Monday, October 30, 2006

Rethinking Teen Ministry

TIME Magazine takes a look at the changing attitude in youth ministry.

Youth ministers have been on a long and frustrating quest of their own over the past two decades or so. Believing that a message wrapped in pop-culture packaging was the way to attract teens to their flocks, pastors watered down the religious content and boosted the entertainment. But in recent years churches have begun offering their young people a style of religious instruction grounded in Bible study and teachings about the doctrines of their denomination. Their conversion has been sparked by the recognition that sugarcoated Christianity, popular in the 1980s and early '90s, has caused growing numbers of kids to turn away not just from attending youth-fellowship activities but also from practicing their faith at all.

As the exodus has increased, churches are trying to reverse the flow by focusing less on amusement and more on Scripture.

Our family has chosen a more family integrated approach to discipling our children. I shared our thoughts on youth ministry here.

I also like the way Voddie Baucham says it,

God has given us a mechanism for multi-generational faithfulness and that mechanism is the family. And so one of the things the Church must do is to rediscover and re-emphasize the importance of the family as that discipling
agent and build up the family because that is what's crumbling.
Taking "multi-generational faitfulness" to heart, these grandparents have taken on the task of homeschooling their grandchildren. "
When someone in the fourth grade asked my grandson Justin if he wanted drugs, I said, 'You've got to stop, I'm pulling you out and teaching you at home,'" He said
I'm sure some folks are thinking that these seniors are off their rocker to take this on. And they'd literally be right. Why just sit around in some retirement village all day? My hats off to them, for showing that it doesn't take a village, but a family to educate children. Mary Nix has a few more links to other grandparent homeschool stories.

(HT: Al Mohler for the TIME article.)

Speaking of teens, this teen e-zine looks at apathy in our culture.

Tapestry of Grace: A Review

A while back, a dedicated homeschooling mother of 6 greeted her husband at the door with the statement, "This is where we stop homeschooling," Her older children were moving on to more rigorous high school studies. Exasperated, she was not sure that she could give them the excellent education she had provided when they were younger. There was just one problem, her husband was an attorney with HSLDA!

Thankfully, instead of quitting, this homeschooling mother, Marcia Somerville along with her husband Scott, designed a curriculum called Tapestry of Grace. Our family is very thankful the Somervilles kept going. Their perseverance has been a blessing to us and countless other homechool families.

We were devoted Sonlight users for many years. I enjoyed the literature selections and the well thought out lesson plans. But as the children grew, I began to feel like an octupus in 6 different oceans. The children were each focused on different historical periods and we were losing some of the joy of learning together. I tried to combine levels and use one year for many children. That worked well for a while, but I still found myself growing more frustrated. Finding books and projects for those at a lower or higher level was difficult and time consuming. I began to look for a curriculum that would allow multiple ages to study the same subject, but at their level.

Enter Tapestry of Grace (TOG). The curriculum is designed to teach muliple ages the same time period simulaneously using quality literature. TOG works on a four year cycle. That means, once you have purchased all four years (about $150), you will have a complete curriculum from kindergarten through graduation. Similar to Sonlight, the books used in each year are purchased separately. As an experiement, we made the switch last year from Sonlight to Tapestry of Grace (year four).

It was everything I hoped for and more.

Tapestry of Grace is a classical approach with a Christian worldview. It blends history, with geography, English, Bible and church history, along with several electives. As they children advance in their abilities, they cycle through a chronological study of history. Their website says it this way, the curriclulum is designed for learning "stages" not ages. It mentors parents in instructing Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric level children.

At the request of my oldest daughter, we began our study at the "end" of history in the twentieth century (year four). I was a little nervous starting at the end of the curriculum, but I needn't have been worried. Each year is designed to stand on it's own. There were only a few places where the material referenced previously covered topics or books.

TOG presents a lot of material. It was a little overwhelming at first to see what we were going to cover in one year. But as we plunged into each week, we slowly adapted the suggested readings to our family's learning style.

All the children have been fairly enthusiastic about Tapestry of Grace. The boys found the work load a little more than they were used to, but they have really stepped up and taken more responsibility for their learning. The best part of using TOG is that I feel like we are learning as a family again. When I hear the children conversing with each other about a subject it's not just one "lecturing" about what they have learned. They are all contributing facts and ideas. There are plenty of hands-on projects to engage all types of learning styles and ages. Interestingly, I have found the older children reading many of the "lower grammar" books. And I have seen my younger children peeking into the books of the older children.

No curriculum is perfect. I miss the read aloud suggestions that Sonlight provided. As a replacement, I have chosen books from our library that go along with our study. Tapestry of Grace gives only weekly reading assignments, not daily. So with some of the children, I have to break down their reading into a daily schedule. It's not insurmountable, but when you're accustomed to someone else doing the work, it's a minor inconvenience.

I began TOG last year with a child at each level and a toddler. I knew we had a made a good choice when my daughter told me she wished she were starting high school all over again - just so she could go through all four years!

Stay tuned: Tomorrow, I will be giving away a free unit of Tapestry of Grace.

UPDATE: Click here to enter to win a free unit of Tapestry of Grace.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Freedom From Indoctrination

In an odd twist, Georgetown University founded by a Jesuit priest and rich in Catholic tradition, has banned several evangelical Christian fellowships from their campus.
"The real interesting thing is that Georgetown tossed these groups, but left the Muslim Student Alliance and the Jewish Student Alliance intact," French told WND. "This Christian college is giving more religious freedom to Muslims and Jews than to Christians."
In a related story, conservatives on many college campuses are pushing for an Academic Bill of Rights to protect the academic freedom of college students from ideological indoctrination by "left wing" professors. The federal government is considering a measure to deny federal funding to institutions - even private ones - that refuse to comply. I'm sure that there is a high level of partisan lecturing at the university. It was there when I attended the University of Michigan in the early 80's.

When I was a senior, I took a class in sociology. It was a requirement I somehow missed in my early days. I was the only upper classman among some 50 freshman. It was a pretty uneventful class until toward the end of the semester. The professor started to talk about religion, God, and free will. He lectured us for about 30 minutes on why there was no such thing as God or free will; that everything we think and do is determined by our environment with little choice from us. Most of the class sat there feverishly taking notes. My temperature was rising but it wasn't from taking notes. He concluded his lecture rather smugly with the question, "So, does anyone still think there is a God and that we have a free will?" He was met by blank stares from most, a few shakes of the head, and one hand that went up. Mine.

"Yes, I have free will." I stated emphatically.

" Oh, really. And what young lady do you have the free will to do?" He said, looking down at me.

"I can worship my God any where I choose." (The class groaned.)

"I could make it illegal and put you in jail." (The class squirmed.)

"Yes, but I can still worship God in jail."

"I could cut out your tongue." (The class stared at me.)

"Yes, but I can still worship with my mind."

"I can have you killed." (The class was silent.)

"You haven't solved a thing, I will now be in heaven worshipping my Creator eternally."

At this point, a friend interrupted the discussion and said to the professor, don't argue with her you're never going to win. The flustered professor looked at his watch, muttered something about having to get going and dismissed class early.

Intimidation and indoctrination only work for those who do not know or are not convinced of their own beliefs. We don't need an academic bill of rights. We need students who know and are secure in what they believe.

But you can also see why schools like Hillsdale and Patrick Henry have sprung up. Their decision to forgo federal funding gives them complete liberty in what they teach. If the government would get out of the education business completely, a school would have complete control over what they teach and parents and students can choose the education that's right for them. Until then these disputes are only going to intensify.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Note To Myself

When pondering all the wonderful opportunities (and possible distractions) a homeschooling mother is offered or feels compelled to do, I must remember...

The offers are all so very tempting. I would enjoy many of them and maybe even make some needed cash (for a new computer?) But in earning the extra money, I know I would be short changing my children. That's a net loss in my opinion. My time with my children is so short. It's hard to say no. But I'd rather say no to those who don't know me, than to the little ones sitting around me each day.

I must say "no" to others, so I can say "yes" to my children.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Don't Try This At Home...

That's the warning this teacher is giving to homeschool parents.

Critics of homeschooling say it is impossible for a parent to know how to teach a wide array of subjects without training.

"We are professionals," Dianne Birdwell, a high school history teacher, said...

"We know how to teach and you need to be their parents."

You know, with all the homework students have to do to make adequate yearly progress, shouldn't they stay in school where the "experts" can help them with that too? It's a travesty that these poor children have to leave the experts every evening to go home to their untrained, unprofessional, ignorant parents for help completing their unfinished assignments.

But as USA Today reports, school administrators aren't content to exercise their authority only on the school campus. They are extending it right into the children's home. They are punishing and expelling children for what they write on their blogs using their home computers. Said one parent,
"If they spend as much time teaching as they spend telling parents how to parent, maybe we'd have smarter kids coming out of their schools,"
Why do parents tolerate this? Two words, Outsourcing Parenthood.

In my follow-up post, Recess or Funding, you can see exactly how these "experts" really make their decisions. (It's not "for the children" as they want you to believe.)

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Recess or Funding

A father is upset with his son's school. Why? After being enrolled just six weeks in the local public school, his son's behavior began to deteriorate.

As a normal everyday parent, I had no clue my child was not getting A behaviorally necessary, psychologically necessary and most of all medically necessary recess or long enough recess, throughout the school day at his new elementary school.

After enrollment, My child's behavior all of a sudden began to deteriorate over A period of about 6 weeks. He would constantly "Hyper-Up", Run In Place and just "Scream Out' on occasion. We finally figured it out by asking him what he did all day. He stated "THERE IS NO TIME TO PLAY WITH MY NEW FRIENDS AND MOST OF THE TEACHERS KEEP YELLING AT ME TO LISTEN AND FOLLOW DIRECTIONS - OR I WILL GET IN TROUBLE".

This goes on ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY.

He appealed to the principal of the school for help geting recess back in the school. The principal agreed with his concern over recess but he was told,

the children simply do not have enough recess time, due to the large "Time Blocks" of subject study they can show to the state for additional funding.
Rather than choose what is best for the children, they choose what is best for the school - money.

After finally, "getting a clue," he has begun a national campaign to get recess put back in the schools. That's great. But in the meantime what happens to his son? He'll probably end up on Ritalin like so many other "normal" boys. But the pharmaceutical companies will be happy.

In a related article, Newsweek recently looked at The New First Grade: Too Much Too Soon?

(HT: Mommy Life for the recess site.)

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Germany Update

Shiela Lange gives us an update on the German homeschool situation. The Reimke family had their crying children taken by force from their home and placed in the public school.
On Friday, October 20th, three children were picked up by the police and escorted to school in Baden-W├╝rttemberg, with the "promise" that it would happen again this week. (I don't know yet if it has. I know that if they had been my children, we would have left the country--or at least that address--over the weekend!) The previous minister/secretary of education had said that it was senseless to use police force for something like that, that it wasn't good for the children, who were obviously well-cared for, and a waste of time for the police. The current minister/secretary of education apparently has another opinion.
World Net Daily offers more details.

Shilela also updates us about another mother jailed for homeschooling in Germany. She used the time to share the gospel with those in the jail. She was treated well and expects that she'll be making a return visit at some point.

These families need our prayers and support.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

All Politics Is 'Not' Local

Scrappleface gets to the heart of the matter.



Scott Ott produced this "fake" ad in response to the kerfuffle over the Michael J. Fox ad being run in Missouri. I don't usually get too involved in other issues here, but this was just too well done not to pass on. Today's education related posts are below.

HT: Michelle Malkin

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Did Dr. Phil Pull The Show?

It appears that Great School Debate on the Dr. Phil show may not be airing on October 27. (The show was a hack job on homeschooling.) I was preparing a post and wanted to include a link to the site. However, the scheduled show is no longer the Great School Debate but the New Orleans Scam? about Hurricane Katrina.


Maybe Kristen's story and Charles Lowers article got to the good doctor and he's feeling a little under the weather.

Anyone know more?

I received an email from guest, Carrie Lynn telling me about her experience. She was planning a rebuttal in Orlando this week. (Take a few minutes to read the story that landed her a spot on the show.)

From the comments Carrie Lynn said,


I was told the show was tentatively scheduled for Friday, October 27 and that if it changed they would call and tell me. They have not called, and "The Great School Debate" is not listed as the show on the 27th. I highly doubt the show was cancelled completely... though I do hope it was!

Carrie Lynn's rebuttal will take place in Orlando at the Orange County Library (downtown location in the Albertson Room) on Thursday, October 26, from 2:45 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

(HT: Tammy for the link to Kristen's story.)

Update: Valerie offers some commentary on Dr. Phil and TV talk shows here.

Update II: Jane chimes in with her experience.

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Teaching Grammar And Writing

There are two subjects I never had in my academic years, formal grammar and world history. At least one of them is making a comeback in the schools. The Washington Post reports that educators are teaching grammar once again. That's a good thing. My own foray into blogging has exposed how little grammar I actually know. It's been on the blog training for me. I still struggle with the difference between a comma and a semi-colon and more than a few commenters have corrected my apostrophe errors. I'm not embarrassed, I'm grateful for each and every correction. (Thank you!) And in response to the hostile grammar teachers...Yes! I can still homeschool my children!

Teaching grammar to my children has been a wonderful experience. Most of my children have gone through the Winston Grammar series. It's a method of diagramming sentences using cards to prompt the child and aid in mastering the principles of grammar. This method seemed to be especially useful with my boys. Daily Grams has served as a good review of grammar as well.

We also do dictation. Each week, I'll select a passage from their reading assignments and dictate each sentence. As I read the passage, they write it out. When I am finish reading, they will correct their own work using the passage. The Harp and the Laurel Wreath is also an excellent resource for dictation lessons.

Of course, the goal of any grammar is to produce well written work. I recently received The Gift of Family Writing by Jill Novak. Her inspiring book led me to think about writing in a whole new way. This blog is as close as I have come to keeping an actual journal. Her thoughts on family writing have made me realize just how important writing is in preserving our memories. I hope to employ some of her ideas in our family.

My son, Josh (14) said to me recently, "Mom, writing is actually easy when you know what you're talking about." That was just after finishing a small research paper on the Rosetta Stone. I thought it was sort of exciting and ironic, (in a weird mom sort of way) that he discovered the joy of writing while studying about ancient writing and hieroglyphics. Proof to me, how important good writing really is - not just for my children but for future generations.

Why Homeschooling shares a nifty little poem to remember the grammar rules.

Lori gives us the low down on semi colons and commas.

For more homeschooling information and tips, make sure you check out this week's Carnival of Homeschooling hosted by About Homeschooling.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Desperate Teenagers

Mom and dad, You've given me everything to live life with, but nothing to live life for.

That was a note a young girl left for her parents years ago, right before she committed suicide. Her parents shared their sad story on a radio broadcast years ago. I wasn't even married when I heard them speak, but their powerful message stuck with me.

If I haven't given my children something and Someone to live for beyond themselves, then no matter what material possession we provide or how well educated they are, it will never be enough.

I thought about that as I read about this senseless tragedy.

Our children need strong, loving parents to teach them right from wrong and to guide their heart to the One who will love them unconditionally. Without that, nothing else really matters all that much.

Testing Becomes An Election Issue

"Couple years ago one of my sons brought this quiz home, and the first question was 'What does the FCAT stand for?' "I won't repeat to you what I said because I used words I'm teaching my boys not to use. . . . We're going to stop using the FCAT to punish children, teachers and schools." - Jim Davis, Democrat Candidate for Governor in Florida
According to the Washington Post, high-stakes testing is becoming a prominent issue in the Texas and Florida governors race this year.

While many past education debates have dissolved into intangible issues of school finance, the testing critics believe that the issue may sway larger numbers of voters because the tests are having such pronounced and immediate effects on children.

"When parents are dealing with children vomiting on the morning of the tests and seeing other signs of test stress, they're going to be motivated at the voting booth," said Gloria Pipkin, the president of a testing watchdog group, the Florida Coalition for Assessment Reform.

"Texas and Florida are the poster children for excessive testing, and we're seeing an enormous backlash." "Our kids should be leading the world, and they're not going to get there by filling in little ovals all day long," Chris Bell, the Democratic challenger for Texas governor, says in a television ad.

I hope more candidates take note of this and begin to make it an issue in the future.

In Michigan, Republican challenger DickDeVos is silent on the testing issue. That's too bad, he's in a tight race and I think this is the type of issue that resonates with both Republican and Democrat parents. Jobs and education are the two biggest issue in our state. Exposing the way the state and federal government seek to use testing to "prepare for jobs in the global economy" would link the two very nicely.

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Saturday, October 21, 2006

One of those days...

This repost is dedicated to all the moms who have energetic boys and often wonder how they will ever make it through another day. Little boys eventually do grow up and become fine young men.

I have one son who, at times, seems to be a lightning rod for controversy. He has a very black and white approach to life. (I think that might be genetic!) This often creates a super charged atmosphere. He's grown into his temperment over the years. And while we still have conflicts he's now nearly 16 and by God's grace we have overcome a lot. But I'll never forget the time many years back....

It was a long day with 5 small children in the house. The temperature outside was near zero with a wind chill to match, going outside was not possible. I tried to keep them busy and active but my son just kept pushing the limits of his energy and my patience. Some days were pure survival. This was one of them. Even the "fun" things didn't seem to go well. Conflict and chaos seemed to rule the day. My son was the king of the chaos. I found myself getting more and more frustrated and probably raising my voice a few too many times. To be honest I just wanted it all to end. Anxiously, I kept my eye on the clock. (My husband was out of town.)

Finally, they were all in bed. I was exhausted. I made the rounds to each bed. Prayed and gave each a kiss and hug and shut the door on this "eventful "day. Hoping that tomorrow would be better.

"Mommy!" called my son.

"Go to bed." I shouted back.

"Mommy! I need to tell you something." He persisted.

"It will have to wait until tomorrow." I said determined not to give in.

"It can't, I have to tell you NNNOOOOWWWW!"

(An inner war began inside of me. Don't give it he'll manipulate you for life. Go ahead, one time won't matter. I stood there arguing with myself. My mother's heart eventually won.)

Opening his door, I said, "Okay, what is so important that you have to tell me tonight?"

He smiled undeterred by my harshness, "Do you know what I do every night after you give me a kiss and leave the room?" (My mind could think of a few things but I didn't want to give him any ideas.)

"I take your kiss and rub it into my heart for safe keeping. That's where I store all your kisses." (As he rubbed his hand on his mouth and then over his chest.)

My heart melted and I gave my son a few more kisses to store in his collection. Thankful that my mother's heart won this argument and so did my son.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Game of Tag

Tag is Out
Another elementary school has banned playing tag on the playground. along with "touch football and any other unsupervised chasing games over concerns about the risk of injury and liability for the school."

As I said once before, what can a child do on the playground that doesn't have the risk of injury? For that matter, everything in school has the potential for harm - from food poisoning in the cafeteria to riding the bus without a seat belt. Why stop at tag? For the good of the children, let's just ban public school.

Tag Is In
Another absurd educational decision comes from a Maryland high school where administrators are requiring students to wear color coded ID tags labeling them according to their academic interest and abilities...

...black for seniors, white for magnet kids and a particularly loud shade of yellow for students of limited English proficiency.

By color-coding children, school officials hoped to build a sense of identity -- and security -- in a school whose students have been divided into several smaller learning communities: maroon for future scientists, purple for diplomats in training, dark blue for entrepreneurs and so forth.

Didn't segregation by color end years ago? How in the world does this help their sense of security? And what if a young lady has no desire for a career and wants to just stay home and raise a family? What was the color for that?

School Principal Phillip Gainous said he thought they were doing a "good thing." by advertising the children's status. The students thought otherwise of the new policy. One student said the new policy, "tags us like dogs."

He's absolutely right.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

High School Today

Helen and Robert Lynd wrote in their famous study Middletown, that
"[H]igh school, with its athletic clubs,sororities, and fraternities, dances and parties, and 'extracurriculuar activities,' is a fairly complete social cosmos in itself...Today the school is becoming not a place to which children go from their homes for a few hours daily but a place from which they go home to eat and sleep.
That quote is from the late 1920's. Imagine what they would write today after taking a look at what these girls have to deal with in high school. (HT. Daryl)



High school not only becomes their social structure but shapes their very identity. But as the last young lady's comments reveal, all they really want is a relationship with their mom.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

"We just have to play along."

An insider's view of public education and the testing frenzy in our country,

What is happening is pandemic across the nation. Public education is under siege from state and federal politicos who are transforming what was once an arena of pure educational learning into a corporate state of testing.This allowed well -connected publishing companies to gorge themselves on public school dollars in a frenzied testing environment that has been sold as "accountability" to the unsuspecting public.

Local administrators are intimidated and fearful of losing money for their districts, maybe even losing their jobs if they resist.You can hear them saying submissively, "We just have to play along."

It isn't just the administrators, most parents just play along too. They're fearful that if they speak up against the idiocy of all the testing, their child's future will be in jeopardy. What they don't realize is that their child's future is in jeopardy because of all the testing.

As a aside, I visited with my state legislator for about half an hour on Monday. We chatted about many educational issues. He told me a few stories of parents who have made appeals to him for help with the hope that their children can be exempted from the test. Not surprisingly, their children are becoming visibly ill due to the stress caused by the elementary exam and the parents are concerned. I can understand their frustration, but why do they need their legislator's help? Just say no to the test. If enough parents say, "no," what can the state do? They're your children, you don't have to just "play along."

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Homeschooling Hacks

Shannon has started a new website called Homeschooling Hacks.
A hack is a clever solution to a problem. We know you've got lots of ingenious ideas for educating, engaging and exciting your children, so why not share them with the rest of us?
She is also this weeks host of the Carnival of Homeschooling. Always lots of good things to read.

Another great read is by Pastor Tony Sisk, Character Formation in Children. As a homeschooling father of four Tony admits,
I had made the assumption that since my children were homeschooled that good, godly character would naturally flow from that. I could not have been more wrong.
His article has lots of food for thought for parents no matter how their children are educated.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dr. Phil Update

For those who may still be wondering, I never got the call to go on Dr. Phil. But Charles Lowers at Considering Homeschooling was invited to be a part of the studio audience. He provides a recap in the October issue of his magazine.

We heard that Dr. Phil was planning a "homeschool" episode, so we applied to be part of the show. Even though our family does not watch television and I have never seen Dr. Phil, I did not expect much more than a hit piece on homeschooling - which was accurate...

[T]he mantra that Dr. Phil kept coming back to was his fear that homeschoolers would be ill-equipped to compete in the real world.

You can read the rest of the article here. This article does not mention when the show will air, but I probably wouldn't watch anyway.

Update: From the comments, Love2Learn Mom tells us that her friend was in the studio audience and the show will air Oct. 27.

(HT: Kelli)

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Large Family Logistics

Apparently, there's a growing trend toward having more children.
It's barely a blip on the nation's demographic radar - 11 percent of U.S. births in 2004 were to women who already had three children, up from 10 percent in 1995. But there seems to be a growing openness to having more than two children, in some case more than four.
In some suburban communities it's even considered a status symbol. There are a variety of reasons people decide to have a large family. But one interesting correlation is the number of large families who also homeschool.

Inevitably, after strangers note our large family size, they ask if we are also homeschoolers. Often following up next with, "How do you do it?"

It does seem sort of an odd paradox. Who'd want to take on the large assignment of homeschooling along with the avalanche of laundry. But in another way it isn't. With the increased work load, comes more workers.

Years ago, my daughter said to me after a messy craft project, "It's a good thing we homeschool mom. Who else would help you clean up the mess?" (Gee, I don't know.)

Granted, it took a few years of "slave labor" and deliberate training on our part to get to the point where we are today. My children's ages range from 17 down to 3. Despite the span of years, my children have a lot in common. They learn together and teach each other. Recently, when my two girls decided to make a pyramid out of sugar cubes, I found myself running back to the store for more sugar cubes. For some reason, my teenage boys found that a little more exciting than Algebra that morning. And just last week, my twelve year old daughter scrutinized the preschool options and decided Before Five in A Row was the best choice for "our" three year.

I admit I'm organizationally challenged. I was raised to run IBM not a household. It's literally been on the job training for me. There are a few resources and bloggers I have found helpful as I try to balance all the demands.

Titus 2 - Their book Managers Of Their Home (MOTH) is excellent.
Donna Young (Lots of printable planners and calendars.)
Large Family Logistics
Mommy Life (Barbara has 12 children.)
Life in a Shoe
and a new to me website looks fun and informative
Large Families

I'm always looking for more tips. How do other mothers with large families do it?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bringing Them Home

A letter from my inbox,

I am a mother of 4, three are of school age and enrolled in our local public school. They have always attended the public school. I have had the desire to homeschool for awhile now but have never done it. Here are some reasons why,

1. I think I might fail in it, I am not very organized and diligent so that is a red flag!

2. Another thing is I am afraid of the backlash of the school in which my children go too, I have had run ins with the principal at both schools and have complained to the school disctrict several times. They could make my life stressful if I chose to homeschool. Our state laws are not restrictive, but that doesn't mean they won't try to hinder my decision.

We are planning to move soon within the next year, should I wait until we move and then homeschool or should I withdraw them and do it now? At this current time my daughter's school has an armed police officer patrolling the hallways and grounds, to say the least I am not very fond of the idea, also they play inappropriate movies for the children such as "The Life Of Rapper Tupac" an MTV or VHI special (What in the world!!!) We don't let her watch videos or anything of this nature! but the school did! I could go on and on with all the problems I have with the public school system and the affect they have on my children but you probably know most of them. Please help me with my questions, I thank you so much! and Have a Blessed & Wonderful Day!

For the sake of this discusssion, I will assume that your husband is supportive of homeschooling and your questions are trying to settle things in your own mind. If he is unsupportive I would encourage you to follow his decision regarding their education.

I'm glad you have researched the laws in your state, that's important. It is best to consult with a homeschooling attorney or advocate knowledgable with the laws your state to determine what requirements there are for disenrolling. I would not blindly go by what the local district tells you. There are two national organizations that may help you in this regard, HSLDA and NHELD. Both are membership organizations.

The more information you have about your rights, the better you will be able to handle school administrators who try to hinder your decision.

With your husband, I would think about the goals you have for your family and each child this year. Think beyond just academic goals. Include character and spiritual goals as well. Prioritize the goals in order of importance. Use that as a guide to determine what you will do each day. A resource I have found helpful is Managers of their Home.

I would also encourage you to find a homeschooling family in the area that can help guide you through the many decisions and maybe even to help hold you accountable for your progress. Often when we start homeschooling we are harder on ourselves than we need to be. Your confidence will grow as you see your children learning, but there will be difficult days. Another mother's encouragement will help keep you focused on the bigger picture and your long term goals.

If I were in your situation, I would not hesitate to pull them out now. Especially if you feel that the environment is not appropriate. I would also explain to your children why you have come to this decision. If you do decide to bring them home, don't try and compete with the schools by telling them this will be "more fun." Give them time to accept the decision without trying to convince them. Your confidence and a joyful attitude will be the most effective attributes to persuade them that this is the best for them.

And most importantly, pray. The reassurance that comes from knowing that our Lord is guiding your decisions will be your best support system. One of my favorite scriptures is from Isaiah 54:13
Your children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.
Teach them to love the Lord and serve one other. If they leave home knowing how to do those two things, your homeschooling will be a success.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

Parental Notification

A fourteen year old girl was pulled out of class by the Secret Service after she posted threatening remarks about President Bush on her blog. Federal law prohibits making death threats against the President. Apparently, the girl didn't know that. The parents admit they had no idea what she wrote and say what she did was wrong. But they are also upset with the school and the Secret Service.

The couple are disturbed, however, that federal agents questioned a child at school -- without her parents present. And First Amendment lawyers question whether the Secret Service over-reacted to a 14-year-old's comments on a Web site made for casual socializing.

"I don't condone what she did, but it seems a little over the top to me," said Julia's father, Jim Moose. "You'd think they could look at the situation and determine that she's not a credible threat."

I think after Columbine and 9/11 the bar is pretty low for a "credible threat." But why did it take the Secret Service coming to their home to notify them about what was on her blog? Why weren't they checking up on it themselves? As far as being upset the actions of the Secret Service, according to Assistant Principal Paul Belluomini,

he usually does not notify parents when law enforcement officials come to school to interview students. "Parents usually interfere with an investigation, so we usually don't notify them until it's done," he said.

Sacramento City Unified School District policy calls for parents to be notified but doesn't say whether it should happen before or after a student is interviewed. State law doesn't require parental notification.

"Parents usually interfere..."

Isn't that a comforting thought from a school administrator. Of course parents "interfere"! Isn't it their job to know what's going on with their children? But I guess the state has to be consistent, if they don't notify parents about mental exams, or abortion counseling, what harm could a little police interrogation do? Parents when will you finally understand the state is not your partner in public education, they're your boss?

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Shadow Of Death

"Mommy today is a sad day." said my three year old Elaina.

"Why is that?" I reply.

"Look, the trees are all crying. " (She points out the window as the leaves drop by the barrel to the ground.)

I try to explain to her that the leaves are dying but the life of the tree will continue. I don't think she really understood. In time, she will.

But it is a sad day. And not just because it is fall and winter is only two days away.

My dearly beloved Dell has died. Born in the fall of 2001 in a small home with too many kids, Dell lived a good and quiet life for many years. That is until January of 2005, when blogging jolted her peaceful existence into a fenzy of hard labor. Dell tried hard to keep up. But as the family blogging empire grew, the wear on poor Dell became obvious. Amazingly, Dell never complained. She handled the daily beatings like a war hardened Marine.

Suddenly, last week, she developed a nasty cough. A virus was supposed. The family called world renowned Dr. Norton, but his diagnosis was unclear. Desperate for answers, an expert surgeon was called in and the family began praying for a miracle. Skillfully, the surgeon peered through the window of her soul and discovered a corrupted artery deep in her bowels. After a transplant and a necessary transfusion of software, sweet little Dell arrived safely back in the lap of her family. But the rejoicing was short lived. Today, a fatal error flashed across the screen. After two abrupt coughs and a heavy sigh, the screen went blank. Without warning she was gone. Frantically, the surgeon was summoned again in the hopes that he could perform CPR on the aging CPU. With deep regret he informed the family that he could do no more without incurring a great expense. He dutifully informed the surviving relatives that if there were Universal Computer Care Coverage this would all be taken care and encouraged a call to Hillary Clinton. In a state of disbelief, the family politely thanked him for his suggestion and sent him on his way.

A private service will be held for the immediate family. Cremation will take place at the city dump next Tuesday. (Vital organs will be donated.) In place of flowers, the family is requesting donations be sent to your favorite charity in the name of SpunkyHomeschool. (However, if anyone has a spare computer sitting around, alternative arrangements can be made.)

Yes, it is a sad day. However, just like the trees of fall, the life of SpunkyHomeschool will continue. I may not understand how right now, but in time I know I will.

(Note: To avoid confusion for those who know my mom, it wasn't that Del.)

Meet Me At The Police Station

Homeschoolers in North Carolina are asked to voluntarily meet with the Department of Non Public Education (DPNE)...at the police station. And they want you to bring the kids too! (Maybe this is their idea of a fun field trip.) Steve Sensenig blogged about the letter. It closes with the statement,
We greatly appreciate the North Carolina home schooling community's cooperation in meeting with us and look forward to hearing from you within the next ten days.
They wouldn't be hearing from me. This is absurd! Marie asks a great question, why does any state need a department of non public education? I also agree with her when she said, knowing the law in your state will keep you from falling for such idiotic requests.

Update: Cobranchi gets the job done. DPNE agrees the idea was dumb.

In other news,

Robert Lindsey is wondering what's going on. There was a young man near his home who brought an AK-47 to school.

In a bit of good news, Abraham Cherrix believes he is cancer free and skips his chemo. He'll be coming home this week.

This is also a nice bit of news, more colleges are making the ACT or SAT optional.

Is penmanship "old school?" Here at Spunky's we still teach cursive. Do you?

Public speaking will never be "old school." Building on the principles of Charlotte Mason, Linda Fay explains how she teaches the art of elocution.

John Stossel is always worth a read. He's wondering what ever happened to personal responsibility?

Brent Bozell looks at the selective outgrage of some politicians when our children are involved.

Ms Magazine boasts about one of the worst forms of child abuse ever.

It used to be the parents job to make sure their kids graduated. Now we need to hire graduation coaches.

Kim reminds us that there are just a few days left. You don't want to miss your chance.

Carnival of Homeschooling is up at the Nerd Family.

Carnival of Education is up at Edwonks.

I finally have my computer back and I've blazed through my in-box of stuff. But my computer has a fatal defect so there's no telling how long it will live. If I've missed something or if you have something you think other readers need to know about, feel free to leave a comment. I still have a few email questions that need to be answered. I hope to get to those soon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Rise of the Testing Culture

Are we becoming a nation fixated with testing and measurable results? The Wasington Post is taking a closer look at that question. In the first installment in a series, Valerie Strauss takes a look at the rise of the testing culture in America. Are we becoming a nation obsessed with testing? One teacher, who runs an alternative preschool, trains three and four year old children in how to fill in ovals on a test sheet in preparation for kindergarten.

"They have to pass a standardized test from the second they get in. I saw kindergartners who weren't used to taking a test, and they fell apart, crying, saying they couldn't do it.

"The child who can sit and answer the questions correctly is identified as talented," Lee said. "It hurts me to have to do this, but it hurts the kids if I don't."

Ugh! What hurts the development of a young child is not failing to learn how to fill in bubbles on a test sheet, but failing to spend time blowing bubbles in the backyard!

My fourteen year old son just said the other day,
You know you're getting old when you can remember being young.
What will be the memories of these poor children who've been drilled their whole lives in the testing culture? No one I know likes all the emphasis on testing, so why are parents tolerating it? What will be the tipping point when parents finally say, "Enough is enough?" They are our children, why are we letting the government regulate and steal their childhood?

"Stop Reading Your Bible in School"

That's what one seventh grade student was told by her school principal.
"Amber's a new Christian, and she's trying to learn all she can," said Maryann Mangum, the girl's mother. "She reads her Bible and she goes to Sunday school. . . . It really upset me when she was not allowed to read it on her own time."
After unsuccessfully trying to resolve the issue with the principal, the family has filed a lawsuit through the Rutherford Institute.
The institute's president, John W. Whitehead, said yesterday that the law is clear and that Amber's rights were violated. He said the lawsuit does not specifically seek monetary damages but rather that a judge declare that students cannot be barred from reading the Bible during free time at school.
Why would any school object to a child reading the Bible on her own time? If Harry Potter is okay in the library, shouldn't the Bible be allowed in the lunch room too? Why do we need a court case to decide this? Two words - outsourcing parenthood.

This is the kind of absurdity that occurs when the state begins to believe it has the compelling interest in our children's lives.

(Thanks to reader Luis for the tip.)

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K-Dad Network

Did you know that attorney Scott Somerville has gone solo? He's left HSLDA and is now directing his attention full-time toward husbands and fathers. Homeschooling is a difficult job where much of the daily workload is shouldered by the mother. But homeschooling is not just "women's work." Scott hopes to encourage fathers to understand their vital role in homeschooling and raising a Godly family. He hopes to accomplish this through his work at Lampstand Press and also at his blog K-Dad Network. Today, he's spotlighted my post From Honeymoon to Happpy Home. (Thanks Scott!)

To find out why Scott called his blog K-Dad, click here.

Scott's wife, Marcia, is the author of our curriculum, Tapestry of Grace. They are continuing their public speaking together at various conferences around the country.

The Somerville's heart for encouraging homeschoolers is contagious. They have finished their "formal" homeschooling and have raised their six children well. Scott and Marcia now turn their focus on helping other families do the same. I have learned a great deal from them just by using Tapestry of Grace. I look forward to learning even more through Scott's blog. And maybe even find a way to coax these Virginia southerners to the great white north.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Federalization Is Not The Answer

So says Michael Smith, President of HSLDA in today's Washington Times,

In this era of globalization, the education debate has taken on new urgency. How are we going to compete globally if our public schools continue to produce poor quality students?

Moving the federal government into the role of educator in chief has no chance of improving the education standards of the nation's children. Our overall education policy has to change if we want our children to be literate and self-sufficient when they graduate from high school.

I'm glad to see HSLDA jumping into the fray on the important issue of national testing and reforms. The Times article itself isn't going to be new information to regular readers of this blog, but it is a decent summary of how things are moving toward federalized education.

He does have one quote without notation,
The research shows that the closer an education method resembles a home school, the better the results.
Does anyone know what research he is referring to? Or what sort of "results" were measured?

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Family Values For All of Us

E.J. Dionne wants to start a national dialogue on "family values" for all of us. As a liberal, he's concerned about the repugnant behavior of Republican Congressman, Mark Foley. He hopes to shake politicans out of their political posturing and start thinking as concerned parents.


We need to have a long talk about the meaning of "family values."

Like just about every parent I know, I was horrified by this episode because I couldn't believe that the politicians involved didn't themselves react first as parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles -- rather than as politicians -- when they learned about Foley's special interest in a page...

"Family values" is more than a political slogan to be pulled off the shelf at election time.

I have to say, Dionne's right in one respect, it was surprising to watch politicians fret over how this will hurt them in November more than how this will hurt our society. His reminder to think as a parent first is a good one. But what I would like to ask Mr. Dionne is why now? Why is it acceptable to engage in a discussion of "family values" today as opposed to...oh say, in 1972 when Roe -vs- Wade was decided? Or the mid '80's when then Attorney General Meese held his Commission on Pornography? Why now and not then?

The answer is obvious. Back then those were the issues of the "intolerant" moral majority seeking to push their archaic values on enlightened society. Amazingly, in the click of an instant message, the moral threshold of some previously "tolerant" liberals was suddenly violated and family values are in vogue.

Everyone has a threshold in which they will finally stand up and say, "This is wrong." It's nice to know that a few liberals have finally reached their moral limit on deviant behavior.

Most Christian conservatives reached their threshold long ago. To us, there are clear, immovable boundaries based on a Biblical standard. That isn't to say they are followed by all Christians every time, but the standard doesn't change because Christians fail to follow them. The Ten Commandments are still the same today, despite the fact that many Christians have committed murder or adultery. Sex outside of marriage is wrong no matter what the age difference. Marriage is between one man and one woman. Life begins at conception. There is only one God. Period.

So as a Christian conservative, it is easy to see why I find Mr. Foley's behavior repugnant. But to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure I understand why liberal secularists do.

It's curious to me, that liberals find lewd virtual messages between a homosexual politician and a student absolutely intolerable, but a teacher in a video message teaching minor students how to put on a condom using a wooden "prop" and in-class talks on sexual preferences are considered responsible school policy. Why is a physician performing an abortion on a pregnant teen girl and instantly murdering a baby compassionate? But a politician's graphic virtual overtures with a page through instant messaging corrupt?

In a morally relative universe I suppose this makes perfect sense. Standards are arbitrary, based on popular opinion and personal convenience. Liberal secularists want to live and play by the rules until the rules infringe upon some new desire. Instead of changing their behavior, they change the rules and redefine right and wrong.

Marriage is no longer a union between one man and one woman joined in a holy convenant, but any two (or more) consenting adults who commit to a partnership joined by a state contract. A baby is not human until they are "viable" before then they are a fetus easily discarded. By doing so, liberal secularists attempt to legitimize their behavior and rid themselves of the accompanying guilt. They also demand that others accept their behavior as normal and those who don't are "intolerant." Consequently, our nation's moral foundation suffers another crack and we move another step toward complete moral collapse.

Foley's behavior hopefully exposes the lie that we can just live by our own desires and make up the rules as we go along. Some liberal secularists have reached the end of their moral rope and cry, "Let's have a little restraint please!" Concerned liberal parents like E. J. Dionne, now see the wisdom of having boundaries and want to discuss "family values" with moral conservatives. His approach is predictably very liberal.

And let economic liberals and moral conservatives come together to discuss how our society has made it more difficult for parents to do the job right. The family values issues that we can do the most about through government and private-sector policies include how we organize work, how we provide for parental leave, how we schedule the school day, how we guarantee medical benefits -- in short, how we can make it easier for mothers and fathers alike to juggle their responsibilities.
Parenting is a difficult job, I agree. And the points Dionne raises about work and school schedules are all topics worthy of attention. But is that the best starting point for a dialogue on family values? Shouldn't we begin by defining our principles before we decide public policy? Let's begin by examining the phrase "family values." What is a family? And what do we value?

Mr. Dionne, I don't question your sincerity in helping parents or your apparent interest in "family values." I question your definitions and those of the members of Congress. I'm concerned about politicians and pundits who think that "family leave" is a "family value" worth supporting, but marriage between one man and one woman and parental notification in minor abortions are not.

So until society can agree on the definition of "family values," a public policy that encourages them will never be for all of us.

The American Thinker posted a thoughtful article today on the same topic, The Foley Flap and the Honor Wars. It's worth a read.

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Saturday, October 07, 2006

If you give someone enough rope

they'll eventually hang themselves. That's the thought that came to mind when I read this quote today,

Many times homeschooled children have a very difficult time accepting the views of others when those views differ from their own - which tends to make them rather
intolerant of competing practices. - Dr. Jim West
That's the same Dr. West who didn't allow dissenting comments on his blog! So who's intolerant of competing practices? He has a few more choice quotes here.

His comments aside, the Cape Cod Voice (tip: click on text to make it readable) has devoted a whole issue to the pros and cons of homeschooling, you may want to take a look. It's lengthy and I haven't read it all yet, so let me know what you think.

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Assumptions That Affect This Blog

It occurred to me the other day after reading a few comments that readers may be coming here with some flawed assumptions. Their ability to understand and enjoy what is written could be severely hampered and they could reach some equally flawed conclusions. Let's examine a few of them,

Assumption #1
I blog to try and convince people to homeschool.
Let me publically state again, I am not a homeschool evangelist. (I explain that more in this post.) I didn't start this blog to try and convert people to homeschooling. I believe that if someone can talk you into something, someone else can talk you out of it. I hope people base their decisions on the Truth found in God's word not on the words of a blogger. I will help all who are looking for information on education and homeschooling, but I don't make it my life's purpose or the practice of this blog to convince you to do anything. If you are interested, my actual reasons for starting this blog can be found here and here.

Assumption #2
I will be fair and balanced when I discuss education.
Coming to SpunkyHomeschool and asking me to promote the public schools would be like asking Pizza Hut to give you a taco. It ain't gonna happen. So if you're a public school parent looking for encouragement in your decision, you're barking up the wrong blog. You'll leave frustrated and maybe even angry. My blog is a personal space where I write the things that I believe about education and challenge myself to examine for areas of weakness. It helps me grow. If I only kept my opinions to myself, then there would be no growth for me. And besides, are anyone's opinions fair and balanced?

Assumption #3
Post or comments are said in a harsh and critical tone.
This is actually something I apply to all blog reading. I never assume anyone's tone is harsh or critical. As best as I humanly can, I attempt to read all comments objectively without any emotion at all. I assume ALL things people share with me are said kindly. Otherwise, I would always be using their tone as an excuse not to hear the TRUTH they may be sharing. I take what they tell me back to the Lord in prayer. The kernal of Truth that the Lord wants me to hear will become known, and the rest will fall like chaff to the ground.

This practice keeps me concentrating on WHAT someone is saying regardless of HOW they say it. I have found that some of the people that at first seemed the harshest in their words to me, were the ones who actually cared the most. They cared enough to tell me the TRUTH. This helps me concentrate on the words spoken and not how they are said.


That's actually why I enjoy blogging and the exchange of ideas so much. People will tell me exactly what they think. I'm challenged and I hope they are as well.

I write with a bit of sarcasm and humor. (Okay maybe a bit more than a bit of sarcasm.) And I'll admit that some of the things I write are oten hard to hear, but they are never written in an angry or harsh tone. I hope that readers can accept that as true, in the same way as I accept that their comments are said in a similar way.

Now with that cleared up, I hope we can both enjoy our experience here at SpunkyHomeschool.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Thank You to CWO

Thank you to Darlene for reprinting my article, Don't Bend the Wire in the October issue of Christian Woman Online .

This online e-zine is truly a blessing to me and many others. I'm humbled and excited to contribute my special story to encourage other parents who are seeking to raise Godly children, especially during the teen years.

Other contributors in this issue are some of my favorite bloggers including Kim of Large Family Logistics, Ann at Holy Experience, and Heather at Mom 2 Mom Connection and a few others I'm just getting to know. I'm honored to be among such a talented group of writers.

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Harry Potter and Parents

Mom wants Harry Potter out of the school.

Laura Mallory is not a Harry Potter fan, and she isn't giving up the fight to have the popular character taken out of elementary school. She says the series may encourage reading, but it also encourages witchcraft and evil.

"They are my most precious thing in the whole wide world to me and I don't want them indoctrinated into a religion whose practices are evil," said Mallory.

I admire her convictions, but honestly if she's worried about Harry Potter in her elementary school just wait until high school. Read the account of this recent high school graduate,

[S]chools now avoid mentioning Christianity like the plague (that is unless it is being added that Christianity is responsible for racism, sexism, imperialism and homophobia). But they are not cleared of religion in general, inasmuch as public education is now submerged in the religion of liberalism and militant secularism.

[T]he effect that the hegemonic liberal ambience had on the students is undeniable. But hey, at least now we all know how to put a condom on a banana.

Teachers aren't so willing to just give in to a parent's demands just because they're your children either. According to this high school teacher, parents like Mallory need to understand the pecking order.

I -- like so many teachers, parents, and administrators -- have a vested interest in what's best for students in today's public school systems. What I discovered during my recent stint teaching high school English, however, is that students and their parents frequently ignore or, worse, harshly question this interest.

[P]arents, somewhere along the line, they seem to have gotten the implicit or explicit message from administrators that, because they pay taxes for their child to attend public school, they are somehow entitled to unprecedented influence over what their child will learn at that school.

Rather than seeking meaningful teacher-parent dialogue, they seemed intent on rejecting my plan, and that of the State of California, to teach their kids.

Lovely attitude for a teacher of your children isn't it? But remember parents, the fact that you gave birth to them doesn't give you the compelling interest in their education any longer. You're just one interest among many. How dare you question the teacher! The ninth circuit court believes that anything that is in the best interest of the state is in your child's best interest too. Since the Supreme Court refused to hear the case on appeal this week, that's the legal precedent schools will now follow -from practicing Muslim prayers to Harry Potter. (HT: Laura)

My advice to Mallory if she's going to keep her children in the school is to teach them how to reject such things, not demand that the school reject them for her. They won't. She's much too low on the pecking order and Harry Potter is just too popular. Of course, there's always the homeschool option.

In other education news,

Lawmaker wants teachers to carry guns in schools.
A state lawmaker, worried about a recent string of deadly school shootings, suggested arming teachers, principals and other school personnel as a safety measure and a deterrent.
I can't see this ever passing. It's ironic, in the good old days all you had to do was hang a paddle on the wall and that stopped most kids from misbehaving. Maybe they ought to try that again. (HT: Jodi)

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Examining the Homeschool Option

As the Amish privately grieve and mourn the loss of their children, many others are taking a second look at the homeschool option.

It's been a horrible couple of weeks for public schools, with fatal shootings in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Wisconsin. We've also heard stories of teachers sexually abusing their students. It's all got parents questioning the safety of public schools, and taking a closer look at homeschooling.
I have also received several emails from parents seeking advice because of recent events. Parents are worried and justifiably so. They no longer believe that this would never happen in their quiet little school or community.

When we made the decsion to homeschool, school safety was hardly a factor. But if we were faced with making the decision to homeschool today, I am sure their safety would definitely weigh heavily in our minds. And not just from the physical harm they may face, but from the perspective of what type of environment my children are presented with on a daily basis. Julie, a parent with children in the public school, wrote in a comment,

I have many reasons for sending my children to public school, and they are just as important to me as the reasons you home school your children are to you. My children's schools have armed guards. We do have a large police force driving around our schools. We are in a very affluent community where we pay high taxes and get what we pay for. We have a huge volunteer force at our schools, including off duty military (we live very near an Air Force Base) and police people who eat lunch with out kids, sit at the entrance to our schools, and other security related tasks. Our PTAs have raised money to install security cameras at our schools, because we live in an affluent area and can afford it. This is about our nation as a whole. And our nation is only as strong as our education system. And while home schooling works great for you, there are many families for whom it won't work. And don't we need to fight for their kids, too?
Do I really want my children learning in an environment where there are armed guards at the door, wondering who may accidentally get in? That's not a slam against the public schools, they have to do what they have to do. But parents have to ask themselves, is this really the best learning environment for their children?

Further, a nation with that much security at a public school is no longer really free. I pity the children who grow up thinking that the only way to be safe is because a police officer is nearby. How far we have fallen as a nation and how very sad that we have accepted this as normal and necessary.

Julie, I agree that an educated citizenry is necessary for a strong nation. However, there is something even more vital to the over all strength of our nation - freedom. Our nation is only as strong as our nation is free. A police state in our schools doesn't bode well for the future freedoms of our great nation. Indeed every single one of us should be fighting to ensure that our children enjoy the same freedom that we do. Your ability to provide armed guards in your schools, doesn't speak to your community's wealth but our country's moral poverty.

Speaking of the need for educated citizens, it seems that our children are not learning the facts that made our country great. According to a recent report issued by ISI, 14,000 freshman and seniors at some of our country's best universities flunked a 60 question test in basic American history. The state obviously understands that it is easiest to take away freedom from those who don't know its true value.

Stephen Jacoby wrote more about the study in his article, Dumbing Down Democracy He appropriately quotes Thomas Jefferson who wrote in 1816,
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
And for those who may be considering the homeschool option, don't miss the Carnival of Homeschooling. You'll find lots of inspiration and information to get your started.

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Cons of Homeschooling

After reading my post from last January, the Pros and Cons of Homeschooling, Beth left a comment on Monday,

I see everyone's points about the pros, but I think the only people responding are those who homeschool or are at least proponents. I am a high school French teacher and I have yet to see a con listed that states the obvious. Many parents aren't capable of teaching all the subjects necessary for a complete education. Unless the parent is fluent in a foreign language, has a full biology/chemistry/physics lab in their home and has mastered the highest level of calculus, how can the children be prepared for the next level? I understand that elementary school students could benefit, but what happens to the older students who eventually surpass their parents' capabilities? And as for the tests . . . The same applies. A parent may think the child is doing a great job, but there's no way to measure it. One parent's perspective is not necessarily another's.I know you must all be thinking I'm missing the point, but I am a Christian parent who believes in all the same standards as you. The only difference is that I also can see the benefits of all the great knowledge held by competent teachers.
This is a common concern echoed by many in their arguments against homeschooling, so I didn't want to leave it unanswered. However, since my computer has crashed, my ability to answer comments has been limited. If anyone would like to take a shot at answering Beth's concerns please be my guest.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Conference on School Violence

After three school shootings in a week, the Bush administration will host a national conference on school violence next week,
The Bush administration will host a conference next week to discuss the recent string of school violence across the country, the White House said Monday. Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the conference will bring together education and law enforcement officials to talk about the nature of the problem and federal action that can help communities prevent violence and deal with its aftermath.
Any guess what their "cure" will be? My guess, more federal involvment and intrusion into our private lives. Federal laws and regulation will never be able to stop someone bent on doing evil but that won't stop politicians and lawmakers from trying anyway. I wonder if any parents will be invited? After all, whose children are they?

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Gunman Was Homeschooled

Charles Carl Roberts IV, the gunman in yesterdays shooting at an Amish school was homeschooled.

Charles Carl Roberts IV was married with three children and drove a milk truck. The son of a police officer, he didn't attend public schools, instead earning a diploma through a home-school association.
In a statement his wife Marie said,

"The man who did this today was not the Charles I've been married to for almost 10 years," she said. "My husband was loving, supportive, thoughtful - all the things you'd always want, and more."

"Our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered and we grieve for the innocence and the lives that were lost today. "Above all, please pray. Pray for the families who lost children. And please pray, too, for our family and children."

A local fireman had this to say after the senseless shooting,

"This is the last place you would expect this to happen," said the man, who asked he not be identified. "There is no place more helpless than an Amish schoolhouse.
They were defenseless."

Update: There are some in the comments who are wondering why I would post that the gunman is homeschooled. Daryl said,

Surely his educational background is irrelevant. We criticize the MSM when they bring these irrelevant facts to the fore. And yet you do the same?

That's a legitimate criticism and something I thought about before posting. This is a small town, in a highly regulated homeschooled state. The idea that this could be used to increase regulation especially in a state like PA is why I posted it.

I don't see his method of education as being completely irrelevant either. Maybe not for attempting to explain why he did it. But how we are brought up affects us as adults. It's naive to think it doesn't. That's why many of us homeschool in the first place.

Homeschooling was a part of his upbringing. I wanted parents to know that just because we homeschool doesn't mean our children are immune from the temptations that affect all human nature. This man held a grudge since he was 12. Homeschooling is about more than just academics, it's about guarding our children's hearts and watching for signs of anger and bitterness. If they are not dealt with they can trigger awful behavior down the road. While not necessarily in such extreme measures, certainly in many unintended consequences.

There are some in the homeschool community who believe that homeschooling will guard against such things. It doesn't. That is the work of our Lord alone. While I am a strong advocate for homeschooling, it isn't the cure all for society's problems that many want to think it is.

In saying all that, I don't hold his parents responsible for not dealing with something that may have happened in his past, that triggered this. I'm sure his parents are regular folks who did the best they could for their son.There are also those within homeschooling and parenting circles who believe that a parent who does it all a certain way will produce a "well behaved and obedient child" who never does wrong. And if they do have a child who goes wayward, it is the fault of their bad parenting. Many homeschoolers fall for this lie. Parenting is more than just homeschooling and following the latest "how to" manual.

And yes, I do know that the media could pick up on this and use it to their advantage. I'd rather play offense than defense any day. His actions aren't the fault of his homeschooling as the media may portray it. This man alone is responsible for his awful acts.

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