The Upside Down World

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bugs galore!

Here's a cool website for those seeking to identify unknown bugs:
FYI, there is a picture of wheelbugs mating which prompts a comment about "bug pornography" by the site authors. Nothing major, but I thought I'd give a heads-up in case that sort of thing bugs you. (Get it - bugs you! Harhar.)

Homeschooling at work!

In our house when one of my boys does something particularly boneheaded, my darling, ever helpful hubby will often sarcastically remark "Homeschooling, eh?" Yesterday my 11 year old gave a truly spectacular demonstration of the superior results of homeschooling while filling out a form. First he didn't capitalize his last name, then he spelled homeschool "homeskooll", then he started to spell his guitar teacher Steve's name with a lower case "s". I finally took the pen from him when he corrected himself by writing a capital "S" - backwards.
Of course the real problem is that my ADD child was trying to look at all the posters on the wall, listen in on my conversation with his choir director and watch paper being fed into the laser printer on the table next to him all at the same time. Anyone else out there homeschooling an ADD kid without the aid of drugs? Any hints?
In the meantime, let's all say it together: "Homeschooling, eh?"

Why do we put up with this?

According to the government, we spend an average of $8,287 per student in public schools. That's $207,175 for a class of 25. The average teacher makes about $47K. Yet every year we read stories like this. If the money isn't going into teacher salaries or supplies for the classroom - where the blazes is it going? And why do we put up with this?

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Technology only a man could love

When my hubby told me about BMW's new technology which allows a car to park itself, I was pretty impressed. Until I read about how it actually worked. Turns out this technology only works if you're parking your car in the garage. And you have to stand next to the car and hold down buttons on the key fob while the car parks it's self. Hmmmm . . . How very useful. I know plenty of people hate parallel parking or having to drive around a parking garage looking for a spot or even fitting their car into a tiny spot in a parking lot. I can't say, however, that I've ever heard anyone say, "I wish there was a way I could get out of my car by the garage door and stand there holding buttons down while it parked itself. Having to actually pilot the darn thing into the garage just drives me nuts!" I suppose if you were one of those people who either runs the car into the back wall or leaves the tail end hanging out, such a device might be useful, but I'm thinking hanging a tennis ball from the ceiling would be cheaper.
Now if they really wanted to make something useful, they'd put in bottons which allowed you to smack an obnoxious child in the back of the head remotely while driving. HaHa - just kidding. That'd be silly - a fly swatter on the front seat works just fine! I'm just kidding. Really. ;p

Sunday, August 27, 2006


The Chicago Tribune had a list of useful links for students and teachers which I thought I'd pass on to you. I copied these addresses and desciptions from the story and have tried to correct incomplete addresses, but if you come across something which doesn't work, leave a message and I'll try to fix it:

ACADEMIC ALL STARS — Tough to say enough good about the little known Internet Public Library site. It was started by the University of Michigan and provides links to online pages in numerous academic fields. And it will probably get even more comprehensive because 14 other schools have signed on to join the project. — The primary mission of this site from Barnes & Noble is to feature study guides to novels and nonfiction. But it also has free reference guides to other topics such as biology, math and physics. — Provides a look at the inner workings of the mundane (pencil, hair dryer) and complex (brain, atomic clock). Great for science reports. — Takes questions in plain language. Works best with simple queries such as, "When was Benjamin Franklin born?" — Still the best search engine.

ANATOMY — "Atlas of Human Anatomy" offers fantastic images of human body parts. — This is the 1918 version of the classic Gray's "Anatomy of the Human Body." Still a handy, basic guide. — Interactive site that's used to identify body parts (not just skeletal but also digestive, muscular and other systems) and to learn about their functions.

ARCHEOLOGY — Arizona State University's list of links to museums and other resources, organized by geography and topic. — Assorted links, organized by region.

ART HISTORY — The Metropolitan Museum of Art's timeline of art history, from Mal'ta carvings in Asia in 20,000 BC to video installations by Bill Viola that the museum purchased in 2001. — Extensive links to art periods, artists and — Not the easiest site to navigate but worth the trouble. The online guide provides images of works by prominent artists.

BIOLOGY — University of Arizona's site has links organized by topic. — Minnesota State University Moorhead's list of links, by topic.

CENSUS — Official U.S. population numbers, by ZIP Code, from the federal Census Bureau. Breaks information down by race and other factors.

CHEMISTRY — Of the many periodic tables of elements sites on the Web, this one's particularly well designed. It began as an eighth-grader's science project in 1996. — Originating from the University of Sheffield in England, this site features more than 7,000 links. — Quizzes, glossaries and tutorials from Frostburg State University in Maryland.

CONVERSION TOOLS — Metric conversions of distance, area, weight, speed, temperature and more. Also converts fractions to decimals. — Converts more than 180 world currencies. Continuously updated.

LANGUAGES — Translates words and phrases in 13 languages. — Conjugates verbs in numerous languages. — Information on nearly 7,000 living languages.

LITERATURE — Now in its 35th year, this spectacular collection of 18,000 public-domain books includes all works by Shakespeare, "Moby Dick" and numerous religious texts. All selections can be downloaded to be read either on the computer screen or on paper. — World literature links from UC Santa Barbara. — The famed Cliffs Notes study guides to hundreds of books can be read on the website for free, although you'll have to pay to download a print version in a PDF file.
MATH — Algebra practice problems. cards.html — Remember flashcards? Here's an online version.

MUSIC — From Indiana University comes this list of links, organized by music genre, composer and performer. — Good set of links, organized by era. — More than 5,000 links, plus thousands of CD reviews and recommendations.

PHILOSOPHY — The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is a work in progress that provides short essays on nearly 1,000 names and concepts. All are written by professionals in the field. .aspx — These links are organized according to philosophers, eras and topics. — Dictionary of names and terms, many of which include links to other resources.

PHYSICS — Interactive exhibits from the American Institute of Physics on landmark discoveries in the field. — An interactive site from the University of Colorado at Boulder demonstrates physics principles behind microwave ovens, X-rays, lasers and more.

POLITICAL SCIENCE — The Library of Congress site includes the daily Congressional Record and updates on pending legislation. — Links to government websites worldwide.

PSYCHOLOGY — A glossary of basic terms, plus numerous other features such as a timeline. — Links to publications and resources.

REFERENCE — Enter a word and get a definition from the American Heritage Dictionary among other sources. — Brief entries from the Columbia Encyclopedia. — Almanac of statistics and information on politics, business, sports, weather and entertainment.

WORLD FACTS — Not everything the CIA does is secret. The agency's public directory of countries includes such information as a nation's population, government type, terrain, agriculture, health systems, languages and broadcast stations.

Learning by Osmosis

If you have read this blog for any amount of time, you may have noticed that I go through cycles of worry and paranoia about how we teach our two sons, ages 7 and 11. Much of this is fed by the fact that the homeschool moms I spend the most time with are the type who buy curricula and are pretty darn disciplined about following a particular schedule. Hearing about how their kids get up, eat breakfast, grab their workbooks and are sometimes done with school before all of my kids are out of bed makes me a bit insecure and I end up wondering if we're really doing enough. We, as I have mentioned before, are not strict unschoolers but we're definitely closer to being unschoolers than anything else. We approach learning as something which happens naturally, prodded on by life and inborn curiosity and try to save more formal lessons and such for things which the kids are unlikely to learn without a more concerted effort. It is a method which fits our style as a family and matches our family's philosophy about people and learning. However, I have to admit, it also leaves me a bit insecure about whether we're "doing enough".
For this reason, I cherish experiences like the ones we had at brunch this morning. A few months ago I wrote about coming to the realization that my younger son's math workbook (which I got for him because he asked) not only had no relation to his understanding of math, but was probably holding him back. I've been feeling kind of bad that he's probably behind where he could be with math since we wasted most of last year being dependent on the stupid workbook. However, this morning, Collin demonstrated his ability to do simple multiplication problems and was even able answer his brother's "Oh yeah, if you're so smart what's 10x20?" question correctly. I never taught him that. Hmmmm . . . Perhaps that's what happens when math is a practical process used in everyday life rather than a series of steps or facts to memorize.
Then my older son surprised me by commenting that my husband (whose birthday was today) is now old enough to be president. I never taught him that either. I have often been concerned over the fact that he shows no interest in history or civics, yet somehow he knew this little tidbit of trivia.
Apparently they're learning by osmosis. Another homeschool mom I know has commented that she wonders sometimes if our attempts to educate our kids actually cause them to learn or if they just happen to coincide with what the child was going to learn anyway. She may have something there. So I'm feeling pretty good about our approach today. That should last for another hour or so before I start worrying again :p

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Girl's Got Style

Not only is my 18 month old beautiful, smart and lots of fun to have around, but she's got great taste - she hates Barney! No purple dinosaurs in this house! Woo-hoo! ; )

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pedophile Identification . . . Please pass this on

The New York Times today printed a truly chilling piece today about the psyche of pedophiles using the web. Now, I want you to understand that I am not the sort of person who is given to alarmist views or paranoia. I don't pass on alarming e-mails about people who want to take away your religious freedoms or use your cell phones to target marketing to you. I know that stranger kidnapping is extremely rare and think the number of people in low-risk areas who don't want their kids to play outside because of the danger is ridiculous. In almost all areas I tend towards minimizing threats. However, this was the scariest thing I have read - perhaps ever.
The Times conducted an investigation into online sites, chat rooms and such directed towards pedophiles. What they found were people who were working awfully hard to convince themselves and re-assure each other that they were not deviants who posed a danger to children. In their view they are working to free children to be the sexually expressive creatures they were meant to be with themselves as the lucky recipient of children's sexual expression. The end result is people so delusional that one poster expresses surprise at the violent angry reaction of boys who are told of a political party in the Netherlands which seeks to make sex between men and boys legal. These online discussions could easily "normalize" behavior and thoughts in the mind of the pedophile which he would otherwise seek to repress. Once a behavior is seen as normal or even good, he would likely be less inclined to resist temptation and act on his impulses. Honestly, I don't even know if I should recommend that you read it because it's a look into the face and mind of evil without any way of doing anything constructive about it except becoming angry, paranoid and distrustful. However, there is a piece of useful information contained in the article which you absolutely should pass on: pictures of jewelry and symbols used by pedophiles to indicate their identity to those in the know. Here they are:

Top row, pendants symbolizing "boy-love."
Second row, "girl-love" pendants.
Third row, logos representing "boy-lovers," at left; "girl-lovers," at right.
Fourth row, logos for "child-lovers" at left; and at right, for "online pedophile activism."

I'm not sure what one could do if you saw someone using these symbols except keep your children very, very far away. As a related aside for those of you who read the article and are now contemplating never allowing your children out of their room again, the Center for Missing and Exploited Children does not recommend teaching your kids "stranger danger", but rather encourages parents to help their kids be confident enough to recognize signs of danger and act quickly should they ever be faced with a dangerous situation. Kids who are confident and self-assured don't make good victims. Being good parents, fostering familial bonds and self-confidence are better protection against predators than locking your child up and never letting them out of your sight.
Hat tip to Education Wonks for pointing out the NYT story.

Carnival Of Homeschooling's Up!

This week's carnival of homeschooling is up over at Patricia Ann's Pollywog Creek Porch.
It's a trip to the swamp without the mosquito bites! My post from yesterday about the Washington Post columns on high school mediocrity is there as well as a bunch of other good stuff. So skip the Off! and head on over there.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Unclear on the concept

Over the weekend my 7 year old caught a big black cricket and put it in a plastic water bottle on our counter. (This is a huge improvement of his previous practice of placing bugs under over-turned drinking glasses on the counter, BTW.) I told him that he should let it go.
"But Mom, crickets bring good luck. The Chinese keep them for pets. I want a pet cricket for luck!"
"But you're going to kill it by keeping it in a plastic bottle," I protested.
"Dead crickets are still lucky!" was his indignant response.
Uh, I don't think so.

High School in America

There was a column in the Washington Post yesterday by a college professor outlining his student's general lack of literacy. Today there was a column by the Post's education writer about how uncommon overachieving high school students are. Any chance the two are related?
In his column, Michael Skube shares everyday words his students don't know. On the list are impetus, ramshackle, lucid, advocate, derelict, satire, pith and brevity. The author points to a lack of reading and grade inflation as reasons for this sorry trend. The result is young adults who cannot write (a common complaint from employers, BTW) or communicate beyond a very superficial level.
This reminded me of a recent letter to the editor which was printed in our local newspaper. It was written by a high school senior just days away from graduation complaining about the way a disciplinary issue had been handled by school administrators at the local high school. The letter was practically incomprehensible. The writer repeated herself several times and had not arranged her ideas in any perceivable order. It was like listening to a 7 year old tell a story, but on paper. Now, I don't know who this young woman was, she may well have been a special needs student for whom such a letter would have been a great accomplishment. Unfortunately, it's more likely that she's just another run-of-the-mill senior from a supposedly good suburban school with a decent GPA who has never been taught how to properly commit her ideas to paper. In the meantime, my 11 year actually used the word "undulate" in casual conversation last week.
In his column, Jay Matthews education reporter for the Washington Post seeks to correct the popular notion that it is common for today's high school students to be hyper-competitive, neurotic messes who are so busy striving they don't have time to learn to become whole human beings. Quite the opposite is true, he says. Among other things he points out that the average high school student spends about 42 minutes a day doing homework as opposed to the 3 1/2 hours a day spent watching tv, playing video games and such. One study found that high school students spent all of 8 minutes a day, on average doing non-school related reading.
I suppose the good news for those of us who homeschool is that compared to that our children will enter the adult world as phenoms. Unfortunately, one does have to wonder what sort of adult world they will be entering when their peers won't even be able to understand them when they speak.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Battle for Marriage

Not that long ago (I think it was just last year) any proponent of traditional marriage who brought up the specter of a slippery slope towards polyamory, polygamy and such if gay marriage were embraced was accused of being homophobic, bigoted, ridiculous, a scare mongerer and first cousins to bolweevils. Today, however, it is no longer social conservatives warning that gay marriage will lead to the dissolution of marriage in any recognizable form, but gay rights activists who are openly promising to work towards that end. Over at the Weekly Standard Ryan Anderson has an article up called "Beyond Gay Marriage" which looks at the recent full page ad taken out in the New York Times by mainstream gay rights activists and their supporters advocating not just gay marriage, but group marriages and the like. The statement actually advocates for polygamy, group marriage and even pairs of gay/lesbian couples deliberately "creating" children to be passed back and forth between them. Read the text of the statement here. As Mr. Anderson points out, while the authors of this statement claim that non-traditional families are now the norm, they pay no attention to the effects the breakdown of traditional marriage have had on children and society. Their only concern is that nothing impede or disenfranchise adult's rights to do exactly what they want.
Mr. Anderson compares this to what have become known as "The Princeton Principles", a statement in support of marriage created and endorsed by a wide range of religious and secular professors, thinkers and researchers. The Princeton Principles are based on extensive research into how marriage and its breakdown affect men, women, children, society and government. Suffice it to say that the evidence is overwhelming that marriage is far superior to other familial arrangements for all involved.
Additionally, the statement demonstrates that there are many, many reasons to support a traditional definition/view of marriage which are not religious in nature. IMO, the argument in favor of traditional marriage has not gone as well as it should have in large part because supporters of traditional marriage too often start and end the conversation with "God made marriage to be between a man and a woman." While there may be no more compelling argument for the religious minded than "because God said so", in order for the government to act accordingly some purely earth based benefit must be demonstrated. For today, enough people oppose same-sex marriage that voters have kept it at bay. However, that majority opinion will rapidly disappear (and in many surveys already has) if supporters of traditional marriage can't let go of their need to couch their argument in religious terms in order to put forth an argument which is self-evidently superior regardless of one's religious thinking. I think that the authors of the Princeton Principles have done just that.
So read the "Beyond Gay Marriage" statement to see what the future holds if supporters of marriage don't step up to the plate. Then read the Princeton Principles for a vision of hope and a vastly superior argument in favor of marriage. Then pass it on.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Blogging the bible on

I was off line when this started, but's David Plotz has a running series of posts about reading the bible which you may want to check out. Mr. Plotz is Jewish, but not particularly observant and like many people, Jewish and Christian, had never really read the bible beyond what was covered in religious education classes or referred to in pop culture, sermons and such. This May he set out to actually read the Torah from the beginning without the use of commentaries and such. He wanted to read the book with fresh eyes and share what he read with us. The result is a fascinating series of posts and descriptions which should force the reader from his/her complacency about the bible and the God we serve.
I think too often we read the bible in a stupor. God says and does bewildering things and we act as if the text said nothing more challenging than "God is love and wants you to be rich". We dumbly nod and keep right on going. Or if we do notice, we write it off as God's perogative and move on quickly before we have the chance to think unacceptable thoughts about God. Or we come up with elaborate explanations to make God's actions more acceptable on human terms. ("God did a good thing by sending those bears to kill the boys teasing His prophet for being bald - they were really a dangerous pack of thugs who had probably been terrorizing the community" as if we would accept such logic if it were our own teenaged boys and their friends teasing the village crazy person on a boring afternoon.)
A couple of years ago, I actually undertook something similar to what Mr. Plotz is doing here myself. Although I had read through the whole Old Testament once before, this time I deliberately sought to block out what I had been taught and thought I already knew and look at the text for what it was. In the end if forced me to turn to God and ask, "what in the blazes was that all about?" His answer changed me, my understanding of God and my whole Christian walk. But that's a whole 'nother topic.
So, if you're in the mood for an eye-opening look at scriptures, grab a cup of coffee and take a peek at Mr. Plotz's account of his trip through the old testament. I think it'll be worth your while.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I've got an itch I need to scratch

Recently, my 11 year old has been giving me fits. I don't think it's anything real unusual for a kid his age and it is particularly understandable considering the challenges and changes our family has had to face in the past year or so. Basically he's been lazy, selfish and somewhat surly as of late. Of course we're dealing with these things and I think we're making some progress. I suppose it's only natural to think that we must be doing something wrong or are failing as parents when your child starts displaying such traits. However, the fact of the matter is that sometimes kids do go through difficult stages and it's part of being a parent to help push them past those periods of difficulty. Also he's changing a lot. He's getting more competitive, more sophisticated in his thinking about relationships and more aware of his own place in the world. (This would be the upside of the self-centered times a kid goes through.) As he's changing, we need to change what we do for and with him as well and of course, that can be a challenge for me as well.
What has been both frustrating and unhelpful as we move through this process, however, is the fact that whenever I talk with someone who either doesn't homeschool or isn't 100% behind the idea of homeschooling, they inevitably suggest that the solution is to put him in school. Because we all know that 11 year olds who go to school are nothing but industrious, courteous and giving. And of course, there's just no reason to think that I won't get the same wonderful results if I hand my difficult kid over to the state for 5 days a week, because we all know that the state is much better at parenting than actual parents are! And maybe I should just put him on Ritalin while I'm at it! Now there's a plan without a flaw.
OK, sorry for descending into sarcasm and please forgive me if you're one of the well-meaning people who have proffered such advice lately. It's just that there are so many unexamined assumptions about the role of schools and how children are raised out there and this issue wraps them all so neatly together that it can become overwhelming to even begin to respond, especially if one doesn't wish to foster ill-will with those who think school has the potential to be helpful for a kid like mine. I will, however, share two general responses to the idea:
1. From another homeschooling mom I know: "when you have a difficult kid, people tend to think it's because you homeschool when, in fact, it's usually why you homeschool."
2. "When peers replace the parents, children remain stuck in their development. Peer orientation produces a mass of immature, conformist and problem-afflicted young adults, who are incapable of integrating into society." - Gordon Neufeld, in the introduction to his book, Hold onto your Kids - translated from German by scatty at Green Fields and Open Horizons
I know there are kids who make it through school without problems and even learn positive things in the process. Even if I could be assured that my kid would be one of those kids, I just don't think he can't do as well or better through homeschooling. And I don't see any reason to forgo all the advantages of homeschooling in order to allow the school systm to (supposedly) do something I'm quite confident his dad and I are capable of doing ourselves. As for the people who think the answer to every problem my kids have ever or will ever have is to put them in school, I wonder what they tell parents whose kids are already in school to do when their kids are less than perfect - that they should homeschool them? Somehow I doubt it.

The Homeschool Diner is Open!

My friend Julie, a smart, resourceful homeschooling mom has just opened the It's a website devoted to spreading the word about homeschooling, helping people find materials, methods and curriculum which will work best for them and their child(ren). In our circle, Julie is the queen of info and always knows the best websites, resources and activities out there. If you or someone you know is thinking about homeschooling or you're already homeschooling and thinking about shaking things up, her website is THE place to go.
Also, she has written a book aimed at younger kids called "I learn at home" which follows two children doing a unit study on Japan. This can be a great help as "everyone else" heads back to school to help kids develop a positive attitude about homeschooling. You can order the book off her website.
So, head on over and check it out!

Monday, August 14, 2006

RENT, the musical

Last week my hubby and I went to see a touring production of the musical Rent while it was in town. Both of us went not really sure we'd like it and concerned about the fact that its subject matter was questionable to say the least. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the basic premise is following a group of friends which includes a recovering drug addict with AIDS, a current drug addict and stripper with AIDS, a homosexual man and his drag queen "girlfriend" who both have AIDS, a lesbian couple, and an aspiring film maker living in New York in the mid 90's through a year of their lives. Not exactly what we'd consider edifying stuff. However, my husband and I not only enjoyed the play but left the theater very touched and have been thinking and talking about the issues raised by the play ever since.
I think what made the play compelling rather than repulsive or problematic for us was the fact that the depictions of the various characters were so real. We've both known and spent time around people on the fringes of society and recognized real people in the characters. It wasn't the sort of idealization or romanticizing we normally see from the entertainment industry when people engaged in harmful behaviors are presented. Nor was it the sort of nihilistic decent into degradation which rich people in the entertainment industry substitute for actual experience with the poor and outcast when trying to be "edgy" and real. These were real people who loved, fell, indulged, failed to learn lessons, learned the wrong lessons, tried to do the best they could figure out how and suffered the very real consequences of their behaviors.
Really, the play could almost be used as a morality tale: "see, that girl spent all her money on drugs and now she has no heat and is dizzy from lack of food. Plus she's going to die from using a dirty needle to feed her addiction. And look at those homosexuals - they're going to die a terrible death because they were having sex with other men and caught AIDS. And look at how that lesbian couple fights all the time - they'll never be happy because it's just not how people were meant to live." However, I think that would miss a much bigger lesson which we Christians especially need to see. It is this: these people were just people. People who loved with all the passion God put into the human heart and erred with all the conviction Adam and Eve bequeathed to them. I think we tend to see too many people as sins to be resolved before they can be people to be loved . Of course to be human is to be sinful. However, there are certain sins which push the human label to the back of the line. So we look for ways to ingratiate ourselves in order to get a chance to address their sinful behavior, if we will deal with them at all. I read an article by Reb Bradley last week which put it this way: a shortsighted question asks, "What can I do to show love to my liberal, feminist sister?" Would it not be better to actually love her?
I think this is exactly what we do much of the time when dealing with those around us who are "living in sin". We basically want to smile at them, maybe invite them over for dinner and do other really strenuous things to "show" our love so that we can get down to the really important stuff: confronting the sin. (We've loved the sinner so now we get to hate the sin, right?) However, what we are called to do, above and beyond all else is love. We don't need to approve of someone else's sin in order to appreciate their kind heart or good humor or generous spirit. God is in the business of judging and changing people's hearts. We need to trust Him more to do His part and put our energy into doing our part which is loving people. I think that was what was so compelling about this play: it neither tried to argue that these people's lifestyle was good nor that their errors made them less worthy of love, but simply presented them as real fallen people who need love just like everyone else. Of course, what the play missed and what much of society fails to see is what Christianity has to offer. While human love, compassion and care can help us survive, God's love can heal us and help us overcome. However, that is a message the rest of the world is unlikely to pay much attention to when we treat people like sins to be resolved rather than human beings to be loved.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Speaking of preparing for a new school year

In our house we take a pretty relaxed approach to schooling. Not quite strict unschooling, but much closer to that than to "school at home". However, it has always been my plan that we would gradually ramp up to a more formalized approach as the kids got older so that they would be sure to cover math through calculus, world and American history, learn a foreign language, be able to write well and understand biology, chemistry and physics. My oldest son is 11 and would be in 6th grade this year. So far I have planned algebra, real science 4 kids biology, rosetta stone spanish, sonlight language arts writing program for 7th grade, some spelling and a history book. Hmmmm . . . this is starting to sound a lot like "school at home" homeschooling. I'm not sure that's really what I want. Besides, what am I going to do with his little brother to keep him out of his hair while he tackles the mountain of work I seem to be planning to set before him everyday? But how do I make sure that he actually learns something other than dragon mythology and how to beat the "Kirby" game on his gameboy?
I never really worried that my kids wouldn't learn to read, write or do math any more than I worried they'd never learn to walk or talk without tutoring. All those things are pretty much natural human impulses which a reasonably functional environment compel a kid towards any how. But studying algebra or learning what a golgi apparatus is? And my 11 year old is has a pretty stiff streak of laziness going on these days and I'm not sure if his natural curiosity would be enough to motivate him to get up and find an answer to something he's wondering about rather than lay on the couch contemplating building the ultimate dragon costume for Halloween this year. And what if all those people who say a more relaxed approach will result in lazy undisciplined children are right and I've erred in not being more disciplined and structured up to now? But then again, he actually has expressed an interest in a more serious study of biology and thinks he's pretty hot stuff for being ready to study algebra. Maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. And the Rosetta stone is supposed to be pretty easy to use and kind of fun and if we can all learn to say funny things like "Karl Rove is laying down under the airplane - he should eat more salads for lunch" in Spanish, that might be motivation enough. Plus the writing program is only a 2 day a week program and the world won't end if he throws some historical novels into his reading repetoire and saves a more serious study of history until he's actually interested in it. Plus, he still wants to make a website and possibly a video game devoted to dragons (what else?) and I really don't want to take so much of his time doing the "proper" academic things that he doesn't have time to pursue that. Or plan the fort his dad and I promised him we'd help him and his brother build. Ack!
I'm sure we'll stumble through to a balance that works for us, but if any more experienced moms have some relevant words of wisdom to share, please do.

Way cool

Over on, one of the highlighted stories scrolling across the top of the page is about the blogs of 4 teachers preparing to start a new school year - 2 looking forward and 2 starting retirment. One of the 2 teachers looking forward to the new school year of a HOMESCHOOLING mom named Tanna. Blog here. I think it's way cool that a mainstream news outlet is highlighting a homeschooling mom like any other teacher rather than asking "why would anyone do that" like they usually do. Yet another sign that homeschooling is going mainstream.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

I'm Back!

Well, OK, so a "few days" turned into 3 months, but I was real busy, ya know. We moved into a new house on April 30th which is far enough out of town that we can't get cable or DSL and our old computer is so rickety that we couldn't even get the CD Rom to read an AOL start-up disk. (Donations in support of replacing said computer may be sent to my paypal account.) With everything else going on, I decided that going off-line for a while might not be such a bad idea anyhow. I suffered from minor withdrawal for a couple of weeks, but with a rapidly progressing (and sometimes difficult) pregnancy, a house to unpack and arrange, 3 kids to care for and a husband in New Orleans for several months, I had other things to do. But now the baby has been born (Sophia Rebecca b July 5, 9 lbs 9 oz, 22"), the house is unpacked, (but still in need of more decorating and furniture - donations for the purchase of which can also be sent to the paypal account mentioned above), a husband at home and a pilfered laptop, I think I'm ready to to return. So aside from acting as a 24 hour dairy queen for the new princess, I just have nothing else to do besides share my fascinating take on whatever piques my interest. Besides, I wouldn't be the first woman to type one-handed while breastfeeding - would I?

Unschooling Blogs
Previous | Next