Tag Archives: homeschool

Meet Fudge

Meet Fudge and Otto

Artistic, Poetic inspiration

Meet Fudge

Otto, my son, came home from his sculpture class with a giant thing constructed from an array of card board boxes, tubes, and bright duct tape.  This Thing, I ask with enthusiasm, what is IT?  I lift my eyebrows in wonderment.  Otto’s smile reaches across his face and he’s beaming, It’s Fudge.  Hmmmmm, I think to myself.  I raise my eyebrows again and Otto realizes I’m not picking up what he is laying down–I’m just not gettin‘ it.  So he continues, He’s a cross between a duck, a wiener dog, a flamingo, a horse, and a human.  Perfect.  Now it’s clear.

Fudge is the inspiration of an eclectic background including Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, and my son’s sculpture class.  We’ve been reading a lot of Dr. Seuss lately, The Lorax, Horton Hears a Who, Yertle the Turtle along with a few of the newer stories.  And then there’s Shel Silverstein, one of Otto’s favorite poets and keeps his books within reach.  Take all the creative juices Dr. Seuss and Silverstein use to conjure the wacky, friendly beasts in their stories and couple these with the mind of a child and a card board box master piece and this is what we got…

I Am Fudge

I am a duck with soft, colorful feathers

of orange, brown, red and white.  

I am a wiener dog with little short legs

and low to the ground.

I am a flamingo with a long straight neck

that helps me reach things I peck.

I am a  human with a unibrow and mustache,

like Jaimie on ‘Myth Busters’.

I am a bug with antennas.

My name is Fudge. 

But wait, there’s a little more.  Otto’s favorite past time is the iPad.  In an effort to control the ‘zero engagement screen time’ in my kid’s life, I let him purchase educational games.  His favorite is Stack the States.  I’m thinking all the facts he’s been spewing about our states had some influence on his thoughts.  This is his next creation…

I’m a Ducka-giraffa-doga-saurus of the Caves of Mt. Rushmore Grun,

I spit fudge as thick as waterfalls forming giant puddles of fun.

When my predator the elephant comes to fight,

He charges through giant fudge puddles on sight,

Like a humongous, somersaulting ball of fudge.

His poem follows suit with Silverstein’s poem “The Dragon of Grindly Grun” in A Light in the Attic, for all of you literary enthusiasts.

I sit in wonderment at the end of our day and I’m so grateful for the time I have to spend learning with my kid.  Despite we experience some bumps and glumps and dumpy moments, the discovery part is grand.  Today we discovered the silliness of words and crazy birds.  I attribute the richness of our day to the innocence of a child’s imagination that leaves an air of sweetness in our classroom with Fudge.

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home

Advertisements

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


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


The Entire Story…Choice for Education

The dynamics of a changing economy impact every aspect of community.  Schools are no exception.  As public schools across the nation progress through standardization coupled with budget cuts, the challenge to reach each child’s individual needs tend to diminish, while student to teacher ratios grow.  It’s not uncommon for communities to experience a decline in student numbers as families move out of areas in search of employment opportunities elsewhere, which imposes the coupling of partial classrooms together to create a whole and carries the potential for more students to a single teacher.  Further, the argument between localized verses globalized education creates a mosaic of perspectives that is on the rise and can divide a community.

Incline Village, Nevada, a small Lake Tahoe community, where families are fleeing for work opportunities elsewhere, student population is declining, and there exists a distinct separation between educational perspectives, stands to represent many of the changing dynamics of education.  A solution for pursuing the implementation of the International Baccalaureate program was adopted by the represented district and furthered by strong local voice in an effort to fill empty classroom seats. In the end, it divided the small community, as the voice for localized education stood their ground for maintaining a sense of control for the education of their children.  There are other options in the tiny community.  Some would argue these are open to mostly affluent families, as Incline Village has a wealthy reputation where the mean housing price is $1,000,000+ range according to 2009 statistics (City-Data.com). This private school option exists for $17,000 per year, per child (2009-2010 school year).  While  some may regard the value of spending dollars for academics, others believe this private school option is simply a mainstream approach with an extreme premium.

The mainstream classroom may not be the best choice for every child.  Another option is charter schools, which lend themselves to less mainstream settings grounded in experiential, language, or science themes for example. Some embrace the nurturing approach like the Montessori model or reflect the individual child’s sense of self expression like Waldorf schools.  “The idea behind charter schools is that a group of individuals would be given enough flexibility to create an innovative strategy” (Waiting for Superman, Karl Weber). Unfortunately, “flexibility for innovative thought” tends to wane if one considers the fact that charters are branches of the public system controlled by the same federal entity.

As educational debates continue to burn, families across our nation are actively searching for viable alternatives more appropriately suited to their children’s learning needs and those that are cost effective–making choice for education a priority.

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.


Creative Vocabulary

A couple additions from our phonetically creative little people:

\comp – you – ter\ noun; choice pick for phonetic spelling

Described by my 8 year old that the word computer has the word “you” in it because every one has to have their own computer “…and by the way mom, I think my computer should be a iPad.”

***

\fa – chi – na\ noun; mom’s vagina

The day I realized it was time for my son to take baths on his own.

***

\shath\ noun; a combination of a shower and a bath

\shath\ verb; showering before moving into bathing

Devleoped by my 8 year old who has a mane of hair which has proven difficult to wash in the bath alone and requires a thorough rinsing in the shower.

***

Please reply with your creative vocabulary!

Happy Homeschooling,

Sabrina Albrecht

Mom, Educator at Home