Saturday, December 31, 2005

Homeschoolers and Socialization

Of all the complaints against homeschooling, the one that amazes me most is that the kids won’t be “socialized” properly. Do they think we keep our children locked in a basement? Sometimes I’d like too, I’m not too crazy about the time my kids spend with the neighborhood kids. I really can’t imagine letting my charges spend 35 hours a week with backwards influences.

It’s absurd to think that our kids don’t have a social life. Between neighborhood kids, church, weekly homeschool get-togethers, Boy Scouts, YMCA activities, etc., homeschool kids get lots of time around other people outside the family.

Even if they didn’t get around others, does that mean that farmers for hundreds of years were warped? I would tend to think they may have been lonely at times, but farm families got along better than many families today, and the kids tended to have good character.

Homeschool Curriculum

The note read “What curriculum do you use?” Here I am in an adult Sunday school class passing notes. The return note sent by my wife read, “Talk to me after class.” I felt like I was back in high school. Except, then I didn’t get to read the notes.

The gal next to me currently has her girls in a Christian school, but due to some changes in the family business, she is thinking of homeschooling. The answer to her question is complex. We don’t use any one curriculum. We chose basic materials (textbooks, workbooks, games, science kits, etc.) for each subject during the summer. Then, every week (or so) my wife puts together a schedule that includes lots of supplemental materials from the public library. Specifying what you want your kids to know is one advantage of homeschooling, but it is more work. I’m sure the easiest way would be to pick one overall curriculum and just go with that, but that isn’t very customizable to what is best for our kids. We do use the What Every [blank] Grader Needs to Know series as a guide. The series seems to be a bit advanced, especially for public school kids, but we figure it’s better to stretch them a little.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

School House Rocks!

YEAH! I got the Schoolhouse Rock! (Special 30th Anniversary Edition) for Christmas! Now I can teach my kids everything they need to know in life.

Unintelligent designs

Cal Thomas wrote a great piece on a topic that I intend to write on sometime. Read it here. He basically says that we shouldn't be trying to force ID into public schools.
Too many people have wasted too much time and money since the 1960s, when prayer and Bible reading were outlawed in public schools, trying to get these and a lot of other things restored... Religious parents should exercise the opportunity that has always been theirs. They should remove their children from state schools...

I often wonder if we spent as much time, effort and money on evangelism as we spend on politics, what would the country look like? And I'm not talking about door-to-door evangelism, but helping the needy, inviting co-workers over to see how your family operates, and loving the unlovely. Instead of giving to some PAC, give to something like The Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch. Changed lives will change culture.

Common Sense Media

I received and email from Common Sense Media asking me to put them in my links section. I checked them out and am impressed with what I see so far. Rob Reiner even wrote an entry for their blog! And no, I'm not getting paid for this in any form.

Monday, December 26, 2005

How to Make Cheap Bows and Arrows, or, A Very Good Christmas

I mentioned in a Previous post that my older two boys wanted stuff to make bows and arrows. Well here is how to with price list:

  • 10 feet PVC pipe, $1.79

  • 3/8 inch, 3 feet long dowel rods, $0.26 each

  • Duck Tape, $1.47

  • Pair of 45 inch shoe strings $0.87

  • Time spent in the garage with my boys on Christmas, Priceless.


Cut the PVC into 4 foot long sections. They could be longer for older boys, or the extra 2 feet can be used to make a sword (for another post). On one side, saw a 1/4 inch notch straight down into each end of the pipe. Tie a good sized knot on each end of the shoe string. Hook the string in one notch, and bend the pipe to get the other knot into the other notch.

The dowel rods we cut in half for 18 inch long arrows. The duck (duct) tape can be used to tape around the bow where the hand goes, and to make "feathers" on the end of the arrows.

If I had a digital camera I would post pictures. I'll see if I can't borrow one in the next few weeks. I have to admit I did not come up with this idea, a friend of the boys does amazing things with duck tape, and also weapons creation from scraps. Speaking of which, if you go around to construction sites, you can probably score plenty of scraps for various projects. Just be sure to ask. Most of time they are glad to have someone haul stuff off for them.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Kids Say the Darndest Things

A few quotes from my kids that I have saved:

"A triplet is 3 twins." Joshua, age 7

"Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches are my favorite things in the whole world. Besides guns and Jesus." Erik, age 5

Explaining something about why we don’t make our own breakfast cereals, I stated, “The average family doesn’t have the equipment to make them.” Joshua, age 7 asks, “Are you calling OUR family AVERAGE?”

The reason God made kids so cute is so you don’t kill them.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Chronicle of Higher Education article on Homeschoolers

The Chronicle has an article on Professors who homeschool this week. It's online if you have a subscription at http://chronicle.com/weekly/v52/i17/17b01401.htm

Thursday, December 08, 2005

See the Changes in Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kokogiak/66087367/ has some comparisons between the 1963 version of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever and the 1991 version. Very interesting. Some of the changes are OK and make sense, others are just ridiculous. (Put your mouse over the book pages to see boxes appear, then mouse over each box to see comments by the person who put the images up.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

What Are You Getting Your Kids for Christmas?

So, what are you getting the kids? I don't buy my kids toys. There are plenty of other family members who do buy them toys, and somehow we seem to collect them throughout the year. Luckily, this year my older two have asked for things like PVC pipe, dowel rods, duck tape and string, and "a pen that you click to get the thing to come out," and a notebook. The pipe, tape and string is for homemade bows. That I can do. I will invest in their creativity.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Narnia Narnia Narnia

That's all I hear from my kids. My wife has read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series to them, so, of course, they can't wait for the movie. My brother called the theater in Kansas City and got a discount if he can bring more than 100 people opening night to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He had over 120 in two days. He amazes me. So the kids want to drive up there and go see the movie cause it will be cheaper, but what they don't realize is that the cost for the gas will more than outweigh the savings.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Homeschooling is not for the timid

When we started homeschooling, I thought that the kids would instantly love learning and be super smart. Well, they already are super smart. But we still get the whine "I don't like school." When my wife asks what they don't like they can't point to anything in particular, except that they have to "do math sheets" and write actual words on paper. When given specifics (Mom reading to them, building projects, etc.) they love those, but they still "don't like school." I was genuinely surprised at that.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

American Attitudes on "Why Have Children?"

Of the two magazines that I actually subscribe too, Books & Culture is my intellectual one, Rod & Custom, my fun one. I couldn't wait for B&C to have this article online. Better Homes and Children: The brave new world of meticulously planned parenthood. by Amy Laura Hall. Ms. Hall writes about how Americans plan childhood and how we want our family life to fit us, not force us to change to adapt to family. A very good read, indeed.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Public School Children and Sex Education and Parental Rights

If I lived in California, there is NO WAY I would send my kids to public school. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently approved a not-age-appropriate questionnaire for kids 7 to 10. I don't think my kids would even understand the questions. The biggest trouble with the ruling is the idea that the State knows best. Read about ithere, but be prepared to blow your top.

Here is some more on this crazy topic.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Has anyone read this book? I'd like to hear more about it.
Children Matter

By S. May, B. Posterski, C. Stonehouse & L. Cannell / Eerdmans Publishing Co.


A much-needed call to make children central to the church's ministry and mission. Using information based on years of trial and error, these professionals lay a biblical foundation, develop content and context for faith formation, and offer solid practical advice for welcoming kids into the people of God. 312 pages, softcover. Eerdmans.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Family Meal part III

Someone else is writing on this topic also. Ruben Navarrette Jr says, "And, yet, just 30 years later, the whole idea somehow seems quaint. And that's just sad. Not to mention harmful to our society. The dinner table is a child's first and most effective classroom."

Boys without Fathers

There is a new book called "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men." She says that boys are better off without dads. What a looney idea! Besides faulty arguments, this kind of thinking can make it a lot harder on moms. Dad can say, "You don't need me, I'll just go off and do my own thing, but it's ok son, you can do the same some day! We won't have to worry about fixing the gutters, cause we will just be living the ultimate bachelor life." I could just run around having sex with whoever and not have to worry about consequences. I'm sure this isn't what the author is advocating, but this is where it will lead. Most rotten ideas in our culture started as a somewhat sane sounding, but misguided, idea that has blossomed into chaos.

Check out this review (with facts even!) Are boys better off without fathers? By Jeffery M. Leving and Glenn Sacks

Monday, October 03, 2005

Parental Rights in Public School

John Leo talks about parents rights and the wacky way that some public schools respond. I just don't get it. If he's my child, why can't I have a say regarding the age some sensitive topics are introduced? Why do so many people have an agenda? I have more questions, but they will have to wait.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Controversies and parenting styles

I have sometimes read people blasting someone whose parenting model I follow. This usually is a bummer, but it doesn't really change anything I do. I don't follow any one system of parenting but use a little from here, a little from there, and figure out what works for my family. You should do the same. Don't get locked in too tightly with one system. Most people who bother to develop a system and write about it are "true believers" and use what works for their family. They tend to also be very emphatic about it and put demands on others that are unbiblical. That may not work for your family. Something to think about. Keep a balance.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Save the state some money, homeschool

So I see over at the Spunky Homeschool Blog that Georgia's Governor wanted to shut down the schools for two days to save 500,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Man that is a lot of fuel.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Dinner Together part II

I now understand the KFC commercials that make a big deal out of a family eating together. "The Family Dinner is Back!" they say. I wasn't aware it left. I suppose being out of the loop is good on some things.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Family Meal

Click on the title of this post: Here is a really good article on the benefits of families eating together. To quote a bit:
"having regular meals with their families was a more powerful predictor of success and happiness than time spent in school, studying, church or synagogue, playing sports, or art activities. Read that sentence again"
Wow.

The article also says that less than 1/3 of American families eat together regularly. This astounds me. My family eats together 3 meals a day. Sure, there are times when we are not all there, but good grief, the norm is for us all to be there.

"Oh," you say, "your oldest isn't even ten yet, just wait until they are teens." I doubt it will change even then. Sure, there will probably be times that we are not every one in his own chair, but as a rule, we will eat as a family. I have no intention of becoming an over-busy family running hither and thither. And yes, I am making plans for that now, so it doesn't suprise me later.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Rod puzzle

Proverb 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverb 13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him

But:

Psalm 23:4 thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Why is the rod a comfort? I do know that children do well with firm boundries. They don't always like them, but they thrive within them. A rod can be used to get the dumb sheep's attention, or to whack it back in line with the others, or, I suppose, to injure it. Discipline is to get our attention and help us see the right way to go. If the only result of it is injury, then anger is the most likely response. Anger causes rebellion. The rod, or indeed any discipline, must be used in such a way as to gain attention, but not create anger. More on this topic later.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Test

Ok, this is a test. First I would like to let everyone know what they are in for if they read this blog. I intend to publish lots of ideas for parents, and some good marriage tips as well.