“Carpe diem! Rejoice while you are alive; enjoy the day; live life to the fullest; make the most of what you have. It is later than you think.”


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Did you know???

Red is the most popular car color in the U.S.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The states with the most presidential burial sites are Ohio and Virginia (which are tied).

Monday, April 23, 2012

Kidfest 2012

Okay... so it was fun to be able to take the two youngest granddarlings to Kidfest this year - because I went all the time with my kiddies and even worked it for many, many years - but this year... I don't know. It was pretty much dead. I mean, there was lots of fun things for older kids to go - like old enough to be out of the wagon and putting together their own bracelets or making their own hats. But all the little kids games were (mostly) gone and all the free kids snacks were gone too. There wasn't even much snacks to buy at the concession stands... which really surprised me. This year I would give it a 2 out of 5. Come on Athens! Let's not make it suck next year!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Social Skills and Homeschooling: Myths and Facts

The Debate
I've heard it a hundred times. If you're thinking about homeschooling, it probably troubles you. "What about socialization?" is the major homeschooling question people have about a homeschooling lifestyle.

Professional educators, who don't fully understand the many styles of homeschooling, often raise this issue. They believe school is the only place children learn socialization skills. But it's just not true!

The socialization myth was born out of a misconception of what it's like to homeschool. Many educators and critics of homeschooling still believe homeschoolers hit the books at 9 a.m., work all day at their kitchen table till 3:00 p.m. or later, and spend their day isolated and alone. This, of course, is ridiculous!

The homeschoolers I know are out and about every day, enjoying museums, beaches, parks, and shows without the crowds. They travel often. The kids participate in Girl and Boy Scouts, 4-H, and sports. They take art, dance, drama, language, and music classes, to name a few.

Dr. Raymond Moore, author of over 60 books and articles on human development, has done extensive research on homeschooling and socialization. His book, The Hurried Child, should be in every homeschooler's library. "The idea that children need to be around many other youngsters in order to be 'socialized,'" Dr. Moore writes, "is perhaps the most dangerous and extravagant myth in education and child rearing today."

Children often do not respond well to large groups. They become nervous and overexcited by noise and too many people. Learning becomes difficult. Behavioral problems develop. After analyzing over 8,000 early childhood studies, Dr. Moore concluded that, contrary to popular belief, children are best socialized by parents -- not other children.

What kind of socialization occurs when 20 or 30 kids of the same age are placed in a classroom together day after day? Peer pressure is enormous. Kids feel like they need to look and sound and be like everyone else, at the risk of forgetting or never discovering who they really are. This results in rivalry, ridicule, and competition - hardly the environment for healthy socialization.

A homeschooler who interacts with parents and siblings more than with peers displays self-confidence, self-respect, and self-worth. She knows she's a part of a family unit that needs, wants, and depends on her. The result is an independent thinker who isn't influenced by peers and is self-directed in her actions and thoughts.

Do tests bear this out? You bet!

The Research
In July 2000, the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think-tank, published an extensive report on homeschooling written by Senior Fellow Dr. Patricia Lines. She describes several controlled studies comparing the social skills of homeschoolers and nonhomeschoolers.

The homeschoolers scored as "well adjusted." In one study, trained counselors viewed videotapes of mixed groups of homeschooled and schooled children at play. The counselors didn't know the school status of each child. The results? The homeschooled kids demonstrated fewer behavioral problems. Dr. Lines' conclusion? "There is no basis to question the social development of homeschooled children."

Homeschooling parents know kids need blocks of quiet time alone. Time to dream and grow and find out what it is they love to do. This is something few children enjoy today. They are never alone at school, and their after-school lives are packed full of activities, as well.

If you are considering homeschooling and are still concerned about socialization, I suggest the following:

1. Find other homeschoolers in your area and strike up friendships. This can be done via the Internet, your place of worship, a food co-op, or library. Put up notices on safe billboards in your community.

2. Join a group like 4-H. 4-H is a youth development organization. Your child can choose one of their many clubs, based on his or her interests (rocketry, crafts, environment, animals, dance, and many more). All are welcome, and it's free.

3. When you meet families out with kids during school hours, ask them if they homeschool. I know of many friendships that started that way!

4. Find out about the sports programs available through your local parks and recreation department. Team sports give kids the opportunity to meet peers with common interests.

5. Volunteer your services. Visit local nursing homes, shelters, etc. One young homeschooler regularly visited a nursing home with her mom and gave elderly women manicures. Giving unselfishly to one's community sets a good example and develops true socialization skills.

Socialization, like learning and life, takes place every day. How you interact with your kids -- and how they watch you interact with the outside world -- teaches them all the social skills they'll need to know. Stop worrying about socialization. It's a "problem" that never existed!

Did you know???

A completely blind chameleon will still take on the colors of its environment.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

7 Dumb Mistakes Smart People Make When They Homeschool And How to Avoid Them

By Diane Flynn Keith, Editor of Homefires, Author of Carschooling

We all make mistakes — especially in homeschooling. In fact one of the  most satisfying pastimes is to listen to the tales that homeschool parents  tell about the mistakes they have made along the way — and to realize  that they not only survived, but are thriving. Just as they did, you can  learn from their mistakes. I have been listening to these storytellers  at homeschool Park Days for years and have assembled some of the most  common mistakes in an effort to save you the trouble of making them yourself.  Here they are:

    1. Unrealistic Expectations
New and veteran homeschoolers alike frequently start the homeschool year with unrealistic expectations. You'll recognize the high achievers —  they plan to cover the national curriculum standards for grades 4-8 by
    Christmas, and cover all 4 years of high school by June. (Any of you who have ever tried to get through a Saxon math textbook in 18 months will  surely stand in awe.) Kids and parents in this marathon suffer from burnout often within weeks of the starting point.

On the other end of the spectrum are those who don't expect much at all  — the under achievers. With no goal, no plan, no thought to developing  a rich learning environment for their children -- they start off the year  wishful that learning will "just happen," but find themselves  frustrated and floundering in late October, when the kids are bored to  tears, climbing the walls (literally), and mom is disappointed that the  "homeschooling" just doesn't seem to be working.

The key, of course, is balance. Work with your children to develop and  maintain a realistic vision and plan for their learning adventures. With  a practical goal and plan, you might actually avoid the next dumb mistake…

    2. Over Scheduling & Under Scheduling
In homeschooling there are things to do, places to go, and people to see. You could keep your calendar packed with field trips, co-op classes, and park days all week long -- only to find after a few weeks of dragging the kids to every museum exhibit in town that they are begging you to stay home. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of field trips may be constitutional rights, but there is such a thing as doing too much. Conversely, activity deprivation can stunt growth and development. It is important to expose our kids to the bounty of life and a wealth of learning opportunities — but within reasonable limitations. Just as kids need varied and stimulating activities, they also need peaceful solitude and unstructured time to  learn and grow.

    3. Ignoring Child Feedback
Your children are the best barometers of how the homeschooling is going.  Trust me, they will give you lots of feedback. Listen to them. If your  daughter throws the spelling workbook on the floor and tearfully screams,  "I hate this - you can't make me do it!" — I would say that's  a definite clue that the subject, the materials, the method -something  - is wrong and isn't working. Back off. Throw it away or put it away,  but get rid of whatever is causing the misery. (By the way, this is standard  practice among successful homeschool families who frequently discard materials  that didn't work at curriculum swaps.)

On the other hand, if your son's eyes sparkle with interest, enthusiasm,  delight and happiness when he is working on a project or activity, that's  a clue that whatever he is doing is working. Keep it up!
Remember, kids don't resist learning — they resist schooling. There  is a difference between "schooling" and getting an education.  Listening to feedback will go a long way to helping you determine the  best learning style, method, approach, and materials to use with your  child. Which leads me to the next point…

    4. Over Spending
When I began homeschooling I purchased several complete curriculum packages at about $400 a pop, in an attempt to find "the right" resources for my kids to use. While many would think this a gross indulgence (and
    a dumb one, at that) consider my perspective: I had opted out of private school and an annual tuition of $7,000 a year to homeschool. Spending $1,200 for curriculum seemed like a bargain! The real kicker was this  — my kids hated every one of them! The rigidity of the structured texts  and time simply did not appeal to my sons. That was not the optimum environment in which they learned best.

The compulsive obsession to purchase "good materials" so that  our kids will get a "good education" can overtake the most penny-pinching  of parents. The truth is, you cannot buy a good education. So guard your  pocketbook. When you do spend money for curriculum products try to make  sure that they support your educational philosophy, and are something  your kids will truly use and enjoy.

    5. Isolation
Picture this: It's Park Day. A homeschool mom packs her 1991 mini-van with lunch, snacks, water, sodas, sports equipment, a lawn chair, a picnic  blanket, a book to read, Pok√©mon paraphernalia, a sewing project,    a box of used books and curriculum to loan to other homeschoolers, and  depending on the weather and activities taking place before, during, and after park day (spontaneous or planned) — a change of clothes for each  and every one of her three kids. She loads the kids in the van, drives 40 minutes to the Park, and unloads the van. A few hours later she reloads the van and drives home in commuter traffic. She performs this migration  from home to park and back again week after week. What is wrong with this   woman? What compels such odd behavior? The answer is socialization. Take a look at some of the benefits her family receives from performing this  ritual:
    * Her children have the opportunity to meet and play with other  homeschooled kids. Friendships develop which lead to other socialization  opportunities. Also, the kids don't feel "weird" or self-conscious  about homeschooling when they have frequent contact with other homeschoolers.
    * She meets other parents. Friendships are forged. Sometimes a  new friend will become a mentor who provides information, resources, support  and an all-important sounding board to discuss concerns with — and share  successes.

Attending Park Days and Support Group Meetings deflects the feeling of  isolation — the kiss of death in homeschooling. You need support and  encouragement from like-minded individuals. For rare families whose circumstances  truly prevent support group and park day participation, I would suggest  the following:
    * Subscribe to several homeschooling publications.
    * Attend a homeschool conference annually.
    * Get a homeschool pen pal.
    * Participate in homeschool chats and email communication via the Internet.

    6. Thinking You Can Do It All
The short answer is — you can't, so don't try. The longer version goes something like this… There are more important things than laundry, housework, paying bills, grocery shopping, and all of the other mundane tasks that interfere with homeschooling. If these things are critically important to you then you better follow the advice of homeschool icon Micki Colfax, "lower your standards."

First of all, homeschoolers spend lots of time at home. They are not  out of the house all day. The place is going to look — to put it gently  — lived in. The kitchen counters will be transformed into a science lab,  the walls will be plastered with maps, time lines, posters of presidents  and the periodic table of elements, and books will be stacked everywhere.  When friends visit just unapologetically clear a path through the toys  and games on the living room floor.(If they are homeschooling friends,  they will understand.) One mom told me that when it gets to be too much,  and she just can't stand looking at the mess, she packs up her kids and  visits her sister for a day or two. When she comes home she has a fresh  perspective and can begin to clean the house — at least, she can imagine  a place to start.

In my house, it's the laundry. I've trained the boys to put a load in  the washer, transfer it to the dryer, and then take it to the couch for  folding. Unfortunately they haven't got the hang of that folding part  yet — so the clothes often remain in a pile until ready for use. As a  result, my kids have that linen-look-rumpled-thing going on even when  they wear wrinkle-free clothing. When company comes we just shove the  clothes on the couch back into the dryer — and return them to the couch  when the company leaves.

All homeschooling families establish their priorities and set parameters  for what they can and can't live with. Most of us develop a quirky solution  or two (that our mothers would never approve of) to ease the demands on  our time.

    7. Proselytizing
You have convinced yourself that home-schooling is the way to go — and now you want to convince everyone else. Sorry, but homeschooling is not for everyone. If you insist on confrontations and defensive posturing with every friend and relative who says, "What are you, nuts?" when you tell them you homeschool, you will alienate them all.

One homeschool dad told me that his sister (a schoolteacher) came unglued  when he announced he would be homeschooling the kids. Rather than debate  the merits and pitfalls of homeschooling, he simply said, "I know  it's not the choice you would make — and I know it's not the right choice  for everyone. But for us, in this situation, it's an option we are going  to try for awhile — to see if it works. If it doesn't, we will try school  again." Do you see what he did? He diffused the predicament. He didn't  try to sell her on the idea, and he didn't bad-mouth schools and teachers.  With a few simple words he allowed her some dignity, while claiming his  own.

The real proof is in the pudding. Your kids will undoubtedly prove to  nay-sayers that homeschooling is working just by being themselves. Their  positive attitudes and intelligent conversations will win over the most  curmudgeonly homeschool opponent. You don't need to be a homeschool zealot.  Peaceful demonstration will help you win friends and influence people  every time.

All of the dumb mistakes described above can be avoided, but it is more  than likely that you will experience one or two of them on your own. It  is my sincerest wish that if you hit a pothole along the homeschool road,  you will do what thousands of others have done before you — pick yourself  up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistake, and continue the journey  — arriving at your destination will make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Did you know???

Apples are more efficient than caffeine for waking you up in the morning.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy Birthday...

To one of my favorite people... EVER!

(at least... most of the time. lol!)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Did you know???

It was illegal to sell E.T. dolls in France because there is a law against selling dolls without human faces.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Did you know???

Penguins are not found in the North Pole.