30 May 2010

Old But Interesting

I was looking at tarvu.com for a while and I still don't get it. I'm not sure if the website is making fun of Mormons, Christians, Scientologists or just religion in general (non-Muslim, of course... fear of death and all). It sure seems to me that a lot of work went into this obviously fake website, complete with fake doctrine, prayers, testimonials, videos, etc. And speaking with an octopus? I don't get it. "It's so easy to join," but I'm not getting why anyone would want to do so.

Of course, I had to doodle around the internet to find out more. This is the part of the post where I warn my gentle readers that those with sensitive eyes might want to just hit that little X that's in the top right corner of your screen right now. This post isn't for you... sorry. Onward...

Typed in "religion parody" and didn't find tarvu. I found the flying spaghetti monster religion, to be sure, but that's old news. Even older but less well-publicized? The Church of the SubGenius, having been around since at least 1979, is an oldie. Some lady "reverend" from this pretender pseudo cult lost custody of her child because she's galavanting around indecently at semi-religious parties. From the comment section of this article:

"Nudity - sure.
Owning a dildo - sure.
Mocking religion - sure.

Mocking religion with explicit use of a dildo while nude and being photographed - well, I guess it depends on whether her son actually saw it, or pictures of it."

Or how 'bout this:

"Make fun of religion, lose your kids. It doesn't matter that Kohl (the son) had a healthy, stable home. Nor does it matter that he was home-schooled and tested at a 5th grade level (on par with kids his age). Let's ignore that his family provided chess lessons, art lessons, Tae Kwon Do and boxing lessons. Clearly, this kid was at risk - at risk of not being raised to be a Christian." Source

Um, and the author in this 2006 article is wondering where all the Christians are wanting to defend this person. I'm thinking that no one really heard about it... did they? Anyone else big into homeschooling blogs and stuff who knows about this? Did I just miss it? That's about when we began homeschooling, so it would be easy to miss. Certainly I was just getting my homeschool ducks in a row and only a few weeks from delivering Woodjie.

I looked around some more and found that no, she didn't really lose custody permanently. It sorta looks like she got custody back because the father had some problems, including drunk driving (scroll way down). Wow.

But what if someday Christianity became that offensive to judges? Do you think people like this would come to our defense? Would we want them to?

27 May 2010

School Bullying: A Tragic Cost of Forced Schooling and Autocratic School Governance

Now, you might expect a headline like that on some of the homeschoolio blogs. Maybe on some of the ultra-liberal or ultra-conservative websites. But this one? Was on Psychology Today. And written by an "evolutionary psychologist," of all things. Excerpt:

"Bullying occurs regularly when people who have no political power and are ruled in top-down fashion by others are required by law or economic necessity to remain in that setting. It occurs regularly, for example, in prisons. Those who are bullied can't escape, and they have no legislative or judicial power to confront the bullies. They may report bullying to the prison guards and warden, but the guards and warden may not know whom to believe and may have greater vested interest in hiding bullying than in publicizing it and dealing with it openly."

The solution? Give the students power so they feel all, like, empowered. Like that's gonna happen. I'm thinking it would be an interesting school atmosphere if the nerds in Student Council had some real power.

They could TELL the cafeteria what it's serving (hint: Pizza. Every day. No veggies. All meals come with cookies.) and TELL the school that yes, everyone with a license can drive to school and no, you're not charging for parking and guess what? We can park off-campus, too, and there is nothing you can do to enforce that. Oh... and we can leave if we don't feel like attending class once we pass our freshman year. As long as we keep a C average and have a parent permission letter signed, it's open campus, baybee...

Why not?

Some sort of balance of power would be nice. But like I said... not gonna happen. In fact, I'm reading over at Spunky's that even babies are now considered trackable as students. It really bums me out, if for no other reason that homeschoolers can't snarkily quip that with lowering compulsory attendance ages, soon the government will want to snatch our kids when we leave the hospital. Bummer. That's not a funny joke anymore. Not. Funny. Any. More. At all.

But back to bullying. In all seriousness, the school can't stop all forms of bullying. It probably wouldn't be a healthy thing if they could if by "bullying," you're including "I think you are a dork and/or your idea is stupid" sorts of discussions with other students. But direct threats and violence are things that need to stop.

Look at this video from the Bully Project. I suppose I should be furious at the school for allowing this to continue, but WHAT ABOUT THE PARENTS? What on earth are they thinking, sending their kid back to that? Wouldn't you rather hide him in the basement, say he moved away or do ANYTHING before you'd send him back to that? What on earth?? This poor child needs protection.

Forget homeschooling for just a sec here. Treatment like that demands parents violate compulsory attendance laws if they have to. He can learn his algebra later... but this is just not ok.

One interesting anti-bullying idea I came across was to have the little tykes narc on their bully classmates. That's right. The teachers gather the rat-out sheets and compile the "top ten" lists of accused "bullies." Then they act all surprised when some of the parents think their little snowflake can do no wrong. (Maybe that's because unsubstantiated claims like that... leading to labelling a child... IS very wrong. Or maybe it's because their kid really is a little tyrant if 98 out of 100 kids listed his name, but I'm thinking innocent until proven guilty is sorta good policy.)

I don't pretend to have all the answers. I do know schools are in a very tough position. I do agree that schools should be safe places where kids can learn. But what Megan McSillie is posting to her facebook account at 4 pm shouldn't have anything to do with school unless there is some direct threat. Then get the cops involved.

Beyond that, I'm not sure what the answer is. I remember junior high as being the worst time of my life. Looking back, there are some things that 40-year-old me would so not care about. But 13-year-old me? Was devastated about some of the insults and nastiness I encountered. I'm glad that part of my life is over. :)

26 May 2010

New Teen Craze!


Forget this earring thing G just did. That's nothing. He's nowhere near as fashionable as the teen WEREWOLVES wandering around schools in "packs." I guess in Missouri, we are behind the times fashion-wise, but I have yet to see children howling in large groups outside our local mall and wearing long furry tails. As explained in the video, everyone is part animal and we must find this part of ourselves and embrace it. Sort of Darwin meets occult spiritual practice meets third grade reasoning skills sort of philosophy. Does anyone else remember the cheesy Teen Wolf movies from the 80's? Car surfing is apparently not part of this culture, however.

25 May 2010

Wearing the Rosary in School?

So this kid wore a rosary to school, and the principal wants us to know that violated an unwritten school rule. Young Jason Laguna "endangered the safety, health, morals or welfare of himself or others" by being a Jesus Freak, Catholic style in class. (Hat tip: nightfly)

I've got to be honest with you here: most of my family is Catholic, but I don't really "get" a lot of these traditions because I wasn't raised learning the catechism and attending mass. But see, if I were the principal of a school where people were starting to wear the Rosary, I'd have to get some basics down about it so I could see whether this is a central thing or just a religious trapping along the lines of virginity bracelets or purity rings are for some Protestants. (Their rights are hardly violated if you were to ask them to remove these things during school hours, I think.)

And it's pretty central if several popes say it is (from a cursory glance at the ol' wikipedia):

"Most recently, on May 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime: 'It is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother.'[4] To Benedict XVI, the rosary is a meditation on all important moments of salvation history.[4] Before him, Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae[5] built on the 'total Marian devotion' pioneered by Saint Louis de Montfort. Pope Pius XII and his successors actively promoted the veneration of the Virgin in Lourdes and Fatima, which is credited with a new resurgence of the rosary within the Catholic Church.[6]"

I don't doubt that gangs CAN use the rosary as some sort of identifier, just like they could use the colour purple with green dots if they wanted to. All those Barney fans in public school would just have to lump it, because it's perfectly reasonable for the school to put dress code rules into place. I myself am a bit suspicious of any show with unsupervised children and characters like "BJ" running around to begin with, so a Barney ban would probably be ok with me.

But seriously. They're going to suspend the kid for this? From the comments:

"This altar boy should know that the rosary is never to be used for jewelry or adornment. The kid himself said he wore it because it looked cool and not, it seems, for any misguided religious reason. It is true that the rosary has been hijacked in some areas as a gang sign and if that is the case in this area then notification should have been sent out warning kids and parents of that and other "signs" that might be misconstrued and therefore prohibited."

Ok... The American flag is never to be worn as clothing, technically, but we've all seen that happening in schools as well. We can't get all up into people's inner motives for wearing the flag or the rosary or anything else. The question is whether each article in question would be allowable under the umbrellas of general personal freedom or religious freedom (your pick). Sometimes they aren't.

I think we all "get" that we give up some of our "freedoms" when we go to public school. During the orchestra trip to China, it has been expressly stated that the 18-year-olds are NOT to purchase or consume alcohol at any time while they are away. It doesn't matter if it's legal there. If you want to go on this trip, you'll abide by the rules. Fair enough. But when we MUST be educated and we MUST (for whatever reason if we can't home/private school) send our children to public school, I believe the school and the parent and the student ought work together to be as reasonable as possible about things.

That means my children can't wear their tank tops to school. It's ok. But I hope they let this young man wear his rosary. He's still figuring himself out, figuring where he stands on everything to begin with. I think we should all give him the chance to do that.

22 May 2010

Parenting Teens

A friend did this last night. G came home with a different earring, a BIG "diamond" one. D was quite upset. I didn't like it but tend to put this sort of thing into the "things we don't fight about" box. D was very mad. He mowed the yard for about two hours. He had several discussions with G between clipping vines and mowing.
*
Wellllll... he's still really mad. He still really hates it. But he is going to bend on this when he saw how important it was to G. It is starting to look all bruisy and icky. It wasn't even a gold earring they used! I took him out and HE bought rubbing alcohol and a gold earring. Hope it doesn't get infected. But wow. I hope his taste doesn't run into mohawks or purple hair next. It wouldn't bother me *so* much, but poor D can't stand much more, bless him!
*
Maybe I'm not too upset because I remember doing this once myself. KT and I were 15 once and liked to listen to Duran Duran in her basement with her cat. We used a hot needle, a cork, and some ice and pierced each other's ears. We were cool. Now we are both all grown up and she is a professor of history. :)

Falling Behind

Now, I don't take much stock in grade levels. They're a nice guide or label when speaking with others about where a particular child is academically.

For instance, would it impress you if I were to tell you that Emperor is eight, but halfway through sixth grade Teaching Textbooks? Mind you, he has difficulty with basic "hello, and how are you" type of exchanges. Great difficulty. I think overall he's an average guy.

Or how about G? G is 15. He is in special classes. Oh, he is passing ninth grade in public school, but he cannot construct a coherent written paragraph. I don't fault the school. That's just the nature of his disability. He can speak with you just fine. Good eye contact. Stays on topic for the most part. I think overall he's an average guy, but gradewise? I have no clue what "grade level" I would say he's in were he homeschooled. He'd be working in the same classes as Emperor, and that would probably burn him up.

Here's an interesting story about the "choices" that children and their families are faced with when they don't meet grade level expectations.

"As her sixteenth birthday approached last summer, Curtisha Davis faced two less-than-ideal school choices. She could attend eighth grade at a K-8 program, where most of the students would be two, even three, years younger. Or she could go to Booker T. Washington, a school created for older students who have not yet passed the eighth grade, a place Davis feared after hearing of regular fights."

"In Davis' view, either decision would carry a stigma: She would either be stuck with the little kids, or the 'bad' ones."

"'I had thought about dropping out, but I can't do that yet,' Davis said. 'So I'll just stay and try until I can't try no more.'"

They stuck the kid in ELEMENTARY SCHOOL for another year. In the article, they says there isn't a detrimental effect on socialization in school. I can't imagine, though, knowing your friends are preparing for the prom while you have just been awarded the "I'm a READER" red ribbon and your class got the school bookworm award.

And looking at it as a parent of elementary aged children for a second... Would YOU want a 17-year-old boy in your daughter's fifth-grade class? What on earth are these school folks thinking when they state there is no negative impact on socialization?

Now, I know what you radical homeschoolio folks might be thinking. It would be great to have older kids and younger kids hanging out together, and it's one of the wonderful things about homeschooling and blah blah blah. To me, though... somehow... it just is NOT right in a school situation.

But having 17-year-olds and eight-year-olds hanging out together at a homeschool co-op is ok with me. Am I a hypocrite? I don't know what to tell you.

And there's this: I'm upset looking at the article and seeing the students in the alternative school with no desks. YES, when we homeschool, we don't use desks. We lie around on the couch. We sit at the table. We stand and read. But... I would feel gypped and angry if I sent my child to a public school and found out there were no desks. That's just not right! Am I a hypocrite? I don't know what to tell you.

20 May 2010

Assorted Images
















Elf flying plastic bags. Summer pumpkins growing. Emperor typing (before haircut; note Hello Kitty jammie pants). Hello Kitty in an armoured Tinkertoy tank. She kicks butt. Woodjie writing Z and telling us his letter sounds.

19 May 2010

General Update Post.


I've ripped up many of the workbooks the boys have been using over the last school year and placed some of the sheets in a three-ring binder. Then I threaded a bit of thin wire through the holes and twisted the ends to make a little booklet for our year's portfolio. That, our writing journal (fancy name for 50-cent notebook with Spelling work and journal exercises) and my plan book are bundled together with yarn, tied with a bow and tucked away. If I ever need my 2009-10 papers, the necessary ones are all together in the basement. We're still working plenty hard, but I'm not saving these papers. Doing this process makes me wonder yet again whatever happened to the acquaintence who called not too long ago and sent me into panic mode about her homeschool. I still haven't heard from the child welfare people, so I will assume at this point everyone is safe, especially since it is so close to the end of the public school year and she was enrolling there for next year anyway.

The pace is much more relaxed now at home, but we are working to finish English and Bible study. Elf and Emperor finally had to make the Great Wall of China on our front porch. I had about 50 of these milk jugs kicking around in my kitchen, but it kept raining outside and I was just tired of 'em. Lego people were inside, and the "barbarians" outside the walls were Playskool people.

I am including our Typing Instructor for Kids 4 in our lessons each day as well as math. Teaching Textbooks has a long unit on decimals before delving into a little elementary geometry. So we'll stick with that until the geometry part comes up before using Singapore 5A again.

We did get around to tie-dyeing t-shirts. You can see that the first step is wetting the shirt, pinching it in the middle and twisting round and round until you get the cinnamon-roll look you see here. Band it with rubber bands and put it in a soda ash solution, then apply dye and wait a day. Next time I will use more dye, but I didn't want the entire shirt gloppy, brown/grey and ruined. But for a first endeavour, not too bad.

Finally, I spent some time updating some of the profile pics you see on the sidebar. I had to take quite a few pictures to find one I liked as some of them SOMEHOW didn't turn out quite as I planned.

18 May 2010

On God and Laundry (Eclectic Post)

Patrick loves to bug his teachers, but they're not the only people he bothers. He likes to wait until we're alone, driving in a car or going places, and then act all goofy and silly with me.

"How do you know that God is the only god?" he asks me out of the blue. Well, because the Bible tells us so, that there are not other gods, or rather, that the "other gods" are just idols. I think. I'm trying to negotiate the parking lot and don't multitask very well.

Patrick doesn't even stop to think about that one. "How do you know that God didn't just defeat some Titan and BECOME God? Hmm?"

What? "Like Zeus," he nods and smiles as if he's in thought. "You know, Zeus and I have a personal relationship." He notes my expression, but he's enjoying himself. "No, really. He speaks to me. I mean, he doesn't speak AUDIBLY to me. Just... in spirit." Here he looks upward and holds his hand to his heart like one of those cheesy "Jesus holding the lamb" pictures everyone has stashed somewhere. Maybe if he works at it he can be God someday himself. He's just not sure whose butt he has to kick first.

Of course I tell him how dopey that really is and to quit it because Dad needs pop at Wal-Mart and he's taking too long getting out of the car. Patrick acts all insulted that I've belittled the holy writings HE wants to talk about blah blah blah.

Siiiigh. I know teens are supposed to "test limits," but I hardly know what to say to him. He doesn't rebel in the conventional sense. He insists his siblings eat dinner with him. He doesn't feel comfortable going to church alone. He is having a HUGE HUGE hissy fit about having to miss Wednesday night church this week because he must practice for the orchestra trip to China. I mean... refusal to skip church for free pizza?

Seriously. The kid doesn't make any sense. He's either questioning theology entirely so he can mess with my brain for fun or wondering why we don't do things more properly and conservatively for reallio.

I'm trying to tell him that it's ok for very occasional church-missings for something as big as a trip to China. It's also ok to miss school very occasionally for something important at church. BALANCE, ok? Of course I get the Jesus-going-to-temple verses from the guy and a general refusal to go... again.

I told him he's going, and he can choose between violating what Mom said and having perfect church attendance. Your pick.

He's decided that this one time, he will be ok practicing the cello and eating pizza with his friends. God bless him. I hope he has a good time.

In other news, Elf and Emperor had to accompany me on my latest trip to the laundromat. My dryer is busted and there is NO way I'm hanging my nasty stained stuff outside for everyone to look at. I save a lot of money on clothes and towels by not replacing soiled things. Hey, they're clean. They just don't look very good.

We emerged from the van with some wet clothes and some odd looks from onlookers.

"This... laundry place... is a whole building for laundry!" exclaimed Emperor in a loud tone as we entered.

"It's just like on MR. BEAN! Where he LOSES HIS PANTS!" screamed Elf.

Ohhhhh... I'm only cringing on the inside. I gave books to Elf and Emperor and told them to go sit over there and start reading. I had Rose beside me in the stroller and Woodjie off at preschool, so now I had a shot at getting the clothes dried. Woo-hoo.

But Emperor didn't want to read aloud if other people are nearby! They might LISTEN!

Um, no one cares. No one cares, Emperor, I swear. But after clarifying with me that I was not "swearing" even though I said that I swore (I know, I do this sort of thing 500 times a day; it's almost second nature), I finally get him to move to the general area with the book.

Ok, he's there now, but the book feels too soft and he can't hold it! I had to hold it for him!

Strangely enough, this is a usual thing at home. He has to have the book not touch his hands. He can read just fine as long as he doesn't actually have to touch paper. That would just feel all weird. Arrrgh. I get the clothes into the dryer and hold the book open for him.

Rose is the only easy one. Rose occupied herself with plastic frogs and said "ribbit" every now and then. Elf must gesticulate and do all the accents whilst he is reading. I'm trying to let it slide that he has stood up and is waving his arms around dramatically. This Elf would be great for the theatre if he weren't so afraid of "more than five people in the room." A fat old woman apparently doesn't like classic literature or free theatre and hobbles over to the other end of the room to (eew) clip her fingernails. Just as well.

Oh, well... the drying session ended up with a big fight about who got to sit in which chair and declarations of *eternal* hate. I made Elf apologize for yelling at him, but while he did, Emperor had to howl about something. Just shhh. Let him finish talking. Now what... ?

Elf HAD HIS FINGERS CROSSED during the apology. Then he doesn't have to mean it! I made him get his hands out of his pockets, and his fingers were crossed. Emperor is in tears because now Elf's apology is null and void, and he is *eternally* hated.

Elf's evil plan had been discovered. I'm pretty miffed, staring at him and waiting for the big confession and apology.

"But that would be dishonest!" Elf tells me. "And you are placing temptation in my path by making me lie and say I'm sorry. AND I **HATE** HIM FOREVER!! He took my chaiiiir! GRRR!"

I am just not saying anything right this minute, because I am rounding up the folded clothes as quickly as possible. We make it to the van after the entire basket falls on the girl's head from the top of the stroller and I have to comfort her.

Other people at the laundromat do not want to see this, I tell them after they have finally buckled in and are ready to go. This is just soooo not OK. I'm sorry that you lost your star for today.

"Wait. We lost our star?" came the bewildered voice from the back of the van. Ohhh, the injustice of it all. I don't know how I could be so arbitrary about these things.

17 May 2010

The Haircut

Emperor wants to show you his new haircut and tell you how much he loves Hello Kitty. Hello Kitty is awesome. He thinks it's not fair that there aren't Hello Kitty bags and clothes made especially for boys. His mom bought him a green Hello Kitty jammie set at the thrift store, but Dad says he is not allowed to wear it in public. What he is wearing is the tye-dye shirt he made the other day. I will do a post on that later. :)

16 May 2010

Letter to Grandparents of Asperger Children

It's a shame this letter is addressed only to grandparents, because it has a lot of useful information for people in general who are learning about autism in a family member or friend. The truths are pretty universally applicable, but the writer urges grandparents to consider that the parents know a few things about their own children and are already under a great deal of stress. They don't need any judgmental comments from you because they already get enough of that from everyone else, thank youuuuuu....

"Your son and daughter-in-law are now so used to defending their child that it comes as second nature. Give them some time. Once they are more certain of your support, they will be less sensitive.In the meantime, think carefully before you speak. Choose expressions that suggest sympathy and genuine curiosity, and avoid those that convey criticism... The most destructive things you can say are those that convey your lack of trust in their ability to parent, your disdain for the diagnosis, and your unwillingness to make accommodations..."

"Otherwise, you may suddenly be faced with the pain of being unwelcome in your grandchild's home."

Well, mercy me. The letter even mentions homeschooling as a source of potential strife! Fancy that! But what would you write to the parents of a newly-diagnosed child? It takes two to get into a fight. Hm. Well, it probably needs a little refining, but here's mine:

Dear Parent of Newly-Diagnosed Child:

Welcome to the wonderful world of autism! You love your child, and that's awesome. Your child is unique and different in a way other children aren't. The more you discover this, and get used to arranging your home in a way that makes him comfortable, the more you will be able to live in harmony. But get ready to face a lot of rejection and pain from others. There are some bright and supportive spots out there, but you've been warned in advance to prepare your heart for trouble. And make it double. To protect the world from devastation. To unite all peoples within our nation. To denounce the evils of truth and love. To extend our reach to the stars above. Jesse. James. Team Rocket, blast off at the speed of light. Surrender now... or prepare to fight!

That's called a verbal stim. Get used to those, too. :)

I want to encourage you to get online and join a blog ring or an IRL support group. Now, while you are still coherent. Not to discourage you so early in your journey, but I'd caution you to NOT go looking for understanding from ANYONE at ANY time if they are not going through the EXACT SAME THING you are.

PLEASE, for your sanity and that of others, refrain from discussing anything with anyone who is not also the parent of an autistic child. To phrase it positively, other people who have "been there" will really understand. I know that these are precisely the people who are overwhelmed with their own problems and can't help you much, but there it is.

I don't mean to paint autism as this awful child-stealing monster like some organizations do. I'm on the neurodiversity bandwagon and all that. It's more that I have little faith in the people around us to be able to listen, understand and offer support. By all means, share the "letter to grandparents" discussed above with family members. Maybe you have a unique family that will understand. You might not, though, and what I've learned is that it probably would be best just not to chat with them at all if the subjects are any of the following:

homeschooling
autism
parenting in general
how many children you are having
the weather and other controversial topics

One thing I've discovered in *my* journey with autism (and we have a lot of that going on around here) is that your child needs you. He needs you in a way your other children never will. You need to be ready to step up and do what you need to do to parent this child. There will be a price to pay in your relationships with people who don't understand. Maybe sometimes you will even find YOURSELF acting very wrongly and unjustly toward your friends and family. You expected them to be supportive, and to "get it." Why are you so furious at them?? YOU don't even "get it." You can't expect them to! Please stop lashing out at them for not doing the impossible. Just stop talking too openly with anyone who doesn't understand. I can't stress that enough. Don't do that "talking frankly about your problems" thing. Bad things happen when you do that.

Remember that next time there is a discussion. Try to forgive others. Try to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for being angry and hurt by these inevitable situations. Remember, your child needs you. He will need you tomorrow. He will need you the next day. And the next day, when no one else wants to be there for you guys. And the next day. And the next. Keep giving it your all, and may God bless and keep you when you are tired and feel you can't do this one more day. May His face shine upon you and your children when you can't see the sun shine anywhere else.

There ARE people out there who will care for you and who will understand you and your children. It is your task to find them and cultivate those friendships. It is your task to find out how you can help others and be a source of insipiration. Even a friendly email or blog comment can make the difference to another parent. Our children are so quirky and loveable in their own way. I would never trade mine for anything. I know you wouldn't, either. There is always hope for new and better things tomorrow. And things are not so very bad today so long as we have our children and our friends. :)

In Christ Who Holds All Things Together,

Mrs. C

15 May 2010

What is "Truancy?"

Muslims have every right to dictate what sort of dress is appropriate inside their mosque. And if you're asking to be a guest in a mosque, or if you want to go to a Mormon temple, or a Jewish synogogue, PLEASE do your homework and contact someone before showing up in your thong bikini. It might just be that the local house of worship has standards that are different from yours and mine.

It doesn't follow, of course, that you should HAVE to go listen to the local imam, does it?

Apparently, though, if you're a schoolkid in Great Britain, it's mandatory that you go learn some tolerance. It doesn't matter if you're Catholic and are refusing to give in to the demands of your CATHOLIC school; you'd better dress up in garb acceptable by MUSLIM standards, make the trip to the local mosque and be respectful or you're considered a truant.

A few things stand out in this article. It strikes me as odd that the family doesn't have a problem with going to the mosque in the first place, and are "only" objecting to the dress code. Maybe I'm not catching something here... but I think the Muslim "dress code" is sort of part of the trip. You are going to learn about how others worship, and to do so, you must show respect for their building. It's THEIR building. You dress according to THEIR dress code if you go. Please do not say that you want to wear your school uniform and it's not fair that these Muslims actually have standards. Might I suggest that your real problem is with the school?

The school should not be foisting this on their kids. I don't care what the government standards are. There should be some way to skirt them, and failing that, you cannot in good conscience undertake the education of these young minds. You couldn't possibly pay me enough to teach children how to have sex with bananas and condoms or whatever it is they are teaching in sex ed classes. I could be persuaded to teach the children "sex ed," though, if I had a bit of leeway on the content of the lesson. I'd just tell the kids that there is a way to make babies that they will learn after they are married, and shame on you if you were thinking about it or trying to find out too much before then. Stop that. Sorry, no questions today. Please write a paper about "piety" for the rest of the hour. Pretty short lesson, but then, I'm awesome at boiling down those 45-minute lesson plans sometimes. But I could check off that I "taught sex ed" that day, couldn't I? Yep. I rock. :)

Now, I do wonder about this "teaching tolerance" thing and whether that works both ways. In the article, the mom states that if the situation were reversed and Muslim girls wanted to go to the Catholic school, that the school would oblige them in allowing them to dress according to their religious dictates. Um, ok... maybe... but they shouldn't have to oblige anyone if they don't wanna. Odd of me, but I'm thinking there isn't this big rush of Muslim applicants at the local Catholic school anyway.

Long-Haired Hippie Freak!

Emperor has been begging me to cut his hair for a long time. It is entirely too long because he can see his hair when he looks up! He twirls his bangs in his pencil. He curls the hair on the back of his head with his fingers. It's just too long. It's bothering him. I've been calling him my "long-haired hippie freak" in jest. I have another child whose hair is much longer and he's resisting the Fantastic Mom's special of the week. Emperor would really, really like a haircut. About 25 times a day, I have to hear about how his hair is too long. And it's bothering him. Finally, I told him that we would measure his hair and blog about it. It is about an inch and a half long at its longest point, I told him. "So does that mean you'll cut it now?" Emperor wants to know.

14 May 2010

What is "Segregation?"

Define it for me. See, I tend to think of "segregation" in the classic sense as being along the lines of telling the black kids they must drink from a different water fountain and sit in another waiting room. In schooling, it means telling the black family in a white neighbourhood that their kid is going to be bussed across town so he doesn't get any uppity ideas.

But if we all live in the same neighbourhood, it stands to reason that we should be able to shop in the same grocery stores and send our kids to the same public schools.

If you're a parent, you're not going to want your kid sent across town to school if he's going to attend. You want the school up the street from your house. And the very thought that your child has to be bussed across town to make some school "racially diverse" sounds a bit... racist, doesn't it? Why are they even keeping track of what colour your kid is? That's just creepy. And why should your kid endure a 45-minute bus ride twice a day because of his colour?

Isn't that stuff not supposed to matter now? Does "segregation" now mean "going to school with too many people just like yourself?" Apparently it does! I only wish I were kidding! Read this book review excerpt:

"In 1954, Kansas City’s segregated schools were more than 80% white, enrolled about 60,000 students, and offered arguably the finest public education available in the metropolitan area. . . . Moreover, Kansas City students attended classes in some of the finest facilities in the area . . . By 1999, the Kansas City public schools enrolled 31,200 students, approximately 80% of whom were minorities, and the general perception of the Kansas City schools was much less favorable. Whereas fifty years earlier, the school system was an institution in which most Kansas City residents took pride, in 1999, Kansas City was the only unaccredited school district in the state of Missouri (pp.277-278).

"The turnaround Moran describes in the Kansas City school system is striking but far from surprising. Such trends are reflected across the country. By the year 2000, for example, nearly one-third of all black students attended schools in which 90% of the student population was nonwhite. Classically, sociologists have been able to measure segregation by looking at the probability that a black student will have white classmates. In the 1990s, every region of the country became more segregated than in the past. In the northeast, the problem was most egregious: the probability that a black student would have a white classmate was 25%. Nationally the probability stood at 32% – down from 35% in 1990 (Rosen 2000)."

Um... they measure "segregation" by the "probability that a black student would have a white classmate." Not by whether people are purposefully and craftily creating unequal and racially separate schools within a given district.

So... now I'm reading in the news that schools are "re-segregated" if the districts happen to draw the boundary lines in such a way that transporation costs are reduced, thus resulting in a more homogenous racial makeup (black or white) at each school. And the NAACP is all mad about it.

Last I checked, people were free to move to another district entirely if they wanted. For that matter, I'm free to move to a mansion in Johnson County TOMORROW if I get enough cash together. (Little things like that do prevent me, though.)

People move, and when they move, they pick the best district for THEIR children. They aren't worried about "segregation." They are worried about "reputation," college entrance rates, test scores, and whether the home owner's association has a pool. I know when we moved to this area we specifically avoided Kansas City Schools. No way we're moving there if we have children in school, even if it would mean amazing tax breaks because D works downtown. Even if it means a half hour commute each way. Not happening.

And another thing: rich people don't want to live near riff-raff like you and me. They build their estate-sized lots near other people with their estate-sized lots, and if they're going to slum it and send their children to public school (so they can tell people they aren't snobby... their schools are diverse and they even have a Filipino now), it won't be near where we live.

I think my point is this... not all segregation is racial. I'm going to come right out and say public education is not an equal opportunity education provider. You are not Joe Everyman because you went to public school somewhere that spends $35,000 on each child, mmmkay? I'll leave you with this article. It's one of the few that comes right out and says what's at the bottom of it all: not all of us can afford an "excellent" public education. The pessimist in me wants to let you know that there is unintentional segregation that we do to others when we move away from problem areas, and segregation happens to us when we can't move to the super-rich 'hood. But the optimist in me wants to let you know that it's not the same as the segregation of the old days. I don't know if that matters much if you're left behind, but there it is.

I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this if you are polite in the comment section. :)

Going to the Doctor Part II

These don't look like "bug bites" to me any more. Now the rash feels hot. Patrick CANNOT get sick right now; his trip of a lifetime (over $3,000) is coming up soon. Hopefully this time the doctor arrives at some conclusive, non-contagious diagnosis. Well... I'll just settle for a diagnosis, but I'm hoping she's not contagious. She's had all her shots but polio, MMR, and chicken pox. Bummer, but I'm sure it's not the chicken pox.

13 May 2010

Going to the Doctor...

Hope it's chicken pox! That would be awesome. But it doesn't look like it to me. Any guesses? It's up on Rose's tummy and arms, back and lower legs as well.

10 May 2010

No Facebook for Tweenies?

I don't doubt that social network sites can help mean comments spread and that they can cause drama at school that no principal or counsellor wants to deal with. But I don't agree that problems are "caused" by the sites any more than I think that I'm fat because I purchase large clothes.

There is (as if you didn't know) a lack of self-control on some teens' part, and there's also the fact that Mom probably isn't reading all their posts. I don't usually go on my children's accounts with the express purpose of snooping, but I sure would if I were suspicious of anything. Don't like it? Well, you don't have to use the internet or facebook, then, young man. The end.

But what if I didn't police the accounts sometimes? Strong language warning ahead, folks... What if someone, say, (hypothetically of course!) were typing mean things like:

"im sorry that you had to get the FUCK in my bissness. and take up for some pussy ass bitch that wanna get in my mutha fuckn bizzness. all i fuckin did was compliment her!!!! fuck off (name) and dont come over!!!!"

Hmmm... If your child were to see a comment like that every now and then, what should he do?

See, big people have choices on facebook. One is called the "unfriend" option. We can do this when we realize that conversations with this person will never be productive. Another option is called the "ignore this behaviour for the present moment, as it may be that she is under the influence of an illegally-obtained substance" line of reasoning. Still a third option would be to talk with another adult if one feels truly threatened. A fourth option, and one I wouldn't ordinarily recommend using on people who can't even spell their cuss words correctly, would be to respond in kind.

And finally, the fifth option: revert to "clay tablet and stylus" method of communication. Perfect for those situations in which your "string with tin cans" telephone is impractical. Yes! That is just what the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School (Ridgewood, NJ) suggests. What on earth would you say if you were the parent of a child at the school and received this:

Dear BF Community,

In 2002 when I arrived in Ridgewood Facebook did not exist, Youtube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence. Formspring (one of the newest internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn't even in someone's mind. In 2010 social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent.

It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None. 5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account. Every single one of the students had an account.3 Students yesterday told a guidance counselor that their parents told them to close their accounts when the parents learned they had an account. All three students told their parents it was closed. All three students still had an account after telling their parents it was closed. Most students are part of more than one social networking site.

Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today! Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider. Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!

Over 90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer. Do not allow them to have a computer in their room, there is no need. Know that they can text others even if their phone doesn't have texting capability, either through the computer or through their Ipod touch. Have a central "docking station" preferably in your bedroom, where all electronics in the home get charged each night, especially anything with a cell or wifi capability (Remember when you were in high school and you would sneak the phone into your bedroom at midnight to talk to you girlfriend or boyfriend all night - now imagine what they can do with the technology in their rooms).

If your son or daughter is attacked through one of these sites or through texting - immediately go to the police! Insist that they investigate every situation. Also, contact the site and report the attack to the site - they have an obligation to suspend accounts or they are liable for what is written. We as a school can offer guidance and try to build up any student who has been injured by the social networking scourge, but please insist the authorities get involved. For online gaming, do not allow them to have the interactive communication devices. If they want to play Call of Duty online with someone from Seattle, fine, they don't need to talk to the person.

The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging. It is not hyperbole for me to write that the pain caused by social networking sites is beyond significant - it is psychologically detrimental and we will find out it will have significant long term effects, as well as all the horrible social effects it already creates. I will be more than happy to take the blame off you as a parent if it is too difficult to have the students close their accounts, but it is time they all get closed and the texts always get checked.

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don't want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live. I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at wiredsafety.org for your own knowledge. It is a great site. But then do everything I asked in this email - because there really is no reason a child needs to have one of these accounts.

Please take action in your on home today.

Sincerely,
Anthony Orsini
Principal, BFMS

Source. Would you go along with the ban? With all due respect to the principal, I wouldn't. I just wouldn't tell him so. It doesn't surprise me that all the "response" he is getting is positive and none of the adults are complaining. They know that there is no point fighting with someone like this. The principal can bluster all he wants about what parents should or shouldn't do in their homes, but his argument lacks persuasiveness. One thing that strikes me is that he's asking for parents to remove facebook accounts, and yet the letter plainly states that parents were unaware of the facebook accounts in the first place.

I see facebook accounts for people such as "tami powerranger" or the like, and you can figure out who it is by the profile picture. But Mom and Dad doing a facebook search for the kid? They'll never find her.

09 May 2010

Shoooooooes?


Rose is asking for help. She wants these tiny Build-a-Bear shoes on her feet. Mom won't help because she's mean and thinks they belong to the stuffed animals. Woodjie to the rescue! He really, really tried hard to fit these on her little feet. It almost worked for a minute there...

07 May 2010

Paddling at the Workplace

Just because an idea is old doesn't mean it isn't a goodie. Paddling people who are disrespectful or belligerent during work hours should get 'em a swack, just like in the old days.

Made-up person James Millington had a lot of trouble keeping order at the workplace until he got a wooden paddle and swacked his disrespectful employees hard enough to knock some sense into them.

Then he recruited an old lady who was the victim of workplace violence to speak out in favour of his idea. He convinced her to think that if she were able to swack a few workers around with the paddle, that none of the workers would retaliate or act out negatively in other ways.

"Workers these days," she says as her entire old body shakes feebly, "They just don't have the respect for authority they used to and t'aint that a shaame..."

Millington himself is starting a website about what a great idea this is and how psychological theory (somehow) proves his point. He's pitching his idea to the board of directors, and he already has a few onboard.

Ok, seriously... I know children who attend school and adults who work are two different things. I know children need to be taught a lesson every now and then, but I also don't think that this is going to inspire children to grow up to be kind and gentle people. I would say, "What would Jesus do?" but some of my fellow Christian friends seem to think that Jesus would go around with a modified cricket bat like these teachers. How about we think about, "What would Mr. Rogers do?" instead. Honestly, I think Jesus and Mr. Rogers would do the same thing. They'd model humility and servanthood. Children WANT to be loved and appreciated. No, they're not always good. But so, so, SO much of what they become is based on what they see modelled and prayed over them.

And yes, there comes a time to give a child a suspension or to call his parents. But just as the threat of a paddle isn't going to make a worker create a better blueprint on time, it also isn't going to make little Joey sit still in class and pay attention if your lecture is plain old boring and stupid and if he knows you don't truly care for him.

Just saying.

Good Hair Day!



Elf combed his hair himself. It was neat! It looked fine! But Mom ruined it. Please note frownie "after" picture. It looked so much better before. Why is Mom so mean?? He thinks all the
blog readers should take his side and tell Mom to stop it. Elf says, "Give me liberty or give me the combed hair. I revolt!" and, "Combed hair, no peace."

06 May 2010

Odds and Ends

Public School Update

Patrick's English teacher sent the following letter to me last week (names changed, otherwise copy/paste):

Mrs. C,

This is to notify you that Patrick will be reading the book In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. As stated in the letter I sent home a month ago (please see attached), the substitute reading is of the same genre, Magical Realism, and has the same setting of Latin America. Please understand that Patrick will be working independently on this unit. I will prepare a booklet of materials for his study that correlates to the class’s activities. Any homework assignments and quizzes for Patrick will be of the same point value as the class. The objectives of the unit are the same, and the final in-class writing will be of the same nature and difficulty.

Mrs. English Teacher's Name

So... Patrick will receive a different assignment, but without input from others on what is really expected on the tests (you know that's often given in discussions; you can tell by what the teacher focuses upon, etc.), he will truly be on his own. And yeah... there WAS a note home about a month ago that the reading was explicit... but I hadn't expected "explicit and without literary value, and furthermore not even originally written in the English language."

I was chatting with another mom at the orchestra concert recently and she told me her family was moving across town but that her daughter would really, realllly miss having Patrick in her class. They're in the same English class and she a Christian, but the silent type. She has a hard time speaking up. Patrick says the things others wish they could, but... don't. And apparently he's pretty good at the verbal battles. I'm pretty sure that this woman with the super MBA and who is at least three times his age bests him quite often, but he's fighting. :)

I told her about the recent assignment and my objection to it. She thought that it would be along the lines of Of Mice and Men and I assured her that I read Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men, and that sort of thing that was "controversial" during my high school years... and this book doesn't even come close to having that sort of vague literary redemption. She expressed an interest in reading this mysterious book. We both reasoned that it may be that her daughter was too embarrassed to talk about what was in there. Whatever this family decides, I wish them the best...

Woodjie Update

Woodjie is constantly climbing things. Homeschool can be pretty tough to teach with his hopping all over everywhere. Oh... and he takes off his clothes. A few times I've literally gone into the kitchen to start making lunch or something and I'll turn around to see a NAKED MAN in front of me. Well, a short little giggling naked man who runs away when I try to scoop him up and put him downstairs. Doggone it, he's cute but I have a feeling this will NOT go over well with people in the community when he's ten.

Emperor and Elf

We have their summer planned! They'll be taking Saturday swimming classes again at the local community center. We will work very, very hard so that we can get everything I think ought be done in time for a school vacation before July.

We're looking at short overviews on several religions in social studies. Emperor thought that he would "test Hinduism scientifically" by watching a dead spider in the corner to see if it came back to life. I told him the only way to know if Hinduism really "works" would be for people to remember their past lives as amoebas and fish and so forth. Elf thought that the better idea would be to pray over the spider in Jesus' Name and see what happens. I'm thinking it was just the spider's time to go, buddy...

We're also learning a bit about how to take notes on index cards/ outline for a research report. I had the "brilliant" idea of having the boys take notes during a sermon. Here's what I found on Elf's card:

Pastor does an itoresting words to say. I am suprised he has all this to say.

Um, don't outdo yourself there! Overwork leads to stress. Can you believe my super-bright child did this?? Yes, and he would have been going into fifth grade were he in public school. Mommy is sooo proud of him; he is just a shining beacon for homeschooling.

When I told him all this the other day, he cringed a bit, giggled and said, "Yeah..." My point was made.

05 May 2010

Please Pray

Disclaimer: This is blogged with full permission of my friend, who has my web address and knows me in real life.

I have a friend at church who saw my homeschooling sweatshirt last year around Thanksgiving (yes, I am a slob and wear sweatshirts to church). She wanted to know how to go about homeschooling in Missouri and I gave her my website and my phone number and told her about the HSLDA website and its guidelines by state. I have chatted with her several times in church about the places she's been in life and what things are going on right now during "prayer request" time. She has some things going on that would make homeschooling difficult, but not impossible.

I don't really know her that well, but I do sincerely believe that she's doing the best she can for her children. She has moved to the area within the last six months and is trying to start her life over. She's in a neighbourhood where there aren't the best examples of childrearing going on. I haven't even seen her in about a month, and that was just a passing by "hi" by the bathrooms in the rush after church.

She is trying very hard to be a godly example, she told me when she called this morning... but she had an issue with a neighbour, however, and now has received a "visit" from Social Services.

Isn't that almost always how it happens?

And not knowing too many people, she felt compelled to give my name and number as a reference. Problem is, I don't know her too well and have never met her children. I've never been to her home. I can only tell the social worker (when or IF she ever calls) that yes, I have spoken to this person about homeschooling and advised her to write down the hours she does each subject and look at the HSLDA website for guidelines... and gave her my number if she wanted to chat sometime.

Well, "sometime" just came today. She tells me that she is going to put her children in school for next year, but I guess with all the moves/transitions in their lives right now she was hoping to keep her children home and catch them up.

She doesn't have a plan book. I prayed with her and told her doggone it, when she gets off the phone with me, first thing she needs to do is get her calendar and a notebook. First thing! Go do that.

And start looking for the kids' worksheets, at least label a few by the month they were done and throw 'em in a box! Have something to show when these folks come back, ok?

Look at the calendar and remember what you did each day when you fill out your teacher book. I know for me, it would be a lot of work but doable as I keep all my appointments on a calendar. I usually do 2 hours of math or thereabouts and two of English-y stuff (as I noted before, reading is considered a different subject here) and an hour or so of another subject (social studies or science). Then we read for half an hour to an hour each night at bedtime. Sometimes longer, and sometimes we skip nights. If I had to just make my sheets up now, I would log half an hour a night even though I know that would be an underestimate in the overall. I could probably patch together a semi-believeable calendar in a day, but I don't know that I could find old work samples in that much time and categorize them generally by month.

I had to tell her what the five core subjects in the state of Missouri were and how many hours she was expected to fulfill in the course of a school year. And I told her I wouldn't be able to lie to the social worker. I am nervous... I don't know if this worker will ever call or decide it's not worth her time.

I hope the social worker decides it's not worth it as the public school will be involved next year. I don't know what to think about the whole situation... I can't "vouch" for someone I don't know that well. I'm praying for this family, though, and I hope that you will also. Thanks!

04 May 2010

A Guest Post by Rose

Dear Faithful Readers,

My grandfather has brought it to my attention that there is some weird kid impersonating me. Don't be fooled. I'm in the top picture wearing my super-soft "Disney Princess" fleece shirt and she is wearing the wannabe "yodelling in Switzerland" getup in the lower picture with her Nana. Check out the cap and the embroidery on the jacket! Who put all that stuff on the poor kid and then photographed her? I mean, my parents love me so much that they would never allow an unflattering pic of me to be taken. And thankfully in these modern times, I have parents who would never post embarrassing photos of me pouting on the internet, either.


Homeschool Update

Hello! Here's an update from the Happy Elf Homeschool! The school year is almost over and I've promised the boys a vacation from school if they finish everything!

Bible

We're using BJU Press Bible Truths curriculum. We've completed about seven of the ten units. I would highly, highly, highly recommend this curriculum to anyone. But most especially I'd recommend it for those parents who are a little shaky on the background behind the Bible passages they want to study with their children, and for those who enjoy colourful maps, background on the characters in the Bible passages, and missionary stories as related reading. You could nix any literature program and focus on just this if you wished. Add in the recommended CD and you can sing some of the hymns that go with the character trait (for example, love or faithfulness) studied in the lessons.

It's very expensive. But I think this would be about the last thing to go if I had to pare down. It's that good. Naturally, we'll be continuing our BJU Press Bible Truths curriculum next year for fifth grade.

English and Reading 2009 - 2010

Somehow the state of Missouri counts "Communication Arts" and "Reading" as being distinct subjects. I'm lumping them together anyway as a subject, although I do count the particular hours we spend reading separately in the log book just to cover my hiney. Actually, when I log my hours down, I put the Bible studies under "Reading" because the entire curriculum is based around reading Bible passages and learning about them. This school year, we've also finished BJU Spelling 4, Landmark's Freedom Literature curriculum (uses McGuffey's Third Reader), many Great Illustrated Classics, and several other books, some with social studies tie-ins.

We're almost done with Chapter 11 in the BJU 4 English and Grammar curriculum (of 16 chapters). Hoping to finish that by July 1. Right now, we're in the chapter that works on verb tenses and I love seeing the progress Elf and Emperor are making. It wasn't too long ago that "runt" would have been listed as the past-tense form of the verb "run" by one of the children, and "rundided" would have been listed by the other. And in Spelling we've improved from spelling does "dozz," and are now spelling it correctly after about six months of the transitional "dose" spelling. Now we're working on READING THE DIRECTIONS so that whole sections of the workbook don't get done incorrectly.

Yes, I actually DO teach the children. It's up to them to learn. They'll do even better next year! :)

English and Reading 2010 - 2011

Moving on to Rod and Staff for fifth grade grammar. We'll use BJU Spelling 5 even though our literature program has its own spelling component. It's a weak spot (obviously), so I bought it after Elf and Emperor said they wanted it this year. I'm also going to use Landmark's Freedom Literature (uses McGuffey's Fourth Reader) again. You have to love a curriculum that posts a big WARNING on the inside cover that assures parents that only the King James Version of the Bible is used in all instances, except in such cases as other versions are specifically referenced to show their errors. Aaahhh... can't fall too far into the "liberal leanings" ditch with that one. :)


Social Studies 2009 - 2010


We have two LIFEPAC History and Geography fourth grade level workbooks to get through. Considering we've done longish units on the Civil War and China, that's not too bad. Right now, we're working on the "Mountain Countries" LIFEPAC which covers Peru, Switzerland and Nepal. It does an interesting job of comparing/contrasting the cultures and talking a little about Hinduism and Buddhism. I have some extra materials on the Incans and Mayans to share with the boys. Some are public school books and I also bought a second-grade level reader about the subject with many colourful pictures.

Social Studies 2010 - 2011

We'll kick off a study of Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, followed by a world history overview. I'm particularly looking forward to learning about world history with them. You wouldn't believe all the materials I've collected over the years about Ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt. Well, maybe you would. It's in a BOX downstairs, waiting. I sometimes wonder how much of the World History we'll get through, because that in and of itself is a full-year curriculum for older children. Well... we'll get through what we get through.

Mathematics

We're working on Teaching Textbooks Grade 6 and Singapore Maths Grade 5. They are actually very compatible even if the label states that they're a grade apart. I would highly recommend using these in tandem if you want a maths-focused school. Emperor in particular is becoming more fluent in maths as he gets older.

We're almost halfway through both of these programs. When you use TWO full curriculum providers in the same subject, and do every exercise, it does tend to slow you down a bit. I do think that the repetition and practice and switching of particular problems (fractions here, angles there, now a word problem, etc.) helps retain the information.

Elf is starting to forget his multiplication tables, and I'm tempted to take a week off our progress in math just before we start our new school year to focus on this. He can still do the work, but he is adding and adding in his head instead of just KNOWING the answer, and that holds him up. He has also taken to cracking his knuckles during math, playing with his eraser and not concentrating. He does well with constant direction, but he needs to learn to budget his time.

Science

Continuing with LIFEPACs in science through our next year. We have never tried any other science curriculum yet. I like the colourful books and the easy-to-read type. Some of the hands-on experiments are difficult for me to do *correctly,* though I suspect this is a problem I would have no matter which curriculum I picked. So we're pretty happy with it.

OK, those are the basics I'm required to do by law. A little about our other subjects:

In art, we've done various little crafty projects and making a little project at Home Depot each month, but have not followed a set curriculum. Year after next, I will have to get more serious about this, although I don't think either child shows a serious inclination toward the subject. Next year, we'll be doing little things like sticky tile mosaics and Ancient Greek mythology colouring pages. Fun kid stuff. :)

In music, the boys learned to play a couple of simple songs on the piano. Our resident teacher needs to be corralled for more of those magical $5 lessons over the course of the next school year.

Typing? Have that maaaaade in the shaaaade. We have a new typing program on the computer and it is working out absolutely fabulously. I have already taught the boys where all the keys are on the keyboard, but when I'd do the high-school-type lessons I got on them, I'd get a lot of, "Wait! Going too fast. Now I lost my spot. Hang on!" about every other word I'd dictate. I'm trying to teach them to not look at their hands whilst they're typing. This way they can look at the thing they're typing or the thing they're copying onto the keyboard.

And an odd subject: weekly trips. It could be a simple trip to Wal-Mart, but as you know, getting into the vehicle and going ANYWHERE with the four smaller children just makes me want to freak out. Woodjie doesn't do so well... Elf and Emperor are all jumpy about stuff, and Rose? Does just fine. And she's the only one I haven't bothered training, but have let grow up all wild and stuff. NOT FAIR. I'm sorta over that "not fair" thing sometimes.

But I think other people don't get how doggone hard it is. I am tryyyyying to teach Emperor things like not kissing other people's babies (Ugh! On the mouth! And then the mom tells him he might not want to do that because Tyler is sick today... I hope she is lying to get him away from kissing her little boy... ughh...) or telling other customers that he is really a baby giant... well, he just pretends... and there are Pokemon that evolve and get smaller did you know that but some are usually only girls and some are usually only boys but most can be either and my mom asked me not to tell you how baby pokemon get here (it's in the daycare center, I'll just tell you that much but Mom says that's distur- okayokayokayMombutjustonemorethingstoptryingto pull me awayyyyjustasec) and did you know his first word was, "Kitty?"And where do you live?

And I am tryyyying to teach Elf not to correct the grammar and theology of the people he encounters in the store. I am calling it "social skills" class. We really should do this twice a week, but honestly speaking, once a week plus Wednesday and Sunday church is stretching it for me.

Thank youuuu for reading this far. You're a true friend! :)

01 May 2010

Teaching English Well

The latest in the string of "hate-filled" stuff from the state of Arizona is this idea that people with very heavy accents probably shouldn't be teaching non-native speakers of English the language. It's racial discrimination, you know, if someone who can't pronounce English words "properly" or uses "incorrect" grammar can't have a job teaching these students how to string a good sentence together. Only a racist would suggest that children need to learn English from people who can speak it well.

And who's to say what constitutes proper language usage, anyway? We're hardly the French. Next thing you know, philosophises some intelligent navel-gazer in the comments of this article, we'll be weeding out New Yawkers or people with a Southern twang from the teaching pool. And what bigot decided that prounouncing "violet" as "biolet" or "think" as "tink" is wrong? And as to punctuation and spelling, arguments that lack of standardisation muddy understanding are just ludicrous. Jwerzel Mc PERkinnickers XHufWepPzijjk-sieeeel, right? Why get all picky? We all know it's just a racist cover-up.

Guess I'm super-racist because I'd even go so far as to state that only native speakers of English ought teach the language in publicly-funded schools. And I also think that teachers of Spanish ought to have Spanish as their first language. French teachers ought to have French as their primary language. I SUPPOSE we can cut a pass for non-native speakers of Latin and Esperanto. But only because I'm gracious.

Seriously. Imagine Peggy Hill teaching YOUR kids Spanish if YOU lived in Mexico, and see how racist this article's argument really is.

Blue's Clues

It's the latest craze for Woodjie. We have the old VHS versions from Patrick and G's toddlerhood. "Ah-goo! Ah-goo!" he screams when Steve needs to be alerted to clues. Steve got out his notebook and drew a pig. Woodjie drew this genetically modified version on his sister's doodle board. He has a new bedspread from his dad featuring "Boo" and "Iggy-Ock," or roughly translated, "Blue" and "Tickety-Tock." Wow. He doesn't speak understandably, often or necessarily relevantly to regular conversation, so I would still classify as nonverbal or low verbal. But he's going to be verbal someday. Maybe very soon.

Star Trek Roller Skating!

Woodjie LOVES the audience.  I made these little outfits for the children and they danced to the Star Trek: Next Generation theme...