This fall, we have decided to start a home school program for my 12 yr old AS son. My son Mika has named our home school program the Penache Lake Survival School because: "this school make me survive to grow up". He was verging on suicidal behaviour this spring due to the difficulties he encountered at school. He is feeling like his home school is helping him live.

The few neighbours we have-they all ask the same questions. Why isn't your child in school? Why do you homeschool? What does he DO? Do you think you are actually more qualified than a teacher?! Socialization.
School pictures. School trips. Tests. Textbooks. 

After having answered--press the replay button in the head...and realize these people either think that I am stupid or that am making this kid stupid. All they hear is "no curriculum, no textbooks, trust children, am
following his interests, no tests, etc" 

They ask whether I have a teaching degree, usually tell them that helping one child learn through his interests is a whole lot easier than trying to get 30 different kids to learn the same thing that they probably aren't
interested in. 

Curriculum? This boy is learning through living a full, rich life, and from following his passions. He learns through  real life in the real world.

Socialization? His therapy brings him to the YMCA "home school gym and swim" program.  He and the people that live out here in the bush between ages 4 and 90 are all accessible at various times.

Photographs? We take lots of them, and often either one of the kids are the photographers. It is quite amazing the types of pictures they take. This summer, there were some vacationers who had an underwater
camera, and the son took a picture of himself underwater. The angle, lighting, and perspective were quite phenomenal!

Tests? Am not of the belief that tests are a true way of learning anything. Just think about your school study for the test, you pass the test...if that same test were given two weeks later, would you get all the same answers right? Is that true learning?

Textbooks? We have the internet to supplement our own collection of several hundred books. Going to the original source is always better then reading a textbook compiling snippets from several books. Our home
collection ranges from environmental studies, to medicine, nutrition, cooking, history, geography, philosophy, applied science, classic literature, art history-technique-theory, crafts-woodworking-pottery, astronomy, mathematical applications, cultural studies, women’s issues, to raising and caring for pets and farm animals.

Work-books? Workbooks are just little bits of information, taken out of context, presented in a testing manner. Not the best way to learn. An example: When I wanted to learn to cook, cooked. Certainly used
cookbooks for reference and ideas, but not for the actual cooking. Even if had passed a hundred tests on the basics, theories, ingredients and types of cooking, wouldn't be able to cook until actually did it. Same
applies for our kids. They learn to read because they want/need to read. This morning the son showed me a complicated formula he had written on a post it note. A code for a game he had discovered. Whoa! This is a
kid who supposedly had trouble learning to read because he couldn't break the code and couldn't sequence. Now he's having no trouble reading code and performing the sequence. Have always known he was learning
something with his computer interest, just wasn't sure what. Am in awe of him. How quickly he's learned to read and write a new language. And this language might make the logic of other computer-based languages/instructions that much easier to understand. They learn math because they need to manipulate numbers in some way to get something they're after. This morning he had all his Warhammer figures out and
had them all sorted according to their powers: abilities, weaponry, maneuverability, tactical knowledge etc. Wow! this is math, sorting, classifying, calculating, measuring! They learn through meaning, not by being "taught".

School trips? We go hiking, to the YMCA, ice fishing, canoe trips, cook outs on islands, rock climbing, picking berries, gathering mushrooms, building forts-gardens-shelters. Went on a bus trip out of town,
although it was for doctors appointments, learned about the Timber-Express train going north, and other local information.

What about TV? It's so easy to project a schooled pre-teen as a normal kid and assume all kids given the chance will watch TV and eat concoctions centering on sugar, fat and salt all day and want nothing more in life than 256 channels and a clicker in their hand. The stress of school (and a lot of other factors of stress) causes most of that behavior. When given a stress free environment, am finding that kids will watch some things for comfort (the familiar shows), and will watch other things out of interest. Just this week he has learned about the role of shamanism in Tibetan medicine in "Forgotten Healers of The Himalayan", elements of weather in "storm warning", and about a Mayan King in "Ancient Clues".

Being on the autism spectrum myself, and a mother of two spectrum children, am feeling confident in the ability to be a comfort, a source of stability, and in having an innate understanding of what makes my sons
mind work, tap his curiosity and challenge his skills. 

Of course we could just tell people that we are taking an autodidactic approach coupling the learning with a multi-sensory form of reinforcement, following the same pattern of education given to Benjamin Franklin and
Abraham Lincoln. (An autodidact is simply a person who has learned without formal education, a self-taught person).

Due to our limited financial resources, and geographical isolation (47 KM from the nearest city and without a car) hindering access to many services, clubs, libraries etc. we are working with some restrictions in regards to materials for our school. 

Have decided to reach out to others with the hopes that some of you may have some of these things at home collecting dust from lack of use. 

If anything on this list catches your attention and you are willing to part with it we would be very appreciative to use it at "Penache Lake Survival School".

This is our "wish list":

  • Free (or very cheap [VERY!]) educational software geared for: science, language arts, French, grade level 6 and up (language arts 4 and up). 
  • Any educational videos on topics related for grade 7 level of comprehension and up. Any programs/videos on animals, human habitats, continents, civilizations (ancient), current cultures of the world, explanations of the religions of the world, explanations of political structures/viewpoints, scientific topics, environment, weather, etc. etc. Am hoping to get some videos, bringing a "multimedia" approach
  • to the program we are setting up. Mika responds very well to visual/auditory stimulus together, and verbally stims on videos. Thus perhaps some of that will be of benefit for his learning process. 
  • if anyone has any copies of computer programs (for PC) that teach how to program video games, or build web pages. We have seen some at Futureshop but they are very expensive. This is what Mika has been interested in doing for a while now. 
  • Any tutorials on building web pages, or learning HTML. He is also very interested in this. We are going to incorporate building a web page into his curriculum. He will research a topic, and build a web page on that topic. 
  • Oars for a boat. We have a boat to use, with no motor and we have no oars. This will be a part of physical education, (we have an island about 1 1/2 miles away where we can go to set up a "wilderness camp" which will be a part of the natural sciences curriculum. The island is perfect because Mika can start learning how to use a compass, and "survival skills" without getting lost (he can't leave the island).
  • Dry erase board, and dry erase markers. 
  • Any used books or magazines on orienteering, survival skills(reading compass, topographical maps, building shelters, smoking fish, meats, identifying edible plants, mushrooms etc. etc. etc. for the "island
  • wilderness camp").
  • Any used books, plans etc. (or hand tools) for small building projects. Such as flower planters, wicker furniture, stools, wood carving etc. etc. We will incorporate the use of hand tools, and building things into the curriculum. As was recommended by Mikas Occupational Therapist for some physical activities where he can lift heavy things, and us gross motor skills coupled with fine motor skills.
  • Mika wants to learn beading (this is from a list of suggested activities for his fine motor skills). Anyone who has any "seed beads" (the smallest plastic beads) or "pony beads" (the larger plastic beads) this would be very helpful. Also any patterns for beadwork. Beading needles or threat is also very welcome.
  • Snowshoes (fitting someone about 100 lbs).

This is our HUGE wish list. and as time goes on, we are hoping to collect some of these materials. 

Thank you for taking the time to see if you have any of these materials not being used at home.