Thursday, April 17, 2014

Long vowels

Dd9 has known for years that long vowels generally say their name and that they are indicated by a horizontal line over the vowel. She couldn't resist getting involved as I was teaching dd4 a reading lesson today, butting in and telling her what the long sound of a certain vowel was. Just as I thought that we'd moved on and that dd9 was back to doing her own schoolwork, dd9 stood up, held her pen horizontally over her head, and said her name over and over again. She was being a long vowel. She laughed at her own joke till her face turned red.

I admit I inflict some painfully puerile jokes on my children, and I suspect that what I make go around is going to be coming around for a long time to come.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kites

It's finally spring. We went out two afternoons last week and flew kites. Only one kite flew really well, though, and it was a flimsy little plastic thing that looks as though it might have come from the dollar store. Our bigger, fabric kites just never stayed up for long. The flimsy kite stayed aloft so well that I could get it up in the air and then hand the string over to dd2 to "fly it" for a while.

We hit the dollar store yesterday and bought three cheap-o kites. Also, dd9 used a garbage bag to make a diamond kite, which she wants to try out. Now we just need for the breezes to pick up again.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

#432 Carnival of Homeschooling: Homeschooling & Farms

With spring finally here--although I fully expect some more snow before the month is out because that's just how weather is in Colorado--for this Carnival of Homeschooling, I thought I'd look at intersections of homeschooling and farming.

Many parents, homeschooling or not, have a strong desire to teach their children about nature in-depth. My father liked to take us hiking, and my parents had us children grow a garden and raise chickens. One year we even raised a steer in our backyard for a while. He was rather bad-tempered (I wonder if he understood our nickname for him, "Dinner") and got out sometimes, wandering up and down our residential street, which taught us the importance of locking up gates securely.

While this is by no means solely a homeschooler phenomenon, I've seen many of my friends and relatives who lean towards homeschooling raise chickens and/or other livestock, grow big gardens, and dream of the little farm they're going to have someday out in a rural setting. Here are several blogs I found of homeschoolers living (or at least pursuing part of) that dream:
For those like the Bruggietales in Australia, who have achieved the dream of country life, it's a field trip for the children to go to the city where the buildings and planes are so close together.

I love to encourage my children in their desire to grow a garden. Last week, we focused our Friday schoolwork on learning about seeds and Colorado agriculture.

Of course, there are several carnival submissions that don't really have to do with farm life:

O'DonnellWeb gives us an  informative post on college admissions and interviews. (I can't help but point out, though, that he gives partial credit for his daughter's scholarship-winning interview skills to the nine years experience she has in competitive horse judging, which is loosely connected to farming.)

Henry Cate of Why Homeschool posts about how in both software development and life, it is often not the first solution but the second, third, or even fourth that turns out to be the best one. It's a valuable lesson to teach one's children.

Down a Rabbit Trail: Interest-Led Learning with a Charlotte Mason Flair submits this insightful post on narration a la Charlotte Mason.

Tea Time with Annie Kate shares a summary of the books in the Camp X historical fiction series about WWII. It looks like a really fun series; we're not Canadian, but I might be handing it to my children to read in a few years, especially since it shows that not all the German officers were Nazis (I'm part German :) ).

Nerd Family announces the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which looks like an awesome contest. I wish my children were old enough to participate. The deadline to enter is April 22.

In closing, here are some free homeschooling resources I found on farming.
Thanks to all those who submitted blog posts!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Seeds at Springtime

Although we're getting a snowstorm tonight, it's still officially springtime, and my girls are trying to start their gardens by planting seeds in egg cartons and keeping the soil moist until the seeds sprout. Yesterday for our Friday schoolwork--usually light and consisting mainly of PE, Art, Science, and Colorado History--we learned about seeds.

For science we watched a YouTube videos on how seeds germinate. We were all surprised to learn that seeds need oxygen to sprout. It turns out that until sprouting plants can do photosynthesis to make oxygen, they need a little oxygen from outside sources. The children especially liked a time lapse recording of bean seeds sprouting.

For Colorado History, we watched YouTube videos on Colorado agriculture. Given a long local drought and my failures at gardening here during those years, I thought that agriculture in this state couldn't be very significant. Was I wrong. Besides Olathe sweet corn, Rocky Ford melons, and Palisade peaches, Colorado produces greenhouses of lettuce, lots of cattle and sheep, and even potatoes. Maybe I need a greenhouse....

For PE, I found a "farmer" inspired workout on YouTube that I had the kids watch and imitate. It was the least successful part of our formal studies on Friday.

For art, I told them about "seed art" (much like making mosaics with seeds) and showed them many examples of seed art from the internet. Dd9 was interested enough to pull out our bag of wild birdseed and make a little flower. Here's a photo of her work.

"just a flower"

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A mistake

Dd9 informed me seriously a little while ago that she thinks it was a mistake to have dd2.

Dd2 has been attempting to toilet train herself in an unusual, sometimes rather messy way. She notices that she's urinating in her diaper and doesn't like how it feels, so she takes off the diaper while saying "toilet." But she doesn't always sit on her potty right after, which has led to two instances in the past two days of feces ending up where they should not. Poor dd2. She's trying, but she just doesn't have the order of toilet operations down yet.

I had to point out to dd9 that when she was younger, she also did gross things while in the toddler/toilet training stage, yet we didn't try to return her to the hospital. There was the time that she stood in front of the toilet and urinated all over herself; I realized later that she was trying to imitate her daddy. No one had explained to her that only males can easily urinate while standing.

Dd9 is reconciled to keeping dd2 after all. She's even painting My Little Pony pages with her now.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Carnival of Homeschooling will be here next week!

Hi! I'll be hosting the next carnival of homeschooling here on Tuesday of next week. Please submit entries to be included in it by 6 p.m. on Monday. The instructions for how to do it are at this link. I look forward to seeing all your great posts!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fool's Homeschool Carnival

I will be so happy when this day is over. My girls keep yelling to try to surprise other family members or playing dumb pranks on each other (grated cheese in a sister's hair at dinner? really??). I need some ideas for harmless, genuinely amusing April Fool's Day jokes. There's a homeschool carnival up that makes it almost sound as though April Fool's Day could be fun. Maybe next year I'll try some of their ideas.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Fonts

Every week, I send out a newsletter to our extended family. When I'm pregnant, I come up with possible and/or silly names for the coming addition to use in the signature line.

This pregnancy, I've been using names of typefaces available in MS Word: Vrinda, Helvetica, Euphemia, Ebrima, and Perpetua. As long as they end with the letter "a", they can work as a girls' name, given U.S. naming trends. My mother was appalled at Ebrima; she thought I was seriously considering it as a name. Heehee.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

NDEs and spiritual communication

I believe that every person has a spirit and that God speaks to us through spiritual means, generally only doing so when we seek guidance and connection to him. As part of his mercy, he doesn't usually give us divine manifestations unless we're sincere in wishing to follow him. It's rather like when I refrain from giving my child a new rule which I know she will break immediately.

For years I've been interested in near death experiences (NDEs). While I still read them with a measure of skepticism, I am inclined to believe they are likely actual separations of spirit from body. There are numerous accounts of NDEs where people mention seeing someone in their near death experience that had recently died and who they did not find out had died until after the near death experience. Moreover, it's clear that those sharing their NDEs (with the exception of spiritualists selling books) do not usually have anything to gain from doing so, many times telling almost no one for years because they fear embarrassment. Skeptics' inability to reproduce typical NDEs by physical or chemical means also indicate that something beyond human control or comprehension is going on.

Beyond the "wow, that's cool" factor of NDEs, though, I read in them a rich variety of descriptions of spiritual communication. It's apparently hard to explain an out-of-body, i.e., spiritual, experience when using terms and ideas developed by physical beings.

I have found that to be true with less dramatic spiritual experiences, too. For instance, I can tell someone how when I have felt a communication from God, it has seemed to me kind of like a great light in my mind or a movement in my soul--somewhere inside me--while others describe their experiences as warmth, peace, burning feelings in their hearts, joy, quiet certainty, great love, enlightenment, etc. Reading NDEs helps me better comprehend why people report a wide variety of spiritual experiences; it's a bit like we're all trying to describe different parts of a rainbow using the vocabulary of a monochromatic world.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Break

We did hardly anything that would qualify as "school work" this week because it is the local schools' spring break. As part-time school attenders, we decided we were on vacation, too.

We went to the zoo, visited the library, hung out with cousins who live an hour away and sewed and stuffed long snake toys, and had a playdate with some friends. My children learned more about sewing and crafts, grew better at rollerskating, and worked on developing their social skills. :)

My oldest child even learned to use a glue gun in the course of making a gray jay's nest for a school project; it involved gluing a lot of leaves and twigs together. And lots of running her fingers under cold water in the kitchen sink, which was right by where I was having her use the glue gun. However do those birds make such strong nests without glue guns? Nature is amazing.

Dd4 started seriously acting up about a week ago, and I realized that she was probably bored. She wasn't ready to learn to read a few months ago, so I dropped it. But now she is ready and needs her mind stimulated by non-destructive pursuits such as reading, so we started doing the lessons in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We already finished 11 lessons, and she's doing great. She surprised me as we were driving into the zoo by looking at one of the zoo signs and saying, "Mommy, that sign says zoo!" It's such a great pleasure to watch a young child "crack" the reading code.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Boring trend in children's movies

I've noticed a trend in children's movies during the last few years. It seems that the big breakthrough that makes it possible for the hero/heroine to prevail is that they learn to "be themselves" and then maybe die for some greater good. That's it? Death is unpleasant but relatively easy. Whatever happened to putting forth some effort to be skillful knights, clever damsels, or even prettily-singing princesses and poor-but-honest shoeshine boys? Maybe I'm missing something as I observe these recent movies with half-minded attention from the kitchen, but they seem to be fixated on telling kids that they're awesome just for being themselves. Oh, and that heroes win by dying.

Now, I see nothing wrong with teaching children that they are of worth. They are. But awesomeness goes quite a bit beyond regular human worth. Most children truly haven't done anything to merit the label "awesome." Mozart, the four-year-old-concerto-composer, is notable for being an exception to this general rule.

It's really easy to be one's self (who else are we?) and rather boring on top of that, unless one thinks that one's self is just so cool. We can't all be that cool, or the word loses its meaning (i.e., excellent).

I love the movies where the children's heroes actually have to do something hard--besides just die in the face of doom that was impending anyway--to overcome the odds and give us a victory worth watching. For example, the Incredibles and Mulan showed great examples of effort, skill, and intelligence combined with sacrifice, and both movies can still bring me to tears. Flynn from Tangled is an acceptable hero because of how he turns away from his former selfish ways and cleverly figures out a way to save Rapunzel instead of himself. Anna from Frozen was a mediocre attempt at a heroine (she was already dying with no guarantee that Kristoff, whom she'd met even more recently than her weasel-fiance, could save her when she chose to run over to shield her sister), but judging from my Facebook feed, Elsa is the more popular character, and her character is an unfortunate victim, not a hero, so I'll probably not buy that film. Wreck-It Ralph was the primary inspiration for this blog post.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Third Trimester

I made it! Less than three months until this little girl joins our family.

In the past, I have gone past 40 weeks of pregnancy, but I refuse to do it this time. There is nothing to be gained by waiting to go into labor naturally once I'm past 39 weeks unless my body surprises me by not being ready for labor then, which would be extremely unusual given my past history. My Bishop score (a measure of how successful induction will likely be) is already halfway to where it needs to be because this will be my fifth baby. Also, I'm approaching 40 years old, and I know women near my age who have miscarried around 40 weeks. Recent research makes it clear that, given my circumstances, I can maximize my chances of my baby surviving and even minimize my chances of harm to myself by delivering her at 39 weeks. I'm already planning to take myself out for Indian food in 11 weeks...and then having a medical induction if that doesn't work. :)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Vitamin K shot for newborns

Today I came across this blog post by a mom who neglected to get a Vitamin K shot for her newborn little girl. The mom didn't intentionally opt out of the shot; she had a postpartum hemorrhage that made it so everyone at the birth center forgot about discussing whether to give the shot to the baby. Her one-month-old baby became lethargic and ended up having a very serious medical issue due to Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB):
Dr. Mellema explain that a clot had developed which was placing immense pressure on Olive’s brain. Not only that, but there was bleeding on the back of the right side of her brain as well. The water pockets that are within the brain were completely destroyed, and the tissue on the left side of the brain looked mostly damaged. He said that the lack of Vitamin K in Olive’s system resulted in her body’s inability to clot. Anything as small as putting her down in her bed could have caused this bleed. Since she couldn’t clot, the bleeding didn’t stop. There had been one other case of this that the doctor had seen – I asked what had happened then, and was told that the baby hadn’t lived. We were told that in the small chance that she did survive, Olive would most likely suffer from severe brain damage.

The mother is LDS, so it was easy to put myself in her shoes as she described her reactions and then her reliance on doctors, faith, and priesthood blessings. I'm happy to say that the baby is doing much better and doesn't show signs of severe brain damage now.

The mother recently posted that her baby's brain bleeding was nearly 100% preventable and encouraged everyone to get the Vitamin K shot for their newborns. I second her encouragement. Vitamin K is not a vaccine, and it's distressing to see the Vitamin K shot get lumped in with childhood immunizations and declined by those worried about vaccine risks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Radioactive

Over Christmas, my children's visiting nine-year-old cousin introduced them to the music video for "Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons. They love the puppets, and the actors in it are talented and well-known--hurrah for Lou Diamond Phillips, who will always be a calculus-learning Angeleno to me even if he really is a Filipino-American raised in Texas--so the video became an oft-played favorite. So much so that when dd9, dd7, and dd4 were swinging at the park today, they started singing "Radioactive" at the top of their voices. Pretty much the whole song. As loud as they could.

And since I was pushing dd4's swing the whole time, I couldn't escape and pretend not to be associated with them. Those were my sweet little girls, filling the park with these shouted lyrics:
I'm waking up to ash and dust I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust I'm breathing in the chemicals
I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones Enough to make my systems blow Welcome to the new age, to the new age Welcome to the new age, to the new age Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive Whoa, oh, oh, oh, oh, whoa, oh, oh, oh, I'm radioactive, radioactive

Parenthood is great.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Field Trip to Texas

We have mostly recovered from a field trip to Texas last week. My husband's work sent him to the SXSWedu (South by Southwest Education) conference in Austin, Texas, so we decided to all go along.

We saw the longhorn cattle in Fort Worth, the Alamo and the River Walk in San Antonio, and the Texas State Capitol in Austin. We also visited relatives and friends and spent some unplanned time getting the car serviced.

River Walk in San Antonio, Texas

For my animal lover, dd9, we made sure to go to SeaWorld San Antonio. I know there is a lot of controversy right now about orcas in captivity, especially due to the recent documentary Blackfish, but I think she is too young to try to sort through the competing claims of that issue, so I haven't shown it to her. Personally, I consider it valuable for some well-cared-for animals to be on exhibition to the public. If it weren't for the existence of zoos and similar places, my children probably wouldn't love animals nor be concerned for their welfare. Not everyone can (or probably should) go chasing whales and dolphins around on tour boats.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Old stuff

On Friday, we were learning about Texas history and geography. I found a 10-minute video online from the 1950s about the Southwest states (Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma) that was quite interesting for its historical value. For starters, it is all in black and white. That's unusual to my children. When talking about agricultural products, it shows a line of black men picking cotton--calling them "Negroes", incidentally, which is a term my children never hear--but nowadays cotton is mechanically picked in the USA. Cotton is only picked by hand in developing countries. It's sobering to realize that my mother and father grew up in a country that was similar in many ways to today's developing countries.

Among other fun parts of the video, all the people, male and female, walking down city streets wear hats, and the women are all in skirts. It talks about the large herds of Angora goats being raised in Texas to meet the demand for mohair; I'd bet those herds are quite a bit smaller now. The Northeast is described as being the source of manufactured goods for the Southwest; nowadays, it seems we get most everything manufactured from Asia, especially China.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Inevitable?

My husband overheard someone talking yesterday about feminism and the fight against "patriarchy." It made me think: It's a truism in relationships that the person who cares less about the relationship has more power. And aren't men, for whatever reason, less committed on average to staying faithful to the women in their lives? The evidence seems to point that way. So doesn't that make it inevitable in the realm of western heterosexual relationships that men will tend to have a bit more power than women? Doesn't that cause a small degree of male dominance, i.e., patriarchy, to be inevitable? And are there other areas of life where the matriarchy, i.e., women, will inevitably end up more powerful on average? What would they be? My first thought is parenting, for biology makes it so that mothers are more likely to be physically proximate to their children than are fathers.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Venezuela and Communist Ideals

Venezuela has an enormous amount of wealth in oil reserves, but the people there don't even have enough toilet paper. I sincerely hope that they oust Maduro soon. They're never going to get a perfect president, but surely they can get one that doesn't destroy businesses like nationalizing Chavez (who enriched himself to the tune of a billion USD by the time he died) and Maduro have done.

If there is one thing that last century's history teaches us, communist systems do not work for long. Even voluntary communes (kibbutzim, United Order, Brook Farm, etc.) fall apart or move away from communist ideals over time. People are, on the whole, beings that look out for their own interest. People need to be able to profit from their labor and investment, or they will not labor or invest. People need free markets, or they will create black markets.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Happies

My baby just turned two. She says "Please!" when she wants something, draws "happies" (happy faces) on pieces of paper (we think she might finally have figured out that she really isn't allowed to draw in books, especially library books), and likes to dress up in dresses and pretend to be a ballerina.

I love seeing my children grow up. Sometimes the process seems so slow--I blame pregnancy and postpartum fatigue for that--but as I put old-fashioned clip-on earrings and a grown-up necklace on dd9 last night for a church "tea party" (no actual tea, just water, but lots of sweets and flowers), I had a momentary vision of her in ten years, a lovely, fun-loving, and self-assured 19-year-old dressing up for a special evening.

I think she actually will be a confident young woman. I'm very grateful for the chance to homeschool/part-time public school her these past few years. She has an Aspie streak and exhibits social delays similar to those which made some of my school years miserable, and I think our current schooling arrangement is going to allow her to skip a lot of that misery herself. Children need socialization time in a group setting of peers, but it's torture for some children to have to be in those situations 35+ hours a week (much more if one counts extracurriculars and social media interactions). I didn't really start recovering from my "pariah years" in grades 5-6 until I was homeschooled for a semester in 8th grade. Sometimes kids just need a break. Emotional wounds are like scabs in that they need to be left alone for a while in order to heal.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Too much choice? Ain't no such thing.

Both my family and that of one of my sisters live in Colorado, a veritable wonderland of school choice options. My sister lives in an affluent area with good schools, especially the multiple charter school options. She has homeschooled in the past and utilized a part-time enrollment option at a charter school, and her children now go to a Core Knowledge charter school full-time, and everyone in the family seems very pleased with it. But she was telling me that sometimes she worries that maybe she should be sending her children to a different charter school because that might be a better school. She complained that having "too many choices" made life harder because she didn't know for certain whether she was picking the best choice. I've heard the claim that "too much choice doesn't make people happier" from a local parent, too, after she had taken her child out of the charter school that my children attend part-time.

I energetically proclaim that there is no such thing as "too much choice" when it comes to school options! One might as well complain that life is "harder" because we have the option of shopping at stores besides Kmart or picking our own spouses. Yes, there are opportunity costs to worry about, but freedom to choose the stores and spouses we most prefer easily trumps those.

My husband is happy at his job, but as savvy workers do, he gets emails from professional organizations about job openings in his field. Today he forwarded me one from a smallish city in central Texas. Since we're snow-and-cold-bound (the kids are watching Wild Kratts and weaving today), I spent a couple of hours researching the city in Texas, and the educational options there are appalling for a family like ours (bookish, non-sporty, interested in different cultures and science, etc.).

The public schools there have drug and gang problems and don't seem very focused on academics (which I thought was kind of the point of schools, silly me), and the only charter school in town appears VERY focused on sports with just a teensy mention of academics on their website. There are no part-time enrollment options; unlike nearly half the country, Texas hasn't figured out how to let homeschooled kids attend choir, band, and track at the local public schools for which their parents are paying property taxes--opposition to such participation appears to be based on worries about multiple Tim Tebows "unfairly" competing against the public school jocks. Again, silly me for thinking that schools care about a little thing like actual education when there are sports to worry about. 

The university in town doesn't appear to accept part-time enrollment of high-school aged kids unless they are dual-enrolled full-time high school juniors or seniors. The local community college is geared towards very low level academics (cosmetology?). The private schools and one homeschool co-op are nearly all associated with specific non-inclusive religious views, and from an earlier post you can probably guess how unwilling I would be to put my children in educational environments that construe the Bible to require the rejection of modern scientific findings. There are online charter schools in Texas, but I don't need some bureaucrat's favorite curriculum jammed down my throat for the entire school day; I can choose my own textbooks, thank you. What I need is a moderate amount of classroom enrichment for my kids as a supplement to their personal and academic development, and there seems to be nothing of the kind available in central Texas.

Here in Colorado, we have school choice (i.e., one can "permit" into schools outside of the assigned ones, space allowing, and funds follow the student) and many different kinds of charter schools, including ones that fund college classes for students who are ready for them. The public school districts have to actually try (gasp!) to attract families, so they offer Montessori-style schools, part-time programs for homeschoolers, part-time enrollment at regular schools, etc. And yet somehow we haven't seen an explosion in homeschooled kids destroying the local athletics scene for everyone else. 

Viva la choice! To misquote Trace Adkins' country song, "I Ain't Never Had Too Much Fun,"
Too much choice, what's that mean? It's like too much money, there's no such thing. It's like a girl too pretty, with too much class, Being too lucky, a car too fast. No matter what they say I've done, well, I ain't never had too much choice.

My husband can just ignore that job posting in central Texas.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Weaving

Dd9 learned to weave on a cardboard loom at her part-time school program today. She was so delighted with the product (a little 2x8 inch four-color weaving) that she taught dd4 and dd6 to do it this evening. They spent around 2 hours or more on it. Dd6 was very frustrated several times, but dd9 patiently helped her, as well as doing most of the work on dd4's weaving. 

I would have never attempted this craft with such young children, but dd9 can sometimes be quite dogged about things she is interested. Glad it worked out well tonight!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

So sad, so unnecessary

Two years ago, a friend lost her baby due to attempting to give birth at home. My youngest daughter is about the same age that my friend's baby would have been. Today my daughter is feeding herself Cheerios in milk (with only a little bit of spilling) and delighting in hearing the same few books read to her over and over. She says "yank-oo" ("Thank-you") and cries when one of her parents leaves the house without her. She is, to get to the point, a darling.

While I get to be happy with my little daughter, my friend is left mourning because she trusted that "natural childbirth" was superior. While I'm the first to say that relatively uncomplicated labors are terrific for those fortunate enough to have them, nature is often very unkind and, without modern medicine, would damage or destroy many more infants and mothers than it does in the developed world. I'd far rather have had four surgical births than lose one of my babies.

On a brighter note, I had my 20-week ultrasound this week. Baby #5 appears healthy and is also a girl! Five little girls. I never imagined I'd get a string of just one gender. I now call my husband Mr. Bennet (as in Pride and Prejudice) sometimes.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Learning disabilities

I'm torn when I hear that someone has been diagnosed with a learning disability. It's clear that some people's brains work differently from others, and it's important to know what those differences are in order to help them work around or better utilize the brains that they have. But, on the other hand, the practical effect of getting a learning disability label often seems to be a long-term lowering of expectations for the labeled person, which is unfortunate.

Other people have covered this subject far better than I could. For instance, Bright Hub Education gives a summary of the pros and cons of being labeled with a learning disability:
Pros - IEPs, extra learning support, and specialized instruction
Cons - low self esteem, low expectations, and peer issues

At the end of the Bright Hub Education summary, the author gives a few ideas of what can be done to lessen the cons of being labeled:
Teachers can help prevent the negative consequences of the label by taking a few proactive steps to minimize the chance of problems occurring. Counselors and teachers should talk with learning disabled students and their parents and explain that a learning disability does not take away a student's value, that each person learns at a different pace and in a different manner and the school intends to provide the specialized education required to help the student achieve success. Parents and teachers should also be careful not to lower their expectations for the student and instead offer positive encouragement. Finally, teachers should talk to the class about learning disabilities and how different paces and styles of instruction are used. Open classroom discussions about learning disabilities can help to create an understanding between peers.

Those sound like laudable ways to address the problems, but I don't think they are as generally effective as educators and parents hope they will be. How can parents and teachers not lower expectations when they're being told that a child is not as able at learning as his/her classmates? And positive encouragement can backfire when used with children who are insecure about their abilities. Anti-bullying programs are associated with a increased rate of bullying, which makes it questionable whether open class discussions about learning disabilities will decrease bullying of those with learning disabilities. Schools may "intend" to provide "the specialized education required to help the student achieve success" but might fail at actually doing so due to lack of qualified personnel and resources.

Given that homeschooling helps a parent address both low self esteem (no classmates to compare one's self with) and peer issue worries, I can see why many parents choose to homeschool children with learning disabilities. At home, they can provide individual educations and extra learning support to their children, and they can independently seek out the specialists that their children need. It's a lot of work (and money to pay for the specialists), and I'm impressed by their efforts on behalf of their children.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Typical Sunday Morning

My husband is reading the Sunday comics online, dd9 is reading a Rose is Rose comic book, dd6 is reading an art workbook of projects, and dd4 and dd1 (almost 2) are playing with each other and play swords. Everyone is dressed for church except for mom. Mom is reading news on the internet. On Sundays I like to see what's new in archaeology discoveries. For instance, a mystery Pharoah was just found, and they've carbon dated the Adena mound in Ohio to around 2000 years ago.

When I was a kid, our family did very similar things on Sunday mornings...except for the internet bit.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Creation, Days, and Faith in God

One thing I watch with great sorrow is how some religious, usually Christian, homeschoolers and curriculum publishers consider it necessary to obsessively dwell on one of the many interpretations of Genesis 1, particularly the meaning of "day" as used therein. The Hebrew word for day, "yom", can be used to mean an indefinite period of time, just as our English "day" can. Why is it necessary to rigidly require that it mean exactly the period that it now takes our earth to rotate one time? And why is it necessary to tie that rigidity to faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

First, the actual text of Genesis 1 makes it very questionable that a "day" of creation, as used therein, is a rotation of the earth taking 24 hours. It clearly states that the lights of the firmament (i.e., sun, moon, stars) weren't even in place and defining the days and years until the "fourth day" of the creation.

Second, the word "yom", as has already been set forth by others, is used to mean several different lengths of time in the Old Testament, including an age or even eternity. There is not just one possible interpretation of "day" in Genesis 1.

Third, faith in Jesus Christ rests on belief in his divinity and his power to redeem mankind. It doesn't rest on the Bible being a science text, which the Bible never claims to be. Faith certainly doesn't require that we dismiss as evil conspiracies the honestly inquiring minds of men and women with the objective, replicable results they have discovered just because those results fail to line up perfectly with our interpretation of the Bible. There's enough real evil in the world to deal with; we don't need to be turning scientists into bogeymen.

Fourth, the body of scientific knowledge grows as people pursue scientific knowledge, and so does the body of spiritual knowledge also grow, if we are willing to accept it. For example, when Jesus tried to tell his apostles--some of whom were apparently loathe to accept it--that his Messianic mission involved his imminent physical death, that went against their understanding and hope of what the Messiah was to be, yet with Jesus' resurrection his apostles came to understand that Jesus was accomplishing a far more important work than they had anticipated. We humans don't know all of God's ways.

Fifth, what are children to do who have grown up on a diet of math, spelling, reading, grammar, and sort-of science textbooks that dogmatically tie every good principle they're teaching to a literal 144-hour creation and young earth? When they grow up and find out that there are several ways of dating objects that show the world to be much older then they've been told, will they feel like they have to choose between Christian faith and the demonstrable marvels of modern science? Why make it so hard for them to embrace truth, be it revealed by God or man, for the sake of one interpretation of "day"?