Tuesday, May 31, 2005

World History Reading and Supplement List

This list is a compilation of what Kara and Naomi use for World History. You may ask yourself, “How did they afford all these books?” The simple answer is we went to a lot of sales: garage sales, library sales, homeschool used sales and Scholastic Warehouse Sales. Naomi does the Scholastic Book Orders for our homeschool group. Any homeschooler can independently do the Scholastic book orders. (Sounds like a future blog topic). We pays retail for almost nothing. We also use our educator discount at Barnes and Nobles, Borders Bookstore, Pages For All Ages, and the Book Wharehouse.

Arts, Crafts, and Activities
* 1-2-3 Draw Mystical Creatures by Freddie Levin (using for Volume 1)
* Pyramids: 50 Hands-On Activities to Explore Ancient Egypt
* Pyramids to Pueblos: 15 Pop-Up Models for Students to Make by Helen H. Moore and * Carmen R. Sorvillo
* National Geographic A Maze Adventure Secrets of the Pyramids
* History Pockets Ancient Civilizations by Evan Moor grades 1-3
* Make It Work! series by Andrew Haslam or Keith Branigan:
Ancient Egypt,
Old Japan,
Native Americans,
Arctic Peoples,
The Roman Empire
* Historical Connections in Mathematics series from AIMS by Reimer - Middle School through High School math biographies and activities
Jackdaw Publications
Historical Fiction and Non-fiction chapter books
*The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis Mcgraw
* The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge
* The Kite Fighters by Linda Sue Park
* Mara, Daughter of the Nile
* Detectives in Togas by Henry Winterfield
* The Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfield
* Child of the Owl by Lawrence Yep
* The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson
* The Time Warp Trio Series by Jon Scieszka
* The Magic Tree House Series by Mary Pope Osborne
* Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
* Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark
* Adventures of the Greek Heroes (Chapter Book level) by Molly McLean & Anne Wiseman

Early Readers and Picture Books* Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
* Pompeii… Buried Alive by Edith Kunhardt Step Into Reading Step 3
* Archaeologists Dig for Clues by Kate Duke
* The Trojan Horse by Emily Little Step Into Reading Step 4
* Ms. Frizzle’s Adventure Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole
* Ms. Frizzle’s Adventure Medieval Castle by Joanna Cole
* Richard Scarry’s Best History of the World Ever
* Usborne Starting Point History
What Were Castles For?
Who Were the First North Americans?
Who Were the Vikings?
Who Were the Romans?
Who Built the Pyramids?
* I Wonder Why Castles Had Moats and Other Questions About Long Ago

Encyclopedias and Non-fiction
* The Usborne Book of World History
* The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
* The Complete Book of World History Grades 4-8 (Sam’s Club $5.70)
* Eyewitness Books Mummy
* Egyptology Search for the Tomb of Osiris
* Usborne World History Ancient World
* Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World
* Usborne World History Medieval World
* Usborne World History The Last 500 Years
* Usborne Illustrated Atlas of World History
* Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World Religions
* Usborne Greek Myths for Young Children
* Usborne Scientist Archaeology
* Usborne Illustrated World History The Romans
* Usborne Internet-Linked Greeks
* Usborne Time Travelers: Rome & Romans, Pyramids & Pharoahs, Vikings (Teacher's Guide available)
* Castles A First Discovery Book by Scholastic
* How Children Lived A First Book of History
* Mystery History of a Viking Longboat by Fred Finney
* The _____ News series by Philip Steele from Candlewick Press:
* Tales Mummies Tell by Patricia Lauber
* Lost Temple of the Aztecs by Shelley Tanaka
* Buried City of Pompeii by Shelley Tanaka
* How Would You Survive as an Aztec? by Fiona Macdonald
* How Would You Survive as a Viking? by Fiona Macdonald
* Traveler’s Guide to Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald / Mike Foster
* Traveler’s Guide to Ancient Rome by Fiona Macdonald / Mike Foster
* DK Eyewitness Books:
Ancient China,
Ancient Egypt,
Ancient Greece,
Ancient Rome,
North American Indian,
Mythology and Legends
* The Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki
* Favorite Greek Myths Retold by Mary Pope Osborne
* Favorite Norse Myths by Mary Pope Osborne
* D’Aulaire’s Book of Norse Gods and Goddesses by Ingri & Parin D’Aulaire
* D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths by Ingri & Parin D’Aulaire
* Songs Upon the Harp by Marie Heaney
* Confucius: The Golden Rule by Russell Freedman
* The Iliad retold by Nick McCarty
* The Odyssey by Robin Lister
* Tales from the Odyssey series by Mary Pope Osborne
David Macaulay Architecture Books
* City by David Macaulay
* Castle by David Macaulay
* Pyramid by David Macaulay
* Cathedral by David Macaulay
* Kids Discover:
The Maya
Ancient Egypt
7 Wonders of the World
Ancient India

If you would like a copy of this list in word email us at homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com and we would be happy to send it to you.


Monday, May 30, 2005

The Story of the World Posted by Hello


Homeschool Support Group Day: Teaching World History

I have a confession to make. I buy a lot of stuff. We have thousands of books and a ton of curriculum stuff. It is possible that I have made some bad choices. Sometimes I get a little carried away. I always rationalize this over- purchasing by dividing the cost of the product by the number of children I have, and announcing, “It’s worth it.” How many of you out there in blog land do that? I bet I’m not the only one. Well, every once in a while, this method does work. World History has been one of those subjects.

We have The Story of the World History for the Classical Child by Susan Wise Bauer. I have all three volumes that have been published, the audio cd’s and the activity books. I am using it with my 6th grader and I’m using it with my 1st grader. It is by far the most interesting presentation of world history I have found to date. (Did I mention how many books we have?) My children are memorizing all the things in the books. I ask them the questions in the activity guide and they answer them. The first grader colors the coloring pages and fills in the maps. He can answer ancient history geography questions that leave my mother and I stumped. Many of the historical figures he now knows, I didn’t learn until I took Western Civilization in college. Most nights before bed, my first grader listens to one cd which covers about 8 chapters. We have been listening to the same volume all year. He’s basically memorizing ancient history.

My oldest child, the sixth grader, is working on book two. She reads the text some and listens to the cd’s sometimes. I wondered if this was challenging enough since it is aimed at younger children. My question was answered at dinner one night. We were explaining to the children about essay tests in college. Neither child understood what we were saying. My husband asked my daughter what she was studying in history. She informed him she was learning about the black plague. He then asked her an essay question. Explain the economical impact of the black plague on Europe. My daughter (6th grader) answered the question, correctly with details. We decided the history is a keeper. My opinion was reinforced by Sonlight using the same books in the older elementary grades.

This text does not have any color pictures. To go along with the books I have the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, Usborne World History and a bunch of smaller books such as the Usborne Book of the Ancient World. We also read a lot of historical fiction such as the Egypt Game, Detectives in Togas, etc. Tomorrow’s post will be a book and reference list. Please add your favorite World History curriculum, book, etc into the comments.

The Story of the World History For the Classical Child
Volume 1: Ancient Times
Volume 2: The Middle Ages
Volume 3: Early Modern Times
Volume 4: The Modern Ages (release July 05, paperback now available at Peace Hill Press )


  • Senate Bill 409
  • The legislative season is over and SB 409 didn't make it through. The word on the Illinois political grapevine is that Senator Raoul hasn't given up yet. We'll keep watching and let you know when it's time to fire up the phone lines, fax lines and to write letters again. Let's all enjoy a nice vacation from SB 409 on lowering the compulsory attendance age until it is reincarnated.


    Memorial Day

    The History Channel has some interesting factoids about WW II veterans and benefits paid out to veterans.

    There's also a history of Memorial Day that seems to have started with local remembrances during the terrible War Between The States.

    And I've noted this link already, but will again today for all of the loved ones lost in battle now. And that the Codys and Ryans and Darcys, et al stay safe in the middle of the battles now and in the future.


    Sunday, May 29, 2005

    HEM's News and Commentary Announcement May 28

    From Ann Larson Fisher: editor

    HEM's News and Commentary for May. Check this out.

    Fear-Mongering in California

    Looks like overly active bureaucrats are everywhere. Sounds like attendance officer Frank Valadez needs to retire. And it also sounds like CA homeschoolers have it under control.


    Element and Mineral Recognized

    This is making the rounds again. Pretty accurate and funny.


    Administratium, the heaviest known element, has no protons or electrons and thus has an atomic number of 0. However, it does have one neutron, 125 assistant neutrons, 75 vice-neutrons, and 111 assistant vice-neutrons. This gives it a mass number of 312. These 312 particles are held together in a nucleus by a force that involves the continuous exchange of particles called morons.

    Since it has no electrons, administratium is totally inert. However, it can be detected chemically, since it impedes every reaction with which it comes into contact. According to its discoverers, a tiny amount of administratium caused one reaction to take over four days to complete; the normal reaction time is less than one second.

    Administratium has a normal half-life of approximately three years, at which time it does not actually decay, but instead undergoes a reorganization in which assistant neutrons, vice-neutrons, and assistant vice-neutrons exchange places. Studies have shown that the atomic mass usually increases after each reorganization.

    Research at other laboratories indicates that administratium occurs naturally in the atmosphere. It tends to concentrate at certain points, such as governmental agencies, large corporations, and universities. It is always found in the newest, best-appointed, and best-maintained buildings.

    Scientists point out that administratium is known to be toxic at any level of concentration and can easily destroy any productive reactions where it is allowed to accumulate. Attempts are being made to determine how administratium can be controlled to prevent irreversible damage, but results to date are not promising.

    "Scientists have released the secret of the source of Administratium; Administratium is refined from a repulsive amorphous material similar to a thick petroleum tar but much more viscous and sticky. This substance is known as Bureaucratite.
    Bureaucratite should be avidly avoided as it almost completely freezes progress. Anything unfortunate enough to venture into a deposit of Bureaucratite is instantly trapped and becomes entirely coated with the bituminous mess, although it may take weeks or months to sink out of sight into a deposit. Many creatures, long extinct, have been discovered within such quagmires but better preserved than those found in ice or tar pits.
    Extraction from a deposit, should one be so lucky, is always excrutiatingly long and painful and rarely completely successful. Many unfortunates are haunted by innocuous bits of the stuff which always turn up in the most unexpected places and inconvenient times. People unlucky enough to have been exposed to bureaucratite have exhibited dangerously raised blood pressures, heart rates and bodily temperatures along with extremes of emotion."


    Saturday, May 28, 2005

    Researchers Say Socialization No Longer an ''Issue''

    Whatever...it wasn't an issue but a stereotype based on 'public education' being way too reliant on socialization factors rather than learning. (Do read John Gatto's book.) My observation seems too true when you're in a State that has the horridly ridiculous or ridiculously horrid Social/Emotional Learning Standards.

    Anyway I thought this part was interesting.
    McDowell, who received a doctoral degree in educational leadership from Vanderbilt University and has published numerous articles on homeschooling, researched 24 studies on the socialization of homeschoolers.

    "It’s a non-issue today," she said. "All the research shows children are doing well."

    When McDowell went to publish one of her stories on homeschooling, her publisher required her to find someone who could argue, based on research, that homeschoolers were less-socialized than traditionally schooled students.

    To her surprise, she couldn’t find an academic willing to give that perspective. She had to rely on others who presented theories unsupported by research, she said.

    and this
    Other researchers, such as Larry Shyers, who earned his doctorate in counseling from the University of Florida, support McDowell’s findings. Shyers’ dissertation, "Comparison of Social Adjustment Between Home and Traditionally Schooled Children," won a national award in excellence in research from the Educational Research Information Clearinghouse in 1992.

    He set out to prove that homeschooling was not a good idea from a socialization standpoint. He found the reverse to be true.

    And homeschooling advocates in many states know the power/control thing already or we wouldn't be dealing with issues such as the voluntary form being required by public school administrators because of this:
    Homeschool critics want to have control and power over those taught at home, she said.

    and another biggie:
    Others worry public schools lose money because the government bases many of its funding formulas on the number of students in classrooms, she said.

    But we already knew we were saving taxpayers money.

    The NW Regional Education Laboratory figured a couple of things out wondering why should schools attempt to build partnerships with homeschoolers? Note Enrollment & Funding Increases using homeschoolers and the
    reassurance to concerned educators that homeschooled students’ needs are truly being met and that they are making adequate educational progress
    My family's independent lifestyle is more important than reassuring a 'concerned educator' that most parents really do look out for the best for their kids.


    Like This History Lesson

    The title Abnormality, Thy Name Is Homeschool
    is a bit annoying, but homeschoolers are used to being called abnormal or odd. It's almost a badge of honor in this standardized world.

    For most Americans, homeschooling seems rather odd. Why bother with it? We have had public and private schools with us all of our lives, as have our parents before us and their parents before them from time immemorial. Why not stick with what works? The thought would be touching, if it were historically accurate. It isn’t.

    The concept of compulsory schools with mass attendance is a radically new idea to Western civilization, no older than industrialization. Indeed, industrialization arguably could not have taken place without the mass school, and therein lies a tale.

    Do they teach that in the schools? I remember learning in school that Honest Abe walked a long time to return a book he'd borrowed but I don't think he got a detention for skipping out then. As an adult, I read and read about him in the little Lincoln Land treasure troves we have here. For one, I found out he learned how to be a surveyor and a lawyer on his own with the smarts he had.Maybe they covered that material about him when I was in school and I wasn't paying attention.

    It's noted at the bottom of this article that the author, Steve Kellmeyer based his essay in large part on the soon-to-be-released book "Deception: Catholic Education in America" and John Taylor Gatto’s "Underground History of American Education."

    More good history lessons there.


    Thursday, May 26, 2005

    Voluntary Should Mean No Way to Illinois Homeschoolers

    I was digging around to see what's what on the ISBE site. I was thinking about this one statute in particular and how far along voluntary is from in your face with public school administrators. In your face would be a Regional Office of Education telling you that you need to fill out an information form to homeschool that includes Name, Address, Telephone Number, Full name of Child and grade level beginning current school year, gender,race/ethnicity and date of your child's birth. The header shows the form will be documented in the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Data Analysis & Progress Reporting.

    So we'll move on to Data Analysis & Progress Reporting. Hmmm...under School Directories, there is a section for Nonpublic School Directory and Enrollment Statistics. In excel format is not a good sign. Where'd they get all that information anyway? Looks like they got it from the non-public registration enrollment and staff report form, of course. Any doubters that this isn't about homeschoolers too should note that under affiliation, of all things, the #15 check off is Homeschooling [Parent Operated]. One can certainly assume that this form has been handed to an exiting public schooler or two who is planning on homeschooling.

    Looking further at this form, I see under Assurances some more check off boxes for an academic term of at least 176 days with no less than 5 hours of daily instruction or a yearly total of 880 clock hours. 5.2 is whether the school complies with federal and state laws regarding nondiscrimination. I wonder what that means? Wonder what my kids think it means? 5.5 has to do with an immunization survey. Wasn't there a bit of a fuss about that in the late '90's with a now ex-legislator Ricca Slone? And instruction is given in the English language. Finally, 5.4 is the one requirement that is actually included in the private school (homeschool) exemption:
    (105 ILCS 5/26‑1)1. Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language;

    When you're leaving the ps and they hand you any forms such as a Registration or Recognition of Non-public elementary and secondary school form to fill out, please take it, smile, 'tell them thank you, you'll take it home and have a look' and file it in the trash can when you get home. It is NOT required. It is voluntary. If the ps gets an inch, they'll take a mile many times.

    Note " may voluntarily register" in the statute. I like this definition in Merriam Webster:
    1 a : proceeding from one's own free choice or consent rather than as the result of duress, coercion, or deception b : not compelled by law : done as a matter of choice or agreement c : made freely and with an understanding of the consequences
    2 : done by design or intention

    Coercion, deception and duress would be when a ps administrator is telling you that you need to fill out this form before you can homeschool or as the Dupage ROE puts it:
    For more information regarding home schooling fillout the form below.

    If exiting public schoolers are armed with the actual statutes, then you have everything you need when administrators make overcompliance demands of your family. When you're leaving a failed program for your family, then it makes sense that the best people new homeschoolers can talk to are homeschoolers regarding your rights, your privacy and what's best for your family.


    Wednesday, May 25, 2005

    King Tut

    The June issue of Nat'l Geographic has King Tut on the cover and an article about their 'new' discoveries about this young Egyptian king.

    The coolest part is the Chicago Field Museum will have the Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs exhibit from May 26, 2006 until January 7, 2007.

    Check it out!


    Tuesday, May 24, 2005

    Monday is support group day

    Starting next Monday I am going to start posting support group articles. The first topic I will tackle is teaching World History. If you have any great World History books, ideas, curriculum etc. you can email me or you can add it to the comments, trackback, etc.


    Maybe Preschool is the Problem

    Interesting article in the NY Times about this new study of expelled preschoolers.

    It's always fascinating to look in the background. Dr. Gilliam was a consultant for a KY Headstart program, for one. He also wrote up this 49 page ditty Effects of Pre-Kindergarten that concludes with a lot of questions about
    how best to implement pre-kindergarten and effectively and efficiently implement needs to help guide prekindergarten policy development and inform us of successes-as well as needs.

    I thought conclusions were supposed to address the intent of the study which was regarding the Effects of Pre-Kindergarten?

    Back to the NYTimes
    The study, the first of its kind, did not come to conclude what leads to the expellable behavior. And clearly a well-established list of attributes - poverty, clinical disorders, inconsistent parenting - contribute to the poor behavior.

    Did not conclude, but clearly the attributes of poverty, disorders, inconsistent parenting cause these expulsions. What does it all mean? If you're poor, you automatically belong to the Bad Parent Club of expellable behaviored 3 and 4 year olds??? And the same Club membership goes for the numerous classroom (whoops, they said clinical) disorders? I don't know what inconsistent parenting is, but as an imperfect parent, I bet I can join the Club too.

    And I suspect the author has no clue that the ridiculous could be a reality when she included this in her ending
    Are behavioral flash cards far behind?

    She must not have heard about Illinois and our Social/Emotional Learning? Standards.


    Scholastic Warehouse Sale

    I love these sales. Love 'em too much, but you can never have enough books, right?!?


    Monday, May 23, 2005

    Confusion and Delay....

    When I put in my address and all the information at the State Legislative link I get this: Congressional District: 15 US Representative Timothy V. Johnson RepublicanSenate District: 53 State Senator Dan Rutherford RepublicanRepresentative District: 105 State Representative Shane Cultra Republican

    When I look at my voter Id I get this: Congressional District 15 (that's the same)
    Legislative District 52 Richard "Rick"J. Winkel Office: State Senator Email: rickwinkel@rickwinkel.com
    Representative District 103 Naomi D. Jakobsson Office: State Representative Email: n.jakobsson@worldnet.att.net

    Which is correct? I like the first answer better than the second. Did we redistrict since I got my ID 5 years ago? I'm going to try and figure it out. It's quite possible I've been phoning the wrong reps. Can I harass both just in case? I'll let you know what I figure out.


    Library Cards

    Others and I were commiserating with Spunky about library fines and the case of the disappearing books. They've been known to reappear at the next cleaning (semi-annual)of the bedrooms.

    Illinois must be a flukey thing because I know people in other states are amazed that some of us here have to pay for a library card. In my family's case our little farm is 3 miles out of our little farmtown and we're not in a library district. So we have to pay $25, think it went up to $35 this year to be a library member. I rarely go to that library. I'd link to it, but it doesn't have a website. That and the one week checkout period (last time I checked), explains part of the reason that we don't get over there much. My kids would still go there to check out the Garfield books and such if it made a difference for the local library and their usage tracking, but the librarian says that isn't an issue when I asked.

    What I did was take my card over to the two neighboring college towns and we have bar code stickers on the back of the cards that say we're members there, as well. Free there because Illinois libraries can be part of the Reciprocal Borrowing System. My absolute favorite is this library. Very homeschool friendly. Actually just plain friendly in that they have the school districts' textbooks there in case the school kids have homework due the next day and they're locked out of their school w/o a book. They also a month long checkout period for most books (including Saxon and other textbooks that some homeschoolers like to use). Might have something to do with the head children's librarian Janice Harrington, who can change her whole physical appearance just by telling a story and knows how to write a good story too. The rest of the staff have been great too, and no surprise, at least a couple of the staff happen to be homeschoolers.

    The other college town whose twin city is named Normal isn't as user friendly or resource friendly as Champaign's library. They do have the Teaching Company courses which I would LOVE to watch for endless hours. And they have lots of Hank the Cowdog books on cd which crack us all up as they're read by the author, John Erikson the cowboy.

    Bloomington Library doesn't send email reminders of soon to be overdue books like Champaign does. My pocketbook says so.


    Military Homeschoolers

    In Illinois, our military bases did not get closed in the latest round but several took some hits in job reductions.

    There is a fantastic site for military homeschoolers that it also useful for just plain homeschoolers.

    Valerie Bonham Moon is an entertaining writer and can take a picture or two (scroll down to her Unschooling in a word . . . Reading: you'll see one of her gems).

    She also wrote up an in depth rebuttal to the series of homeschooling slams written by a couple of guys paid to be journalists.

    For all of you military homeschoolers, we appreciate your service and sacrifices and are glad that you have Valerie's knowledge to help get you through the rough spots.


    Sunday, May 22, 2005

    Over one million U.S. kids home-schooled-Says Who?

    That same article started with this number of homeschoolers and I want to focus on that here. I get apprehensive now when I see numbers regarding # of homeschoolers such as
    The number of children opting out of traditional school environments jumped 30 percent between 1999 and 2003

    The Federal Department of Education estimates that 1.1 million children were homeschooled in 2002-03, but experts at the pro-homeschooling National Home Education Research Institute say it may be closer to 2.2 million, depending on how states define "homeschool."

    There you go....between 1.1 and 2.2 million with 2 studies. My kids know the difference between 1.1 and 2.2 donuts. And they know there's a bit of a discrepency when those 2 numbers are followed by million.

    Why the studies? Why the research when it's obviously soooo inaccurate? What data do they get when they're trying to do these studies? And has anyone noticed that they always say it needs to be researched further? Data collecting and tracking is irresistible.

    The same NCES (primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data..related to education in the US...) study uses this definition of homeschoolers as kids
    who are considered to be homeschooled if their parents reported them as being schooled at home instead of at a public or private school for at least part of their education and if their part time enrollment in public or private schools did not exceed 25 hours/week

    Let's work those numbers. And don't forget that several states, including Illinois, don't require homeschoolers to register or report so all of those states' 'numbers' aren't even on this radar, thank goodness.

    Now here's the bizarre part. If my kids were living this definition of part time enrollment up to 25 hours/week, when would we have time to homeschool? That amount of time in brick and mortar would mean 5 hours/day in the classroom which often means that the public school would receive funding for that student....hmmm...funny that coincidence. It seems ludicrous to include those "enrolled in school part-time" students in the homeschooling category when there is public funding to the schools for them.

    If this was in our school district here, the kids would be in school from
    8:20 until 1:20 every day (excluding lunch time). 1 hour and 40
    minutes left to in the school day. If that works for families who choose that way to educate their kids, great! But let's hold these researchers feet to the fire in their definition accuracy of a homeschooler.

    Some 30 percent of families involved in home-based education did so to provide their children with religious or moral instruction.

    Another 31 percent cited concerns over "school environment," a broad euphemism that encompasses everything from violence and drugs to discipline - too stifling or too lax.

    Sez who? Why wasn't this stated more accurately? In this study, this percentage (a sample survey in some states)appears to use home-based education because blah, blah, blah? There is such a thing as cultural differences across the country and just a state, for that matter.

    Larry and Susan Kaseman wrote an article concerning P Lines monograph. They addressed some key points concerning her writings:
    Lines presents misleading statistics and information about homeschoolers...
    Lines makes bold statements about homeschooling that she does not support with evidence, statements that, in fact, are contradicted by readily available data.
    Lines misrepresents key points of education and homeschooling law...
    Is Homeschooling Being Used as Part of a Larger Agenda?

    Definitely food for thought.


    California Homeschool Article

    This article was published on the 18th and I'm just now catching up with it. The coverage of homeschooling families in CA was good, from what I know. I especially appreciated Ann Zeise's quote
    Zeise recalled sending her son out on scouting expeditions to measure the diameter and circumference of every round thing he could find. Back at the kitchen table, the pair whipped out pencil and paper to find the ratio.

    "By gum, it was always 3.14," she said. "He invented pi."

    But even Zeise made mistakes.

    "Never teach genetics with anything that breeds," said Zeise. "We have a lot of rabbits."


    Saturday, May 21, 2005

    Homeschooling and Private Schools Save Public School Money

    In so many different ways. This study in Nevada says what I couldn't understand was ever a question.

    The Heartland Institute notes Nevada's homeschooling regs:

    The study also included information on Nevada's homeschooling regulations. To comply with the compulsory education law, students must attend a public school from ages 7 to 17, or receive equivalent instruction at a private school or home. They must receive instruction in English reading, comprehension, and writing; mathematics; and science.

    When beginning to homeschool, parents must provide their district with information about the goals and materials they use and their eligibility to teach according to state criteria for homeschools. After this initial notification, parents must then inform the district annually of their intent to continue homeschooling.

    Homeschoolers and privately educated students may participate in public school classes or extracurricular activities at the state's expense when space is available.

    Looks a lot like Illinois' except we require no notification; annually or initially:

    Sec. 26‑1. Compulsory school age‑Exemptions. Whoever has custody or control of any child between the ages of 7 and 17 years (unless the child has already graduated from high school) shall cause such child to attend some public school in the district wherein the child resides the entire time it is in session during the regular school term, except as provided in Section 10‑19.1, and during a required summer school program established under Section 10‑22.33B; provided, that the following children shall not be required to attend the public schools:
    1. Any child attending a private or a parochial school where children are taught the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools, and where the instruction of the child in the branches of education is in the English language;


    What a World

    Back to our regularly scheduled program. Ummm...sort of, this makes me feel kind of dirty even posting it, but it got my attention.

    Letourneau, whose notorious seduction of 12-year-old boy led to more than seven years in prison, has married the former student she was convicted of raping

    Notorious seduction?? Say what? Would a 12 year old girl be notoriously seduced by a teacher? I vaguely remembered some studies about boys and school and gender stereotypes, so let's see what I find here. Now linked above based on a '94? US News and World Report that I can't find.

    And Laura Bush has a piece of this too. But the boy issue is not highlighted on her site, but instead it's a Making a Difference for America's Youth. The solving the boy problem mission is noted by NPR.

    And Yikes! I see the word Initiative for the husband and Mrs. Bush. And looking for the New Freedom Initiative, I'm wondering why that is under the Homeland Security Focus?? I dunno.

    The WikiEd relates the issue as a problem for girls and boys....in the classroom. Guess you could always homeschool them and just have a vague remembrance of it being pointed out somewhere as an issue.

    I wandered off there a bit. Guess I didn't want to spend too much time on the rape of a student by his teacher and the ensuing results.


    Friday, May 20, 2005

    Solving the illicit comment problem

    Okay, we've changed to a new comment system. We lost our old comments. It was a small price to pay to get rid of some of the things that we're on our blog. We'll try this again.


    The comments are off../Comments are back

    After being inundated with porn links we had to turn the comments off. We are working on solving the problem. If you have a comment email it to us at homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com and we'll post it for you. So sorry for the inconvenience. We have emailed blogger and are awaiting their reply


    Someone put a link to porn pictures in the comments!

    That was not kind and it has been removed. Does anyone know who I contact about this? If anyone else saw that, I am so sorry. That was a bad blogging experience.


    It's Not Dead Yet...SB 409

    According to the Illinois Association of School Boards, SB 409 which lowers the compulsory education from 7 to 5 has been stalled. If we hear anything more we'll let you know. For now we will leave SB 409 in the sidebar since it's not ready for the graveyard.


    Guest Post from Carie - Jasper County Christian Home Educators

    I am Carie, co-leader of the Jasper County Christian Home Educators. We are a small group, although we are very thankful that we have each other. Jasper Countyis a rural area in south-central Illinois. We have about 10 active families, but there are a few more that homeschool than that. After a hiatus, we resumed meetings last fall as a group. We try to have a meeting once a month and have the kids show something that they have been working on. I have been trying to come up with themes for each meeting; art, Abraham Lincoln, etc. That way the kids (and moms) have some guidance in the project. We meet at local churches or at the community park. This is my first year as a group leader so I am pretty clueless about everything. My kids are still young :) But we are learning together and having a wonderful time of it. I know that I wouldn't be able to do it without the wonderful support of the other homeschool families in this area.

    If you would like to get in touch with the Jasper County Christian Home Educators drop us an email: homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com and we will hook you up. Susan and I would like to thank Carie for taking the time out of her busy day to participate in the blog.


    Conviction or Preference?

    We've been tagged by Spunky. Spunky would like to know is homeschooling a Conviction or Preference? I read Spunky's post on this right after she posted it. I didn't answer the question in the comments because I was soul searching. Last week was a particularly bad homeschooling week at my private school. It's possible that my 12 year old was being more than a little bit difficult. I was starting to fantasize about sending her away to school. How can homeschooling be a conviction if you have fantasies about sending the children away? Spunky gave me food for thought and now she has put me on the spot. She wants to know my answer. Well let's start with a trip to the dictionary and be precise.
    con·vic·tion (noun) a strong persuasion or belief
    pref·er·ence (noun) the act, fact, or principle of giving advantages to some over others
    I think my vote is that homeschooling started out as a preference and is now a conviction.
    When my first child entered school, we didn't even know homeschooling existed. My daughter spent 4 miserable months in kindergarten at our local public school. How can kindergarten be miserable? I have fond memories of learning phonics and singing, "I'm a Little Teapot" in Mrs. Higgins Kindergarten class at Fairview Elementary School in Springfield, Illinois. I loved elementary school. How could my daughter hate school? Why didn't she want to learn to read? How in the world could this small person who had been so happy 5 months ago be so miserable? We knew that something had to change. I went into her classroom each day and helped out with my newborn son. The fact of the matter was that the classroom situation was a mess. The teacher spent a lot of time yelling and my daughter was not used to this. On one occasion, I watched my daughter follow the teacher's instructions to the letter and then the teacher got in her face for not following her instructions. My daughter had done exactly what the teacher had said -- I think the teacher hadn't said what she meant. All of us say things or write them less clearly than we would like. It's the human condition. However, it's difficult for a 5 year old to explain to the teacher, who was literally in her face, that she was following the instructions to the letter. The next step was for my husband and I to look for an alternative. We called every private school in the phone book. After a secretary listened to my story, she said, "Why don't you homeschool?" She proceeded to give me some basic information on homeschooling so I could start researching. She felt I should get my daughter out of that classroom ASAP. We pulled my daughter out of school after Thanksgiving. It was one of our good parenting decisions. After a few years of homeschooling as our preference to the other alternatives it evolved into a conviction. I strongly believe that I can give my children the best education (most days). I guess I will still say that homeschooling is still a conviction. Just some days that conviction wavers a little bit.
    Now, let's interview the children.
    The 12 year old daughter states that homeschooling is a conviction. Hmm... How come she can't be more cooperative? I'll ponder that point.
    The six year old son states that it is a preference. I'm not sure he understands what I'm saying, but we'll let his answer stand for now.


    Some of my favorites: Home Education Resources

    I know when I started homeschooling years ago I was reading everything and anything I could get my hands on about homeschooling. The pickin's weren't quite as bountiful as they are now. (Thinking about some of the articles I've seen trying to connect homeschoolers and abuse, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.) But I was really grateful for the homeschoolers who let me pick their brains.

    I waded through a lot of home education magazines and read every inch of the catalogs I ordered then. The catalogs were free and offered a lot of useful information in their descriptions of the products.

    I did settle on a magazine that's stayed a constant for me. Home Education Magazine always has great pictures on their cover and their articles are diverse and always interesting. The latest cover reminds me of my 19 year old when he was a curly haired little guy and we were visiting New Salem.

    This newsletter from Jane Boswell just popped into my inbox and there are some good articles in it.

    HEM also has a news commentary and a monthly support groupnewsletter. Ann Lahrson-Fisher has great feedback regarding the different articles and written a good book or two. Mary Nix has some really interesting and timely interviews each month. April's interview was with the support group in NC that had been attacked by a now fired police officer during their play group time. That incident gave me chills imagining that very scenario occurring at our Thursday playgroups


    Thursday, May 19, 2005

    Baltimore Times Series

    The Baltimore Times is running a series in their Educating Matters Column. The last two columns have focused on homeschooling. I have added them to the "In the News" section of the sidebar. I always find it interesting when someone in the education field finds out that the system doesn't work for them. The articles are about a mom who is a teacher and mother of twins working out how to best educate her sons.


    SB 409 - update

    Well, the time for the hearing has been moved...again. Hearings:
    Elementary & Secondary Education Committee Hearing May 19 2005 9:00AM Stratton Building Room D-1 Springfield, IL
    We will continue to follow the bill and keep you updated on what becomes of it. It was supposed to be on yesterday's agenda. Of course, prior to that, it was supposed to be held last week.


    Wednesday, May 18, 2005

    All in the Family

    I've just added a new sidebar heading, Illinois Politics. Under that heading you will find Spontaneous Solutions and the Illinois Policy Institute web site. Greg Blankenship, director of the Illinois Policy Institute, is my brother. He has a lot to say on health care, education, taxes, and the state budget. I believe the Illinois Policy Institute is the only think tank on state policy. Greg has helped me to follow legislation in the state, gives me the heads up when he sees something that might interest homeschoolers, and helped me to contact the right people. He's an ally in our battle to keep Illinois a great homeschooling state. If you have time, stop by his blog or the Institute website.


    Expelled Preschoolers...ugh

    Sure Senator Raoul, we really need to mandate 3-6 year olds here in Illinois to some of this pain.

    I was listening to NPR while doing errands and only heard part of the discussion between the reporter and Mr. Gilliam about his study. He was asked why teachers who are trained to work with 3-5 year olds need a behavioral consultant to keep these little ones in school. His response was strange. He said that he was a former public school teacher and that is a very difficult job. Well, no kidding, but why that retreat? Anyway, this was also noted in his study:
    A paper presented with the study noted that experts had found these children more likely to be ill-prepared for kindergarten and elementary school and more likely to be at risk for school failure.

    The study found that on average, boys were expelled at 4.5 times the rate of girls, African-Americans at twice the rate of Latinos and Caucasians, and 4-year-olds at 1.5 times the rate of 3-year-olds. Expulsion rates were lowest in preschool classrooms in public schools and Head Start, and highest in faith-affiliated centers, for-profit child care and other community-based child-care settings.

    So little ones are learning at a younger and younger age (just out of diapers)that they are ill prepared and pegged for school failure well before they even have to hear that at 7 (in Illinois). Or there's always the chemical restraints:

    Myth: Children are not adequately treated for mental illness.
    Fact: Children are over diagnosed and over treated with psychiatric medications and both problems will increase with wide spread screening programs.

    300% increase in psychotropic drug use in 2-4 year old children between 1991-1995
    300% increase in psychotropic drug use in children between 1987 and 1996
    More spent on psychiatric medications for children than on antibiotics or asthma medication in 2003

    I know there are rare cases of physical problems causing behavioral problems some kids have that require medication. But the above use of pychiatric medications for 2 year olds is crazy.

    Our society needs some intervention all right. No drugs, just common sense.


    Tuesday, May 17, 2005

    Parents Opt to Teach Home-Schooling on Rise Throughout Southern Illinois

    May 1st, 2005
    SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - There may be no ready-made statistics available to chart the growth of home-schooled children in Southern Illinois, but all indications are that the numbers are on the rise.
    One reason is because of violence in some schools nationwide, including shootings that left several dead in recent years. Another reason is that some parents and students don't like certain teachers or the grading format. Yet other parents like the convenience factor of keeping their children at home, or believe they can better educate their children than the teachers on staff at a public or private school.
    But perhaps the biggest reason why many parents are proponents of home-schooling is faith-based. These are parents who want their children to be more family-conscious and follow God's path through biblical readings, thus avoiding the temptation of sex, drugs and alcohol.
    Kim Crouse of Herrin is teaching four of her six school-age children at her home. Sarah is 15 and in the ninth grade. Eli is 13 and in the seventh grade. Emma is 10 and in the fourth grade. And Andrew is 6 and in the first grade. John, 4, and Rebekah, 2, are not yet ready for organized instruction.
    "I've been teaching at home now for the last 10 years, or ever since Sarah was old enough to start schools," Crouse said. "I felt called to do it. My husband (Jett) and I share the same view. We felt we could accomplish more with our children by teaching them here at home. I look at it as more of a discipleship."
    Crouse said classes begin at 6 a.m. and run through 2:30.
    "We go five days a week all year 'round with the exception of three weeks in the summer and certain holidays when Jett (registered nurse in the cardiac cath lab at Memorial Hospital in Carbondale) is off work."
    The work day begins with one hour of Bible study followed by an hour of history, English, math, literature, Scripture memory, physical education, science and music separated by a late-morning lunch.
    Oldest daughter, Sarah, also does some work on her own through a correspondence school, which mails her books to read.
    "Sarah is such an avid reader. She reads everything she can get her hands on," Crouse said.
    Although Crouse does not have a college education or any other teaching background, she said the teaching process "hasn't been that hard" with the exception of algebra.
    "In that instance, I had to learn right along with my kids," she said.
    A Herrin native, the former Kim Reagan, a 1981 graduate of HHS, said she and her husband took some flak initially from family members for choosing to home-school their children.
    "Now that they have seen, though, how well-adjusted our kids are, they've pretty much come around to see our side of things and love home-schooling now," Crouse said. "Don't get me wrong. Sometimes, it can get pretty crazy with six kids in the house, but most days, things run pretty smooth, which is about the way life is."
    Although she has no problem with any of her children attending college in the years ahead, Crouse said she isn't convinced a college education is a necessity. "Sarah has said she might just want to be a mother because that's the most wonderful job in the world. Eli, though, has said he might want to be a fireman or join the military. We'll just have to wait and see."
    Crouse said that a partnership has been formed with other home-school families to help facilitate the social interaction of the youth.
    "Some of us go on field trips or recreate together, or they see each other at church. I'm convinced that home-schooling is the way for us. Our kids get along great with one another and love each other. That's the way it should be."
    Sarah Crouse concurred.
    "I feel like I have more freedom to choose what I want to learn through home-schooling," she said. "I learn more through one-on-one teaching. And I like being with my family all day. We joke around some, but it's pretty unusual that we will argue or fight with each other."
    Sarah said she will attend Herrin High School next fall for one class - driver's education.
    "I have a lot of friends who go to the public school and many of them are curious about home-schooling, but not that much is said about it really."
    Beth Gundlach of Marion is busy teaching four daughters at home - Sarah,18, Emily, 16, Heather, 13, and Mary Beth, 10. Her son, Daniel, 4, has not yet begun formal instruction. A teacher by trade with a degree from Bob Jones University, Gundlach said she began home-schooling when her oldest daughter was just beginning school in South Carolina because she and her husband, Jim, a physics teacher, wanted to impart their own religious beliefs on their children through daily instruction.
    Not long after making the decision to home-school, the family moved to Southern Illinois, settling in Energy and now resides in Marion.
    "I believe in reading to my kids and the phonics approach has worked well," Gundlach said. "We subscribe to various Christian book distributors and practice the ABEKA curriculum. Anymore, all kind of materials are available on home-schooling because it has become so popular."
    When not working hands-on with her kids, Gundlach, who is proud that she taught her daughters how to read, may pop in a DVD with specific assignments to follow.
    "And Sarah has been taking some dual-credit classes like government, economics and physics at Logan," Gundlach said. "There are also all kind of computer classes available, too." Gundlach said her daughters have been involved in extra-curricular activities, as well, with gymnastics, piano lessons, swimming and soccer. "There have been times I've worried that the girls might be missing out on some things like a Debate Club, for example. But it's nice to know they're not getting negative peer pressure to do things they shouldn't be doing. I've thoroughly enjoyed having my girls around me all these years. And we have the freedom to go places and do things together as a family."
    Asked how she would react if any of her younger children wanted a change of pace and ask to transfer to a public school setting, Gundlach said she and her husband have been in that position before and would have to "pray about it" before making a decision.
    "I know I'd be leery about them going to a public school," she said.
    Sarah Gundlach said the best part of home-schooling, in her opinion, is the opportunity to "learn at your own pace" without the distractions of a public school environment.
    The 18-year-old, who plans to return to South Carolina to attend a Christian school, said that learning from a Christian perspective has benefited her.
    "There may not have been enough social interaction, but we've made an effort by getting together with other home-schooled kids," she said." I've also been involved in music and sports. And I have several public school friends.
    Karen Forbes of Carbondale home-schools a pair of daughters, Emily, 11, and Kaitlyn, 8. Reagan, 4, is a year away from formal instruction.
    "I have no set curriculum," Forbes said. "I choose from various ones. We start instruction around 8:30 or 9 each morning and then break down into individual work in the afternoon. Both girls have a lot of reading they have to do and worksheets to fill out. We also have Bible study daily."
    A Special Education instructor when the family lived in Fairview Heights, Forbes began home-schooling her children three years ago. "There's nothing wrong with Unity Point School. The teachers do a great job. I just wanted to individualize the instruction a little more and go at their own pace."
    Forbes said Kaitlyn is also active with the Girl Scouts and both she and older sister, Emily, participate in Upward basketball.
    "John (Edward Jones investor husband) and I have always said we would take things one year at a time, but I don't see the girls going back to the public school environment, not since they've had so much success the way things are now." John Forbes agrees. "If it continues to work out well with Karen and the kids, we'll keep it up," he said. "She's always loved to teach." And then there are home-schoolers like Leslie McColgin, a Special Education instructor from Graves County, Kentucky, who was raised in Metropolis where her parents still reside.
    "Many home-schoolers, like me, espouse an unschooling approach to education in which the curriculum is not pre-planned but rather unfolds naturally in response to the child's talents and interests," McColgin said. "Workbooks, textbooks, tests and assignments are generally not the preferred modes for learning, and much of what the children are doing may not look like what traditional educators are used to seeing. "The subject matter may not even be included in traditional schools, such as the many years my children spent in equine studies, where they not only developed physical skills, but also responsibility, teamwork, leadership and many important personal qualities along with incidental learning that included biology, math, reading, writing and study skills as they prepared for both knowledge and performance competitions and testings in U.S. Pony Club." McColgin said thousands of unschoolers have been raised with this approach.
    "If you read biographies of highly-gifted people throughout history, you will find that quite a number of them (about one-third) spent very little or no time in school and many others had quite nasty things to say about traditional school approaches (e.g. George Bernard Shaw, Albert Einstein). "It is important, and indeed vital, to our educational freedoms to protect unschooling from narrow views of education held by school educators and judges in court," McColgin said. "Intelligent teens are perfectly capable of directing their own educations and we must protect their right to do so, since many simply do not fit well into our one-size-fits-all school system."
    John Homan 618-997-3356 x15807

    Reprinted with permission of John Homan and the Southern Illinois who hold the copyright. Do not reprint without appropriate permission.

    I really appreciated how Mr Homan showed the diversity of homeschooling in this article. Homeschoolers choose their path for a variety of reasons and use many different approaches to educating their children. It's nice to have a reporter recognize the different styles. As homeschooling continues to grow in popularity there are more and more choices for parents who are purchasing materials or even just borrowing from the library.

    I cobble together my curriculum from a variety of sources. I use Singapore Math for both my older children. I get a lot of ideas from the Well-Trained Mind and I use First Language Lessons for my oldest son. I love the Write Source books, but I've added in the Writing in Narrative Series from the Elijah Company. My two oldest love The Story of the World, and I've purchased the CD's and Activity Guides. My oldest son knows history I didn't learn until college. I learn right along with the kids and enjoy the constant challenge. I felt this article captured more of the diversity of the homeschooling culture than many that I have read. What about you? What curriculum or style do you enjoy? Leave us a comment and share.


    GET CONNECTED in Illinois

    It's time for blogger participation. We would like to do posts on homeschool groups throughout the state. Do you belong to a group? This is your chance to be a writer or to have your children participate. (I see a writing/art assignment here.) Write us a little article about your group. You can include pictures, either drawn and scanned or photographed, and we will put them in the blog. Please include: the group's name, where they are located, website if you have one, who people can contact (preferably by email or website), and affiliations if any (religious or otherwise) and we will network away. Just drop us a line at our email address homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com.


    Medicating Aliah

    This Mother Jones article really lays out an ugly story. She's sadly not the only one.

    A few weeks later, the Gleasons got a "Dear parents" form letter from the head of the screening program. "You will be glad to know your daughter did not report experiencing a significant level of distress," it said. Not long after, they got a very different phone call from a UT psychologist, who told them Aliah had scored high on a suicide rating and needed further evaluation. The Gleasons reluctantly agreed to have Aliah see a UT consulting psychiatrist. She concluded Aliah was suicidal but did not hospitalize her, referring her instead to an emergency clinic for further evaluation. Six weeks later, in January 2004, a child-protection worker went to Aliah's school, interviewed her, then summoned Calvin Gleason to the school and told him to take Aliah to Austin State Hospital, a state mental facility. He refused, and after a heated conversation, she placed Aliah in emergency custody and had a police officer drive her to the hospital.

    The Gleasons would not be allowed to see or even speak to their daughter for the next five months, and Aliah would spend a total of nine months in a state psychiatric hospital and residential treatment facilities. While in the hospital, she was placed in restraints more than 26 times and medicated—against her will and without her parents' consent—with at least 12 different psychiatric drugs, many of them simultaneously.

    You know you have a big problem when Phyllis Schafly and Mother Jones mag. are lined up together on the same issue.

    I'm grateful for both in their coverage of the issues regarding Childrens Mental Health.

    Unfortunately, Illinois is quite the innovator with their Social/Emotional Learning? Standards stemming from the Childrens Mental Health Act.


    Monday, May 16, 2005


    HB 1463 got my attention a couple of months ago browsing through the education bills. The bill looks like it's stuck in the Rules Committee and I'm liking that. I don't know anything more than that and what my thoughts were about it below. I like the idea of a graveyard for bills. May they rest and rest and rest.....

    Representatives Flider, Chapa-LaVia, Munson, Moffitt and Dugan co-sponsored HB 1463. Here is the introduced synopsis: Amends the Illinois Vehicle Code and the School Code. Provides, beginning August 1, 2005, with certain exceptions, for the cancellation of or refusal to issue a driver's license for failure of an unmarried person under 18 years of age to maintain school attendance. Effective immediately.

    Here were some reasons to oppose this bill:

    Some children are forced out or "pushed-out" of the school system by public school administrators worried about low test scores decreasing funding under NCLB mandates. I’ve seen this occur in more than one Illinois school district. They will suffer even more by denial of a driver's license.
    • There is already language in place in the law regarding the driver education course that requires a passing grade in at least 8 courses during the previous 2 semesters prior to enrolling in a driver education course, or the student shall not be permitted to enroll in the course.
    • It would cause harm to teenage mothers that drop out and will then have no transportation for day care, doctor visits or even a return to school.
    • This is a punitive penalty towards unmarried young parents.
    • Individual families might have temporary hardship reasons for young people who need a job now and a high school diploma later. The State shouldn’t interfere or cause more difficulties.
    • This will only cause more reliance on our welfare systems as well as hardships from education system failures...
    • The increased paperwork and cost for the already overwhelmed school district and the Secretary of State’s office in processing a monthly report is unnecessary.
    • Proof should not be necessary by private school students that they are in school. Students who are not dropouts do not have to prove that they are in compliance with the school code per the 1950 People v. Marjorie Levisen Illinois Supreme Court ruling.
    • The compulsory attendance age is effectively changed to 18 with this bill in the requirements for proof that a student is getting or has a GED or is enrolled in a school, college or university. If you do not fulfill any of the above requirements, then you will be denied a driver’s license.

    The “push-out” problem is so significant that the children will be punished even more besides being rejected by the school system that is there to serve them. As the sponsors are concerned about children dropping out of school, they should address their concern to the individual school districts. It is mandated that children should be provided a free and appropriate education within the compulsory attendance age of 7-17 years of age. The schools need to find solutions for dropouts and/or “push-outs” regarding unsuccessful educational goals. This bill does not address that core problem and is not part of a solution.

    Legislators should not be creating a law that has already assured successful attendance for enrollment in a driver’s education course. The judicial branch should be responsible for punishment when necessary. This bill also intrudes into the privacy of non-truant children and families who should not be punished for any reason, let alone with with the denial of a driver’s license.


    Sunday, May 15, 2005

    Introducing The Bloggers....

    We homeschool on our family farm and love it! Our favorite learning adventures are usually outdoors checking out the critters and various flora and fauna in the woods. Morels, wild turkeys, deer are in our field trip viewfinders. Gardening is a must with an herb garden, fruit trees, strawberries, and weedy garden. We listen to a lot of books on tape as we go to the kids’ various activities.

    I also schedule volunteers for our Community Clothes Closet which is part of a Resource Center along with our Food Pantry. In this endeavor, our community folks in need are supported solely by the community with gifts of clothing, food and money. That and homeschooling seems to satisfy my libertarian appetite.

    We are a homeschool family with four children. We've been homeschooling for seven years now, and have made our fair share of calls to legislators and the governor's office. As our family has grown we still want to play a part in Illinois politics, but jumping in the car and darting off to Springfield, especially on short notice, is no longer a viable option. This has given birth to the Homeshooling Illinois blog. It's wonderful to be able to use technology to stay involved and communicate with other homeschoolers in Illinois about what is going on in the Illinois legislature and even Federal bills that could impact us here in Illinois.


    Lowering Compulsory Attendance from age 7 to 5 could cost cash-strapped state millions

    SB 409 was introduced in the Illinois Senate, zipped through until it hit the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee. There it sits and hopefully will go away by the end of this week.

    My kids and I took a field trip to Springfield to observe our legislators in action. We didn’t hear anything regarding SB 409 that day, but we saw many people filing in to the Capitol with t-shirts and banners for some type of rally. The t-shirts and banners displayed slogans about adult education and literacy.

    Adult education programs are hugely important in many adults’ lives. Particularly with young adults who are climbing back up. I strongly support the adult education classes and I know the dedication of their instructors. But why do we need adult education? Why are these classes needed to help people become a self-sufficient, productive, and responsible member of our society?

    How ironic that on the same day that a bill was to be heard in Committee making demands for more mandatory seat time for little children 2 years younger than the current requirement, Adult Education proponents were pursuing more funding with their rally. What's wrong with this picture? Plenty. If the public schools were serving these very people well from kindergarten up to 17 years of age, then there wouldn’t be this tremendous need for adult education classes. I’m glad the program is there for them. There is no rationale for children's sake, to increase compulsory attendance age mandates for younger or older ages. The people they hope to serve are obviously not being served well. Compulsory attendance laws don’t assure an education. Instead it only assures warm bodies and that is too high a price to pay to serve the complexities of a developing mind and body, notwithstanding public school successes.

    In a federally-sponsored analysis of 8,000 early childhood studies, the Moore Foundation states that "From Piagetian specialist David Elkind in Boston to William Rohwer in Berkeley, Calif., top learning and development authorities warn that early formal school is burning out our children.

    It can certainly be lucrative for the education industry. How could someone so fresh into the Senate (six months) be able to ride this bill through the Senate into the House reducing the compulsory attendance age not just one year but 2 years? Maybe it was the same type of ride that increased the compulsory attendance age to 17 years January 1st of this year. One can only look at the number of sponsors added onto this bill to see there is a definite agenda in support of the freshman Senator’s actions. Despite the individual good intentions, the general picture is this is rationally not "about the kids".

    Senator Raoul and others have ignored hundreds and hundreds of calls and requests to withdraw this bill. One can only assume these are parents making all of these calls. And one can immediately see the regard given to these parents and constituents by legislators who rebuked them with the message that
    I wish this bill lowered the compulsory attendance age down to 3

    Senator Raoul's words should ring through all of our ears. Illinois is already overindulged with Big Brotherhood in the passage of the Illinois Children's Mental Health Act and the establishment of Social/Emotional *Learning* Standards for the children already within the 10 years of compulsory attendance age. Let's stop this invasive manipulation of our parental rights and children's lives. Today. Call and write NOW to protest SB 409.


    Reply to the Thomas article in the Illinois Leader

    Scott Thomas’ column from the Illinois Leader - “Homeschooling Not a Good Idea For Most” http://www.illinoisleader.com/news/newsview.asp?c=24846

    It has baffled me why this editorial was published in the Illinois Leader. Perhaps they were trying to rake up controversy to raise readership. I’m not really sure. What I am sure of was my disappointment in reading this in the Leader. The Leader has been one of the few places a homeschooler in Illinois could find good information on homeschooling in the State of Illinois. I’ve looked back over their homeschooling section. It’s slim pickings the last article on legislation was this: http://www.illinoisleader.com/news/newsview.asp?c=18533
    by our very own Susan Ryan. August 24, 2004. If nothing else Scott Thomas’ column and the Leader’s lack of positive interest in the homeschooling community has led to publishing this blog sooner rather than later. The following is a contribution from a homeschooling mom and good friend of mine addressed to Mr Thomas in regards to his editorial in the Leader:

    Mr. Thomas,

    I’m writing to urge you to consider expanding your information base. Interview people who deal with thousands of both public and home schooled students every year. Talk to ushers at a performing arts center, the staff at the planetarium, instructors at a nature preserve, children’s librarians, or docents at a museum. What are their observations on the “real life” skills amongst the students they encounter?

    Which groups maintain focus for extended periods of time? Which students show more interest in and aptitude for learning new information? Which ones articulate thoughtful questions that illustrate not only listening but comprehension skills? Which are able to complete assignments successfully, whether individually or cooperating in teams?

    I’ve been told by representatives from these very fields in our community that the answer to these questions is, more often than not, the home schooled students.

    Walk into the children’s section of any book store to see evidence of a growing market niche in response to consumer demand: educational workbooks and test preparation on every subject and geared at all grade levels. Many materials don’t just review a subject, they teach it from scratch. Ironically, most of these resources are from publishers who are already selling their textbooks to the schools! If their initial product is at all satisfactory, if all these schools chock full of experts are so expertly administering the lessons, why the need to back it up with all this extra stuff?

    Unhappily for these families, it appears that they don’t happen to have access to your all-star team of educators. In fact, what you described is closer to those fantasy teams that sports enthusiasts enjoy putting together to compete in virtual sports leagues. Sure, they’re fun to daydream about, but we all know there will never be anything like it in the “real world.”

    It’s true, there are many areas in which I am not an expert, but home schooling two children through a day’s homework at or above their respective grade levels goes much more quickly than doing the same for a group of 24. In addition to participating in weekly, bi-weekly and monthly home school co-op activities, we use extra time and flexibility in our schedule to attend an average of 3-4 field trips per month. Some public school students don’t even get that many outings in a year.

    We’ve learned first hand from potters, blacksmiths, ostrich farmers, bakers, museum curators, bookbinders, paramedics, inventors, glass blowers, sheep farmers, martial arts experts, fire fighters, meteorologists, plant biologists, police officers, nature conservationists, artists, politicians, authors, astronomers, physicists and classical, bluegrass, jazz, ethnic and contemporary musicians out there in the “real world.”

    Anyway, I don’t need to be a chef to cook dinner, or a seamstress to sew a Halloween costume, or a scientist to adjust a cake recipe or an accountant to organize our finances, or a master gardener to grow tomatoes. And I don’t need to be an expert to teach those skills.

    Generally speaking, home schooled students are educated and socialized at levels at or above their respective peers in public school. Just as, generally speaking, public school students receive a satisfactory education. In both scenarios, there are successes as well as failures. In either situation, good parents make the difference.

    Home schooling is enabling, rather than hindering, me in my effort to not only “draw from” but exploit the “wealth of experience and resources” available in our community and more realistically prepare my children for the world in which they will be living.

    Naomi Young

    Homeschool Legislation Watch
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