Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The military part of HONDA has been slipped into a DOD bill

You can visit the link in the title of this post and head over to Cobranchi's blog for more information.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

HB 3031 Amendment to the Children's Mental Health Act of 2003

I've just added this bill into the sidebar. My mother found a letter to the editor in the Springfield State Journal Register about this bill. She read it aloud to me and then sent me a hard copy. I hope to contact the author and be able to reprint the letter here.

The author of the letter was very concerned that the new bill, which is intended to fix some problems with the 2003 Children's Mental Health Act would not be effective. The bill calls for a parental consent provision. This needs looked at closely. I've read about cases where sending the child to school was considered consent. In some cases, a parent is considered to consent unless they send a note saying they do not consent. Unfortunately, parental notification about these things so parents can opt out tends to minimal.

Hopefully, I'll have more information next week.


The blogging may be slim!


I'm working my way through this pile of Christmas knitting. You can see my progress on my other blog, Garden of Color Posted by Picasa


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

If you live in the Champaign, Mahomet, Seymour, Mansfield..... area

On Saturday, December 10th there is going to be a fundraiser from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at the Mahomet-Seymour High School Field House. Seven year old Megan has been diagnosed with Leukemia. The community is pulling together to raise some money to help the family.

The event is called "A Family Christmas Festival for Megan". The volunteers who are putting this together are asking for baked goods, crafts, stocking stuffers for the Secret Santa Shop, silent auction items and volunteers for the day of the event.

There is some really nifty stuff planned. I will post more when I have more information. If you would like to donate or help, you can reach me through the HILL email address (homeschoolillinois [at] insightbb [dot] com) and I will pass your name along to the appropriate volunteer. I'm going to be donating some hand-knitted items for the craft sale. Who really needs to sleep this close to Christmas?


Monday, November 21, 2005

Getting Ready for Turkey Day


My son made this in preperation for turkey day in Sunday School. He wrote down what he was thankful for on the feathers. I thought this was a nifty little project. Posted by Picasa


New Homeschoolers

It's that time of year once again. Parents have had it with the school system and are thinking about pulling their children out of school. I'm starting to see questions on the yahoo groups and email lists from parents trying to figure out what next.

Here are a few of my favorite resources if you are thinking about homeschooling:

How to Write a Low/Cost No/Cost Curriculum by Borg Hendrickson - a lot of this book is about what your educational goals are for your child. It's an excellent way to figure out what you want to teach, even if you don't want to write your own curriculum.
The Sonlight Catalog
Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp

If you have a favorite book that helped you get started, please leave a comment.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

A 13 part project from First Language Lessons

This is part of a second grade project we've been working on with First Language Lessons. Everyday my husband helps my son design an illustration for a line in a poem and write out the line of the poem with the illustration. Posted by Picasa

January Posted by Picasa

February Posted by Picasa

March Posted by Picasa

April Posted by Picasa

May Posted by Picasa

June Posted by Picasa


First Language Lessons

I looked at this book for a well over a year on the bookshelf at my neighborhood bookstore. I really like the Story of the World and the Well-Trained Mind but I wasn't sure I would use this resource. I'm just not into "scripted" lessons.

After trying many other resources for my oldest son, I decided to go ahead and give it a try. The local bookstore gives a 25% discount to educators and I'd taken much more expensive risks in the past. I've been very pleased with how it has worked out. I actually own two copies now because I've been known to misplace First Language Lessons and it makes me crazy when we get off track.

I tend to not use the script word for word. I do cover the content in the lessons. I've been amazed at how quickly my son memorizes the poetry and I've been very pleased with the selections. My son has a lot of trouble writing and he retains the oral lessons well. I read in the back of the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading that a second book will be coming out and I'm very pleased about that. We're into the second grade content now and it was well worth the price for just one year of English.


Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Project Time

If you are looking for a fun Christmas project, like fiber (wooly), and can let your kids use sharp implements (felting needles) then look at Trish's instructions for cookie cutter felted ornaments.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

This is presently a one person blog...

and the one person is sick. Sick enough that she sucked it up and went to the Dr. Sick enough that the Dr. drew labs. So, I am "calling in sick". How many days can you skip blogging before you need a doctor's excuse? Be back soon.


Sunday, November 13, 2005

Another shrew came to breakfast. It's been quite some time since one of these has been in the house. Living outside the city has its downside. We had left the live trap out from the last shrew visit. It was a good thing. All my children were accounted for and there were noises coming from the lower level. I removed the live trap to the driveway for my husband. I don't do wild animals. If you are wondering why we don't call an exterminator, they don't do wild animals. I already tried. Posted by Picasa


Friday, November 11, 2005

It’s Time

It’s time for me to take a break from this blogging business and attend to all the pressing matters we have going on around the house.

I love to put my thoughts and research and links up but it’s taking up time that I can’t spare right now. I’ll still be watching and reading homeschooling news and reading others’ blogs for their goings on, along with all the usual stuff that goes on in the homeschooling world. But not –trying- to put up coherent thoughts anymore. It’s ‘breaking my brain’ as my kids would say. And after not getting dates right and thoughts completed just yesterday, I know it’s time.

So, with that, and to be fair to Kara and her participation on the blog with all of the technical do hickeys and posts that she’s spent a lot of time on, it’s time right now for me to focus fully on the home and hearth.


Didn't Quite Finish That Thought

And it is important. As I noted here and didn't point out again regarding the Kane commentary about the family, they are NOT homeschoolers. Racist NON-homeschoolers.


Sustainable Illinois Farms

Don't know how or why I ran into this, but thought it might be of interest to many homeschoolers. As we generally oversee what goes in their brains and in their stomachs. We have many homeschooler friends who participate in this or have chickens in their back yards for the eggs and the chicken. (Brings to mind the Ruby character-Renee Zellweger, and the fate of the rooster in the Cold Mountain movie. As someone who was chased by a rooster with mile long spurs visiting someone as a little girl, I cheered her on.)

Thought I'd put it up now even though it's not a great time of year to be checking them out for some produce, unless you're looking for some good tasting eggs, as opposed to the horrid, factory eggs in most groceries.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thank You, Mr. Kane

For speaking up with your commentary about the racist Gaedes family and Bill Maher's ignorance of homeschoolers:
Home-Schooling Can’t Be Any More Dangerous Than Our Public Schools

I love good common sense!


Finally-A Focus on GOOD Socialization

And not on school socialization. (Which can be good, but is usually bad when you horde up a bunch of youngsters and tell them not to move or speak unless they have permission. )

World Net Daily has a piece about a new Berkeley Study covering, in part, the social and emotional development of little ones in regards to preschool.
A new study on the effects of preschool on children, which finds attendance harms kids' emotional and social development, is being used by a homeschool organization to help encourage parents to educate their children at home.
Cognitive abilities were increased somewhat as social/emotional development suffered for many. Reading quickly through this, it appears that white, middle class children suffered in terms of socialization most, while Hispanics were not affected adversely and assumedly not beneficially either? From the WND:
On average, the report finds that the earlier a child enters a preschool center, the slower his or her pace of social development, while cognitive skills in pre-reading and math are stronger when children first enter a preschool program between the ages of two and three.
No kidding! Many homeschoolers had that figured out when they kept the kid home.
In the press release:
Cognitive results for African American children are mixed, the researchers said. High attendance rates are associated with gains in language and pre-reading skills, but not with any discernible improvement in knowledge of numbers and math concepts.
And their socialization? And all the other non-white, non-hispanic and non-African American? Gotta read this study.

From Berkeley's Press Release:
Most surprising, according to the researchers based at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University, is that the social skills of white, middle-class children suffer- in terms of cooperation, sharing and engagement in classroom tasks - after attending preschool centers for more than six hours a day, compared to similar children who remain at home with a parent prior to starting school.
And to the Illinois governor and the Chicago Sun Times and the AZ governor with her National Plan and all the other governors looking for campaign donations, you should pay attention to this also noted in the release:
A growing list of state governors is making large investments to offer free, publicly-supported preschools for all children, echoing advocates' claims that this will boost the early learning of most children.

"So, the report's a bit sobering for governors and mayors - including those in California, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina and Oklahoma - who are getting behind universal preschool," Fuller said.
I suspect this will be another study ignored. Kind of like the study of teens that said they physically need more sleep and think better later in the day, but since that didn't suit the school institution, it was put by the wayside for most.

It's a bit of a no-brainer when you're living and breathing homeschooling, but maybe the 'establishment' is coming around.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The HEART of Homeschooling is Correct Communication

This was great, I thought. A homeschooling article about a group in Illinois. That bubble was burst by the time I finished reading the article.

This group sounds like a nice cooperative effort for local homeschooling families.
“It’s kind of likening it to the pendulum swinging from the days of the one-room schoolhouse when they had all the kids of all the different grade levels together, learning together, and we kind of segregated them into their own age classes, and the home school movement is kind of taking it back to that, and I think the educational community is realizing that it is a more efficient way to teach the kids when you have kids of different ages and different abilities (together), because they are able to help each other and work together, and you can have more of that cooperative learning that does take place,” Thrower said.
We had one of those one room schoolhouses down our country road. My dad used to go there with his siblings. ("In snow up to his knees up a hill the whole time in subzero weather." *Just remember we have no hills here; only rises.) It was long empty when they consolidated all the country schools into the town school. And so it went....

Back to this article:
The students who are a part of the HEART program also participate in several community service activities such as Meals on Wheels and Relay for Life.
Good stuff! We'll be doing some volunteer work with homeschooling friends on Friday. Seems to be involved in a lot of homeschoolers' lives.

And this is typical for teen homeschoolers and community colleges. More good stuff!
Thrower said Kishwaukee College offers a program to all high school-age students in the county which allows them to take two college-level courses a semester for half the cost of regular tuition. Thrower said many home-school students participate in the program.
But this part here has me stumped. **Update on 11/10: It's been removed. BRAVO!
Thrower said, before parents decide to home school their children, they must meet certain state requirements and have their children take standardized tests to determine their academic grade level. She said she advises parents to contact a home school support group to receive more information about home schooling.
Parents do need to meet certain state requirements in withdrawing their kids from public school. Transfer notification from public school to private school (homeschool).
If the kids have never been in public school, they don't have to meet any state requirements except to be 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
And prove such if questioned by public school authorities (truancy officers from the Regional Office of Education.)

And they most certainly do not have to take standardized tests. Period. Unless it's required to get back into public school. That's kind of the whole point with many homeschoolers in IL that the parents can determine whether they want to test their kids or not while homeschooling.

Worth a follow up.


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Family and Home Network

Has a new resource in a discussion board led by homeschooler, Jeanne Faulconer.

Information about logging in is available here. Great articles such as Homeschooling and ADHD and for information in dealing with the single income, there is this article and more:

Affordability Survey: Family Finances

Much more at the site. Check it out!


Monday, November 07, 2005

Stop by Spunky's and read her new miranda warning

Spunky has been covering the ninth circuit court of appeals latest ruling on the rights of parents vs. public schools. She has a post earlier in the week on the same issue. It's highly recommended reading.


Get This Right

Homeschooling has nothing to do with public school at home. And I'm wondering if this is intentional.

This is the second time and the second state and the second journalist in a week who seem to have a very limited vocabulary in explaining alternative public education.

As if homeschoolers don't have enough problems with the mixing up of public school at home and homeschooling. (Take a look at the NHEN forums to see a prime example of that.)

Here's what was in the articles.

Article one is a CT. article. (This one scared me to death with what they had in store for the "home schooled" until I checked with a very reliable CT source who said it's all about public school:

Recognizing that the transition from being sick or being home schooled is difficult for some students, North Haven will purchase two classrooms for the seven high school students currently enrolled in the program.
The students have a special education teacher who works closely with all the students, and then social workers and psychologists are also brought in to work with the students. Currently there are five girls and two boys, all at the high school level.
The building is being built offsite and then brought here. It will have two classrooms and with office space for testing and private matters.
“The students have been very optimistic and patient about the new building. It must be hard for them to be in this building with us,” Querfeld said. “We're hoping to have it by January.”

Article two is about a Wisconsin boy who got out of the classroom and wonder of wonders, did well. But he was NOT HOMESCHOOLED:
Jeremy began being home schooled through the James Madison High School program. Taking away the anxiety he felt in the traditional classroom environment was just what he needed to succeed academically. His grades improved to the 94 percentile and he found a summer job he loved, which also helped bolster his self-image and his confidence.


Across The Fence's Rhonda Robinson Is Blogging

I'm looking forward to her blogging thoughts. She somehow manages to knock pertinent family/homeschooling issues into an article with well researched back up. I LIKE that!

I think Rhonda and I are both familiar with the small farming communities who still have the art of Across The Fence down. (Or it could be called Everyone Knows Almost Everything About You (Including everything you didn't want them to know. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing when they're your neighbors and friends and will be there for you in a pinch no matter what.)

Welcome neighbor, to the blogging world!


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some Natural Science Resources

Just catching up with subscriptions and such and wanted to pass them along.

Project Feeder Watch
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see at their feeders from November through early April. FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.
Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnership with the National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, and Canadian Nature Federation.

If you don't have the $15 to enroll and record your observations; there are great resources available on the Cornell Lab site in identifying those feathered friends outside your window.

2006 Arbor Day Poster Contest for 5th graders (9 or 10'ish?)

Join over 75,000 fifth grade classrooms and home schools across America in
the 2006 Arbor Day National Poster Contest sponsored by Toyota!

Toyota?? Oh, well, it's a cool project. There are some free educational resources available on the Nat'l site, as well. Activity Guides And the blah, blah blah standards. National?! [Don't want to look. Just know it's something I wish we didn't have; particularly on a national level. Knew I should have just taken a nap instead. ] Anyway, the state contact is here.
And here's Illinois' information:
Reinee Hildebrandt
ORC-Forest Ecology, 1 Natural Resources Way
Springfield, IL 62702
Hmmm...investigating further (should have taken that nap), I see that only homeschoolers who are in a club or association can participate? And if you're not in one of those, you can't? It has that same aroma (burning piles of leaves for the asthmatic) that HSLDA's HR 3753's Section 10 has.
Well, Journey South isn't tainted and neither is the Cornell Lab. It's a family/education thing with those groups. And pondering further with the current federal legislation staring at us, it's amazing how HSLDA's agenda seems to fit in so nicely with the school-ish agenda. Independants lose.
With no intention of going on the above tangent, I'm going to quit and go take that nap.


Friday, November 04, 2005

Rainbow Resource Dent and Damaged Sale

These items are not used, and most have only slight damage such as bent corners. Prices have been greatly reduced.We will have a large variety of items that will be in random bins to sort through.WHEN: Saturday, November 12, 2005, 9am-3:30pmWHERE: The Christian Center, Lower Level4100 N. Brandywine, Peoria, IL. All sales are final - No returns.Cash, Check, Visa/ Mastercard/Discover cards accepted.
Questions: Call 1-888-841-3456

Directions: Hwy 74 to Peoria. Exit at War Memorial. Go east on War Memorial. At the first stoplight make a left. Then make an immediate left onto Brandywine. The Christian Center is less than 1/10th of a mile on the right.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

Grab your hat and mittens and head for the planetarium!

I received this announcement through my local homeschool group.

David Leake of the Parkland Planetarium made this announcement

The Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society will be at the Staerkel
Planetarium this Sunday from 7-9pm to do some Mars viewing with club
telescopes. Mars comes relatively close to the Earth every 26 months
and this will be the closest we'll see Mars until the year 2018.
Naturally anything that's close is bright and looks large through the
telescope. The event is free but weather permitting. The telescopes
will be outside the planetarium and to the west, so dress warm! We're
not sure what to expect this time (with it being colder) but we
entertained well over 1000 people in Meadowbrook Park during the last
close approach of Mars in 2003. The planetarium will be open as a "warm
area," but no shows will be scheduled.


Universal Preschool or The Cradle Robbing Trend

At the Office with blankie stowed on the couch

Home Education Magazine's November/December issue has a feature about Universal Preschool written by Diane Flynn Keith.

The Chicago Sun Times had a ditty on the need for Universal Preschool because of the lack of school readiness for some kids. Here's a hint about the Sun Times bias. Their title is 2 years of preschool seen as key along with describing the angst of the classroom teachers regarding the The readiness gap.
I have yet to see an anti-universal preschool letter up in the SunTimes letter section. I know Diane sent one and I know I sent one. Diane has some credentials under her belt, so you'd think.....They did find room for a paid pro-UP proponent along with the usual 'parents cause the problems' letter. (It occurred to me that the school system failed the parents the writer was speaking about, but yet the parent should have confidence in the same system? In the hard copy that letter was featured with the 'good' kindergarten class picture above it.)

So, Illinois Action for Children's president is excited because Illinois Action for Children, on behalf of the Chicago Early Learning and Literacy Council, secured a first-ever Early Learning Opportunities Act federal grant for Illinois. And she of course laid out the usual next step is to ensure that our elected officials will continue to invest in our children. Now it's time to fully engage leaders in doing what is right for children: making high-quality early education available to all 3- and 4-year-olds.
Lady, this will shock you, but little ones fresh out of a diaper or not, can be highly educated and FREE at home. I like this reminder from an Oklahoma watchdog group.

There is also has an article in the Link. HEM has great resources and information about unpreschooling along with some writings about this Universal Preschool issue directly under Diane's article. Lots of good reading, but check it out because it is NOT going away.

See the sidebar to the right to see the money flow push for UP in Illinois.


Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Across The Fence With an Article Worth Reading

Rhonda Robinson has written for the Illinois Leader and has the Across the Fence/Against the Tide column in The Link. (I just got my first hard copy of The Link. No kidding, it's free!)
She is a great researcher and I always glean some more information from her articles. Check out her newest article on No Mercury, No Autism, No More Lies.

The power of the pharmaceuticals (Eli Lilly comes to mind in particular) and their influence on FDA is alarming. Here's what was noted in Across The Fence regarding this:
The lack of concern for public health and safety within the pharmaceutical companies, and the conflicts of interest and political corruption within the FDA, has become evident over the last year with the deadly side effects of arthritis medicine and antidepressants. The pharmaceutical industry was slow to respond, they admitted the deadly effects only when forced out into the public eye with multiple lawsuits.

How much more resistant to public scrutiny are they when it comes to immunizations? There, they not only have a captive clientele they want to preserve, but they have the cover and security of a government-sanctioned mandate, with the power and tax dollars to back it.

It should no longer come as a surprise to us that drug companies do not have our best interest at heart. They are a business, not a humanitarian effort, which must consider cost and profit. Fatalities and injuries are just part of the cost of doing business within the pharmaceutical industry. Payouts for vaccine damages reached $1,189,700,000 in 2000.
We vaccinated our kids. With no known problems from it except for the aches for the day afterwards. We did not do the chicken pox vaccine despite our pede's recommendation for it. He wasn't too keen on the homeschooling issue either, but oh, well. Our choice and our family decision just as it is for every individual family. You weigh the options and decide what you're comfortable with for your children's well being.


Podcast Craze

It is definitely intriguing but I haven't checked it out yet. I just know it will be one more thing I will really like about educating at home (or wherever we might be). We're already overwhelmed with too much great stuff.

But surveying my family; 3 out of the 6 kids have some sort of IPod dealie and they love it. 5 out of the 8 of our family have been listening to the Teaching Company's Famous Romans series that we checked out of the library and loving it! (Those Romans were brutal but history does seem to repeat itself. We're thinking our current government could use a Cato the Younger to stay true blue in integrity. Maybe a whole gaggle of 'em.)

I digress. I know that Kim from Relaxed Homeskool uses podcasts. Podcasts are on my overwhelming list of more cool things to do or check out. From the Ipod Garage:
And it isn't just universities grammar schools are doing it too, like Musselburgh grammar school. It is used as a great teaching tool because the students have to work together to write and edit a script, and record and edit the podcast. They are learning incredibly useful, real world skills that way.

This is also a great thing for homeschoolers, Finding good material for homeschooling can be hard, but with the basics in place using university lectures can be very good for learning something or finding out what still needed to be filled in.

Now that video is a major part of the equation those classes where a demonstration is most effective you can do that too. It would be great to podcast a science course and show those old film loops from the '50s to get a point across. I remember film loops like where the Tacoma Narrows bridge oscillated in the wind and finally snapped or what happens when you drop Lithium, Sodium, Potassium and other first column elements into water or how waves act and interact.


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Andrea from AtypicalLife is Featured

In Home Education Magazine regarding blogging.

I was getting a little concerned wondering if someone had run off with my HEM for Nov/Dec before it hit my mailbox when I finally looked under the right stack yesterday. (I did some quick cleaning the other day for company and hid my paper piles even from myself.)

It was a great article and hopefully will inspire more homeschoolers to blog. I think Andrea's point below is true. I'm grateful for any new insights and perspectives about homeschooling hitting the rest of the world along with supporting our homeschooling world.
But most of all, blogging has done wonders for the homeschooling community. The longer you blog, the more you find yourself seeking out other bloggers, leaving comments at their blogs. People visit your blog and leave comments, with a link to their own blog, and the circle widens. Many bloggers have found out about methods and curricula they never knew existed. The power of a wide circle of bloggers has also known no bounds. When one of my favorite bloggers,, idly mentioned having a homeschool blogger convention featuring blog posts on homeschooling, the idea quickly grew. In the end, Spunky highlighted over blog 50 entries and authors back in April, 2005, and the entry still gets read.

Homeschool Legislation Watch
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