Monday, July 31, 2006

I'll take Homeschooling for $50

The answer is: We are homeschoolers.

Contestant: "How do I tell people we are homeschoolers? (That's a question someone googled to get to my site. I just wanted to help them out a little.)

Gosh, that was easy let's try Homeschooling for $100.

The answer is: PHAT Mommy

Contestant: Where is the Carnival of Homeschooling this week?


Contestant: Since I'm on a roll, I'll take Homeschooling for $200.

The answer is: A cheesy photo.

Contestant: What do you call a photo of homeschooler Kristen Hembree on a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese.

Way to go!

Contestant: Thanks! Let's try Parenting for $50.

The answer is: No, I'm not.

Contestant: Are you enjoying the hot weather in a house full of children and no AC?

No, I'm sorry you're miserable, but that's not correct.

The question was: Are you a toxic parent? Who needs friends when you have parents like this?

In our home we parent by the Three R's. And by God's grace, it seems to be working. My fifteen year old son just told me out of the blue the other day, "Mom, just in case you're wondering, I'm too old to rebel. I've got too much I want to do to waste my time doing dumb stuff like a lot of other kids my age." Our society doesn't need more toxic parents, but we could use a few more extreme parents.

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Global Homeschooling

A new global crisis threatens the stability of political climates around the world.

After repeated attempts by those in the scientific and educational communities to deny its existence, the evidence is irrefutable - global homeschooling is real. It's an "inconvenient truth" for some to accept, but global homeschooling exists and threatens the delicate balance of power in the politIcal climate worldwide. In unbelievably record high numbers, parents are taking back control of their childrens' education. Educators are baffled by the trend but confirm that the numbers are indeed rising every year.

Anonymous sources believe that global homeschooling is undermining the socialist trend in our nation and elsewhere by promoting complete freedom of thought and expression. Some of the more obvious effects of global homeschooling are children smiling and playing during "school hours", mothers leaving lucrative careers to stay home and raise their children, and in perhaps the most frightening sign, children are actually expressing a belief in God.

The United Nothings has issued a brief on behalf of many world leaders. They are demanding a world wide summit in Seattle, to discuss the effects of global homeschooling on the political climate and have recommended an aggressive strategy to solve the crisis - the Seattle Protocol. World education experts praised the political will of the leaders to preserve their education monopolies by putting an end to global homeschooling. But most believe it will take years to undo the damage done by the ridiculous notion that parents can successfully teach their own children, countering experts who claim, "it takes a village to raise a child." A generation of childrens' hearts have been reawakened to the Truth and to the joy of learning. What took years for education experts to destroy is being slowly rebuilt one child - one home at a time.

The first step to defeat global homeschooling outlined in the Seattle Protocol is to create an international standard for education. All curriculum and testing will be based on this standard. Conformity of thought will be highly rewarded. College entrance, scholarships, and job placement will be dependent upon successful mastery of certain "necessary" skills. In an unprecedented move, United Nothings has teamed up with computer tycoon turned philanthropist, Gil Bates, to create the international standards and develop state-of-the art education centers around the world. The UN is hopeful that the international community will rally behind this alliance and allow them free access to the minds and hearts of their children.

The second step in the Seattle Protocol is to intimidate parents already contributing to the blight of global homeschooling. Using such devices as the Convention on the Ignorance of Parents, the United Nothings hopes to lure children back into the government system of indoctrination. Most nations have already ratified the Convention. However, the biggest offender in global homeschooling, the United States, has not . Without the support of the United States, controlling global homeschooling will be difficult if not impossible. Unfortunately, the current administration appears oblivious to the threat and remains uncooperative. However, in a hopeful sign, the President appears very commited to national standards and leaving no child behind.

Noted expert, Al Bore has also been called upon to lead the public relations campaign in the fight against global homeschooling. His experience and success in ending a similar crisis many believe will be invaluable in controlling global homeschooling. Appearing on This Week with George Spunkanopolus, Mr. Bore said, "The debate is over, global homeschooling exits. We are in a planetary emergency."

We at Spunky Homeschool want to do our part to raise awareness about the effects of global homeschooling. Please forward this message to everyone you know. If we each do a little, together we can accomplish a lot.

(Author's Note: Any resemblance to actual people, places, or events is purely intentional.)

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

For Those Still On The Fence...

I know there are many lurkers to this site who are curious about homeschooling, but wondering if they should take the plunge and go for it. Why should you homeschool? A reader offers her thoughts,

Dear Spunky,

Your blogsite attracted me last week because my nickname was Spunk for the looongest time. I have really enjoyed reading your blog because you provide me so much to think about as I go through my day. I am a new homeschooler...8 weeks and counting. I still have not solidified my answer to "why do you homeschool?" However, over the last eight weeks, I can summerize my thoughts about why I homeschool with this statement: it gives me the time to teach my children to flip pancakes. I've found that while homeschooling, my whole family circle (husband, 6 and 7 year old children, and me) have been less stressed, more loving, and much happier. As a family we tried a traditional public school last school year. Our weekdays started off with a made rush to make it to school on time, and ended with grunpy tired children who were reluctant to do their homework. ALL my children really wanted to do after a long day in school was hang on me, fuss for attention, and play. Forget about the desire or enjoyment of learning...they lost that in the first weeks of school. In our stressed-out, time consuming era of public school, our family focus was not to put God first, or spend quality time together. Our focus was to just make it through one more school week so that we could recenter ourselves over the weekend. Sad.. but that's the truth.

I found that I became more and more resentful of "the school" because I felt that it was sucking all the joy out of my little family. I also did not like not knowing what my children were seeing, doing, and learning everyday. I could not be there to guide them through difficult situations. At our public school, as a parent, we were also not allowed to request certain teachers. That policy left me worried about who would be teaching my children in the future. I heard many friends with older children at the school say things like "We were lucky this year, we got so in so...after last year with so in so, my child was fried, I hope we get a better teacher this year...I heard so in so yelled at the children, I hope we don't get that teacher..."

My point is that as a parent, I felt I was completely giving up my children to a questionable environment. I felt stressed and pushed to keep up with the daily schedule set by public educators. I felt resentment and sadness knowing my then 5 and 6 year old had 12 more years of this kind of life.

For someone else reading this especially if you are pondering you have similar experiences and feelings about your time in public school? Since homeschooling, my family has lost its push, push, push mode. We spend time together happily. My children are learning skills we were unable to make time
for last flipping pancakes. The burden I felt on my shoulders while my children were in public school is GONE. Are we learning and having fun doing it now? Yes!Do we have time to bring God to our lives? Yes!

I often tell people one of the reasons I homeschool is because I don't want my life centered around my children's education. We set the schedule, not the school bell.

I remember one time while doing a math lesson, Kristin paused and asked if we could pray for daddy. We all stopped and prayed for Steve. A few hours later my husband called and told me he was in a car wreck, but thankfully no one was hurt. It was about the same time we all prayed. Coincidence? I don't think so. I could only imagine what a public school teacher might have said if my daughter had asked if they could stop the math lesson for a spontaneous prayer.

Being home all day gives us time for God, each other, and I humbly submit my son is the best pancake flipper around.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Art or Abuse?

What do you think?...
Photographer Jill Greenberg has whipped up a storm of controversy with her new exhibition, End Times. The pictures in the show, for which she deliberately provoked tearful outbursts from children by taking away lollipops she had just given them, have been described by some as tantamount to child abuse.
Greenburg titles each piece of "art work" to depict what she says reminded her of the "helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation."

Greenburg answers the charge of abuse in an interview with PopPhoto magazine,

Your images have certainly caused an uproar. What do you say to people who call you a child abuser?

I think they're insane...Maybe getting kids to cry isn't the nicest thing to do, but I'm not causing anyone permanent psychological damage.

How can someone who is this psychologically derranged possibly determine if she caused permanent damage to another person let alone a child? And what parent would subject their own children to this?

The title of the exhibit is "End Times". The end times, isn't that when good will be called evil and evil will be called good? Or in this case, "art".

This also demonstrates why just teaching our children knowledge isn't enough, they must learn wisdom. Knowledge is understanding how to use a camera, wisdom is understanding when to use it.

From the comments...

Shelby provided a defintion of abuse from Websters 1828 Dictionary
"To use ill; to maltreat; to misuse; to use with bad motives or to wrong purposes. To deceive; to impose on. To treat rudely."
This seems to meet that definition.

Dana said,

I don't know...I'm not one to throw around the word abuse. In poor taste, definitely. Do I question why parents would allow their children to go through it? Yes. Do I question her overall concern with real people over what she wishes to express? Yes. But I can't quite go so far as to call it abusive.

"The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act defines child abuse and neglect as: "at a minimum, any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker,
which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm."Anything short of that is just distasteful, or perhaps poor parenting. This example, while disheartening, does not come close to compare with what real abuse is. The only logical conclusion from the accusation of abuse is that these children should be removed by the state and put into custody. And do we want that sort of precedent?

There is another option. Here is my response,

I'm not calling this "criminal abuse" but it is abuse. I liked the definition given by Webster's 1828 Dictionary that Shelby provided. I'm not saying that this woman should be prosecuted or the parents found negligent. There is another option, public shame.I don't think that we as a society should just call anything that doesn't meet the criminal definition of abuse something less than that. The state's bar for abuse doesn't have to be the same as what society will tolerate as abuse. As a civilized society, I don't think it's just in poor taste to purposefully upset another person for profit or to make a political statement. This woman is doing both, and with children. That in my opinion is just beyond distasteful. It is not the same as a mother, realizing an error and causing a child to be upset.

Public outrage and shame are useful tools in a civil society to cause someone to think about their actions and consider things differently. In fact, we used to employ them quite often. Sadly, our society is so afraid to "offend" that we tolerate that which is abuse because it doesn't rise to the level of "criminal behavior" and a state definition. I don't want the state to be the only arbitor of public behavior or its definitions.

Public shame could have a very positive impact where the criminal system might only punish her; public shame may cause others not to purchase them and the museum to pull them. That elevates the whole standard in our society and we all benefit from a little more civility and common decency.

Just how effective is public shame? Just ask blogger Thomas Hawks. Ms. Greenberg is trying to get him to stop blogging about her and her photographs. In Ms. Greenberg's worldview it's apparently okay to provoke children to tears and photograph them as a public statement, but wrong for a blogger to express his opinion about them and provoke her. (I wonder if anyone captured her outrage for the camera. I'd bet those photos would be priceless.)

Michelle Malkin has more links.

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Government Certified Parenting

Lynn Edwards, outgoing national chair of the Professional Association of Teachers wants compulsory parenting classes for teens in the UK schools before they could LEGALLY become parents. Quoting from the BBC News.

She said many people became parents with little understanding.


"When I came out of the maternity hospital with a little boy on one arm and a little girl on the other, I had no idea how to put on a nappy," Ms Edwards said.

"I found it unacceptable that no one had shown me." As a result, few young people learned how to be "good parents on a practical basis" by watching other family members interacting with their offspring.

So instead of encouraging parents to take responsibility, she wants the state to do it?!? Maybe if we started living life as God intended and let children stay home instead of whisking them off to government run institutions of learning they'd actually learn a few practical skills to go along with the academics. What a novel idea, children learning to parent from their own parents. Oh, but that would require a few more mums to spend more than 19 minutes a day with their children, forget that! Being home would just bore some mums to death.. Thank God for the nanny state! And thank God there are a few sensible English mums, like Libbie, who are willing to blaze a new, make that old trail back to motherhood. Any others?

Related Posts: Outsourcing Parenthood

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Socialism in Education

Over ten years ago, I called many major newspapers around the country cautioning them about national standards and the move toward socialism in education. One of the papers was the Wall Street Journal. The reporter in charge of education literally laughed me off the phone when I told him what I thought. "It'll never happen. The American people would never stand for this." he said. Looks like I was just a decade too soon. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Insitute, wrote this in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal,
NCLB takes a giant step toward nationalizing elementary and secondary education, a disaster for federalism. It pushes classrooms toward relentless drilling, not something that inspires able people to become teachers or makes children eager to learn. It holds good students hostage to the performance of the least talented, at a time when the economic future of the country depends more than ever on the performance of the most talented.
NCLB paired with the Spelling's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which is poised to begin implementing standards at the college level, the P-16 national control of education will be all but complete.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, Testing and national standards are the fuel that makes the engine of a planned economy run according to the demands of the state, not the dreams of the child.

And that Wall Street Journal reporter, he was wrong on both counts; it's happening and the American people are swallowing it hook, line, and sinker.

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Blogging News

Blogging Ban: In an effort to fight "anti-nationals" and ideas "against public interest" India has banned most major blog hosts like Blogger and Typepad. (So that's why my sitemeter went down!)

CoComment. Dana at Principled Discovery directed me to a nifty site that will help you keep track of your comments on different blogs. I haven't explored it much yet, but it looks promising.

Are You an Influential Blogger? Adrian Warnock has a put together a list of ways to measure your blogging influence. Interesting thoughts to consider, but in the end just blog what you like to talk about. You'll enjoy yourself and the readers will come who are interested in those topics.

BlogHer in Spirit: Shannon lamented that she couldn't attend the live BlogHer Conference in San Jose, CA, so she's doing the next best thing hosting a virtual BlogHer Convention. Today's topics are audience building and ways to earn money blogging.

New blog in town: Lydia has started a blog Save the Home to support parents of wayward children.

Previous thoughts on blogging:
Why I started my blog
Principles of Blogging
Discovering My Voice
Successful Bloggers and Homeschoolers

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Putting Your Fears to Rest

As a new homeschooler, Betsy listed her 13 worries about homeschooling her two girls this fall. Her list of fears echo those of many beginning homeschoolers. Her number one fear,
that she won't do any better than the public schools.
She's looking for some "veterans" to help calm her nerves. This actually ties in with my previous question in Train Up a Child which asked "Can a conscientious parent fail at homeschooling? I'll try to calm Betsy down and answer that question at the same time.

The short answer to the question is no, I don't believe a conscientious parent can fail at homeschooling. Why do I think that? Because most parents love their children too much to neglect them and just watch them waste away. That doesn't mean the parent won't make mistakes and their children won't have gaps in their learning, but neither of those outcomes constitutes failure in my book. All educational environments and methods have gaps and all teachers make mistakes. When new homeschoolers worry about their ability to homeschool, it is because the total responsibility has shifted to them. That's a scary thought. The public schools can blame the parents (and do) if the children turn out poorly. Public school parents can blame the schools (and do) if their children turn out poorly. But who does the homeschool parent blame? Themselves. That's a heavy load. Thankfully, the weight of the responsibility forces us to act responsibly. God has given us this responsiblity, He will equip us for the task.

I have written two posts that I recommend to new homeschoolers that helps people understand homeschooling from my perspective.

Why We Homeschool

Successful Bloggers and Homeschoolers

Betsy was also looking for some first year stories to put her mind at ease. You can't find a better story than Frank's. Frank was an unemployed, homeless man. His wife had just been insitutionalized. He had a young daughter, Ruth, to care for. But Frank loved his daughter and took his responsiblities seriously. Here's what he did.

Rather than live on the streets and expose Ruth to alcohol and drugs, Frank said, they hiked deep into Forest Park and built a lean-to. The pair went into the city twice a week to stop by the bank, attend church, buy groceries and clothes from Goodwill. Frank, a devout Christian, said he taught his daughter using the old encyclopedias.

They grew vegetables and used the nearby creek to keep clean. They stored perishable foods in a small pool of water at the creek's edge. The man and girl told police that the runner was the first person to find their camp in four years. Even though the child and father lived for such a long time disconnected from society, the girl had been home schooled and was in good physical shape. In fact, the girl received a very good education from her father while living among the trees.

Officials said the girl, who would be normally in 7th grade, is at a 12th grade equivalency. The officer in charge of the case was amazed at the strong relationship between the father and the daughter. "The amazing part of this was the fact that Sergeant Barkley really evaluated what was best for these people," North Precinct Cmdr. Scott Anderson said. "Sometimes police would be a little quicker to hand things off to state workers. But instead ... he saw this through to the end."

The fact that this father kept his daughter healthy, fed, and well-educated in the woods for four years is impressive. (The fact that the police didn't find him criminally negligent and turn her over to the state is a down-right miracle.) Clearly, there is no better motivator than taking personal responsibility for one's own affairs. And Frank's story should make us all feel confident that we can indeed homeschool our children.

In the realm of education, parents are often like some police officers, they are too quick to hand things off to the state workers, and not see things through to the end. That's too bad, because as I am just finding out, the end is far better than the beginning.

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A History Lesson on Peace Movements

Thomas Sowell,

One of the many failings of our educational system is that it sends out into the world people who cannot tell rhetoric from reality. They have learned no systematic way to analyze ideas, derive their implications and test those implications against hard facts.

"Peace" movements are among those who take advantage of this widespread inability to see beyond rhetoric to realities. Few people even seem interested in the actual track record of so-called "peace" movements -- that is, whether such movements actually produce peace or war.

Read the whole thing.

Speaking of history, we just received our history/literature curriculum, Tapestry of Grace Year One (Unit One) in the mail. They made many improvements in the latest version. My daughters are already pouring over their reading lists. I never had world history. In fact, I've never had a complete history course. My high school history teacher died in the first month of school. We had a series of substitutes the rest of the year. So, going through history with my children is just as much an education for me as for them.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

News Briefs on Mothering

I'm still working on my thoughts from my previous post on failure, but my mailbox has been filling up with other newsworthy items. Here are a few related to mothering.

Andrea Yates is acquitted.

Andrea Yates was found not guilty by reason of insanity Wednesday in her second murder trial for the bathtub drownings of her young children.
Her husband believes this was the right verdict. She'll now stay in a state mental hopsital with periodic check-up to determine if she can be released. The take away message for all mothers - if you're struggling, don't wait until you're at the breaking point to get help. There is no shame in admitting you're struggling and need some sort of help to work things out. You don't have to struggle alone. (HT: Daryl)

Mother admits to being bored with her own children.

To be honest, I spent much of the early years of my children's lives in a workaholic frenzy because the thought of spending time with them was more stressful than any journalistic assignment I could imagine.
Then why did you have them? I wonder if she was one of the UK women in this survey who only spends 19 minutes a day with her children? (HT: Jessica)

Illinois set to be the first state to provide universal preschool.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed into law his much-hyped "Preschool for All" Tuesday in Rolling Meadows, billing the move as "groundbreaking" by making Illinois the first state in the nation to offer preschool to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - Motherhood is God's plan for universal preschool. The state is not your personal nanny. Illinois I weep for you, but I believe you'll have company soon enough. (Corn and Oil has more.) (Thanks Pamela)

Anne at Palm Tree Pundit shares a valuable nugget of wisdom she learned on summer vacation,
"Don't boil a kid in its mother's milk." In other words, don't take what is intended for life (in this case, education) and make it death. Our goal is for our children to love learning.
Anne explains exactly what that revelation meant to her.

GA homeschooler, Jennifer Ewing, was found slain today on a bike trail. Her 26 year old son Jim said this today,
"All of you who knew Mom know that she is responsible for every good thing our family has done or ever will do," he said. "She inspired us all. We had hoped and prayed for a happy outcome, but instead we are faced with this tragedy."
Please pray for this family. (HT: Jacobs Academy)

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Train Up A Child

Yesterday, while I was out pulling weeds, Elaina (2) was riding her little bike. As she was pedaling down the sidewalk she hollered back, "Mom, I need a break, I'm going to Starbucks. I'll be back in a little while."

"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it." ~ Proverbs 22-6

So in an effort to obey the Scripture, train my daughter, and reinforce the good things she has already learned - I need a break. I'm going to Starbucks. I'll be back in a little while.

In the meantime, the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Melissa's. There are loads of good posts from many excellent bloggers.

I do have a question as well, if you care to answer. A friend is just beginning to homeschool her oldest child. She's a little nervous. I asked why? She said, "I don't want to fail at this. I want to do it right."

I've been thinking about her answer. Fear of failure keeps many good people from attempting great things, but can a conscientious parent fail at homeschooling? And if so, what does failure look like? Or if you prefer to look at it from the optimists point of view, what does "doing it right" look like?

I hope to add my own thoughts on this later, after the caffeine kicks in.

Photo courtesy of Spunky Jr.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Judge Sets Aside Order for Chemo

Good News!

According to a report from WTKR, Abraham Cherrix will NOT have to report for chemotherapy and he will be allowed to remain with his family. A Circuit Court judge has set aside the order of Juvenile Court Judge Demps.

A judge has set aside a court order requiring a 16-year-old cancer patient to report to a hospital for treatment over his objections. A juvenile court judge had ordered Starchild Abraham Cherrix and his parents to report to a Norfolk hospital by one p.m. today, and denied a stay of that order. But the Circuit Court judge scheduled a hearing for noon to consider a request to take over the case and grant the stay.

According to this report from WAVY.Com

[T]he judge suspended the order requiring that Cherrix' parents share custody over Abraham with Child Protective Services.

That is indeed good news, but Abraham's battle is not over. Please keep this family in your prayers as they continue to fight the cancer and unfortunately the state as well.

Abraham and his father were interviewed by Sean Hannity today. In the interview, Jay Cherrix said the new court date is August 16, 2006. Abraham has a wonderful attitude. Here's an inspiring answer from this remarkable young man when Hannity asked him about the future.

I cannot look into the future, as I said before, and say, This is going to happen to me and I'm so scared. I can't wake up every morning and say, Oh, my gosh, I'm going to die. You know, I wake up every morning and I say, I'm going to live, and I strive to meet that goal.So there's that possibility that somewhere along this line we made a wrong decision. But you know what? If I die, I'll die happy, and I will die healthy, and I will die in my home with my family, not in a hospital bed, bedridden and sick. (HT: Rebelution)

In the interview, Jay Cherrix said the new court date is August 16, 2006.

Related post: Abraham Cherrix set to refuse chemo. (Has links to all previous posts.)

Abraham's website: Abraham's Journey

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Abraham Set To Refuse Chemo

(Note: This post will be updated throughout the day.)

UPDATE: As of this report filed at 1:21PM, Judge Sets Aside Court Order For Cancer Patient
A judge has set aside a court order requiring a 16-year-old cancer patient to report to a hospital for treatment over his objections. A juvenile court judge had ordered Starchild Abraham Cherrix and his parents to report to a Norfolk hospital by one p.m. today, and denied a stay of that order. But the Circuit Court judge scheduled a hearing for noon to consider a request to take over the case and grant the stay.
If this report is accurate, I think this means that Abraham has been given an opportunity for an appeal and will not have to report for treatment. This is indeed good news for Abraham and his family. Stay tuned.

According to the a recent news report, Abraham is determined to defy the court order to undergo chemotherapy.

Speaking in Virginia Beach Monday evening before an appearance on Fox News Channel, Abraham Cherrix, 16, and his father, Jay Cherrix told Your NewsChannel 3 they will not report to Childrens' Hospital of the King's Daughters by a court-ordered deadline of 1p.m. Tuesday afternoon. Instead, the family will be in conference with an Accomack County Circuit Court judge asserting their right to a brand new trial.

If the Circuit Court upholds the lower court's ruling, Cherrix' parents may be held in contempt of court. That means Cherrix' parents could face additional charges or perhaps jail time.

Abraham's father, Jay Cherrix, is prepared for the consequences of violating the court order.

"I'm not going to be an obstacle to my son. If a judge wants to throw me in jail, then he's going to have to do that."

Their attorney filed a request for a stay of the order yesterday. According to the Times Dispatch the request "was denied, but the hearing in the circuit court gives the teen another chance to delay the original ruling." According to the same report, Bob McDonnell the Attorney General has filed a brief supporting Abraham Cherrix.

How is Abraham handling all this? Abraham said,

"I should be concentrating on my recovery. This case is taking me away from that."
If the state truly has the best interest of the child, then let's pray the judge does the right thing today and stays the order.

Fox News has provided a partial transcript of an interview on "Hannity & Colmes," July 24, 2006, that has been edited for clarity. ,

Abraham CHERRIX: I'm not going to receive chemotherapy, no matter what. This is my body, the body that God gave to me and in the Bible it says for me to take care of this body. It's my temple.

And I believe strongly that I have the right to take and do with my body as I please o do with it, because if you don't — are not able to do with your body what you want to, then you have no rights whatsoever.Every single family in America has the right o reach the decision on their own, and each and every family is at risk if this person is not allowed to do that.

Jay Cherrix (father): Every single family in America has the right to reach the ecision on their own, and each and every family is at risk if this person is not allowed to do that.

Cal Thomas offers his thoughts at Town Hall:

If a young child (say 10, or younger) is unduly influenced by parents who are members of a religion that teaches that faith alone can heal, or prohibits blood transfusions, then the state has an interest in stepping in to protect the child until he, or she, is old enough to make an informed choice. But in this case, the informed one appears to be Cherrix, who says he has studied his options, experienced the treatment given by his doctors and doesn't want anymore of it. He prefers "alternative medicine." That should be his and his parents' right to determine, not a social worker and a court.
Abraham's website: Abraham's Journey

For more quotes and information on Abraham Cherrix case at SpunkyHomeschool click on the links below. There are many excellent questions and points made in the comments:
Abraham Cherrix - Update
Fan Mail (Ongoing discussion)
Judge Orders Chemo For Abraham (ongoing discussion)
Pray This Never Happens to You

Others Blogging About Abraham:
The Rebelution (Excellent coverage by two young men about Abraham's age.)
Boomer Chick (Blogger knows the family personally. )
Al Mohler
Homeland Stupidity
Respectful Insolence (Blogger who thinks the judge made a good decision.)
Corn and Oil
Buried Treasure
Biblical Womanhood

I'll update as news becomes available.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Abraham Cherrix - Update

The lawyers for Abraham Cherrix filed a motion this morning to block Judge Demp's order requiring the 16 year old to undergo evaluation and chemotherapy beginning Tuesday.

The Cherrix's lawyer says he's waiting for a response to the motion filed this morning. The lawyer says if the teen is forced to comply with the order, "there's no way to undo the chemotherapy and radiation" and essentially that would end their path to further appeals.
It pays to have people familiar with similar cases reading your blog. Judy Aron, left a comment under this post, citing a Supreme Court case that helps demonstrate the rights of the parents in medical treatment. She said,

I am very surprised at this ruling especially in light of a Supreme Court ruling that says this:Because parents have a constitutionally protected liberty interest in the care, custody and management of their children against the state's unwarranted "usurpation, disregard, or disrespect", the Supreme Court has held that parents retain a substantial, if not the dominant, role in decisions affecting the child, including decisions affecting medical treatment. Tennenbaum v. Williams, 193 F. 3d 581, 594 (1999), Cf. Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584, 99 S. Ct. 2493, 61 L. Ed. 2d 101; 1979 U.S. LEXIS 130 (1979); Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 39, 67 L. Ed. 1042, 43 S. Ct. 625 (1923).

The Supreme Court explained, "Simply because the decision of a parent is not agreeable to a child, or because it involves risks, does not automatically transfer the power to make that decision from the parents to some agency or officer of the state. The same characterizations can be made for a tonsillectomy, appendectomy, or other Medical procedur...Parents can and must make those judgments...Neither state Officials nor federal courts are equipped to review such parental decisions." Parham v. J.R. , 442 U.S. 584;602-606, 99 S. Ct. 2493; 61 L. Ed. 2d 101; 1979 U.S. LEXIS 130 (1979).

The type of treatment they are seeking doesn't seem to be the major factor according to the Supreme Court in determining who is the final decision maker.

From World Net Daily,

Appearing on Sean Hannity's national radio program, Jay Cherrix said, "When the social-service worker came and interviewed me, I told him how Abraham felt and
about how we had met a person who had been cured by this [alternative treatment]
and how we were supporting Abraham's decision. I said, 'What will you do with my little boy? Will you take him somewhere and strap him down and put duct tape on
his mouth and pump full of this stuff if he doesn't want it?'

"He said, 'No, I will come to your house with a uniformed officer, and I will take your son by force if he resists. And I will take him to somebody who will do that.' "And I said, 'I don't think I can let you do that.'"

He added there have also been other threats to take Abraham away from the family.

They told Abraham that if he did not go and have an X-ray, they would put him in a juvenile detention center with drug dealers. They told him that if he did not do that they would put him in a foster home. ... We never thought that people could actually say that to a young fellow like that. We've been surprised by lots of stuff but we have a strong faith and we believe that we'll prevail. We think there will be a judge that will use common sense and compassion and grant a stay on that [mandated chemotherapy] order."

We are praying that the next judge will use common sense, Mr. Cherrix.

The Rebelution has transcribed the words to a song written for Abraham that shares the complete story. You can listen to the song on Abraham's website.

I was speaking to my neighbors about this case today. They told me about their nephew who had the same type of cancer at the same age. He underwent chemotherapy twice. It did not cure his cancer, it killed him. The responsibility for that decision rests with the parents and they feel they made the best decision for their son. They are at peace. If the state takes on this decision for Abraham and the same thing happens to Abraham, what responsibility will the state take for their actions? The state which claims to have the best interest of the child, suddenly has no interest at all and the parents are left without their son.

In the words of Jay Cherrix, Abraham's father, (via WND)
"We have to stop this in the United States. This is an intrusion. This is the way you destroy families and it's not fair and it's not America."
Previous posts: Pray This Never Happens to You and Judge Orders Chemo For Abraham.

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Fan Mail

Normally, I just delete these emails but this one was just too good not to pass on. The writer is responding to the post about Abraham Cherrix.

Dear Spunky

I read what you wrote about how the evil "Government" was taking control of a 16 year-old's life by requiring him to get treatment for cancer. Your response to the issue reeks of your ignorance and sheltered lifestyle. Your kids will probably turn out to be literate and friendly, but also, "weird." Better not ever let them move away from your Amish settlement. ~ J.S.

Detroit the "Amish capital" of the Midwest. Who knew?

If you haven't read up on Abraham's story, you can get all the details in my post here. The parents are supposed to file an emergency appeal with a judge some time today. Please pray for this family.

Al Mohler picks up the story today as well.

What is next? This case sends a chilling signal to America's parents. Christian parents should take special note of this case, for the logic of this court would allow state intrusion into many of the decisions Christian parents make for their own children, ranging from education to discipline.
All the state needs is a charge of neglect and they can step in a make life miserable for parents. Who and what defines neglect? Is a parent's failure to get their child immunized neglect? To some, that and other controversial areas just might be. The definition will keep getting broader as the state seeks greater control over our lives and behavior.

Raymond De Vries, a member of the bioethics program at the University of Michigan had this to say about the Cherrix case,

What should be done in Abraham's situation, according to De Vries, is instead of only considering the boy's age, authorities should assess how well he understands his decision and whether he understands the consequences. Cases like this sometimes boil down to power and authority, De Vries said.

It is a "challenge to [the doctor's] authority when you go away from their suggestion. Their immediate response is, 'No,'" De Vries said.

A website, Abraham's Journey has been set up for updates and donations. There has also been a song written that tells the story here.

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Big Brother On Campus

According to the Katherine Haley Will, president of Gettysburg College, the Secretary of Education's Commission on the Future of Higher Education is considering a federal registry for all college students. This registry effectively makes everything about your college student their business. All in the name of accountability. From Ms. Will's article in the Washington Post,
Whether you call it a "national unit records database" (the first name) or a consumer-friendly information database" (the second), it is in fact a mandatory federal registry of all American students throughout their collegiate careers -- every course, every step, every misstep. Once established, it could easily be linked to existing K-12 and workforce databases to create unprecedented cradle-to-grave tracking of American citizens. All under the watchful eye of the federal government.
This is part of a direct move toward nationalizing all education into one federal system. I wrote about this troubling commission here.
A national standard of education is a death blow to democracy in America. I hope parents take the time to get informed and decide what type of country they would like their children to inherit.

We already have testing and a demand for national standards at the elementary and secondary levels. Combining the two tracks into one seamless preschool - college (P-16) system is the ultimate objective. (See my post, The New 'C' in NCLB)

Recently, I had a friend call and ask me about her fifth grader. He was declared "unemployable" by his school. He's in fifth grade! His employability was determined by a test score. Parents need to understand, education for some is not primarily about teaching your children. It's about preparing them for work. A seamless P-16 tracking system will allow the government to do this as efficiently as possible. The work of this commission is another step in that process. The full report isn't due out for until September.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Judge Orders Chemo For Abraham

***Breaking News August 16 ***
A settlement has been reached.
"It's all over. It's everything we fought for, everything we wanted to ever have, we've won. We got our freedom back," Abraham said outside the courthouse after the hearing. "
See the most recent post Abraham Cherrix, "We've Won." for details.


UPDATE 7/26: Good New! Circuit Court stays Judge Demps Order. Details Here.

Update 7/24: Previous updates to this story are here. It has links to all previous posts and news links.

Last week, I blogged about Abraham Cherrix's fight with the state of Virginia to determine his own cancer treatment. In a Friday ruling (to avoid heavy media coverage?) Judge Demps ordered the 16 year old homeschooler to undergo chemotherapy.

A judge ruled today that a 16-year-old cancer patient fighting to use alternative treatment for his Hodgkin's disease must report to a hospital by Tuesday afternoon for testing, evaluation and treatment as doctors deem necessary, the family's attorney said.

The juvenile court judge also found Starchild Abraham Cherrix's parents neglectful for risking his health by permitting him to pursue alternative treatment of a sugar-free, organic diet and herbal supplements supervised by a clinic in Mexico, lawyer John Stepanovich said.

The parents are planning an emergency appeal on Monday to stay the enforcement of the order. Judge Demps sits on the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, which means that his Order can be immediately appealed to the Circuit Court of Accomack County.

I wonder what happens if he doesn't show up on Tuesday?

John Stepanovich, the family's lawyer, said this after hearing the ruling,

"I want to caution all parents of Virginia: Look out, because Social Services may be pounding on your door next when they disagree with the decision you've made about the health care of your child,"
Considering my previous post, that's advice we all should pay close attention to. I pray for this family and hope that we can rally support around them so they will know they are not alone in this fight.

Here's a link to Today Show interview Abraham, his father, and their attorney did about a week ago. It's worth watching. This young man is quite articulate and composed.

How far is Abraham Cherrix willing to go? To jail if necessary. From the Today Show interview (HT: Rebelution),

CURRY: If the judge rules against Abraham's decision, if he says that Abraham cannot make this decision and he tries to force Abraham to go through chemotherapy, I guess, Abraham, the question is: Are you willing to go to jail for this, or, I guess, also, are your parents willing to go for--to jail for this? Abraham, you first.

Mr. A. CHERRIX: Yes, I'm willing--I am to do that because I obeyed the law by what they say. At least I try to as best as I can. If they want to put me in a juvenile detention, there's really nothing I can do about it, and I will--I will have faith that my parents will get me out. And if they take my parents away, then I will do everything in my power to help them.

I pray that the family is able to get a new judge to stay the order on Monday.

The alternative treatment Abraham is using is known as the Hoxsey Treatment which involves an organic diet and herbal supplements. Why is it a minor can get an abortion without parental consent but a cancer victim can't get his treatment WITH his parent's consent?

Here's another interesting question - Someone sent me the link to a VA statute where a minor can petition for his emanacipation after his 16th birthday if certain conditions are met. If a child can be emancipated from his parents after that age, can he be emancipated from the state? Because of the judge's ruling, the state and the parents currently share custody of Abraham.

To voice your opinion to the judge, call one of his numbers and leave a message for him or ask to speak to him during business hours. Here are his phone numbers: (757)393-2990 or (757) 399-5514. (Thanks Eric)

For more background information on this case: Pray This Never Happens To You

Related News Stories: Today Show interview

Here's the blog of another courageous 14 year old, Katie Wernecke, whose experience is similar to Abrahams. Pray for Katie.

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Knock, Knock

Who's there?

The State.

State Who?

State who you are, your age, height, weight, and blood type; and while we're here we may as well get your pulse, a hair sample, and just a little bit of your blood. By the way, how much fish do you eat?

Unfortunately this is no joke and it's coming to the State of Washington. Notice the survey is not random, the state is choosing who to sample. My advice - skip the $45 gift card and tell them to get lost.

You Can't Have It All

I was in Wal-Mart a couple of months ago. In front of me, in the check-out line, was a professionally dressed woman trying to hold her cell phone to her ear, while juggling her purchases in her hands and under her arms. In her continued effort to hold it all together, she dropped a box. I picked it up and held it until she finished the call. When she ended her conversation, she thanked me, sighed, and as women often do, she then began to tell a complete stranger (me) her frustrations. "That was my son. He's trying to get this project done. I'm supposed to be at work, but he needed a few things. Hopefully, my boss won't notice I took a longer lunch."

I empathized with her stress, "You do have your hands full. (It was fun to finally say that to someone else!) I think we've been lied to all these years, women really can't really have it all. Something always gets dropped." I handed her back the box.

She chuckled, "No, they can't."

Something always gets dropped. In this situation it was a box that was easily retrieved. But as the Daily Mail reports more often it's the children and the impact is far greater. A new study in Great Britain shows,

A typical working parent spends just 19 minutes a day looking after their children, official figures revealed yesterday. The startling research shows the devastating impact that working full-time has on children who hardly see their parents.
With less than 20 minutes spent with their parents every day, this is only enough time to eat a quick breakfast together or have a couple of bed-time stories. ...

Maire Fahey, editor of Prima, said: "In the 1980s, we thought we could have it all and aspired to high-flying careers and happy families. "But the cracks are starting to show. Family life is suffering and something has got to give."

The upside to an article like this, is that maybe women will begin to understand there are always trade- offs. That the balance they believe they can achieve between work and family is a mirage, quality minutes don't make up for quantity minutes.

Barbara Curtis, said this in a post today
Once you become a parent, life isn't about you anymore. It is about your kids. And kids need you more than anything else. They need your time and attention. The whole argument about "Quality Time" is bogus through and through.
I agree with her in part. When we become a parent, life isn't about us anymore. It wasn't before that really. However, it often takes becoming a parent to help us realize that simple truth. But as a parent, I try and resist the urge to make it about my children as well. Yes, they need our time and attention, but life isn't about our kids. If we begin to believe that, then despite the fact that we homeschool, we'll raise another generation who believe that life revolves around them. The sad cycle will just continue. Life isn't about me or my children. It's about the One who gave me and my children life. When I live a life that revolves around Him, it is easier to order my priorities in such a way that will benefit all of us. Our Lord has arms big enough to hold it all together and make sure that nothing gets dropped. We just need to let go and let Him.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Homeschooling Solves Literacy Gap

A new study paints a terrible picture for our young men in the reading department.

The research, by psychology professor Judith Kleinfeld at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, finds that nearly one-quarter of high school seniors across the United States who are sons of white, college-educated parents have woeful reading skills, ranking "below basic" on a national standardized test.

"These boys cannot read a newspaper and get the main point," Kleinfeld told LiveScience. "These boys cannot read directions for how to use equipment and follow them.

"Many boys are disengaging from school," Kleinfeld says. "The U.S. Department of Education's surveys of student commitment show that boys are far less likely than girls to do homework or to come to school with the supplies they need."

In separate research, Judith Kleinfield may have found the root cause,

"Here's a fascinating fact," she said. "There is no literacy gap in home-schooled boys and girls."

"Why? In school, teachers emphasize reading literature and talking about character and feelings," she said. "This way of teaching reading does not turn boys on. Boys prefer reading nonfiction, such as history and adventure books. When they are taught at home, parents are more likely to let them follow their interests."

I think the lack of a literacy gap among homeschooled boys and girls is not only because we can tailor the reading to their interests, but also because at home they don't lose the desire to learn, simply because they can't read well. Most schools use reading as the primary means of learning. A slow or unenthusiastic reader in the early years is going to be seen as an under achiever and eventually lose the motivation to read and possibly learn all together.

In our home, both my boys and girls love reading, but my older son didn't start out that way. He is an auditory learner. He would sit and listen to me read a story, but had no interest in reading them. I loved it and so did he. When my voice went dry, he would listen to books or stories on tape. Lots of them. I didn't worry too much (thank you Dr. Moore), I knew that if his love for books was there, his love for reading them on his own would come with time. And it has. He is now 15 and a fine reader. But if his early learning depended on his reading ability, he would have fallen behind and been one of these statistics.

Have you noticed a difference between your homeschooled boys and girls in reading? Why do you think homeschooled students don't have the same literacy gap that public schooled students have?

(HT: The Common Room)

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Thank You

Thank you to all who voted for me in the Blogs of Beauty Awards. It's quite an honor. The second award actually belongs to all who read and comment here. Thanks for making this blog a dialogue and not just a monologue.

In other news,
Abraham Cherrix fate still hangs in the balance, as the court indefinitely delayed a decision to allow the 16 year old homeschooler to decide his own medical treatment. The ruling was expected yesterday. I blogged about it here. Here's a video link from The Today Show. He's quite an articulate young man.

The conflict in the Middle East has hit home for my neighbor. Literally. An Isreali rocket hit a home in Lebanon where 20 of their relatives were inside hiding. Only two survived the blast. They are still in critical condition. War is real. These families are innocent victims in an conflict they didn't ask to be a part of. Pray for an end to the violence.

Around the blogosphere,
Shawn Abigail shares his thoughts on government from a bliblical perspective.

Why Homeschool has an interview with HSLDA attorney and fellow blogger, Scott Somerville. Scott's wife, Marcia, is also the author of Tapestry of Grace, our homeschool curriculum.

Nerd Mommy has the Carnival of homeschooling up.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Uncle Sam, Hear Me Roar!

(In order for this entry to make any sense, you should read this one first; with a nod to Shawn Abigail for giving us the male point of view and Ms. Trixie for finally convincing me that the state is the most loving provider there is. )

Dear Uncle Sam,

I know you're busy with a war and all, so I'll try to be quick about this and get right to the point. Seems as though the AFL-CIO is asking working women what they want from you. So I thought, "Well shoot, if they get to ask, why can't I?" You've already gotten Leslie's letter, so here's mine,

American politicans, hear me roar.

As a woman, I want to --need to-- stay home with my family and homeschool. It's for my sanity, my children's safety (have you been in a public school lately?), and a way to give back to my country. After all, if I do this right, my kids will one day be workers in the global economy and the providers of everyone's social security checks. But in order to max out my abilities as a mom over the course of my lifetime, I need a few things:

1. A fifteeen passenger van is an absolute necessity. Any color but white will do. White looks terrible on the road in a Michigan winter. (Image is everything you know, self esteem is important.) A gas card would be a real help. Just because my van gets 15 miles per gallon less shouldn't mean I have to foot the whole bill. And if it had one of those state-of-the-art OnStar devices, that would round out the package very nicely. (And you'd be able to know where I was at all times. What a bonus!)

2. A high quality park near every Starbucks. This is really a no brainer. They seem to put most Starbucks near major roads and highways. What are they thinking? That only caters to busy working moms on the go. How am I supposed to relax, enjoy my coffee and watch my children play while cars are whizzing by at 50 mph? For the sake of my sanity and my children's safety, this is a must!

3. A Constitutional amendment protecting my right to have as many children as I want free from the unsolicited comments. It's downright insulting the way most women treat a pregnant woman who has more than 2 children anymore. Complete strangers think nothing of walking up and asking, "Don't you know what causes that?" or "Are you done yet?" Why this doesn't already qualify as hate speech is beyond me. Some countries have already gone so far as to limit the number of children. (I think the UN has something to do with that one. ) Please Uncle Sam, save me from these intolerant people! And while you're at it, can you do something about the latest maternity fashions? Mercy, there oughta be a law against all those bulging bare bellies!

4. A subliminal propoganda campaign, letting women know they can be happy and fulfilled as the wife to one man and the mother of many children. In an effort to control wasteful government spending, I'd be happy with something simple like mandated, nightly, prime time reruns of Leave It To Beaver or Little House On the Prairie on every channel. The positive messages and role models will go along way to ease the tensions between working and stay at home women across the nation.

There are a few more things, but I really don't want to presume too much on the generosity of the American people. After all it is their money. And these poor women who choose to work shouldn't have to sacrifice their hard earned cash to support my ridiculous decision stay home and raise my own children. (How unfulfilling, they say!) I don't want to create any ill will by forcing them to pay for things that aren't really necessary, so I'll stop here.

Thank you for your time, Uncle Sam. I know your a busy man, but never too busy for me.

Love your favorite niece,

So what would you like to ask for? Better yet, tell the AFL-CIO.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

I Am Woman! Hear Me Whine!

There is nothing more annoying than working women who demand that the government support their decisions to work. Leslie Morgan Steiner of the Washington Post makes these ridiculous demands of the her rich Uncle named Sam...

American politicians, hear me roar:

As a woman, I want to -- need to - work to provide for my family, keep my sanity, and give back to my country. But in order to max out my abilities as an employee and mom over the course of my lifetime, I need a few things:

1) Real economic incentives for companies that provide flexible schedules for family caregivers, maternity and paternity leave, onsite day care and aftercare, and a cool, well-lighted place to pump at work

2) At least as many high-quality, affordable child-care centers as there are Dunkin' Donuts (preferrably next to every Dunkin' Donuts)

3) A Constitutional amendment protecting women's rights to birth control (so that we can choose when to work and when to focus on raising kids).

4) Subliminal cultural messages (an advertising campaign, role models on TV and in movies, newspaper articles with supporting data) just like the ones moms have endured for the past 40 (or 40,000) years, but this time communicating the value to American society of supporting women's efforts to combine work and family.

So, what do you need?

My answer is a lot shorter than yours, Leslie,

I need the government to stay out of my private life.

It's not the government's job to find you a place to nurse, or a place to babysit your child, or guarantee your right to prevent conception. (Should they buy your doughnuts too?) When I worked I negotiated my own benefits or I didn't work there. Period. I was never forced to work on Sunday and any day my husband had off (before I quit altogether) I had off. Ladies, if you want to work, that's your right. Go for it. I support your freedom to choose in every way except one - with my tax dollars. Don't ask the government to negotiate your benefits for you and provide subliminal psychological messages to support your choice. The state is not your personal nanny. It's not their job.

Why is it that women who claim they are independent, depend on the government for so much of their independence? I just don't get it.

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Dear Spunky

A reader emailed this question,
I'm searching for language arts curriculum for my 10 yr. old; have been going between "Learning Language Arts thru Literature" and "Shurley English." Are you familar with either of these and have an opinion you wouldn't mind sharing with me? Thanks for your encouraging articles. I was actually struggling with deciding to continue hs'ing or send my daughters back to ps and found your comments to inspire me back to hs'ing.
I'm excited to hear that she is sticking with homeschooling. I don't have a opinion (rare occurence I know!) on these curriculums. Does anyone have any thoughts on these or others that she may look into and keep her going strong?

We've used Winston Grammar for our basic grammar with moderate success. A few of my children have also enjoyed Easy Grammar and Easy Writing . I've actually never stressed too much about formal grammar in the lower grades. We've used a lot of good reading to teach writing skills with some dication and narration. I found that all the grammar stuff get's repeated again in the upper grades with much better understanding and a lot less pain.

Until I started blogging I never considered myself a writer. I was more a math person. Two books I've found as an adult that have helped me in my writing are, How to Write and On Writing Well. Educating yourself on how to write well, will help you do a better job with your children. I'm still learning so please forgive any errors in my writing!

Guilt Free Homeschooling had an encouraging post on writing that's worth a read.

And don't forget to cast your vote in the Blogs of Beauty Awards. Voting ends tonight at 8PM. (And if you want to vote for me in the discussion or homeschooling category that would be fine too!)

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Faith, Freedom, and Common Sense

We've had a few discussions recently about state intervention in our private lives. The most egregious example being the case of homeschooler Abraham Cherrix. (Please read up on his case if you don't know what that's about.)

Government meddling ranges from the serious to the down right silly. Here's just one more example of the government trying to solve an issue they were never intended to - obesity.

No more Mac attacks:

New York City has hundreds of bustling fast-food outlets, but if one leading politician has his way, there may soon be fewer of them on the block. They make good-tasting, affordable food, but unfortunately, it lacks nutrition," says council member Joel Rivera, of the Bronx, who also leads the Democrats at City Hall.

"What I want to do is limit the number of fast-food establishments within specific proximity of each other, and try to give incentives for healthy alternatives, and give people choices," he adds.

In the name of choice he wants to limit the choices. Makes perfect sense to me!

G.K. Chesterton said it best,
"When you break the big laws, you do not get freedom; you do not even get anarchy. You get the small laws."
We are becoming a nation of small laws and large political egos --politicians who think they can and must solve every human dilemma imaginable.

What is the solution? Peggy Noonan offered a few thoughts in her recent column that I thought were very well stated,

One: It is good to keep in mind, at such a time, that we must let as many questions devolve into the private sphere as possible. Not all can but many can, and on so many issues it's better to err on the side of individual freedom than the authority of the state. Two, in making big decisions do not lose simple common sense, which is common human sense, which is, for instance: If you start to clone humans it will have an ugly end. Three: Do not let go of your faith. Do not lose it. In the age in which too much is demanded of the slim wisdom of politicians, it is our only hope, and theirs.

This isn't a complete answer for sure, but faith, freedom, and a little common sense have served this country well for over 200 years; let's not abandon them now.

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MySpace Civics

Sandra Day O'Connor believes we have a civics crisis in America due to a lack of teaching in the public schools,

"Public schools have pretty much stopped teaching government, civics and American history. ... I truly don't know how long we can survive as a strong nation if our younger citizens don't understand the nature of our government. ... That is something you have to learn. It just isn't handed down in the genetic pool."
How true that is.

And according to some the solution is online communities like MySpace and Runescape.

Social-networking sites like MySpace and MMORPGs take the notion of citizenship outside what the state has defined - a common language, region, etc. Instead, in these online groupings, the members find themselves in communities that are multiracial, multinational, and multilingual. And they can break this into smaller subsections of people they like or [those] with similar interests.

"And young people," he continued, "who have very little idea and notion of the concept of citizenship - it's something that happens to other people - are developing an understanding that there are behaviors that they need to belong to a community: the rules of the game."

God help us if we use the rules of MySpace to determine which behaviors belong in a community!

But if this MySpace idea catches on, do you think we can get rid forced education all together? We're always being told compulsory education is necessary to ensure an educated electorate and perpetuate a democracy. Maybe all we really need is a blog at MySpace.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Are They Learning Yet?

When you travel with children on a long trip the inevitable question arises, "Are we there yet?" It's so hard to explain to children anxious to arrive that this is a long journey and getting there takes time and patience. This is equally hard to accept when each mile looking forward looks just the same as the one behind. We're getting there, they just can't see it yet.

As homeschoolers, it is tempting to ask a similar question, "Are they learning yet?" It's often hard to accept that this is a long journey and learning takes time and patience. Lot's of it. We're getting there, we just can't always see it every day. On a highway children at least have road signs and mile markers to know they're moving forward. Searching around us, we hunt for something similar -- some sort of marker to show that we're getting there too. Just give me a stack of workbooks with all the pages filled in or show Grandma how you can write your name, and I'll know they got it. We're constantly looking for any affirmation that we can do this thing called "homeschooling" and that they are learning something. Mile markers to prove that we are moving forward and not backward.

I've mellowed a lot over the years. I now see that the demonstration of learning comes as they begin to use the information that they are taught. Not to make me look good, but because it is actually useful to them. They need to write their name to get a library card, not to impress Grandma or validate me. When our children have a purpose, they will learn without a whole lot of prodding from us. We just need to provide a constant source of fuel to keep their engines going. (I'll concede that some may need a stick of dynamite!) But once the engines are burning they're off and running.

So when the inevitable anxious moments arise and you wonder, "Are they learning yet?" Just give yourself the same answer you give your children on a long trip, "Honey, just sit back and enjoy the ride. We'll be there before you know it."

And if that answer doesn't calm your anxious nerves any more than your children, try this;

Ninety-nine unread books on the shelf.
Ninety-nine unread books.
Take one down, pass it around,
Ninety-eight unread books on the shelf.

Ninety-eight unread books on the shelf, ninety-eight unread books....

Surely by the time you get to one book left on the shelf, they're bound to have learned something!

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Convention Advice Please

In a comment Elizabeth asked,

I'm going to my first homeschooling convention tomorrow, and want to maximize my time there. What do you suggest I do, this or that? (It's the NOVA conference for Northern Virginia. The search engines were not coming up with much helpful advice, maybe I choose some bad terms, I don't know.Thanks in advance to all who choose to reply!
My advice is go with a closed purse and an open mind. Listen attentively to what people present, but don't make any major decisions or purchases. I know saying that may make a few vendors mad, but it's a lesson I learned the hard way. I've still got a few unused things "I just had to have" from my first convention years ago. If you do end up spending a lot of time learning from a specific vendor, go back and place your orders with them. It may cost you a dollar or two more, but their time is worth something.

I also recommend taking an empty notebook, both for workshop notes and vendor hall notes. Jot down titles and impressions of things you see. Attend a variety of workshops of differing methods and philosphies of education. Then when you're home and of a sound mind, begin to think about what would actually work in your family.

Lastly, wear comfortable shoes and plan a night out with your hubby for dinner soon after your return. You'll be a chatter box of information and he'll have a good meal while you download it all. Discuss all of these things with him and get his input. Fathers see things from a different perspective so be as open to his input as you are to the speakers you hear at the convention.

About Homeschooling has a some recommendations here.

Barbara Frank (Imperfect Homeschooler) offers a free e-course Keys to a Successful Homeschool Convention Experience.

Any others have some thoughts for Elizabeth? If you have a blog post and want to leave the link that's fine too. This is a popular question and we all learn from the experiences of others.

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