Saturday, August 30, 2003 ::: A Suprising Resource
I read an article I disliked (yea, I know, imagine *that*). I wrote a response. Click here.
I'm posting about it on this blog because I've been nosing around the site and I was completely surprised that I liked it. I'll admit that because of the article, I expected an institutional bias and agenda. I was pleasantly surprised.
The ads on the top of my blogspot banner have changed since I posted the political text and links. I used to see only homeschooling links. Now, I see Liberal, Progressive News and Calling All Republicans.
I *could* have fun with Liberal, Progessive News.......but I won't. ;)
I made some changes to the Blog Roll. I included the blogs I read daily, but hadn't yet included.
One Sixteenth is a great blog by a "fellow" Texan. Our spiritual lives are a bit divergent, but we have much in common parenting and lifestyle wise.
Paper Bent This is a deeply introspective writer, Christian, homeschooling mom whose raw sincerity inspires me.
Joanne Jacobs intimidates me. ;) Truly, her blog is of a level that is beyond me most days. I could have kept up with her in college, but my hard drive is full of other stuff now. Her blog is insightful and direct.
Classic Adventures Another great family homeschooling blog. I love classical homeschooling, even though I've departed from it.
Glenn Reynolds, InstaPundit I was informed that my grace period has ended. I need to link Glenn immediately. ;) Actually, a long time ago, Glenn actually linked the Happy Homeschooler in a post as an example of "homeschooling from the inside". That one post accounts for probably 1,000 of my hit count.
I typically stay away from being directly political on this blog (and even my other one). But, I was catching up on some blogs I read occassionally. Katie Allison Granju is one blog I've read sporadically. We have parenting (but not policy) in common. :)
She links this article. I have so little in common with the women mentioned in it that I don't think we are the same gender.
Formal academics were interrupted today by learning. ;)
We were taking a break between short lessons (a la Charlotte Mason) when the guy in the brown shorts came to the door. You know the one. ;) He came bearing gifts, too. He presented my kids with a great art set. So, our study on the visual arts began with some hands-on experience. Luckily, I homeschool and I didn't have to tell them "NO! This is the time for social studies."
We had already done math. Andrew did a page of addition with regrouping (accurately and with understanding). Larsen made up number sentences. Cameron matched and learned one to one correspondance. (we didn't *call* it that!).
We had also done more geography. We began to talk about Europe. Larsen drew a picture of a castle. Andrew drew a castle and "guys with red coats and silly furry hats". We talked about the reindeer, one of the few wild animals left on the continent of Europe.
We talked more about Columbus. I read some from the Core Curriculum about him. While the illustrated a narration, I read a story about Columbus from a volume of these.
We did a few pages of phonics with Larsen. Andrew did a reading comprehension exercise which he self corrected and told me he got one wrong.
The Disturbing Change in the Homeschooling Community
I’m noticing a disturbing trend in the homeschooling community. It’s a manifestation of political correctness.
It’s become increasingly less tolerated to “be” anti-institutional settings. I think the main reasons are two fold. One reason is that as homeschooling diversifies, the homeschooling community includes a greater percentage of people who have been in the system for long periods of time. It also includes people who homeschool for less passionate reasons, or homeschool for a deliberate “season” rather than as a specific statement against institutional settings.
The other main reason is age. The so-called pioneers of the recent homeschooling movement’s children have grown and married. But the first “generation” of homeschooled students that were part of the early growing movement are now reaching the end of elementary years and early High School years. A time where it’s more accepted, “understandable” and even expected that children will move (finally!) on to group school settings.
This group of kids hits these years at the *exact* time the homeschooling community is reflecting a more broad population; a population that is less hostile towards public, private and Christian schools.
Bloggers have recently linked a plethora of articles that talk about homeschoolers demanding access to public school facilities and programs. Cyber-schools masquerading as homeschools are on the rise. Anti-HSLDA articles have increased.
Homeschoolers are quitting for many reasons. Some are indeed valid. But the homeschooling community is increasingly reluctant to challenge those who quit. On a board recently, I read where a mom “put on a flame proof suit” in order to post a very pro-homeschooling post on a homeschooling board.
We need the passion back. I try to make my homeschooling decisions about the merits of homeschooling, rather than the disadvantages of institutional schools. However, within the homeschooling community, I should be able to safely state my strong opinions against institutional schooling. I should be encouraged. I think we (the homeschooling community) are losing members who would actually do better to remain homeschoolers. We are losing them because we are afraid of saying the truth. We are afraid to encourage, extort, support and extol.
Homeschoolers also set themselves up to fail. We complain to people who are anti-homeschooling, lukewarm or not convinced that institutional settings carry grave risks. We give people (sometimes even our spouses who simply want to fix things for us) the power and ability to use our current (and temporary) life circumstances as a way to push us to (finally!) put our kids in real school. With rare exception, the people we talk to are indoctrinated to a great degree. We’ve (almost) all been a part of the system and turned out “okay”. We talk to people who are quick to say “You did a great job! Now let someone else take over.”
We need the passion back. We need to be able to remind ourselves and each other that institutional schools aren’t in the long term best interest of our families. We need to, within the homeschooling community, be able to state what we hold back in the cul-de-sac when discussing educational issues in a mixed setting.
Our children and our homeschooling peers need us. They need us to keep our cup full.
The longer I am a parent and therefore a homeschooler, the more against pre-school I become. Let me admit up front that I did put Andrew into a few 6 week, part time “classes” given by my city at the time. I put Larsen in once.
Daycare, Preschool or “at least” Mother’s Day Out has become so accepted and normative. It’s no longer presented as “an option” but as an assumption; a need. Participating used to be a negative. It then became benign. Benign quickly progressed into favorable. Today, having been through some institutional early school is seen as necessary. Those who don’t participate are perceived as at a disadvantage.
The prevalence of institutional settings for your youngest has come about for many reasons. Not the least of which is the effects of organized feminism. Relatedly, the development of distant, expert driven parenting has served to make us comfortable with more and more space between us and our children. Profit, as described in my Separation for Sale post is an increasing factor.
I’ve sadly witnessed absurd choices within the homeschooling community on this issue. Parents who send pre-schoolers to “pre-school” so they can “homeschool” the older children.
Sending our least trained, most needy, least mature children to an institution to learn is the most perplexing choice of all. By so doing, we begin the indoctrination early. We immerse our children in immaturity and trust an adult or two to teach them ABC’s, their name and numbers. We spend the next 15 years lamenting how distant they become from us.
The risk of these programs is increased if you have a child that is “more” of anything. More energetic, more serious, more sensitive, more aggressive. If we actively chose to put our “more” child in an institutional environment, we need to accept that the system’s employees will behave as such. The overwhelming majority of these employees (government schools to Church’s Mother’s Day Out program) honestly believe they know more about children and more about what’s best for children than you do. They extended this belief to *your* child. Many will (and have) taken that belief to higher authorities when you refuse to do what they think is best for your “more” child.
Daycare is a necessary evil. In order to assuage our guilt over using it, we have embraced the evil and made it seem attractive. Organized feminism has done much to make daycare (and its cousins) acceptable and available. Our culture has helped by downplaying the risks and the effects. Even among staunch at home moms, the use of institutional settings is expected.
Let’s bring our babies home. Let’s normalize cuddling, walks to the park, cookie baking and 50 readings of “Goodnight Moon”. Let’s return the children to the parents; the real experts.
Larsen did 2 pages of Explode the code. Cameron said he wanted to do *that* school. Fortunately, I have some on order. :)
We are studying geography, starting with the basics. Monday we reviewed oceans, continents and directions. Today, we talked specifically about Asia. We learned that it's the biggest continent, with the most people. We learned that China and India were countries on it. Andrew drew a meticulous, wonderful map of Asia, including moutains. Larsen drew a more suggestive Asia. ;) Larsen drew animals found on Asia.
We are starting a simple Nature study, to correspond with reviving our Nature Journals. We read about plants, covering the basics. Andrew verbally listed what he knows about plants - I was impressed with his attention to detail. Things such as "the right amount of water" vs. "water". :) He drew a plant, and labelled it. Larsen (are you noticing a theme here?) drew a more artistic impression of plants. Cameron drew cirlces, dotted the paper with the pencil and declared the dots "seeds".
Then my next door neighbor came by and asked for help hanging his new fireplace door. His job was eliminated Monday. I don't know if he's a praying man, but he could use some. :)
I realize that I began my HSing career in AZ where the push is to eliminate recess. Call my kids academically disadvantaged, but they are out back playing now. ;)
School so far today has flowed thusly........
I am starting Cameron on letter sounds. Slowly. Like, for 1-2 minutes at a time. :)
I am using the same program (an old, simple, inexpensive Hooked on Phonics) for Larsen. We are starting at the beginning, but at an accelerated pace. I can tell she feels good about the mastery of the first pages we are breezing through. I'm skipping the review "because you already know that!" and she beams! :)
Andrew and I worked on carrying/regrouping/renaming today. We've done so before, but I could tell he only did it because I taught him the mechanics. He got them right before, but lacked understanding. I'm **slowly** working my way through Liping Ma's Early Math book. It's intimidating to me but it's also convicting. So, I'm going back and teaching Andrew *why* as well as how.
The light bulb went off today for regrouping! I could tell he "got" it! It was exciting to see mathematical understanding spread all over his face. And if I may offer a quick hurrah for Singapore Math - I think the emphasis on mental math pays off in the short and long term. My inclination is to skip it; it seems tedious and my indoctrination of 18 years of school is to rush him towards the real "written work". But, I can see how the mental problems, worked sitting next to me on the love seat, greatly benefit his math skills. :)
Cameron worked on and off a Jump Start school disk.
Larsen did addition and subtraction review. She also practiced some handwriting on a simple dry erase board with the "correct" letters and numbers instructions on it.
Andrew did an SRA/Hooked on Phonics reading comprehension exercise. He read more on a Christopher Columbus book and narrated it back to me. Did you know Christopher Columbus had to wait *years* to speak to the Queen? And that boats had ovens? ;)
We read a pile of Curious George books here. Curious George is a favorite here. Have you seen my Monkey Business pages?
Tuesday, August 26, 2003 ::: Warning: Politically Incorrect and Offensive to Many
Still worth reading:
UPDATE: Snopes This one has accidentally been attributed to a Representative from Georgia, but is actually the work of a Senator from Mississipi by the name of Lewis Napper.
"We, the sensible people of the United States, in an attempt to help everyone get along, restore some semblance of justice, avoid any more riots, keep our nation safe, promote positive behavior, and secure the blessings of debt free liberty to ourselves and our great-great-great-grandchildren, hereby try one more time to ordain and establish some common sense guidelines for the terminally whiny, guilt-ridden, delusional and other liberal bed-wetters. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that a whole lot of people are confused by the Bill of Rights and are so dim that they require a Bill of No Rights."
You do not have the right to a new car, big screen TV or any other form of wealth. More power to you if you can legally acquire them, but no one is guaranteeing anything.
You do not have the right to never be offended. This country is based on freedom, and that means freedom for everyone -- not just you! You may leave the room, turn the channel, express a different opinion, etc., but the world is full of idiots, and probably always will be ... and like the rest of us you need to simply deal with it.
You do not have the right to be free from harm. If you stick a screwdriver in your eye, learn to be more careful; do not expect the tool manufacturer to make you and all your relatives independently wealthy.
You do not have the right to free food and housing. Americans are the most charitable people to be found, and will gladly help anyone in need, but we are quickly growing weary of subsidizing generation after generation of professional couch potatoes who achieve nothing more than the creation of another generation of professional couch potatoes.
You do not have the right to free health care. That would be nice, but from the looks of public housing, we're just not interested in public health care.
You do not have the right to physically harm other people. If you kidnap, rape, intentionally maim, or kill someone, don't be surprised if the rest of us want to see you fry in the electric chair.
You do not have the right to the possessions of others. If you rob, cheat or coerce away the goods or services of other citizens, don't be surprised if the rest of us get together and lock you away in a place where you still won't have the right to a big screen color TV, pool tables, weight rooms or a life of leisure.
You don't have the right to a job. All of us sure want you to have a job, and will gladly help you along in hard times, but we expect you to take advantage of the opportunities of part time jobs, education and vocational training laid before you to make yourself useful.
You do not have the right to happiness. Being an American means that you have the right to PURSUE happiness -- which by the way, is a lot easier if you are unencumbered by an overabundance of idiotic laws created by those of you who were confused by the Bill of Rights,"
This is an English speaking country. We don't care where you are from. We welcome you here. English is our language and like the one you left behind, we also have a culture. Learn it or go back to the country and the living conditions you were fleeing.
If you agree, share this with a friend. No, you don't have to, and nothing tragic will befall you if you don't. I just think it is about time common sense is allowed to flourish --
We started by reading The Velveteen Rabbit at breakfast.
Larsen and Andrew both did a few pages of Singapore Math.
Cameron and I did alphabet and number flashcards.
Andrew read part of a book on Christopher Columbus and narrated it to me.
Larsen did a few pages of Explode the Code.
I read about the earth and continents from "What your Kindergartener Needs to Know". I plan on adding more in depth info using the higher grade books.
I read about Christopher Columbus from the Kindergartener book. Andrew and Larsen then illustrated a narration. Larsen drew Columbus asking the King and Queen for money. Her picture was complete with thrones and piles of gold next to the royal couple. :) Andrew drew a picture of a modern (motorized) boat next to a picture of a "Columbus" type boat. He also drew a flat earth and a round earth. On the round earth, he marked Columbus' path. :)
We read some poems and discussed poetry as compared to other forms of writing.
On the way to the bank, each child did math flashcards. Cameron did addition, Larsen subtraction and Andrew multiplication.
After my meeting, we spent the afternoon with a great homeschooling family. We held snakes, touched a tarantula shell. We watched the snakes eat frozen baby rats.
Today is our first day of 3rd, 1st and early K. :)
Due to a bad dream, I'm up early - and by myself. I've eaten, and am ready to shower but I don't want to disturb DH who can finally sleep in a bit due to an dentist appt this morning.
Occassionally, I will do the children's chores for them (I call it a grace day). I tell them the "dishwasher fairy" or the "bedmaking fairy" has come to visit. This morning, the "kitchen fairy" came by in the wee hours of the morning.
I need to pick out a great read aloud for me to read during their breakfast. I have a meeting on Mondays, so school is abbreviated (or split, depending on whether we get back to it later). The plan is for read alouds, math, Bible, intro to plants and intro to American History starting with Christopher Columbus.
I'm re-arranging the house a bit, in preparation for school on Monday. That, and I do my best thinking when I putter, clean, and create my newest, best family environment.
Larsen's bed broke, so I had to move the daybed from the loft/school/playroom into Larsen's room. That left the school room without casual seating. Grandma :) got the kids bean bag chairs, which is perfect for TV, gameboy and solitary reading. But it didn't address the need for comfy school reading, talks, phonics lessons. I'm moving the loveseat upstairs.
What "says it all" is the need for a loveseat in my schoolroom. Homeschooling rocks! :)
Tuesday, August 19, 2003 ::: The Schizophrenic Homeschooler
::::not apologizing for my politically incorrect title:::::::
We've had a very difficult adjustment to the move here and also to DH's constant travel. We are all "suffering" a bit. I was feeling overwhelmed by the structure and intensity of our rich Sonlight Curriculum. I thought about abadoning the Instructor's Guide and using the books on my own. I decided, instead to sell and provide a rich, relaxed school for my kids this year.
God was faithful! I was able to find a very inexpensive set of these. And these. And these. I found them all at a local used bookstore. No shipping. ;)
I already have next week laid out. I'm going to start with Cameron's What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know and add detail and interest and active learning for Larsen and Andrew. As I told my mom, "Cameron needs to know there are oceans and continents. Larsen needs to know what the continents and oceans are. Andrew needs to know who and what lives in and on them."
Also on the plans are explorers, especially Columbus. We are going to start to learn about visual arts, complete with a visit to the Fine Art Museum.
I haven't decided on Bible, except of course that will will study it. I'm looking at the Bible Explorer books and also the Bible Study Guide.
Through the rich, delightful reading available in the sets I acquired, I am also able to provide plenty of related read alouds. :) I love these "old" sets. They feel so real, so substantial. The look so charming. They aren't "twaddle" as Charlotte Mason would have called much of what is considered learning resources.
Speaking of Charlotte Mason, I'm also bringing back Nature Journals. Interestingly, it was the kids who asked that we go back to them. Looks like a picnic at the park needs to go on the weekly schedule.
1. How many children do you homeschool?
2 in “grades” and one early “K”
2. How many years have you been homeschooling?
Just starting my 4th! Yikes!
3. How many homeschooling blogs do you read each day?
4. How many times do you check your favorite blog? –
2 times a day?
5. What's your favorite subject to teach your kids?
6. What subject do you neglect?
Science, foreign language
7. Will you take a nap today?
8. Will any of your children take a nap today?
9. How many Lego sets does your family own?
Sets? I don’t know. A big plastic container full.
10. What are the names of your pets?
Callie and Commander.
11. Age of your first kiss?
12. Any grandkids?
No, but I do have grown step sons, so it could happen soon.
13. Are your grandkids homeschooled?
14. Breast or bottle?
Breastfed. They wean when they are ready or can read, whichever comes first. ;)
15. Do you participate in your homeschooling PE class?
16. Favorite homeschooling magazine?
I used to read Mothering Magazine before I got online. It’s not homeschooling, but is homeschooling supportive. I really liked Gentle Spirit, and especially so when I saw how poorly Cheryl had been treated by the homeschooling community.
17. Stupidest curriculum-buying mistake?
I don’t think any of them were stupid. Well, okay, paying full price for Hooked on Phonics was stupid.
18. Worst curriculum you've tried?
Any curriculum I didn’t customize for my kids.
19. Curriculum publisher that you can't believe is still in business?
Can’t think of an appropriate answer to this question.
20. Do you teach your child to tie their shoes or do you wait until they ask?
Teach them around 5.
21. Set bedtime for your kids or not?
No set bedtime, but I do determine nightly when it’s time.
22. Favorite homeschooling bulletin board?
I’m in transition as far as boards go right now.
23. Wood or mechanical pencils?
24. Do you use a red pen or not?
25. Do your children have a bookcase of their own?
26. HSLDA. Good, Bad, Silly, No comment?
A flawed necessity.
27. Last biography you read?
28. What the last biography one of your children read?
I don’t know that Andrew has read one.
29. What's being studied in science right now?
Rainbows, water cycle and frogs in the neighborhood.
30. Did you like Miquon?
Never used it.
31. Do you buy school supplies around August or as you need them?
32. Do you buy from homeschool discounters or not?
33. What can you see out of your front window?
The sidewalk, driveway, other homes.
34. What's the temperature in your home right now?
35. What time is it right now?
36. Do you buy used books?
37. What was the most recent spill you had to clean up?
Water from the dogs getting the children’s cups off the table.
38. How old is your couch?
I finally got rid of the icky oldest couch. My other ones are used and I do not know how old they are. They are about a year old in our family.
39. TV or not?
40. Schoolroom or not?
Yes, but school is not limited to that room.
41. Desks for each child or not?
42. If you had to do it all over again, would you homeschool?
1. Why are you homeschooling? How much does it have to do with an inability to get kids ready and off to school in the mornings?
I am homeschooling because God made it abundantly clear it is how I was supposed to educate, socialize and live with my kids. The reasons He wanted me to homeschool pile on top of each other yearly. Not one of them has to do with getting kids ready in the mornings.
2. How long do you plan to homeschool?
3. What about college? Are you worried they will have trouble getting in?
Not a bit. I’m not certain all kids should go or are called to college, but mine will be prepared if that’s where they are called to go.
4. If your kids went to school at any point, is your relationship with them different now that you are homeschooling?
5. What would your ideal school look like, and would you send your kids if it existed?
My loft, den, kitchen and mini-van.
6. What convinced you to homeschool (pushed you over the edge)?
Answers to prayer.
7. How did you overcome your initial fears?
I created a notebook about reasons to *not* use institutional schools, reasons to homeschool and how to homeschool. By the time we got to homeschooling, I had made several counter-cultural choices and had little fear about homeschooling.
8. Do you tend to choose curricula with a particular worldview, or do you tend to use what seems to be the best curriculum and adapt any worldview issues?
I use the best curriculum for our style and adapt for worldview and other issues.
9. Do you belong to a support group? How active are you in it?
Yes. Not very.
10. Do you work better to a schedule, or do you let your days fall as they may? Or do you draw up a schedule for humor value?
I work better with a schedule but end up letting my days fall as they may.
11. Do you start school before 10 am?
Yes. In the earlier years, we were often done by 10 am. Of course, we were getting up at 4:30 am.
12. Do you get out of bed before 10 am?
13. What time do your kids get dressed?
Time? It varies. After breakfast, during chores, before school.
14. What is your favorite response to the line: "Oh, I could never homeschool my kids."
“I understand. I said the same thing “X” years ago. It’s a wonderful lifestyle.”
15. What's the response you actually use?
See number 14.
16. How many bookshelves are in your house?
Shelves, or book cases?
17. How much coffee do you drink?
Too much. More than a cup, less than a pot.
18. Share a moment with your kids that let you know you were undoubtedly doing the right thing by homeschooling.
One moment? Every day when we start the day cuddled on the daybed doing our morning devotional.
Friday, August 01, 2003 ::: The "real world" argument against homeschooling
Daryl links this article. Daryl's commentary focuses on the cold/allergy medicine segment. I wanted to use another part as a springboard.
When speaking about the gay/lesbian school, Gloria Masoner, City Editor says:
"The list could go on and on. The fact is if the trend were to take hold, home schooling would be the norm, because every child would need to be segregated for one reason or another. The New York School System isn’t doing these kids any favors. The fact is once they graduate, they’re going to have to face reality and come to terms with their differences.
And the world out there is cold, hard, cruel place. "
The (valid) issue she offers about the slippery slope of special circumstances warranted segregation aside.......
I've always been skeptical of the "real world" argument against homeschooling. I've addressed the issue tangently here in the "Are Homeschooled Children More Mature".
The other aspect are the assumptions implicit in Masoner's editorial. The first assumption of concern is that homeschooling as the norm is a problem. Which carries the assumption that there is something inherently wrong with homeschooling. We can tell from Masoner's text that at least one of her concerns centered around the world being a cold, hard, cruel place. Certainly hardship, injustice, evil and cruelty function in our world. But to characterize the world as such is a stretch and an insult, IMO, to our Creator's creation.
The issue I really want to focus on, though, is the level of acceptance that bullying, teasing and related behaviors that demonstrate poor character are 1) expected 2) normal and 3) demand early and repeated exposure to by our youngest citizens.
Public schools are in a unique situation. They provide an ever increasing program of diversity training while at the same time tolerating a high level of teasing and bullying. IMO and IME, institutional learning enviornments breed and foster the kind of climate that diversity training rallies to combat. At the same time, talk to almost any educator or parent who has (or has been) a child of the system, and you will hear version after version of "kids will be kids". The transalation is "You can't stop all teasing, you need to accept that it's going to happen." The fact that teasing and bullying happens at schools is given as an argument that our children *should* attend.
So.........to sum up my poorly communicated incredulity: teasing and bullying happens. We have diversity training to protect certain politicalized special interests. But we will honor our children's needs to behave as they do in under-supervised packs. And not only is this a good thing, you need to throw your children into the mix at an early age.
And even though *character* and *principles* (secular, of course) are sometimes lauded as part of PS curriculum, that same system fosters behavior contrary to its teachings.
And my 5 year old is supposed to go and learn to cope and manuever in that world under the agendized, undersupervised eyes of PS employees?
My keeping him with me at home, the post office, the grocery store, at Cub Scouts, baseball games and church is an inferior prepeartion for the cold, hard, cruel world? The diligent, steadfast and prayerfully made coaching on my part over the years puts my child at a disadvantage when he's 18+?