If you’re doing 1st Nations/Native American studies, I highly recommend that you take a look at Aaron Carapella’s Tribal Nations Maps. He’s done a lot of research and has labeled each tribe by their own, traditional name instead of the names given to them by white settlers and the U.S. government.
Here’s a write up about the maps over at Indian Country Today. There’s North America, South America, Alaska, and some special area maps. These are complex maps showing the wide diversity of people that lived in the Americas prior to colonization.
I wish Mr. Carapella would do Polynesia and the Caribbean too, though that might be a little out of his jurisdiction. I don’t want to infringe on Mr. Carapella’s copyright, so alas no pictures of his maps here. Go check them out; though we homeschoolers don’t usually have the budget for beautiful $200 specialty maps, he does have digital editions and I think some poster versions. This is not an affiliate post. I’m just really excited about this wonderful resource and had to share!
It seems that the Kardashian celebrity machine has been designing kids clothes recently. This of course has caused outrage and horror among certain sets of people, especially the crowd who wants to raise “strong, confident girls”. Start with some moaning about the over-sexualization of teen girls, throw in a lot of hand-wringing and pearl-clutching, and you basically have the entire conversation.
I understand the power of the modern media machine. I sotry of know who the Kardashians are even though I don’t watch any TV that isn’t carefully curated through Hulu and Netflix. I don’t read any celebrity magazines or blogs. Still, it seeps into my awareness. Even living in my cocoon of media ennui, I had expectations of what “Kardashian” branded children’s clothing might look like.
I’m eternally curious, so of course dear readers, I did a quick internet search– and found clothes that I would have happily put on my infant and toddler daughter without a second thought. Sure, I would have passed on the leopard print, but much of the collection is just the sort of thing I loved. Cotton print, looks comfortable, easy to wash. Lots of matchy-matchy stuff to eliminate any need for thinking. Or matching. What’s not to love? I’d even buy the faux fur cape if I were making a little Victorian girl costume for a “Dickens on the Strand” event. At least it looks like it’s real faux fur instead of Raccoon Dog from China passed of as “faux”. In this case, we can give the Kardashians a pass. They’re not super-mutants whose mere brand will convert your child to the dark side. OTOH, if you don’t want to give them your money, there’s no reason why you should.
The “strong girls” conversation always includes the “it’s all your fault, mom!” contingency, who shrilly insist that Kardashians and other media evils have nothing to do with the problems of modern girls. It’s all the fault of “home life” and not enough “family values”. Of course this is ludicrous. There are strong, strong forces at work in our consumer culture that penetrate, as I said before, even carefully curated bubbles of media ennui. It’s there when we go shopping. Don’t get me started on the time not so long ago when I needed to take my teen bra shopping and it was a multi-day, multi-store death march to find a young teen bra that wasn’t full of push up padding. It’s there on our billboards, our TV, magazine, internet ads, everywhere. And everyone says: “I know this is a problem, but I don’t know what the answer is!” I do, but I expect some people aren’t going to like it.
Be a Strong Girl
You want to raise a strong girl? Be a strong girl. Throw away your scale. Go to the grocery store with no makeup on. Take your daughter camping, just you girls. Go do something fun with her that gets you sweaty and filthy, and don’t say a word about your appearance. Talk about the modern dating scene and ways to navigate boy/girl relationships with dignity. Talk to your daughter about the news (the real news, not celebrity gossip). Turn off the cable television subscription. (I have cable internet with no television, so don’t tell me it can’t be done.) Read about cool advances in the sciences and share the excitement with your daughter. Cancel your women’s magazine subscriptions and replace them with Smithsonian, Discover, Sky and Telescope, Bon Appetit, Weekend Projects, Dwell. Be the girl you want your daughters to grow up to be.
Someone commented that once your daughter turns 11 or 12, she won’t care about your opinion or aesthetics. This is not true. Don’t mistake her attempts to find her own opinions and aesthetics as a full rejection of you. Sure, you’re going to argue. Sure, there’s going to be push back. Every teen needs to rebel a little. If you embrace her and her self-expression, even if it’s not what you’d do/wear/say, she’ll still trust you when she’s an older teen. If you didn’t slam the door in her face with some kind of “my way or the highway” b.s., she’ll come back around to wanting to know your opinion. Give her some privacy to figure herself out, but don’t abandon her to be raised by the media, her friends, and school.
If your girl suddenly wants to be a goth (or whatever), go help her buy goth clothes. Don’t throw a wad of cash at her, drop her off at the mall, and then spend the next six months complaining about her wardrobe (true story!). I know you’re busy. I know she might say “but I want to go with my friends!” Go anyway. Be happy and supportive and you’ll be able to gently steer her away from the too short mini to the more acceptable alternative. This won’t happen if you don’t show up.
Showing up might also require that you attend concerts and other events that bore you. You might be there as the lone person over 20. Suck it up and go anyway. You’ll keep your kid (and by extension, her friends) out of trouble, morph into the coolest mom ever, and have excellent leverage next time you want her to go listen to Bach. Plus you’ll learn about what she likes and be able to talk to her about it like a civilized person.
It’s Hard Work Being A Girl
Look, I’m not perfect and I surely need to take some of my own advice sometimes. We all need to go easy on each other, not only mother to daughter, but woman to woman. I’m not judging you for your secret addiction to Grey’s Anatomy or whatever is popular right now. If you’re like every other woman I know, you do enough self-judging; you don’t need me for that. It’s hard work being a female in our culture. It often feels like everyone’s eyes are on us, judging everything about us. Of course you’re not going to be the perfect role model for your girl. But you can be a role model for your girl. Pick your battles, do what you can. You owe it to yourself to be the best girl that you can be, never mind your daughter. Keep that in mind, and you’ll both turn out just fine.
Our homeschool journey with hand writing began with my mother. As a profoundly left-handed person in an era that believed that left-handedness was a weakness to overcome, she still somehow managed to acquire a most beautiful Spencerian writing style. She was grimly proud of this accomplishment, and had even won a penmanship award before she was forced to leave school at the end of eighth grade to help support her family. The teachers, she said, would hit her hands with wooden rulers in an attempt to force her to write right-handed. Even with physical pain and shame as motivators, she was unable to make the switch.
When I was born, she vowed never to let anyone attempt to force me out of being left-handed. I’m one of those people who can learn to do things with either hand without being truly ambidextrous. I write left-handed because of my mother’s fierce protectiveness, and do a bunch of other things right-handed. I took my mother’s life-lessons to heart. I let my kids be whatever hand they were wired to be, and taught penmanship even though it was out of style by the time we started homeschooling.
Is teaching penmanship a waste of time?
Many people, including other homeschoolers, thought that teaching penmanship, especially cursive, was an insane waste of time. A lot of people who went to school when penmanship was still taught have memories similar to my mother’s, even if they weren’t left-handed. Now that I have one kid in college and one kid working on her last year and a half of high school, I can say for certain that penmanship was not at all a waste of time, nor does it have to be painful. Though neither of my kids took after their maternal grandmother and her award-winning handwriting, both of them can write decently. They are the envy of their friends. It turns out that in this future of robot maids (Roomba, I Love You!) and computerized everything, decent handwriting is still necessary and in some circles, considered quite posh.
We got through handwriting lessons with a minimum of tears and a regular application of practice. We used Zaner Bloser books. After we finished those, I had each kid pick out a style of calligraphy to learn for fun. The important thing in a homeschool handwriting curriculum is to treat handwriting as an art, not a punishment. Like all art, you don’t learn it in an afternoon, but when you do start to master it, the feeling of accomplishment is huge!
In the category of “things everybody knows about homeschooling”, Everybody knows that homeschool is a lot of hard, serious work. There are whole systems out there that involve carefully orchestrated hours of study, prayer, and folder after folder of perfectly displayed projects and assignments. These are serious families who take education very seriously, every day. Their kids are going to get into Harvard on a full scholarship and go on to cure exotic diseases while on mission in developing countries.
Then there are the lazy girls (and boys). You’ll find them sleeping in on a Tuesday. On Wednesday, they’ll be doing Algebra at their desk in their pajamas. You must excavate their essay on War and Peace from underneath their pillow. Nobody knows where the actual book is. The dog might have eaten it, or Dad might have taken it back to the library. School didn’t get out at the end of May not because you’re on a year around schedule, but because somebody hasn’t finished their online, work at your own pace, class yet. It will be mid-July before it’s finished.
It takes an extraordinarily laid back mom to admit that nobody at her house was dressed by two pm more than one day last week, especially in the face of an internet filled with pictures of perfectly groomed homeschoolers conducting science experiments and taking hikes in Kamchatka. It’s easy to start feeling really inferior in the wake of all those homeschoolers with their photo ready, effortlessly orchestrated lives. And let’s face it, the surprise visit from critical relatives is never going to happen on the day that everyone is out of bed at 7:00 am, building a scale model of the RMS Lusitania. No, that surprise visit is going to happen the day the kids are building a demon fortress on Minecraft while you hide in your room with a migraine.
Keep a stiff upper lip, homeschooling parents of lazy kids. Your efforts are not going to waste. Your kids are not going to be living at home forever, unable to get into college or get a real job. Take it from parents who have been there, done that, and had to buy new pajamas to replace the ones destroyed by homeschool Science experiments. Your kids will eventually learn to respond to alarm clocks and deadlines. Yes, it seems grim when you find your kid asleep with a biography of Abraham Lincoln open over their face. Keep in mind that they are actually reading Abraham Lincoln’s biography, and possibly even enjoying it. Maybe you didn’t get everything done that you hoped to accomplish. Maybe nobody put on real clothes all last week. I’m not judging. You’ve got the whole world (and those critical relatives) to judge you. I’m here to say, it will work out. Don’t give up. You and your kids will be fine.