by Hannah Washburn
14 Years ago, I sat on the couch with my mother, a reading book in her lap, both of us in tears. At seven years old, it was mandatory that I enroll in a school, public, private or homeschool. Thankfully, my mom is adventurous and was willing to homeschool her children for their benefit. But as we sat down day after day, she trying to explain how reading works and me not understanding, we both felt discouraged. I was frustrated that as much as I tried, I could not understand. After a month of trying, my mom laid it aside until the next year. Yet still, that next year I would slowly grasp some of the concepts of reading only to lose them again. But the year I turned 9 something clicked, and within 6 months I was reading up a storm and loving every minute of it! If my mother had just plowed through, forcing me to learn concepts I was not ready for, I do not believe that I would look at a good, informative book with anticipation like I do today, but rather with great dread. Thankfully, that is not so.
Driving down to the Augusta State House at 8:30am was not something I was expecting to be doing three days before. The morning was beautiful and warm, the five of us riding together chattered away while trying to get to the public hearing for LD 151, "An Act To Align State Law with Current Practice Regarding Required School Attendance", sponsored by Senator Rebecca Millett. LD 151 would endeavor to lower the compulsory school attendance age from 7 years old to 6. Those traveling down in our vehicle were either graduated or in high school, none of us have children of our own and yet all five of us were ready to do what we could in order to keep it legal for a parent to keep their child of six from needing to meet the pressures of formal education, whether at a public or private school, or at home.
by Rebecca Keliher
My oldest daughter had a birthday recently and asked if I would tell her the birth story. Leaving out the gory details, I tried my best to remember the event. Later that night, while I lay in bed thinking about the day, my mind drifted back to that moment when I first held her in my arms. As other parents can attest, there is a love like no other when it comes to your children.
But babies don’t stay babies very long. Before you know it, the toddler years arrive and, besides keeping little ones alive, we begin teaching and training them. Now that I’m a grandma, I am watching my daughter discover the challenges and joys of motherhood.
My grandsons are, hands down, the cutest boys you’ve ever seen! My oldest grandson is a toddler now, and, besides the ear to ear smiles that make me go mushy, he has a deep curiosity that leads him to all kinds of mischief. His father and mother have been proactive and laid out a plan for how they would parent and what boundaries they would enforce while developing a strong bond as he grows.
There are times when the grandma in me wants to rescue this little guy from consequences, but then I remember, all too well, that tough love is just as important as cuddles, words of encouragement, and hugs. Setting boundaries with our children begins in the toddler years and extends until they leave home. But the key isn’t setting the boundary, it’s reinforcing it. That’s when tough love comes into play.
TOUGH ON PARENTING
I remember all too well the toughest love I had to give to one of my daughters. From her toddler years until her tweens, she was simply hard-headed and stubborn. Throughout her elementary years, I struggled to find a consequence that worked with her. No matter how many times I set a rule or enforced it, she simply didn’t get it. We went round and round!
After much prayer, I discovered what worked. This girl is an extrovert. She loves to go places and see people. On the next occasion for a get together, she would not be allowed to attend. One of her friends was having a birthday party at an ice rink, and I let her sisters attend while she stayed home. I cannot tell you how terrible I felt about it. From the moment I pulled out of the driveway, and for weeks afterwards, my heart ached when I thought of how much disappointment she experienced that day.
As parents, we love our kids so much, we don’t want to see them disappointed. We give and give and give to show our love, but sometimes what we need to give is tough love. That day, my daughter took a turn in her life. The consequence broke through her hard head, and I’m so glad it did. Her teen years were surprisingly pleasant.
(Adapted from an article written by Johanna Ireland, and used with permission.)
As you may know, Maine homeschoolers have enjoyed a much more comfortable homeschool environment since the passage of our homeschool statute in 2003. The law has provided clarity, security and freedom. But will we always have the same level of freedom to homeschool in our state? To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin: You have homeschool freedom, if you can keep it! Keeping or losing homeschool freedom takes intent. Here are 5 ways to lose it.
1. Ignore Elections
Maine’s 152 representatives and 35 senators are up for election every two years. Every new and returning candidate has opinions about homeschooling – some based on stereotypes, some based on genuine interactions with homeschoolers. One thing they know for sure is that they want your vote! Families who homeschool are politically active, and candidates will often look for opportunities to win your vote.
In election years, be sure to speak with candidates and ask them to share their views on homeschooling. Would they defend the level of freedom that we currently have if need be, or would they favor stronger oversight and regulation? Most candidates are eager to answer. Their opinions on these matters will clearly influence any legislation they oppose or support. One sure way to lose your homeschool freedom is to ignore the candidates' positions on homeschooling, or even ignore the election all together. Let the Maine voters who participate determine your freedom.
2. Don’t Keep Your Legislators' Contact Info Handy
Once elected, legislators want to tinker. They come in to the marble halls of the statehouse with ideas from their life experience, letters from constituents, or visits from lobbyists for “improvements” to existing laws or even suggesting new ones. Many times lawmakers have not interacted with homeschool families enough to fully understand the ramifications of their attempts to “help” homeschoolers. For example, a bill allowing tax credits to parents who choose to homeschool would end up decreasing freedom due to the accountability and record keeping required for compliance with tax code.
Homeschoolers of Maine tracks bills during each legislative session, and sends email alerts when bills threaten our homeschool freedom.1 A good way to see your homeschool freedom diminished is to avoid contacting legislators with your concerns when threats arise. Don’t provide them with valuable opportunities to interact with homeschool families. Bills infringing on your parental freedom to home educate will then pass unchallenged.
By Raylene Hunt
Is Homeschoolers of Maine becoming obsolete in the modern age of technology? Or are the services and support they offer still relevant? Over the last few years, I have thought about this as I am phasing (ever so slowly) off the HOME Leadership Team. I can’t let go. It’s been a major part of my life for almost 20 years. Things are changing without a question. That said, I continue to meet and talk to people about my homeschooling journey, and I still point them to HOME.
I’m an educator by profession. I’ve known for years that returning to the traditional classroom was not an option. Homeschooling has opened my eyes to some serious flaws in the American education system. Years of homeschooling have also taught me that even the alternative classroom isn’t the best fit for some children. It has only been in recent history, really, that public education for the masses has been the norm. It’s been less than 100 years since the move toward compulsory public education began. Before that, children were educated experientially. Children learned to farm, they learned trades, they apprenticed. They lived every day interacting with a variety of people of various ages.
The growing number of children being labeled, diagnosed and medicated, all to be able to function within the constructs of the current education system, indicates that there is a problem. The problem, however, is not with the children, but the system. We’re trying to force round, triangular, octagonal, rectangular pegs into a one-size-fits-all, square hole. And it doesn’t work. I believe that for many families the answer to this is homeschooling.
How can a good day become a great one?
Some days are about coping. I get that. On these days, I am happy that we got through school, some form of dinner appeared on the table at some point, and I kept the kids alive! But then there are days where I need to challenge the mental rut I’m in, be more intentional, and stop simply going through the motions.
Marcia Ramsland’s book Simplify Your Life has a section that challenged me to ask myself if there are any opportunities in my week to turn good days into great ones.
Here are seven elements of a Great Day to think about.
1) Preparation the Night Before – Have you ever taken a few minutes at the end of the day to plan out the next one? “To avoid last-minute stress, it is important to prepare the night before, even if it means just glancing at what is ahead and setting the alarm to get up early enough to accomplish it,” says Ramsland. “It might also mean gathering items needed for the next day, confirming appointments, or doing one last ‘sweep’ to put things away.”
I find myself wanting to relax at the end of the day and feeling like I definitely deserve it! (Let’s face it: I usually do.) But building just ten minutes into my evening routine to look ahead, re-order my to-do list, and set my alarm accordingly always pays huge dividends.
2) Start of the Day – What does it mean to you, personally, to start your day well? Does it mean a hot shower, coffee and the paper, exercise, devotions and prayer time, a family breakfast, everyone making beds and starting their school work quickly? With a little bit of thought, determination, and effort, we can reshape our mornings—or at least some of them—to get our days off to a better start.
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