Peer Pressure in Home Schooling – I Mean…Really?

I was very happy to connect with Beth and more than pleased to have her cover this topic here. I know I have participated in more than a few “what are you doing” conversations in my parenting time. For a homeschool mom I sure haven’t been writing much on the subject lately. I have, however, been noodling some posts I want to write soon on all the different ideologies and philosophies that have phased in and out of my kids education. But until the noodles cook into a good post, read what Beth has to say on the pressure us moms (and dads) can go through.

Beth, a home school mom and teacher, lives with her adorable son and yummy chef husband on Johns Island, SC. She loves her life and sharing her time and energy with parents and kids as they home school. She currently has two blogs, www.classesbybeth.blogspot.com (home school) and Every Spiritual Blessing at www.bethhempton.blogspot.com where she currently features excerpts from her upcoming book.

Peer Pressure in Home Schooling – I Mean…Really?

How many homeschool moms does it take to choose curriculum for one child?

One, but only after she has surveyed at least a dozen other moms for their opinions!

Peer pressure runs rampant in home school circles even though it is only discussed in hushed tones and whispers because we really don’t want to admit it exists. However, we have a responsibility to expose it for what it is! :) I’m not referring to peer pressure among our teens and students. I’m concerned about the peer pressure among our moms!

All joking aside, I first began to realize that that peer pressure existed when I started attending home school support group meetings over a decade ago. Having previously taught in a private school, it took me by surprise to discover that home school moms aren’t overly confident. They are bold in standing up to the government and school boards, unsupportive family members and friends, but struggle with making serious decisions for their home schools and their children without seeking out their peers. In some situations, it seemed that even spouses were considered less influential than other home school moms!  Consider the following:

  • Reasons for home schooling – A few years ago, one of our local private schools lost a significant number of families to home schooling. When I spoke with some of the moms, I discovered that at least a portion of them had decided to home school because other families were taking that route in response to a disagreement with the school headmaster. At that time, I wondered how many would home school for more than a year. By the next year, several of thsoe families returned to the school because they didn’t realize what they were getting into with home schooling. They didn’t really comprehend the absolute commitment required! Reasons for home schooling need to be personally grounded within your family. It is definitely not the time to try to keep up with the Jones’!
  • Number of children – As a mother of two, I found myself explaining to other moms that I had tried for more children, but God chose to give me two. With so many friends having four or more children, I often felt like that girl who just couldn’t afford the latest fashions. I wanted to be belong, but I really couldn’t make myself like the other moms. I have spoken to other moms with one or two children, and while there are more smaller home school families today, sometimes you feel pressured into a having a larger family or feel less than perfect if you don’t.
  • Curriculum – I have many home school friends with shelves and shelves of curriculum. Every year, they seem to second guess what they previously used. As well, if one mom mentions that she has experienced success with a particular curriculum, ten other moms run out to purchase it. I remember my first curriculum convention in Dallas, Texas. I had taught school for over eight years and I felt extraordinarily overwhelmed by all of the options. I couldn’t imagine how moms without any education experience waded through all of the choices!  I solved this issue for my family by writing my own curriculum. For some families, it may not be a particular curriculum, but rather a teaching philosophy such as unschooling or the Charlotte Mason method. I belong to several small groups online designed for those who follow CM methods. Early on, I noticed that many of the moms really didn’t understand CM or what she espoused, but like the “idea” of CM because they had friends in the small group. For some, it could lead to a better understanding, but for others, the time might be better spent.
  • Scheduling – As a mom who is considered experienced, I often get asked about how we schedule our day. This question comes up every year in our support group and I am always surprised that families struggle with how to schedule their school day. I wonder how they scheduled their lives before home schooling. Did they ask their neighbors or family members when they ate meals, bathed, did yard work etc? I doubt it! My advice when moms ask is to design a schedule that fits your family’s values and lifestyle. Many home school families have unique situations like a parent that works at night or a parent with a chronic illness. No single schedule works for everyone and trying to adapt your family to the majority may only cause frustration.
  • Outside activities – You have probably laughed when people ask about your children being socialized. If anything, it seems like homeschoolers socialize in relevant ways more than most kids. Our kids don’t just go to outside classes together, they do service projects, athletics, holiday parties, field trips and more! Since they don’t spend all day with their friends, this time together is even more valued. However, the peer pressure issue bubbles up when moms start talking about what their children do outside of home schooling. So many moms feel pressured to not allow their children to miss out on any experience. I often hear moms complain about schooling in the car because they have so many activities and classes for their children. I teach classes in literature, history and writing. While I encourage parents who need my expertise to put their children in my classes, I don’t think that my classes are for every child. I have noted that in the past, I have greater enrollment among moms who know one another and discuss my courses. On the surface, that sounds wonderful, but the key to all of it is the motivation behind attending my courses. I’ve had parents want to enroll students when they’ve already had the subject matter in another way simply because other friends have enrolled their children. Over-scheduling our children because other families do so ultimately results in frustration and fatigue for both you and your children.

Please don’t get me wrong…I believe that supporting one another through home schooling makes so much sense. There’s a great deal of anxiety related to being solely responsible for our children, but faith in the fact that we were meant to teach our children and no one else could love them more should be our primary focus!

Have you had times when you felt pressured to do certain things or behave in a certain way as a home school parent? Or do you think I’m completely off base? I’d love to hear from you either way!

Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog Conferences

Please welcome Tamara as our fabulous PR Mondays guest poster today! She has some wonderful insight on conferences for you. This summer I am planning to be at the following conferences: EVO, Savvy Blogging Summit and BlogHer. I wrote a beginners guide to BlogHer last year.Let me know if you are going to any of those and please leave some wonderful comments below with your own advice to newbies or questions/thanks to Tamara!

Tamara is the voice behind The (Un)Experienced Mom and Blog Conference Newbie. In addition, she is the co-creator of Our Mommyhoodwhere motherhood meets bloghood! If she’s not online chatting or connecting others, she’s probably working out, sleeping, or changing a poopy diaper.

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Why Newbie Bloggers Should Attend Blog Conferences

When people first get into blogging, it usually starts off as a casual hobby. Some people post when they can while others start off posting daily. But no matter how often you write, the realization that blogging is a bit addicting and can require a lot of time eventually hits us all.

In the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve learned a lot about the craft. There are blogs for every hobby, topic, or stage in life. There are personal and professional bloggers. There are even blog conferences. I was actually very surprised to learn just how many blog conferences there were. Before I created Blog Conference Newbie, I figured there were a handful of conferences at most. But I have since realized that in addition to the bigger conferences such as BlogHer and Blissdom, there are newer conferences emerging each year, many of which are specific to a blogging niche.

What I’ve also realized since networking with newer bloggers is that many assume that these blog conferences are only for experienced bloggers or ones who are making money from blogging. My own experience and those that other bloggers have shared with me proves this point: blog conferences are beneficial for newer bloggers.

Still unsure if you should spend the time and money to attend one? Let me explain why I believe you should.

  • Connections: Blogging is not just about writing; it’s also about connections. So many of us enjoy reading others’ blogs and get excited when others comment on ours. While it’s easy to make connections with bloggers online, you’d be amazed at just how much stronger those connections become when you meet those people face-to-face at a conference. Even if none of your online blog friends are attending, I can assure you that you will still walk away with those real-life connections. At Blissdom this year, I roomed with someone I had never met before. I felt comfortable enough to be her roommate without having met her and am so glad I did. Not only are we great friends now, but the two of us met three other gals that we are now close with as well. When a large group of blogging women are put together under one roof, you’re guaranteed a good time and new friendships.
  • Knowledge: Of course, one of the main reasons to attend a conference is to learn, and blogging conferences are no different. The couple of days you’ll spend at the conference will be jam-packed with useful tidbits, helpful hints, and downright important information. Many conferences educate bloggers on topics such as finding your passion, utilizing social networking platforms, monetizing, increasing readership and traffic, and how to write creatively. Don’t want to earn money off your blog? Only blogging for fun? You can still learn a lot from a conference. For instance, the Casual Blogger Conference is geared towards those who blog as a hobby. In addition, many of the conferences offer various tracks, focusing on the topics you find helpful; you can pick and choose which sessions are a fit. Writing, business, photography, and creating communities are common tracks. There is something for everyone at these conferences.
  • Confidence: Attending Blissdom this year renewed my confidence. My confidence in my writing, my purpose for blogging, and my passions in general. The mix of having a weekend away to focus on myself and spending time with those who understood my hobby are what impacted me the most. I think most new bloggers feel very anxious leading up to the conference they are attending and start to question why they are even going. But once there, they realize that this was actually one of the best decisions they made. There really aren’t words to describe the blog conference experience other than fulfilling, fun, and fabulously rewarding.

There are obviously other reasons to attend a blog conference and I honestly could write another couple of pages worth. However, the purpose of this post was to provide you with some food for thought and encourage you to at least consider attending a blog conference this year even if you are a newer blogger.

The next obvious thought after deciding to attend a conference is “How do I pay for it?” followed closely by “How should I prep for the conference?” I invite you to head over to Blog Conference Newbie to read tips on these topics, as well as how to save money on your blog conference trip and what to expect while you are there. In addition, the site offers a list of blog conferences, need-to-know dates, and interviews with conference coordinators themselves. Blog Conference Newbie is your go-to-guide for all things blog conferences, whether you are a new attendee or not!

And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on Twitter also. I enjoy helping newer bloggers with general insights or blog conference-related topics. You can connect with me on Twitter (@unxperiencedmom) or by adding the #ConferenceNewbie hashtag to your tweet.

Dead Rabbit Sundaes

This is another wonderful guest post from my friend Maryann. She told me this story one Saturday and I asked her to please write it down for all of you since I loved it so much! It is the perfect post to participate in the Hershey’s Better Basket Blog Hop which is a wonderful program where bloggers can help raise $5,000 for Children’s Miracle Network. Children’s Miracle Network has helped to make so many of Carters surgeries and hospital stays so much better and easier for him. I am happy to be helping with this important campaign.

Maryann lives in Littleton, CO with her wonderful husband, their two fabulous (most of the time) teenagers and a large assortment of lovable pets. She is currently interviewing artists for her upcoming book.  Her blog is www.artists.50interviews.com

When my little sister and brother and I were young children, my single mother struggled to make ends meet and we didn’t have a lot of extra money for luxuries like sweets.  Her idea of a great dessert was a bowl of instant white rice with maple syrup poured over the top.  Or sometimes, Mom would mix powdered sugar with milk and a drop of red food coloring and spread it onto graham crackers.  But each spring, we looked forward to a very special sugary treat.

Our neighbor a few doors up the block was a traveling candy salesman.  Each year after the Easter holiday was over, he would present my mother with a big bag of leftover foil-wrapped chocolate bunnies.  Oh what joy!  We knew it was time again for “DEAD RABBIT SUNDAES!”

My sister, brother and I would sit at the kitchen table with a pile of chocolate bunnies in front of us and we’d begin carefully peeling away the foil wrappers.  The naked chocolate rabbits would be piled up into a large metal bowl.      Mom prepared a make-shift double boiler of the metal mixing bowl propped over a saucepan of boiling water.  She gently placed our painstakingly peeled rabbits into the bowl and we all stood watching wide-eyed as the rabbits slowly melted and grotesquely distorted.  “They are dying!” my little sister would scream.  Of course it wasn’t all bad because we knew what was to come!   Mom used the spatula to swirl around the melted chocolate rabbit mixture until it was smooth and creamy.  When it was melted to perfection we’d dish up our bowls of vanilla ice milk (the cheap ice cream-like product they sold back then) and Mom would pour on the warm, aromatic chocolate.  Then it was time to dig in!

Almost forty years later, my siblings and I still fondly reminisce with Mom about our “Dead Rabbit Sundaes”.   I don’t know if any other dessert could every measure up to that memory.

Other ways to reach Maryann

WEBSITE: www.CreativeMarketingCafe.com
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/maryannswartz
LINKEDIN: http://www.linkedin.com/in/maryannswartz

As part of the Blog Hop I am passing the basket onto the following bloggers and asking them to please help as well.

Hersheys Better Basket Blog Hop

HERSHEY’S BETTER BASKET BLOG HOP RULES

  • Copy and paste these rules to your blog post.
  • Create a blog post giving a virtual Easter Basket to another blogger – you can give as many Virtual Baskets as you want.
  • Link back to person who gave you an Easter Basket.
  • Let each person you are giving a Virtual Easter Basket know you have given them a Basket.
  • Leave your link at BetterBasket.info/BlogHop comment section. You can also find the official rules of this #betterbasket blog hop, and more information about Better Basket with Hershey’s there.
  • Hershey’s is donating $10 per each blog participating to the Better Basket Blog Hop to Children’s Miracle Network (up to total of $5,000 by blog posts written by April 4th, 2010).
  • Please note that only one blog post by each blog url will count towards the donation.