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Right now, many of you are (a) stuck indoors with small children, (b) trying to keep your kids busy while schools are canceled, or (c) attempting to work from home with littles underfoot. To help get parents through this uncertain time, Other Goose homeschooling program is offering three weeks of free curriculum during the quarantine. The program provides a curriculum for children aged 2-7 years old.
Other Goose was created by our friend Erin Loechner – designer, writer, and slow living expert. We’ve found solace in Erin's writing via her blog Design for Mankind and her book Chasing Slow, and have loved following along her motherhood journey. Erin created Other Goose as she became a homeschool mother for her 2 children. We had the chance to talk to Erin how Other Goose came to life, and get her tips for moms who are now teaching their kids at home during the Covid-19 crisis.
Tell us about Other Goose and how the idea was born.
I'd love to! Other Goose was born, quite simply, out of my own need. After searching for an all-inclusive education for my kids that valued play, freedom, and structure, I kept coming up short. Where was the methodology that valued all philosophies of learning? Where was the classroom that didn’t box out the parent? Where was the framework that held space for open-ended discovery? The more I looked, the more I realized it didn't exist - or at least, not yet.
Other Goose was formed from these questions. Together with a team of thought-leaders, childhood development experts, research scholars, and environmentalists, we've created daily prep-free lessons customized for every unique kid aged 2-7. Our platform includes daily progress logs, custom tools to uncover our kids' individual passions, built-in support and mentorship, integrated notebooks to journal milestones, plus perks, discounts, and exclusive sales from our marketplace partners. It’s quite a robust plan, actually! It’s everything I ever wanted in an educational experience for my kids.
Do you have any tips for families who have been thrown into homeschooling unprepared because of the Coronavirus?
Yes! Resist the temptation to re-create a classroom at home. Your house is not a schoolhouse; it's a home! Math might look more like mixing pancake batter and less like fraction worksheets. Spelling might look more like your kids writing a letter to a classmate they miss and less like a list to memorize. P.E. is tree-climbing, fort-building, bike-riding, and general running amok around the house. It all counts!
I once read about a professional football team who mimicked a set of toddlers running about for two hours and admitted to getting a far better workout than their daily regimen. Just as toddlers are natural born athletes, our kids are natural born scientists/artists/linguists. If we followed them running about for two hours, we'd find there isn't an ounce of education lacking from their everyday, inherent curiosity. Their lesson plans far outweigh the ones we could conjure on our own!
Use that curiosity to your advantage. Say yes as many times as you can — yes to learning about physics by letting them set up a skate ramp in the backyard. Yes to learning about WWII by watching the Netflix documentary. Yes to learning about chemistry and botany by concocting their own floral tonic in the kitchen sink. Worksheets and tests and standards certainly have their place in academia, but at the same time, we must never confuse schooling for learning. Let this time be what it is — a time out for our kids to reclaim their childhood beyond the four walls of a classroom. A time out for them to rekindle passions that might have been squelched by whatever curriculum is required for an instructor's agenda. A time out for discovery and curiosity and exploration, aside from academic rigor.
I think - if we can get out of the way for a bit - we'll look back at this time with a greater understanding of what a child's education could perhaps look like if we're willing to open ourselves and our homes to the possibility.
Do you have any advice for parents who are trying to juggle working full time at home while homeschooling at the same time
YES. Ditch the daily schedule in favor of a more rhythmic routine. Many of our members swear by our recommended Inchworm Method. :) This works best for the younger set where attention spans are shorter, and it's VERY simple! It looks like this - together, apart, together, apart, together, apart. So you might start your day by reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar over toast (together). You'd then set up an area where your kids can play independently while you get some work done (apart). When your kids need to transition, play a board game or have a kitchen dance party or try one of our Other Goose lessons (together). Then, set up blocks or a coloring station to transition to more time apart. Slowly but surely, you can move through your day in that same rhythm so that both you AND your kids will learn what to expect as the day progresses.
Plus: it staves off constant interruptions. Because you'll have just connected - truly connected - with your kids, they'll feel comforted and secure and ready for a bit of independence so you can tackle what you need to for work.
The truth is that YES - kids thrive on routine. But it's not about the routine itself, it's about the met expectation that arrives from ANY routine. So if your fulltime-at-home job requires you to live within a different set of expectations: that's ok! Just be clear about what the day is going to bring for your kids, however it needs to look.
What is one misconception about homeschooling?
I can’t tell you how many times I talk to other parents who are amazed at homeschooling parents. They’ll say things like, “I’d never have the patience to homeschool.” or, “I’m not organized enough to teach my kids.” It makes me laugh every time, because neither am I!
Here’s the truth: patience and organization are not traits you need before you can homeschool! They’re traits you receive from it! Aristotle once wrote “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
And that’s true for anyone homeschooling. No one’s cut out to parent well. Not one of us is cut out to teach well. But for the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
Our superpower is that the more we do it, the better we get.
I certainly don't believe everyone should homeschool. If circumstances or desire or competing responsibilities don't allow you to teach your kids, hallelujah for the hundreds of other educational options available! We are so privileged to be given a choice.
But if you want to? And you don't think you have what it takes because everyone else around you seems to be nailing it and you're just trying to keep your toddler from licking the toilet? Don’t believe that lie for a second. ;)
What are three things a parent can do to help ensure a successful homeschooling journey?
Every child is so different, and every family is so different, and every parent is so different. We all have unique skill sets and advantages and preferences, and we do ourselves a disservice when we look to the "experts" to tell us how to structure our days/choices/lives. You'll know what's working and what isn't, and it won't be for the reasons you think you will.
If Charlie memorizes every state in alphabetical order but learns to despise geography or exploration or new experiences - was anything truly gained?
If Polly can ace her spelling test but learns to resent reading and literature in the process - is that deserving of an A?
Pay attention to your kids' passions, and follow where that leads. If your daughter learns to count by banging on a drum rather than coloring on a worksheet, so be it! If your son learns 1:1 correspondence by setting the dinner table, fantastic! Learning abounds in our everyday lives already - we needn't manufacture it, force it, or coerce it. It's already there, all around us, if we only pay attention.