Friday, December 28, 2012

Please send in a post for the 7th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling

Next week will be the 7th anniversary edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling!!!

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at our blog: Why Homeschool
This will be the 366th edition.

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.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fun idea: Personalized Cookie-Cutters

This is a fun idea: Maker Mom Builds Cookie-Cutter Empire With 3-D Printers.

Book review: An American Son by Senator Marco Rubio

I was returning some books to the library and looking for something new. I happened to see the autobiography of Marco Rubio: An American Son. I am glad I did. Over the last couple years I’ve heard frequent mention of him. I’ve watched a couple his speeches over the internet. I really enjoyed reading the book and getting to know him better. He writes about four main areas of his life: his personal life, his thoughts on politics, his campaigning and his relationship with God.

Marco starts the book by introducing us to his ancestors. He tells us about his grandparents and then parents. How they struggled and how eventually his family moved to America in the late 1950s. He writes about his childhood. His gives us the backdrop of life in Cuba and Florida. I learned a bit of history.

Marco frequently shares his thoughts on politics. He tells us what he thinks the role of government is. He comes across as a very principled person. He felt drawn to politics largely because of the influence of one of his grandfathers who lived with him when he was growing up. This resolve deepens after Obama was elected president.

Marco is a young man, in his early 40s. He has only held a few political offices. He writes about how he ran for a few offices and what he accomplished in each office. The last quarter or so of the book is about his run for US Senator. The race was a nail bitter. When he first started it seemed like he didn’t have a chance against the older Charlie Crist who had the support of the state Republican Party. Marco shared his vision and his concern about the direction government was heading. As more and more people supported him it became clear he was going to win the Republican nomination and so Charlie Crist ran as an independent. Marco tells us about all the ups and downs of almost two years of running for US Senate.

This is not the story of a super-human who makes no mistakes. Marco admit to some of his personal weaknesses. He explains the lessons he has learned and how he tries to do better.

If you want to know more about Marco Rubio, this is a good book to read. It is also hard to put down. I asked my 18-year-old daughter to read it the morning after Christmas. She finished it that day.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Christmas edition

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at No Fighting, No Biting!

Katherine starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the last homeschool carnival of 2012! The season of Christmas is a time of kindness, love, joy, and being grateful. One of the gifts that makes us the most grateful is homeschooling, because it helps increase kindness, love, and joy. Our family wishes yours peace and much success in the coming year.

This is our first Christmas on our farm in Maine and for the first time we went out into the woods and chopped down a tree instead of buying one from a lot. Actually Tim sawed a 30 foot tall tree down and cut the top out for our Christmas tree. It may look a little Charlie Brownish, but just as I was so proud at Thanksgiving that some of the ingredients for the pumpkin pie, the stuffing, and the mashed potatoes came from our own garden, I am proud that our tree came from our own land.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

A sad sign of our times

A British survey found A 'dad' is tenth most popular Christmas list request for children

Hat tip: Instapundit

Homeschooling to avoid school shootings isn't the best reason for homeschooling

Several news stations are reporting an increase in interest about homeschooling after the tragic deaths in the Connecticut elementary school. Fox 5 from San Diego reports that a San Diego online homeschool academy is seeing a double in the number of inquiries into homeschooling. Likewise a virtual academy in Oklahoma has seen a dramatic increase in phone calls. In Arizona, the Maricopa County superintendent reports that so far they have seen only a slight increase of parents considering homeschooling. There are many other articles reporting on the increase interest because of the deaths in the Newton school.

Dramatic events can produce strong emotions which can side track a thoughtful analysis of the real risks.  To put this in perspective deaths to school shootings over the last decade are on the average about 26 each year in the United States.  This works out to one child out of every two million children.  While the death of any child is a tragedy, children have almost as much of a chance of being killed by lighting as being shot by a crazy or evil maniac.

There are so many other good reasons for homeschooling.  To avoid a possible school shooting is, in my opinion, not a good reason.

Here are a few reasons we’ve written about over the years:

So children can retain their love for learning.

To avoid indoctrination - Government schools have become a target of many groups pushing their agendas.

Public schools are not accountable to the parents.

To make sure your children read good books instead of trash.

To protect your daughters.

To escape the crazy homework load.

So families have more time together.

Because students can graduate from highschool and not even know how to read.

To avoid bullies - both students and teachers.

There are many, many more reasons to homeschool.

I do hope that because of the shooting many parents will investigate homeschooling and come to see the real benefit of homeschooling.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Will school violence encourage more to homeschool?

Laura Grace Weldon writes about How School violence Led Us To Homeschooling.  Her column starts with:

We became homeschoolers suddenly. One morning our oldest son, a freshman in an award-winning suburban high school, called home right before the first class of the day. The teen who’d been harassing him had just showed him a gun, telling him he wouldn’t live through the school day. I was home, babysitting an infant. Without the baby’s car seat I couldn’t even drive there to get him.

“Get out now,” I said. “Run home.”

I would love to know if the recent school shooting prompts a lot more parents to pull their children from government schools.

Hat tip:  Natalie Winningham

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: No Fighting, No Biting!

This will be the 365th edition.

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.

Fun thought about public education

Campaign for Liberty posted this on Facebook:

"One doesn't have to look at current statistics to see the failure of the educational system in this country. Just listen to a few of its graduates speaking in Congress."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - The Good, The Bad, the Ugly

Mama Squirrel is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Dewey's Treehouse.

She starts the carnival with:

Welcome to the Carnival of Homeschooling #364: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

For some people it's been a week of holidays, or holiday preparations (or even summer vacation, for those Down Under). For others it has been a struggle to find seasonal beauty amidst terrible ugliness and grief. The posts received reflect both ends of the spectrum.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 17, 2012

An update from a homeschool graduate

Here is an update from my oldest daughter:

Hi, I’m the eldest. I’m the one now in college. Dad asked me to write a homeschool post today.

One of the things I like most about homeschooling is the freedom, freedom to arrange my schedule how I want or freedom to take vacations in the middle of the year.

Because my sisters and I were/are homeschooled we have a monopoly on babysitting, house cleaning, and other chores that people hire kids for. Through high school I would watch kids during the hours when other kids where in school.

Now in college I have tried to arrange my classes to continue working. All my classes are in the morning allowing me to house clean, babysit, and do other jobs during the afternoon. This has allowed me to work for several people weekly and others when they need a babysitter.

Unfortunately college is not as accommodating as homeschooling is in regards to vacations.

In years past we could pack up our school work get on a plane and be gone for weeks. One year we went back East for a month staying in Boston one week, Virginia the next. It was really interesting we visited museums and spent several days at Colonial Williamsburg.

Homeschooling is really great and allows you to control your learning experience.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Reminder: Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Dewey's Treehouse.

This will be the 364th edition.

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.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Good suggestions on how to deal with stress

The Christmas season can often be stressful, very stressful.

My sister-in-law posted on Facebook a link to a Hardvard Business Review post on Nine Ways Successful People Defeat Stress.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Book review: They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie

Most of the Agatha Christie stories I’ve read are murder mysteries.  Someone gets killed early in the story and then the race is on to see if our heroes can gather the clues and unmask the villain. 

They Came to Baghdad is more like a James Bond spy thriller.  Great events are happening.  The reader knows a little but we’re larger in the dark at first.  Very few people are exactly as they seem.  It is about a third of the way through the book before someone dies. 

This is a fun book.  As always Agatha Christie does a great job building characters, providing enough clues that the reader knows some of what is going on, but we don’t have the whole story so there is suspense on just what is going on and will the villains be unmasked.

If you enjoy Agatha Christie and are willing to try something other than the typical murder myster, give this book a try.

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - How'd it get to be December?

Christine is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at Our Curious Home.

She starts the carnival with:

Co-op ended, we had a great Thanksgiving, and wow, it’s December. So I thought I’d look at our old photos of December for a memory jogger as to what came up other years, the carnival needed illustrating anyway.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Friday, December 07, 2012

Movie review: Courageous

Courageous is a wonderful story about the importance of fathers. The movie addresses the question of “What does it mean to be a father?” This is an important question in our society today when a growing number of children are disconnected from their fathers. The movie shows us some of the harm that comes when fathers don’t take their role seriously and we’re reminded of the great strength good fathers can give their children.

The movie focuses on five men. Four of them work together in the local police department. The fifth man gets adopted by the group. We watch them as they struggle to meet life's challenges. One of them has a wakeup call which shakes him to his core. He decides to be a better father based on what the Bible teaches and asks the other four to hold him accountable. They decide to join him.

My family loves this movie. It is very well done. We watch fairly often; when it isn’t loaned out.

If you like good wholesome movies with a powerful message then give this movie a try.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Do you homeschool? Did you know you are a radical?

Kevin Williamson makes some interesting points in The Last Radicals.  His columns starts with:

There is exactly one authentically radical social movement of any real significance in the United States, and it is not Occupy, the Tea Party, or the Ron Paul faction. It is homeschoolers, who, by the simple act of instructing their children at home, pose an intellectual, moral, and political challenge to the government-monopoly schools, which are one of our most fundamental institutions and one of our most dysfunctional. Like all radical movements, homeschoolers drive the establishment bats.

One of the points Kevin drives home is that by their very nature homeschoolers don't feel like they need bureaucrats.  We are radicals compared to most of society.

As a group homeschoolers are very strong willed, especially any that have homeschooled for more than a couple years.  We have to be.  The vast majority of society is going one way and we are marching to a different drum.  We are constantly being pushed and pulled in a hundreds of subtle and not so subtle ways.

Whatever our reason(s) we reject the status quo.  We are fighting to go against the stream.  We've pulled our children from public schools and decided to take ownership of the educational process of our children.  I doubt very few of us choose homeschooling with the intent of challenging society, but we are radicals as we ignore government schools.

Maybe I have more in common with John Adams than I realized.

Book review: A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster

A Call To Arms by Alan Dean Foster is a favorite of mine.  I read it about once a year.  The story isn’t deep or profound, but it is a fun read.  This is the first book in a group of three.

The setting for this book is a universe where two groups of aliens have been fighting for thousands of years.  One group is led by a race (the Amplitur) which has the ability to mentally control most other aliens.  The Amplitur want everyone to join them, meaning being ruled by the Amplitur, for a “Grand and Glorious” purpose.  They are opposed by a second group of aliens, The Weave.   As civilized races no one in either organization likes to fight.  Some races are completely incapable of fighting, as they become paralyzed when considering taking another being’s life.

The Weave stumbles across Earth.  They encounter Will Dulac, a New Orleans composer.  As Will learns about the war he tries to convince The Weave to leave humans alone.  The Weave learns that not only do many humans like to fight, but they are very, very good at it.

If you enjoy a good story in a science fiction setting, give this a try.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Good news for Netflix users

We enjoy many Disney classics. This is good new for our family:  Netflix signs exclusive licensing deal with Disney.  The reporter writes:

Netflix told me a large batch of Disney movies will begin rolling out to Netflix users today and will presumably continue for the next several weeks. The company does identify some of the films in a recent blog post about the deal. (More titles, the company said, will be listed in future company blog posts.)

I expect we'll be watching a lot of Disney movies over the next couple months.

Reminder:Please send in a post for next week's Carnival of Homeschooling

Please remember to send in a post about homeschooling for the next Carnival of Homeschooling. The Carnival of Homeschooling will be held next week at: Our Curious Home.

This will be the 363rd edition.

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.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up - a Christmas Special

Lisa is hosting this week's Carnival of Homeschooling at The HomeSpun Life.

She starts the the carnival with:

I’m still somewhat new to the community we moved to in February, so this is our first Christmas here and I don’t know enough people to have a Christmas party. So, I’m having a cyber Christmas celebration right here through the Carnival of Homeschooling. You won’t have to stand in lines at 3 am in the morning either! You can grab the original button or (use the one below) to put in your posts to invite your readers to join us. Please feel free to use the social media buttons to share through your favorite networks.

Carnival of Homeschooling

Monday, December 03, 2012

Cool tool; a bit out of my price range

This is $26,000:

Hat tip: TechCrunch

A homeschooling success story

My sister’s friend designed a nice outdoor nativity.  She contracted with a company to build the pieces.  Then she and my sister package them up and ship the nativity sets via Federal Express.  Orders have been high the last couple weeks, almost double where they were last year.  But storms have been pounding us.  Much of the packaging takes place in their front yard, so with all the rain few packages have been shipped the last couple days.

Over the weekend my sister asked if my daughters would be interested in helping.  They were!  My second daughter asked how many people could they use.  My sister said they could keep seven or eight people busy, so my daughter put out the word last night to some homeschool friends.  A couple youth were available today and my wife picked them up on the way over. 

I’m pleased that my daughter took the initiative to gather additional help.  I teased her that as an agent she should have taken a small cut of the pay, but the kind young lady she is she declined.  (I’m sure part of it was that she was happy to be making money while hanging out with her friends.)

One of the great benefits of homeschooling is it allows us the flexibility to change our schedule and not be forced to keep our children in a rigid schedule determined by others.

Yeah for homeschooling!

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Amazing what they are doing with Lego Mindstorms these days

CubeStormer II "The Ultimate Cube Solver" was built with four "LEGO Mindstorms NXT kits (with some additional LEGO pieces) and a Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone:"

Pretty amazing!

Book review: Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

Lois McMaster Bujold has hit home run after home run with her stories about Miles Vorkosigan.  Miles is a short man whose body doesn’t allow him to fight because of brittle bones.  Miles grew up in a warrior focused culture and he quickly learned to use his brain.  Ivan Vorpatril, a cousin, was a good foil for Miles.  Ivan would inevitably do something stupid, sometimes something really stupid, and Miles would save the day.  I came to think of Ivan’s full name being “Ivan the idiot.”

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is a novel about Ivan.  The story is fair to the character we’ve gotten to know over the years and while Ivan is not near as clever as Miles, he does have some redeeming points.  The book starts off with Ivan recusing two damsels in distress.  Ivan is at Komarran when he encounters these women.  He takes them back to Barrayar where he hopes they’ll be safe, but the danger and intrigue only ratchet up a level or two. 

On Barrayar we meet many of our favorite characters, but Ivan is always center stage.  It was fun to see the Emperor, Miles, Aral and so on, while the story stayed focused on Ivan’s adventure.

Maybe Lois McMasters Bujold is going branch out a bit more and write about some of the other characters in the Vorkosigan universe.  I would love to ready another story about Mile’s brother(clone) Mark. 

If you have enjoyed previous Miles Vorkosigan stories I’m sure you will like this novel.  If you haven’t read any Miles Vorkosigan stories, start with The Warrior’s Apprentice, work through the full series, and then read Captain Vorpatil’s Alliance.

I wonder if they'll start paying children to ask for a light?

Well done anti-smoking ad:

Life Raft

Since I post occasionally about our challenges in the Foster Care system, I thought I would explain about the "life raft."

Each family has its own life raft. Our family has a little extra room in our raft. Around us in the water are other rafts. Some of full and overflowing other are rather empty. Some rafts on not too sea worthy. Some people are floating alone in the water or in rafts on the verge of sinking.

So we take children from a sinking raft into our raft. We have to be careful. We don't want to do anything that jeopardizes the safety of those already in our life raft. However, it is ok if those in our raft become a little uncomfortable as long as our raft is still sound and our passengers are safe.

Now, once our little visitor is in our raft, there still is the problem of the rest of his family who is in a sinking raft. For many of them, it is all they know.  Sinking boats and drowning are just the way things are. Some really want to fix their raft, but it is very hard because they have never seen it done or even seen a raft in good repair.

Regardless of which raft the child rides in, there is some injury involved in the process. No matter how well intentioned, getting yanked out of a sinking boat or being pulled back into a repaired boat hurts. Most of the time these injuries will heal with time as long as the boat is sound enough and someone is paddling for the shore.

Now it is easy to assume that the child would be better off in the bigger, stronger boat. Sometimes that is true. However, often a "good enough" family boat can be better for the child than bigger, sturdier rescue vessel. The trauma of the rescue and the loss of their own raft can outweigh the benefits of being rescued.

As foster parents, our first goal is not only to rescue a child, but an entire family. We do this by supporting the parent-child relationship. Sometimes, when the circumstances are right, we can take this a step further by becoming their friend and giving their family the chance to see how our family functions. 

When, despite our and their best efforts, the sinking raft is not repairable, we try to rescue a child who we will hopefully heal from the loss and find a permanent spot in a new raft. 

I think they should start with the teachers first

There has been a push recently to track individual students while they are at school.  Schools’ Tracking Devices Causes Controversy reports on a school in Austin, Texas which has all students carrying ID cards with an embbed microchip.  The school tracks them every step they take at school.

The article explains:

Starting this fall, all students at John Jay High School and Anson Jones Middle School are required to carry identification cards embedded with a microchip. They are tracked by the dozens of electronic readers installed in the schools’ ceiling panels.

Northside has been testing a “radio frequency identification” tracking system for the two schools to increase attendance in order to secure more state funding, officials have said. The program, which kicked off at the beginning of this school year, eventually could be used at all of Northside’s 112 campuses, officials have said. The district is the fourth largest in Texas with more than 97,000 students.

The justification is the ID cards would enable the schools to get more money because they'll be able to document that the children are at school.

I think the teachers should also be required to carry an ID card.  I wonder how many would revolt if the school district even floated this as an option.

Sometimes the best thing to do with a broken system is to simply walk away. 

I hope more parents decide to homeschool their children and not send them to government schools.

Educational sports

After two decades, Dean Kamen, the mascot of invention, is still touting educational sports is a good article about the motivation behind creating For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST):

In a keynote speech before a thousand chip industry executives, Kamen said he came up with the idea for FIRST out of frustration in 1989. He looked around at American society and was frustrated at how a whole generation of kids were growing up with warped perceptions, shaped by mass media, that made kids obsessed with professional sports athletes and Hollywood stars. And smart kids were branded as socially inept nerds.

“I looked at a culture that seemed to be going astray,” he said. “You can’t find a kid today who can tell you who won the Nobel prize in medicine. We don’t have an education problem. We have a culture problem.”

Kamen liked sports, but as a pastime, not an obsession. America came of age with great inventors like Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, but, he said, “It didn’t seem like that was the core of the culture anymore.”

Instead of fighting it, Kamen embraced the idea of using competitive sports to get kids to realize that science and engineering could be fun. He shrugged off concerns that it might put too much pressure on kids. He started FIRST, and got the first competition going in 1992.

My father is a FIRST Lego League coach for several teams.  If you have children with an interest in science, or even if they aren't interested, check it out.