Sunday, April 24, 2016

Homechooling Parents: Do You Know What I Loved About School?

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I went to public school K-12. I'm not even sure if people had ever heard about homeschooling back in those days. Actually, I do know that people homeschooled. It was a thing that people did when their kids couldn't make it in school because of behavioral issues or developmental issues. That was all I knew of homeschooling back back back in the darkness of the stone age.

All I knew as a kid was public school, and I loved it.
  • I loved the art classes. Trying out different types of art projects from clay to fiber to ink and more. I doubt the art teachers back in the day got much acknowledgement, but now I appreciate them.
  • I also loved Pizza Fridays in the cafeteria. Why, I have no idea. The pizza was terrible and I generally went home for lunch every single day...for pizza.
  • I nearly always liked my teachers. I had the kind of teachers who truly seemed to care about each of us personally. There were a few exceptions, but for the most part I had very caring teachers all through school. 
  • I liked feeling smart in my classes. I was always in the advanced classes and I knew it. I knew when I was the best or the smartest or the fastest reader... It was a real self-esteem boost.
  • I liked holding a nickle in my hand to buy a new pencil in the second grade. It was a fat, red pencil with thick, soft graphite and no eraser. I loved those pencils.
  • I liked it in the sixth grade when my advanced class finished the grade school curriculum and our sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Stork, designed a very creative year's worth of activities for us.
  • I liked that little pencil tray inside of the desk that held pencils, erasers, and mini pencil sharpeners.


See, although I loved school back in the day I really didn't have anything to compare it to. If I had known about homeschooling as it exists today I think I would have made the perfect candidate to be homeschooled. What would it have been like if someone had noticed how little I was getting from school, how completely disconnected I was? What would it have been like if someone (but who?) would have taken me in hand, would have recognized my ability to learn independently, and would have taken an interest in me and who would have empowered my studies. What would it have been like if I could have had some of that child-led learning stuff and freedom to follow my own interests? I had so many interests!

I had no friends in school, truly. I truly didn't. I had little connection to the materials we covered in class. I seldom felt actually seen. In fact, I remember some specific moments when I actually thought I was invisible. I felt like flotsam. There were about half a dozen bullies in my class, K-12. I remember thinking our class material was pointless and, even worse, I don't remember ever understanding why we were learning what we were learning; I guess I had little context. I never seemed to understand what was going on. I never ever understood the socialization of kids around me. 

I hope schooling is better for kids these days, though I think that the problems have just changed. Public school...it's just not for everybody.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Is School Superior to Homeschool?

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Not long ago I was feeling overwhelmed and upset with some gaps that I had started to notice in one of my children's education. I was noticing that John was absolutely lost anytime another part of the globe was mentioned...geography!

One day John and I were looking at a St. Louis map and I realized that our metropolitan area was a total blur to him. And that wasn't surprising to me; he's not the most alert and aware teenager on the planet, what with his head bent over his phone whenever we are in the car. 

So I was worried, but then I remembered how completely lost I used to be while driving in the metro area when I was his age. And I relaxed a bit.

And I remembered how, at his age, I had no idea where the Middle East was and no idea what was there. And I relaxed even more.

And I remembered how anyplace in South America or Southeast Asia had been a complete mystery to me at his age...and dozens of other places too. And I relaxed even more.

And I saw some school kids who were John's age and I asked them if they knew where a few countries were and, guess what? They didn't know and hadn't even heard of the countries. And I relaxed even more.

It's easy, as a homeschooling parent, to see the gaps and to freak out about them. To see gigantic holes in the plan. To detect a giant deficiency in your well-meaning lessons. It's easy to feel depressed and defeated and to go the total distance and fear that you are messing up your kids forever. Because you are certain that everything matters, that everything weighs a ton. It's easy, sometimes, as a homeschooling parent to think that school kids are getting superior stuff in their contained buildings.

But I want to remind you of something true: School is not perfect.
Teachers are overwhelmed and under resourced. Districts are tragically underfunded. Classrooms are packed. School parents are mired in district rules and school requirements. Students have to follow absurd rules and have to jump through trivial hoops. Kids are bored. Studies feel meaningless to them. And of course there are wonderful things about schools too.

I'm certain that millions of parents wish they could embrace the freedom, the earnestness, and the significant profile of the homeschool lifestyle. I'm sure that millions of kids who are in school would love to homeschool.

And John will be fine. He'll find his way around town one day...just like I did.


 ......................................................................................... 

Apparently it is Ask an Atheist Week.
Please feel free to ask me anything!

In the meantime, please check out this blogpost
from a friend, Lori,
on her blog called On a Perfectly Lazy Day,
her answer to that common question that atheists get:


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Heretical Thoughts about College

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Some of my opinions on homeschooling, on education, might seem rather scandalous to some of you, Dear Readers and Friends. Although my children are well-educated and the recipients of tons of excellent homeschooling I am about to utter some completely heretical blaspheeeeeming, right here on my blog.

I don't believe in required, general studies in college.
I've thought very long and hard about this, so bear with my thoughts on this for a moment.


John sewing some buttons
Here in the United States our universities require two years of General Studies, General Education courses. Universities want their graduates to be well-rounded people, informed in many classical subjects, capable of critical thought, exceptional writing, and a fuller understanding of our world. Higher Math, Logic, Sciences, English and Literature, Economics, History, the Arts: these are the courses that make up most of the General Education courses that students are required to take in order to earn any Bachelors degree.

Students are required to take thirty or more hours of General Education courses from these variety of disciplines. That is the equivalent of nearly a third of all college undergrad credit requirements. While I would not give back my own general education courses in college for the well-rounded education and knowledge and interest that they sparked in me, I do not see them as essential. 


Excellent classes in major fields of study are far more essential. And so many would-be students are unable to attain a full college education because paying for this massive amount of tuition for general studies prohibits completion of a full degree. Would it be such a loss if some students went to college and got right into their major studies?

Investing major cash into a chosen field of study requires such discipline, determination, and focus. That focus in and of itself is truly an education. The various, unrelated fields of study required in the general studies may, most certainly do, help to create a well-rounded student, a more critical thinking human being, and, perhaps, better aware of the operation of the world around them. And that's cool. I had that. I'm glad I had that.

However, investing money and time in pursuit of a chosen profession takes people out of lower-paying jobs and prepares them to actually be able to afford living in the world. Degrees of high learning are essential in our technological world. Two years of focused, specialized knowledge in a specific field is priceless and completely transforming for a student. Even two years, rather than four years, of focused study matures a person, requires extreme personal contemplation, develops excellent thinking skills, develops intense self-discipline, creates opportunity for deliberation and mindfulness, and develops independence and hope and opportunity.


I'm willing to suggest a very unpopular opinion.
General studies are not necessary for a good college experience.
I, a woman with a masters degree married to a very educated man, feel that the long-time beliefs of college providing a well-rounded education is unnecessary and can also exclude so many prospective students who could rise in society, in confidence, in income level, etc.

I'm willing to entertain your ideas...what do you think?

Monday, April 18, 2016

The GRAND Canyon

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The Grand Canyon is TRULY grand!




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Flagstaff

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We are, indeed, in Flagstaff Arizona.
It is our second full day here and we have some plans...information soon to follow.

Here are a few tantalizing pics from our amazing visit to Walnut Canyon, location of dwellings from the Anasazi and Sinagua tribes. I was THRILLED.





More to come...with stories!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Homeschool High School: Dual Enrollment

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My daughter has been dually-enrolled for the last year and a half in the local community college. In our state homeschoolers over the age of sixteen can enroll in college courses while still homeschooling and those courses can count towards their high school diploma. The term Dual Enrollment simply means that most courses from the community college count toward the homeschool diploma and also count toward college credit. 

One of my favorite things about Elizabeth being dually-enrolled (and John soon-to-be) is that those upper-level math courses that I am unable to teach can still be available to my kids. I'm so relieved for them to have competent, capable algebraic instruction, something I am entirely unable to provide.
Because I don't get it and don't care because I will never get it. I don't have to feel bad about that anymore.
Anyway, I have no idea how these dual-enrollment classes might affect a student's ability to get financial aid or admittance to an ivy league college. I only know that for a very reasonable price, my daughter has attained her high school equivalency diploma without being disadvantaged by my mathematical limitations.


During Elizabeth's dual enrollment period she took classes of Algebra, Theater, composition and English, Phys Ed, Music Theory, Psychology, various Literatures, and a few other courses, all of which assisted in her completion of her high school matriculation requirements.

And that means that the time eventually came when I had to create a high school transcript for her in order to make her a full-time student at the college. Enter, math. Drat, that stuff is always around...

High School Electives

Stay tuned, also, for suggestions for electives and life skill lesson ideas.

Creating a Transcript

Stay tuned for a future post explaining how to create a nice high school transcript for your child.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Grand Canyon

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For many years now I have had one thing on the top of my bucket list: seeing The Grand Canyon. I've been trying to light a fire under the kids, hoping they would also be excited about such a trip. But everything bores them.

Turns out, they have to experience things first, the excitement for it comes second.

That is why, I'm delighted to report, we will be taking a trip to Arizona this week! We have plans for many things, The Canyon heading my list.

At this point the kids aren't that excited for our trip. But imagine how they will respond when they see Meteor Crater for the first time. And the Painted Desert. An Anasazi settlement. The Petrified Forest... Imagine being the lucky one who gets to share those things with these kids. I'm thrilled and I thank my wonderful husband so much for his love and generosity with regards to this trip.

I'm certain I'll have some pictures to share in just a few days...stay tuned!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Your Kids Should Be in School

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Homeschoolers are so fond of hearing from our family members that having our children in school is preferred and far superior to homeschooling. We just love that. Hopefully that type of fight will not last very long. 

The weird thing that might surprise our beloved critics is how distasteful school sounds to some homeschooling parents as we hear more and more stories in the news about the major issues in the schools. Sometimes the ridiculous issues facing public school parents actually make me want to laugh and celebrate homeschooling. Sometimes they make me want to cry. Other times I just scratch my head. For example, I recently read that parents at a Texas school may no longer pick their children up from school while on foot. No more walking home from school...at risk of criminal charges. 

California recently made it illegal to carry weapons on college campuses. Finally. While in Oklahoma, schools are allowed to make their own decisions about carrying weapons on campus. Weapons on campus...seems like a no-brainer to me.

To further underscore the circus nature that public schools project in the media, just last week a school bus full of students was driving around with explosives under the hood in Virginia. I was so grateful to be homeschooling that day. Of course that story didn't bode well for the FBI either.


And what about the inappropriate sexual crap happening in so many schools? It's horrific. Male and female faculty who behave in such sickeningly wrong ways that it freaks me out, yet this type of story appears in the news so often we seem to be almost used to hearing about them.

Want more weird laws recently enacted? Alabama schools no longer allow fundraising candies or treats in the schools during the school day. This ruling seems to be an effort to improve lunches in the schools, though how that affects the lunches is beyond me.

Also in Alabama, the failing schools are losing students to better schools and the families who pull their kids out of the failing schools are being offered tax credits to encourage this switch over. Eighteen counties in Alabama are, sadly, living with failing schools. Even more, a sad story in an Ohio tells of a fifteen year old boy who is charged with shooting and wounding other students in his school. And there are the new anti-bullying laws in New York...because they need them. 


Underfunding, bullying, poor quality meals, teachers who abuse the kids, dangerous stuff, etc etc etc. Schools have always been underfunded, as long as I have known about it and I don't see much improvement in the bullying situation anytime soon. Schools are imperfect and not exactly impressive. Not all bad, we know this. 

My point is this, even if these major issues were somehow magically corrected we would STILL homeschool.


Homeschooling is a lifestyle choice that some people will never understand because they can't think outside of the box. But most of the world seems to be coming around. So relax about trying to get the support of people who are determined to not understand about homeschooling.


P.S.  I had some great links in this post but I couldn't get things to format properly. So, darn.

BORED

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You have to have huge balls to tell me that you are bored if you live in this house.

With all of the crap...er...things we own, all of the internet and media options, books and such, and with so much freedom to explore interests, it takes some nerve to tell me that you have nothing to do. But I think that there is more to it with Elizabeth right now. 

She's bored with school and all of her classes, she's bored with work, she's bored with our house...  Sounds more like a spike in depression to me. You know? She agrees that that might be happening a bit...but she is also bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.

Even with my erudite explanation of how interesting life is and how many amazing things there are to learn about, she is still bored, bored, bored.

My child has a tendency to experience feelings in an extremely magnified way, so her boredom is massive. I comfort myself by remember being her age and feeling bored all of the time, so I'm not worried per se. But it has had me thinking, and fretting a bit.

Although I am a lover of learning, a lover of reading and researching, and a person likely to always be trying new things I'm not at all worried that my children won't follow in my footsteps...much. It's my fondest wish for them. I want it so bad! I want them to be interested people, you know? 

What if they rest on their laurels? What if they never grow into adults who continue to improve themselves? What if their current continual boredom lasts for the rest of their lives? What if their brains turn into much from all of that game playing? What if their whining of being bored never ends? What if they become apathetic slugs? 

What if Elizabeth never figures out that boredom can be an excellent opportunity to work on herself, to expand her knowledge, to become a more interesting person?

Is it remotely possible I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Signs I'm Getting Older

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I hate to acknowledge it but time is really catching up with me. It's more than just how much I love the music at the grocery store. Over the weekend my husband Jerry and I went to two different concerts.

One was the Kingston Trio. While at this concert we were definitely the youngest people in the crowd...by several decades. It was a wonderful show and I adored it. The other show we saw was Styx. At this concert Jerry and I were definitely right there in the middle of the ages.

The music was great but WOW was I feeling old while I was at the Styx show. The music was quite loud. I wanted to watch the show while sitting down rather than standing like most of the crowd. The crowd contained many bald heads and alot of grey hair. And think about this: Jerry and I were delighted to see his ex-wife and her husband. Who does that? It's a sign of utter maturity.

But there are more things that are kind of bugging me about aging:
  • I am totally losing my eyebrows. Why do they have to go? 
  • But I do have hair growing out of my nose. 
  • My knees actually hurt when I'm just sitting. 
  • My kids buy their own clothes. 
  • I have zero interest in loud music; I turn the music down when I really want to hear it. 
  • When I want to celebrate, I make a nice cup of tea. 
  • Just...chins. 
  • When I need help with the computer I go to my son. 
  • I have a collection of purses that I haven't carried in years.
  • I now understand eye lifts and botox.
  • I prefer my old. comfy shoes. 
  • I don't crave infants. 
  • I look in the mirror and, every day, I'm shocked with that woman reflected back.
  • Anime' is a total mystery to me. 
  • My husband has a grey chest hair. 
  • I keep an umbrella handy.
  • Nearly every visitor who comes to this house refers to me as Mom
  • I've been out of the job field for so long that most of my past employers no longer exist. 
  • I prefer the lights down low. 
  • But I can't read without large fonts or bright lights...or longer arms. 
  • Shopping is completely not enjoyable because I have enough stuff. 
  • I actually care about politics. 
  • Slang sounds ridiculous coming out of my mouth. 
  • When my kids are talking smack to each other I barely understand their insults. 
  • The other day I wore navy blue socks with my sandals and I thought that looked OK. 
  • Noisy bars annoy and overwhelm me. 
  • I like the TV off. 
  • I can't remember shit. 
  • I watch birds out of the window. 
  • I think of unfamiliar songs as noise.
  • I compare everything with back in the day
  • Alcohol only makes me tired. 
  • I keep antacid within reach. 
  • My make up is older than my car. 
  • I'm proud of a good check up at the dentist.
  • My sleep pattern is so weird. 
  • I can't name a single current day pop singer or band.
  • I don't understand the card games kids are playing these days.
  • Disheveled bed head makes me look like the Wicked Witch of the East instead of tousled and sexy. 
  • I thought the bagger at the grocery story was entertained by my humor and thought I was cool but I realized he was tolerating my aged attempts at socializing, treating me with deference. 
  • My kids can finish my stories for me because I've told the stories so many times. 
  • My favorite movies and songs are forty years old.
  • So many of the superstars of my time are dead or dying.
  • I think our local police force looks too young to be cops.
  • The music in the relaxing restaurant is too loud.
  • I don't care who cuts my hair.
  • I sometimes leave the house without checking the mirror and, later, I'm shocked with what I am wearing in public.
  • I had another one but I forgot it.

Yes, it's happening, and faster than I like to admit. But I refuse to end this blog post with that standard comment about getting older is better than the alternative. I refuse to do that!
Even though it's true.