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

Thursday, December 08, 2005

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