30 September 2012

Should Homeschoolers Keep a Low Profile?

We're really proud of the local school.  It's part of living in this town:  we root for the Falcons.  If you homeschool, it's like saying you don't want to be part of the social fabric of the town.  Your children are not participating in something that is important to all of us.  

You're also unintentionally hurting the feelings of some very nice, dedicated people who work hard to keep our local school one of the best in the region.  And you're basically saying that my school isn't good enough for your kid.  I know you don't mean it that way, exactly, but that's how it comes across to a lot of people.

There's also the fact that not everyone can homeschool like you.   People feel guilty or obligated when they hear about the good things that you are doing with your child.  You don't have to say one word about them homeschooling for them to feel judged.  I know you don't want to hear that, but that's just human nature.

And plus.  You never know when you need to go get a job or your situation otherwise changes.  Imagine what people would think if you enrolled your child after stating you think "God" wants you to homeschool right now. God would look pretty stupid, and you don't want that to happen.

I know you really enjoy homeschooling, but I think you should just tone it down a little. 

This guest post is one local mom's answer to the question, "Should homeschoolers keep a low profile?"  What do you think?  Are homeschoolers too out-and-about and prideful?

26 September 2012

Woodjie Update

I don't know what to say.  Woodjie's a good kid.  But.  Just about every day, I get notes home about how he "hit a friend" a couple times during the school day.  Or he "ran away and didn't want to join the class."  Or he "got so upset and angry he threw up a little."

I've chatted with his teacher a few times, have given what few suggestions I could for calming him down (which don't always work at home, but hey), and have sent in his weighted vest.  We are all of us trying/struggling to figure out what is going on.

His teacher and aide are working on charts about his behaviour.  You know, ABC type stuff. 

A - the antecedent.  What happened that caused the behaviour?
B - the behaviour that we'd sure not like to see.
C - the consequence of the behaviour (had to sit in time out, or whatever)

Right now, there seems to be no particular time of day and no rhyme or reason we can discern that causes Woodjie to flip.  I'm thinking if I were in that kindergarten class?  I wouldn't want to sit near Woodjie.

And the thing is, he's not perfect here at home, but he's not flipping out puking mad and hitting his "friends" all the time, either.

I would ordinarily be very, very distrustful of teachers, but this is Miss Flower, who was Elfie's kindergarten teacher.  She was lovely and sweet to Elf.  Things went downhill with a thud when she was no longer his teacher in first grade.  So for Woodjie?  It's so odd that we have the same (wonderful) teacher.  Because Woodjie is in a specialized autism class across town.  Hey, who knows, maybe working with super-great kids like Elf inspired her to take that job.

Yesterday I was very discouraged about Woodjie's behaviour chart.  I made D sign it because I don't always want to sign the bad stuff, and maybe if they saw that a man was signing these things they'd know we're really, really taking things seriously and are not personally endorsing playground violence and bla bla bla (insert silly argument here).

So D took the paper, scrawled his signature on the line and then wrote "A MAN" underneath.  I just left it because... I have no clue why.  Sometimes you have to laugh at stuff for no reason or you'll cry.

The good news is that today, Woodjie got all smiley faces on his take-home chart for the second time this school year.  So I'm rejoicing that yayyy... things went ok today.  Or at least well enough that the Zootsie Wumble got to play on the computer this afternoon.  Woot.

Hoping for many more days like this, but you can imagine how frustrating it is for Miss Flower, for Woodjie's aide, for me and for Woodjie.

14 September 2012

Happy Weekend!

Emperor is speeding along in this photo.  He was quite determined to learn to ride his bike today, but it didn't quite go according to plan.
Elf is in seventh grade, but hasn't mastered that whole riding about on his own thing, either.  For whatever reason, this skill is elusive to them both.
Solution:  no training wheels!  Emperor will pedal and steer, and Elf will keep his feet on the ground.  Everyone wins!
Woodjie and Rose got their little trikes out as well. 
Woodjie will get a fruit snack for each smiley face and as a bonus for getting all smileys, he'll get some computer time tonight!  Have a great weekend, everyone!

13 September 2012

Tracking Children in School

Students in one Texas school will soon be required to wear lanyards with active GPS tracking chips.  Schools want to use the technology to be sure students are in school, or to be able to locate them quickly in an emergency.  Some parents and students are concerned about their privacy as the chips cannot be turned "off" during non-school hours.

I don't see why everyone has to get all legal about it on both sides.  An extra five minutes at the beginning and end of the school day would give the students an opportunity to lock their IDs into their lockers.  I don't see why a tracking technology cannot be used while the child is on school grounds and the school is charged with keeping that child safe.  I also don't see why there can't be an opt-out for the relatively few parents who are very concerned.

Why does everything have to be a huge fight?  I can see both sides of that issue, but since there are no cameras attached, how is it a privacy concern during school hours?  The school had best dang well know whether my child is in the classroom or on the playground.

Would you support the idea of your child wearing the ID?  I wouldn't care so much if it stayed at school.  But spending this sort of money may just be a bad idea financially.  I know our district spent BOODLES on a big ol' security system; you have to buzz the front office to enter the building, they check your photo ID at the door and all that sort of thing.  Aaand at the same time, they're overcrowded so they popped a bunch of trailers behind the school, the back doors to the building are propped open all day, and anyone wanting to kidnap/ kill/ molest kids could just wander off to the back and have himself a field day.  Brilliant.

10 September 2012

Teachers On Strike

I love my kids' teachers (most of 'em).  They deserve to be paid well.  They deserve vacation time, sick time and the same sorts of medical benefits other workers receive.  How can we expect our kids to learn about fairness and working hard for a dollar if they see our teachers treated badly?

But the economy really stinks right now.  Lots of regular people are losing their jobs, paying taxes is a hardship for many, and it's probably not a good time to whine that your average teacher earns $74,839 and go on strike.  That's gonna backfire, at least perception-wise, with the public.

But they'll get much of what they're asking for in the short term because the schools can't blanket fire and start with fresh college grads who will take $15/hour.  And probably do a better job if test scores are any indication.  (They aren't always, with an average pay of  $74,839, I'm expecting the Stand and Deliver guy in every classroom.)

Yup.  The school district caved and offered a 16 percent pay increase and several other concessions.   It isn't enough, though.  The news is full of pictures of screaming teachers waving signs written in freaking Spanish about how they're mistreated.  Really.

Meanwhile, on the insanely odd flip side, Chicago's children cannot possibly be ok if they have to skip a few weeks of classes.  It's an emergency.

"The school district opened 144 of its 578 schools for part of the day to provide a safe environment and meals to children in need," CNN reports. "Dozens of churches and civic organizations stepped in to provide activities for the thousands of suddenly idle students. And police, expecting an uptick in trouble with more kids on the streets, pulled officers from desk duty to increase patrols."

Translation:  it's obvious that people in the inner city are somehow different from other people and cannot possibly be expected to care for their own kids.  And let kids get bored?  Well, they commit arson, armed robbery, murder and other assorted crimes if you don't entertain them!  It would all be the teachers' fault for not being there for the kiddies!

Crazy any way you slice it. 

 I know some parents have to work, but that doesn't mean it becomes the government's problem when school is not in session.   And the whole thought that everyone needs these teachers this badly is just off-putting.  I think my children's teachers do a good job.  But while nearly $10,000/month is a bit steep, the union wants more than that?  ($74,000 x 1.16 and then divide by 9 = $9,667)

The whole thing doesn't make sense.  Would it make more sense if I lived in Chicago? I don't really have a dog in this fight, but the whole thing seems bewildering to me.

08 September 2012

More Children Not Toilet Trained by School Age.

The main reason is that parents don't bother teaching their kids where to put their poop, claims The Independent

Most primary school teachers see a large increase in the number of "accidents" that happen in school.  I wonder if UK schools expect children to stay in school all day for kindergarten as they do here.  I also wonder if they are starting to drill, drill, drill those children as we do.

I'm telling you, things are different today.  Even though Emperor would only be in fifth grade were he in school, the schools have changed into little testing factories since he left in kindergarten.  (It has always been a teach-to-the-test environment to an extent, but it's more extreme now.)  Could children who have only been regularly using the restroom for a year or two be more prone to have accidents under stress or in a new situation?

I think so.  It's also obvious to me that with a sharp increase in autism worldwide, that there would also be a sharp increase in the number of children who haven't quite mastered this skill by school age.  Woodjie is severely autistic and has had occasional accidents at school.

Commenters (God bless 'em!) posit that certain ethnic groups are more prone to be "little soilers" and wonder why children should even be allowed to stay home (when the state can raise them better, I guess). 

07 September 2012

Success With Science

First up:  our spaghetti and marshmallow structure.  Turns out that thicker noodles support the weight of the marshmallows best.
Next:  we're pretending that our oil tanker had a massive spill.  How do we clean it up?  We used a spoon, Q-tips  and paper towels.  Each of these methods were useless/ineffective.  Until...

Two drops of dish soap.  Now a paper towel picks up the oil spill easily.  Unfortunately (as always happens with our science experiments, I think) things didn't go quite as planned.  Emperor thought he would make a nice large circular motion with the paper towel, so we were pretty much back where we started by the end of the experiment.  Whoops.  We left that part out of our workbook writeup.

05 September 2012

Tony Danza/ teach

Interesting show!

So Tony Danza has a degree he got years ago that qualifies him to be a teacher.  So meh.  What is the big deal with everyone asking if he's "qualified" to teach?  The district took him in and gave him a position.  So that makes him qualified right there.  Shut up.  Sounds like "I don't have a million dollars" jealousy to me.

Now you can go on and on all you like about what his inner motivations might be to make this show.  You might think that it's there to give his career a new pickup or a new direction.  Meh.  Who cares?  The school let him and the cameras in.  I'm assuming the parents of this class have also bought into this.

It's odd.  The principal is bla bla-ing to him about 'you might be a big Hollywood star but you have to respect the profession of teaching' and all that.  Sure.  But um, she's first in line to squeal all over when the whoopdee-doo Mayor's office calls the school looking for Danza.  She's first in line to accept a charity show for the school that Danza puts on. 

I am not a huge Danza fan, but I think they treated him pretty unfairly.  Here he's given huge amounts of time and effort into this school (question his motives if you will... and I do...) and the school will just eat it up and ask for more WHILE they are criticising him behind his back for not being a "real" or "qualified" or "experienced" teacher.

Fer reals?

Also.  The principal in this show is a real control freak.  School uniforms?  Why bother with that trapping when you're snapping mad half your kids can't pass a simple "five paragraph essay" assignment from Mr. Danza?  And why is she mad?  Because he's not passing everyone and magically making them excellent writers within a semester?  Seriously?  Lady, your school district SUCKS if the majority of kids (let alone the handpicked ones for the show) can't pass this milestone by tenth grade.  Mr. Danza doesn't seem too out of line to me.  Unless you're in special ed, grading ought be based on "this is what a sophomore-level English class demands."  Because that is.  A sophomore.  Level.  Class.


Poor Mr. Danza.   Really.  Even if I thought I could get a ton of money, I don't think I'd want cameras in my classroom AND some professional teacher critiquer with me every day. 

I was also surprised that there were inner-city children there who had money for spiffy uniforms, new shoes, school lunches and $300 iPads.  I have money for none of these things and I live in the burbs.  :/

03 September 2012

You Are Responsible for Your Parents.

It doesn't matter if your parents have been grown up since well before you were born.  It also doesn't matter if they've never been financially dependent on you.  You will be paying the nursing home bills if your parents are indigent, and if you don't have the wherewithall to fight the home in court.

Now, family does for each other and it bothers me to see some folks in my neighbourhood dumped off at the home at the first sign of trouble.  And somehow then wow, grandkids have "bought" the house at an amazing low price.  (I truly believe God is gonna judge that.)

That's family for ya.  You don't want to give "family" too much power (good or bad) over one another's finances.  But if we can help a family member in a bind, we sure will.  Our little family, though, doesn't have a million bucks in the bank account in case somebody's health goes south next week.  I'd make a crappy caregiver, too, because I can't even lift the groceries any more.  I have to have my older children help me.

I'm sure hoping my parents and my husband's have good insurance because the best I can do is offer moral support and maybe a $50 gift card at Christmas.   Hey, at least I don't do the "nightgown and slippers" gig.

Woodjie's Roller Dance Routine!

Only a few people were selected to perform their routines at a recent club fundraiser.  I went to upload this video and was pretty shocked...