Saturday, April 28, 2007

My Lips are Sealed

I try to shop during school hours, because it minimizes the chance that I'll have to deal with screaming children and their screaming mothers. But as many as there are of both these days, it's impossible to avoid all of them.

Sometimes, when I can't get through the store aisle because of a child having a tantrum on the floor while his mom ignores him, it's tempting to offer her a bit of advice. These days, however, a well-meaning, experienced mom is taking a chance if she does so.

Case in point: a few towns south of here, a middle-aged couple apparently offered a parenting tip to a couple with three children (one of whom inspired the parenting tip), and here's how the younger couple responded:

According to police and a store security videotape, Chairez and Salinas lashed out, punching and kicking the other couple and leaving blood on the jewelry counter.

The wife was thrown to the floor and dragged by her hair. The husband was knocked to the ground by Chairez and then kicked repeatedly by Salinas. He suffered broken fingers, four broken ribs and a damaged spleen.

I notice there's a mention of a possible racial slur made at some point during the confrontation. That was not in the edition of the paper I received this morning, and it's not my point here anyway. My point is, the next time I see a child climbing up grocery shelves, pitching a fit on the floor or kicking my cart, I will continue on, swallowing the words I want to say, because I want neither broken bones nor my blood found on the jewelry counter.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Packrat's Quandary

I was in the basement tonight digging through box after box of homeschool books (looking for used textbooks to sell) when I discovered that I still have a lot of my son's completed schoolwork down there. He graduates from college in two's probably safe to get rid of that stuff now, don't you think? :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fighting the April Doldrums

April is such a nice time of year. It’s when the change of season kicks in, and somehow everything seems new again……unless you’re a homeschooling parent suffering from the April doldrums. Then April may also bring overwhelming boredom with the routine you’ve been in for months.

To make matters worse, there’s the added pressure of May being just around the corner, with its science fairs, project fairs, scout events, Sunday school ceremonies, graduations…you get the picture.

We can talk about May next month, but for now let’s think about why April can be the pinnacle of hum-drum for the homeschooler. Judging from my own experience and the comments I hear from some homeschooling moms, one major cause of April doldrums is becoming bored with the books and routine that we’ve been using all year.

Let’s face it, the stuff we’re using (with a few exceptions) looked a whole lot more exciting last spring at the homeschool convention vendor hall than it does right now. Our hopes and dreams of how any given book or resource would work with our child has now been touched (or tainted?) by reality. The thrill is gone.

We need to remember that there’s no law that says our children must finish an entire book by May or June. That’s an idea that comes from our school experience, but even the schools don’t always finish the books by summer vacation. That explains why I never learned about World War II during my entire K-12 experience; we always ran out of school year before we got to the end of the history books. Somewhere around World War I, we hit June, and that was that. So if you and your child are bogging down in a boring book, cut it loose! It’s not against the law to do so.

Some homeschooling moms have another problem: their child raced through the textbook already. I’ve had moms ask me what math book I recommend that they buy to keep their child busy through June, now that the child has finished the Grade X textbook. I always tell them not to start with another math book until fall, unless they plan on doing school through the summer (which is not a bad idea, by the way). Instead, I suggest taking a break from math, or whatever the subject is that they’ve “finished.” The child did the work; now let her have fun doing something else.

The April doldrums can be overcome by changing your routine and the books that you use. If you’ve run out of books (i.e. your child is done with them), that’s not a bad thing, but an opportunity. Consider it permission for you to try something new.

What might you try? How about a different type of homeschooling? If you’ve been using a formal curriculum, why not try unit studies for a month? Maybe you’ve always been curious about the Charlotte Mason method; a Google search will reveal many Web sites where this method is presented and discussed. You could try a couple of the ideas you find at those sites.

Or if your children have a full slate of activities planned for May, such as those I listed above, maybe you should try a month of unschooling. Let your children have a break from formal studies for a while.

Spring is the perfect time for relaxed studies. Grab a bucket and a magnifying glass and take your brood to a local park with a pond, or near a river. Scoop up a bucket of water, and let everyone observe what’s going on in it. Check out the changes in the trees and landscaping. Spread out a blanket, have a picnic, and then let everyone sketch their surroundings.

Too cold for a picnic? Declare a free reading day! Bring home an armful of read-aloud books from the public library to read to younger children, and let older children choose something that will keep their attention for a while.

What about a game day? Dig out any fun educational games you have (borrow some from friends if you need to) and spend a stormy spring morning playing them. One of the few thrills I recall from my many years of public school boredom was when our teacher split the class into two teams and we played baseball. The four corners of the room were bases, and we scored runs by answering a math question or spelling a word correctly. You can do the same thing at home if you have several children, or you can import a few of your children’s friends so you have enough kids to make teams. Be sure to ask age-appropriate questions so that every batter has a good chance for a run.

Whatever you decide to do to change your routine is not as important as actually following through on your decision. It will be good for your children and you to try some new activities, and it will help you escape those April doldrums. It will also help you rest up before May, which has become one of the busiest months of the year for many homeschoolers.

And who knows? Maybe by trying something new in April, you’ll decide you prefer your new way of doing things and you’ll want to stick with it. That happens to many homeschoolers; they start out educating more formally, and they slowly become more relaxed. That’s what happened to me, and it’s one of the reasons I’m still at it after nearly twenty years. Maybe trying something new this month will help you and your family in the long run, too.

Copyright 2007 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

Note: this post was first published in this month's issue of "The Imperfect Homeschooler" newsletter. Free subscription here.

Buzz On Over.....

This week is the "Bee Edition" of the Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted by Sprittibee. Buzz on over there for some thought-provoking posts. And if you're wondering what exactly a blog carnival is, Sprittibee explains that first. :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

More Thoughts About College

I pruned my raspberry bushes in the beautiful spring weather this afternoon. Working in the yard is one of the best ways to get my brain going, when no one is around to interrupt my thoughts.

That’s where I was when I began reflecting on my recent posts about college, and specifically about my own kids and college. I’ve written before about the struggle my eldest and I went through once she told me she had no interest in going to college. That was several years ago. In fact, it’s been six years since she finished homeschooling. She has worked full-time ever since, and while she has not yet found the kind of work that makes her happy and pays its way, she loves living on her own, which was one of her primary goals.

Meanwhile, in the five years since my son finished homeschooling, he has been working towards his college degree, and we are all happy for him because he graduates in a few weeks. This is not the end of his formal education, however; in August he will enroll in a Lutheran seminary, where he will begin three more years of classes (plus a year of vicarage).

So we’ve had a wide range of college viewpoints going on in our family, from adamantly opposed to college to thriving in the college atmosphere. The past six years have taught us a lot about the whole college issue. Boiling it down to several salient points:

College is not for everyone. Many young people, including my daughter, want to experience life outside of the classroom, not within it. Often, the work that interests them does not require a degree. Also, many are autodidacts like my daughter. She inhales books of all kinds because she wants to, not simply because they were assigned.

College is just what some people need. My son has thrived in the atmosphere of the small Lutheran college he attends. He has made contacts he will need as he goes about his life’s work. He has learned a lot, which was the whole point. And he cannot reach his goal of becoming a Lutheran pastor without a bachelor’s degree.

College is incredibly expensive. I say this as the mother of an intelligent and outgoing son who earned a lot of money in scholarships and grants and yet is graduating with a frightening amount of debt….and may have to rack up more before he’s finished with seminary. My daughter works with people who graduated owing thousands and who were unable to find work in their major. They earn the same money as she does (some earn less), but they have to pay back that debt in addition to all the usual monthly expenses.

College should not be the only option considered. In the years since I attended college, the way our society views college has gone from “nice if you can afford it” to “an absolute necessity.” This is patently untrue, but the result of this change in outlook has resulted in kids who have no business being there being pushed into college. That’s why so many colleges now have to offer remedial reading and remedial math.

College does not equal success. There are plenty of people in this world who have done very well for themselves without a college diploma, and many others who turned out to be failures despite having one.

Attending college is not an indicator of homeschooling success. Young people who have trouble understanding what they read or putting two numbers together are getting into colleges these days. Homeschooling parents should set their sights higher than merely bringing up future college students; raising young people with moral character, a concern for others and a wide range of abilities is a worthier goal, and if said young people decide to go to college, they’ll be a good influence on the other students they meet there.

Monday, April 23, 2007

What Exactly Is a College Education These Days?

My thoughts about the need for and value of going to college have been turned upside down over the past several years. Although dd23 likes to take credit for that (having forced me to accept that she didn't want to go to college for some pretty valid reasons), the fact is that what's happening in many American colleges and universities these days also deserves some credit.

Dr. Walter E. Williams, professor of economics at George Mason University and occasional substitute radio host (for Rush Limbaugh), gets specific about how today's college students are bombarded with politically motivated teaching. Dr. Williams also refers to a Web site,, where parents can see for themselves the kind of pressure college students are being forced to deal with.

I mentioned the other day that the works of William Shakespeare are disappearing from the required reading lists for 21st century college-level classes. It's no wonder...if you're busy feeding kids propaganda, that doesn't leave much time for studying Shakespeare, does it?

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Letting Boys Be Boys

Every once in a while some good news makes its way into my computer....I just read about a book written just for boys that sounds wonderful (it's already a hit in Britain). And despite the atmosphere of feminized manhood that's been pushed for years in some segments of our society (including the public schools), this book celebrates boys and encourages them to be boys.

It's called The Dangerous Book for Boys, and it's full of all sorts of adventuresome ideas for boys, the kinds of things boys used to do before the advent of television, video games, and feminists who believed boys should be the same as girls. Written by two adult brothers, it is a how-to manual for creating your own fun while learning about the world. It has instructions for everything from tying knots and learning about fossils to building treehouses and making go-carts. There are also the scary things boys love, such as learning how to make batteries, timers and trip-wires (watch your step before you get near that new treehouse!)

The book also includes stories from history, scientific information and even the Ten Commandments. I'm guessing this book will be a big hit with homeschooling parents, who already appreciate materials that encourage kids to learn about the world around them.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Wherefore Art Thou, William Shakespeare?

I'm happy to read that my alma mater, the University of Illinois, still requires its English majors to study the plays of William Shakespeare in order to earn a degree. But I'm wondering about the many other colleges and universities that no longer view Shakespeare's work as something worth studying. I'm afraid to ask what they require instead, fearing it could be the works of some rap artist.

Homeschooling parents who worry that their children won't be exposed to Shakespeare in college would do well to have them study him while they're learning at home. The English literature text my kids used included excerpts from Shakespeare's works; that was a good way to get a little exposure without overwhelming them. We preceded them with viewings of a few movies based on Shakespeare's plays, which was fun.

These days there are plenty of resources available to help your children become comfortable with these four-century-old plays....for instance, Rainbow Resource has plenty.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

C'mon Mom, Take a Break!

Yes, you're busy. We all are! But if you don't take the time to recharge a bit and regain some of that good old-fashioned homeschool enthusiasm, no one's going to do it for you, so make an appointment for yourself this week (how about now?) to visit the Carnival of Homeschooling. You won't be sorry!

Springtime in Havana, courtesy of your local high school

We homeschoolers like a field trip as well as the next person, maybe even more so. I know I've been on my share of them during many years of homeschooling.

Some of the trips were for fun, and all were educational. We went to museums, performances, fire stations, you name it. But the one place we never went was Cuba.

Who, you might ask, would go on a field trip to Cuba? Well, try students at Beacon School, a public high school in New York City. According to writer Andrew Wolf, Beacon School history teacher Nathan Turner just took a group of teens to Cuba, and it wasn't the first time, either. He took groups in 2004 and 2005 with the school's approval. (This year the school did not approve the trip, but did promote it on the school Web site. How's that for showing disapproval?)

I'm not sure what Turner is trying to teach the kids by taking them to Cuba, beyond praising communism and breaking the law. (Since 1962, it has been against the law for Americans to travel to Cuba.)

I wonder how many New Yorkers know they're paying teachers to take students to visit communist dictatorships in violation of U.S. law?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Vocation Vacations: A Great High School Graduation Gift

According to this article, recent college graduates are taking "vocation vacations" in order to try out a career to see if they like it. In a vocation vacation, a person pays to have a one- or two-day hands-on experience working in an area they've always dreamed about. Believe it or not, people can pay money to try out being anything from an Alpaca farmer to a Yoga Studio Owner .

Although the prices are a bit steep (approximate range $349-$1499 not including hotel and airfare), this sounds like a great way for a young person to experience a career before committing to it. So my question is this: why are these recommended for recent college grads?

Shouldn't this be something you try before shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for a college degree? Sounds like a good idea for a recent high school graduate; for a college graduate, it could be too late.

(And if anyone wants to spend a "vocation vacation" trying on the career of homeschool mom/homeschool publisher with me as their mentor, they can send me $1499 via PayPal and I'll be glad to help them out!)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Crisis? No Problem!

When I read good news, I just have to share it. Even though the editor who wrote the headline considered it a 'crisis,' I am thrilled to learn that an increasing number of doctors in Britain are refusing to perform abortions. From the article:

Distaste at performing terminations combined with ethical and religious convictions has led to a big increase in "conscientious objectors" who request exemption from the task, the RCOG says. A key factor is what specialists call "the dinner party test". Gynaecologists who specialise in fertility treatment creating babies for childless couples are almost universally revered - but no one boasts of being an abortionist.

And it gets better:

No figures are held centrally on the number of doctors refusing to perform abortions but the RCOG says anecdotal reports suggest the problem is widespread. (emphasis mine)

We should have such a problem here in America!

(Note: RCOG stands for Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Wooed by God

TNFarmgirl has an interesting testimony about how God led her to an agrarian lifestyle. It's worth checking out!

Friday, April 13, 2007

What Happened in the Principal's Office....Now on DVD

I've been accused of being cynical when it comes to public education, and I can't deny it. My own public school experience, combined with the news reports coming out of schools today, has made me that way.

Today's big news story here in Chicago is a good example of why I feel the way I do. The principal of a suburban Chicago elementary school fools around with a female teacher and (on another occasion) a female teacher's aide in his office. How do we know this? Someone hid a camera in his office and caught two hours' worth of the trysts on video (said video is now all over the Internet). Then the video was transferred to DVD's, which were mailed to the parents of the school's students.

The principal, the teacher and the teacher's aide have resigned, and the school district authorities are outraged...though not only for the reason one might think. Suspicious about the timing of the release of the DVDs (a week before the school board election), the school district's attorney "said whoever released this video should have notified the superintendent first so this could be handled."

See what I mean? The concern is for how the video got out, not just for the misbehavior of these "educators" and how it may have affected the students in the school.

Those students' parents say the kids were already aware of these high-jinks, and that's not surprising. Kids aren't stupid. When I was in seventh grade, our junior high sent us on a three-day trip to a camp. One night we heard noises outside. We ran to the cabin window expecting to see a bear or something (not likely in the suburbs of Illinois!), but instead we saw our principal kissing our pretty blonde math teacher goodnight....for quite a while...near a tall post with a light attached to it. We thought it was funny, but I wonder how many of our parents believed us (until the next year, when the principal divorced his wife and married the math teacher.)

Bottom line: news stories like this confirm the worst suspicions of those of us who are already cynical about public education. Add this to the ever-growing list of reasons why homeschooling is the way to go.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

How Many Hours?

One of my least favorite questions that I’m asked by non-homeschoolers is, “How many hours a day do you homeschool?”

Let’s face it, answering this question is like tip-toeing through a minefield. Depending on the viewpoint of the questioner, you may not be doing enough, or you may be overdoing it. The former is usually the case, but in either case, your answer may not be what they want to hear.

I’m often asked that question by new or prospective homeschoolers, too. Faced with the proposition of recreating the seven or eight-hour day they remember from their own school years, they wonder how they’re going to be able to fill those hours, and whether they can handle it.

I like to tell them the story of my five-year stint as a Sunday school teacher at my church. I began teaching Sunday school after I had been homeschooling for about ten years. Needless to say, I was accustomed to working one-on-one with my kids, and that’s a pretty efficient way to teach, and to learn. Of course, I knew that I couldn’t expect the same efficiency when teaching 10 or 12 fourth-graders for an hour, but I still didn’t realize the extent to which it would be different.

Every Saturday night, I diligently read the teacher’s guide and the Bible lesson, and made a list of activities as suggested by the lesson plan. Since those were usually rather dry, I’d throw in a few ideas of my own, including a game, or a passage from a book...something to make things more interesting. To me, it was important that we had enough activities to do. I didn’t want to find myself standing in front of the class with 15 minutes to go and nothing left to do with them.

I needn’t have worried. I soon discovered that it was going to be impossible to even start class on time. Kids trickled in for about the first ten minutes, and each one’s arrival interrupted what we were doing. Taking attendance was not as easy as it sounds, because the kids would interrupt each other with stories of what they’d been doing lately, or they’d ask me for a drink of water or permission to visit the restroom.

Once we got started on the lesson, we’d be interrupted by dropped or broken pencils, someone kicking someone else under the table, someone falling out of their chair (this happened fairly often), or someone who had a question because they hadn’t been listening.

I still recall the day I was trying to get through to them the concept of Jesus’ resurrection. They seemed interested, and they were asking good questions, but then one young man raised his hand, and when I called on him he very seriously informed the class and me that his dog liked to eat breath mints. The rest of the class burst into laughter, he looked around confused at their reaction, and I realized any impact my lesson had made was now lost.

I taught Sunday school for five years, and I hope my students learned what they needed to know. What I learned is that teaching in a classroom setting can be very inefficient, especially when compared to homeschooling. I was accustomed to accomplishing a lot in a little time with my kids, but when it came to Sunday school classes, I learned that it was a good day if I accomplished anything.

Sunday school lasts an hour. Multiply that by seven or eight to get an idea of how much inefficiency you’d find over the course of a day of formal school. Getting everyone into their seats, taking attendance, quieting them down…and that may be for each class period. Then there’s the misbehavior, the back-talk...all those things that kids do when they’re determined to keep the teacher off-track.

Let’s compare that to homeschooling. By giving our children our undivided attention for a while, we can answer their questions, share information with them, and make sure they understand what we’ve taught them. It’s pretty simple and straightforward, and it doesn’t take several hours a day. I usually tell new homeschoolers that in the early years, I spent maybe an hour (90 minutes tops) “doing school” with my kids. By high school, it was more like an hour or two working with them, and an additional hour or two of them working independently.

Most non-homeschoolers don’t need that much information, though. They are really asking me if my children are getting what they need to become “educated,” as society sees it. If I give them an actual number of hours, they may not approve because we’ve only ever done a few hours a day of formal study. A quoted number of hours wouldn’t be accurate anyway, because like most homeschooled kids, mine have learned many more things outside of formal study than they have from it.

What I’ve found works best when non-homeschoolers ask how many hours of school we do each day is replying, “As many hours as it takes.” It seems to satisfy them, and I know it’s an honest answer, because my children are learning throughout their waking hours. It also forces them to put a number to it; since they’re accustomed to the inefficient ways of public schools, they’re probably thinking of a larger number of hours than I am. Works for me!

Copyright 2007 Barbara Frank/Cardamom Publishers

Note: this post was first published in this month's issue of "The Imperfect Homeschooler" newsletter. Free subscription here.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Our Gorgeous Spring Weather

When I got up this lovely mid-April morning and looked out the window, the first thought that came to my mind was that God is laughing at Al Gore. :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Labor of Love....Made Harder by the State Legislature

Those of us who homeschool know that it is a labor of love. We don't get paid, plus we have to spend our own money on our books and supplies, even as we pay (sometimes astronomical) taxes to a public school system we prefer not to enroll our children in.

But we're not the only ones who teach out of love. The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a former public school teacher, Faye Brown, who started a private Christian school four years ago in South Carolina. Her students, most of them poor and black, scored about 400 points higher than public school kids on their SAT's, so she must be doing something right. But it's a tough job made extremely difficult by a lack of money. (Her retirement savings are sometimes used to make ends meet.)

The WSJ article brought a wonderful response from readers, who sent money to help the school and its students (you can read about their generosity here). Now comes word that the South Carolina state legislature has voted down the vouchers that would have helped this school's students afford their modest (by private school standards) tuition for years to come. What a shame.

The Carnival is Up!

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling, sponsored by Apollos Academy, is called "The Poetry of Homeschooling." It's very nicely done....don't miss it!

Monday, April 9, 2007

E-Schools: Why Not?

A Washington homeschooler writes:

I got this letter in the mail about Washington Virtual Academy. I found it interesting. Here's the website.

I was thinking about checking into it, but then found this article.

What do you think about the e-school program? In some ways, I was thinking it would be nice to take advantage of some of those tax dollars that I'm paying anyway, but according to this guy he was worried that it would lead to more government regulation of home-schoolers. Washington State, as far as I understand it, is the best state to home-school in, I definitely don't want to do something that would lead to more regulation.What is your opinion on this? Thanks!

What a great question! This issue is one that many homeschoolers don't know about. Here's how I responded to her:

I'm so glad you checked out that HEM article. They are right on the money, and they're writing about a private eSchool. The link you sent me is for a public eSchool, which is even worse. When you sign up for a program like that, you're putting you and your family under the supervision of your state's educational bureaucracy.

I lifted this off that site:

Although parents play the leading role in day-to-day lesson delivery, assessments, and time management, they are never alone in the education process. In fact, at WAVA, they interact with teachers on a regular basis, learning to navigate teaching techniques, pacing issues, comprehension challenges, positive reinforcement techniques, and other facets of the instruction experience.

Expect your teacher to be a consistent presence.

You can be sure of receiving a lot of attention on a weekly and monthly basis. In fact, you're certain to interact with your teacher on a regular basis during:

Monthly progress meetings
Parent/teacher workshops
Teacher-guided outings

My alarm bells go off when I read something like that. The way I translate that is, "We will be watching you very closely." That means if you deviate from their program, if you leave something out because it is not in line with your family's values, they will know it and you will be called on it.

That "attention" they're offering also gives them access to your family life, and if they don't like something they see there, something we might consider perfectly fine but that they disagree with (say, a toddler who still nurses or a child who mentions having been spanked), you've got trouble.

Also, the link to the HEM/Kaseman article re Bill Bennett's K-12 program led me to find this link.

That whole group of comments will help you sort this out, but Mary Nix's post is particularly helpful in explaining that there are two ways to use the K-12 one, you're a homeschooler and in the other, you're a public schooler learning at home.

Post-Easter Post

I hope you had a wonderful Easter. Dd21 was home for the weekend, his last weekend home before graduating from college next month and moving out of state. He'll be back here in June for his wedding.

At each of our church services yesterday morning, one of the three young men from our congregation who are headed into the ministry helped serve by bringing in the crucifer, reading the Epistle and the Gospel, and assisting with communion. Our son did those things at the late service. It was kind of bittersweet seeing him up there. We're proud of him, but it's hard to think that this is the last time we'll see him serving in our church.

Had family over for Easter dinner yesterday, but several were missing, including dd23, so it was a quiet gathering. Then today I drove dd21 back to college in Wisconsin (another last time....last time taking him back to college. Geez, I'm getting sentimental...I'll blame it, like many things these days, on menopause, lol.)

What a beautiful trip back, though! South central Wisconsin is rural and hilly. I also liked having two hours alone in the car. We homeschooling moms cherish our alone time!

As soon as I got back to Illinois, it was all traffic and bleak surroundings. Sigh. Still waiting on God to get us out of here. Guess the timing isn't right yet.

One last weekend newspaper covered a major event here in town: an Easter egg hunt for pets! Good grief. That made me think of something Mary Pride wrote probably twenty years ago.....that people were starting to treat their children like pets and their pets like children. She sure got that prediction right.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

More School Waste...This Time in Michigan

I thought this was a joke, but apparently it's true: Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives have proposed that every school student in the state be given an iPod.

Why? They haven't said. How much will this cost the financially strapped state? They haven't divulged that either.

My guess to the first question is that the only way they can get kids to come to class or sit still once they get there is by bribing them with the iPods so they can zone out to their favorite tunes. It's as good a reason as any.

Boston Early Ed Program Not So Hot

No entity can waste time and money like government can.

Case in point: The city of Boston, Massachusetts spent the past decade developing an early childhood education program for low-income/minority preschoolers and kindergartners. The first study of the program has just been released, and the results were not good. The study found that:

  • Many children spend their days sitting at their desks listening to lectures. (Remember, these are 3-to-5 year-olds).
  • Teachers are often not teaching children, but instead leading them in "meaningless" large group activities.
  • Student/teacher ratios are as high as 22 to 1.
  • The preschool/kindergarten facilities are often not safe for children, and sometimes lack the proper fencing to keep children out of the street (!)
  • Children are not taught basic hygiene, i.e. hand-washing.
Of course, millions of dollars have already been spent on this program, with an anticipated $20 million more to disappear in the next two years. It's always about the money, not about the kids.

The saddest part of all this is that small children, no matter how poor or wealthy their families, don't need formal preschool at all. What they need is daily life with loving adults who, over the course of each day, take time to teach them a few basics, and then let them play and discover on their own. It doesn't take much money....just time and love. God already invented the true early education program: it's called a family.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Coke Follow-Up

Yesterday I posted about Coca Cola's Italian subsidiary threatening a lawsuit against an Italian filmmaker who dared to depict Jesus Christ sipping a can of Coke in his new film, saying that it would give Coke a negative image.

Today the movie was pulled by its distributor after Coca Cola's lawyers took legal action against the movie's producers.

This weekend our Easter celebration features store-brand cola.

What's Next.....Duct Tape?

To be honest, there have been times when I wished I could temporarily render one of my children speechless, just for a little while. But never, not even on my worst day, have I considered doing this.

I have no doubt these little boys were being noisy. That's what five-year-olds are like. And while most people reading that article will say that woman shouldn't be allowed to teach kindergartners (I agree), the real problem here is that little boys don't belong in classrooms.

There's Still Time..... nominate your favorite homeschool bloggers for the Homeschool Blog Awards.

Winners in each category are eligible for prizes. Cardamom Publishers is donating a copy of my eBook The Imperfect Homeschooler's Guide to Homeschooling to the winners in each of the 21 categories.

Nominate your favorite blogs now! Here's a list of the nominees so far. Voting begins (and nominating ends) on Monday.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

It's NOT the Real Thing

A movie scheduled to premiere in Italy tomorrow may be stopped if Coca-Cola Italia has its way.

Seems that the movie, Seven Miles from Jerusalem, is a present day story of Jesus Christ coming back to the Middle East. At one point, the movie's main character offers Jesus a can of Coke, which Jesus drinks.

Now Seven Miles from Jerusalem didn't offend the Vatican (where the Pope even had good things to say about it), but Coca Cola Italia is offended by the thought of its flagship product being used in this type of movie. A spokeswoman said, "We are not interested in this kind of product placement."

Suit yourselves, Coca Cola. As spokeswoman for this household, be assured we aren't interested in placing your product in our fridge anymore.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

What Kind of Terrorists?

Today I was reminded about an incident three years ago when a Michigan school held a mock terrorism drill.....and decided to make the fictional terrorists homeschoolers. Sounds ludicrous, but now we hear a New Jersey school just held a similar drill, only this time the "terrorists" were religious fanatics. Of course, they can't be Muslim fanatics. Why would anyone think Muslims would be anything but peaceful? No, once again, let's bash the Christians.

I'd go further on this topic, but Michelle Malkin has already done a fine job right here. Read it and weep....we're so busy preparing for imaginary attackers that we're ignoring those who have told us (many times) and shown us that we are their targets.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Aw Shucks.....

How nice of multi-blogger Rona Berry Morin to recommend this blog over at It Ain't Breakfast Without Coffee. Marcus and Me is another one of her blogs. If you haven't checked out her blogs, you are in for a treat. Not only are they very nicely designed, but they are packed with all sorts of information, and she posts all the time, so there's always something new there. Thanks, Rona!

Monday, April 2, 2007

The Imperfect Homeschooler, April 2007

The April issue of "The Imperfect Homeschooler" just went out. It includes two new articles, several freebies, and a contest involving this blog!

If you're a subscriber, better check your email. And if you're not a subscriber, what are you waiting for? Subscribe here.

(If you want to check out the new issue first, you'll find it here. Past 2007 issues can be accessed here.)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

2006 Homeschool Blog Awards

From now through April 9, you can nominate homeschool blogs in a variety of categories for the 2006 Homeschool Blog Awards. Make your voice heard by going here! Voting begins April 9.

Guess I Need New Glasses

Dd15 is very excited because she may get her braces off this week. Today, while discussing the possibility, she told me (for the umpteenth time) how much she dislikes how she looks with braces.

Ever the supportive mom, I tried to tell her that they're not that noticeable, pointing out that in a photo we took of all four kids this past Christmas (now wallpaper on the computer), you couldn't even see her braces, despite the fact that she was smiling broadly.

"Mom," she said, "That's because I Photo-shopped them out!"