Dear Reader, I hope your 2016 is off to a good start. Click here for an idea to make sure February begins on a good note. What a simple way to remind

         
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February Love Notes

Love Notes!

Dear Reader,

I hope your 2016 is off to a good start. Click here for an idea to make sure February begins on a good note. What a simple way to remind your family how much you love them!

February 2nd is Ground Hog’s Day and it also happens to be the birthday of my youngest son, Chad. Our family will be celebrating both occasions. Check out the official Groundhog's Day website with free lesson plans, recipes, and a crossword puzzle. Here are more fun Ground Hog’s Day learning activities that your family may enjoy.

Valentine’s Day is February 14th. Learn how to make Paper Plate Valentines, Stinky Valentine Cards, and other crafts, gifts, and goodies.

Discover the fascinating history and science of chocolate…

Virtually Pick Cacao Pods & Process Cocoa Beans Into Chocolate! Enjoy this virtual presentation provided by the Field Museum.

Meet The Creator of The Hershey Bar! Learn about Milton S. Hershey and his company and take a video tour of the chocolate-making process.

Watch The Sweet Science of Chocolate!
At the Exploratorium Museum online, you can watch a webcast and see how the ancient Aztec chocolate drink, "xocoatl" is made, while its history is explained. Listen as scientists describe why chocolate makes you feel good and how it affects our bodies.

Look below for more February-themed learning hacks…

Class Dismissed: Highest Rated Film!

Class Dismissed DVD

Rent the Movie!

Have you seen the homeschool documentary, Class Dismissed? Not only did it end 2015 as the highest rated education documentary of all time, it finished as the highest rated feature length film ever recorded on IMDB (out of 126,439 films with at least 20 votes)!

On Valentine's Day, share this award-winning documentary with your loved ones! It will help them understand and embrace homeschooling. The film follows one family's transition from school to homeschool, and is laced with helpful advice from seasoned homeschool veterans.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, it's now available for rent. CLICK HERE to learn more.

For those who have seen the movie, you can watch in-depth extended interviews with the featured experts like Blake Boles, Jerry Mintz, Dale Stephens, Lisa Nielsen, Sandra Dodd, Linda Dobson, Pat Farenga, Laurie A. Couture, and yours truly, Diane Flynn Keith. Check out the 6+ hours of extended interviews that are available for purchase today!

No, I Can't Recommend a Good School

There be Dragons

During the holidays,some parents reconsider their decision to send their children to school. That's why every January, I host The Art of Homeschooling Workshop to answer parents' questions, relieve their anxiety, and encourage them to make the choice to homeschool.

Inevitably,at least one parent will email me prior to the workshop asking if I have a recommendation for a good school "that is similar to homeschooling." They are searching for an alternative that doesn't exist. This year was no exception. A father wanted a recommendation for a gentler kind of school for his young daughter. Instead of just encouraging him to consider home education, I spilled my guts. After almost 25 years of mentoring parents, I just can't sugar-coat my opinion of school anymore. Here's my response....

I wish you hadn’t asked because I can only answer based on my experience. No offense is intended, but this is what I’ve learned…

Parents always hope that some kind of childcare facility (aka school) exists that is similar to the homeschool environment. I don’t know of one.

Frankly, I think your child would fare better by being protected from schooling in the early years. She may survive schooling if she attends when she reaches the double digits – 13 or older. But by then, she might be such a self-directed learner that she wouldn’t see the point of forced schooling.

IMO, the problems inherent in schools can’t be solved with more schooling – no matter how pleasant or state-of-the-art the philosophy sounds. There are just too many variables to make one method work for a bunch of children. School may be less damaging for some kids than others, but at what cost overall? As my mentor, John Taylor Gatto, said, “When you take the free will out of education, that turns it into schooling.”

When a child is forcibly put (via enrollment) into the artificial environment of a classroom (or similar environment), under the supervision and direction of a stranger, and forced to interact with the same children who are the same age, on the same academic track, from the same geographic and socio-economic area, and expected to do activities that have no relevance or meaning to the child under the threat of coercion, and steeped in consumer culture, and trained to be adult-phobic and peer-dependent – that’s schooling.

In homeschooling, children aren’t grouped and sorted according to age and academic track. They aren't expected to know their place and stay in the "class" to which they have been assigned. They are not trained to respond to the bell and do assignments without question.

They don’t have to surrender their individuality and will to an authority figure who may not have their best interests at heart. They aren't subjected to judgment, grading, and the bestowment of rewards and punishments without the ability to object or appeal.

They aren't conditioned to be passive and compliant or dependent on others to tell them what to do or how to spend their time. They are not powerless. They have the choice to remove themselves from bad situations or people and change the curriculum when it's not relevant, interesting, useful, or meaningful. You cannot do that in school.

A homeschooler's life and learning experience is vastly different from a mind that has been shaped and formed by the social conditioning of school.

The human brain and heart operate much differently without the opiate of schooling. Homeschoolers are not assimilated into the government/corporate/consumer culture in the way schooled children are. They are not the victims of schooling and social engineering. They are liberated and as a result they live extraordinary lives.

If you hear the siren song of school calling to you – all I can say is, “Be afraid. Be very afraid. There be dragons ahead. Take your child and run away fast!”

Introducing Hanna Homeschooler!

Hanna Homeschooler

Buy the Book!

I recently enjoyed reading a review copy of Hanna Homeschooler, written by homeschool veteran, journalist, and author, Suki Wessling, She said she was inspired to write the book when her daughter pointed out that most of the kids depicted in chapter books go to school.

Hanna Homeschooler provides a glimpse into what the life of a young child is like without schooling. It follows the flow of one family’s rhythm and routine throughout a year.

We see how Hanna learns from everything and everyone in her environment. She learns about measuring while baking, discovers sound waves on a nature walk with her mom, sings to the aged and infirmed at a convalescent hospital with her father, experiences the nuances of social interaction with neighborhood friends, explores medieval history in a co-op class with other homeschoolers, and artistically maps the cycle of life from seed to tree to fruit to product to compost.

As she goes about her daily investigations, fueled by her own intellectual curiosity, you get a clear idea of how math, reading, writing, spelling, history, and science are seamlessly woven into the fabric of her life. The reader learns along with Hanna as she explores not only the three R’s but the many facets of intellectual, social, and emotional development.

If you ever wondered how children could become wholly educated through the process of self-directed learning, this story explains it in a way that you and your children will enjoy reading together. Hanna Homeschooler is available from Amazon.com.

February Birthdays = Cool Learning Hacks

thomas edison

Thomas Edison

Many people of historic significance share February birthdays that provide great learning opportunities. Below, you'll find links to free learning resources for each notable birthday, as well as links to some related products for purchase. Some of the links use my Amazon.com affiliate. Amazon rewards me for referring you to their website for good deals, and that helps me continue to provide this resource for free. I appreciate your support!

As always, parents should preview the sites I recommend to determine suitability of content, and supervise all Internet use.

3 - Norman Rockwell’s Birthday! The American illustrator, who was known for Saturday Evening Post covers depicting average Americans at work and play, was born in 1894. Print out this free Family Guide from the Normal Rockwell Museum with fun activities you can do at home.

4 - Charles Lindbergh’s Birthday! The aviator who made the first solo non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1927, was born in 1902. Find out how your kids can get a free airplane flight through the Young Eagles Program near you!

7 - Charles Dickens Birthday! The English author of Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, and Great Expectations was born in 1812. Download and listen to a free audio recording at LibriVox.

8 - Jules Verne’s Birthday! The science fiction author of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth was born in 1828. Download a free MP3 audiobook at LibriVox. You may also enjoy the DVD.

11 - Thomas Edison’s Birthday! The homeschooled American inventor of the incandescent light bulb was born in 1847. Visit the Smithsonian Institute’s “Thomas Edison’s Inventive Life” to read about his fascinating biography and numerous inventions. Your children may enjoy, Thomas Edison for Kids: His Life and Ideas, 21 Activities.

12 - Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday! The 16th President of the U.S. was born in 1809. Lincoln presided over The Civil War, signed the Emancipation Proclamation (ending slavery), and was assassinated during his second term of office. Your kids may enjoy reading Abraham Lincoln for Kids: His Life and Times with 21 Activities or Looking at Lincoln for Kindle.

15 – Happy Birthday to Galileo Galilei! The Italian scientist, physicist, and astronomer, was born in 1564. Older students can explore the free Galileo Project online. Read Galileo for Kids, His LIfe and Ideas, 25 Activities.

19 - Happy Birthday Nicolaus Copernicus, who was born in Poland in 1473. His theory, that the planets revolved around the sun and that the earth revolved on an axis once every 24 hours, became the basis for modern astronomy. Read more at NASA’s StarChild website.

22 - George Washington's Birthday! Celebrate the birthday of the first President of the United States of America who was born on this day in 1732. Enhance learning with this free interactive portrait of Washington online. Read George Washington: His Life and Times, 21 Activities. Print and color a free picture of George Washington.

24 – Happy Birthday Wilhelm Grimm! The co-author of Grimm’s Fairy Tales was born in 1786. Together with his brother Jacob, he collected hundreds of folktales including Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel, and The Shoemaker and the Elves. Get audio versions of the stories. Watch 12 Grimm’s tales for free at the National Geographic website.

25 – Happy Birthday Pierre Auguste Renoir! This master French impressionist painter was born in 1841. Read his biography and view some of his paintings at Art Smarts 4 Kids.

27 - John Steinbeck’s Birthday! The American novelist who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1940 for Grapes of Wrath, about the plight of migrant workers during The Great Depression, was born in 1902. Listen to a free audio recording. Print out this free bio designed for students.

Love and life-long learning success,

DianeSignature

Diane Flynn Keith
Editor of Homefires
Author of Carschooling
Founder, UniversalPreschool.com
Author, Papas Pearls

"Liberating families from conventional schooling to live extraordinary lives."

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A great Valentine's Gift for Dads! My award-winning book, Papa's Pearls: A Father's Gift of Love and Wisdom to His Children and Grandchildren is available in print and also for Kindle at Amazon.com. Many parents have written to say they use Papa's Pearls to enrich homeschooling and as a springboard for family discussions. Click here to print out the free discussion questions. Cick on the book image to get your copy of Papas Pearls today!

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If winter is keeping you off the road and indoors, you can still use many of the learning activities in my book, Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games and Activities to Turn Travel Time into Learning Time. The book is chock-full of fun ways to encourage learning - even when your car is parked in the driveway! Just click on the book image to learn more!

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