.  When I was in college at the University of Nevada, Reno, I learned more about the people and their contributions by eating at the variety of Basque food restaurants in downtown Reno.  I also toured small, almost deserted towns, like Empire and Gerlach, North of Reno where I further discovered a taste of Basque influence at Bruno’s Restaurant.  If you find yourself heading to the Black Rock Desert, be sure to stop and say hello to the old-playa-salt-Italian–Bruno.  He serves a mean Picon Punch,  considered the Western version of the Basque cocktail; a mix of American Picon (Torani), soda water, grenade and brandy, with a lemon twist.  But you don’t have to go all the way to Gerlach, Nevada, you can find the Picon Punch at any Basque restaurant and it’s my experience that each has its own twist.  

Picon Punch

Although we won’t push the Picon Punch on our 8 year old, we will savor the slower pace reflected in the Basque peoples living style.  The idea of building stronger bonds as a family experienced through the eyes of a different people is one we are embracing for this journey.  Our plan is to engross ourselves in the culture to any extent we can discover from the history we find in museums, art shows, festivals of music, food, and our local Aspen trail in the high Sierras where the Basque sheepherders roamed their sheep.  It is here they left the messages of their people behind, as carvings on the Aspen trees.  We hope to discover first hand these symbols to share their meanings with others.  I’ve noticed Spring offers a slew of Basque festivals in Northern Nevada.  I’m curious to find out if there is a connection between Spring and a Basque tradition…maybe it’s just a pleasant time of year to have a festival.  We’ll find out and we’re excited to share our discoveries with YOU!

Our preliminary studies give us a little insight to the Basque immigration from Northern Spain and maybe Western France to Latin America.  They came to discover a new life.  We are not sure yet as to why they left their homeland, but hints of political furos, regional law, suggest a distinction between Basque people–Spanish and French.  The Spanish region did not appreciate the French rule as it denied them some of their cultural freedoms; i.e., their native language Euskera.  Once in Latin America, they established themselves as sheepherders and with new world skills learned from the natives, a natural progression North landed them in the southern part of the United States.  The Old West certainly held Basque characters as they traveled the Nevada Gold Rush Trail along with others who came to dig for gold and strike it rich.  However, the Basque had an innovative purpose for following the Gold Rush Trail–to raise sheep and feed mining camps.

Holland Ranch, Elko NV

We invite you to experience with us the Basque culture and how they evolved with American society, while maintaining some of their old world traditions.  Our goal is to discover and share.  Your invitation is to do the same.  I have written a guide for Basque Studies that can be used by anyone in any state.  It can be a homeschool journey, an enrichment experience, or simply be a spectator as we report our discoveries on-line at Home Grown Hub’s blog @ www.homegrownhub.org Social Studies.  Our local group of homeschooling families are participating in our local expeditions and plan to report via pictures, self produced videos posted to YouTube, and written descriptions via blog.  

Here’s a list of states we have learned the Basque people migrated through and established themselves:  California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Idaho.  This is may not be a complete list, but it suggests the Basque migrated throughout the North West possibly due to the vast land for herding and feeding their sheep and created businesses.

If you live in one of these states and want to use our Basque Studies guide to explore and share, please join us at www.homegrownhub.org at our Social Studies link as of April 16, 2012; currently Jargonsmith’s Home Grown Hub at www.jargonsmith.com until our launch April 16th.  Feel free to contact me direct at sabrinagentner@me.com.

Hope you join us…
Happy Homeschooling,
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home

Picture of Holland Ranch, Elko, NV is from Sheep Herders of Northern Nevada, University of Digital Conservancy


Fight for Human Capital!

Drumming my dream...

 

Fight for Human Capital

I don’t believe in drop and leave!  As a country, we drop our children off at day care at very young ages.  We expect our children to fulfill a complete 3-6 hour day by the time they are 5 years old.  By age 6, our children are expected to pull a full 6 hour shift and by 7 years that day is extended to include homework, enrichment programs, activities, and sports–as a general rule.  I question how much time parents get to spend with their own children.  The development of the drop and leave program originates from the Industrial Age–the time education was implemented into our system for life and it hasn’t changed since.  Essentially, an 8-10 hour day is not uncommon for our babies.  Yes, they are babies.  I use Seth Godin’s words from his manifesto, “Stop Stealing Dreams”, exemplifying the disconnect of the human spirit from institutionalized educational systems, following his visit to Harlem Village Academy, New York City,

…top-down industrialized schooling is…threatened, and for very good reasons.  Scarcity of access is destroyed by the connection economy* at the very same time the skills and attitudes we need from our graduates are changing.

While the internet has allowed many of these changes to happen, you won’t see much of the web at the Harlem Village Academy school I visited, and not much of it in this manifesto, either.  The HVA is simply about people and the way they should be treated.  It’s about abandoning a top-down industrial approach to processing students and embracing a very human, very personal and very powerful series of tools to produce a new generation of leaders.  

 Avoiding the drop and leave is a conscious decision between my husband and me.  We home school and we place our son, Otto, in the driver’s seat in our effort to abandon a top-down industrial approach for his education.  We ground ourselves in an un-schooling and humanistic approach, which gives him the purest of opportunities for student driven learning; where ideas are guided by what he wants to learn from them.  We value Otto’s choices for learning as a human.  It works because he is genuinely engaged with his learning.  Our goals are to foster that engagement for learning, support his independence, as he grows to be a passionate, self-initiated learner for life.  He already discovers new ideas and innovative thoughts, ponders choices before he makes decisions–reflective of leadership–and a far cry from institutionalized thought where he waits for direction.  No, this kid is in control!

Despite Otto’s strengths, he still needs us.  He is only eight years old…after all and we let him know we are here for every tiny step he takes with his life.  Knowing he is supported is the meaningful piece that builds the bond between child and parent–teacher–coach.  His ideas and thoughts are valued and that offers ownership for his learning–the key to developing his strengths.  My husband and I divide and conquer.  He is the coach for sports and I am the teacher, and we use these labels interchangeably since guidance is our goal.  Neither of us relies solely on our own resources, rather we turn to our community for support.  The process in and of itself instills a connection beyond our classroom walls at home.  Otto’s classroom is life, his community, his cousin’s backyard, Grandma and Grandpa’s house, the trails we hike, the schools we visit, the museums we relish, our treasured camp trips together.  The list doesn’t stop–neither do his dreams.

One of Otto’s dreams is to play the drums and play them well!  His  interest sparked our search for a drum teacher, since we know it isn’t a discipline either of us can delve.  We were excited to discover a local prodigy who has extensive experience and displays all the quirky characteristics of an individual who is profoundly talented with music.  Perfect choice!  He has scheduled drum lessons with his teacher, but at home Otto gets to practice anytime he wants.  His learning environment is set up for it.  Time is not an issue, because we don’t have to fight the clock to get things accomplished.  While he is furthering his talents at his own speed, Otto is also genuinely enjoying the process.  And the fact that he gets to play in his dad’s band is a plus.  We recognize Otto’s need to explore the drums whether it’s short lived as he discovers the drummer within, or long-term as a dream he decides to fulfill.  Which ever, the learning experience is one wrapped in unity–a team effort with vested players.

Although homeschooling is not for everyone, It is a process that …[embraces] a very human, very personal and very powerful series of tools to produce a new generation of leaders.  Babies still need parental involvement in their education and embracing a child’s needs and desire to learn is potential for humanizing education.

*connection economy concept coined by Seth Godin in relation to the understanding of advertising and the use of a variety of mediums to sell products that essentially leave the consumer empty; supply and demand based on want not need.


Yoga For Literacy

Mom, will you read me a story...

Yoga practice enhances flexibility and is a healthy choice, but when coupled with literature, yoga becomes much more.  A few years ago, I attended a yoga retreat in San Francisco to learn how to teach yoga to kids.  My premise for signing up for the workshop was simply as a refresher course with my own yoga practice and for something to do with my son.  What I got was a deeper understanding of yoga and the role it plays with a child’s learning process.  At that point, I combined yoga with literature.  I wanted a different venue for reading with my son.  What developed was a program that builds literacy especially awareness and skills for kids who tend to be kinesthetic learners; i.e., the need to move to learn.  Our practice strengthened our mother-son bond and provided a powerful message for us both–a message to further.

When I got home from my kids’ yoga retreat years ago, I was fired up to use this new method of literacy learning with my kid.  Originally I stuck to the book of stories provided by the yoga teachers at the retreat, as they were well guided and simple poses with stories.  I started to branch out to Chinese and American proverbs, no particular reason except that I was interested in the two and they had a good flow with yoga.  This developed into a deeper appreciation for story telling through yoga when my son initiated question sessions as we practiced.  Our conversations were simple and usually regarded the story itself, but more importantly emphasized why we practice yoga and do the Chinese practice yoga like us?  We talked a little about the differences/similarities between our culture and the Chinese culture, including food, all the while we continued to move through our series of poses; he was three years old at the time.

Usually my day with my son is indicative of trying to wear him out with long hikes and trampoline sessions.  I was so moved by our interaction during yoga while engrossed in literature, I decided to canonize our time together.  Our experience made me appreciate our time and of course I had to share this idea with parents.

The teacher in me realized the potential for children to engage with literature while practicing yoga and my target group was three-four year olds at the time, as it followed suit with my own child’s age.  I offered yoga literature classes for children and found the boys tend to need it most.  While both girls and boys equally enjoyed our 45 minute story telling sessions through yoga, the boys made huge strides with listening more attentively.  Over the course of a six week session, where consistency with the structure of the class was key, the boys made larger strides lengthening their attention span.  This is not to suggest the girls lacked in attention span growth, rather, they didn’t seem to need the outlet for movement to listen to the story as much as the boys tendency.  All the kids understood the story lines, the message, and the poses as they related to the story.  It’s proven successful to the testimony of a child’s craving for movement while learning.

The past five years I have been compiling lists of stories and restructured yoga poses accordingly.  I delve into our practice with the intent of telling a story that carries a message.  Our discussions following our interactive story telling are spent gleaning the messages from it and applying them to our daily lives.  Using folklore and proverbs, our sessions are interactive with a global perspective as we grow to appreciate people of all cultures through the mediums of story telling and yoga.

I am offering two Yoga For Literature courses this Spring 2012, May 8-June 12.  If you are local, nearby, or visiting Lake Tahoe, your children are invited to join us.  For more information, please contact me at sabrina@jargonsmith.com.

Happy Homeschooling,
Sabrina Albrecht
Mom, Educator at Home


Prologue to the Past

Co-op Buddies

Prologue to the Past

It’s been at the forefront of my mind for years…write a book.  Write a book about what matters with education.  Embrace the ideas that strengthen developmental processes of the individual child’s growth.  A framework without walls, far from the mainstream and pigeon holing of young minds.  A book that displays researched and tried methods supporting a creative model that makes a difference in the life of a child…in the mind of a child.  I do just that with this book based on two valuable lessons in my life that brought me to understand:  I am unique!  Education is profoundly individual!  If education successfully realizes each child’s potential, then each child is unique.  By nature, the provision for individualized education follows.  Where the ideas are not new, the Cooperative Model here is innovative and has realized the individualization a child needs to grow socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively.  Education has for decades reached for individualized approaches to teach the whole child.  However, when one considers the vast numbers of children in a setting where classrooms are 25-35 students deep, individualizing education becomes secondary; ‘covering’ content is priority and time poses severe constraints on the process of facilitation.  While my efforts to reach the masses is a personal goal, it poses conflict for the nature of my model, unless the essence of ideas presented here remain a constant.

The path to the Cooperative Model was one that meandered for more than 10 years.  When it finally took hold in my mind, it was the year my son was born.  I was an administrator in a public school setting and torn with the thought of returning to 50 hours a week with a new born at home.  By this time in my life, I had more than a decade of teaching and administrative experience, along with the building blocks for making a difference in education; marking the turning point for creating my own school of thought–literally.

I was invited by a close friend to a community forum for the presentation of a much needed, new pre-school in our area.  Little did I know it was an open invitation to join forces to further an idea for the school.  I was thrilled to learn the idea was engrossed in the same school of thought I held.  I remember distinctly the dank room the meeting was held.  It wreaked of sweaty bodies and bleach.  The Kings Beach Elementary catered to the community like all public schools, becoming a servant to community and family needs beyond the scope of education, all of which I was intimately familiar.  The room carried the title The Family Resource Center and it was jam packed with pre-school to kindergarten aged children 8:00am to 3:00pm.  It had the convenience of the Boys and Girls Club on the same property, where children were herded after school hours, leaving it empty for other ventures.  This venture was a group of four, including me.  Two women stood proudly next to a large pamphlet of paper hung on a wooden easel.  Each held  a black, permanent marker.  Their faces laden with anxiety over how few people took heed to their calling to fill a need in our community.  I, however, sat intent with my 15 month old son and it warmed my heart to see him naturally migrate toward the other three children in the room; a natural process obviously nurtured by these two women for this moment.  The women began their talk regarding a viable, safe, pre-school offering children time to explore and discover their surroundings rather than simply existing within them.  A context that suggested interaction with other children and adults supporting growth with a whole child approach.  They spoke my language.  I duly noted my child would explore his world with these very children.  My heart jumped!

By the end of that one hour, I understood that I was joining this duo in its infancy.  They outlined, with their heavy, black, permanent markers, their mission, philosophy, pedagogy, and the exact cost break down of tuition based on 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, and a 5 child enrollment.  It was almost exactly what I had spent the past few years outlining myself–with one twist.  The idea of a cooperative component.  As a mainstream teacher, I had a single understanding for cooperative learning; small groups of varied aged children learning with and from each other.  The concept these women introduced was different.  Cooperative from their perspective is families with children joining forces to educate children together in a homelike, classroom environment.  I regarded my new understanding for cooperative as a helpful supplement to my model.  All the dynamics fell into place.  I asked to be a part of the board and I was immediately granted acceptance.  Together, we forged a path with our eclectic array of ideas to create an enigma of learning for children–the Cooperative Model.

As of that day in May 2004, we had four children.  We needed only to recruit one more to make the program fly.  There was much work ahead, so much in fact, I’m not sure we understood the scope of it all.  We simply knew our next step was to start the set up of a classroom.  We had three potential cottages at our disposal.  These three structures were tiny homes, each equipped with a bathroom, kitchen and separate rooms big enough to transform into discovery play areas for little people.  We had one at our immediate disposal, as the remaining two were rented…for now.  Lillian, who owned the property, was ready to hand it to education, one cottage at a time, and unify to build programs for children.

In five short years, our programs grew from pre-school to fifth grade, occupying all three cottages and the addition of the storage unit; which was transformed into a winter time lunchroom.  Our positions on the board morphed as our programs grew and Lillian saddled the Director of Pre-school position, while I stepped up to the Director of Elementary platform.  Lillian’s certification and experience was extensive in the pre-school realm, with a degree in child development and 13 years experience in the classroom.  Together our experiences grounded our decisions to realize the vision for an alternative in education creating choice in our community.

This book is a compilation of the Cooperative Model for growing children and families who share the same vision for bringing experiential learning to our community, using our community as our classroom.  This book represents the Cooperative Model as we developed the concept and brought it to the forefront of education.  It is our dreams and our willingness to take a leap of faith to create that which we most believe will shape our children into the leaders of tomorrow.  We build on unity and community, erasing the stigmas of grade levels.  We embrace the minds of our children to think with each other and for for themselves.


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