Saturday, December 29, 2007

Second Semester in Your High School?

December is always hectic. It's the time when we start to think about any warm weather travel plans we have, but it also the time when we look at what worked the first part of the year and what we are planning to do the second part of the year.

Having an acclerated student is always a challenge.

Some awesome online acclerated courses I am considering come from places we all have heard about, Yale, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, even iTunes at Apple has some stuff worth looking at:

Happy New Year from the Eclectic Telegraph!

Monday, December 03, 2007

What's Wrong With This World? Wife Swap?

This, in not one but two different emails to our homeschool website:

Contact Us
Email: ABC TV Inquiry
Text they wrote: Hello,

My name is Danielle Gervais. I'm a Casting Producer for ABC's Primetime show, "Wife Swap." I hope you don't mind me contacting you, but we're gearing up for a fourth season at the moment and we're currently looking for one-of-a-kind families with plenty of personality! Specifically, we're looking for parents who strongly believe in alternative forms of education for their children. Please feel free to forward this email on to anyone you think would be interested in taking part in this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In case you are unfamiliar with the show, the premise of Wife Swap is to take two different families and have the moms switch places to experience how another family lives. Half of the week, mom lives the life of the family she is staying with. Then she introduces a "rule change" where she implements rules and activities that her family has. It's a positive experience for people to not only learn but teach about other families and other ways of life. Wife Swap airs on Disney owned ABC television on Mondays at 8 pm- the family hour!

Requirements: Each family must consist of two parents and at least one child between 7 and 17 and should reside in the continental U.S. (There may be other children living in the home who are older or younger than the required age…as long as one child is in the required age range.)

Participating in the show is a very unique experience that can be life changing for everyone. In addition, each family that tapes an episode of Wife Swap receives $20,000 as compensation for their time. Anyone who refers a family that appears on our program receives $1000 as a 'thank you’ from us.

I appreciate you taking the time to read this email and I hope to hear from you soon. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me! If you're interested in learning more, please don’t forget to include your contact information.

Thank you for your time,

Danielle Gervais

My Reply went like this:

Dear Danielle,

I appreciate your two similar yet different emails. As flattered as I am with the idea that you consider my family a one-of-a-kind, I am not interested in participating in Wife Swap.

As an educated person, I find that sort of TV program insulting to anyone's intelligence, especially women. As for the requirements, I recently divorced a husband and I would not consider for a moment taking on someone else's husband, especially for other peoples' entertainment. In fact, I don't consider this sort of TV programming entertainment at all.

And people wonder why some of us homeschool. We live in a world that really no longer makes sense to me.

Who watches this stuff - and more interesting to me - why?


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Mystery of Lonely "F"

Up to high school, we really didn't have an official "grading" system in our homeschool. One of the things I quickly realized as we arrived at the high school level, not only am I the mentor, the chauffeur and the parent, I also get to be a guidance counselor. As a new "guidance counselor" I have to say, I still am opposed to grading students. I am afraid it will become the measure in how my student views himself as a whole person, it will tempt me to use this system to measure if I have provided "the student with a comprehensive education experience" - how ever one can really do that. But for us to proceed past GO, collect the two hundred dollars and play the game of college, we need a transcript, so god-help-me, I am keeping "grades". I am keeping "grades" with the understanding that this is an understood way to show a college we measured certain aspects of what my student "learned" in high school. But hey, when else in life does one get a "report card"? May as well do it just this once- right?

How do you measure one's knowledge? We can look at effort applied, we can look at and measure assimilation of an "accepted" base of "facts" about a subject. But what if you have a student that absorbs the obtuse items along with all the "accepted" facts and he prefers to remember and assimilate the obtuse? Does that student get a "failing" grade when we try to measure -- say with a standardized test? Often that is what happens to the gifted student in a school system. But then there are also other issues that can effect how a student gets "graded" that often isn't considered in a "grading" system.

We all process information at different paces, with different interest levels and in different ways. Some of us understand things in "pictures", in words, in lists, in cartoons. We all learn different ways and most of us, whether we want to admit it or not, learn on a need to know basis, in spite of the best efforts of our school systems.

We all process sensations in different ways too. We don't like the way corduroy feels, we don't like the sound of scratching on a blackboard, we hide our eyes from bright lights, we don't like to feel wet or the tickling of grass on our feet, we sense what other people are feeling, or we might not be able to sense that at all. When we recognize that this isn't the way everyone deals with life, we find ways to hide these personal "quirks" because in a school system we need to be a salmon or a wheel rolling smoothly on a running train.

What would you say about a kid's "report card" where they had been granted 5 "A's", 1 "B" and an F in Gym class? I found it fascinating actually, especially as a new "guidance counselor" who only has one student to worry about. It was an interesting mystery to solve, the mystery of the lonely "F".

So if you were to solve the mystery of the lonely "F", what kind of clues would you need to make an educated "guess"?

What if the kid were in Elementary would that matter to our mystery? How about if the kid were in Middle School? What if this report card was describing the efforts of a high school age student? Because it is and that's what make it so interesting to me. Especially since this student is required to pass gym in order to graduate and receive a diploma from the public school system.

One could conclude that this kid was being stubborn or lazy about having to "perform" in a group with other peers. One could also conclude that this particular teen is making a statement, which is also typical in the teen years because if you look at the idea that in all the other "difficult", more "meaningful" subjects, this student performed beautifully, like the trained seal the school system hopes to graduate. But there are still more clues we could consider.

What if this student also has had issues with penmanship? What if this same student also has issues with the way food tastes or feels? What if this student has sensitivity to the way clothing feels and has sensitivity to feeling wet and cold? What if this student clung to certain routines and needed a certain predictability to life a lot of the time. This student has these sensitivities.

Are these worthwhile clues to solving the mystery of the lonely "F"? They are.

The public school system makes me crazy. We have granted so much power to this system over our families. We allow this system to dictate the need for medical treatments for our kids like Ritalin and immunizations. We allow this system to determine how our kids learn about drugs, intimate relationships and social diseases. We allow this system to measure the "knowledge" our children have acquired with them because we have come to believe that this is what is best for our children. We have let the school system convince us that we as parents are not able to impart the knowledge and wisdom our children need to be successful in a global community.

We have let the school system convince us to value the letter grades they assign to our children's efforts so much that our children begin to believe that these letters measure who they are. We reward our children for the "good" letters and chastise them for the "bad" ones. We take the "grading" game the public school system has set up for our children and try to make our children fit their game without ever really considering that maybe they don't really "fit" or maybe they shouldn't be made to "fit".

There is one quote from Patrick Farenga that has stayed with me for years:
The concept of universal compulsory schooling is a very recent idea, one that is not even two hundred years old, yet we act as if it is an ancient, sure-fire way to make sure our children "learn something.””
A fact known by the homeschooling community is that the established teaching profession is very intimidated by the successes of homeschoolers and this group indoctrinates any new members entering the profession to the idea that homeschooling is bad for our society.

Read an item from National Education Association (NEA), the most prominent teacher's union in the United States, a list of resolutions (2007-2008 NEA Resolutions. The section on Homeschooling:
"B-75. Home Schooling
The National Education Association believes that home schooling programs based on parental choice cannot provide the student with a comprehensive education experience. When home schooling occurs, student enrolled must meet all state curricular requirements, including the taking and passing of assessments to insure adequate academic progress. Home schooling should be limited to the children of the immediate family, with all expenses being borne by the parents/guardians. Instruction should be by persons who are licensed by the appropriate state education licensure agency, and a curriculum approved by the state department of education should be used.

The Association also believes that home-schooled students should not participate in extracurricular activities in the public schools.

The Association further believes that local public school systems should have the authority to determine grade placement and/or credits earned toward graduation for students entering or re-entering the public school setting from a home school setting (1988, 2006)."

If you would enjoy an amazing study of the whole antiquated public education system, you can read the whole report at their website. If you do get through one of these resolution lists, you may conclude that this organization does not envision a parent as being able to impart worthwhile knowledge or life skills to their children. And boy you ought to read what they have to say about educating the gifted kid. But sorry, I digress, it's not just the public school system that makes me crazy. It's is also the willingness of people to ignore all the clues to the mystery of the lonely "F", or even worse, see some of the clues as a defect, or a character flaw. So far we have a lot of clues we can use in solving the mystery of the lonely "F". But let's add some more ideas.

What if we found out that this student was identified as being "above average" in the school system, not identified as gifted, but "above average". Do we go back to the idea that this student is being lazy or stubborn with Gym? Do we go back to the idea that maybe this kid doesn't see Gym as worthy of his talents? Maybe this student recognizes that the requirement to pass Gym for graduation is ridiculous and they are just making a "radical" teen statement. But we are forgetting about the less obvious clues we have. The clues that this kind of student has become expert in disguising in the school system; The ones that involve how this student may be processing sensory information, like that this student has issues with the way clothing feels and has sensitivity to feeling wet and cold. That this student clings to certain routines and needs a certain predictability.

When Sensory Integration Disorder Interferes with Your Child's Social Skills
"Social activities other children find enjoyable can be extremely uncomfortable for kids with sensory integration issues. As a 'tween or teen, a child with sensory integration issues may have difficulty tolerating the clothes that all the kids are wearing, and feel ostracized because he constantly wears ratty old tennis shoes and sweatpants. Eating with other kids can cause social anxiety, as a child's inability to tolerate different food textures, or notice if he's got crumbs on his face, can make him feel embarrassed."
(from an interview with Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske authors of: Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Integration Issues)

Teens who have had these challenges in the school system become experts at hiding what they perceive as the things that make them "different". They become experts at ignoring who they are and they can become depressed or aggressive. I know this because even teens who are homeschooling hide their "quirks" too and they sometimes become depressed or aggressive. These teens ignore the very things that make them have such a unique perception of the world; what makes them a true individual. They allow these traits to become something negative. Relatives don't want to see a "flaw", because it's more effort for them to look at the world another way than through the glasses they already use. Even the professionals label Sensory Integration issues as a "disorder". Kind of cruel I think.

What can parents do?
The most crucial thing a parent can do is to acquire sensory smarts. Recognize that life is a sensory event, and there will often be times when the sensory input most of us take for granted and don't even notice will greatly affect their child. Respect your child's sensory integration needs and teach him how he can meet his needs in a socially acceptable, safe manner.
(more from an interview with Lindsey Biel and Nancy Peske authors of: Raising a Sensory Smart Child: The Definitive Handbook for Helping Your Child with Sensory Integration Issues)

At our house, as I have written before, we use humor to bail ourselves out of really uncomfortable and nasty times. One of my students favorite tee shirts has a saying on it that goes like this "You may think I am different, I think you are all the same". It may take a while for me to recognize that a severe case of "mean-teen" is generally due to me misreading how my student might be perceiving something. But eventually I get there and I remind my student to appreciate his individuality and that I appreciate his individuality.

I don't think we'll ever solve the mystery of the lonely "F", but it is a classic reminder to those of us who have these brilliant kids to remember to tune into how your student might experience the world. But not to just tune in, recognize that maybe their perception might just be a bit more interesting than yours.

by Amy Cortez -Editor The Eclectic Telegraph - who homeschools a gifted student and notes what she learns at www.brightkidsathome. Reference twice exeptional. Reference identify.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A New Journal

To those who read along each month in 2006/2007 with the original format of The Eclectic Telegraph, thank you. All of those issues are still where you found them originally. I have decided to to keep a journal here rather than to continue to maintain a huge endeavor in a full blown newsletter. I really have to finish that book! So look for the same kinds of items you found in our newsletter here instead.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The World is Your Oyster: Cow Prodding Teens to Success

Amy Cortez, Editor -- The Eclectic Telelgraph

How many times have you had this discussion with your teen?

You: "You pay entirely too much attention to [your favorite worthless pursuit goes here], it will never get you anywhere."

Your Teen "So, I am only [his age], this is what I want to do right now. There is plenty of time to get serious." [or some version of this response].

When we were in St Barths in February we saw the ugliest sailboat in the world. It was ugly. So ugly I didn't photograph it or give it much thought until recently when I saw an article in Newsweek about that very sailboat. To use a quote from that article, "If Darth Vadar had an intergalactic yacht, this is what it would look like." I bring this sailboat into this discussion because as it turns out it belongs to Tom Perkins. You may be wondering who Tom Perkins is. From the article in Newsweek:

In the risky business of funding fledgling entrepreneurs, Perkins performed the alchemy of turning millions into billions. He transformed the art of venture capital—from the passive hobby of dilettante bluebloods into a cutthroat profession that produced a generation of Siliconillionaires. Perkins became the man to see in the Valley. In the process, he'd become fabulously wealthy himself and amassed great power. Along the way, in his larger-than-life life, he'd managed to be father figure to Apple's Steve Jobs, sailing mentor to media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the occasional muse to romance novelist Danielle Steel, to whom he was briefly married. Perkins even managed to get himself convicted of manslaughter in France after a collision during a yacht race. Late in the summer of 2006, he engineered the takedown of the chairwoman of Hewlett-Packard over a boardroom spying scandal in which he was the white knight or dark lord, depending on who was telling the tale.

Now, at 74, Perkins was setting out to transform the art of sailing and create a vessel through which his boundless ego could be expressed. His $130 million yacht, anchored in front of the palace, was the Maltese Falcon, a 21st-century clipper ship that was bigger, faster, riskier, higher-tech and more expensive than any private sailing craft on the planet.

Tom Perkins has been a character I've followed over the years, mainly because I came from the corporate America he funded - high tech. Tom Perkins, in his own way is successful. I wonder what his mother used to say to him about his worthless pursuits.

It occurred to me recently that even though our kids may be involved in what we perceive as worthless pursuits, they are involved in these for a reason. It is our job as parents, in my opinion, to get to the reason behind the pursuit. Is it a pursuit that will contribute to the success of this person? As the adult in the situation, it's up to you to weigh your experience and knowledge against the observation. It if is indeed a worthless pursuit, one that is brain melting, then intervene, otherwise, let them explore it - within reason.

But how do you know what a worthless pursuit is these days with all the changes since many of us born in the sixties were teens? Well, keep informed. Some of these pursuits may be addictions and just not the ones we are familiar with. There are many new things our teens get addicted to and spend their time on. The key to not letting this happen, or redirecting the energy is active parenting. Sometimes it's tough to tell your teen "no", or "you not going to do that any more" especially when you observe it is something they are really interested in. But one thing to remember, telling them "no" now, may mean the difference between a healthy future and one that will cause heartache.It really is up to you, the parent to develop courage, responsibility and character in your children. How you do that may just involve unpleasant moments with your young adult and that takes courage.

Developing courage gets back to our friend Mr. Perkins. It takes courage to be successful, (it takes courage to build a sailboat like he did) though I may not agree with how Mr. Perkins reached his level of success. Anyone you might name as a true hero has done something that requires courage. If they do not have a courageous act in their background, then they are not a hero.

Responsibility is what distinguishes children from adults. Show me an adult that has no responsibilities and I'll bet they are an unbearable person to be around. People who successfully manage responsibilities are interesting people because it takes intelligence and courage to be responsible. It also takes character to manage the many responsibilities of the adult world. Character is the most difficult, yet in my opinion, the absolute most important set of skills to impart on our teens.

You might wonder why one would teach character, well, because character is the core of a person, it is the sum of habits, attitudes and qualities. It is the job of the parent to teach character in my opinion. The Josephson Institute of Ethics lists Six Pillars of Character as:

  1. Trustworthiness
  2. Respect
  3. Responsibility
  4. Fairness
  5. Caring
  6. Citizenship

But it's not just the idea to teach these things to your teen, because how you live your life says a lot more than the words you choose. Live your life courageously, responsibly and with character and your teen will follow suit.

Video Game Addiction: A Medical Disorder?
American Medical Association Seeks To Have Obsessive Game Playing Declared A Psychiatric Disorder
CBS News, June 22, 2007

The telltale signs are ominous: teens holing up in their rooms, ignoring friends, family, even food and a shower, while their grades plummet and belligerence soars.

This weekend, the AMA will debate the report, which warns in particular about online games involving role-playing and never-ending quests — games like World of Warcraft, Everquest, or Final Fantasy, Sieberg reports.

Up to 90 percent of American youngsters play video games and as many as 15 percent of them — more than 5 million kids — may be addicted, according to data cited in the AMA council's report.

View a CBS News Video: Separating Fantasy and Reality
(you have to wait for some pretty annoying commercials while the clip loads, but the clip is worthwhile.)

Paintball Passions
Recruiters seek soldiers on a hot sport's battlefields.
By Andrew Romano
Newsweek, March 19, 2007

"Where else can you find young men who have a better-than-average idea of how to conduct themselves in a firefight?"

Though paintball won't replace bonuses or benefits as a top recruiting tool anytime soon, the fast-growing sport has emerged in recent months as a promising source of fresh fighters at a time when the armed forces are stretched thin. Keenly aware that paintball's 10.4 million participants make it more popular among Americans than baseball, surfing or snowboarding, Elder, a player himself, began trolling Long Island events for prospects late last year. After five "low-key" trips, his unit has signed up two new troops and identified another 50 who "seem interested." Recruiters in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, California, Chicago and North Dakota have also scoped out paintball events.

YouTube Video: 5 Ways to tell you're addicted to paintball

Hooking up is the rage, but is it healthy?
By Barbara F. Meltz,
Boston Globe, February 13, 2007

Hooking up has come to define sexual relationships for most of today's teens and young women. It can mean anything from kissing and touching to oral sex or intercourse. Vagueness is its hallmark. "A girl can say, 'I hooked up with so-and-so,' and no one knows what she did. It protects you and makes you a player at the same time," says Aparicio, who admits to her share of high school hook ups.
The most benign fallout from being unhooked is that young women delay dating and marriage. "The problem with that is they pick up a lot of bad habits that makes it hard to sustain a long-term commitment, like not being able to trust or share or know how to disagree and make up," Stepp says. More seriously, being unhooked can lead to depression, alcohol abuse, anorexia, and emotional disturbance.

What young women don't count on is oxytocin , a chemical produced in the brain to promote feelings of connection and love. Oxytocin is most commonly associated with breast - feeding; it's what helps a mother bond with her infant. But it's also produced to lesser degrees during sex. The more intense the sex, the more oxytocin. Males also get a dose of it from sex, but they get a bigger dose of testosterone, which suppresses the oxytocin. [read on]

Review: "Only yesterday boys and girls spoke of embracing and kissing (necking) as getting to first base. Second base was deep kissing, plus groping and fondling this and that. Third base was oral sex. Home plate was going all the way. That was yesterday. Here in the year 2000 we can forget about necking. Today's girls and boys have never heard of anything that dainty. Today first base is deep kissing, now known as tonsil hockey, plus groping and fondling this and that. Second base is oral sex. Third base is going all the way. Home plate is being introduced by name.

For Texting Teens, an OMG Moment When the Phone Bill Arrives
By Margaret Webb Pressler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sofia Rubenstein, 17, got in trouble the way a lot of teens do these days. Her incessant text-messaging racked up a huge phone bill on the family's wireless plan.

"It's whatever pops into my head. There's no stopping it," she said. "Sometimes I'll be on the phone with someone and I get texted, and then I'm having two conversations at once."

Last month the Washington high school junior used 6,807 text messages, which, at a rate of 15 cents apiece for most of them, pushed the family's Verizon Wireless bill to more than $1,100 for the month.

A Big Boatload of Ego
Silicon Valley's Tom Perkins builds the largest, riskiest, highest-tech, most self-indulgent sailboat ever made.
by David A. Kaplan

The July edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is out. Here's what we wrote about:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Give Your Kid a Sport They Can Love Forever

by Amy Cortez, Editor The Eclectic Telegraph

One of the saddest things I have seen lately was on a soccer field. A kid about 12, had a throw in that was OK by my standards, but not OK by the coach's. He yelled from all the way across the field "What was that? What's the matter with you? And you are my granddaughter!"

Needless to say, I was horrified.

As I looked around the field, there were hundreds, if not a thousand people on these several plots of grass, all painted up for soccer. It didn't take much for me to realize that the people on these fields were not the least bit affected by this coaches outburst, and I am sure many heard it.

When did we become so harsh with our children?

My son used to play soccer. That was 6 years ago however. I remember that he would get panic attacks in the car on the way to practice and especially for games. His last coach was similar in demeanor as the one I had witnessed this day and he wasn't the first coach like this, but it was the last one for him. This sort of abusive behavior is why he won't play the game on a team anymore. I fully supported his decision, because I agreed that the behavior from the coach was unacceptable.

The last time my son played soccer was in a pickup game on the island of Mayreau in a school yard there. There it was fun, not to mention, real soccer, not this sanitized version of American-kid soccer.

You don't have to be a soccer mom.

Sports are important to the development of our children especially these days when it has become the norm to plop in front of a computer or TV screen for hours at a time. But you don't have to be a soccer mom. Soccer mom is a really bad stereotype in my opinion these days. It seems, soccer moms condone the sort of behavior I witnessed by this coach. By not saying anything about this sort of behavior, they give permission to this sort of person to verbally abuse their kids. An besides, it's not even real soccer what I see kids playing here in America.

I love the water and kayaking is a new love for me. I have introduced kayaking to my son and I believe he loves it too. Every time we see a scull boat or another kayak on top of a vehicle, he gets excited to see it. At 15 he still goes on my goofy outings with me.

My dad taught me golf and I love it. It is a sport I still play. My dad has an immense level of patience, more than me, for teaching golf to my son and at this very minute playing for the first time on a regulation course [up until now it had been the executive courses]. He will also volley tennis balls [a sport he's learning] withmy son until one of them gets tired.

For years my son has been working towards a blackbelt in Taekwondo, not because he's been told to, but because he really loves the sport. He is one belt away from being a blackbelt. He has a wonderful coach at an Olympic training center, it has been the love this coach shows for the sport that keeps my son so interested and motivated.

When we lived in Utah, I took my son to Sundance Mountain resort for a beginners ski lesson. By the time we moved away from Utah, he had become a member of the Alta Youth Race team because he loves the sport. Everything that happened in between these events were driven by my son's love for the sport and his witnessing coaches who loved the sport.

Kids don't deserve to be verbally abused on a soccer field - or anywhere else for that matter. Kids don't need to be bullied into playing a sport well, they'll do it because they love it. Alot of what I saw on that soccer field that day was verbal abuse and bullying and that is just so sad.

In my opinion, as parents, and especially as homeschool parents, it is our responsibility to introduce things our kids will love - hopefully forever. The best way to do this is to introduce things you love, show a passion for it and they'll "get it". I promise.

The June Edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is out & here is what else we wrote about:

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Eclectic Telegraph: May Edition

The Overscheduled Child
by Amy Cortez, Editor - The Eclectic Telegraph

A friend recently commented to me about another parent "they drive them to a bunch of activities and schedule so many things for them to do that when they don't have anything planned for them, they don't know what to do."

I asked "so do you think that makes them a good parent?"

They replied, "this parent thinks they are super parent, when really I have observed is all that they have with those kids is a superficial relationship because they don't really spend any time together, rather they let all these non-family members coach, instruct and mentor their kids."

Now one could take that conversation as gossip, but it made me realize the very special relationship homeschooling parents end up having with their kids because of the time we spend coaching, instructing and mentoring our kids. Personally, I think many activities outside the home are used more for babysitting than anything else. Organized soccer for 5 year olds? Are you kidding me? Show me a kid that is “too busy” and I will show you parents that just want to have someone else be responsible for their kids for a while.

I wanted to research this observation my friend made nd found that this is a real problem in today's world, it's called hyper-parenting, we just missed it at our house. "Hyper-parenting" occurs when parents over-manage and over-schedule their child’s life. There's also the term "helicopter parents". Helicopter parents hover. and they are always on the lookout for threats to their children's success and happiness. It seems that parenting has become a competitive sport.

I imagine most homeschooling families won't experience this phenomenon, but maybe not. I imagine that many parents of gifted kids might see this happening in their family because often with a gifted child we feel we must give our children all the opportunities we can. It has been my experience so far that if you let kids be kids, they turn out to be pretty healthy, well adjusted and personable people complete with their own opinions, set of values and responsibilities. Some ideas I have implemented at our house:

Family is a Priority.
Relationships matter, more than anything else. Our children are with us for a short time before they head out into their own lives. We ought to enjoy them, we ought to spend quality time with them.

Character Counts.
How you live your life in front of your child matters more than how you tell him he ought to be living his. Character lasts a lifetime. Live the values that are important to you, because your children will emulate you when they grow up and go out into the world.

Childhood is a Preparation.
No one ought to be on stage all the time. Kids should not be judged on every aspect of their life. Children are children should not be expected to perform to adult standards. Resist the pressure from external forces that tell you how to push your child to excel early.

Fun Has A Place in Parents' Lives.
Our brief time on earth is meant to be enjoyed. Our closest relationships should be a source of pleasure, not constant pressure and tension.

Fun Has A Place In Kids' Lives.
Childhood shouldn't be an endless flow of productivity and self-improvement activities. Kids deserve to have fun, down time, and empty spaces in their lives to fill any way they choose to. A lot of supposedly "fun" scheduled activities are anything but fun; they are pressured times when a child is expected to perform, especially the perfectionistic gifted child.

Trust Yourself.
Don't believe the experts who tell you they know how you ought to raise your child. When it comes to your family, you are the expert.

Description from Amazon: In this digital age there is still a place for knots, skimming stones and stories of incredible courage. This book recaptures Sunday afternoons, stimulates curiosity, and makes for great father-son activities. The brothers Conn and Hal have put together a wonderful collection of all things that make being young or young at heart fun—building go-carts and electromagnets, identifying insects and spiders, and flying the world's best paper airplanes.

The May Edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is Out. Here's what we wrote about:

GO TO The Eclectic Telegraph.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

So, How Do We Fix the Public School System in Ohio?

Do homeschoolers here really care?

This one does.

Because if they [governement officials] are looking to reign in other choices [vouchers] for reasons like:

"It's undemocratic," he said, and it signals an abandonment of the public school system. Vouchers "represent the use of public tax dollars without any public oversight, without the public having the ability, through their elected representatives, to have any influence over (school) hiring, firing, curriculum, or discipline procedures. It's an attempt to help a few students shine, when I think our goal should be to improve our public schools so that every student would have a high-quality education. Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland from:Parents fight to keep vouchers BY DENISE SMITH AMOS, Cincinnati Enquireer, Friday, April 13, 2007."

The potential for a scrutiny of the homeschool laws that are already established is there. Though this particular state official seems more focused on the bottem line and in getting more dollars to the schools. This homeschooler hopes that Gov. Strickland recognizes that homeschoolers, as do families who send their kids to private schools, contribute to the tax base for the schools, but many of us don't even use any part of the public school system and for good reason. On any one day, you can find stories like these portraying our schools as failing or dangerous:

Gunman dead after bloody campus rampage
POSTED: 4:14 p.m. EDT,, April 16, 2007

A lone gunman is dead after police said he killed at least 21 people and perhaps more Monday during shootings in a dorm and a classroom at Virginia Tech -- the deadliest school attack in U.S. history.

At least 31 people were killed Monday in a shooting rampage at Virginia Tech, according to two Virginia congressmen -- making it the deadliest school shooting incident in U.S. history. "Some victims were shot in a classroom," university police Chief Wendell Flinchum said.

Study gives teachers barely passing grade in classroom
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY, March 29, 2007

The typical child in the USA stands only a one-in-14 chance of having a consistently rich, supportive elementary school experience, say researchers who looked at what happens daily in thousands of classrooms.

The findings, published today in the weekly magazine Science, take teachers to task for spending too much time on basic reading and math skills and not enough on problem-solving, reasoning, science and social studies. They also suggest that U.S. education focuses too much on teacher qualifications and not enough on teachers being engaging and supportive.

Just one test can hurt
BY DENISE SMITH AMOS , March 13, 2007

Even so, about a third of the 10th-graders who took the test last March failed one or more parts. State figures show 58,548 out of 147,605 students had to retake the tests.

Students get six chances to take the test to graduate on time.

Cincinnati Public Schools, which had a 52 percent passage rate last March, has high schools offering practice sessions and tutoring before and after school and on Saturdays.

You can also find success stories, but these in general aren't about things that really matter to someone who has already made the decision to homeschool.

So why offer a solution to fix the public school system?

To keep officials busy with trying to fix a dyke already riddled with holes, so they'll leave homeschooolers alone?
Once they have a public school system that is attractive, or at least interesting to those of us who homeschool, maybe then they can find good ways to reel us in. Maybe we'll want to be reeled in. But I think the day of the little red school house is gone. Our culture has forgotten what it means to educate offspring, this much is very clear to this homeschooler.

If Parents Controlled the Schools
Ned Vare May 1996

IF PARENTS CONTROLLED the schools, would we...

  • Insist children learn the same things at the same time?
  • Create a bleak artificial environment and lock our kids in it for years, knowing that most of what they learn is irrelevant or wrong?
  • Allow them to have no standards, no goals, and to dumb down the kids?
  • Allow our property to be confiscated if we didn't pay their bigger bill each year?
  • Hire unionized teachers with binding arbitration who could vote for their raises?
  • Let them give our kids mind-altering drugs (Ritalin) to control behavior as insane asylums do?
  • Suspend the band and sports for a year to coerce ourselves to vote for a tax increase?
  • Believe that 10 to 15 percent of our kids are "learning disabled" when figures show only a 1 percent likelihood?
  • Allow our children's and our lives to be so dominated by school's synthetic experience that there's no time left for real experiences?
  • Use standardized tests that have no education value and can damage kids?
  • Use only "certified" staff when private schools have no such restriction and avoid hiring them?
  • Assign 60 percent of every day to non-academic indoctrination like "social values?"
  • Allow the state to dictate who can run our schools?
  • Let teachers use our children as shills for their pay raises?
  • Pay twice what private schools charge and get half the learning?

The answers are either no or hell no.

Parents are encouraged to relinquish our natural roles as educators. Feeling guilty about that, we are easy prey for schools that demand more taxes to raise our children badly. Educationists have learned to hustle us, shake us down in a shell game for control of money and our children's lives.

What's wrong here in my city is what is wrong everywhere — school is a state monopoly that can neither educate effectively nor inform the public honestly. To become responsive and accountable, education needs to be separated from government. Otherwise, it will continue to serve only itself and we will remain its slaves.

I think the regular guy would shocked as to the laws that are on the books regarding the education of junior.

When did we decide the state was better suited to educate our children than we are as parents?

Why do we hand our kids over to the state and allow them to determine what they ultimately learn?

What education is?

Are we really that stupid? We used to afraid of Communism.

The one thing that always gets me is how silly things are with spending for education in our state. The public education system is a starving beast that never seems to have enough, no matter how much we throw at it. At every turn in the road, the beast wants more:

Opinion: Cut fat at top; get involved at bottom
Sunday, March 18, 2007

Every time I read about the idea of a new levy on the ballot for the Cincinnati Public Schools I just cringe. You asked for my thoughts, and here they are. Don't put a new school levy on the ballot, and do something smart with the money you already receive from the taxpayers, like hiring experienced business professionals to manage the books.

Here's the list of reasons I feel justify my attitude:

Cincinnati Public Schools are giving up $40 million during the next four years to get $54 million a generation from now - partly to help out Hamilton County and its attempt to stave off a stadium deficit.

The "gift" mentioned above is supposed to return meager interest over 10 years, though if the schools have that money to "invest," why not invest it in a more reliable, higher-yielding investment ... maybe coins? Why not invest it in teaching kids how to learn and in how to enjoy learning? It's a pity only 70 percent of our seniors can pass the Ohio Graduation Test.

A day after Cincinnati Public Schools lopped 13 schools from its $1 billion construction plan, some school supporters say the district should do immediate damage control to avoid losing more families who are unhappy with the changes.

Every day I drive by Kilgour Elementary School and see it is under construction and wonder why this is so when it seems all the students from Hyde Park and Kilgour seem to be doing just fine in one building at the corner of Edwards and Observatory.

I also wonder why if we have so many commercial buildings sitting empty, why we don't use these as schools instead and spend the billion in construction money on educating kids?

In a 1997 landmark case called DeRolph vs. State of Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled the state's school funding system unconstitutional and ordered the General Assembly to find a solution within a year and amend the process. It's still unconstitutional in 2007. Why is that?

I pay what amounts to a private school's tuition for a year in property taxes in the city of Cincinnati. I home-school my student. Where does the money for what would be earmarked for my student and many others who home school in the CPS district go?

Call me crazy, but these items just don't make sense to me as a taxpayer that doesn't even use what they are paying for. [read on ]

What if we all got together in the state of Ohio and wrote laws for public education simialr to what they wrote in Utah regarding homeschools:

The Best Homeschool Laws in the USA are the ones in Utah.
Senate Bill 59: Homeschool Freedom Bill, passed both houses of the Utah legislature unanimously early in 2005. and the governor signed it into law on March 18, 2005.

The bill provides that a school-age minor shall be excused from attendance upon the filing of an affidavit by the parent stating that the child will be homeschooled. This bill makes it clear that a parent is in charge of the child's education. It states that

  1. The parent is solely responsible for the selection of instructional materials and textbooks, though the required subjects must be taught.
  2. The parent is solely responsible for the time, place, and method of instruction, though a child must be taught "for the same length of time as minors are required to receive instruction in public schools."
  3. A school board may not require a parent to keep records of instruction or attendance.
  4. A school board may not require credentials for individuals homeschooling their children.
  5. A school board may not inspect homeschool facilities.
  6. A school board may not require standardized or other testing of homeschool students.

Why is it the responsibilty of the state to educate it's citizens anyway?

Why did we give our power as parents away?

The solution to education in Ohio might take on these ideas:

  1. Encourage parents NOT to relinquish their natural roles as educators.
  2. Put parents in charge of a child's education. Hold them accountable for their kids successes and failures in the schools. Reward them with tax breaks when they remain in control of their kid's education.
  3. Fund schools in parternship with parents and require a tuition structure based on number of kids per family actually using the public schools and impose a property tax, on not just the house, but all the toys, on those same familes. Accountabilty in the schools would improve immensely, I am sure of it.

The March Edition of The Eclectic Telegraph is out. Here's what we wrote about: