Thursday, December 27, 2007
California staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine This is the actual answering machine message for the school. This came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children’s absences and missing homework. The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children’s failing grades changed to passing grades - even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough schoolwork to pass their classes. The outgoing message:
“Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting to the right staff member, please listen to all the options before making a selection:
To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1
To make excuses for why your child did not do his work-Press 2
To complain about what we do - Press 3
To swear at staff members - Press 4
To ask why you didn’t get information that was already enclosed in your newsletter and several flyers mailed to you - Press 5
If you want us to raise your child - Press 6
If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone -Press 7
To request another teacher, for the third time this year -Press 8
To complain about bus transportation - Press 9
To complain about school lunches - Press 0
If you realize this is the real world and your child must be accountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework and that it’s not the teachers’ fault for your child’s lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!
If you want this in Spanish, you must be in the wrong country.”
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Actually, I am just going to vent a bit, if that is okay.
(This is where you say, "Suuuuure! Go ahead!")
Thanks! Don't mind if I do! :D
Going into debt for Christmas makes no sense to me. None. Nada. Zip-O. Why spend more than you can afford and then stress over holiday bills in January? I don't get it.
I have a simple system. I put a certain amount in an envelope for each child. When the money is gone, I am done shopping for him/her. Really simple.
If you don't want to carry cash, you could simply keep a running tally on a sheet of paper in your wallet. (I have done it this way, too - 4 columns on a sheet, one for each child.) I start with the amount I want to spend. Let's say $100 for each child. I put $100 at the top of each column. For each purchase I make for that child, I take that amount off of the total. When I get to zero, I am done.
So Christmas is over and paid for. No bills. No stress.
I like it that way.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
If I have one more person ask me this, I will scream. At them. Loudly.
Let's look at my personal qualifications, shall we? I was a CHEMISTRY MAJOR in college. I think I have a decent enough background in science and math in order to scrape by with high school chemistry and math with my children, thank you very much.
Now, even if I did NOT have that background, there are SO MANY resources available to homeschoolers these days! This is NEVER an issue!
There are books written to self-teach kids, online courses, support groups, DVD courses, etc., etc., etc. Teacher guides are written for parents that may not have a background in that subject.
And, speaking of teacher guides, if teachers are so all-knowing and most wise, why do they need answer keys and teacher edition books? Hmmmm?
I am just sayin'.
If you go into most private schools (which, by the way, no one will argue the fact that private schools are doing a much better job than public schools), if you look at the education of most of the teachers, they did not major in education. For example, my son's kindergarten teacher held a degree in Accounting. Hmmmmm....
The public school system WANTS you to think that only people trained in education are qualified to teach kids. WRONG!!!!! They WANT your tax dollars so they can teach (and I use that term loosely) your kids. They do NOT want to admit that homeschooling is better than public school. They will do everything they can to deny that. Why? Because they want your money!!!!
Cynical? Yep. I am.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Two shootings in one day, both involving places of places of worship in Colorado.
I find it horrifying how many times we turn on the news to find yet another shooting has occurred. At a school. At a mall. At places of worship. At a workplace.
The majority of these shootings are carried out by men in their teens and twenties/thirties. I do not think it is a coincidence that these men are in the generations since the Bible has been taken out of school.
Say what you want about the seperation of church and state - at least having the Bible in schools helped lay a moral foundation of some sort. Instead, there is no direction for these young people today, unless they get it at home (and many don't).
I was not raised in a Christian home, but I thank God that I had teachers that were not afraid to be a moral role model for me and give some guidance - even at the risk of their careers.
Have you ever wondered what happens when you raise a generation of kids that know nothing of God?
Guess what? We are finding out. Bang bang.
Saturday, December 1, 2007
I live in a relatively small city. Not a huge metropolis.
This week alone, the following stories have made news:
- Shots fired at a local high school
- A loaded, cocked handgun was found in a girl's bookbag at the same school
- A teacher has been arrested, accused of having sex with a 15-year-old student.
The first two incidents happened in the school right across the street from my church on 2 different days.
The third incident happened at the high school my kids would be going to, if I would allow them to set foot back in public school. (Um. No. Not gonna happen.)
What on earth is happening in our schools?
I have a theory. Just my personal theory - not gonna research it to see if anyone else agrees. Maybe I will later.
Kids need supervision. They need adult interaction.
Years of having latchkey kids and letting other people raise our kids has begun to come around and bite us in the butt.
God designed families to be a certain way. They designed it so that kids would be raised and nurtured by family members. In some instances, friends and extended family would have to step up and help (when there was a death in the family, for example, and Mom or Dad passed away). They were also educated by parents (at least in the younger years).
Trust me - if you spend all day together, you bond. You can't HELP but bond. Hahaha.
I have worked in day care centers. There are some wonderful ones - and I have seen them. Still, it is just not the same as being with Mom or Dad. Period. It just isn't.
I have seen some research indicating that young kids in day care are advanced academically compared to peers who are at home. (The research was done using at-risk kids, so I believe the study to have limited application to the average family, but that is not the issue here.) Let's assume they are right and ALL kids benefit academically from being in day care.
Knowing their alphabet a year early or being able to say colors and shapes does NOT make up for the love of a Mom or Dad. Hugs and kisses all day go a LOT longer than drilling colors and shapes in the classroom.
As far as the academic end, I have this to say: it depends on the parents and the child.
My oldest son was reading at age 3 (almost 4). Why? Because he wanted to play on the computer, and I said he had to learn how to read before he could play on the computer. So he asked to be taught to read. Within a week, he was reading words and putting together sentences. He is reading on a college level now (at 11 years old).
My daughter was a different story. I could not get her to sit still long enough to read a book until she was around 5. She learned how to read when she was almost 6. At 9, she is reading on about a 6th grade level (about 2 years ahead).
My youngest just turned 3. He knows his colors and shapes and numbers up to 12. He can do some really basic addition. Reading holds zero interest for him at this point.
Now, in all of these cases, the same person taught them. Me. Same teacher, same basic methods, 3 different kids.
Yeah, I got off on a tangent, but the point is that early academic training does not insure academic success later on, but Mom and Dad being around helps a lot more.
I do not know the details of the incidents I mentioned in the beginning of this article, but I can make a few bets, one of which is that the kids had a lot of unsupervised time.
Maybe my kids will be sick of being around me by the time they graduate from high school and go to college, but I doubt it. Most homeschooling families I have seen have very close ties in high school, college and beyond.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
However, I always seem to come home to this:
Hubby: "Guess what your son did while you were gone." (Note how he is MY son at this point. Didja catch that?)
Me: "What now?"
Hubby: "Your son stripped naked and then walked into the living room and peed on the floor."
Me: "Which one?" (I ask, because can't assume things in this house.....)
Hubby: "The little one."
Now, I make several observations from this. First, he had time to strip naked. Then he came into the room Hubby was in, so Hubby was not in the room My Son was in.
Hubby gets miffed at my observations and insists it is not his fault that My Son did what he did.
I disagree, but let it go. After all, what's a little pee on the floor once in a while in exchange for a few hours of peace and quiet away from kids? :o)
Saturday, November 24, 2007
I have talked about this before, but I will touch on it again because I keep getting asked. :D
Every teacher has to deal with different personalities, BTW. The difference is that she cannot change her teaching to accommodate different personalities and learning styles. She has to teach one way for 20+ kids. There are bound to be kids lost in the process.
However, I can change how I teach. And I do for each child.
PJ (he is 11) is my future engineer. He is methodical and precise in how he approaches his work. He is a visual learner and can learn just from reading about something. He often comes up with great ways of explaining things in his own words. If I give him 2 weeks of assingments at once, he works each day's worth, checking things off as he goes.
Camryn (she is 9) is the opposite. The only way I can be sure she really is my kid is because she looks just like me. She learns best by doing things or seeing them done, not reading about them. She often needs things explained to her in several ways before "getting it". If I give her 2 weeks of assignments at once, she freaks out. She ends up with a pile of papers scattered around her, wailing. (Did I mention she is a bit of a drama queen?)
So I do what I know is best for each child. I change how I approach things and how I present material. Most material is designed to be self-taught (for homeschoolers), and that works great for PJ, but Camryn sometimes needs more help. And that's okay.
Camryn often knows the answers, but she likes to bounce them off of me before committing them to paper. And that's okay.
PJ works best with the radio on and having noise around. And that's okay.
Camryn wants complete silence. And that's okay.
One of the main gripes I have with our educational system is how it makes kids that are different to feel like something is wrong with them. That they "should" be a certain way. There is nothing inherently wrong with any learning style - it is just that our educational system is geared to cater to one - the ones who learn well from just reading from a book, sitting in one spot, in complete silence.
So the ones who learn better when they can move around, chat with someone and work with their hands are out of luck. They are "disruptive" and get frowny faces or demerits or whatever.
Please don't get me wrong - kids need to learn how to behave. That is not what I am talking about. I am talking about taking kids who need to talk almost as much as they need to breathe and expecting them to be quiet for hours on end - it is torture. And trying to get a kinesthetic child (who learns by touch/with their hands) to learn by sight is just crazy. They are not wired that way! It is setting them up to fail.
Changes need to be made. I am glad we decided to change instead of waiting on the school system to change.
Friday, November 23, 2007
I was in my room when my three-year old climbed on the bed with me. We cuddled and snuggled for a while. Lots of kisses and hugs. Then he smiled at me and said, "Me happy."
My heart melted. I blinked back a tear.
"Me happy, too," I said.
Yep, those are the moments that make you realize what is so great about being a mom.
Monday, November 19, 2007
- I put my Mom and Dad through a lot more than I thought. This is God's payback.
- God decided I needed to toughen up.
- God thought I needed a lot more grey hair.
Seriously, I think #3 has a lot to do with it, because my grey hairs have increased dramatically in the past 9 years. Sometimes I feel them sprout as I am talking/arguing with her. :D Then again, my Dad has an awful lot, and I am an only child. Hmmmmmmmmmmm......
Back to the subject. My daughter. Dear, sweet, loving child that she is.
Here is the conversation we had last night coming back from church (we were the only ones in the car, because all of the others were sick and stayed home - they were lucky. Coughing up a lung was a lot more fun than this conversation, let me tell you.):
Background: She has decided she wants to go to "real school" and not be homeschooled. This changes daily and alternates between going to "real school" and joining the circus, so I really don't lend a whole lot of credibility to either choice. In between these two lifestyle choices are the days where she proclaims her undying love for homeschooling and wants me to homeschool her future children. (Yeah, I have a hard time keeping up with her.)
Her: "I want to go to real school."
Me: "Well, maybe when you are older, you can go to private school for high school." (Please note the reasonable tone of voice I am using at this point. Enjoy it. It doesn't last long.)
Her: "But, Moooooooooooooom!" (said in a whining, drawn-out syllable - you know the sound) "I want to go to real school and see all of my friends!" (wringing of hands is added for dramatic effect)
Me: "You just saw a room full of your friends not 2 minutes ago. You see them all the time. Besides, they all go to different schools. You can't go to school with them all."
Her: "But I could go from school to school and spend a few weeks at each school with each friend."
Me: (Remember that reasonable tone of voice mentioned earlier? It has been replaced by its cousin - Trying to Remain Calm voice.) "Camryn, they won't let you do that."
Her: "Why not?" (This is said with a genuine look of surprise.)
Me: "Because they just don't. You stay in the same school. And this is not going to be an issue because you are not going to be in school. You are homeschooled. Now, we can talk about this again at the end of the school year, okay?"
Her: "But, Moooooooooooooooooom!! (again, the whining syllable. My left eye begins twitching at this point) That is such a looooooooooooooong (again, whining. *twitch*) time from now! (She adds a pout at this point.)
Me: "It is not a long time. It is only until June."
Me: "Yes, June." *twitch*
Her: "But Mooooooooooooom!"
At this point, Trying to Remain Calm voice is replaced by Completely Exasperated voice. The conversation goes downhill quickly. It ended up with her being grounded until she is 85 and never being allowed to marry or own property.
So, you may wonder, how things are this morning?
Well, so far:
- 73 new grey hairs. Yay, me.
- Camryn greeted me with a huge hug and kiss this morning.
- She wants to be homeschooled - loves it!
- She is going to wait and join the circus when she is 18.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Yeah, I know that I should have realized this a while back, but I am a little slow these days.
As I was dusting furniture this morning, my oldest son walked in and asked, "Is someone coming over?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because you are dusting. Like moving stuff around and dusting underneath, too." It didn't help that this was said with a bit of a wide-eyed surprised look, either.
To complete my humiliation, I finally admitted that, yes, someone was coming over and that is why I was dusting.
Another clue should have been our pre-dinner ritual. Someone (usually my hubby or my oldest son) would cover the smoke detector with a dish towel before I would start cooking. This ritual was suggested by my oldest son when the smoke detector would prompt "Dinner's ready!" being announced by the kids and bring kids running to the dinner table. (The kids were bewildered as to why this assumption would bother me.)
(There was another concern I had - what if the smoke alarm went off during the night?? The kids were so used to it that if it went off at 2 in the morning, they would just wonder why I was cooking at such an odd hour.)
Okay, back to my non-Suzy-Homemaker-ness.
My home, to put it nicely, has always looked "lived in." It is clean, but not looking like a model home. (Somehow having 4 kids does that. I dunno.)
Oh yeah. To complete my humiliation, when Hubby came home from work, he looked around (wide-eyed) and asked, "Is someone coming over?"
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I love homeschooling during the holidays! We can take an extra day off (which we are) and we are taking 3 weeks off for Christmas! Hooray! We will also have a Thanksgiving party AND a Christmas party for "school". I am so excited!! We are using the time before Christmas to make presents and get things ready for everyone.
In my opinion, these are the things the kids will remember most - the fun memories we make together. These are the things that are important - spending time together.
They may never use the Geometry or Algebra they learn, but they will always look back on these memories fondly. Best of all, I am not having to hear about how they celebrated Christmas in school. I will be a part of the celebration.
And I love that. :o)
Saturday, November 3, 2007
The Fair is in town. A wonderful, joyous time of year that usually ends up costing me around $500. Why so much? No, boys and girls, it's not because of the astronomical cost of hot dogs and elephant ears, it's the chiropractor bills I need after going on those crazy rides.
"Just don't ride the rides!" you say? Ahhhhhhhh....but that is impossible! You see, I have one child that stubbornly stays below the line above which you may ride "unaccompanied by an adult." I have tried buying clogs for her. I have tried stuffing tissues in her shoes. I have encouraged the devious art of "standing on tiptoes unnoticed." I have tried distracting the Fair employee at the crucial Measuring Moment. ("Hey! Is that 8 teenagers trying to slip under the rope?? You go get them and I'll just make sure my daughter gets buckled in." Shameful? Yeah, I know, but 1) it didn't work and 2) I was motivated by the fear of pain. Cut me some slack.)
So I am Mommy. Forced to accompany against my will.
I also cannot talk for 3 days after the Fair because I scream so loudly on the rides. My husband says people in North Carolina step outside, scratching their heads, asking, "Where is that screaming coming from??"
Why do I scream so much? Well, when I was younger, I screamed because it was fun. Now that I am older and wiser, I scream because all of the headlines about Fair accidents run through my mind as the ride starts up. I really think I might croak.
Then, each year, there is the also the inevitable vomiting. Every year there is at least one ill person. Sometimes we don't even get out of the Fair before illness hits. (Those are the years that the Fair workers love us, I am sure.) Now, I keep telling my husband that eating 18 elephant ears is probably the cause of this and he should either stop eating them or just eat single-digit numbers of them, but he says it's a yearly tradition. (Not sure if he means the eating, the vomiting, or both.) How fun!
Then the whining. After a few hours, the kids are tired and hungry and they are frustrated by the long lines. (These are the same kids who want to go to Disneyworld. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha) So they want to eat (Um, no kids, Daddy is the only one getting sick this year, thanks.) or to buy cr*p for sale ("Kids, I'll give you 5 bucks to go to the Dollar Store - their stuff is much better quality.") or to play games ("Kids, I will let you throw money out the car window on the way home - it'll make more sense.")
Now on to the "Creative Financial Incentives" I mentioned.
This year, the kids asked me to go to the Fair. I made them an offer. If we did NOT go to the Fair, then they would each get X number of dollars to spend however they wanted.
Camryn is talking on her new cell phone.
PJ is playing his new video game.
Life is good.
And my chiropractor will miss me.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
I was talking to him about the benefits of homeschooling and how it has worked for us. I told him all of the reasons I chose homeschooling, plus some of the unexpected benefits that we have found.
Every single thing I said, he answered, "That is the same thing we are dealing with!"
He asked for me to send him all of the info I could to him. They might be homeschooling next year.
Yet one more child not in public school. I am so excited! :D
One of the benefits I really appreciate during times like these is the flexibility of our schedule. If we need to take a few days off and deal with an emergency or a death in the family, we can do so. As long as the kids get 180 days of schooling in per academic year, we are fine. (Check with your state homeschool associations - different states have different guidelines.)
So, if I want to have the traditional 3 months off in the summer, I can do that.
If I want to have school all year, I can do that.
I am planning on taking off 3 weeks for Christmas. We'll start back around the second week of January.
Some families I know work for 3 weeks and then take a week off. It is a nice, relaxing way to break up the school year.
Yet another benefit of homeschooling that not many people think of. :o)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Here is a typical conversation with my daughter, who is 9. We were driving in the car and she found a catalog for homeschooling materials and saw a book in it about landslides.
HER: "What's a landslide?"
ME: blah blah blah blah (detailed explanation about landslides) ...."and they pretty much destroy everything in their path"
HER: "Really? It destroys EVERYTHING???"
ME: "Well, yes, it does, if it's large enough."
HER: "Like houses, trees, cars??"
ME: "Yes, everything."
HER: "So if I was wearing this shoe, and I was in a landslide, it would destroy my shoe?"
ME: *my left eye is starting to twitch* "YES, it would."
HER: "What about cats? Would it destroy cats?"
ME: *twitch* "YES! It would!"
HER: "So what if I was standing ON the house, WITH a cat, WEARING my shoe. Would it destroy us all?"
At this point, the conversation went downhill.
Yes, I love homeschooling, but conversations like this are why I have grey hairs.....
Saturday, October 13, 2007
The following is taken from the Mid- Valley Women's Crisis Service. (www.mvwcs.com/redflag.html)
Before an abuser starts physically assaulting his victim, he typically demonstrates his abusive tactics through certain behaviors. The following are five major warning signs and some common examples:
Abusers can be very charming. In the beginning, they may seem to be Prince Charming or a Knight in Shining Armor. He can be very engaging, thoughtful, considerate and charismatic. He may use that charm to gain very personal information about her. He will use that information later to his advantage.
For example; he will ask if she has ever been abused by anyone. If she says, "yes", he will act outraged that anyone could treat a woman that way. Then when he becomes abusive, he will tell her no one will believe her because she said that before and it must be her fault or two people would not have hit her.
Another example; he may find out she experimented with drugs in her past. He will then threaten that if she tells anyone about the abuse he will report her as a drug abuser and she will lose her children. The threat to take away her children is one of the most common threats abusers use to maintain power and control over their victims.
Abusers isolate their victims geographically and socially. Geographic isolation includes moving the victim from her friends, family and support system (often hundreds of miles); moving frequently in the same area and/or relocating to a rural area.
Social isolation usually begins with wanting the woman to spend time with him and not her family, friends or co-workers. He will then slowly isolate her from any person who is a support to her. He dictates whom she can talk to; he tells her she cannot have contact with her friends or family.
Jealousy is a tool abusers use to control the victim. He constantly accuses her of having affairs. If she goes to the grocery store, he accuses her of having an affair with the grocery clerk. If she goes to the bank, he accuses her of having an affair with the bank teller. Abusers routinely call their victims whores or sluts.
The goal of emotional abuse is to destroy the victim's self-esteem. He blames her for his violence, puts her down, calls her names and makes threats against her. Over time, she no longer believes she deserves to be treated with respect and she blames herself for his violence.
For some survivors of domestic violence, the emotional abuse may be more difficult to heal from than the physical abuse.
Abusers are very controlled and very controlling people. In time, the abuser will control every aspect of the victim's life: where she goes, how she wears her hair, what clothes she wears, whom she talks to. He will control the money and access to money. Abusers are also very controlled people. While they appear to go into a rage or be out of control we know they are very much in control of their behavior.
The following are the reasons we know his behaviors are not about anger and rage:
**He does not batter other individuals - the boss who does not give him time off or the gas station attendant that spills gas down the side of his car. He waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
**If you ask an abused woman, "can he stop when the phone rings or the police come to the door?" She will say "yes". Most often when the police show up, he is looking calm, cool and collected and she is the one who may look hysterical. If he were truly "out of control" he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
**The abuser very often escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks will not show. If he were "out of control" or "in a rage" he would not be able to direct or limit where his kicks or punches land.
Moms, Dads, talk to your girls. Let them know this list. Have them memorize it, if need be.
You might save a life.
I don't say this to imply that teachers are evil, hateful people that are sacrificing live chickens at recess. Not at all. But I have certain beliefs that I feel are crucial to the success of my children in life, and I don't want to have someone else undermine that.
Let's take sex ed as an example.
I think that there is not a thing wrong with sex, when it happens between two married people. (Married to each other, not to different people, by the way. You have to clarify this nowadays.) Quite frankly, it's fun and enjoyable.
I want my kids to learn that it is fun and enjoyable when it happens with their spouse. I also want them to know that besides all of the other complications of sex outside of marriage (pregnancy, STD's, etc.), sex without the benefit of marriage is just plain wrong. Period.
In school, kids are taught about sex and told how to have "safer sex." (Notice that they don't call it "safe" sex anymore - it's "safer" sex. Like having only one bullet in a gun aimed at your head instead of six.) Abstinence is not considered a "reasonable" approach. (As if kids are such wild animals they cannot control themselves and will rip their clothes off at a moment's notice. Poor things.) So, by that reasoning, we must teach kids about birth control because they simply cannot be expected to not have sex.
Of course they can be expected to not have sex. If they are too immature to be "in control," then it is my job as a parent to help them and guide them until they are old enough. Not to acknowledge that they are unable to control themselves, so here is a condom. (They are too immature to control themselves, but they are going to stop and put on a condom??? Am I the only one who thinks there is a flaw in this logic??)
I look at it this way: if my teens/kids are taught from a young age (by me) what to expect from their social life, then it won't be an issue until they are older.
My kids know they will not be walking out of here on a date until they are 18 years of age. period. End of discussion. And have a high school diploma.
Until they are 18, they can go on group activities, have friends over for "family" dates, etc., but they will not be on a solo date until they have become 18 and have a high school diploma.
They will be told how the best way to get to know someone is to be in a group setting and see how he/she interacts with others in the group/family, not just how he/she treats you.
How else this protects my kids:
- Abusers/Potential abusers often isolate their victims. Keeping the kids in a group dynamic prevents this isolation and, thus, protects from abuse. (My kids, especially my girls, know the warning signs of an abuser.)
- It's really hard for Mr. Charming to sweet-talk the pants off of my daughters with Mom and Dad 3 feet away.
- It expands their social circle. Often teens that date spend all of their time with the one person they date. If that relationship fails, it can be devastating because the teen has no other friends! (Or, the teen stopped socializing with friends to be with the boyfriend/girlfriend and now is too embarrassed to call and try to get together with the friends now that the relationship is over.)
- It helps keep family ties strong. It's hard to be secretive when you spend a lot of time together. I have a 14, 11, 9 and 3 year old. They all chatter up a storm with me about all kinds of stuff, and I hope they always do.
- It helps them get a "feel" for people so that when they are old enough to date, they will be able to spot the "warning flags" more easily. It's one thing to be told about "red flags". It's another thing to have them pointed out.
I have nothing against dating. I have done my fair share. I just think it is wrong for you to put a teen in a situation that they are too young for. (Not just from a sex standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint.) Then tell them it's okay to have sex, and here's how you can reduce (not eliminate) the chances of pregnancy, STD's etc.
Now for my theory about why schools don't promote abstinence-only programs.
I feel that there are many reasons, but one that stands out (for me) is that teens that have sex will inevitably lead to pregnancy, and many of those pregnancies will lead to abortion, which is a big business. They will also "need" birth control - more big business. There are also school counselors and nurses and many other positions that are needed for the social issues that arise with sexually active teens. Cynical? Yes. But that's my theory. Follow the money.
And I don't want my kids to be a part of that agenda.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
If you have a freezer (a big one) this is a great way to reduce your cooking time, and help your budget.
Basically, you cook all of your meals for the month in one day. Then you freeze them so you have quick meals for the rest of the month.
Another variation is to not necessarily cook everything, but divide up meats, veggies, etc. into meals and freeze them so you can pop them in the oven or slow cooker and not have to worry about deciding what to do for dinner or worry about preparing dinner. Simple and no-fuss. :o)
I don't have a website to give out, but if you Google "Once a month cooking" you should be able to find lots of them. :o)
Monday, October 1, 2007
My views on public schools are pretty obvious (read my previous posts), so I will focus on private schools and homeschooling.
I believe private schools are a viable option for education. I think homeschooling is better (which I will explain later), but private schools are a far cry above public schools.
I think private schools do a better job for several reasons:
- They can pick and choose whom they admit - public schools can't.
- They can (and do) remove kids that are disruptive.
- They deal with kids who are disciplinary problems quickly and swiftly.
- They have more contact (in my experience) with parents.
- The curriculum is more challenging.
- They enforce a code of conduct based on Biblical Laws.
They do a better job with less money per student (on average) than public schools. Teachers at public schools tend to make more money than those in private schools. The teachers I know at private schools don't do it for the money - they do it for other reasons: many do it so that their kids can get a reduced tuition rate. AND it is worth the pay cut to be able to teach in a better environment.
Now, why do I think homeschooling is better than private school? A few reasons:
- I am not really keen on the whole "group mentality" thing.
- Time is spent with family, not at school.
The stories I hear from these kids are always very candid. I guess they feel safe with me. I dunno. I always ask them about their week, and I never know what I will get as a response.
The crap these kids deal with on an everyday basis hurts me. They are bullied, taunted, ridiculed and (occassionally) assaulted on an almost daily basis in school. When I ask if they have told an adult, the answer is usually
- "Yes, but nothing happened."
- "Yes, but it got worse when [the offender] found out, so I stopped saying anything."
- "Yes, but there is nothing the teacher/Mom/Dad/etc. can do."
People, I know from experience that it practically takes an Act of Congress to get a kid removed from school for bullying, etc. In the interim, most of the measures taken (if any) seem like they are punishing the victim, not the offender.
Take this for example: A parent went to a school to complain about her son being physically assaulted by another student. The action taken? The victim was removed from the classroom, not the offender. So, in the eyes of the offender, nothing happened. Yeah. Way to show the offender that his behavior was not acceptable.
Why not remove the offender? Why not isolate the offender? Instead, the victim is basically taken into protective custody.
So back to the kids in my class.
These kids know how The System works. it's sad. They know that they will not be protected, that The System is geared to protect the offender. (We can't trample on Little Johnny's rights, now can we? Just because he terrorizes other kids, well, that's not the issue, now is it?)
Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.
The System needs to change. Until it does, my kids are staying away from public schools.
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
One thing I always hated when school started was the dreaded "Head Lice Note."
You know the one:
"This note is to inform you that a child in your son's/daughter's class has been found to have head lice. Please check your child....blah blah blah"
So then there is the paranoia and constant checking of your child. Or the times when you find the note comes too late - there is already an infestation.
Now, most school districts say that they have a "no-nit policy." Kids cannot come back to school unless/until they are completely nit-free.
They can say it all they want. It is not true. I am sure there are a few school districts that adhere to that, but, for the most part, people just don't want the kids to miss more than a day or 2 of school.
And I found out why. Money, of course.
According to Quantum's Survey of over 1,000 School Nurses:
75% say head lice have increased over the last three years.
On average, 10% of the elementary school student body gets head lice.
Each student is absent an average of 4.2 days.
Head lice result in lost education days, lost funding due to non-excused sick days, and lost income to parents who must stay home to care for their lice-ridden children.
So the schools don't want the kids to stay out - they want their money/funding.
Now for my rant:
I hate head lice. They are the most vile little creatures around.
It took me forever to get rid of these little suckers, too, but I found a way. (I made my own concoction - bwahahahahahahahahahahaha.) (That was evil laughter.) The stuff at the store is a joke and the prescription stuff is really scary. I made something myself that wiped the little suckers out. (Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.)
I am soooooooo glad I did not get one of those notes this year! :-)
Of course I know they have books. I mean, I am not that slow. LOL
What I mean is that they have a whole section for books specifically for homeschoolers - workbooks, worktexts, and also books about different homeschooling philosophies.
One series I like for "supplemental" work is the Spectrum series of workbooks from McGraw-Hill. They have different books for grade levels and subjects: Reading, writing, math, etc. Nice stuff for extra practice and for a little variety, you know? :o)
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
The average annual expenditure per homeschooled student is around $450, according to research I quoted earlier.
This works out to around $37.50 per month - less than what most people spend for cable tv. I, personally, save more than that each month on gas money because I don't have to drive the kids back and forth to school each day.
There are also tons of books/websites that proclaim to show you how to homeschool for free or almost free. (Simply use a search engine with the terms "homeschool free" for ideas.)
But what about 2 common scenarios:
- Mom works outside the home and the family "needs" her income.
- There is a single parent home.
For scenario #1, there are very few instances that I have seen where Mom's income was actually necessary. When you factor in the extra costs of Mom's job - extra gas, pantyhose, afterschool care, fast food/eating out because Mom is too tired to cook or is not home to cook, etc - Mom's income gets whittled away pretty quickly.
Many times, Mom's job puts the family into a higher tax bracket, increasing taxes to the point that the family would come out ahead by Mom not working. This is especially true if the family's income is pushed to the point of being just below the next tax bracket.
For scenario #2, it is trickier, but I have supported myself and 2 small kids as a single mom by working from home, so it can be done. It may not be easy, but it can be done. Again, when you do not work outside of the home, many expenses go down, so you can do just as much with less money. Not having the cost of driving back and forth to work and school saves a ton of money on gas.
Let's look at some numbers, shall we?
Let's say Mom makes $25,000 a year at her job.
Taxes will take $6250.
Gas for the job takes approximately $30 per week. That's $1560.
Afterschool care for 2 kids is another $80 per week. (That is low for what I have seen, but that's okay.) (Before-school care would be more, but let's say Mom doesn't need it.) That's $4160 per year.
The family eats out once a week because Mom is too tired to cook. For a family of four, let's say that is $40. That is $2080 per year.
Mom needs to look good, right? Pantyhose, clothing, hairdo, etc. Let's give Mom $200 a month for all of that. That's $2400.
Mom eats out for lunch twice a week with the girls from work. That's $20 a week. That's $1040.
So we are down to $7510 from $25,000 already. That doesn't even factor in the convenience foods the family buys for "quick" meals and other costs.
Now, let's say this family chooses to homeschool. How to make up that $7510???
The kids' expenses will go down. No uniforms to buy or tons of new clothes. Remember "play clothes"? Yep, that's what we do. Instead of a whole new wardrobe for school, we buy a few new outfits and then the kids wear play clothes around the house.
You know that huge school supply list you get each year? Buying tissues, pencils, marklers, etc. for the whole class?? Nope. You have 2 kids (or however many), and you are the teacher. Buy what you want. It is your choice! I saved an average of $75 a year just for this - not counting clothing.
Bookbags? Nope. That saved me $20 per child. (See how this adds up?)
Registration fees? Nope. (Yes, public schools now charge a fee to register your child - at least here in SC they do. Unbelievable.) That saves $35 per year, per child.
See how fun this gets? :o)
There are other ways to save money, too. I will blog about that later.
One more note: If you feel the absolute need to bring in an extra income, look at ways to make money from home. Perhaps you have a hobby that can be income-producing. There are other ways to make money from home, as well.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
I started and stopped on this post so many times. I researched and quoted and dug for answers. I wrote several long posts and made lots of cases for lots of different causes and solutions.
But, for me, it all boils down to three things:
- Throwing more money at public schools won't fix them. The problem isn't the school system. The problem is that broken, hurting kids are being sent to school and the school suffers for it.
- I cannot change all of those kids. I can only love on mine and raise them the best way I know how. My job/duty/privilege is to care for my kids and make sure I do my best for them.
- My kids are better off academically, socially, and emotionally being homeschooled by me.
I do the best I can with other kids that are in my circle of influence. I try to help them all I can, but putting my kids in the war zone called "public school" is not good for my kids. So I won't do it.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
The average homeschool 8th grade student performs four grade levels above the national average (Rudner study).
One in four homeschool students (24.5%) are enrolled one or more grades above age level.
Students who have been home schooled their entire lives have the highest scholastic achievement.
In every subject and at every grade level of the ITBS and TAP batteries, homeschool students scored significantly higher than their counterparts in public and private schools.
Median amount spent on home schooling per child in the US - $450
18% of home school families earn less than $25,000, 44% of households between $25,000 and $49,000.
65.3% of 4th grade homeschoolers spend one hour or less per day watching television
States with High government regulation of home schools - homeschool battery score - 86
States with Moderate government regulation of home schools - homeschool battery score - 85
States with Low government regulation of home schools - homeschool battery score - 86
Performance of 4th grade home schoolers where at least one parent was certified - Composite Percentage Score 82
Performance of 4th grade home schoolers where neither parent was certified - Composite Percentage Score 82
Home school - average reading score (white) - 87 percentile;
Public school - average reading score (white) - 61 percentile
Home school - average reading score (minority) - 87 percentile;
Public school - average reading score (minority) -49 percent
Home school - average math score (white) - 82 percentile;
Public school - average math score (white) - 60 percentile
Home school - average math score (minority) - 77 percentile;
Public school - average math score (minority) - 50 percentile
The above statistics were taken from http://www.chec.org/Legislative/News/HomeschoolingStatistics/Index.html
The eight states which are creating detailed reports are: Alabama; California; Delaware; Florida; North Carolina; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; and Virginia. Table One provides information concerning the contents of these reports. The titles of the reports indicate different emphases in these states with four using "violence" in some way, three using "crime," two using the notion of safety ("safe schools" and "safety"), one using "conduct," and one each specifying "weapon possession" or "substance abuse."
The current reporting processes which exist in these states date back to 1990 in South Carolina. As Table One presents, the states collect data on 'offenses,' 'incidents,' or 'crimes' in anywhere from four categories to twenty-six.
Details concerning offenders and victims vary across the states as do details concerning the incidents themselves and the consequences associated with the acts which occur. One state, North Carolina, gathers specific information concerning strategies the schools are using 'to combat crime and violence.' " (Taken from http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/library/usincident.htm)
Shay's notes: Translation: some states are doing just the bare minimum required by Federal Law and others are actually going above and beyond, to varying degrees.
The result of this is that is is impossible to make a state-by-state comparison of school crime statistics. It is like comparing apples to oranges. (Which is the idea, I am sure. No one can say, "My school district is better than yours" if there are no stats.)
Now let's see what else we find:
According to The report by the Department of Justice (you can read all 78 pages here: http://www.ncdjjdp.org/cpsv/library/usincident.htm), from January 1990 to February 28th, 2002, there were 1055 incidents of bombs being placed on school premises (not just threats - actual bombs being placed on school property). Of those 1055 incidents, only 14 were preceded by a threat. Only 14. In the same report, it is said that only 5-10 percent of threats involved real bombs. (Of course, no one knows which ones are fake or real until thoroughly investigated.)
Shay again - this scares the heck out of me.....we are not talking about a few isolated incidents. This is a widespread problem!
I'd rather have my kids home and safe, thank you very much, getting a tailor-made, superior education - with me.
What about what happens every day?
Here are some statistics about SC schools from the years 1996 - 1998. The following data comes from this source: http://www.scdps.org/ojp/school_violence_findings.html Feel free to read everything in detail if you have a strong stomach. Or meds. Or both.
Please keep in mind that SC is not a large state, either. To find out statistics for your state, try Googling "statistics+violence+school+your state"
A total of 11, 548 violent offenses were reported in SC for grades K-12 for the years 1996-1998. (My question is, "How many were not reported?")
Of these reported offenses, the breakdown is as follows:
Sexual Assault w Object
I don't know about you, but these statistics really scare the heck out of me. These are just the ones that were reported. What about the incidents that were not reported because the victim was too afraid come forward and talk to the police?
My kids did not go to a horrible school. They really didn't. But they did see fistfights and assualts on teachers on a regular basis (not to mention kids hurting each other). A pregnant teacher was kicked in the stomach. Another teacher was so shaken because of injuries she received while trying to break up a fight between students that she left and went home.
This is wrong. Throwing money at the problem won't change things. Putting a program into place at school when the child's home life is the cause of the behavior won't help the situation.
So what can be done? I'd love to hear some of your ideas. (I'll write about mine on my next post).
Monday, September 17, 2007
My answer is, “Well, I only plan to hide them under a rock 3 days a week, so they should still see some live human beings once in a while.”
But the serious answer is this:
What do you see as “socialization”? The definitions I have found (from dictionary.com) are the following:
- To place under government or group ownership or control
- To make fit for companionship with others; make sociable
- To convert to the needs of society
Right off the bat, #1 is why I took them out of public school, so that’s out.
As far as #3, have you taken a good look at society as a whole lately? No, thanks. Not my kids. I don’t want my girls dressing like harlots and my sons acting/looking like thugs. No, thank you.
So that brings me to #2 - making fit for companionship with others and making them sociable.
In my opinion, kids need to learn the basics of being sociable with kids their own age - stuff like sharing, cooperation, honesty, generosity, etc. (They could learn this without ever leaving the house, really, since I have four kids, but I digress.) But we do leave the house. Often. Between church, Sunday School, AWANA, playdates, general errands and field trips, my kids see (and interact with) other live human beings quite often.
How much of this socialization do they get in school? Hmmmmmmm….let’s see:
In the time before school starts, they had to sit in the hall by the door of the class. Anyone talking got punished. (Not much socialization there….)
What about in class? Again, talking was punished, so that leaves out any socialization there, too.
What about lunch? In the school where my kids went, the first part of lunch was “quiet lunch” - no talking. That left 10 minutes for talking quietly. If it got too loud, that time was taken away.
Recess was a time for talking, right? Unless, of course, it was taken away as some punishment for the class. :-( Or if it rained, no recess.
So there were days that kids could go to school for 7+ hours and not be able to speak to another child (without being punished).
At best, kids got to “socialize” for 25-30 minutes a day. Out of 7+ hours. Not really a stellar testimony of the socialization that occurs in school.
By contrast, my kids are socializing all day long. Even when they work, they are often chatting with me or with each other. At times, they work together on a project or a reading assignment, too.
They also “play school” with their little brother, so that teaches them skills, too. They think they are only teaching him his numbers, letters, shapes, etc., but they are learning valuable skills, as well - teaching, patience, leadership, compassion, presentation, etc. - so, down the road, when they are asked to help teach other kids, they will be comfortable with it.Reading, writing, etc. - those are important….but there are other skills that are priceless.
How do I handle teaching different ages and keep a toddler occupied? Glad you asked!
Step into my living room…. I am blessed with 2 very different children. This works out great for homeschooling. My 11 year old is my oldest son. He is up at the crack of dawn most days. He is up and eating breakfast when I stagger out of bed and get my coffee started. I grunt something civil in answer to his cheery, “Hi, Mom!” (Is this kid really mine?? He is SUCH a morning person!) After I get some coffee into me, I resemble a human being and then get down to teaching.
A while later, my daughter (age 9) staggers into the kitchen and grunts something civil in answer to our cheerful, “Hi, Cam!” Once she has had some breakfast and resembles a human being, I start teaching her. (This one I KNOW is mine. LOL :-) )
It works out well. I can teach one-on-one most of the time, and each child can function when he/she works better.
The toddler? He is like I am - sleeps in and takes some time to wake up. When he does wake up, he is (usually) content to snuggle in my lap while I work with whichever child I am helping. Or he will color next to the big kids while they work.
So the answer to the question is simple - let the kids work when they do the best work!
Now, I know what some of you might be thinking: “You can’t just let the kids sleep until they wake up naturally! They need to learn to get up when they are supposed to get up!”
I have 2 words for an answer: College students.
When I was in college, I never scheduled a class before noon unless I absolutely had to. Why? As I said before, I am NOT a morning person. So why not schedule classes for when I do my best work?
Same thing with my business. I do most of my work late at night - when I work best!
The result? I have kiddos that are well-rested and work well! It works great for us!
Another thing is curriculum: Unit Studies. Unit Studies are great for multiple ages - you cover the same topic for all kids and the older kids get more info than the younger ones do. Most unit studies come with instructions for multiple ages. (Math is the one thing where I teach completely different lessons.)
Take, for example, our latest unit study - Japan. One of the topics is volcanoes of Japan. For the younger child, we study the location and frequency of the volcanoes, plus a brief explanation of why they occur so often there.
For the older child, we did the same, but also included a detailed study of plate tectonics and compared that to the Growing/Expanding Earth Theory and how the two theories differed. Then we debated each of the theories (each of us took a turn on either side of the debate) and discussed if the theory is plausible.
I kid you not, Ladies and Gentlemen. My third grader - a bright, straight-A student - had no idea that Michigan was a state and that English is the primary language spoken there.
She was in the public school system at that point. I had assumed that she was being taught trivial things like the 50 states and the “other” Presidents - not just Lincoln and Washington. Other trivial stuff like who George Bush is. (Either one.) I was wrong.
That got me asking questions. (Of all the kids, not just her.) Know what I found out?
They had all kinds of lessons on tolerance and self-esteem and other touchy-feely stuff, but can’t find Georgia on a map.They could tell me about their friend (3rd grade) whose mom hid her pot (not the cooking utensil, either) in their classmate’s bookbag (the cops found it anyway), but they could not tell me what the Declaration of Independence was.
They could tell me the procedure for “lockdown” and what to do if a bomb threat is called in to the school - but not who John Hancock was.
That is when I started to seriously look at homeschooling. For the sake of my kids and their education.
I wanted to begin with some background and some answers.
First off, I am the mom of four wonderful kiddos - 2 boys and 2 girls. They are 13, 11, 9 and 2 years old. They are in girl-boy order (I planned that - really!) and they are all precious to me.I am 39 (yeah - it sure is different chasing after a toddler at 39 than it was at 29 - what the heck was I thinking???).
I am married to a wonderful man who is also 39. He is a disabled veteran and an ex-Marine (although I am being informed by the Hubby that there is no such thing as an “ex” Marine). (To which I answer, “Maybe not, but you don’t get deployed anymore, so that’s a plus. Those big paychecks don’t come anymore, either. And I am pretty sure if I tried shopping at the commissary they’d kick me out.” :-) )
I am also homeschooling. Wow. Now don’t get me wrong - I had originally majored in Chemistry in college with a minor in Education. (That sounds soooooo impressive, no?) But I ended up not being a teacher and teaching my own kiddos is a lot different than my student teaching experience. Plus I am pretty sure that if I were teaching high school chemistry I would not have a 2 year old running through the classroom several times an hour. (Partially clothed, at times - but that’s another story. I just loooove the stage when they learn to take off clothes.)
Why did I choose homeschooling? There are so many reasons, but they can all be summed up in one simple sentence: I can do a better job of teaching my kids than the schools can. Period.How can I say this? Easy.
The teachers at the schools where my kids went were too busy trying to referee fights and combat negative home influences to be able to teach effectively. How can they teach when the kids in the room are so apathetic or hostile? If everyone goes home intact, that’s a good day.
In addition, my kids were advanced academically for their grade levels, but they had to wait for the other kids to catch up before they could move on to something else. Now we can go as quickly or as slowly as we need to. I know my kids and what they want to be when they grow up. I know one is so interested in science it is not even funny and the other is a HUGE people-person. I know my 2 year-old is already taking stuff apart to see how things work (like my 11 year old did/does) and is already advanced. I can tailor the academics to each child, not to try to teach to the average children in a room of 20+ kids. I also have one child with learning disabilities and my heart aches when I see her struggle. (She is not my bio child, so I cannot homeschool her at this time. It breaks my heart.)
So I invite you to join me on this journey. It should be a wild ride!