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.
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.
“Just enjoy your kids!” is probably one of the most annoying things that was ever said to me when I was a parent of preschoolers. Almost inevitably it was part of conversations that I had with other parents, teachers, and other supposed experts on child-rearing. It’s a nice sentiment to be sure, but it infers that we are anxious, worrisome mothers who simply need to calm down and change another diaper, and everything will be just fine.
It’s very frustrating, because if you’re at all an alert parent, you can see before you in your preschooler a living knowledge sponge. Here is a little person who wants to know everything. Everything. Right now! Here is a little person who finds the world the most exciting and wonderful thing ever. She wants to explore it all. He wants to find out how it all works. You want to exploit that, because all too soon they’ll be weary, jaded teens who don’t want to learn a darned thing.
Engagement: Secret Learning Weapon!
Okay, I admit it. I am going to tell you to calm down a bit about that last part. I promise I’m not going to waste your time telling you to enjoy your kids. Of course you’re already doing that. No competent parent needs to be told to enjoy their kids. However, your kid or kids, however smart, do not need to learn formal Math, the foundations of Western Philosophy, or even the entire sonnets of Shakespeare by heart right now. There will be plenty of time for that later. Yes, they may be able to do those things. This does not mean that they should. And if you don’t want those weary, jaded teens who don’t want to learn a darned thing, you won’t inflict formal learning on your preschoolers.
How to Teach Your Preschooler “Too Much!”
When we attempted to enroll our son into public school kindergarten, one of the accusations hurled at us by the administrators was that I had “taught him too much”. He was ahead of “grade level”, he was too smart, too social, too polite. You can read that story elsewhere on Rebel Homeschool. My point is, there we were with the Kid Who Knew Too Much. And yet he had not been exposed to any formal learning at all. How did that happen?
My son’s about to graduate from a charter school where he finished up the last couple of years of high school work (he wanted an official state-issued diploma). He’s got great SAT scores and currently he’s Valedictorian of his class. Public school experts want your kid in school, in a formal learning environment, earlier and earlier. They’ll tell you this is how you end up with my son’s result.
People who actually pay attention to what preschoolers need know this is junk advice. Just because impoverished kids living in terrible environments do better if taken out of the terrible environment for a few hours a day doesn’t mean that every preschooler is better off in such a regimen, stuffed in a classroom pretending to be big kids. I’d argue that it’s not even ideal for the impoverished kids, but for now it’s the best the system can do. So what about your preschoolers?
Awesome Preschooler to Lifelong Learner Track
Read. Read to them. Read a lot. Read to them even after they learn to read themselves. Make an adventure and an art out of reading out loud. Do the funny voices. Examine every picture in the picture book. My kids are both older teens now and we still read aloud to each other.
Make Drama Story Art. Make a “dress up box” of bits that can be used to make a variety of pretend outfits. Hats, masks, scarves, crowns, various pieces of fabric that can be capes, togas, robes, etc. Re-enact their favorite stories. Let them lead the way. Let them change the story. Play along.
Make an Art Mess. Watercolors, salt dough clay, craft paper projects, crayons, do them all. Some craft stores host classes, if you’re feeling timid or don’t want cotton balls glued to your sofa at home. Skip the coloring books for now. Let your kid color not only outside the lines, but without lines at all.
Get Imagination Toys. Blocks, trains, sets of dishes and fake food, building toys, puppets, any kind of toy that can be used for multiple purposes.
Get Out of the House. Go outside as much as possible. Ride the bus, even if you have a car. Go to museums, and not just the Children’s Museum, though you might find yourself living part-time there. Go to outdoor festivals. Go fly a kite, throw a ball, run in circles, explore the world.
Talk to Your Kid. No dumb down speak, no baby talk. Tell them family stories. Talk to him like he’s a little person you love to talk to. Talk to her like she’s amazing and smart. Use your big words. Explain what the big words mean, but only if asked. Model the polite behavior you’d like to see in your kids. Tell them they’re wonderful, amazing, people. Tell them how much you love who they are and how much you enjoy being with them. And oh, yeah. Enjoy your kids!????
tlryder is a homeschooling mom of two teens. Her memoir, “Ankle Deep in Craft Paper”, will be out as soon as she’s done having her obligatory homeschooling mom nervous breakdown.