HS #255 Homeschool Laughs and Lingo with Jennifer Cabrera, Hifalutin Homeschooler
Links and Resources:
- Hifalutin Homeschooler Website
- Hifalutin Homeschooler Facebook Page
- Hifalutin Homeschooler Instagram
Socialize Like a Homeschooler; A Humorous Homeschool Handbook (available @ Amazon)
“There are many species of homeschoolers. The one umbrella we can all get under is our desire for freedom and family first.”
~Jennifer Cabrera, Hifalutin Homeschooler
HS EP 255
Hello and welcome back to another installment of the Homeschool Solutions Show. My name is Wendy Speake, and I am one of the many hosts we have here on the podcast. Each week, you'll hear from one of us, inviting one of our friends to join for a conversation about this busy, blessed season as we educate our children at home.
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And now. On to today's show.
Hi, I'm Jennifer Cabrera, the Hifalutin Homeschooler, writer of Homeschool Truth and Humor, exhausted mom of three, mostly teen boys who know everything already, but humor me as I homeschool them to greatness.
Welcome back my brazenly independent and awesomely weird homeschool friends. And also, to the new and curious, joining me for the first time, this is only my second podcast, so you haven't missed too much yet. But you're late for the fun, so be sure and catch up. There could be a quiz.
Now that most of us are likely back to the books and throwing back three cups of coffee before second breakfast, arguing over the length of the day's copy work, and of all the kids on a scavenger hunt to find the hole punch, let's take a load off with some fun, laugh, and introspection about life as homeschoolers. Cause maybe we are a little weird. Jennifer, you say that like it's a bad thing. Why, no! It's a badge of honor. As my mom used to say, when I was a teen, and I wanted to do what everyone else was doing, wear what everyone else was wearing, or embarrass myself like everyone else got to, because, everyone else gets to!
Well, thank God we're not like everyone else. As homeschoolers, we have our own culture, subcultures, and even outliers. We have our own terms, and vocabulary and styles of dress and ways of interacting with each other, and the outside world. Or not. If things get too ‘peoply’. But the one umbrella that we can all get under is our desire for freedom and family first.
Now, we can usually spot each other in a crowd, too. Or alone at the park on a Tuesday, burning things with a magnifying glass while dressed as Bible characters. Or we spot the mom holding up the line at the meat counter while asking the manager if he'd be willing to take her kids on a tour of the chopping facilities in the back. You know who you are. High fives.
We once took a tour of a crawfish farm. Apparently, I was the first to ever phone and ask, because the owner was so tickled by my request, he rolled out the red carpet to the pirogue and gave me and my boys, and their adventurous granny, one of our best field trips ever. He even gave the boys a crawfish trap to take home to fish for our dinner in the ditch. And of course, yes, we baked him a chocolate pie to say merci, ???, cause that's what homeschoolers do, right? We Google how to say things in French Cajun and then make people things they didn't know that they needed. Like sugar scrubs that we made for science. And then they remember us, for better or for worse, yes, sometimes for worse.
Perhaps you've heard of "that" homeschool family. They are the legendary family that people who have no idea what they are talking about, like to bring up in reference to homeschoolers to negatively represent all of us when the need arises. You know, that family that only bathes on Saturday. Only teaches the boys to read. But not until age 12. And only by candlelight and under the rock where they live and eat fried possum while discussing our doomed flat earth. Ah, but that's just not true. Not anymore. Many homeschoolers now just keep possums as pets. So let's toss that tired, unscrubbed, illiterate cliche and update the fable.
So, we'll start our homeschool introspection by poking fun of the homeschool uniform. What is an acceptable homeschool attire? Well, any of the following are acceptable. Pajamas, from sunup to sundown. Yes, this is our trademark folks. Math in PJs. Science lab in PJs. Lunch in PJs. Watering the garden in PJs. But stop there. Not when out and about town. The footy fleece and extra-large worn out knee-length and holy Bible school t-shirts should stop at the mailbox. Just don't. Wearing pajamas to the grocery store or to the museums gives all homeschoolers a bad rap. We're better than that, y'all. Plus, we're already trendsetters for a major holiday happening every year in public schools all over the country. Hello Polar Express Day. Wearing pj's everywhere makes that phenomenon less special, don't you think?
But by all means, kids, wear your batman and Amelia Earhart costumes everywhere.
I guess we could think of dressing to leave the house as a socialization lesson. How do you want the world to see you? What statement are you trying to make? Now me, I'm usually trying to tell the world I went to the gym earlier, or I might later. Or at least I sometimes think about joining a gym. But when I grow up, I wanna look like a runner. Cause yoga pants are also totally acceptable homeschool attire for the mom who hasn't embraced the denim jumper craze just yet. P.S., overalls...can I get an amen?
And whatever you choose, you can just make the fashion statement again and again the next day too, cause when you homeschool, you can just wear what you wore yesterday, since you likely won't be seeing the same people again anyway. Saving time, laundry, and money on clothes while interacting with all different people from day to day, boom! Socialization myth exploded.
Now, when it comes to homeschool attire, your kids could also do what my kids like to do, which is, on days we are staying in, going nowhere, and no one is coming over, they wear their absolute newest and best outfits in their closets. The ones with the tags still on them if you can swing it, kids. The one mom is saving for that special occasion—and be sure to eat a chili filled chimichanga for lunch. And then roll around with the dog in the backyard for a bit. Break it in really good. That way, later, when going out for dinner or a choir concert, you can wear those pants that are too short, with the iodine stain on the pocket. And be sure and pair them with the shirt that you tie-died in Bible school four years ago. And then no one will have any doubts that yes, we homeschool. Why do you ask?
Now, really I guess anything goes for the homeschool uniform. The point is, homeschool fashion is more about dressing to your personality, and especially for comfort. Which is probably why my kids think we're dressing up when I require them to wear pants with an actual button. I mean, obviously, we must be having dinner with the president. Mom's got a sundress on with no coffee stains. It's practically a ball gown.
Now, besides our fashion choices, we also have our own homeschool speak. A whole list of vocabulary. Things we say to our kids and terms we use that most outside the homeschool bubble wouldn't understand. Even within the homeschool genus, we have several different homeschool species. Each with their own unique verbiage that we may not understand outside of our own assigned homeschool species. Admittedly, I'm still learning new homeschool terms every year. I don't know, you all, but I think we're making them up as we go.
New for 2020, I've coined, "old school homeschool," which is a term I made up for those of us who homeschooled before it was mandatory and the title of homeschooling was kidnapped by a suddenly large and panicked group of remote learners.
But we've got lots more homeschool terms to translate here. So, for anyone confused on the lingo, and for all you homeschool newbies, here are some terms used to describe the different types of homeschoolers, i.e., homeschool species.
First up, traditional homeschoolers. Those that like to set up lessons, practice work, tests, and schedule their day and activities, much like the brick and mortar schools. But with more snacks and possibly in pajamas. They often use a publisher's boxed set of curriculum and utilize standardized testing as a way to gauge their success.
Now, if you have an assignment tray set up somewhere in your kitchen for completed work to be turned in, or you scheduled the day's subjects by time slots instead of workload, you might be a traditional schooler. This type of homeschooler often has a designated homeschool room, desks, inspirational posters, and at least one map hanging on a wall. And though no one actually stays in their chair for any length of time, it's nice to see it all put together and feel, well, at least it looks like we're doing stuff.
This is how a lot of new homeschoolers fleeing the public school start out homeschooling. I know, because I used to be one.
Next, we have the classical homeschoolers. The academic intimidators. They have these cool terms for learning stages, grammar, logic, and rhetoric. They're often memorizing speeches, dominating debates, and their parents hope to be raising the next generation of scholars, doctors, and lawyers, and they're learning Latin. Like a secret language none of the rest of us can understand. Or maybe we tried, and we gave up.
If you can recite the Gettysburg Address and secure a toga with one hand for a class presentation on Socrates, you might be a classical homeschooler.
And then there's the Charlotte Mason-ites. The beautiful homeschoolers. They like to journal. They read only the beautiful living books, which are books on topics in science, history, or any academic area that are written like a conversation or a story to draw a reader in and make it come alive. They make these beautiful notebooks of knowledge and nature sketches that document their educational journey. And when we grow up around here, I want our homeschool to look like this.
If your science notebook could be disassembled and marketed for wall prints at Hobby Lobby, you might be a Charlotte Mason homeschooler.
Now, there are also the rebels of homeschooling. The unschoolers. To those outside of homeschooling, this title seems to say, we don't need no education. And in a way, that's exactly what it's all about. Unschoolers largely shun organized education, curriculum, and age standards, and instead, go with learning based on a child's interests, situational need for certain knowledge, and wherever it takes them. They touch upon the different academic disciplines as they dive into the rabbit hole, often checking out crates of books from the library each week.
So, if you've ever done math while shopping at Aldi or Costco, and tested Newton's laws of motion while at an amusement park, you might be an unschooler.
Finally, the last subspecies of homeschooler, if you take any combination of the previous homeschooling species, and mix them up really good, and then throw in some indecision and stuff we haven't put a name to yet, well, you get eclectic homeschoolers. This is what we call ourselves here in our homeschool. Basically, we just can't decide exactly how we wanna do things just yet. We like a little bit about each of the other types, and we just do a little bit of all of it. And maybe make up some new methods along the way to fit each of our children individually. We're trying all kinds of things, hoping some of it is sticking and will get them where they want to go educationally. Or maybe we just like to keep our kids on their toes and able to handle change well.
If you started out saying the pledge at least once a week before breakfast, tried learning Latin, journaled your way through history one year and read a textbook the next, or switched curriculum three times in one year, you might be an eclectic homeschooler.
Now, I feel I have to mention the most adventurous and exciting type of homeschooler. They're kind of a sub-sub-species ‘cause if you subscribe to any of the above methods of homeschooling I just described, but then you put it on wheels, you get road schoolers. Hippy homeschooling. The whole family, traveling the country together in an RV, learning together. it's so rogue. I sometimes thought maybe this might be fun for six months. A year. A new view, and field trip possibilities each week or month, just down the fold-out front doorsteps. And then I remember I'm outnumbered. Four to one. Males versus females for the only one tiny bathroom in an RV. Nah.
If you've ever said that there's an RV, Clark, and meant it, you might be a road schooler homeschooler.
Now, lastly, homeschooling has two distant cousins. Sometimes they're ragged on as not being real homeschooling because they lean on an institution for support. Now, one is the University model school, sometimes called prep school. Homeschool Lite, I like to call them. Usually, they follow the classical approach but go to an actual school setting two to three days a week and homeschool on the other days. It's great for parents that need a co-teacher because they wanna be more involved in their kid's education, but want an outside plan, schedule, guidance, and transcript for security done by somebody else.
And then there are the online schoolers. Often using a computer-based program monitored by the public school system or a paid-for private school, they've often just fled a failing school or bullying situation, and they made a great decision for the safety and spirit of their child, and really, this is just a gateway method into homeschooling. If they stick with it long enough and venture out into the homeschool community, in a few years, they'll be raising chickens and baking kale chips in no time.
See, with all these different types of homeschoolers running around living and learning, it's no wonder the general public probably thinks we're a little weird. Because when they ask a ten or eleven-year-old homeschooler what grade they're in, they could get any number of answers, depending on what type of homeschooler they're talking to. A traditional homeschooler might say, Um, I'm in Saxon 6-5. A classical homeschooler might say, oh, I'm in grade logic. And the unschooler would show them their platinum library card. And the eclectic homeschooler would tell them, you know, it's complicated. Would you like to see my resume? And then the liveschoolers would just ask, um, whatever grade I have to be to participate in this activity, I'm in that grade.
See, it's all relative really.
Okay, so now we know the basic types of homeschoolers out there. Let's go over some of the homeschool terms and vocabulary that go along with each. Some that pertain to us all, and even some that apply to all education and child-rearing, but, homeschoolers seem to be using them more often and accurately.
The homeschool lingo. Words like curriculum. Now, I heard this word a lot growing up with a mom that was a public-school teacher. But it never meant much to me. Even when my kids were in public school for three years. Not until the words "common core" were added, and then suddenly my master's degree wasn't enough to understand second-grade math. Let's not go there. But curriculum just means a course of study. And since I started homeschooling, curriculum has become one of my favorite hobbies. I love looking for curriculum. Curriculum that I don't even need. And every spring a lot of us are so sick of what we're currently using, it becomes more fun to start picking out next year's goodies.
And then there's boxed curriculum. One complete set of curriculum designed to cover one entire grade level, neatly packed and ready to go in one little box. If you just wanna push one button, order, unbox, and learn, this is for you. Now, for us eclectic homeschoolers, this mostly sounds like being deprived of our favorite part of homeschooling. Curriculum shopping. The decision making would just be over with too soon. One click? No way.
Which brings me to my next homeschool vocabulary word. Curriculum junkie. Those of us who consider homeschool curriculum shopping a sport akin to black Friday shopping, only better because you can make it last for weeks from the comfort of your sofa, with snacks, filling, unfilling, and refilling online carts on several different websites. Bliss. Sometimes time gets away with us, and it's two A.M., and what started out as a search for good grammar supplements ended up burnt corneas while reading reviews on engineering your own castle from the middle ages. How did we get here?
Okay. My next vocabulary word. The laminating queens. I've decided when it all boils down to the basics, there really are only two kinds of homeschool moms. Those who laminate everything, and those who sell their curriculum or set it on fire at the end of each year. And laminating queens laminate everything. So, once I shared a meme about all the things you don't need to homeschool, like a teaching degree or a laminator, and some moms came after me with digital pitchforks. Blasphemous!
Now, maybe it was a few of you listening to me now. I think some would laminate their kids if it was possible to make them easier to clean. Some admitted it was a soothing activity and now, they have enough bookmarks to wallpaper their house.
Another common term homeschoolers use is year-round. Obviously not a homeschool term by itself, but we know what this means in our realm. It means summer school. October vacation and finishing third grade on Monday and starting fourth on Tuesday.
Co-op. Now, this is not a joint business venture, cause ain't nobody gettin' paid. It's a group of parents coming together to help each other teach core classes and some really weird random subjects too, where you let some other kid's mom or dad teach your kid Spanish while you teach their kid the proper care of horses and bearded dragons. Usually, all kids participation is subject to parent's participation. No one's sneaking out for a latte or a nap. Co-op is a love or hate thing.
The next word. Double-up day. This is where you do all of Tuesday's and Wednesday's assignments on Tuesday so that you can go to the movies on Thursdays. This also works for any day of the week when you wanna cram the have-to's in order to get to the want-to's quicker.
Sun days. Now, this is actually two separate words, so don't be confused with the day of the week. A sun day is when you have a day that's just too pretty and perfect to spend indoors, so you drop everything and you head outside.
Umbrella schools. Sadly, no Mary Poppins academy where you learn the proper use and etiquette of a parasol or umbrella, though that sounds much more appealing. But a school, mostly in name, that oversees homeschoolers, offering curriculum advice, scheduling, and transcripts, and to see that they fulfill state government requirements while learning at home. Now, these are more common in states with more regulations. (Ahem! Move to Texas.)
The next word is, copy work. Now, this is a homeschool torture device disguised as handwriting and grammar practice. Just ask any kid.
Morning basket. Now, basically, it's a compilation or basket full, if you will, of activities and discussions to start your day together. Possibly a short read aloud, art study, devotional, craft, ick... I don't really have first-hand experience with a truly organized morning basket routine, as we never get up early enough or pleasant enough to read poetry together. But we do usually start the day with an impromptu discussion or debate over current events at breakfast each day. See Pam Barnhill for the professional real deal on morning baskets.
Game schooling. This is where you need a day off. Maybe everyone is crabby and bored. But you don't really wanna take a day off, so you take a more hands-on approach with games. Monopoly for math and economics. Scrabble for spelling. Battleship for logic. Twister for PE, and Trivial Pursuit for a final exam. Done.
Okay, dual credit. A class you take at college but put the credits on your homeschool transcript. And hope they transfer wherever you end up as a real college student. Oftentimes homeschoolers can graduate high school with an associate degree as well as a high school diploma, all at the same time, yee haw.
Trivium. A cool word that describes the three stages of classical education. Remember those, you know, debaters, and those awesomely overwhelmingly smart homeschoolers.
Unit study. This is when we pick a topic, say, Christmas around the world, and then we beat it to death with reading novels, writing essays, watching documentaries, cooking-related recipes, field trips, and art projects. Nothing sucks the fun out of a holiday like a good-intentioned homeschool mom with a unit study.
Second breakfast. The meal kids get up and eat in the middle of their math work, because, why not? You're home. The kitchen is so available. You need food for thought. Second breakfast is a token. A calling card of homeschooling. It's 2020. They really should make a movie. The second breakfast club. Duh!
Okay. Denim jumper. This is the customary dress of our founders who realized the value of dresses with pockets and sturdy fabrics. Now, largely interchangeable with yoga pants, and overalls.
Forced association. The homeschoolers rebuttal and title for the type of socialization going on in a brick and mortar school, such as when every student in a class is forced to give their classmates, bullies and all, a valentine card. Sure, it's in the spirit of friendliness, but it's all orchestrated and completely insincere.
Now. Twaddle. Wait. What did she just say? I know, right? I was stunned to see some homeschool moms writing this on my Facebook page. Now, before you tell me to watch my mouth, let me say that this is a Charlotte Mason homeschool term. That's right. The beautiful homeschoolers came up with this one to describe books that they think kids should not be reading because they are just brain candy without educational or spiritual worth. Just twaddle.
Free-range. It's like chickens. You let your kids run around, experience the world, and exercise their bodies and brains without constraint before you eat them. No really, it's organic parenting. Only the freshest and wholesome-est ingredients, where you know what's in your kids. Delight-led learning. It's really simple. It's learning what you like. What delights you. See also, interest-led learning.
Workboxes. A complicated system of trays arranged with activities and lessons per subject that a kid can do mostly on their own after mom spends hours setting them up. They're usually color-coded with sticky notes, rolling carts, and a lot of it is probably laminated. Just sayin'.
Life schooling. Learning by living and following the rabbit down the hole if interested. See also, unschooling.
Homeschool picnic. A term I made up, and I'm trying to get it to catch on. And so it's when you get to do all of your work on the floor in a room forbidden to come out and separated from your siblings because you won't quit annoying everyone for sport. Y'all, a child will not sharpen their pencil or crush ice into a glass until they're sure that it will make the most noise at the exact time it is guaranteed to send a sibling into orbit. I've studied this.
And finally, for my list of homeschooler terms and vocabulary, socialization. The dreaded word. And it really is our word. A homeschooling word. We own it, we get browbeat with it the most. Its basic meaning is to interact with people of all ages in a respectful and engaging manner, which homeschoolers do quite extraordinarily, and generally more adeptly than their public schooled counterparts. Especially in naturally occurring social settings, despite what the stereotypical homeschool stigma may be. Because most naysayers won't let it go until our kids are squared away in a classroom eight hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year, homeschoolers will always be wrong about socialization. Duh. That's sorta the point! And so, we're taking this word and we're turning it around. We'll socialize like a homeschooler, which incidentally, is the name of a humorous homeschool handbook you can get at Amazon and gift to any homeschooler or gift yourself. End of shameless advertisement.
To socialize like a homeschooler is to meaningfully interact as a family or individually within your community, not despite your personal values, beliefs, and goals, but because of them.
Now, I've got lots of opinions and laughs about the socialization myth to share in upcoming episodes here on the Homeschool Solutions Show, and also in that book, Socialize Like a Homeschooler that I mentioned. There's also lots of sarcasm to be had on my website, hifalutinhomeschooler.com. You can read some of my older posts and most popular posts. I also have a page of memes there, which you can also find on Facebook and Instagram, where we have a community of other homeschoolers who think like us and share a lot of homeschool hacks just to get each other through the hard days.
But until next time, be proud to put your faith, family, and freedom, above fitting in to a misguided notion of socialization and stay weird and homeschool on.
Thank you for joining us this week on the Homeschool Solutions Show. As always, you can find show notes and links to all the resources mentioned at homeschooling.mom. I hope you'll take a moment to subscribe to the podcast, and, if it was especially meaningful to you, share it with your friends via email or social media. This is just another way we can all encourage and love and support one another.
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