Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Bit Off-Topic...But is it??

We are blessed to live in an amazing country that affords us rights, privileges and comforts that many people around the world can only dream of.  One of the privileges that we still enjoy is the right to choose how we will educate our children.  As homeschoolers, we are so blessed to have the opportunity to educate our children at home--to teach them as WE see fit, and to instill in them the values that WE stand on.  It is a blessing that MANY around the world do not enjoy.

I stumbled on this video this morning on the Why Homeschool blog.  It hit me hard.  Every blessing, every right, every privilege that is mine to enjoy, is only mine because of the sacrifice of those who fought for me.  

"I salute the brave men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedom."
"All gave some, some gave all."

"I Fought For You"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Thanksgiving Proclamation

General Thanksgiving

By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America


WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANKSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Itchy Kidney Follow-up

A long time ago, on a blog far, far away, I told a story about my wife, my oldest son, and a pair of scissors.  It went something like this…

As we all know, home schooling is not easy.  There are many sacrifices that we make in order to keep our children at home and teach them according to our values, our religious beliefs, and our educational philosophy.   Most of us live off of one income.  That’s a challenge.  In order to live off of one income we do not have many of the “luxury” items that seem so prevalent in society.   For some of us, basic necessities can be a challenge from month to month.  So we drive older model cars that are a little banged-up, we don’t go to the movies very often, and dinners out are rare.  A lot of our clothing comes from thrift stores.  And in our house, my wife cuts our hair. 

She has been cutting our hair for years.  She’s cut mine as long as we’ve been together,   and she’s good at it.   If it were only my hair that she was cutting, everything would be fine.  The problem comes when she has to cut the General Mayhem’s hair.  Cutting the General’s hair is like hugging an eel. 

On the patience scale, with "ten" being "Saintly" and "one" being a "Titan missile with a very short fuse," both the General and his mother are two’s.   Hair cuts are generally long, loud, frustrating shouting matches. 

“I itch!”

“Sit still!”

“How much longer?”

“If you’d stop wiggling I’d have been done an hour ago!”

It got so bad that my wife, whom I cheekily refer to as “The Boss,” recently admitted that she hates cutting hair and doesn’t want to do it any longer.  So I was more than surprised when she announced last night that she was cutting everyone’s hair.  When she was finished cutting Major Havoc’s hair, the Boss called for General Mayhem. 

I was shocked. 

She didn’t get five seconds into wetting down his hair when the General began to wiggle and squirm, giggle and shake.  The frustration level rose so quickly you’d have thought this was a continuation of the last hair cut six months previously. 

“Stop moving!”

“My shoulder itches.”

“Your shoulder always itches, now look up!”

“Can I go to the bathroom?”


And then came the comment that brought the haircut to a halt.  After ten minutes of barking and snipping the General looked at his mother and said,

“My kidney itches!”

“That’s it!  I don’t care how your hair looks.  You’re done.  Leave!”

She slammed her scissors on the table, muttering in disgust.  Then she looked at me and asked, “Are you ready?”

“Me?” I gasped.

“Yes, you.  You need a haircut.” 

“You know, I think I’d rather have you cut my hair before you cut the General’s.  Not after.”

“You know how to sit still.  Come here!”

So I got my hair cut.   

I only heard one “Oops,” and one “Oh, shoot!” and one “Now that side is too short!” in what was otherwise a pleasant moment between husband and wife.   Finally, she put her instruments of follicle terror on the table and asked, “Does this feel even to you?”

I told her it was fine, and commenced sweeping up all of the hair clippings.  And it is fine.  If I tilt my head ever so slightly to the right my hair looks perfectly even. 

Ah, the sacrifices we make to home school!

Now, I retold that story in order to tell you this one:

Saturday, I was dry walling the new bedroom in the basement.  The house was quiet.  I assumed that The Boss was harvesting her Australian Finger Lime on Farmville while the children played outside.  As I carried an armload of supplies up the basement steps, I heard The Boss talking with General Mayhem.  I almost dropped my load of materials when I turned the corner into the kitchen and discovered the General sitting in a chair while his mother cut his hair! 

A haircut!  With no arguing!  With no yelling!  A haircut with no itchy internal organs!  It was so peaceful and pleasant I thought I was in the wrong house.  It occurred to me at that moment that things do get better.  The kids grow up.  It's amazing. 

We are starting to see signs that all our hard work is paying off.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I Have a Mistress

I have a mistress. 
And my wife doesn’t mind. 
How cool is that?!
One aspect of homeschooling that I just love is how much I learn while teaching my children.  Today I learned that I not only have a mistress, but that my wife doesn’t mind.  Not at all.  Why should she?  It is she.     
My son Major Havoc completed an extended worksheet on abbreviations this afternoon.  Through the process of elimination he connected the abbreviation “Mrs.” with the word “mistress.”  When I looked over his paper I was certain that there was a misprint.  “Mrs.” is the abbreviation for “mistress?”  I checked the dictionary.  Sure enough, the worksheet was correct.
The next question that came to mind was, “How did I make it to 45 years of age and not know that “Mrs.” is the abbreviation for “mistress?” 
The short answer is that I attended public schools.  The long answer is that somewhere along the line I was taught that “Miss” was a term used to address a single woman, “Mrs.” was used to address a married woman, and “Mister” was used to address a man.   “Mister” could be abbreviated using “Mr.” It never once occurred to me to ask what “Mrs.” stood for beyond “married woman.”
I think I’m going to start introducing my wife as my mistress.
“Hi!  My name is Arby.  This is my mistress, Melissa.”  Then I’m going to enjoy some very entertaining facial expressions as people look from her to me and wonder exactly how to respond. 
Mistress Melissa.  Sounds exotic!
And to think that I wouldn’t have learned this if I wasn’t homeschooling...
Now, how cool is that?!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How Do You Socialize Your Children?

Oh dear, this made me laugh so hard.  Have you ever had a conversation like this?

Monday, November 15, 2010

HomeschoolView.TV--Homeschooling the Reluctant Learner

Though homeschooling is usually a part of life that brings great joy, it can also be a source of great frustration.  Kids don't always want to learn.  And their reluctance often brings with it tears, wailing, and gnashing of teeth.  And sometimes even the child cries.

One of Cristina's comics gives a bit of insight...

So how can you handle a reluctant learner?  Without losing your sanity?  Here are some tips via HomeschoolView.TV:

What do you do with your reluctant learner?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Homespun Comic #158

I thought this comic that Cristina reposted a few days ago seemed quite apropos in light of the recent post on math instruction!! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

One More Reason to Homeschool: Everyday Mathematics

Remember when you were a kid and your parents complained about the "New Math" you were being taught in school?  I don't know about you, but honestly, I just thought my parents weren't all that smart.  How on earth they managed to do their jobs (my dad was an engineer and my mom was a nurse) with their incredibly limited math expertise was beyond me. 

Interestingly enough, my parent's intellectual capabilities grew by leaps and bounds as I got older. It's funny how that happens isn't it?

I was reminded of my own math education (and my parent's reaction to it) last week when a friend posted this video on Facebook.

In Math Education: An Inconvenient Truth, M.J. McDermott exposes some rather alarming trends in math education which are clearly demonstrated in two popular math programs. (The video is long, but well-worth the time spent watching it!)  Everyday Mathematics and Investigations in Numbers, Data, and Space are examples of "new-new math," or what has become more descriptively known as "fuzzy math".  I was first introduced to Everyday Mathematics (also known as Chicago Math) several years ago when I was substitute teaching in our local school district.  At first, some aspects of Everyday Mathematics seemed to make sense.  It made math fun.  And practical.  Great for use in...well...everyday life.  But then I started to notice how much in the book wasn't even really about math.  Huh?  And I began to notice language and methods that seemed completely ludicrous.

My initial exposure to Everyday Mathematics led me to a quick investigation which revealed a virtual boatload of negative "press" about this highly acclaimed curriculum.  I found numerous critical reviews written by everyone from math experts to parents to bloggers and journalists.  Even a number of system-bucking teachers jumped bravely into the fight.  Many of these critiques provide passionate testimony and firsthand knowledge of the damage that Everyday Mathematics has done (and continues to do.) In fact, just about the only vocal support I could find seemed to come from the program's own creators and from a few educational bureaucrats desperately trying to justify their own misguided decisions to inflict Everyday Mathematics on the unsuspecting parents and children in their districts. 

After this initial exposure to the world of "fuzzy math", I began to encounter something else that I found very interesting.  As a representative of a homeschool curriculum company, I attend about 10-12 homeschool conventions each year.  The company I represent publishes a spiral-based math program that is quite popular among homeschoolers.  Over the last several years, I've had a surprising number of parents indicate that the single most important factor in their decision to homeschool was Everyday Mathematics. More than once, a parent has done a double-take when I use the word "spiral-based" to describe our math program.  The concerned look was followed immediately by a question:  "If it's spiral-based, does that mean it's like Everyday Math?"

People homeschool for a lot of different reasons.  It turns out Everyday Mathematics is more than just a "highly acclaimed" math program.

It's also become a GREAT reason to homeschool.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Have you written?

My eighth grader is writing an essay for our literature class.  His assignment is to discuss how and why the use of rhetoric is central to the novel Animal Farm.  The echoes of his groaning hang in the air since I gave him the assignment yesterday afternoon.  My middle child is on the fourth day of his search for his missing science book, while showing a slightly suffocating need to have me sit next to him as he navigates second grade punctuation and 18-9= 9.  He knows the answers. He craves the 230 pound security blanket.  Meanwhile, the girl runs through the house, eagerly completing Abeka’s Button Bear exercises, mastering basic counting, and learning “Q.”  Three grades.  One house under construction.  One dad.
In the living room, a laptop sits open on a little green desk, one tiny white light blinking steadily, asking, “Have you written your blog post today?  Have you written your blog post today?”   It’s the electronic raven rapping, tapping on my chamber door.  Have you written?
One of the pleasures of writing The Homeschool Apologist is knowing that there is an audience that appreciates our efforts.  We were blessed to have 83 readers sign-up to follow us through Networked Blogs and Google Connect since our first post on August 12th.  We are grateful that so many people stopped by to visit and showed an interest in our blog. 
One thing that we do not see much of is comments.  With the exception of a few days where we were taken to task by a couple of angry public school teachers/supporters (and those were fun days), we do not hear from our readers.  That begs a question.  Are you there? 
Both Linda and I enjoy writing about and writing in defense of homeschooling.  We enjoy harvesting the comics from Cristina’s vast collection of Home Spun Juggling wisdom.  At the same time, we need to know that we are providing a service that is useful and enjoyed.  It is time to ask you, our readers, for some feedback.  Are you out there?  Are you reading?  Are we providing you with information that is helpful?  Please take a moment and tell us.  We need to hear from you.  
Now it’s time to rouse the troops, serve some breakfast, teach some algebra, and introduce “P.”  It’s another homeschooling day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Homeschooling Hindsights--HomeschoolView.TV

If only we could learn everything we need to know about homeschooling BEFORE we begin the daunting task of educating our children!  Of course we've all heard the adage "Hindsight is 20/20."  Well, unfortunately, by the time you have the advantage of hindsight, you've likely already moved beyond the point of a homeschool "do-over."

Several weeks ago, as part of Alpha Omega Publications' HomeschoolView.TV series, I sat down with another veteran homeschool mom to talk through some of our own homeschool hindsights.  Janet Tatman (author of Daily Focus) and I have learned much over the course of our 45 years of combined homeschool experience.  In this two-part episode, Janet and I share some of the things that we would do differently if given the opportunity--and as most of you probably know, I HAVE been given the chance to do a "homeschool do-over!"  My three daughters are all homeschool graduates, but we've just begun the homeschool journey over again with our 6-year old son.  So, in fact, my hindsight IS also foresight.  Hopefully the lessons Janet and I have learned along the way can help to light the path that stretches in front of you!!

Homeschool Hindsights, Part I

Homeschool Hindsights, Part II

Home Spun Comic #287

Monday, November 1, 2010

Please Vote Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Election Day.  Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to vote one way or another.  I’m not going to discuss specific candidates or their parties.  I know how I am going to vote tomorrow.  I trust that you know how you are going to vote tomorrow.   I suspect that there is little that I can say or do to change your mind, even if I wanted to.  Instead, I am going to ask you for a favor.
Think about homeschooling.
There are a lot of issues in this country that gain our attention, from the deficit to unemployment, from taxes to health care, our relationship with foreign countries and the ever present threat of terrorists and their desire to harm us.   It’s a lot to think about.
When you go to the polls tomorrow, please think about your children and their future.  Think about the quality of the education that they are receiving.  Consider your candidates, and ask yourself which candidate is going to support your freedom to educate your children at home?  Which candidate will support your freedom to educate your children at home without placing onerous burdens or restrictions on the process?  I demonstrated last week that there is at least one candidate in Missouri actively campaigning against homeschooling.  I am certain there are more. 
Please think about this issue.  Pray about this issue.  Please vote tomorrow.  Please consider supporting those candidates who will support your right to educate your children at home.