Here's the first one:
I wonder if you could address how you handled the issues of Quality Control in your homeschool. So in areas like books, television, and video games for example, how did you make sure that your children were playing, watching, reading, etc good quality materials? Or did you? I have young children, but definitely want to steer them toward well-constructed materials when they are ready to choose their own. Did you let your kids pick out anything from the library, or did you try to direct them? Did you censor their tv watching and the type of video games they had, or was it whatever they wanted?
We don't have cable, but our kids watch DVDs from Netflix that I choose. They don't use the computer at all yet or any video games, and I'm happy to keep it that way for a while (they are only 5, 4, and 3). And I choose the majority of the books we read (although they pick some out from the library as well). I want them to have more freedom as they get older, but also maintain the high quality of materials.
I think you are doing a great job. As parents we try to choose nutritious food, healthy relationships, and a rich educational environment for our kids. That's just natural. And the younger they are, the easier it is to maintain all this. Like you, I tried as long as I could to keep things the way I like it. I wanted to lay a good foundation for them, giving them a taste for the "finer things," so to speak, so that when they got older and were making their own choices, they'd have a point of reference. I let them pick out library books, and I brought home my own picks. We didn't have cable, and their video choices had to be approved. But generally, we stayed in the children's section of the library, so there were hardly any disputes.
If you have cable and your kids are stuck on watching a lot of TV, just try to entice them with interesting things, or have a limit on the daily TV time. We even had a TV free week once in awhile that ended with a big reward. If they're interested in video games, buy them really fun games that you approve of. There are tons of great ones, and if they are getting their fill with the good stuff, they'll be less likely to acquire a taste for the ones you'd rather they avoid.
And don't forget that plain old play is quality education. Your kids don't have to be doing something "educational" all the time. We'd go days without purposeful reading. It's the climate, not the day to day weather that defines your homeschool.
The topic of "censoring" in the unschooling world is an interesting one. Some people think we should let our children choose everything. And I can see their point, but based on what I just said, you can see that I think it's OK to censor, especially in the young years. And now that I have teenagers and one in college, I get to express my opinion, and because my kids respect me and we all want to maintain good relationships, they often don't choose something that will completely freak mom out. For example, during Peter's last Halloween at home, he wanted to be a vampire. OK, I know there are vampires all over the media, but considering Peter has never been anything more daring than a cowboy for Halloween, I was a little uncomfortable with the idea. So I said, "How about you save the vampire idea for next year when you're away at college and I won't know about it?" He laughed and decided to be something else.
As kids get older, you really can't censor as much as your mother's heart would like. We can say no (and I do about what I think is truly dangerous), but that won't stop them from doing what they want. So, in the young years, before they are teenagers, do all you can to show them how fun and rewarding learning can be. Give them a taste for good literature, open discussion, and lots of love and acceptance. Communicate your belief that they can do anything they love to do. Give them time to play and discover who they really are. Build that mutual respect and open communication. It's priceless.
Hope that answered your question. I thought of some related posts as I wrote this...
Capturing Your Child's Heart
The Power of Play
When it Looks Like They're Not Learning
Motivating a Child to Learn
Setting Boundaries for Kids
Saying No to Your Kids
The Bare Minimum
Facing Resistance from Your Kids