Trees of Transition

Planting seeds of hope throughout our world through sharing photography and thoughts on teaching, cooking, and life transitions.


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Homeschooling Gray: Being Homeschooled, and Then Trying to Teach in a Traditional School

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Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 10
Who was your favorite teacher? Someone lively? Hands-on? Or someone serious? Probably that teacher, whatever their traits, loved teaching you and your classmates, their students, and loved teaching their subject. Think about your own teaching…What is your teaching style? Do you like to teach one-on-one, but prefer not to do it in front of a classroom? Or do you like lecturing, but do not enjoy getting students up and moving around in group activities? There are different styles of teaching that work well with certain people, and it’s good to admit what type of teacher you are (it might be similar to the favorite type of teacher you liked while you were in school).

The direction my parents modeled for my siblings and I while they homeschooled us pointed us toward knowing how to be a Jack-of-all-trades verses being a specialist. This has had its disadvantages and advantages as I’ve entered and worked in the field of education.

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Fighter Pilot Dream Gets Queasy…

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Homeschooling’s Black, White, & Gray Series 1 Episode 9

The career guidance test question asked, “Would you like to be a fighter pilot?” My choices: Yes or No. I thought, “I would like to be a fighter pilot once at least…but I don’t want to kill anyone…” So I marked, “Yes.” This might have messed up the results of the career test a little bit, but it felt empowering to mark, “Yes!”

When I received the results back, they were helpful in thinking about my future. I still mainly wanted to be a wife and a mother, but it gave me more self-awareness. In traditional schools, you take aptitude tests to help you figure out your career, but in homeschool, it’s up to the parents or the students to go after taking these tests. It’s a good idea to take at least one career aptitude test.

My parents helped me sign up and take those tests. They didn’t make all of us kids take them, but if we showed interested, then we could. I took the Career Direct test (and it is still around: http://www.careerdirectonline.org/). My parents and I still laugh about my wanting to be a fighter pilot.

What did I want from being a fighter pilot? Adventure, seeing new sights, and speeding through the heavens comes to mind.

Last weekend I got a little taste of being just a regular pilot, and it was different than I thought…
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A Homeschool Strength: Letting Creativity Soar

Homeschooling’s Black, White, & Gray Series 1 Episode 8

Homeschooling students encourages their curiosity, creativity, and entrepreneurship. For example, I learned how to make a four-tired wedding cake and started a little cake decorating business when I was twelve years old. It began a few years before…

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A Homeschooler Takes on the “Mean Girls” and …

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Homeschooling’s Black, White, & Gray Series 1 Ep. 7

What does it mean about me if a dysfunctional institution led by some “mean girls” throws me out? Here’s what happened, but first of all, my definition of “mean girl” is a sometimes fun, but really selfish, usually gorgeous, controlling woman who uses manipulation to get what she wants and to keep admiring people around her (similar to the mean girls in the movie with that same title)…

I met her on the day I interviewed for the job, and she seemed interested in me and glad to have me come on board. This beautiful, married woman seemed like she could be a friend; since I was used to being friends with my bosses, I thought I could do it here too. I jumped into the job, helping with even more than I probably should have, but keeping my eyes open because I knew the institution had a reputation for dysfunction. I invited her to go see Shakespeare in the Park (which she couldn’t make), we had other interesting conversations, and I thought she liked me.

Because my “dysfunction radar” was on high alert, I didn’t let things slide when my schedule got changed around the day before school started. I spoke up, respectfully. I let her and the boss over her know that it shook me up to have more students thrust upon me and rooms changed around the day before school starts, and I felt disrespected. I thought they understood…

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Homeschool Anatomy: Farm Style

Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 6

Mr. Moo arrived at the farm in the back of the truck, still a calf who we had to feed milk, which we dubbed “Mr. Moo’s Goo.” (It was a special calf formula). He liked his goo, so he grew up to be a fine steer. A funny fact: He thought he was a sheep because we kept him with a group of rams for company.

At our homeschool, my siblings and I never took anatomy in the regular way, but we did help butcher a lot of animals for meat. We watched Dad chop the heads off chickens, and then helped pluck off the feathers. (Those made great roast chicken!) When Mr. Moo arrived, we knew why he was on the farm: For steak!

The biggest crash course in anatomy happened when it came time to butcher Mr. Moo. Yes, we knew from the start how he would end up, so we enjoyed him but didn’t get too attached to him. And that steer was took three days to process. We had to grind lots of ground beef, wrap the steaks in white butcher paper and label it, and it was an interesting experience.

Dad ran the show, and he did most of the cutting with the knifes and saw (to cut through bone). My brothers probably helped Dad hoist up the huge body up to get it skinned ad then chopped up.

I’ll spare you any more of the grizzly details, but I learned about how blood congeals, how bones look, and how a cow tongue looks up close. (We tried eating it once– it is more edible once you take the outer coating off that had the taste buds, then it looks and tastes like pot roast.)

The T-bone steak was amazing! Dad would marinade it and then grill it for dinner, and we would even have steak and eggs for breakfast sometimes. Farm-style anatomy wasn’t that bad.

By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2015


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Through High School or to Traditional High School? That is a Homeschooling Gray Question

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Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 5

Pushing through streams of United States high school students is a cultural experience. In a private school it looks like masses of dark blue uniformed students, arms full of books, trying to get to class on time. The girls are in pleated skirts, trying to get away with having them as short as possible, batting their eyes at the boys as they pass. The boys are trying to keep their football gear on top of the locker, and random students are trying to get their backpack out from behind the lockers. Voices, elbows, and weaving through the people to get to class on time makes up those four minute passing periods. The important social issues (catch up with friends or smile at that cute boy) at school tend to happen then or at lunch. The classes teach students more of the traditional subjects they need to know for life (or at least that is a goal; it’s up to the students if they get it). Does a child need to have this traditional “secondary school” experience to be able to function well in their society?

Of course, one can say the answer is “No,” because a child can learn how society functions through other experiences such as dance classes, sports teams, church groups, and other structured clubs.

The answer may be more gray than that: It depends on the child and what he or she needs in regards to learning styles and in regards to career goals.

Some children do best when surrounded with many other students. They lead the way in making up plays and group games when they are young, and become the student leaders in high school. Extroverted students do better (socially at least) when learning with other students around. If your high school student is more extroverted, considering placing them in a traditional school setting for high school could make them come alive! The people connections and the opportunities to work together will develop them and expand their world in a productive way.

On the other hand, if you have an introverted student on your hands, homeschool high school without a co-op or attending classes at a community college will be a self-paced, self-taught type of education, (depending on the curriculum and the parent’s familiarity with the subject.) Introverts can do better at home, but getting challenged to work in groups is a helpful life experience.
I had an introverted homeschool high school experience, and yes, I have some gaps from areas I wasn’t as interested in, so I didn’t push myself into them deeper, but the education was adequate. If I had known I wanted to be a high school English teacher early in high school, going to public school could have been helpful education.

The decision about going to a traditional high school should be made together with the student because for some careers, traditional high school would be a helpful training ground for going into that field. For example, I have been in the field of education the last five years. I have had some gaps in my knowledge of traditional schools and how students act that I would just know if I had attended traditional school, and knowing the social cues better would have been helpful to have. I’ve learned to fill in those gaps, but it has taken time and more energy than if I had just learned it by growing up through traditional school. (For example: How students are just at their worst for substitute teachers! And I don’t get this idea of trying to get by with the least amount of work possible. Don’t you want to learn?!?) If your homeschool student wants to go into a science field, it might be a good idea to look for a high school that has a more intense science focus or invest in laboratory instruments at your homeschool.

Encourage your student to explore different fields of interest and pick one that she or he loves, and then pick the education method that will help your child succeed the most in that field.

The answer to doing homeschool high school or not is a gray one that homeschool parents will have to think through and decide with their child’s best interest in mind.

By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2014


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I Do Not Remember My First Day of School. Do You?

Homeschooling’s Black, White, and Gray Series 1 Episode 4

At age 29 I learned what I missed by not going to preschool. As a
preschool aide for a year in a Catholic school, I learned how certain kids howl, run away from teachers, and scream as they start the separation process from Mommy. The first few hours of preschool sounded like school was a very sad place. (Starting preschool looks like it can be a traumatic process for some children.) One little boy and I became quite close because he had not started learning to obey when an adult instructed him to do something, so he received many time outs where he had to be watched to stay in his chair to learn from his consequences. If my parents had taken me to preschool, I might have been in a chair next to him…maybe…We both really liked our own way.
My Mom chose to homeschool me, so I did not attend regular preschool.
My “preschool” consisted of cooking play dough and making things, learning my letters through songs, learning to make friends with kids at church, and living life with Mom, Dad, and my siblings.
I remember playing with my friends and siblings when I was three or
four, but I do not remember my first day of school. Probably, it was a
normal day of playing and learning a little more about math at home.

We do have a photo from our first day of school, which I don’t remember, but it looks like a fun day! Our school’s name was Campbell Christian Academy, and we might have started earlier, but the day of this school picture was September 9th, 1986. I was four, my younger sister was almost three, and my older brother was seven.
From looking at the photo, here’s what might have been happening:
Mom is talking to us–saying, “Hold up the sign!” I’m holding the sign AND something I created–it looks like a toilet tube wrapped in yarn (perhaps my own personal telephone?!) My sister is just content to be on my Mom’s lap, and my brother seems to be enjoying waving the flag!

What I do remember from the early days of our homeschool are memories of saying the pledge to the flag of the United States of America, and we had a time of learning together. Especially when we were little the puppet shows Mom did for us to help us memorize passages from the Bible were my favorite. Mom is great at making different voices, so she had puppets or characters in stories she read to us sound different. Mom let her creative juices flow through having lots of stories be part of our homeschool.

I still have a love for stories, and I’m enjoying sharing my stories with you. It’s okay that I don’t remember my first day of school because it wasn’t a jarring experience. School just flowed out of already learning things at home. I’m thankful for how my parents chose to give me a more gentle start to my education through teaching me at home.

By M. H. Campbell Copyright 2014