Friday, February 26, 2010

The Groundhog Was Right I Guess

A few weeks ago we celebrated Groundhog Day. He saw his shadow in PA., but we needed to make sure Texas groundhogs would agree.

We made our groundhogs from a template pasted to cardboard. We used ground coffee for the fur. Little One really enjoyed this project.
We put our groundhog to the test and guess what?

He saw his shadow. And it seems he was right because we've had snow several times in the last few weeks and more is predicted this weekend! We're beginning to think Spring will never arrive.

How's the weather in your neck of the woods?

Please check out my interview with author and adoptive mom Judy Miller. She is about to begin an adoptive parenting class over the Internet. The blog post in on my main site here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hattie Big Sky Book Review

Em has been reading up a storm this year and will be sharing some book reviews here on our blog. She is 10 years old and an avid reader.

Hattie Big Sky - Review by Em
By: Kirby Larson
This book is about an orphan girl named Hattie that is always getting switched around from one family member to another, until she finds out her uncle left her something in his will. He had left her land. So Hattie left her home with eager heart to start a new home in Vida, Montana during the rough times of the early 1900’s during World War One. She was hoping that instead of being Hattie here-and-there she will become Hattie big sky.

This book is a Newbery Honor Book.

I have to say that as a mother I really appreciated this book. It brought up wonderful discussion points about homesteading, war, and the challenges of being a young woman on your own during this time. The end of the book has some great discussion questions and an interview with the author. I would recommend this for any pre-teen to adult reader.

Have you or your child read this book? Are there some other books during this time period you would recommend?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Why We Homeschool Part 2

I shared the first part of my homeschooling article here. This is the second part that was published in the family column I write for:

Last issue I discussed the reasons behind my families decision to home school. This week I’d like to share with you some of the questions homeschoolers face and resources for families who choose to home school.

If you are thinking of home schooling, be prepared to answer all the questions that will undoubtedly get tossed your way. Is it legal? How will you teach them? What about standardized testing like the TAKS? What about socialization?

First, home schooling is legal. Each state has different laws regarding home school, but Texas happens to be considered a home-school friendly state. Compared to other states, there are not many regulations for a Texas homeschooler. Second, you have the freedom to teach your children from any curriculum you choose or from one that you put together yourself. I attended a Texas home school conference last summer in which hundreds of curriculum vendors were present. There was a vast assortment of curricula that targeted different learning styles and approaches. Many families mix and match according to their children’s styles and ages. Some go with a curriculum that covers a year’s worth of work for all disciplines.
I’ve written about my dislike for the TAKS (a Texas standardized assessment test) from the standpoint of a teacher and a parent. It comes as no surprise that I cringe when people worry about my children not being able to take a standardized test because they are not in public school. First, both homeschoolers and private school students are not required by state law to take the TAKS. However, it is important for children to know how to take all forms of tests, not just limited to those that are standardized. I believe if you lay the proper foundation of learning for your children, in a positive environment in which they can thrive, you will have given them all the tools they need to excel at any tests they are given.

When I was a teacher the ultimate response to home schooling was “that poor child will never learn how to socialize”. I’m still at a loss as to why we think schools are solely responsible for teaching our children how to interact with peers. Is interacting with children at ballet class, volleyball, the museum, Kindermusik, church, and in the grocery store not forms of socialization? When my children turn their backs to gossiping and hurtful remarks from peers and stand up for the values they were taught in any group setting, is that not socialization? When my daughter is just as comfortable carrying on a conversation with an adult as she is with someone her own age, is that not socialization? Maybe the question should be, “Does going to school give you the necessary skills to socialize with others?” Then the answer would have to be “no”, because there are public and private schooled children who do not have the socialization skills needed to interact with their peers. I’ve seen these repeat offenders in detention halls, ISS, the principal’s office and even in my own classroom when I was teaching.

Finally, if you are thinking of homeschooling I advise joining a local home school group along with a state or national group. They will give you support, answer legal questions, provide you with resources, hold conferences, and give your family an opportunity to meet other home school families. I blog as often as I can about our home school adventures and I follow many families across the world who do the same. The Internet has helped to open up the homeschool world.

The bottom line is this; every parent has the freedom to choose what is in the best interest of their children and families. Thank goodness we live in a country in which we have many options to choose from.

What questions come up when you tell people you homeschool or what questions would you like to have answered if you don't homeschool?