Is home schooling right for us?

When I started down my crunchy parenting path over four years ago, I think several people assumed that when the time came, I would home school my kids. I figured then that I would consider it, but it seemed like ages away and I never really gave it much thought. Well, that time is now rapidly approaching.

At age 3, I started sending Ava to an amazing Waldorf-inspired in-home preschool. It wasn’t a surprise at all to me that she thrived there and, despite the cost, I didn’t hesitate for a second before signing her up for her second year this year. She’s had a great experience there with a wonderful teacher. In fact it’s been so good that I’ve even considered sending her to a Waldorf school for kindergarten through eighth grade. I think if it weren’t for the money involved (think college tuition), she’d be going there in a heartbeat. But since we are not independently wealthy, nor do I feel are we financially-hurting enough to qualify for massive financial aid, that doesn’t seem to be a viable option.

That has lead me to exploring our public school options. There are a few public charter schools in our district, a public International Baccalaureate school, as well as many traditional public schools. Because we live in an area with open enrollment, we could potentially send Ava to any one of those schools come next fall. The question is – which one is right for her?

I’ve been overwhelmed with all of the options (I do better with limited choices) and, while I haven’t actually visited any of the schools in person yet (I have talked with some moms about where they are sending their kids), I haven’t felt peaceful about the whole process.

That leads me to a conversation I had with another mom while at Ava’s friend’s birthday party last weekend. She intends to home school her kids, at least initially. She told me about a local home schooling co-op and gave me the name of a Yahoo! Group of local home school support group. And that’s when it suddenly started to seem (again) like something that could potentially be an option for us.

I’ve kind of been of the mindset lately that I couldn’t handle home schooling. That I wouldn’t be any good at it and that Ava needs to be with other kids all of the time. After all, she is a very social kid. But then I joined the Yahoo! Group and discovered that they meet regularly for play dates and have many activities together and that there are a lot of other ways for home schooled kids to be a part of social activities. The more I read, the more I think this might be right for us, at least on a trial basis. We could try it for kindergarten and if it works well, great! If not, then it’s back to square one and finding the right school.

We have been talking about kindergarten a little bit here and there lately, especially because one of Ava’s friends from preschool last year goes to the “big” Waldorf school now and we just saw her over the weekend at the Harvest Faire. So, in an effort to gauge Ava’s thoughts on the matter, I mentioned to her that I have been thinking about home schooling next year. I asked her if she knew what it meant and who her teacher would be and she did. And she said it was a “great idea.” I actually expected her to be more reluctant, but it’s good to know that she (at least in theory) is on board.

I’m not sure what I’ll ultimately end up deciding. I still want to visit at least a couple of the elementary schools that are  on the top of my list, but I have to admit since I started considering home schooling, I feel so much more peaceful and even a little excited. I know there’s still a lot I need to research, but I’m confident we’ll find our way.

Are there any home schoolers out there that want to share any resources, links to curriculum, etc. with me? Thanks in advance. :)

Photo credit: Flickr: brandijordan

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DonorsChoose Challenge: Combatting Global Warming with Education

As a mother of two young children, I believe in exposing them to a variety of outdoor experiences to help them learn about the world. We take trips to various local farms where the kids have picked fruits and vegetables, we’ve been swimming in rivers and lakes, we’ve been hiking in the mountains, and my daughter has even planted trees in a marsh. I can’t claim I do all of these things just to enrich their lives, it’s also because it’s fun for me! We live in Colorado and are fortunate to have many wonderful ways of connecting with nature if we choose to do so, but I know many others are not as lucky.

On, Sarah Karnasiewicz interviewed author Richard Louv about his book “Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder.” Louv believes “in the last 30 years, children of the digital age have become increasingly alienated from the natural world, with disastrous implications, not only for their physical fitness, but also for their long-term mental and spiritual heath.” According to Louv, this is a societal disorder. Our lives, including the lives of our children, are often over-scheduled. In addition, in an effort to keep their children safe, parents don’t allow their children to wander and explore as much as children were allowed to 30 years ago. Other contributing factors to NDD are the amount of time children spend playing video games and watching television, as well as significant amounts of time spent riding in the car. All of this translates into to less time for “nature-play.”

This is concerning to me. I think if children lose their connection to the earth, they will be less likely to care about how their actions affect it and less apt to see how the two are even related in the first place.

When I was asked to find a “green” project to blog about for the BlogHer DonorsChoose Challenge, I wanted to find something that I felt could make a real impact. When I read about  Ms. S’s 10th grade physics class Read For Energy project, I knew I had found a match.

According to Ms. S:

My tenth grade classroom is in a public charter high school. It is an urban, high-need environment catering to at-risk students, the majority of whom receive free/reduced-priced lunch. We are a college prep institution in which 100% of our graduates are accepted to four-year colleges.

Many of our students end up as the first generation of children in their families to graduate high school and/or attend college. Most deal with racial discrimination and violence on a daily basis outside of our school.

Over the course of the school year we study physics while also studying the global energy situation. At the root of our studies is Global Warming. It may seem surprising, but despite all the news broadcasts, televisions commercials, and documentaries, my students don’t know much about global warming. As I mentioned before they come to our school below grade level in many cases, and also with many concerns about their personal lives. When they enter our school most of our students are more concerned with what is immediate — rewards and consequences. Our studies of global warming allow them to not only reflect upon their personal energy use, but also to think beyond themselves. It teaches them to think more globally.

While what I really wish we could do is buy these 10th graders the opportunity to spend countless hours in nature, connecting with the earth in a physical way, that’s not an option. However, I think by participating in this project to help purchase 40 copies of the book “Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You,” we are doing the next best thing. We can help them to learn that their world is bigger than what’s outside their front door and that their daily choices and actions can have significant lasting consequences.

I think that if we are going to slow or reverse the global warming problem, we need everyone to get involved – from preschoolers to high school students to large corporations and governments. Education is an important part of the process. “Stop Global Warming: The Solution is You” teaches about the science behind global warming, as well as activism (something I’m especially keen on). It teaches that anyone can help the cause and that individual actions count. Ms. S says, “I want them to know early on in the school year that their sole efforts can make a difference in the world. I also want them to pass the knowledge they learn in my class onto others to cause greater change.” Here, here!

I think these kids have an opportunity to make a real difference. I want to see them get these books (which, by the way, will be used by future students as well) and I hope you do too.

So what can you to do help?

  • Make a donation to Read For Energy! Every little bit counts, even $1. Seriously! (Note: This project will expire on Nov. 10.)
  • If this cause doesn’t move you, perhaps another one of the BlogHer DonorsChoose Challenges will. Take a look and see if something else inspires you to donate.
  • Blog about this or any of the other challenges. You can add a widget to your blog, by grabbing a widget code from the sidebar or from the BlogHer Challenge Page Widgets.
  • Make your own challenge page. Visit the FAQ for instructions on how to do so. Then be sure to label yourself as a BlogHer member so you can have your challenge connected to ours.

Related posts:
Nature, A Natural ADHD Treatment
Fight Nature Deficit Disorder October 11-13th
Climate Crisis – Truth or Hoax?
Note to Sarah Palin: The Cause of Global Warming Does Matter

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Rate your doctor, midwife & hospital on The Birth Survey

If you’ve given birth in the United States in the past three years, you are eligible to participate in The Birth Survey. Thanks to The Birth Survey: Transparency in Maternity Care, “women can now give consumer reviews of doctors, midwives, hospitals, and birth centers, learn about the choices and birth experiences of others, and view data on hospital and birth center standard practices and intervention rates.” If enough women take this survey, it could have a serious impact on maternity care in the U.S.

The survey was developed by The Coalition for Improving Maternity Services or the CIMS. “Our goal is to give women a mechanism that can be used to share information about maternity care practices in their community while at the same time providing practitioners and institutions feedback for quality of care improvement efforts.”

tbs_button1_5×2.jpgFrom The Birth Survey:

We are dedicated to improving maternity care for all women. We will do this by 1) creating a higher level of transparency in maternity care so that women will be better able to make informed decisions about where and with whom to birth and 2) providing practitioners and hospitals with information that will aid in evaluating and improving quality of care.

Can I just say I really wish this type of resource had been available when I was pregnant with my daughter? If I had been able to read about my OB’s episiotomy rate for one, I think it may have helped me pass her by and find another doctor who’s intervention rates were more in line with the type of birth I was hoping to have. My doctor may be a great surgeon, but I felt that she was cut-happy and performed an unnecessary episiotomy that I still doesn’t feel right 4+ years later. Since my daughter was born more than 3 years ago I cannot complete the survey to rate this particular doctor, but boy, oh boy, do I wish I could to help other women with their choices.

However, on a positive note, I was able to rate the midwife that was in attendance for my son’s home birth 20 months ago. She received a glowing review from me and I am hopeful that the information I shared in the survey will influence women as well, just in the opposite direction.

The survey itself goes into quite a bit of detail about your prenatal care, labor, birth, and postpartum care with a doctor or midwife as well as asks you to rate the hospital or birthing center in which you gave birth (though you may complete it for home births as well – as I did – you just aren’t rating a facility in that case). I believe it took me about 30 minutes or so to complete. A very nice feature, especially for busy moms, is you have the option of saving your answers and returning to it later, something I definitely took advantage of.

I believe The Birth Survey has the potential to make a real impact on the maternity care in this country and I hope that many, many women will take advantage of it to share their experiences and their knowledge with other women. I really feel it is every woman’s duty to share her experience in an effort to educate others and, in turn, hopefully improve the quality of care. As Citizens for Midwifery points out, “For years, consumers have enthusiastically shared online reviews of movies, restaurants, products and services, but readily available information about maternity care providers and birth settings was nearly unattainable–but no longer.” Doesn’t it just make sense that there should be some sort of resource to compare care providers so that we can all make educated choices for our health and the health of our babies?

Heather at Meet the Heathons shares my excitement and optimism about the survey:

I am SO excited that this is FINALLY getting done. It was my dream as a public health graduate to do something like this. I’ve heard rumors that there are efforts to do this sort of thing for ALL types of medicine. So that say you needed a knee replacement, you could look up the hospital/doctor and see their success rate, compare prices, methods, etc… How AWESOME would that be. It would be one step towards changing health care in America– but I won’t get started on that one!

Giving Birth With Confidence says, “Hats off to the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, the incredible women working within community based birth networks throughout the US, and to all the women who are sharing their birth stories. Finally, there is hope that birth, and women’s decisions about care provider and place of birth, will no longer happen ‘in the dark.'”

Upon completion of the survey, I found it interesting and helpful that there were additional resources listed for women who may have experienced negative feelings about their birth while taking the survey. Had I been taking it for my daughter’s birth instead of my son’s, I am sure a lot of the anger and negative emotions I have had in the past about the care I received during that time may have been brought to the forefront. (Heck, I’m experiencing some of them just writing the little bit that I did about it.) While it sucks that women may experience these feelings, it’s good to know there are resources available to help them deal with them.

If this survey brought up traumatic feelings for you regarding your labor, birth, or postpartum experience we encourage you to seek help from a licensed mental health professional who specializes in birth trauma. The following resources may also be helpful to you,, and Solace for Mothers.

Now let’s spread the word. Activistas says, “Share your story, voice your opinion, mamas. It’s important, and it feels really good (kind of like having a baby!). If you don’t, how will your experience help others?”

If you’ve given birth in the past three years, will you take The Birth Survey? Will you forward it on to your friends? Will you add a button to your blog? Let your voice be heard!

Other bloggers who have written about The Birth Survey:

Think Mama Think
Faith Walker
Mama Knows Breast
Finally Living Deliberately
…And a doula, too

Cross-posted on BlogHer

Home birth is a choice that the AMA wants to outlaw



Whether or not you’ve had a home birth or would choose one for yourself in the future, I think most women would agree that they should have the right to choose where they give birth. Just as every woman is unique, every baby is unique and every birth experience is unique. What works best for one woman will not work best for the next. Some women feel the most comfortable giving birth in a hospital with an OB. Some feel comfortable birthing with a family practitioner or midwife in a birthing center. Others feel comfortable birthing with a midwife at home. All of these are options are safe choices, so why is the American Medical Association (AMA) trying to outlaw home birth?

Are they scared that Ricki Lake is raising awareness that women have options with her movie The Business of Being Born? They specifically cite Ricki’s and other celebrities’ home births in the media. “There has been much attention in the media by celebrities having home deliveries, with recent Today Show headings such as ‘Ricki Lake takes on baby birthing industry: Actress and former talk show host shares her at-home delivery in new film.'” Ricki responds to the AMA here, and, over on the Huffington Post, Ricki, Abby Epstein and Jennifer Block have posted Docs to Women: Pay No Attention to Ricki Lake’s Home Birth. Are they scared that women might question the establishment and demand better care for themselves and their babies? Are they scared that they might (gasp) lose money? Are they scared that women might take back birth?

I’ve done a lot of research over the past few years regarding home birth and, of course, came to the conclusion that it was a good choice for me and my family. I’ve also written extensively about my research regarding home birth and my own home birth story as well. I would never say that it is the right choice for every woman, but it do believe it’s a woman’s right to know what her options are, do her research and decide what is best for her and her baby. I do not believe it is the AMA’s right or the ACOG’s (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) right to tell a woman where she has to give birth. As Steff Hedenkamp from The Big Push for Midwives states, “a law dictating where a woman must give birth would be a clear violation of fundamental rights to privacy and other freedoms currently protected by the U.S. Constitution.”

So what now? What can we as women, or men who support women’s right to choose, do? You can sign the Keep Home Birth Legal petition and I also encourage you to spread the word about this. Feel free to grab the button (which links back to this post) and put it in your sidebar or blog about this on your own blog. Get the word out there that the AMA is trying to take away our rights. Home birth is a choice. Let’s keep it that way.

I’ve been trying to get the code for the ‘Home birth is a choice’ button to work, but to no avail. If you’d like to add the button to your sidebar please email me – amygeekgrl AT gmail DOT com – and I’ll send it to you directly.

And if you feel like a debate today, check out the lively discussion on this topic going on over at BlogHer.

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Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers UniteToday bloggers around the world are uniting to blog about human rights. “Bloggers Unite For Human Rights challenges bloggers everywhere to help elevate human rights by drawing attention to the challenges and successes of human rights issues on May 15.”

I won’t have my human rights post up until later this evening – better late than never – but for now I want to share what others are blogging about today. Also be sure to check out CNN’s coverage of Bloggers for Human Rights and leave a comment with a link to your human rights post and I will add you to the list. Thank you.

What other bloggers are raising awareness about today:

To learn more and get involved, visit Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

Bloggers Unite for Human Rights tomorrow (May 15)

Bloggers UniteBloggers will Unite to raise awareness about Human Rights tomorrow. Will you take part? What will you write about? I’m still tossing around ideas on the topic I will tackle (there are so many to choose from), but I wrote over at BlogHer yesterday that it would be a great opportunity for people to write about maternal health or the relief effort for the people of Burma.

If you do blog about human rights tomorrow, please leave me a comment with the link to your post. I’d love to read it and compile a list of what all of my readers are raising awareness about.

Thank you. :)

Edited to add: By the way, I probably am not going to get to publish my post until the afternoon on Thursday since I didn’t get the opportunity to write tonight like I had hoped, thanks to a very wakeful little boy (who’s teeth will likely be fine by the way – per the dentist). ;)