Turning Up the Homeschooling Volume with Raylene Lightheart – Episode #010

Direct mp3 download.

Link to episode 10 on Libsyn.

The Homeschooling Liberty volume got cranked up to eleven this week as Raylene Lightheart of the Launch Pad Media and Blast Off with Johnny Rocket and Raylene Lightheart stopped by to do some talking about homeschooling. We talk about some of her experiences with public education – which are pretty daunting – and get into what it’s like homeschooling five kids with a wide variety in ages. Raylene also mentioned some excellent resources that provide both information and motivation for homeschooling families of any variety.

All the Links

After the interview with Raylene is over, the Liberty Hippie moves on to another free-market solution to climate change and carbon sequestration when he brings attention to a company called BioCarbon Engineering. BioCarbon works with drones to map land that has suffered from deforestation – man-made or natural – and then plants trees from the air!

Don’t forget to join the facebook group, The Homesteaded Homeschool Forum Facebook Group, to share your thoughts, ask questions, and make suggestions to help shape and direct the show!

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes even on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on the Amazon link in the side bar, or by checking out the Liberty Hippie’s bitbacker.io account, where you can show your support by donating Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

And don’t forget to pay Nicky P. a visit either at Sounds Like Liberty, or on bandcamp, and pick up a subscription to the Freedom Song 365 project.

And subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 009 with Julie Kirchner of Sadie-Girl Farm.

Schooling in a Corn Crib with Steve Kemp – Episode #008

Direct mp3 download.

Link to episode 8 on Libsyn.

This week the Liberty Hippie sits down with Steve Kemp and discusses a key event in his public education that he still remembers 25 years later, and how it shaped his outlook and the choices he is making as a father concerning education. We also talked about how it was not all bad once he started his homeschooling career. This was another great interview with a wonderful family man, talking about homeschooling, child rearing, and life in general.

After the interview, the Liberty Hippie looks at the EPA’s recent banning of paint strippers that contain methylene chloride. It isn’t just the act of prohibition that gets him fired up, but the fact that it is a government agency making laws without going through the proper channels laid out in the constitution.

All the Articles

And the Facebook Group!

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes even on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on the Amazon link in the side bar, or by checking out the Liberty Hippie’s bitbacker.io account, where you can show your support by donating Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

And don’t forget to pay Nicky P. a visit either at Sounds Like Liberty, or on bandcamp, and pick up a subscription to the Freedom Song 365 project.

And subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 007 with Tamlynn Clyde of Clyde’s Dale Homestead.

Growing Up Homeschooled with David Auge – Episode #006

Direct mp3 download.

Link to episode 6 on Libsyn.

This week on Episode 6 of the Homesteads and Homeschools podcast, the Liberty Hippie talks to David Auge of the Bacon, Barbells, and Bibles podcast. David started his educational career in public school but ended up getting pulled out to homeschool in his early elementary years. We talked about his experiences as a homeschooler, what he did for socialization and some advice his father gave him when it came time to picking a career.

The Things We Talked About

When the interview wraps up, the Liberty Hippie discusses a couple of free-market green projects. The first is a project from Amazon that is part of their Shipment Zero program meant to help reduce carbon emissions and the second is a project from Gomi that is attempting to take care of some of that non-recyclable low density polyethylene by using it to create bluetooth speakers. Lastly, he has to talk about Georgia HB530, a bill that was introduced in the wake of the Crocker deaths in Effingham County which where discussed in Episode 5.

The Articles Discussed

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes even on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on the Amazon link in the side bar, or by checking out the Liberty Hippie’s bitbacker.io account, where you can show your support by donating Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

And don’t forget to pay Nicky P. a visit either at Sounds Like Liberty, or on bandcamp, and pick up a subscription to the Freedom Song 365 project.

And subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 005 with Noel of the Homesteader’s Co-op.

Voluntary Exchanges on the Homesteader’s Co-op – Episode #005


Direct mp3 download.

Link to episode 5 on Libsyn.

Episode 2 opened with a discussion of the Homesteader’s Co-op, a pretty sweet little website that provides store fronts for homesteaders to sell their wares. In this episode, the Liberty Hippie has the privilege of interviewing Noel, the guy behind the Homesteader’s Co-op. We discuss a bit about his present homestead set-up and then get into what the Homesteader’s Co-op currently is, and what Noel’s vision is for the future of the Homesteader’s Co-op.

All The Things We Talked About and More:

After the interview with Noel, the Liberty Hippie takes a look at some recent news items and state bills from around the country that will be quite problematic to homeschoolers and eventually, everyone.

All the Articles Discussed:

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes even on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on the Amazon link in the side bar, or by checking out the Liberty Hippie’s bitbacker.io account, where you can show your support by donating Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

Don’t forget to pay Nicky P. a visit either at Sounds Like Liberty, or on bandcamp, and pick up a subscription to the Freedom Song 365 project.

And subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 004 with Sherry Voluntary.

Podcast #4: Homeschooling and Unschooling with Sherry Voluntary

Direct mp3 download.

Link to episode 4 on Libsyn.

A change of format this week as the today’s show opens right into the interview with Sherry Voluntary. Sherry if a wonderful podcaster with lots of different shows out there, but she is also a homeschooling mother of two. We talked a little bit about her educational experiences growing up, and how she got to the point of homeschooling, and the eventual unschooling of her younger child. You can find Sherry and her work on any of the links below.

Find Sherry Here:

After the interview, the Liberty Hippie takes a look at an article from Indianapolis that talks about the shortcomings and overall problems with an incinerator and government involvement with some pretty absurd contracts.

If you really want to help the show grow, please subscribe and leave a review on the Apple iTunes Store (or on any podcatcher, though iTunes is the most important). You can also like us on facebook and share the show from there. We are on Twitter as @HSandHSpod, and sometimes on Instagram, too.

If you feel so inclined to support the show financially you can click on the Amazon link in the side bar, or by checking out the Liberty Hippie bitbacker.io account, where you can show your support by donating Bitcoin or Bitcoin Cash.

Don’t forget to pay Nicky P. a visit either at Sounds Like Liberty, or on bandcamp.

Subscribe to the show!

Link to show notes for episode 003 with Harold Thornbro.

It’s A Podcast!

I’ve been wanting to get a podcast going for sometime now, but haven’t had the gumption until recently. Presently there are only two episodes available – and the first is just a pilot so… – but new episodes will be released on Tuesdays.

As you might imagine, the podcast will interview individuals involved in the homesteading and homeschooling movements in an attempt to gain insight into how others run their micro-programs so that we can all learn from each other. I have recorded a good number of episodes and I can tell already that my interviewing skills have started to get better, so stick with me and give them a listen.

Each episode will start out discussing an article from the internet, or some sort of interesting, unique, informative website or program that homesteaders and homeschoolers might find useful or informative. After that we will get into an interview. My first interview was with Miss Elizabeth Melton of Sixpence Farm. Check out the show notes for all the details, and put the rss feed into your podcatcher to subscribe to all future shows. (The show will be on iTunes soon, but as of writing, Apple is still in the reviewing process.)

RSS Feed: https://homesteadsandhomeschools.libsyn.com/rss

Forced Sharing is Socialist Indoctrination

No matter where on the political spectrum you fall, it is fairly well accepted that the public education system leans to the left; some simply accept this, others get angry, and still some enroll their children in private schools or even try their hand at homeschooling. Many of the latter accuse the schools of indoctrinating children into Statism or even Socialism. And while this may have some truth to it, there are some things parents do without recognizing that they are, in fact, indoctrinating their children into socialism right from their own home.

Most everyone has heard the little catch phrase before: “sharing is caring,” and while to some degree, it is, sharing can actually be rather sinister. The problem with sharing, is that it can diminish the importance of private property, individual ownership, and voluntary interactions.

In a classroom, most of the toys used are bought by the school or the teacher, they do not belong to the children and it is up to the administrators to make the rules surrounding how toys are shared. However, in the home, toys are usually purchased by an individual for a specific individual. At my house we have a few of those toys meant for large group play, specifically, a rickety jungle gym with a little climbing wall, a slide and two swings; we also have four children. This creates problems. We often resolve these problems by introducing a new object, or suggesting they take turns, but we do not actually force our children to get off a swing and give it to a sibling. Usually the suggestion to share is enough to persuade our children to behave differently, and if it’s not, we might lean a little harder with shoe-on-the-other-foot examples, but we never force a child off the swing.

We need to teach our children the voluntary actions of charity, not State sanctioned theft.
And then we also have those individual toys: the Batman action figure Grandma sent down, or the iPod Santa left behind. Too often, parents allow a child-owner of a toy to use the object, but when a sibling or friend wants to use it, the child-owner is forced into sharing. If you do not share, there are consequences that may involve time out, or shuttering of the toy, of course this is after the child that made the request to share has been given the object of their desire against the will of the owner. It may not seem like a big deal, after all, I am the parent and children should learn to listen to authority figures, right? But consider the message and the moral you are sharing: “It is okay for an authority figure to force someone to give up their private property to someone else who wants that property.” This is simply unacceptable. There is no need for this framework to ever be established, especially in the mind of a child. On top of this, it not only tells a child it is okay for an authoritarian force more powerful than you to take your property, it also tells a child it is fully acceptable to appeal to authority to use force on others so the appealer’s desires are met. It instills entitlement, which only furthers the acceptance of forced sharing.

Now, I am not suggesting voluntary sharing is a bad thing, or that we should not encourage children to share, but it should be on their terms. There is great importance in teaching children the value of charity, and the benefits of taking care of others when you can, but these are things that cannot be forced, and it must be understood that these things have limits. We need to teach children that being mindful of others has a place, but it is at their choosing. At the same time, we need to teach our children that sometimes, we will never be able to use a friend’s toy, nor may we ever be able to purchase the toy on our own and that is simply the way of life. We need to teach our children the voluntary actions of charity, not State sanctioned theft.

Continue reading “Forced Sharing is Socialist Indoctrination”

Liberty is the Least Restrictive Environment

When I was going through school to be a teacher, one of the key phrases that was always bandied about was Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). Specifically, the language is used in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). As you would imagine, a child with a disability is required by law to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment, or in a classroom with their peers without disabilities, this includes giving students interpreters, aids, or other services necessary to achieve this goal. The student will be removed from the classroom of their peers without disabilities when the severity of their disability prevents the goals of IDEA and their Individualized Education Plan (IEP) from being achieved. It would seem that most educators agree with this model and state that it prepares students better for adult life and improves their socials skills, it also, more importantly, gives them a better education and presents them with higher expectations. The last two are key.

I am no longer a teacher in the traditional sense, but I do homeschool my children. Right now, we have two that are being homeschooled, but next year we will (most likely) have four, and this provides the ultimate in LREs. My wife and I are able to create IEPs for each one of our children and they are allowed to flourish. The children find topics that are exciting and important to them, and they delve into those topics on their own; my wife and I create little projects that encourage further exploration and real world application.

While I don’t always agree with the world of mainstream education, I do think this idea of LRE is a good one and should be applied generously to everyone, and by everyone, I mean every breathing being on the planet. There are a handful of reasons to employ LRE in education, but the most important are that it allows for a better education and presents students with higher expectations – the one begets the other.

How does a least restrictive environment produce higher expectations? Where do those higher expectations come from? It’s not the teacher, the teacher’s expectations for the student should remain the same regardless of the environment in which they are taught. It’s not the expectations of the other students, in fact, the other students probably have lower expectations for the disabled child. Rather, it is through self-imposed competition with their classmates. No student wants to be seen as the “dumb kid” or the “slow kid” and most students will do their best to keep up and stay within the norm.

When we apply this to the real world, it takes on a bit of the “Keeping up with the Smiths” mentality. Often we tend to live right around our means, sometimes we pull back and live a little more frugally, saving for the future, sometimes we get caught up and spend a little more than we should, but we’re often able to dial it back and get on course. There are certainly outliers – millionaires in wholly pants and stained t-shirts, and five button suit, fedora wearing, chapter 7 filing debtors – but they aren’t the norm. We all strive to fit in with those around us and adhere to the social norms in the public spheres we frequent.

The problem is, the current system of our politics is not in the vein of the Least Restrictive Environment. The State is constantly regulating everything, from how you run your business, to what shoes you have to wear on the job site, these regulations add restrictions. When we add restrictions and regulations, it makes it harder on small businesses and the individual to better their economic station.

Further, when the State hands out monies to businesses in the form of tax-breaks or assitances to the individual, we start to see restrictions being imposed. Those restrictions come in the form of a lack of competition. If I know that I can wait on the State to feed, clothe, medicate, and shelter me, I have no incentive to compete with others for a better way of life. If I know that my business is operating at a loss until the end of the year when I get a big tax-break from the State because I installed some solar panels, or I hired some minority workers, or that my business is just too big for the State to let fail, my incentive to improve starts to diminish. When I join a union, I know that every week, I will be paid a certain amount, I know that my job is fairly secure, and I am aware of the minimum amount of work I must do. I have no incentive to work harder for a raise or to work better to keep my job. I can do just enough to get by and while this may seem ideal, it lowers our expectations of ourself and with it goes some self value.

The Nanny State that is entrenched and upheld by the duopoly, the political system in the United States does not allow for the Least Restrictive Environment. There are tomes of regulations and restrictions on the individual and the business. A truly least restrictive environment in which competition can flourish and the individual can excel exist within the freemarket. If we all had to compete for jobs and paychecks we would get better at discussing contracts with bosses, we would become more efficient workers, we would have higher expectations for ourselves, because they would be attainable. We mandate teachers to teach students in the least restrictive environment so why is it any different for adults? Why do we recognize that students have higher expectations for themselves when restrictions and barriers are removed and they are forced to compete with other students? If you threw all the students into a pot, undoubtedly they would settle out and there would be striations, levels of students, some smarter, some not so smart, some would excel at auto-tech, some would excel at physical education and others at math, and it would be normal. If we threw all adults into a pot, the same striations would occur. Not every individual is cut out to be a CEO, and not every individual is cut out to be an auto-tech or a roofer, but you would have more movement. It would be easier for the roofer to go out and start his own roofing business and become a CEO, it would be easier for the beautician to start her own cosmetology school. Unfortunately, regulations create restrictions and limit this movement – usually due to licensing fees or zoning laws. In a more free world, we would all be living in our own least restrictive environments; if it’s good enough for the children, why not the adults?

Wavering Steam

No doubt about it, teaching is not an easy job. You are constantly bombarded by disrespectful students, disconnected parents, an at times semi-supportive administration and an education system handed down from the government that is focused more on testing and “critical thinking” than actual knowledge based learning. Not only does this distract a teacher from actually teaching, it also makes a students job harder and learning more difficult. These things are all part of why we chose to start homeschooling.

Though, with that in mind, we certainly aren’t unschoolers, as we do believe that there are some things that school teaches: one must learn how to sit quietly and patiently, focusing attention on something that you may not want to. While society wants us to think work-life is fun and exciting and we should do something we love, it does not always work out this way and many times we are stuck behind desks focusing on a task we have no interest in. Learning to force ourselves monotonous events we have no interest in is a mighty gift public education teaches us. Another of those school taught maladies we must be comfortable with is busy work! How many times do we have to do something superfluous in the real world if only because some regulation says so? (Sorry for the rant, but hey…).

Anyway, in order to actually teach a thoughtful lesson filled with substantive knowledge and interactive tasks, much research, planning, and development must be completed. Unlike a public school teacher who can reuse most of their unit plans from year to year – provided they don’t change grades – homeschoolers, have to develop units every year. We can reuse them for siblings but there’s still necessary creation for the eldest. Yes, there are box curriculums, and we utilize them to some degree, but we always find them to be sub-par. Unfortunately, this creation is where we get bogged down. Creating curriculum like we want takes time, and we need to borrow that time from one of our other many tasks: trying to run a small homestead – planting, firewood, butchering, etc., foster children with weekly appointments, making shoes for the masses, and other pet project we find ourselves engaged in.

With all of our “distractions” sometimes homeschooling takes the back seat. Planting seeds, keeping court appointments, stacking firewood to cure, filling shoe orders are all time sensitive and while homeschooling is also time sensitive to a degree, it can, in a sense, be “put off.” This is not to say it is altogether skipped, but over the last month or so, we find ourselves relying more on worksheets and handouts: the easy fill-in-the-blank stuff we wanted desperately to get away from when we started homeschooling. Yet, here we are. We still put in effort and there is still work being done on both ends, but compared to last year, we can’t help but to feel like we’re failing.

This past weekend we somehow (between three birthday parties, a drama performance and two doctors appointments) managed to dig a little deeper. Yes, we still included a number of worksheets for this weeks lessons, but we were also able to get out our Home Depot shower board out and get a skeletal framework for the next month. We made time to develop a couple of projects that will require our son to reason and think about what he has learned.

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Showerboard!

I’m sure to some degree these lulls in intensity are fairly normal. (Everything else ebbs and floes, why not homeschooling?) But, last year we hit homeschooling hard, this year, we hit it hard, and lost steam. We’re gathering steam again and know we can maintain it for the remaining seventy or so school days this year and it’s exciting. It gives us hope for next year and beyond, something that we started to doubt earlier this year.

If you’re a homeschooler, what keeps your steam from wavering? Do you use worksheets or other forms of busywork when you can’t get your act together?

Hale’s Hazardous Tales

As a kid I was a big reader. I could be found at night with the covers pulled up and the flashlight on illuminating my bed cover fort from within. I would spend the seemingly endless bus ride home from school, neck crook’d downward, eyes consuming words, head bumping off the glass window as we traversed the back country roads. I read a number of things, but they were all novels: words on paper – no pictures. As I progressed through middle school and high school, I kept to the same things. At some point, I’m not sure when, graphic novels started making their way into our culture. The first I recall were The Watchmen and Maus. While I had read a few comic books (X-Men 2099), I never really got into it, and to be honest, I kind of looked down on the genre. Using pictures to tell a complex story seemed like something of a cop-out. (I’m an English major, tell a story with words, not pictures!)

It wasn’t until I was actually teaching in Brooklyn that I read my first graphic novel: Persepolis. From there, I read a few more, but nothing struck me hard enough to be remembered a decade down the road; though they did make a spot for themselves in my cannon. They weren’t incredibly awful, and to some degree they do make literature more accessible to hesitant readers.

Since my time in Brooklyn, I’ve had a son who has grown to be also be a tremendously consumptive reader. He will read through a Magic Tree House book in a couple of hours. For Christmas he received the Indian in the Cupboard, read it in two days, and is on his second read. (To be honest, there is a bit of disbelief on my end, but when his comprehension questioned, he seems to know what is going on.)

His love of books fuels his love of the library. We spend quite a bit of time at the there, and he can get lost in the children’s section when his mother or I get to picking out books for school. As with any library, the children’s section is divided into sections: easy readers, young adults, and non-fiction. (They also have sections for holiday themed texts, and longer series’: Hardy Boys, Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, etc.) Our library also has a small section – it’s really a cart – devoted particularly to graphic novels. We first discovered the section when we took out The Monitor vs. The Merrimack, one in a series of “graphic battles of the Civil War.” For us, this was a major score, after all, what six year old doesn’t want to read comic books about war? When it came time to return it to the library, it wasn’t in the pile. It had migrated into my son’s room; who knows how many times he read it. In the car to the library, it was clear how much he really enjoyed the book as he kept recounting the battle for me and asking further questions; of course when we actually got to the library, I had to show him the graphic novel section. He was enthralled.

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The booming graphic novel section.

There were a number of good texts and series on the shelf – and I may write about some of the others later – but there was one that really stuck out for us: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales. Where as “Graphic Battles of the Civil War” details battles of the Civil War, Hale’s Hazardous Tales run the gamut of US History. In total there are seven texts from the Revolutionary War to World War II.

The author is actually Nathan Hale – or at least that is their pseudonym, the first in the series is also about Nathan Hale… – and he recounts historical stories that focus on some sort of harrowing or otherwise deadly tale. They read like typical comic books, but instead of kryptonite and heavily moustached detectives, there are actual believeable characters that may or may not have existed and conversations that probably didn’t actually happen. I wouldn’t say they are the end-all-be-all history texts, but they certainly set the framework and get kids excited and encouraged to learn more and go deeper. At around 120 pages, they are longer texts, but their comic book nature allows readers to plow through these books.

As like most of the books my son reads, he is constantly going back for these. Even though he has read all but the most recent, he continues to check them out and read and reread them. They may not be for everyone, and I suppose, are geared more towards young boys than young girls, but they are certainly approachable by all. While we haven’t built any units around these texts, they have all been a part of the unit when we covered that particular historical period. They are an excellent supplement or everyday read for those younger elementary aged students. While they may not all be found at your local library – ours only has three – they are all on Amazon, and you can also check out Hale’s website for some interesting facts and early proofs. (It doesn’t get very many updates, though.)

The seven texts are as follows:
One Dead Spy – A Revolutionary War story about the actual spy Nathan Hale
Donner Dinner Party – Westward Expansion, and of course the Donner Party
Big Bad and Ironclad</> – The history of the Ironclad warships of the Civil War
The Alamo Allstars – Texas, The battle of the Alamo
The Underground Abductor – Story of Harriet Tubman and her work as an abolitionist
Treaties, Trenches, Mud and Blood – World War I, trench warfare, etc.
A Raid of No Return – World War II bomber pilots over Japan

Each text focuses on a particular event in history, but also wraps in the political and social climates of the time. If you haven’t checked these texts out, I’d highly suggest it.