Monday, October 31, 2005

Good Sleuthing

Which unfortunately seems to be important in determining who is homeschooling and who is accountable to the public schools. One would think that was the media's job. Go figure!

Big announcement: the scary mom and her children are not really from the homeschooling world. It was discovered and disclosed on the American Homeschool Association Political Action list by a California lady who's seen what blending and the mixing up of homeschool/public school does to homeschooling autonomy.

Funny how many times homeschooling didn't have anything to do with the hate and abuse stories that get pinned on homeschoolers.


'The Crazy, Mixed-up Zoo' Wins Awards

Again and again.

9 year old Alex Talley (Missouri) with his sneacock, a girrotamus and zunkeys knows how to win awards. Three consecutive first-place wins for his grade level in the local Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, hosted by the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service). I see Peoria and Chicago are represented in the awards, too. Great little books from all!

A friend had reminded me of these helpful links from PBS. Great resources on the PBS site. Links such as Games for the Brain and Math Mol (for molecular modeling). PBS is one of those great educational sites where you wander around and then wander off into some more cool sites until eyes strain and then you let the kids take over the computer to check it out.


Saturday, October 29, 2005

Where's The College Beef For HR 3753/S 1691?

Or What was the Purpose of Clarification Again?

(a) Clarification of Institutional Eligibility- Section 101(a)(1) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001(a)(1)) is amended by inserting `meeting the requirements of section 484(d)(3) or' after `only persons'.

(b) Clarification of Student Eligibility- Section 484(d) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1091(d)) is amended by striking the heading and inserting `Satisfaction of Secondary Education Standards'.
Along with a real stink pot piece of legislation from Section 10:
5) The graduate has provided the Secretary concerned with a third-party verification letter of the graduate's home-school status by the Home School Legal Defense Association or a State or county home-school association or organization.
Looking at this again after reading this article,Colleges Welcome Texas Homeschoolers. It's an interesting history of the state of Texas and homeschooled students getting into colleges. In the excerpt below, there's also some history about federal financial aid which has already been documented in opposition to the HR 3753/S 1691 and the 2003 version of the same. Here's what the Heartland Institute has to say:
Fighting for Equality

THSC serves as a liaison between colleges and universities and the homeschooling community. Homeschooled students receive guidance in developing transcripts and meeting the admissions requirements for Texas colleges and universities, while admissions offices are informed of legal requirements regarding admission of homeschooled students.

Obtaining federal financial aid was overly cumbersome for homeschooled students until recently. In 1998, Congress clarified the law regarding federal financial aid, stating homeschool graduates were eligible for aid without having to take an additional test other applicants were not required to take.
Here's a link to the Department of Education letter addressed to Financial Aid Professionals with the clarifications. And here is the link to the 1998 amendments to the Higher Education Act.
Interesting is that HSLDA said No Problem as well, back in January, 2003:
We are thankful for the revisions in the Handbook and the new "Dear Colleague" letter. We believe that this will clear the air and enable homeschoolers to easily gain admission to colleges based on the merit of their excellent academic programs and will also enable homeschoolers to freely obtain student financial assistance without any further unnecessary and illegal barriers.
And if it's illegal, what's the deal with fussing it up with more legal verbiage and "clarifications"? Just follow the law. Let's get rid of this invasive bill! HSLDA is demanding more government intervention via their legislation; particularly Section 10 along with HSLDA's financial gain (as laid out in part 5 above). This article from Washington University (St. Louis) about homeschoolers in college has a great quote from a homeschooler:
Sharp feels that her application process did not differ much from that of her fellow college students.

"College applications were the same for me as for everyone else-a pain!" exclaimed Sharp.


A Beautiful Thing

That Rosa Parks did for us all many decades ago.

This was a great column about what the Gaede twins are missing out on with their learned rascist ways.
I caught an interview with the twins on television the other night. They were dancing a kind of jig around a swastika on the floor. One of them, when asked about her devotion to Hitler even though he had murdered 6 million Jews, responded that she didn't believe it had ever happened. She didn't think there ever were 6 million Jews. Then she smiled.

I have had a dull headache ever since watching them. I have been wondering what could be done to save these girls.
History revisionism is a sad way to go. Apparently if you want to hate, you're going to hate. Maybe they'll be enlightened when they grow up.
The other morning I decided to explore online and see if I could find anything else out about their mother and her beliefs. The mother has a Web site. On it she gives advice to other parents who would like to home school their children. She recommends using textbooks published in the 1950s or earlier.
I don't think that website has seen much homeschooling traffic. Hate is hate whether you homeschool or not.
I like old books too. But not for the same reason they do. I like primary sources such as the Federalist Papers or the Constitution or what Abraham Lincoln really had to say. Or the story of Rosa Parks as given by her and her comrades and other folks fighting for equality.
They did splits on the floor. Soon faces were transformed. Smiles were wide. And at the next stop the young men gathered their things, thanked all who tossed a few bills their way and got off. We were still clapping as the train moved on. I wondered if the Gaede twins had ever had such an experience. Had ever seen such a beautiful thing.

I had to think not.


Friday, October 28, 2005

I'm back from vacation. This is a picture from the Elk and Bison Prairie at Land Between the Lakes in Kentucky.  Posted by Picasa


Strange War

And some definite ego involved, but it's fun to watch the perspectives fly by.

The unholy matrimony of the HSLDA and US Army has been dissolved, at least on the GoArmy website.

It took this here blog to publish a huge rant about the spiritual armies of the HSLDA and for a writer of Home Education Magazine to drop a note to the appropriate US Army department for them to at least take down the HSLDA ad that was on their website. This is what it looked like
She wrote up something a couple of days ago that was offensive enough to me that I didn't bother blogging it. But people should take a gander. She definitely has HSLDA on her radar. (It's on the 26th and I see she changed the obnoxious title and I don't know how to hit that particular post, so good luck.)


A Homeschooling Knitter

Had to blog this.
Her story's already quite a yarn
At only 13, Phoenix Bess is a triple threat coming from Mathews County, where she lives with her parents and two brothers.

She dances with the American Youth Ballet Company in Williamsburg, is an extra in the soon-to-be-released movie "The New World" and has her own line of specialty knitwear.

Phoenix calls the line "Knitty Girl." Items can be viewed and purchased on her Web site - - and will soon be available in several upscale local boutiques.

With all this going for her, she's still a tad shy and defers to her mother, Beth Bess, to handle some trickier questions. Phoenix allows a chuckle when asked whether her mother is really also her partner, as she's described in a news release written by Beth Bess.

"Oh, yes," Phoenix says. "We work together on the designs."

But the teen offers that she taught her mother how to knit, after learning the craft from another Mathews resident known for her handicrafts, Rosalie Brown.
I've learned a few skills from my kids too.
Very cool story from a homeschooling family apparently living life to the fullest.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Teens Have a Voice

Very cool! This is in Ft. Worth, but worth noting to me because of the voice these teens officially have with the officials. Looks like they're treated like people there instead of annoying pests.
FORT WORTH - Anthony Butorac had a long list of things to do Saturday,including helping with a YMCA fund-raiser and lending a hand to Habitat for Humanity.
Even so, the 17-year-old plans to skip those events to attend this
weekend's annual Youth Town Hall meeting at City Hall.
And he hopes other people his age will join him.
"We want to make sure youths have a window to express their opinions," said Butorac, a home-schooled senior. "You get to propose your ideas in front of people who can make a difference -- the City Council.
My teens have told me so many times how badly they are treated in stores by clerks. You'd think that all shops would have an official policy about catering in the best possible way to teenagers and the fact that they just might spend every last cent they have in those stores. Sizable market, I would say. (Said teens also mentioned recently that they're broke.)


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

And Dr. Phil Says

Last week Under the No Room To Compromise Section:
Dr. Phil brings up research. “The truth is, the research shows there is absolutely no disruption of social development and evolution in children who are home schooled up through the eighth grade,” he tells them. “But that presupposes that the parents are willing to make the time commitment, the money commitment, the lifestyle commitment to provide that academic environment for the child at home. And then to take them to participate in extra-curricular activities of their peer group. Like the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA, the church groups and socials, and sports and choirs and things like that. Once kids get to high school, social development is important. They become more independent. They want to interact on their own. They’re post-pubescent. And so they don’t do well in a home school environment in high school as they do socially in a public or private school.”

As for who's right, Dr. Phil sides with Jylana's position. “The truth is, he's not going to be some nerd who’s scared of his own shadow if they’re home schooled, if you do a good job with the home schooling, and you get him into the extra-curricular activities after the fact.”
I was pleasantly surprised with what he said. Wonder why he assumes that the magic 'age' of "high school" is the time where they suddenly need to 'hang out' with the classmates in the classroom. (What kind of socialization is that again where they have to have a pass to pee? Oh, ready socialization) That age is a great time to find good mentors, apprentice, try out some community college classes and hang out with other teen homeschoolers and their public/private school pals when they're free.
But it was good to see a psychologist approve of homeschooling to the extent he did. As one Psychiatry Fellow in Ohio stated when wanting to conduct a homeschooling mental health survey:
It is no secret that some in our society (most especially those in the mental health field) are either suspicious of, or, in a number of cases, quite hostile to the idea of homeschooling.


Careful What You Wish For

I don't know much at all about this AllKids health care plan that the gov is promoting, other than he is notorious for promoting and pushing expensive projects with no money or every one else's money. Hope this works out for folks like the Evans family, but I'd be wary.

Tracie Evans also told committee members how she and her husband Michael have been married for over 18 years and for the last 15 years, he has worked as a community organizer with a not-for-profit while she home-schools the children. Their four children, Michelle (15 years old), Alisha (14 years old), Janell (13 years old) and son Aaron (11 years old) lack the health insurance they need because the cost of private insurance is out of reach, yet their income is too high to be eligible for state health insurance. Aaron has asthma and they currently pay out-of-pocket for the children’s doctor visits at a nearby clinic.

This also caught my eye below. Somehow, the expansion and involvement of the federal government in this project along with 'it's good for the economy' is also relevant. The "ripple effect":
According to the new Families USA study, All Kids will capture approximately $37 million from the federal government in matching funds for covering more children eligible for Medicaid and SCHIP and for speeding up the payment cycle for all doctors who treat children in the state’s children’s health insurance programs. The $37 million in new federal funds from All Kids will have a direct impact on the state’s economy, since the funds are used to pay doctors, hospitals, clinics and other health-related businesses. Providers then use the payments they receive to buy goods and pay salaries which, in turn, adds more money to the economy that can be spent on other goods and services. Using a U.S. Department of Commerce input-output model, Families USA found this ripple effect, also called the “multiplier effect”, is estimated to generate $87,561,000 in new business activity and $30,769,000 in wages in the first year of All Kids.

Health care is the second-fastest growing industry in Illinois, and among the fastest in the nation. Over the past five years, the health care industry has created nearly 40,000 new jobs in Illinois.
Big government and Big Bureaucracy is definitely rippling and rampant. Just a little concerned about where all this is heading.


Blast Off

Fun stuff!

"I think it was cool," he said. "I want to do it again."It was the first time Jayshua, a home-schooled student, had participated in the program, and it wasn't a tough decision for a science class, said Darrie Nelson, Jayshua's dad and teacher.

"He likes space, he likes things that fly, he's just starting to get into that stuff," he said.

The was the third time the Rueb family attended the event.

Though the Rueb children, Michael, 11, and Logan, 9, also are home-schooled, the activity was one of pure adulation for them this time around. It also helped that the rockets worked. Last spring, Bonnie Rueb said, most of the rockets blew apart rather than heading skyward.

"It's an inexpensive fun, and how often can you do something this cool that's scientific for six bucks?" Rueb said. "And it's good for the kids to interact with the university students."About 12 UWSP students are in the Society of Physics students, and each fall and spring the students offer the program to pique youngsters' interest in sciences. The group is supervised by Greg Taft, associate professor of physics. There will be two more programs in the spring, one for home-schooled students and another for other interested kids.

We did some rocket science with our flight/outer space fixated kid. I was gathering up materials that we've used over the years for a homeschooling seminar and ran into the Estes Educator publication that we received years ago.

I remember doing this with my siblings. I think it was Big Bertha that had a payload. The egg wasn't so successful, but the mouse trip to the central Illinois clouds was. I'm sure the disgusting critter was gratified but I didn't hang around to find out when it exited. Hate mice!


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Military Homeschooling Mom Responds to HSLDA

Please read the 10/24/05 response to a comment by Valerie Bonham Moon; site owner of The Military Homeschooler .

Don't forget the post immediately below that by Mary McCarthy regarding are worth a good read; including the citations and references.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Haven't Seen This Before in Illinois

Interesting. But surely they offer this any time and not just a year before they might choose to go the public high school??
Test offered
Lake Zurich High School is offering the Explore Test to incoming eighth graders Saturday.
The test is given to private school or home-schooled students who plan to attend Lake Zurich High School in fall 2006.
The test runs from 8 a.m. to noon in the school's library. Call Cathy Jones at (847) 540-4117 to reserve a spot. Students should bring a pencil and a calculator


Friday, October 21, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

We are getting ready to embark on a family study of CS Lewis's series the Chronicles of Narnia. I bought the 31 CD set at Borders during teacher appreciation week. As we take off on our long drive to spend quality time on vacation we will be listening to the audio tapes. I thought I would share some of my research for the unit study.

Harper Children's Teaching Guide

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Movie Educational Material This is a link to purchase an ebook for Catholic teaching guides to The Chronicles of Narnia.

Information Please links to the Chronicles of Narnia Online quizzes, timeline, crossword puzzle, etc.

The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe AP Vocabulary

A Voyage into Narnia


GoArmy Dot HSLDA

Mary McCarthy, a long time homeschooler, wrote up a well researched piece about the Armed Forces, HSLDA and the connection between the two.

I'm married to a Navy veteran and am very proud of his service and the experiences he gained from that.

But what I'm seeing in this article while the Army is short of recruitments is troubling. Particularly when HSLDA wrote up a brand new section 10 regarding military recruitment and homeschoolers. All that with their name included in the legislation as a paid entity to determine who is a homeschooler and who is not.


A Whistleblower's Story

There was a recent interview by John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute with Allen Jones, a whistleblower. He was blowing the whistle on the pharmaceutical companies' handouts to key officials in Pennsylvania. The Rutherford Institute is representing the Rhoades family from Indiana in their lawsuit against their school district for giving their daughter a mental health survey (Teenscreen).

Could this pharmaceuticals'/key state officials' back rubbing happen here in Illinois? One would have to think that would be possible. (Understatement of the Year)

The mental health worker explained that the test results indicated Chelsea had OCD because she responded that she liked to help clean the house and social anxiety disorder because she responded that she didn’t party much. The worker told her that if her condition got any worse, her mom should bring her to the mental health center for treatment.

Remember that the Ilinois House House has already passed a Resolution last year calling for screening of all children with the use of the TeenScreen survey.


A bit of a Surprise

In reading up on News and Commentary and the piece about HSLDA having a link on the go army site, I was a bit startled reading the comments.

Who'd have guessed that one of HSLDA's representatives is an anti-war hippy. Maybe HSLDA had a booth set up at the Washington Anti-War Rally a few weeks ago [tongue in cheek]? I picked this particular anti-war site because of the picture of the signs. It seemed appropriate if one only changed the word to homeschools from schools. I'm going to have to keep reading because it's a puzzle putting these pieces together of Section 10 of HSLDA's proposed HR 3753/ S 1691 and HSLDA's (or some? of HLSDA) involvement with the military. Irregardless, I have yet to see an answer as to why the HSLDA link is on a goarmy site.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Kudos to DeKalb County Builder and Developers Ass.

Glad they're thinking about the taxpayers and their bang for their bucks (additional $16,000 fee/dwelling!?! It pays to stay on the farm sometimes.)
Members of the DeKalb County Builders and Developers Association have told city staff they don’t want to play impact fees.
Out-of-step with neighboring communities, area builders have denounced the city’s proposed fee, saying the formula used to develop it is flawed.

City staff proposed a more than $16,000 single impact fee per dwelling, with all costs melded into one, rather than separate fees for schools, parks, roads and other city services. The services are provided for a new development and its residents. The new fee is three to four times the prior rate.

In a letter to the commission, the builders said, “The household population charts...are outdated and grossly overestimate the number of school-aged children in new construction.” They also said the U.S. Census Bureau data “shows gross overestimating” and added that DeKalb’s method doesn’t allow for students who will attend parochial schools or will be home-schooled.” They also said DeKalb staff plan to use impact fees for items that are not allowable.
The formula for this plan was devised by a Northern IL University fella. I thought this was entertaining regarding the University's past benefits gained.
Pat Bragg, a school board member many years ago, warned that the district once overestimated its expected student population and had to sell Roberts School, which now houses NIU’s School of Nursing. “Don’t overbuild,” said Bragg. She also said she was married to an NIU faculty member and added, “I’m suspicious of university research;” the comment prompted laughter from the large audience.
In the Land Of Lincoln, we are all being over-fee'ed. What is the deal with non-representation of 'the people' but going for the money instead? Joyce Morrison covered this a bit in this IL Leader piece:
A referendum vote showed over 70% of the people opposed building two new schools but it was ignored by the school board and school superintendent as they just couldn’t resist grant money. Like many other small districts, we are now saddled with new schools we didn’t need at a cost that far exceeded the grant.


Monday, October 17, 2005

Great History Lessons

Couple of articles caught my eye today about learning history.

Outside Minooka, there was a Civil War reenactment at Dollinger Farm above the I&M Canal.
Tracy and Bryon Swan of Braidwood brought their three home schooled youngsters, who were studying the Civil War, as part of American history.
We've been to these enactments and there's no way you couldn't pick up some piece of history even if you didn't check out the camps and just watched the battle reenactment. I liked what one of the participants said about the history lesson:
Reenacting is an avocation, said Jerry Kowalski, who this year helped run the event and commentated during the battle. In his navy blue uniform, broad brimmed hat and boots, he commands a striking figure as General George Thomas, a major leader for the Union in the Civil War.

"We do it to preserve history, to honor our ancestors," said Kowalski, acting as Thomas, "We teach our children so they don't make the same mistakes."
This retired history teacher in St. Charles, Missouri appreciates the importance of history too. Wish I'd had him as a history teacher. I didn't really like studying history until my husband had us traipsing around Civil War battlefields in Vicksburg, Gettysburg and in Virginia. Cannon balls in house walls got my attention and fascination.
For Donald Wescott, teaching history has served as a vocation, hobby and ministry.
He explains his interest in history and his interest in homeschoolers.
"Education has become so homogenized and bent toward other purposes, with all this testing stuff going on," he said. "People like me study history because we're fascinated; dates in history, for example, are only something you can hang your hat on. History should teach students how we govern ourselves, how to comprehend the society they're living in and the importance of contributing to it. If you don't understand these things you won't recognize that somebody is stealing them from you until they disappear."

Wescott started teaching home-schooled children after a friend asked him to tutor her child who was having a problem with history. The next thing he knew, three or four more children were showing up.

"The home-school mothers I know are resourceful and competent," he said. "When they need help, they find it. There is no end of educational opportunities for their children including a county orchestra, choirs,field trips and more."
It's nice to have someone in his position who gets it about the homeschooling lifestyle.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

Dyslexia — A Beautiful Difference

It doesn't seem unusual that homeschool news continually has news about kids and young adults who were given choices in public school that didn't work for them.

I'm glad there aren't reliable surveys to be found on this subject (with privacy issues and all). But I'd wager a guess that most homeschoolers tried the brick and mortar public schools before they realized that homeschooling worked for them. I wish we'd figured it out before our older kids were schooled.

This story is about the first Miss International Sarah Wall, from Minnesota who received the induction in Chicago in July.

Her story began when she was 5 years old, she said. After failing
kindergarten, teachers gave her parents two options for her: repeat or be placed
in a special education class.

Her parents chose a third option.

Wall was homeschooled until she entered college — eventually graduating with a degree in apparel design and manufacturing. She said the reasons for her success were early identification, a very supportive mother and a positive outlook on dyslexia.

My hope is the homeschooling community (actually all families) reject the tightening web of oversight demands; front door and back door. I hope that parents are always be able to take their children out of educational environments that don't work for them and homeschool.


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Very Excellent Compilation

Of some Foundations Of Freedom for Social Policy, Research, Legislation regarding home education.

Some of the issues addressed include Citizenship or Lawyership, Curfews, Hanging On To What Makes Homeschooling Distinctive, Parental Rights and Responsibilities, Homeschooling and Privacy Issues, and a very important document called Homeschooling Freedoms At Risk

By the way, there's an interesting conversation about homeschoolers and privacy issues going on right now. Lots of perspectives, information and food for thought.


Fire Department Field Trip

It is Fire Prevention Week . Sparky says so.

These homeschooling field trips are always big hits. Something about 3 and 4 year olds, big trucks and big guys. Probably something about big hoses and fighting that no no called an out of control flame too.

Lego and Little Tikes and every other toy manufacturer knows that firemen and fire trucks work wonderfully in the little peoples' hero adventures in their imagination. Rightfully so.


Girls Love Dolls

That's what I thought the American Girl craze was among homeschoolers.

"American Girl has won the trust of millions of conservative families,"Sharp said. "It's very popular among the home school movement because of the values the company followed."

I hadn't really thought about the values part of it. As related in the books, the dolls weren't getting pregnant via pre-marital hanky panky or STD's or such, for sure. That's a good thing. But we weren't buying American Girl stuff because of the company's values?!? Who could generally figure that out in this day and age?

What we got out of the sets of books were historical references from a girl's perspective along with the dolls, clothes and other accessories that lots of girls love to play with. I dunno about all the rest, but some of these groups sure do have their name plastered all over the homeschool news.


Friday, October 14, 2005

HEM NewsCom on the Presumed Decider

Excellent questions raised about who should decide and who does decide what is best for our children.
I think this is the core of Ms. Steine’s objection. In this case either we see children through the lens of the state, or through the lens of the family. This is not just a homeschooling issue, but an issue for all American families, including the children of the officials elected, appointed, or hired to serve us (not to oversee us, but to serve us, as in ‘public servant’). In the ordinary course of events, who should be the arbiter in deciding what is best for children: parents or government employees?
Worth a good look. This was all related to testing issues in Alaska; a state with very minimal regs for homeschoolers.

It's that Partner thang with governmental agencies that has a very Camzotz-ish edge.


Another College and Homeschooler

Or should we say UnPosh? Nah, she's just not an Ivy Leaguer, but it sounds like she's had a pretty interesting life.
She's a world-class traveler. Her main goal in life was to meet Davy Jones of The Monkees, and she did. She's been on stage, in the spotlight, since she was ten years old. She became engaged on a gondola ride in Italy. But now Jennica White is known as a new resident director for Missouri Southern.

White grew up in Catoosa, Okla., where her parents home-schooled her and her brother until they were seniors in high school. During this time, she participated in Community Theater, having the lead role in many of the performances, her favorite being Repunsal in the adaptation of "Into the Woods." White, a vocal music performance major, now spends her last days of her senior year at Southern preparing to repeat her role as Repunsal, as her senior solo recital is quickly approaching.

When her time is not spent practicing for her recital, White can be found in her new home in McCormick Hall. As resident director, White is in charge of keeping in line all the girls in McCormick and the apartment units.


Oh, Posh

From the Yalie Daily News, I guess we could expect no less?
Also new is "Scene's Fashion Faux Pas," our valiant effort to unspool the white sneaker shoelaces and pink polo threads of Yale's fashion miscreants. Alas, fear not Group IV majors and home-schooled wunderkinds -- you'll be name-dropping Arcade Fire lyrics and sporting velvet blazers in no time!
Wonder what Group IV majors are? Think maybe I'd want my kids to be part of that group too after reading the self described vapidity of the Yalie Daily News promotion.


The Gift of ADHD

Another article pointing out the Gift of individuality and creativity for children.

In Thom Hartmann's book Attention Deficit Disorder: A Different Perception (1997), he describes how Thomas Alva Edison, who invented the lightbulb and about a thousand other things, was characterized by an easy distractibility. He was known to have forty different inventions in progress at one time. He would work on one until he got bored with it and move on to another one as inspiration hit. Another word for distractibility is "flexibility," and it can be put to use in groundbreaking innovation and productivity.

Here's T. Edison's quote about his schooling experience:

I remember that I was never able to get along at school. I was always at the foot of the class.

Back to the article:

For example, what adults often think of as goofing off can be one of the most important activities for any child, but particularly a creative child. If your child is diagnosed with ADHD, you may recognize that he does not have the same attention span and focus of other children, but you must also acknowledge his superior creativity that, as a parent, you are entrusted to nourish and nurture. You do not do this by getting him to conform to the demands of traditional ideas of achievement. You nurture his creativity by making allowances for his differences and unstructuring his life accordingly.

I've always appreciated the time given to our kids to just goof off. Goofing off by creating intricate Lego structures or drawing as they're watching a program. Or building the Mega Track of all go cart tracks. Or building a snow fort. All that goofing off seemed to have more value sometimes than some of my brainstorms about their official education.

Son's Doodles


Thursday, October 13, 2005

Strawberry Honey Crisp Apple Pie made from apples purchased at the orchard. The orchard is also home to the pumpkin patch. Posted by Picasa


Illinois Pumpkins Posted by Picasa


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Please tell me that is an ant swarm and not a termite swarm! Posted by Picasa


Illinois Skyline over the pumpkin patch Posted by Picasa


Interesting Timing for This Military Blurb

Army plan uses incentives to meet recruit goals
From the AP

WASHINGTON – The Army has a master plan for recovering from this year’s painful recruiting problems that includes new financial incentives for enlistees, greater use of computers, a new way for recruiters to make their pitch and a proposed finder’s fee for soldiers who refer recruits.
The plan was assembled after Army recruiting began falling severely short of goals. The Pentagon announced Tuesday that for the year that ended Sept. 30, the Army was 6,627 recruits short of its goal of 80,000. It was the Army’s first shortfall since 1999 and its largest in 26 years.

Sounds like the Amway program. Greater use of computers? Do they get to take one home and send it back when they're done too?

Here's what caught my eye and was a bit surprising since homeschoolers are usually overlooked for so many issues.
• Put more effort into recruiting people who have begun their college careers but not yet earned a degree, on the assumption that some would be interested in taking a hiatus to try military service. Also, target those of high school age who are being home schooled – a potential market the Army has largely ignored.
But here homeschoolers are noted (our little bitty homeschooling minority) in a military issue. Amazing that AP would be rubbing shoulders with HSLDA? Could it be?
Five ways to get recruits and somehow homeschoolers are one of them.


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Send a Monarch to Saltillo

Symbolic Migration Reminder
Symbolic Migration Deadline in 4 Days
* Just a quick reminder that you have 4 days to meet the October 14 deadline!

Symbolic monarchs are beginning to fill up the mail room at the Journey North headquarters. Just as the live monarch butterflies are staging in overnight roosts your little paper ambassadors will soon be on their way to the sanctuaries in Mexico. Don t miss the excitement of this year s migration! Follow the instructions for making and mailing each precious package. For a safe journey, please review, complete and enclose the Checklist with your butterflies:

* Migration Checklist, Fall 2005

One of the butterflies sent to us from a Mexican student last year.


Monday, October 10, 2005

Foreign Languages

I found this foreign language stuff today through the Usborne Internet Linked books. It's free if you don't use it during school hours. They have French, German, Spanish and WELSH. We're going to mess around with the Welsh because my daughter loved the book, A String in the Harp. It's free except during the hours of 9am - 4pm. I'm guessing that's UK time. I'm sure I'll figure it out.


BBC Schools

This looks like a good portal to find all the nifty activities on the BBC site. Has anyone seen a US or Canadian site like this?


Fun for Science

Well, we were once again working on our Usborne Internet Linked books. This time we were doing science and we were sent here. It's science clips from the BBC. We did a lot on plants. It had an interactive bit, a quiz, and a labeling section. That's a lot more fun than workbooks.



Many homeschooling parents have already figured this one out.

I've seen some horror stories of some boot camps for kids in the media. But I've had friends who have sent their kids to something like this Missouri Ozarks camp in this article and it helped.

This article got my attention because it said the camp homeschools some of the boys, while others go to school
Some of the boys are home-schooled at the ranch; others attend Blue Eye schools. After school, the boys rotate each month through vocational areas where they learn skills such as welding, small engine mechanics and carpentry. They also raise the trees they will sell at a fundraiser Friday and Saturday at Bass Pro Shops in Springfield.
Interesting in their use of whatever works for each kid. But below is the part that I've often wondered about and this couple seems to have experienced and understand watching these kids grow up without the drugs.
The boys are weaned from the drugs with permission from their parents and family doctors.

"If it was indicated, we'd put them back on the medication, but in 23 years, that hasn't been needed," says Ken Ortman. Hyperactive children and teenage depression have always existed, he says.

"It's not in any way a disorder. Here, we go back to a culture where everyone was useful in their home, where parents found a niche for every child because everyone had to carry their own weight," he says. Each boy has responsibilities from cooking to tending the livestock.
The statement below is where I've often wondered what brilliance our society has been hiding under a cloud of -classroom seat time maintenance- medication.
The children with ADHD are extraordinary, Ortman says.

"They are strong-willed, and they'll be the leaders and entrepreneurs of the future. We need these people," he says.
Mr. Ortman seems to have that figured out along with many homeschooled parents who have taken their kids out of the classroom and taken them off the drugs.


Sunday, October 09, 2005

Our latest art resource

This years first Scholastic order has arrived. I did well! I picked up the Usborne Intro to Art for 9.95. It's a hardcover. I had my daughter read the first two pages and then write a summary. She then worked on the internet link. Her first link was the artist's toolkit. I finally had to tell her to stop working on it and we'd come back. We needed to get to some other subjects. I'm waiting the Introduction to Music that is internet linked from the library to see if it is worthy of full price because Scholastic doesn't have it right now and I'm really pleased with the art book. Posted by Picasa


Having a Bad Day or Many in Forest Park

Every time I see phrases like Healthy minds, bodies and souls referring to something about public school oversight (let alone the Illinois Childrens' Mental Health Act), it makes me shudder.

This was sent along from the Forest Park Review . Read and weep.
As we enjoy the holidays, we have more time at home with our children to observe their mental and physical activities.
Apparently it's come to the Time where parents observe their kids' mental and physical activities as opposed to say.....Living and Loving
During these holiday breaks our homes and communities experience more of student’s antisocial behavior. Student’s disruptive behaviors in the home, school, and community may include temper tantrums, cursing, bullying, fighting, disrespect for authority, conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity, depression, and other behaviors that severely disrupt student’s daily functioning and adversely affect their academic, social, and emotional learning.
Our happy holidays can be painful for students with social, emotional, and physical issues that are increased by memories of negative experiences every day and especially during the holidays.
Wow! I couldn't resist looking up this author's name after wondering where in the world she was coming from.
Apparently she had run for the Proviso High School District School Board last spring. She lost. And after reading this, her latest column, the families in that school district should be grateful for that loss in respect to their mental health. But as an aside, there appears to be some nasty stuff happening with that school district so maybe that's where all her personal angst and litany about students' behavior at home came from. (With the usual grumble of being tired of hearing abuse stories as related to homeschooling.)

At any rate, what she pointed out as the symptoms and solution is typical of the mindset and the Plan of the proponents of mental health screening for all children and families. What she states below is true and in line with the grant money from the feds:
The CMH Act requires the development of a coordinated system of mental health services for students ages 0-18 and youth ages 19-21. The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership (ICMHP) developed a preliminary strategic plan on September 30, 2004 that provides short and long term recommendations for prevention, intervention, and treatment. A partnership between the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Public Aid (DPA) and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) has developed a statewide system of screening, assessment and support services (SASS) for children, including adolescents, experiencing a mental health crisis.
And what she emphasizes is crucial to these people: assist to improve classroom management, student discipline, school safety, and school climate and culture among other institutional habits. How homeschoolers will fit into this is the big question. Particularly considering the general mindset of public school officials, the involvement of primary care providers in the screening and the assumptions about the 'socialization' of homeschooled kids.


Saturday, October 08, 2005

No way, I'm not buying into those statistics

I found this when poking around the web for more links to post on the Homeschooling Freedom blog. It's on the Homeschooling News and Muse blog. Scroll down to "If you repeat it often enough..." and then scoot over to Insight on the News.
Here's the quote,
"It's difficult to get exact numbers, but about 80 percent are evangelical Christians and 20 percent are nonreligious," said Ian Slatter, a spokesman for the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va."
So where does that leave me? I don't fall into either of those categories. A Catholic homeschooler definitely doesn't not fall into the evangelical Christian grouping and not the nonreligious either. There are all kinds of other religions homeschooling.
The article is from 2004.
So what's your take? Put in the comments if you think this was a misquote, HSLDA really believes that, or any other thoughts you have on the quote.


Friday, October 07, 2005

More info on Barnes and Nobles Educator Week

I just received a letter from my local Barnes and Nobles. At the Champaign B&N on Thursday October 20 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm all purchases (by educators) will be 25% off. If you are an educator you can get both stuff for the classroom and yourself for 25% off. There will also be free stuff and local businesses will have booths set up.

The Progressive Homeschooler has blogged about some B&N books that she really likes for her homeschool. Go on over and take a look.


Magical Mystery Tour

Or Great and Spontaneous Homeschooling Moments

Last week we went with other homeschooling friends to the freebie noon lobby concert that was fantastic, as usual. The day before, we had already been treated to a morning concert by the great Blues man Taj Mahal during the Wall to Wall Guitar Festival happenings on campus. A total of $13. 50 for three of us to hear Blues in the Morning. Great stuff!

When I was looking at the festival schedule online, I saw that there was a bus that was going to be parked outside the Center that looked interesting. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. We planned accordingly to stop by there and see what's what. And we're so glad we did. And we so wished we'd known to schedule a session with them and the local homeschoolers. Next time! (My friend's and my only concern was that we moms really, really wanted to do the recording session too. )

And they have a songwriting contest going on for any budding songwriters out there. Wouldn't be the first time a homeschooler won a contest (slight understatement).

Across the street on the other side was the Spurlock Museum that we'll be visiting later this month to check out the Balinese exhibit.

Opportunities are endless in homeschooling. In this case, wherever we looked, we were falling into wonderful experiences for our family. Actually, it's hard not to find learning adventures. People always tell me that they could never homeschool because it's too difficult. They have no idea how darn easy it can be.

Glad I finally got this written up because it reminds me that I wanted to get that John Hasbrouck cd.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Borders Coupon

Coupon date is 10/10 to 10/13


New Homeschoolers in Louisiana

In Louisiana
From an AP article
But Galjour - like hundreds of other parents across Louisiana - has been handed a second, unpaid job: She'll be home-schooling her 12-year-old son, at least until classes start again in Plaquemines Parish, where six of nine schools were washed away by the storms.
Wonder if any will continue homeschooling after the school is started up again.

Usually, though, it's not a decision made under duress, since home-schooling demands patience and commitment from both parents and students.
That's true. But once in that lifestyle routine, they might find it easier than they ever imagined while being on their own schedule.

"This is a beautiful short-term solution, especially given where we are now," said Stephanie Riegel, a New Orleans resident now relocated to Baton Rouge with twin 9-year-old girls. Louisiana has done its best to encourage parents not to leave the public school system, urging them instead to enroll in schools wherever they've landed, said Meg Casper, a spokeswoman for the state Education Department. The East Baton Rouge Parish district, for example, has taken in more than 2,000 new students since Katrina hit.
At her school in East Baton Rouge, there were four drug busts one day, and the next someone was selling pills," said Michelle Pellegal, gesturing at her 16-year-old daughter, April Kent. "She said, 'I can't go to that school any more.'"
That's a typical reason people homeschool. Parents trying to find the best way and best place for their kids to be; long term or short.
Learning how to become a home-school parent on the fly will not be easy, said Dianna Van Timmeren, a Baton Rouge mother who home-schools her children and is helping a family of evacuees make the transition.
"For parents who have never considered it before, there's always the feeling that maybe they can't do it, that they don't have the education," she said. "But it is possible. There's tons of curriculum out there to choose from, and all kinds of help for parents who might feel wobbly about educating their children."
That's what I was looking for. Some good advice and encouragement from a LA homeschooler. It's too bad these Louisiana families are dealing with all of these changes under the circumstances, but I hope they have a great homeschooling experience during this transition.
Wonder how AP came up with the links on the bottom for more information? They must have run a very short search.


Displaced Counterparts Get Room to Live and Learn

Really like these stories. Big hearts in Texas.
Hurricane Rita was "an interruption to the home-school routine because first of all, you need a home to home-school," said Steve Clark, of Lumberton, north of Beaumont.

But the Clarks had no trouble finding a temporary place to stay — with another home-school family in Magnolia.

In the past few weeks, home-schoolers across the area have come to the aid of fellow home-schoolers displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have opened up their homes, volunteered at churches and shelters, or have donated books and teaching curriculum.


Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Thinking Games

I try really hard to work on logic and thinking skills with the kids. I always want to make it fun for all of us. One of the brands of games that helps me to achieve this is Binary Arts. You can go to this website to download pdf files of lesson plans. Barnes and Nobles carries many of the Binary Arts games and they are having their educator's discount week coming up soon (scroll down for info).
Do you have any games your really like for thinking skills? Please share! I'm always looking for new ways to challenge my kids.


Wicked Cool Chess Set from Lego

Ron brought up chess in the comments. That reminded me of this chess set I saw in the lego catalog. Unfortunately, it's only available in the catalog. Most likely, I'm not going to find this for a bargain price. Maybe it will be a Christmas present this year.Posted by Picasa


Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A few of our Gamewright Games Posted by Picasa


Family Game Night

We've been trying to get back to playing at least one game with the kids at night. I am destined to always lose, as I play one game with the older kids while I play Bob the Builder Memory with one of the younger boys. We play a lot of Gamewright Games. Our latest purchase is Loot, the plundering pirate card game. It's working fairly well for our 7 - 12 year old kids. Most Gamewright games have the distinction of being entertaining even for the adults. That's a definite bonus for family game night. They also teach a lot of skills.

Rat a Tat Cat teaches early math (addition, maybe subtraction) and helps with memory skills. We started playing when my oldest was 5 before she could count very high. The object is to get the lowest number. She used to set up her bear counters to figure out what her score was. When her math skills improved we moved on to Frog Juice (not for those who have a problem with magic). Slamwich was great for improving the kids attention span. You have to pay attention all the time to earn the pile. (do not play with someone with long finger nails). When my daughter was older we bought Horse Show. It's for ages eight and up and requires more strategy. We own many more of these games.

What's your favorite game?


I spoke with Senator Inhofe's Office

this morning. You can read about it over at Homeschooling Freedom. I felt very good about how the conversation went.


Another Salon Article about Homeschooling

Battling for the heart and soul of home-schoolers

This article is from 2000. But it was a very in-depth look into the homeschooling world's history and politics. What might be of interest to many is highlighted below.
From page one
Recently George W. Bush mixed home schooling with presidential politics in a letter to a Texas home-schooler -- now circulating widely on national home-school e-mail listservs -- in which he enthusiastically praises home schooling and vows to fight for legislation that would allow families to set aside $5,000 tax-free annually to pay for the educational expenses of teaching at home.
From page two
As it nears its 20th anniversary, the HSLDA also boasts significant political clout on national educational issues, even though, say its critics, with less than one-sixth of the estimated home-schooling population in its membership, the HSLDA does not advocate for the majority of parents who teach at home.
"This move to exclusivity has caused so much heartache among Christians," says Treon Gossen, a devout Christian who, after being forced from an exclusive group, started the inclusive Colorado home-school support group Concerned Parents of Colorado. "I think the biggest home-schooling trend you'll be seeing is more Christians saying, 'Enough is enough.'"
From page three
Not even Farris' critics quibble over his right to pursue whatever citizen advocacy he chooses -- home-schoolers unquestionably comprise every political stripe imaginable and many are outspoken, particularly about their educational philosophies. But the HSLDA, charge Hegener and others in Home Education Magazine, has gone too far. The organization has dominated debate about home-school regulation and legislation by refusing to work with other home-schooling groups, says a recent magazine report.

The magazine also says that the HSLDA is unfairly representing itself to national and local policymakers as the sole representative of home schooling. It has even pushed through legislation that has proved detrimental to home-schoolers, the magazine says. One example: An HSLDA-led legislative effort in New York that was supposed to loosen onerous regulations for home-schoolers led to requirements that parents report periodically to education officials and submit to standardized testing, measures almost uniformly opposed by most home-schoolers.
From page four
"They even asked group leaders to do home visits to make sure people were doing home schooling the 'right' way," Moyers says. Many who opted out of the groups launched the inclusive HERO support group network.
From page five
In the face of the mounting criticism over the years, HSLDA has reacted with charges of discrimination. Farris sent a response to the initial Home Education Magazine report calling critics "anti-Christian secular bigots." In fact, many of the critics cited in the report are Christian, and HEM regularly runs articles and columns by Christian home-schoolers.
There's much more at the site.


Monday, October 03, 2005

This is The Day

Today is THE day to get on the horn and call Senator Inhofe. Here's the numbers again.

Senator's Offices

Not residing in Oklahoma: give a call at

Washington, DC
453 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-3603
Phone: 202-224-4721
Fax: 202-228-0380

If you're an Okie, call:

1924 S. Utica Avenue
Suite 530
Tulsa, OK 74104-6511
Phone: 918-748-5111
Fax: 918-748-5119

Oklahoma City
1900 NW Expressway
Suite 1210
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
Phone: 405-608-4381
Fax: 405-608-4120

215 E. Choctaw
Suite 106 McAlester, OK 74501
Phone: 918-426-0933
Fax: 918-426-0935

302 N. Independence
Suite 104
Enid, OK 73701
Phone: 580-234-5105
Fax: 580-234-5094


Intellectually Empowering or Irresponsible?

Irregardless of the family style of homeschooling, I love the picture of the little girl looking up at the sky and I do like this coverage of unschooling.

Oct. 3, 2005 | Celine Joiris has never failed a test. Never eaten crappy cafeteria food. Never been picked last during gym. It's not that she's a supernaturally lucky 16-year-old -- she's simply never been to school. "I like the idea of studying, but school is just like incarceration," she explains. Her brother, Julian, 17, agrees. "My approach is, planning, schedules -- OK. Tests, OK. College, OK. Whatever. But I don't really want to think much about it," he shrugs. "I can't tell you where I'll be in two years."

What's that? A smart 17-year-old without a plan? A bright, middle-class teenager who's not stressing out about SATs and admissions essays? In an era when college prep begins in preschool and adolescents need Palm Pilots to manage their after-school activities, such nonchalance has the power to shock. What about all those stories about home-schooled kids dominating nationalspelling bees and hogging spots at Harvard? Surely "whatever" is not in their vocabulary?

But Celine and Julian Joiris are not your typical homeschoolers -- they are unschoolers, followers of a radical approach to education that rejects not just the routines of traditional school, but the authoritative ideology it represents. [more at the site with a free site pass]


Sunday, October 02, 2005

Borders Teacher Appreciation

Borders is offering current and retired educators the following discounts
from Friday, October 14 - Tuesday October 18:

Books - 25% off
DVDs - 20% off
Electronics and video games - 10% off

The discounts do not include any food products, comics, periodicals, and
special orders not in stock. More details are in the store.

A big thank you to Naomi for sharing the info.


Educator Appreciation Week - Barnes and Nobles

I was in Barnes and Nobles shopping for something new and different to teach grammar. While I was there I found a flier for Educator Appreciation Week. This year it is October 15-23. There is a special 25% discount for items to be used in the classroom. So, make your list and check it twice. I recommend the Basic Not Boring Series. I especially like the Geometry books.

Homeschool Legislation Watch
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