Monday, September 01, 2014

Public school would have ruined another kid

Years ago my wife wrote about how School would have ruined that kid!  The main point was that our older two daughters were very late readers and such late readers don't typically do very well in public schools.  I followed up a little later that our late readers were turning out fine and had developed a love for reading.

Our son has even more pronounced issues.  At seven-years-old he struggles to talk, and is only getting the basics of reading down.  In a public school he would be in second grade and be given a number of labels, like late reader, slow, challenged and so on.

Since we homeschool we are able to let him go at his pace.

Recently on Storynory he has been listening to stories about a young girl who becomes a professional singer.  Today he spent over an hour writing out songs.  You have to be a bit of a detective to figure out the words, and sometimes I have to ask.  Very few of the words are spelled correctly, but I've noticed an improvement over the last month.  If he were attending any of the local public elementary schools I'm afraid he would have become self conscious and stopped trying to write.

Later today he spent another hour in our living room building a fortress out of chairs, carpets, blankets and so on.

My son is working hard and is making progress.  I think by the time he is twenty he will be caught up with his peers and will do just fine in life.  I don't know where he will end up, but it will be fun to see.

I am so glad we homeschool, that we can help him according to his needs.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at:  momSCHOOL.

This will be the 453rd edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me. 

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The price of freedom

I like this thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

                Responsibility is the price of freedom.
                                   -Elbert Hubbard

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The back to school edition

Gary is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at HomeschoolBuzz.com.

He starts the carnival with:

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Here at the Davis home, we are busy planning our school year after a nice summer break from routine. We know you are all busy too but a few homeschoolers took the time to send us a post for the carnival.
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Enjoy!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, August 25, 2014

What do you value?

I recently had a conversation about school/homeschooling with a friend who is very involved in the local school district and who plans to send her children to the neighborhood school.

I realized that we valued many, if not all, the same things.  The difference was in how we prioritized that list.


I value time with family over what I would call a “need for affiliation” with friends.   Yes, my children have friends and we do value those friendships, but less than the relationships with members of our own family.

I value the academic success of my children over the academic performance of the children in my community.   In our family, sometimes one child’s needs do take precedence over another child’s needs for a season, but I don’t expect any of my children to perpetually work below his/her capacity for the benefit of another child.

I value my children’s moral and character development over academic achievements.

I value the control over my children's education more than my "alone" time.  I value my "alone" time quite a bit



I value teaching respect for my country over political correctness.  (I don’t value politically correctness at all.)  I do value good manners.

The next time you discuss education with a friend in the public school system, remember that you probably do value the same things, just in a different order of priorities.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at:  HomeschoolBuzz.com

This will be the 452nd edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, August 21, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Homeschool Lives, Homeschool Places

Janice is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Janice Campbell - making time for things that matter.

She starts the carnival with:

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Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile may be startled to see a completely new look. I’ve been wanting to do a little housekeeping for awhile– the previous theme has been up since 2007 or so, and was getting a bit long in the tooth. I was finally pushed into the update by suddenly having the blog lock up and refuse to let me log in for a week or two.

My son was able to fix it (hurrah for homeschooled software developers who still take time to fix mom’s website when there’s a desperate need!), but the theme was apparently part of the problem, so it had to go. The current theme isn’t the final design, but I’m hoping that will be up soon.
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Enjoy!

Carnival of Homeschooling

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at: Janice Campbell 

This will be the 451st edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, August 15, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up

Karen is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at My Own Mind.

She starts the carnival with:

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Are you thinking about homeschooling this fall? This is the time of year when many families begin thinking about whether they want to reenter the local elementary school and get a bit skeptical about all that goes on there.

If you are already homeschooling, this is the time of year when we marvel at the YAY, Kids Are Back in School posts because we are thrilled to not be back in school. We are thrilled to have the parks and attractions to ourselves. We are ready to see the change of season with our children. 

In this, the 450th Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling, let's look at the experience of Starting Fresh. 

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Enjoy!


Sunday, August 10, 2014

I love this time of year.

I really enjoy this time of year, when I make plans for the upcoming school year.  I take a little time to research some of the curriculum options like math, history, grammar, handwriting and so forth and plan out our year for both our homeschool and our homeschool co-op.

This is also when I start signing up for the outside classes and activities like theater, gymnastics, tae kwon do, and so forth.

We never really stick exactly with the schedule, but it is fun to plan anyway.  It is exciting to find materials that "match" the learning styles of my children.  There is a certain amount of trial and error, but it neat when you find just the right thing that "clicks" with you and your child.

I'm trying a new math program this year with seven-year-old son but I'm pulling out the History program that I used with our oldest two daughters years ago.  It is fun to sort my shelves and make everything look nice even though It doesn't stay that way long.

Our fourteen-old-year daughter is at the easy stage where she does most of her work on her own with a little follow up on my part thanks to wonderful online resources like Khan Academy.

And it is really nice when school starts.  All of a sudden there are no lines or crowds for the places we want to go because most children are back at school. [Though I admit that I hate school field trips.  There is nothing worse than a school bus full of kids with only a handful of adults to ruin a museum or park experience for the reset of us.]

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at: On My Mind.

This will be the 450th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, August 07, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Wordless Wednesday

Heather is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Sprittibee.

She starts the carnival with:

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Welcome to the Wordless Wednesday (oops) Edition of the (normally on a Tuesday) Carnival of Homeschooling! If you are new to ‘blog carnivals’, please read the link at the bottom of this post to find out more. This post has many links that take you off-site to other homeschool blogs where you can read their ‘showcased’ article submission.

If you would like to submit an article for a future carnival or host the carnival on your site, please see the bottom section to find out how. Each carnival writer has the option to put their compilation to a ‘theme’ if they so choose. Being a little absorbed with our crazy life lately, I just couldn’t get it together yesterday when it was due… so Wordless Wednesday it is! Of course, the people who submitted links are not just sending in Wordless Wednesday submissions – they are actual homeschooling posts for the most part. I’m really OK with letting THEM do the talking (I went to bed at 5am last night with a severe case of insomnia).
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Carnival of Homeschooling

Jason Fried makes some good points in Why Work doesn't happen at work

I don't agree with everything Jason says, but Jason Fried does make some good points in his TED talk on Why work doesn't happen at work:


Paul Gram makes many of the same points in Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Another good thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

If they can get you asking the wrong questions, 
they don't have to worry about the answers.
-Thomas Pynchon,
writer (b. 1937)

Monday, August 04, 2014

You should marry one of those Cate girls!

I had a fun conversation today with a mother who is very interested in homeschooling. I love to talk about homeschooling.  We are beginning our 15th year of homeschooling and I have acquired quite a few fun experiences along the way which I love to share.

Some of these you can read about here.

Since we have been at this so long, sometimes I forget what it felt like at the beginning to step out of the mainstream educational system into the great unknown.  I think many parents are not happy with the public educational system, but they choose the devil they know over the unfamiliar world of homeschooling.

Many times I think parents are absurdly concerned with grades and miss the more important things like actual mastering of useful skills.  For example, will their children be able to balance a checkbook, live on a budget, hold a job, express themselves coherently and read through the lines of a deceptive political flier that will show up in their mail box one day?


These days I am feeling pretty secure in our choice to homeschool because our children are turning out so well.  Our older daughters did very well in college academics and are otherwise successful in life.  Our younger children are on the same path and doing well.  (I was going to list their accomplishments but decided that would be bragging.)   But I will share something that happened last year which gives me great satisfaction as a parent and homeschooler.

I had hired a friend's mother-in-law to babysit while Henry and I went out for the evening.  We hired her because we had a very challenging foster child at the time and we didn't want to place all the responsibility on our teenagers while we were gone.  The babysitter left us a beautiful note describing how our girls had really handled everything, that in her years as a teacher she had not seen better child management skills and that she felt bad taking our money.  While this made me feel like a successful parent, it was what happened next which I found the greater compliment.

After returning home, our babysitter sat down with her grandson and very earnestly told him, "You should marry one of those Cate girls."



I'm prouder of that than their college (3.95 and 4.0) GPAs.




Knowledge and enthusiasm

I like this thought from Dan Galvin's Thought For The Day mailing list:

Knowledge is power and enthusiasm pulls the switch.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

A good point about how to be effective

Greg McKeown makes a good point in The Simplest Way to Avoid Wasting Time.

Basically he writes that we need to step back and focus on doing a few things really well rather than try to do lots of things.

It is about a two minute read.  Worth spending the time.

Interesting observation on why the New York Times is having trouble

I found WHY THE NEW YORK TIMES IS IN TROUBLE fascinating.

It starts with:

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The New York Times appointed a task force headed by “Pinch” Sulzberger’s son to analyze the paper’s market position and recommend strategies relating particularly to its digital products. The resulting report was leaked and has gotten a lot of press attention. You can read it here. Most observers have focused on the report’s relatively negative assessment of the Times’s market position; no doubt it is galling to the Times to be surpassed by schlock outfits like the Huffington Post and Buzzfeed.

But this is what struck me: on page 23 of the report, there are charts showing the paper’s internet traffic. The Times currently gets around 6 million page views per day. That is a lot, to be sure. But Power Line averages over 200,000 page views per day. On a big news day, we may get more than 500,000. So day in and day out, the New York Times gets around 30 times the traffic that we do.

No wonder the Times has trouble finding a viable business model! We are four guys running a web site in our spare time. We have no expenses other than hosting fees of around $1,000 a month. We have no payroll and no advertising expenses. And yet the vast, expensive apparatus of the nation’s supposedly premier newspaper can muster only 30 times our traffic.
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Hat tip:  Instapundit

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at: Sprittibee.

This will be the 449th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, July 31, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - So You’re Thinking of Homeschooling Edition

Monique is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Living Life and Learning.

She starts the carnival with:

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As we head into August, parents are starting to think about school again if they were off for the summer break. Parents may also be thinking about the possibility of homeschooling as well. This is definitely the perfect place to be for that.

I remember the first year we started homeschooling, I read everything I could get my hands on about it and just let everything sink in. There’s so much good information out there in books that it can get overwhelming. Once I found homeschooling blogs, I was on information overload. But I love them. You get to see what real homeschoolers are doing and how not everyone has it all together.
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Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, July 28, 2014

Getting started with Python

I have been a software engineer for most of my career.  I am a bit of a nerd and programming has been both a lot of fun and a good way to provide for my family.  I was using Java for much of the last fifteen years.  Just recently I joined a small start up and was encouraged to develop some tools in Python.  After four months in Python I've decided it is a pretty good language, especially for small projects.

As such I'm putting together some resources to help my two younger daughters learn some of the basics about programming and a little about Python.  I'll share some of the resources here.  If there is a lot of interest I might do a few more posts, or expand this post.


Installing Python

To get started you'll need to install Python.  To do so go to the Download page of the Python.org site.  Python underwent a fairly major change in going from the 2.x version of the language to the 3.x version.  I suggest that you go with the newer version.  Over time the old version will fade away.

In windows, after you download the file, click on it.  It will ask if you want to run, say yes.  To complete the installation process check out Using Python on Windows.


Getting started

Once you have installed Python, click on the "Start" button and then "IDLE (Python GUI)".   This should bring up a command window with Python running.  Then type:

print ("Hello world.")

Congratulations, you have just run a simple Python program.

One of the nice things about Python is that it is interpreted, which means it will execute commands in sequence, rather than compiling the whole program before running.  This feature makes it easy to get started, but you can get bit by a bug in your program that a compiler would have flagged as a problem.


The next level is to create a file to be a Python program.  Create a file with this:

#! python
import sys
sys.stdout.write("hello from Python %s\n" % (sys.version,))

Then run it by doing:

py

Here are some more things you can try out.


Editors

To get started all you really need is a simple editor.  Something like Notepad will work just fine.  But if you want to use something designed to write programs you have lots of options. There are over a hundred editors.  I've been using Komodo at work, which has a free version that is very functional.


Learning Python

Google makes heavy use of Python.  They have some Python classes.  Here is Day 1 Part 1 and Day 1 Part 2.

Codecademy has a Python course.  I haven't used it, yet, but a friend at work found it helpful.

Python Essential Reference by David M Beasley is a fairly dense book.  A beginner will have to go slow.  But I've found it helpful and useful.


Google is your friend

One last thought: often you may get stuck.  You can often find the answer by going to Google and typing in "python" along with some of what you are trying to do.  The chances are someone else had a similar problem and the answer is already out there.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Please remember to send in a post for the next Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling, which will be held at Living Life and Learning.

This will be the 448th edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling.

Go here for the instructions on sending in a submission.

As always, entries to the Carnival of Homeschooling are due Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific Standard Time.

I have a reminder mailing list. If you would like email reminders, please tell me.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Thursday, July 24, 2014

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - Planning, Organizing, and Choosing Curriculum Edition

Sarah is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Embracing Destiny.

She starts the carnival with:

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I’ve learned a few invaluable gems of wisdom over the years as a homeschool mom, mostly the hard way. One of those gems is about planning, organizing, and choosing curriculum. You can have the most beautiful planner, the most useful planning system, the greatest organizational tools and methods, and the top ten picks of all the well-known homeschool scholars for your curriculum, but if it doesn’t work for you and your children, it’s all for naught. Lest we forget one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling — the ability to adjust and find what works for our own family’s learning styles — I wanted to start with this reminder. The best laid plans that are never carried out don’t amount to much. Keep your focus on your own goals and those of your children, not the Jones family homeschooling next door. 

 On that note, if you are looking for a system that works and want to do some research on different planning, organizing, and curriculum choice methods, you’ve come to the right place. Who better than homeschool moms themselves to share what has worked in practical application?
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Enjoy!


Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, July 21, 2014

How foreign of a concept is homeschooling these days?

My family is hosting three young boys from China. Their ages are 14, 15 & 17. They have been with us for almost two weeks and they will leave tomorrow. Our interaction with them has been a little bit limited. They spend most of the day with a group studying English and going to the local tourist sites.

Their diction is pretty good. I don’t think I’ve had any trouble understanding the words they say. But their vocabulary is limited. One of the boys has been studying English a couple years more than the other two. Fairly often we’ll ask a question or tell them something and the other two boys will immediately look to the first for an explanation. Even still there are times when we’ll say something and all three will give us blank look.

One of these times was when we first mentioned homeschooling. We explained what it meant and there was both a look of “Did I really understand what you just said?” and “How would that ever work?”

Scientists talk about a paradigm shift being very important in expanding our understanding of the world. As we learn new concepts or gain insights into the way the world works, we undergo a shift in how we perceive the world. I think this happened a little with the three boys as we explained homeschooling. They started to see the world in a new light.

I’ve wondered the last couple days if homeschooling may still a foreign concept for much of America. Many of my close friends also homeschool and I am worried that there may be a group mindset that since we understand homeschooling and recognize the value of homeschooling that most people most at least understand what homeschooling is all about. But is this true?

Even though we’ve gone from tens of thousands of children being homeschooled in the 1970s to a couple million being homeschooled now, I think there are still many in the United States who don’t really understand homeschooling.

I do think over time things will continue to get better. The number of children being homeschooled continues to grow. I think the drive to homeschooling is largely driven by how broken the public school system. Even though we may think homeschooling is well understood by our neighbors and friends, it may be there are still many for whom homeschooling is a foreign concept.

The answer is to be patience and explain how it works. We can help our friends through a paradigm shift. Over time more and more will come to understand homeschooling.