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Ad & Article Index Page 4
Mind the Gap – Watching for “Holes” in Your Child’s Education Page 6
The Developmental Potential of Music Page 38
College Experience for Homeschooling High-School Students. Page 28
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Accelerated Achievement ......... 52 Accordions International........... 44 ACE Ministries ......................... 37 A.D.A.M. Education ................. 58 AgEd Net .................................. 67 American Cap & Gown ............ 57 American Heritage .................... 72 American School of Piano Tuning ....................................... 44 Apologia Press ..................... 17,46 Art Instruction School ................. 3 Atelier ....................................... 75 Barbour Publishing ................... 13 Barb’s People Builder ............... 85 Better Way Imports ................... 75 Brain Noodles ........................... 16 Caravan Tours ........................... 77 Christian Book.com .................. 82 College Goals ............................ 31 College Plus .............................. 27 College Prep Genius ................. 26 Columbia College ..................... 28 Cottey College .......................... 30 Creekbed Technologies ............. 22 Curriculum Design for Excellence ................................. 70 Design A Study ......................... 60
Editorial by Mary Leppert .......... 5 Mind the Gap by Diane Flynn Keith............................................ 6 I Thought I’d Be Taller by Ann Lloyd, PhD .................................. 8 Homeschooling Pop Culture by Elizabeth Michalak ................... 10 History at Our House by Scott Powell ....................................... 12 Grammar - the New Black Dress by Danielle Hoagland ............... 14 Good Beginnings Handwriting by Nan Barchowsky ....................... 16 Measuring Handwriting Fluency by Rand Nelson ......................... 20 Homeschooled Entrepreneur by Connor Bernstein ...................... 22 Defending Teaching Standards by Frode Jensen.............................. 24 Turning Knowledge Into Credit by Devon J. Dougherty .................. 26 College/High School Students by Gail Lewis ................................. 28 Enjoying the Process by Mary Hood, PhD................................. 30 Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto ...................... 34 Developmental Potential of Music by Susan Pujdak Hoffman......... 38 Music Theory Software by Michael Leppert ........................ 41 Five to Seven-Year Shift by Dr. Marcie Zinn......................... 42 Christian Classical Education by Marlin Detweiler ....................... 47 Review Section by Various authors ....................................... 50
Dig It! Games............................ 55 The Dow’s Schoolroom ............ 49 Dr. Loyd’s Fraction Kits ........... 24 Drive Through History .............. 84 EduClime .................................. 21 eHarvey School ......................... 47 eTutor ........................................ 66 Excellence In Education ........... 67 Explore Evolution ..................... 73 Frederick Harris Music ............. 40 Herbal Healer ............................ 36 Hewitt Homeschooling ............. 25 History at Our House .................. 8 Interactive Learning .................. 59 JAX Games ............................... 19 Kidscoop ................................... 24 Kinetic Books............................ 71 Kits for Kids.............................. 23 Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum .. 62 Literacy Unlimited .................... 15 The Little Man In the Map ........ 17 Lyra House Music Publications 45 Marva Collins............................ 64 Memory Book ........................... 51 Myles Music.............................. 41 Morningstar Academy................. 2 Motherboard Books .................. 75
Music Goals .............................. 45 Music Together ......................... 39 My Father’s World .................... 88 National Institute for Genealogical Studies................. 74 Needak Rebounders .................. 11 Neuro Education Center............ 43 New Society Publishers ............ 35 Oak Meadow ............................. 68 Pearson Uexcel.......................... 29 Piano for Life ............................ 45 QuickCert .................................. 61 Random House .......................... 18 Rod & Staff Publishers ............. 80 Rosetta Stone ............................ 56 Sandcastle Acting Books........... 50 Starline Press............................. 87 Swansbury Handwriting............ 86 Talking Fingers ........................... 9 Theory in a Box ........................ 44 Tooties ....................................... 63 University of Nebraska ............. 22 Usborne Books ............................ 6 Wall Words ........................... 32,33 Words Aren’t Fair...................... 31 Wordsmiths ............................... 53 Writing Strands ......................... 78
Rock ‘n’ Roll
Magnificent Monologues by Emerson Sandow ...................... 50 Explore Evolution by Michael Leppert ...................................... 51 Creating a Yearbook by Angela Plattner ...................................... 52 Teton Science Schools by Staff ........................................... 54 Dig It! Games by Michael Leppert ...................................... 55 Rosetta Stone by Michael Leppert ...................................... 57 Interactive Learning by Emerson Sandow ...................... 59 QuickCert Review by Michael Leppert ........................ 60 Why Teach Laura Ingalls Wilder? by Amy Ankrum .......... 62
Welcome to the inaugural issue of Homeschool Magazine.com, formerly known as The Link Homeschool Newspaper/Magazine. We are very proud to bring you this new format, which is easier to hold, easier to read and easier on the environment. We are also very proud of how this new publication came about: Our 22-year-old son, Lennon, came into my office one recent morning and said “We should call the magazine what it is – Homeschool Magazine. That way even people who aren’t homeschooling yet, but might be interested in it, will know what it is about and read it. And, we should have the domain name match it.” That all seems obvious now, but it never occurred to me to change the name of The Link to something so clearly descriptive. So, now, because of Lennon’s thinking, here it is – Homeschool Magazine. com. It seems completely appropriate that our totally-homeschooled son should be the one who comes up with the new idea, too. That sort of thinking is one of the qualities I sought for him long ago, when I read pioneering homeschooling books such as those with John Holt’s “unschooling” ideas and others, and forged ahead into my own uncharted waters with Lennon. We are also increasing the circulation of Homeschool Magazine, to include more mainstream visibility, because we want everyone to know that homeschooling is an accepted and acceptable way to raise one’s children. We are not weird people who are protesting the government. Most of us simply want to ensure that our children are raised with our values and standards and receive the best education we can produce Please tell your friends to get on our mailing list. Our Mission Statement has not changed: We seek to offer information to ANYONE interested in homeschooling or already homeschooling – regardless of religion/non-religion or school/unschool. That includes teachers, librarians, parents, grandparents . . . anyone who is curious about these excellent alternative educational ideas, products and services. Thank you for reading and for 15 great years of support. To all of you new readers, out there, welcome!
Editor-In-Chief: Mary Leppert firstname.lastname@example.org Managing Editor: Michael Leppert email@example.com Publisher: Mary Leppert Ad Design & Layout: Lennon Leppert HomeschoolMagazine.com Staff Writers: Michael Leppert • Emerson Sandow • Linda Foster Featured Columnists: Diane Flynn Keith, John Taylor Gatto, Ann Lloyd, Marlin Detweiler, Frode Jensen, Rand Nelson, Nan Barchowsky, Connor Bernstein, Gail Lewis, Advertising Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Customer Service: Mary Leppert email@example.com Editorial & Advertising Offices: 587 North Ventu Park Rd. Ste. E911 Newbury Park, CA 91320 Main Number: 805.497-3311 Fax: 805.492-9219 Web: www.HomeschoolMagazine.com E-mail Addresses: Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Artwork: email@example.com General Office: firstname.lastname@example.org HomeschoolMagazine.com reserves the right to refuse advertising space at its sole discretion. To Receive a copy of HomeschoolMagazine.com in the mail, send your address to: email@example.com
HomeschoolMagazine.com’s mission is to provide information and resources to anyone interested in homeschooling, regardless of religious or non-religious beliefs, teaching philosophy or any other agenda. While we do our best to scrutinize all ads and material submitted, we cannot make guarantees; therefore, we do not accept responsibility for ad content or product quality. We reserve the right to refuse any and all advertising at our discretion. The entire contents of this publication, including artwork and all editorial, are copyright 2010 by HomeschoolMagazine.com. All rights are reserved.
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Mind the Gap –
Watching for “Holes” in Your Child’s Education
By Diane Flynn Keith
few years ago, my family took a field trip to England. I didn’t say “vacation.” We didn’t take a single vacation in all the years we homeschooled — but we took lots of “educational field trips.” Calling it that helped to justify the cost. One thing my sons found particularly amusing in London was the sign “Mind The Gap.” It is s o m e wh a t synonymous with “Watch Your Step” in the U.S. You see it most often in subway stations when you must step from the train onto the station platform. You have to step across a gap or a divide, a hole or a space — hence, “Mind The Gap.” Not only is the warning posted, you hear it in recorded messages announced through loudspeakers inside the trains and the station -“Mind The Gap.” The slogan has inspired those who see and hear it. Songs and video games cont ain references to
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“Mind the Gap.” T-shirts are imprinted with “Mind the Gap” — and it’s not just the tourists who wear them. There was a movie made called “Mind The Gap” in 2004. I’ve never seen it, but the Internet Movie Data Base describes it this way, “Five se e m i ngly u n related people decide to take huge r isks in their personal lives i n an effort to find happiness.” Hey! T hat description could apply to just about any group of homeschoolers I know. Yet, happiness is elusive, and taking risks by rejecting conventional schooling can make one fearful. How many times have you heard homeschool parents, who have recently decided to step off the linear school train, a n xiously say with a straight face, “I want to make sure there aren’t any gaps in my child’s education?” National Standards Fear of gaps causes them
to slavishly and unhappily adhere to a school model, scope-and-sequence curriculum that satisfies “national standards.” They think it will ensure their children won’t have any “holes” in their education. Or, they sign up with a charter school home study program believing that reporting to a teacherfacilitator every 20 days or so will guarantee their child has a “complete” educat ion. T hey may have begun to get off the school train, but they are trapped in suspension over the gap, too fearful to land firmly at the homeschool station where educational freedom awaits. Can following a curriculum guarantee there won’t be gaps in a child’s schooling? Is a transcript from a public char ter school proof that there aren’t any cracks in a child’s education? No! And if you think so, you’re delusional! No one has a complete education. No one ever has, and no one ever will. You can learn some of the curriculum all of the time, and all of the curriculum some of the time, but you can’t learn all of the curriculum all of the time! You can’t learn everything there is to know. And I certainly don’t mean to imply that any “curriculum” is even worth knowing. As Albert Einstein said, “Education
is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” I’ve noticed that the parents who are fixated on minding the gap in their child’s education are usually relatively new to homeschooling. Those that have been around a while seem reconciled to the fact that there are gaps in everyone’s education. Compare your own education to anyone else’s and you’ll see that
sugar-cube facsimiles. One mom interrupted and said, “I’m from Pennsylvania, and we studied Pennsylvania history and built sugar-cube steel mills.” A dad spoke up, “I’m from Alaska and we built sugar-cube igloos.” Someone else said, “We didn’t study Missions either, we studied Egypt and made sugar- cube pyramids.” As you can see, it isn’t studying history t hat matters, i t ’s
i t ’s true. Building a Sugar Cube History Did you know that if you went to school in one state and your spouse went to school in another state, you didn’t have the same history lessons? One of you has a “gap” in their education. It’s true! I was conducting a workshop on homeschool resources at a Link Homeschool Conference and mentioned that fourth graders in California public schools study California history. Students learn about the California Missions and, for some reason, build
building something with sugar cubes that seems to be of universal importance across national curriculum standards for fourth graders. If you keep thinking along these lines, you can see that the gaps in education from one person to the next are a social engineer’s nightmare. If the majority of the population isn’t indoctrinated with the same agenda and curriculum, it is difficult to predict and manage their behavior. Standardi zed Curriculum Let’s imagine, for a mo-
ment, that a presidential proclamation decreed that every student must build a Mission out of sugar-cubes in the 4th grade. Now let’s suppose those fourth-graders are all grown up. If you were to hand those adults a box of sugar cubes and ask them what they could do with it, what do you suppose would be their first answer? Duh, build a Mission? Would any of them first suggest adding a few drops of methyl salicylate to the cube and then hammering it in a darkened room to demonstrate triboluminescence? Heck, would any of them suggest using a sugar cube to sweeten their coffee or tea? The point of standardized curriculum is to standardize people. They are much easier to manage and control if they think and act alike. We hear a lot f rom politicians about closing educational achievement gaps. Depending on which special interest group they are addressing, you’ll hear rhetoric about closing the gender gap, racial gap, economic gap, and opportunity gap as they all (we are told) negatively impact the goal of public education. Lately, the government tells us that closing all of those gaps begins with preschool.
continued on page 64
I Thought I’d be Taller... Letting Go of Picture-Perfect
By Ann Lloyd, Ph.D.
y sister is 5’ 9” – tall and thin. My mother is 5’ 8”; my father, 5’ 11”. Unfortunately, I stopped growing in 8th grade. It’s not that I’m short, it’s just, I thought I’d be taller. Granted, I also thought I’d be an Olympic gymnast, but that’s beside the point. As a child, I’d planned to marry Prince Charming and live in the castle. My dark-haired, brown-eyed prince would raise our six children (three boys, three girls), while I worked. I would be tall, of course, and thin. I was to be graceful, well-educated, and fabulously dressed at all times. It goes without saying that we would live happily ever after. In 1986, I graduated from college. I met my dark-haired prince and married him that same year. Our castle, however, had a few problems. For starters, it closely resembled a two-bedroom apartment in Jersey. I had three children in four years, and wasn’t able to have any more. In addition, my prince gave no indication that he wanted to stay home to raise them. My beautiful gowns are
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nightgowns, and the ultimate blow? I the realities of a homeschooling life. Homeschooling is admirable. The really thought I’d be taller. Women don’t grow up dreaming rewards are great. But, the process is of housework. My castle, in fact, was far from glamorous. The long hours, spotless. Not because I had a maid; low budgets, and endless overtime on the contrary, housework simply would rile any teacher’s union. Ofdidn’t exist. Likewise, many of us ten, we must work for days with little dream of children, but deny the sleep, support, or recognition. Yet, as adults, we reality of diapers, noise, are inevitably called illness, and insomnia. The to do things that In fact, perhaps the truth is, we’d rather not. hardest aspect of homeschooling, like Things that homeschooling, or staying home with dieting or exercising, a re n’t ea sy. T hings we children in genis not always fun. don’t enjoy. eral, is letting go of In fact, it can But the truth is, what you thought be downright you don’t have to your life would be. difficult. love every aspect Not that we, as womof homeschooling to en, should give up our be a successful homedreams. Certainly, we can make them reality. But we cannot schooler. It’s OK to get frustrated. live out every childhood fantasy. It’s OK if you occasionally feel like There will always be housework, giving up. It doesn’t mean that you’re homework and hassles. Children re- a failure. It doesn’t mean that you are quire sacrifice. And in the presence a bad wife, mother, or Christian. The truth is, homeschooling, like of a screaming toddler, there is little dieting or exercising, is not always room for fantasy. To be happy as a homeschooler, fun. In fact, it can be downright diffiwe must accept, and learn to enjoy, continued on page 68 An easy and convenient way to bring History into your curriculum!
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Homeschooling, Pop Culture and Creative Expression
By Elizabeth Michalak
so-called “popular culture”, and I believe this has shaped the course of my vocation and career choice, namely the development of a personal creative voice as a musician and songwriter. My experience as a young homeschooler started in my childhood home 17 miles outside of Ft. Collins, Colorado. Unwilling to leave my education, and that of my older sister, Katherine, to the standard educational system, our parents chose instead to take things into their own hands. They also chose not to follow a strict curriculum, but, instead decided to trust their own -- and our -- natural instincts about what and how we needed to learn. This is not to say that they subscribed entirely to the view of child-based learning; they were very clear that certain subjects were not negotiable, especially English and Math. Their main concern was that the acquisition of this necessary knowledge left time and energy to explore, create and discover what we were passionate about. During my early childhood, we were blessed to be a part of an established homeschool group in Ft. Collins. Composed of families like ours, this group offered support, information and plenty of “field experience” for my parents to draw from, and for my sister and me it created a social network outside of the standard school system. However, the year I turned six our family relocated to Crestone, Colorado, a small town offering limited social opportunities in general and nothing at all in the way of a homeschool community. I was slightly distressed at finding myself in this new environment, but, in retrospect, it simultaneously allowed and required me to look to myself and not my peers to decide what was interesting, important and valuable. As a child, I wasn’t exceptionally musical, nor did I have a burning desire to become so. In fact, as a preadolescent, my biggest musical accomplishment was my ability to play Yankee Doodle at agitating speeds and with excessive repetitions on my dad’s guitar. The extent that it annoyed my family may have been more memorable than my musical ability. At that point, I had no notion of pursuing music professionally -- I was planning to run a horse ranch in Wyoming when I grew up. While this seems unlikely to my more recent acquaintances, my family accepted this with all seriousness. They not only believed in my desire, they supported me in various
her? W ho’s that?” I asked this unfortunate question as a twelveyear-old spending Halloween with my mother’s family in Port Richey, Florida. As a last-minute addition to my satin-andlace Princess costume, I had added a wig of long black curls that fell to my waist. My uncle’s casual comparison of my appearance to the well-known pop singer prompted my clueless and rather embarrassing question -- a question that clearly illustrates my childhood insulation from pop culture. I grew up in a home that lacked a T.V. and computer for a number of years and that only acquired a high-speed Internet connection more recently than I care to admit. But my educational environment was still more significant in contributing to my social insulation -- I never saw the inside of a classroom until I sat in on a few college classes as a teenager. Homeschooled from the beginning of my education, I was spared the daily barrage of input from
ways as I spent my time riding and working as an assistant riding instructor. When, at the age of thirteen, I saw my first classical guitar concert and began to shift my focus away from horses and toward the world of classical music, they shifted with me, listening as intently about differing interpretations of Augstin Barrios’ Julia Florida as they had about horse conformation and days at the stable. For the next five years, my homeschool environment allowed me to practice classical guitar for hours every day. Living in the quiet town of Crestone didn’t afford me many distractions, and I was able to focus on my musical pursuits. In my mid-teens, I began looking into college music programs, believing that I wanted to pursue a career in classical guitar. I looked at countless conservatories, but I wasn’t at the level to receive any meritbased scholarship or even be very sure of acceptance to these schools. Instead, I began looking at the music departments at liberal arts schools, thinking I could pursue my musical education in a more forgiving environment. I was accepted to Bennington College in Vermont, which appealed to me as a liberal, self-structured and openminded community.
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I still remember my shock when I talked to a woman in admissions at Bennington and discovered that I was “discouraged from taking more than one or maybe two music classes the first year”. It was at this point that I realized just how alternative my view of education really was -- I felt restricted by the structure imposed by a college advertising student-directed education. I realized that pursuing music full-time was my top priority, but I was beginning to question what direction I wanted to take. After studying classical guitar for several years, I was beginning to lose the enthusiasm that had originally fueled me. I wasn’t touching the artistic essence of music; I was simply learning by the book. Again, the support of my family gave me the space to redirect my priorities. This prompted the next incarnation of my musical journey -- a duo with my sister, Katherine, who had also been studying solo instrumental guitar for some years previous. It was at this point that my lack of exposure to mainstream media and pop culture resurfaced, although in a slightly less dramatic way than in the opening story. I haven’t really changed from the twelve-year-old girl who asked “Who is Cher?”, although I have learned in
the nine years since that memorable episode to be more judicious about when and how I expose my ignorance. Nonetheless, my peers still find me curiously unaware of much of the information, images and music that saturate their daily lives. Old friends find this lack of knowledge amusing, and kindly attempt to keep me somewhat informed, while my “sheltered” view raises curiosity in new acquaintances. It has also caused some minutes of embarrassment in various social situations, as the opening story shows. However, the influence it has had on my creative process is the proverbial silver lining to these sometimes awkward moments. When my sister and I started writing songs, we didn’t have a clue. We didn’t have a teacher telling us how to write basic chord progressions, rhyme lyrics or establish a standard groove. The music that we had been exposed to ran the gamut from reggae to Indian classical, but was curiously lacking in most of what our peers were listening to, or even what they would consider well-known “classic” recordings. Therefore, we had very little knowledge of conventions in songwriting, even in an abstract or unconscious sense of what was standard and
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History At Our House
By Scott Powell,
Perspective in Studying History Do you and your child encounter difficult or unreasonable questions in modern history texts? Does her teacher expect a 10 year old, for instance, to judge the validity of modern free trade agreements from the perspective of a Mexican peasant? Are you afraid that your children are being indoctrinated, but you can’t figure out exactly how? How do you answer the tough questions in a way that respects the mind of a child and fosters his/her independence? Ask Mr. Powell! Send your questions to: mrpowell@ historyatourhouse.com, and I’ll do my best to clear up the muddied waters of modern pedagogy, and keep you on track despite modern education. Here, for example, is how I handled a recent query from a student, who brought up the following question in an e-mail: “What part does perspective play in studying history?” Normally, I would not expect to hear this question from my students, even those who are 14 as this student is, because it isn’t something they would normally think of themselves, and it isn’t a topic I would encourage them to pursue until they’re older. Still, I recognize that this is the type of question that younger and young-
er minds are being asked to consider these days by teachers. Even the formulation of the question suggests that it was drawn from a textbook or from a teacher’s lesson plan, not from the student’s own concerns. Knowing full well that the current approach to this topic is that “everyone’s perspective must be respected,” or that “all perspectives
are valid,” which is a philosophically false and inappropriate conclusion to foist on a young mind, I answered as follows: That’s an excellent question. Naturally everyone has a perspective. Everyone has their own background and personal experiences. Everyone has a unique understanding of the world and values that are their own. Most important of all when it comes to history is the fact that every person lives in a certain place at a certain time. Thus, they are looking back on the past from a certain vantage point. What you see, for example, from
a great distance concerning the Roman Empire is thus very different from what the Romans saw while living in it. They saw that part of history “first hand,” and you can only grasp it indirectly. And yet, you have the power of hindsight, while they could only see a part of their world at a time as it unfolded around them. Also, you have many resources such as historical atlases, the Internet, museums, and the benefit of all the experts who have ever studied Rome, while a citizen of Rome did not and thus could not know even a fraction of what you can learn! The answer to your question is thus that perspective definitely affects the study of the past. Luckily for you, people continue to learn more about the past than ever before, and the tools we have for studying it continue to improve, so you have the chance to create an informed and useful perspective for yourself. That doesn’t mean that every history class will help you to create a better perspective. As you know, people make mistakes, they can choose their values poorly, and thus they can adopt an incorrect view of the past just as they can do so about anything, but I hope that History At Our House will give you some new insights since you have already studied this material. I hope you will enjoy and benefit from the perspective I have taken. ~ Mr. Powell
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By Danielle Hoagland ne could argue that nothing has so frequently fallen in and out of vogue as grammar. Even the once-coveted rainbow-striped legwarmers of the mid-eighties have long had a better chance at a sustained comeback than the dreaded re-emergence of grammar study. But grammar has recently reclaimed the educational catwalk. With grammar now accounting for two-thirds of the writing score on the SATs and more than half of the ACT English Test score, the world of education has been forced to acknowledge that grammar study is the new black dress. Unfortunately, its haunting size-six tag raises the question: “If I couldn’t fit into it ten years ago, how will I ever be able to fit into it now?” Welcome your new trainer: Grammarlogues®. Featured in The New York Times, CBS, and BusinessWeek online, Grammarlogues® is an award-winning middle and Grammar now accounts for two-thirds of the writing score on the SATs and more than half of the ACT English Test. high school grammar tool designed by top teachers and grammarians. Grammarlogues® cuts through the confusion, combats the boredom, and erases the fear surrounding grammar by showing students that grammar isn’t a subject; it’s a means of expression. Here’s how we do it: Immerse Students in Literary Masterpieces. Grammarlogues® simplifies the complexities of over 200 grammar concepts using excerpts from more than 1,500 literary texts and more than 1,000 authors, including two-thirds of all Nobel Prize-Winning authors, three-fourths of all Pulitzer Prize-winning authors, and all authors on the AP College Board’s recommended reading list! Teach Students To Write Like the Pros. Not only does Grammarlogues® consistently expose students to the works and styles of literary geniuses, but it also provides hundreds of writing tips to ensure that students can apply the grammar they are learning to their writing. Prepare Students for Standardized Testing. Grammarlogues® explores virtually every grammar concept on the SATs, ACTs, and AP English Exam. Provide Access to Online Grammarians. No longer do teachers need to feel like a human answer key for all grammar questions! For a fearless approach to grammar, Grammarlogues® includes hundreds of teacher notes that (1) provide answers to frequently-asked student questions; (2) suggest ways to differentiate lessons; and (3) show how
Grammar: The New Black Dress
teachers can make grammar matter beyond the walls of the classroom. In addition, Grammarlogues® also provides users with free access to their online grammarians. Reduce Teacher Grading. Teachers can assign additional practice sets online at Grammarlogues.com. There, students can practice as frequently as they wish and receive immediate, automated scoring feedback that is logged into an online grade book. Students can then quickly see and track their own improvement, while teachers can assess individual and class progress. Grammarlogues.com automates the drudgery of grading to allow teachers to focus on the interplay of form and content both in the literature their students are reading and the paragraphs their students are writing. Change the Dialogue. Grammar has often been taught as a stand-alone subject from which students memorize rules and regurgitate them back for testing. Grammarlogues® was designed on the premise that information only becomes knowledge when it can be applied. As a result, Grammarlogues® urges students to think critically about a given piece of writing and ask questions about the effectiveness and intent of each grammatical element. Understanding grammar is essential to speaking clearly, articulating cogently, and writing powerfully. Grammarlogues® isn’t about red pens and memorization; it’s about thinking critically, building a solid grammar foundation, and applying each grammar concept to communicate more effectively. In fact, this is the underlying philosophy of Grammarlogues®. We believe—and we have found that students wholeheartedly agree—that when grammar becomes a conversation that is laced with real-world examples, it is instantly imbued with a life and vibrancy that is contagious. Suddenly, grammar concepts that students formerly despised and reluctantly learned only for assessment, now become ideas that literally transform the way they read and write. Students develop the confidence necessary to wrestle successfully with the complexities of our language. Grammarlogues® comes in three different versions: An individual version, a homeschool version, and a school version. Each version of Grammarlogues® is tailor-made for its audience, challenging users to apply what they are learning at every grammatical turn. So walk into your closet, push aside the knock-off mink coat and outdated one-piece polka-dot jumpsuit, and grab the real thing -- that black dress. Shimmy her on, stand in front of the mirror, and crack a little smile— that little black dress has made you feel beautiful all over again . . . one jaw-dropping semicolon at a time. (Please visit www.grammarlogues.com.)
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GOOD BEGINNINGS to GOOD ENDINGS for HANDWRITING
By Nan Barchowsky
on’t star t with lowerca se letters. Don’t start with capitals, or even w it h nu mb e r s. W h at then? Let children play. What??? Yes! Barchowsky Fluent Handw r iti ng, or BFH begins with playful activities that relate to alpha nu mer ic for mations before the actual characters are learned, as well as while they are being learned. BFH gives young children the rock-solid base they need to develop legibility and fluency for handwriting that will serve them well throughout the school years, and into adulthood. Too often, handwriting programs start with the replication of 62 different shapes. Instruction is visual. Some programs introduce circles and sticks with which to make lowercase letters. Some use undercurves, overcurves, loops and straight lines. BFH relies on motor memory for the natural, rhythmic movement of lowercase letters, those that should be taught first because we need them more often than capitals. They are designed to move easily. BFH is a well-planned
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program taking into account that young minds and young hands need to be prepped for the skill of writing by hand. Help for hands is about posture and pen hold. Help for t he m i nd is the development of motor memory. Activities that help with both posture and motor memory should be introduced at the same time, but I’ll separate them for the purpose of discussion. You ng ch ild ren a re a l mo s t a lway s e a ge r to comply w it h t hei r instructor, so they hold writing tools in a death grip in an effort to get characters just r ight. Their hands need to first develop the strength to hold the tools in a relaxed manner. The goal is fluency. For that, the hand and fingers must relax. Tense muscles do not move easily or effectively for any task. H A N D A N D FINGERS Here are a few suggestions: Let children make patterns in the sand, or even mud. Let children h el p i n t h e k i t c h e n . They can knead dough and peel potatoes and carrots. If they grow impatient, cover your ears and let them bang old
spoons or pans on the f loor. (That helps with r hy t h m ic move me nt , too.) String beads. Children pick up the beads with their forefinger (call it the “writing finger”) and thumb. Collect small things, pebbles, pennies, etc. and put them in a box. Hang clothes or paper banners with clothespins that clamp. Put a cotton ball or a tiny ball of yarn in the palm of a child’s hand. The child holds the ball in place with ring and small fingers, leaving the writing finger and thumb to hold a writing tool; the third finger is a support. If you have a chalkboard or slate, this is a favorite: Cut a sponge i nt o a s m a l l s q u a r e. Dampen it, and place it i n the pal m of the hand with a short piece of chalk as described b efo r e. T h e n le t t h e child draw or scribble. If the little artist/writer doesn’t like the marks, the sponge is in the hand to erase for a new start. Markers, crayons and pencils should have the r ight tactile relationship to paper, meaning that marks are easily made, and leave a distinct trace; no dried-out markers, no crayons that are more wax than pigment. Save yellow for drawing blond hair; its
mark is too wimpy for writing. Always use short tools. Cut pencils in half or use golf pencils. Pens and pencils are designed to f it adult hands. They balance well for us, but in a young child’s hand the weight is too great at the back end of the tool. This should give you a start, and inspire you to try other play. MOTOR MEMORY Motor memory is best The best homeschool resource is now developed with rhythmic bigger and better than ever! Updated and expanded, with over 500 pages exercises. Write them of parent-tested solutions, suppliers, in the air. Write them and curriculum recommendations, The Ultimate Guide is the one book you’ll to mu sic. Empha si ze want to keep within reach. rhythm. Write them with the eyes closed. When children close their eyes 1-888-524-4724 www.apologia.com to write, they can better feel what their minds are telling their hands and fingers to do. Apologia Quarter Page.indd 1 9/17/10 11:08 AM BFH letters and numerals all start at their each Your 6-to-10-year-old tops and move down. All 50 United States in a Fun Way! Handwriting is a complex skill, more so than • Witty verses for each state, read i ng. Rea d i ng re encourage memorization quires recog nition of & attention letters and their assem• 64 pages of beautiful blage i nto word s. To full-color illustrations write, one must know • Durable hard cover how to form the characters, put them together • Recommended by into words and sentences parents & teachers (all with spelling, gram• Excellent elementary mar, etc. in place). Then, way to begin a study the message can be of U.S. geography transmitted from mind to paper. If characters only... $19.95 are grouped according to Available from directional and rhythmic Amazon or movements, the task bewww.schoolsidepress.com continued on page 66
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Measuring Handwriting Fluency
By Rand Nelson
s your child frustrated by handwritten assign ments because they take too long to complete? If your answer is “Yes”, your student needs to improve fluency, correct letter formation and speed. The problem is far too common, and yet it is rarely mentioned in most handwriting programs. Your first question should be, “How long does it take?” Have you ever timed a writing activity to find out? Has there been a change when you measure the same activity a second time? Is there a simple way to measure and track handwriting fluency as an indicator of progress? Handwriting fluency has been buried in the curriculum closet since the invention of the handwriting workbook. It is a shame, because fluency should be one of the most important goals during handwriting lessons. Fluency is the forgotten link between handwriting and the other language skills that are needed for proficient composition and reading. “The correlation between reading skill and fluency at printing alphabet letters in kindergarten and first-grade is readily apparent.” – The Writing/Reading Connection by Robert V. Rose, MD.
Legibility is also a necessary objective. It does little good to write rapidly if the handwriting cannot be read. The coaching job is a bit like a circus tightrope act when fluency is included as a goal. We must balance our effort between fluency and legibility in order to make progress. That balance is constantly challenged by motor development. But fluency is not only about speed. It is about learning how to control smooth movements as the rate of travel increases. We can move slowly through the steps at first and then faster as rhythm is established. Children begin by drawing the letter shapes they are shown using the visual feedback system. But the brain guides f luent movement with a different system. None of us can use this fluent movement system until we have established some movement recordings that can allow it. The challenge to learn how to move fluently is the most valuable thing offered by handwriting instruction. The brain responds to the challenge by changing the way it is processing the symbols. A child who can write the letters with fluent movement no longer has to look at models to draw the pictures. However, if children are never challenged
to use the fluent process, they may well continue to draw out of habit. Does the child have to write very carefully to create handwriting that others can read? Early efforts to write with rhythmic movement often result in a product that is not very close to the model provided. This tends to push the child back to visual guidance. However, it is true that a letter shape can be distorted considerably before legibility is lost. This small truth is important. It means that in the beginning, we can focus on good movement. The child is challenged to demonstrate several skills simultaneously. How do I hold the paper and pencil? Which way do I move across the paper? Where does the letter start? Which way do I move to form the letter on the line? Where does the letter end? You will be pleasantly surprised to see that the child can come close enough with the right approach to training. Practice of the correct process, including “how to move smoothly” as a goal, will lead to both fluency and better legibility as control skills improve. With practice, the process that becomes habit will control the product produced. With practice, f luency is improved as
controlled movements are automated. An analogy is learning to play a musical instrument; practice leads to pace and beautiful music. It is both helpful and fun to measure and track fluency over time. In fact, the simple act of collecting a measurement regularly will usually result in an improved score. The child quite naturally thinks that handwriting practice is all about taking the time to copy the model as accurately as possible. The idea that we are practicing to improve accuracy and the production rate at the same time, is seldom presented to the child. Introduce the fluency test, a timed writing exercise, and the child begins to get the idea. The goal to produce more rapidly is suddenly understood. He or she will probably want to try again immediately to see if a higher score can be achieved. Conducting a Fluency Test Explain the rules. You will say “Go!” to start the action. The child will write until you give the “Stop” command. Depending upon the age and attention span of the student, you can call “Stop” in as little as 20 seconds, or you can allow a whole minute for writing. The writing task can vary also. For a kinder-
garten or first grade child, you can ask the child to write as many of the letters of the alphabet as possible. Later on, you can assign a word or word sequence. When you call “Stop” simply count the number of legible letters on the page. The goal is to express the fluency score as X Letters Per Minute (LPM). If you have allowed only 20 seconds (one third of a minute), count the letters and multiply by three. If you allowed one minute, the count is all you need to express the LPM score and track the changes over time. Incidentally, another important outcome stimulated by regular participation is an increase in attention span. Each exposure provides opportunity and motivation for the child to attend to the task for a longer period of time. A brief guide to tracking fluency is available free from Peterson Directed Handwriting. E-mail your request to the author: Rand Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org. High Tech Fluency Measurement Thanks to Dr. Hans-Leo Teulings, and the team at NeuroScript, there is now a tool for measuring fluency on the Internet. It provides great fun and useful practice, particularly if you have a digital tablet for your computer. If you want to add a tablet to your system, visit: www.neuro-
script.net/wacomtablets. php. You can use your computer now for handwriting practice with this special tool. Soon, you will be able to purchase a computer program offering much more. Google: NeuroScript Fluency Test Soevik & Teulings first used this handwriting fluency test in 1983 when they pioneered computer-assisted handwriting instruction using a digitizer and graphics display. Their research showed that children improved handwriting speed when they focused on improving their fluency score using exactly this test. Soevik, N. and Teulings, H.L. (1983) Real time feedback of handwriting in a teaching program. Acta Psychologica, 54, 285-2. “The crucial result of this study was that fluency feedback helped improve handwriting speed without losing accuracy in the experimental group when compared to the control group. This experiment has been used as the model for a software product which will soon be available to parents and teachers.” – Dr. Hans-Leo Teulings, CEO, NeuroScript, Inc. For more information on teaching skills to improve handwriting fluency, contact the author, Rand Nelson, email@example.com or visit www.peterson-handwriting.com R.N. L
Homeschooled Entrepreneur Connor Bernstein and Kits for Kids -Seeking To Increase Science Interest Nationwide
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reetings! My name is Connor Bernstein, and I’m the fourteen-year-old owner of Connor’s Kits for Kids, a company dedicated to providing educational, affordable science experiences for kids and teachers. Kits for Kids has come a long way since I started it in fourth grade. In this article, I want to share more about my science kits, as well as my experience with homeschooling and how it has made my business possible. Most everyone now realizes that the U.S. is falling behind in science, math, and engineering. Why? Many students didn’t have a positive experience with these subjects in school, so a lot of kids simply aren’t excited about science today -- many don’t even have a good understanding of what a scientist does! Here are some scary statistics: There are more foreign students than American students studying physical sciences and engineering in American universities. The U.S. produces approximately 18 lawyers and 50 MBAs for every engineering researcher with a Ph.D. and almost 30% of adults here in America don’t know that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Twenty-two percent don’t know that the center of the Earth is very hot, and over half of them don’t know that electrons are smaller than atoms. We urgently need to address this problem! Homeschooling families are especially well placed to help take on this issue, because they have infinite teaching flexibility. With my science kits, I want to show basic, everyday kids that science is fun. I want them to realize that one doesn’t need to be a genius to have fun with science, to explore, and experiment. My approach is to provide a stress-free, complete science experience so parents or teachers don’t have to worry about prepping, or making sure they have enough time to teach all of the material. For kids, this means providing an experience that encourages experimentation, and is FUN, not a chore! Kits for Kids approaches science from a different direction than other science kits. What that means, is that each kit includes everything kids need to dive right in and start having fun right away. There are enough materials to do all the experiments more than
once, and with variations. The easy-to-follow instructions are written by a kid, for kids, and explain (in a way that kids can relate to!) how and why each experiment works. Not only that, but the kits are allowancefriendly, at only $14.95! My goal is to provide kids with super fun, single-focus experiments that they can do themselves, learning while they play. To find out more about my kits, please check out my website, www.kitsforkids.com. I want to connect with President Obama’s education team at a national and state level, and spread my message to parents, homeschool and classroom teachers. If I can raise enough money, my goal is to kick off a “Have Fun With Science” tour in the fall, where I will visit underprivileged schools in North Carolina and, hopefully, around the country, motivating the students and teachers to embrace science education. So, that’s where I want to take Kits for Kids. Now, I’d like to tell you a bit more about myself. I’ve always been intrigued with science and discovering more about the world around me. I also have a passion for teaching others. When I was younger, I did countless experiments at home and went through a bazillion science kits. In third grade, I taught my class about polymers, and in fourth grade, taught my class about siphons. Let’s not mention the hours my friends spent playing with me and my science “discoveries”. Frustration with the science kits I purchased drove me to create my own when I was nine years old. Most kits on the market didn’t (and still don’t!) include even half of the materials needed to complete any of the experiments that the boxes described. The instructions were generally hard to follow, and lacked a kidfriendly explanation of how and why the experiment(s) worked. These kits were expensive for what I got, and I always felt let down when I didn’t see the value in what I had just purchased! I started homeschooling full time in 8th grade because the public schools weren’t able to provide the kind of science education I craved and was ready for. My teachers made their best effort, but accelerated science was just not available. Despite all the benefits I could see, the decision in 8th grade to start homeschooling was a tough one. I didn’t know what to expect, and I don’t think my mom did either. I hesitated to give up my friends and everything I was used to at a regular school, but I knew I wanted to scale up Kits for Kids. It was pretty clear that I would only have the
continued on page 83
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t has been popular for some time to decry the use of the red pen on student papers. It’s all about self-esteem and how the children don’t need such negative influences pressed upon their tender consciences. Such poor teacher behavior might indelibly influence the child to grow up recognizing less of his full human potential. The educational psychologists would have ever yone believe their pronouncements as truth. As a youngster, I remember the new system of every participant getting a ribbon. At the time it was called the Danish system. Everybody was a winner; nobody was a loser. Well, it all sounded good in theory, and all the children were supposed to be happy, but practically speaking, the system did not work or prove helpful in the long run. The following quote is from Daniel Tammet, who is autistic. He has some handicaps, but he has made his way in life and offers the following: “Obt ai n i ng g u id a nce from experts in the subject you are learning helps you to both develop the conceptual framework necessary to master a field of study and avoid many
of the potential discouraging pitfalls that can lead to discouragement. Getting feedback on wrong answers allows the brain to eliminate them from its bank of possible future responses. Consequently, learners can ignore poor choices and focus their attention on good ones.” (p 33 Embracing the Wide Sky). He’s t a l k i ng a b out teachers and st udents here. He’s saying that it is the teacher’s job to tell the student where his mistakes are. He’s saying that not only is it acceptable to mark an error with a red pen, it is necessary to help prevent the student from making the same mistake again. What a defense for correcting mistakes. While the student’s ego may take a bit of a hit for the moment, if the student learns from his mistake, he won’t be taking future hits in that department. Tammet’s statement is a rationale for quality teaching and clear materials. The teacher’s job is to teach, to put the information forward in such a fashion so as to help the student learn the material, to master it. After having taught the material, the teacher is then to assign and correct the student’s work over what has been taught, and hopef ully
learned. In the process of reviewing the student’s work, the teacher should praise what can be praised and note the errors that occur. W hen deali ng w it h objective facts, the process is straightforward. In math, for instance, the student either gets the right answer or he doesn’t. Content-driven subjects lend themselves to objectivity. It is the same in English to some extent. Let’s take writing as an example. The student has read a piece of literature and has been asked to write about it. Hopefully, the assignment has indicated the structure of the response, a five- paragraph essay perhaps. The assignment should also have given direction on what the focus of the response should be. Maybe the student is to discuss the plot and explain the movement of the story through the problem to the resolution. Perhaps the student might be directed to describe three characters from the story, the hero, the villain and one supporting character. I am assuming here that the student has been taught about these elements. The teacher reads the assignment and notes a couple of spelling mistakes, a punctuation error or two, and finds a poorly-worded sentence. These mistakes are me-
chanical; they are objective. The teacher also looks to see if the student follows the directions posed by the assignment and how thoroughly the student expresses his answer. This is a bit more subjective and generally requires comment on the teacher’s part, both positive and negative. Later, the teacher will confer with the student about the assignment and perhaps explain some things in more detail. All of this is designed to improve the student’s performance on future assignments. Tammet made another remark which is applicable here: “Taking pleasure in a task is an especially good way to learn.” What pleasure can a student derive from doing an assignment? It could be getting a good grade or feeling competency or getting praise for his effort. The teacher needs to be thoughtful about what comments are made and how they are made. This makes a big difference to the student, but the errors do need to be pointed out, hopef ully along with some encouragement to do better and some instruction as to how to do better next time. Standards are needed, and the student needs to meet them, and the teacher’s job is to help the student achieve those standards. F.J. L
Lightning Literature and Composition Lightning Literature and Composition Lightning Literature Guides for Grades 7-12 by Hewitt Guides for Grades 7-12 by Hewitt Guides for
The difference between the right word and the The difference between the right word and the The difference between almost right word is the difference between almost right word is the difference between almost right word is lightning and a lightning bug. lightning and a lightning bug. lightning and —Mark Twain —Mark Twain —Mark
Writing is critical to so many aspects of our lives— Writing is critical to so many aspects of our lives— Writing is critical to so many finding and keeping a good job, expressing our beliefs and finding and keeping a good job, expressing our beliefs and finding and keeping a good job, passions, communicating crucial information. We may not be passions, communicating crucial information. We may not be be passions, communicating crucial novelists or journalists—but most of us will write a report for novelists or journalists—but most of us will write a report for for novelists or journalists—but our boss, a letter to the editor, or kind words to a friend. our boss, a letter to the editor, or kind words to a friend. our boss, a letter to the editor, Help your children prepare for a life of writing, to say Help your children prepare for a life of writing, to say Help your children prepare exactly what they mean in a way that others will note and exactly what they mean in a way that others will note and exactly what they mean in a way remember. remember. remember.
He knew everything about literature except He knew everything about literature except He knew everything how to enjoy it.—Joseph Heller how to enjoy it.—Joseph Heller how to enjoy
Do you want your children to read good literature but are Do you want your children to read good literature but are are Do you want your children afraid they won’t enjoy it? The Lightning Literature Guides afraid they won’t enjoy it? The Lightning Literature Guides afraid they won’t enjoy it? The were written by teachers with extensive home-schooling were written by teachers with extensive home-schooling were written by teachers with experience who love literature passionately and experience who love literature experience who love literature passionately and communicate that passion in their prose. communicate that passion in their prose. communicate that passion in Literature can transform our hearts and our lives. Dig Literature can transform our hearts and our lives. Dig Literature can transform deep into authors like Dickens, Twain, Chaucer, deep into authors like Dickens, Twain, Chaucer, deep into authors like Dickens, Shakespeare, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Austen, Kipling, Shakespeare, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Austen, Kipling, Kipling, Shakespeare, Melville, Whitman, Eliot, and Achebe. Your student will read full books and Eliot, and Achebe. Your student will read full books and Eliot, and Achebe. Your student plays, not just excerpts. Learning about literary elements plays, not just excerpts. Learning plays, not just excerpts. Learning about literary elements such as character, conflict, symbolism, tone, meter, and such as character, conflict, symbolism, tone, meter, and such as character, conflict, symbolism, theme allows students to appreciate these great works in a theme allows students to appreciate these great works in a theme allows students to appreciate more mature fashion. more mature fashion. more mature fashion. Each guide includes brief Each guide includes brief Each guide includes brief biographies of the authors, biographies of the authors, biographies of the authors, comprehension questions and comprehension questions and comprehension questions and answers, literary lessons, answers, literary lessons, answers, literary lessons, writing exercises, weekly writing exercises, weekly writing exercises, weekly schedules, and discussion schedules, and discussion schedules, and discussion questions. questions. questions. ➤ Reasonably Priced: ➤ Reasonably Priced: ➤ Reasonably Priced: Guides: $24.95–$35.15; Guides: $24.95–$35.15; Guides: $24.95–$35.15; Complete Book Packs with Complete Book Packs with Complete Book Packs with Guides: $41 -- $85 Guides: $41 - $85 Guides: $41 $85 ➤ Grading Available ➤ Grading Available ➤ Grading Available
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Turn Knowledge into College Credit
By Devon J. Dougherty
omeschoolers deserve to get credit for all the hard work they do… college credit. How can your student build up an impressive transcript that documents advanced learning? How can you inspire your self-motivated teen? Consider all the benefits of credit-by-examination programs. These programs allow homeschooled students to earn college credit in undergraduate subjects while still in high school. There are two other big advantages: your student saves time on the path to higher education and you save significant dollars in college tuition costs. In brief, credit-by-examination programs work like this: Once students feel they have sufficient knowledge of a subject, they find a program that fits their needs, register for a test and
then go take it at one of the designated test centers. These programs generally offer computer-based tests, so you get your results right away. After the test, as students apply to different colleges or universities, they can share their results and request college credit for the exams they have taken. Think Ahead: Comparing Credit-By-Examination Policies As your homeschooler begins the process of applying to a college or university, first find out if the institution has a credit-by-examination policy. Many institutions will grant credit -but not all do. Some limit the amount of credit students can earn through exams. And different institutions may award a different number of credits – or just a requirement exemption – for the same test. It’s worth looking into well before you make any decisions.
There are many well-known creditby-examination programs, including a new one called UExcel®, which is taking the testing model to the next level. The UExcel program was jointly created by two renowned educational entities – Pearson and Excelsior College. Pearson is a global leader in developing educational products for children, schools, universities, adults and corporations. Excelsior College is an accredited, nonprofit distance education institution with nearly 40 years of experience offering credit-by-exam and online education programs. Advancing the Testing Model UExcel provides some unique advantages that other credit-by-examination programs do not: Students who pass UExcel exams earn a letter grade and college credit on a transcript from Excelsior College.
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All other testing programs simply provide a score that may be translated into credit or simply into a course waiver. Only UExcel provides students with direct credit that can be counted toward graduation requirements. Because there are thousands of Pearson VUE test centers around the globe, UExcel exams can be scheduled at the student’s convenience rather than at limited times and locations. You get immediate results – even on the College Writing essay exam – so students know their grade right away. After the exam, students can request formal transcripts from the UExcel website. Most credit-by-examination programs cover a range of subjects. For example, with UExcel, students can prove their proficiency in Calculus, College Writing, Statistics, Introduction to Psychology, Political Science
and Physics. A Spanish exam is set to launch later in 2010. Homeschool students can create a customized advanced high school curriculum by simply choosing the exams they are most interested in and studying at their own pace without having to take a correspondence or Internet course. To guide a student’s effort, UExcel provides free downloadable content guides, a list of recommended textbooks and inexpensive practice tests (around $18 each). Each exam is two hours long and most are in a multiplechoice format. Calculate the Cost Savings What about the cost? More than ever, people are trying to save money or find smart ways to make their dollars work harder. Each UExcel exam, for example, costs only $85, which translates to $14-$28 per credit, depending on the UExcel exam taken. That’s a huge savings when you con-
sider the average community college cost per credit is $80, the average public university cost per credit is $220 and the average private university cost per credit is $820, based on an average course load of 32 credits per year (www.collegeboard.com). Taking and passing several UExcel exams can potentially save students and parents thousands of dollars while advancing the pace of the student’s academic career. “Students and parents around the world are struggling to pay for a semester’s worth of college tuition, let alone an entire two- or four-year education,” said Randy Trask, vice president of market development, Pearson VUE. “The UExcel program is designed to help home school students quickly and affordably earn college credit for knowledge they already have, or are willing to obtain through
continued on page 76
College Experience for Homeschooling High-School Students. Why It’s a Great Idea
By Gail Lewis
“If you want a place in the sun, you must leave the shade of the family tree.”1 In our sunny tropical state, we regularly remind ourselves of a common pidgin saying: “Lucky we live Hawaii!” I believe that homeschoolers can reflect in a similar way on their good fortune not to have to waste time in high school, learning things they already know or developing views of knowledge-acquisition that they will have to unlearn once they get to the more sophisticated environment of college. It is important, however, to recognize that the college environ-
Osage saying. (The Osage Nation is a Native American tribe in the United States)
ment itself is a very valuable place in which to develop the vital skills of an informed and thinking citizen: The ability to make informed decisions, to acknowledge and appreciate a range of perspectives, to manage conflict constructively, to contribute productively to one’s society, and maintain a sense of personal and civic responsibility. “Lucky I homeschool!” Not only are homeschoolers free from the constraints of rigid schedules and petty school rules, they are in a position to develop more intellectual perspectives than their high school-attending peers, and thus prepare better for what will be expected of them in the college setting and beyond. I made some interesting discoveries during my background academic literature search for my research project on the Running Start Program of dual credit college/ high school courses that I did as part of my Masters in Education (UH Manoa ‘06). I came across the work of Marcia
Baxter-Magolda concerning what she terms “self-authorship.” In my view, “self-authorship” is another way to define homeschooling – gaining the ability to develop one’s own balanced and meaningful perspective and act accordingly. Baxter-Magolda asserts that selfauthorship requires the following quite complex assumptions about the nature of knowledge, that: • Knowledge is constructed by individuals in the context of relevant evidence • Evaluation of the evidence is necessary in order to decide what to believe • Each individual has the capacity to make these decisions • Individuals need to have a strong sense of identity as people who can construct knowledge for themselves • Interaction and engagement with others is necessary to gain access to other perspectives and make meaning
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of one’s own experience. Most homeschooling families would probably concur with these assertions. Certainly, they reject the common experience of many schooled students who are “forced” to accept the teacher’s choice of what to believe in order to get the best grades. The school setting has a more limited definition of knowledge than one finds in homeschooling, and, of course, in the college environment. I began my study of the Running Start Program in the belief that early college experience would have great cognitive benefits for students ready for higher intellectual challenge than they could receive in high school. A desire to move ahead faster and gain these cognitive benefits is probably also the main reason why many homeschooled students begin taking Community College or four-year college courses during their high school years. W hat I discovered , though, both through the focus groups I conducted for my Running Start research and through my own experience as a parent of a college-course-attending homeschooler, was that the benefits were indeed as great or greater in the affective area as in the cognitive area. The affective domain includes the range of personal qualities needed for adults to function most effectively in the world. “Affective growth” is an emo-
tional process of developing such attributes as emotional stability, self-sufficiency, self-discipline, motivation and assertiveness. In fact, my research conclusions on high school students attending college indicated a greater significance for the degree of affective development than that of cognitive development, though the two were closely interlinked in the experiences of college by high-school-aged students, as they are, of course, in college students of traditional age. Naturally, the Running Start students made huge strides in their cognitive skills, but, more important, were the leaps in progression in terms of their readiness for new challenges, the growth of a personal identity and the beginning of a commitment to “self-authorship.” I chose to conduct my research study on the experiences of students in the Hilo/Puna area of the Big Island of Hawaii who were taking part in concurrent enrollment in college/high school through the Running Start early admission program, attending regular courses on site at Hawaii Community College and UH Hilo. The 16 students who participated in my study reflected a wide diversity of backgrounds: Cultural, socio-economic, rural/urban, and personal lifestyle. Comments from the three focus-group discussion sessions were trancontinued on page 79
Now homeschool students can earn college credit for subjects they already know.
The UExcel credit-by-examination program gives your homeschool student the chance to turn academic knowledge into real college credit on transcripts that can be transferred to thousands of colleges and universities. Six Subjects – Calculus, College Writing, Psychology, Physics, Political Science, Statistics – earn up to 6 credits in each subject. Coming soon: Spanish Language. Prove You are Prepared – UExcel helps homeschool students demonstrate their ability to master college-level coursework. Convenient – Exams can be scheduled at thousands of Pearson VUE test centers with immediate test results after completing an exam. Help your homeschool student earn the academic credit they deserve. Learn more at www.UExcelTest.com/homeschool
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Enjoying the Process
By Mary Hood, Ph.D. n the early childhood profession, there is a distinction made between “process” and “product” when working with kindergarten students. In an arts and crafts program for preschoolers, one popular project is shaving cream art. In this project, the teacher gives each of the children a metal tray, a can of shaving cream, and some powdered paint. The children smear the shaving cream all over the tray, shake on the paint, and use their hands to swirl the colors throughout the shaving cream, making a very
attractive mess. As soon as they are finished, the trays are washed off, and nothing remains to show their parents at the end of the day. The emphasis is on the creative process, and is an example of the purest form of art. On the same day, the children may make pictures of snowmen, using pre-cut shapes that were actually created by the teachers. Each picture comes out virtually identical and the parents are handed a product suitable for hanging on the refrigerator at the end of the day. There is a place for both
types of experiences, both in early childhood education and in life. Too often, however, we place more emphasis on the ultimate product, and forget to value and enjoy the process itself. For example, when children are learning to read and write, too often parents and teachers emphasize the grade levels they have achieved on a standardized test, the number of vocabulary words they have learned, or the number of books or pages they have read in a particular week. It often isn’t until a mother is raising her fifth child, or has become a grandmother, that she finally learns to fully appreciate the experience of sitting
next to a child and watching him or her struggle to fit together sounds, knowing that all too soon, that child will be off to college, writing term papers. Many potentially joyful moments are lost when the product is assigned a higher priority than the enjoyment of the process. I started thinking about this idea of enjoying the process when I was making Christmas cookies for Valentine’s Day. I was planning to use the recipe for Christmas cookies, cut them into heart-shapes and decorate them with red sugar. Unfortunately, at the crucial moment, I couldn’t find the heartshaped cutters. They even-
tually wound up as red gingerbread men, without the gingerbread. At the start of the process, the dough was too sticky, and kept clinging to the rolling pin. At one point I started to get so frustrated I almost threw away the whole batch. As I was standing there, allowing myself to get more and more upset, contemplating the garbage can with a huge wad of uncooperative dough in my hand, it suddenly dawned on me that I was being ridiculous. What was the point of this whole project, anyway? Was it really to wind up with a beautiful plate of heartshaped cookies, made out of white floor, white sugar, red sugar and butter, in order to clog the arteries of the adults in the family and send any visiting children into sugar fits so I had to scrape them off the ceiling? No. The real reason I was doing it was because I missed the experience of making cookies with my children now that they are grown up, and wanted to recapture that feeling. I went back to the process, enjoyed the experience of messing everything up, and wound up with cookies that were somewhat less photogenic and holidayappropriate than I had planned, but eaten with gusto just the same. Of course, this leads to the next process we all should learn to enjoy: Weight control. Again, too
many adults get focused on a specific product they want to create: A slimmer, younger-looking body, a particular Hollywoodcreated image, a certain number on the scale. We try to stay on diets, exercise like crazy for a few days, and then, too often, give up when the scale starts to head the other way, despite our sporadic efforts to stay on track. What if, instead of focusing on the product, we found a way to enjoy the process, instead? I have finally found something I actually enjoying doing on a daily basis, trotting through the woods with my dog. I can’t really call it running because I’m just not as fast I was in my younger days. It’s definitely more cardio-friendly than walking, though. The process looks just silly enough to make the younger runners smirk and yet attract admiring looks from the elderly folks who are out for their leisurely strolls. It doesn’t matter to me what any of them think, because I have found the exact pace that is right for me. Because I am genuinely enjoying the process, I have stuck to my exercise plan for several years now. Even though my weight still fluctuates a bit, it really doesn’t bother me anymore because I am much more focused on the health aspects of weight control and the enjoyment of being in the woods with my dog than I am on
the image I present to the outside world. If I had attempted to create the same product through a process I didn’t enjoy, such as going to a gym to use exercise equipment, I would have given up long ago. The other aspect of weight control is diet. This has been more of a problem for me because I have always genuinely enjoyed the process of eating ice cream, cookies, and large quantities of chocolate. However, as my sons and daughters have become more and more interested in nutrition, they have gradually helped me to learn to read labels, consider the fat content of the foods I put into
continued on page 85
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Weapons of Mass Instruction
We are pleased to bring you an excerpt (p. 145 to 151) from this muchanticipated book by one of America’s foremost social and educational observers/ commentators, John Taylor Gatto, entitled “Weapons of Mass Instruction”.
hat is Education? Kant’s Questions and the Epic of Europe: The great German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, posed four questions he believed were the heart of any educational quest: What can I know? What may I hope? What ought I do? What is Man? It’s surely one of the great ironies of modern life that Germany, a national culture which revered Kant as the ultimate ubermensch, created a form of youth training which virtually extinguished philosophical curiosity at home, and aggressively exported its system throughout the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. You need only Google Horace Mann’s famous “Seventh Letter to the Boston School Committee” to dispel any lingering illusions that American compulsory schooling is a home-grown product, or that it aims to transmit “basic skills” as those are
generally thought to be. At root, it is German. All of Kant’s questions must be grappled with before a useful curriculum can be set up to reach the ends you wish. But if you duck this work, or are tricked into ceding it to an official establishment of specialists (or coerced into doing the same thing), it shouldn’t surprise you to find yourself and your children broken on the wheel of somebody else’s convenience, someone else’s priorities. You’ll never come close to the exalted condition education can offer, where money and fame don’t matter very much, as long as you remain content to memorize somebody else’s definition of the thing. But reflecting seriously on what someone else says about it isn’t worthless. It can bring you closer to your own truth – as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography, “I can’t define it, but I know it, when I see it.” With that in mind, I’m going to offer you no comprehensive definition, but three “probes” into the mystery: One from an unusually acute travel writer named James Salter; one from a statement I gave to a Senate committee seventeen years ago; and one from a free verse scribbled
on a legal pad while I was wrestling with the idea for a letter I intended to send to my granddaughter, Kristina, which you’ll find as Chapter Nine in this book. James Salter was looking for a way to capture in words the admiration he felt for the continent of Europe and its history. He began by saying that Europe helps to clarify Kant’s questions: “The thing it finally gave me was education, not the lessons of school but something more elevated, a view of how to endure: how to have leisure, love, food and conversation; how to look at nakedness, architecture, streets, all new and seeking to be thought of in a different way. In Europe the shadow of history falls upon you and, knowing none of it, you realize suddenly how small you are. To know nothing is to have done nothing. To remember only yourself is like worshipping a dust mote. Europe is on the order of an immense and unfathomable classroom, beyond catalogue or description.” Confronted with the mighty epic of Europe and its inexhaustible bounty, Salter is able to see how far “the lessons of school” are from education. Look around you at America, as he did Europe: Did your
own schooling teach you how we got this way? The next two offerings are my own. On October 23, 1991, I got an invitation to give testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Relations. The subject: Speculation what schools in the year 2000 were going to look like. Although I’ve polished prose, grammar and syntax a little to spare myself embarrassment that an old English teacher would write so sloppily, the argument remains as I delivered it. And the reader will note that the future, as I foresaw it a decade down the line, happened right on schedule. Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts was the committee chair: “Senator Kennedy, distinguished committee members, guests: What we should most fear is that school in 2000 will look exactly like school in 1990. School in 1990 is almost exactly like school was in 1890. Keep in mind, however, that if we moved back almost another hundred years, to 1790, the echoes would vanish. In 1790 it was still possible to become educated in America because school didn’t preempt all the time of the young, nor did it act as a leech upon family life then; it didn’t impose servile habits on the growing
up time; it didn’t indoctrinate young minds with a burden of too many prethought thoughts. It was still possible to take an education in 1790 because too many people weren’t around pretending to give you one, forcing you to accept what they offered under penalty of law. In your own Massachusetts, Senator, more citizens were literate under a system where schooling was voluntary and of short duration, than ever they have been under the longterm compulsion scheme in place right now. Whether it will ever again be possible to take an education easily, in Massachusetts or any other state, will depend upon political decisions made by those – like yourselves – who hold power in trust for the rest of us. I mean no disrespect, only to signal my personal sadness when I say I don’t think those decisions will be made. My reasons for pessimism stem from knowing that failure is built into our political system because it forces our political leadership to depend for its election on the same financial interests which profit from schools staying the way they already are. Schools are a most lucrative source of contracts and an enormous jobs project with sinecures for friends and relatives of your campaign donors. Don’t chalk that
up to cynicism, unless you acknowledge why your hands are tied in regard to school change, you’re certain to make the same mistakes year after year in counterfeit reforms. Change isn’t likely to be possible from any political center for the same reasons, but it can come from def iant personal decisions made by simple men and women who won’t stand still for their kids being outraged any more – like the revolution of homeschoolers taking place nationwide. This system has had a century to prove itself; that’s enough. It didn’t work at the start except in house-generated fairy tales; it doesn’t work today, and it won’t work better in the future. But if we can pry the boot of the political state off our necks. . . here’s what might begin to emerge. First we’d have a long, loud national, regional and local debate whose purpose would be to establish the range of acceptable definitions of an educated person. Professional pedagogy has never done that except in the airiest generalizations because it knows better than to have its hands tied to commitments it can’t deliver. At the most arrogant end of the institutional spectrum we have public enemies like James Bryant Conant, the WWI poison gas specialist
continued on page 48
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The Developmental Potential of Music
By Susan Pujdak Hoffman
ot uncommonly, a Music Together class will include a child who has an obvious physical or mental disability. Parents of young children with “special needs” are often attracted to music classes as therapy, with an eye to helping their children develop. And while there may be controversy over whether music will make you “smarter,” there is no doubt that music and movement together aid in child development. Think of it this way: The brain feeds on stimulation, and there are few, if any, activities that provide stimulation to so many nerves at once, as music. In addition to its most obvious roles in encouraging appreciation of and proficiency in music, music instruction has been shown to be influential in nearly all the ways children develop. It facilitates language acquisition, hones fine and gross motor skills, promotes socialization, and encourages emotional growth. Kenneth K. Guilmartin, the founder and director of both Music Together and its Lab School in Princeton, New Jersey, puts it this way: “Music and movement classes are developmental for all young children, regardless of whether we think of the child as ‘normal’ or not, ‘talented’ or not.” No one knows what a profoundly disabled child is actually hearing or whether she is experiencing a song differently from the “normal” child next to her, but she can enjoy the experience just as much — and may be getting as much, or more, from it. As Ken says, “Music intelligence is one of many independent intelligences human beings have. A
child might be at the low end of the bell curve in one type of development — say, his ability to speak — and be at the high end of the bell curve when it comes to musicmaking.” A power f ul example of the developmental potential of musicmaking is Harrison Hammond of Plainsboro, New Jersey, who started attending Music Together classes when he was just six months old. Born very prematurely, he had mild cerebral palsy at five years old, could not walk unaided, and had difficulty with fine motor control. In the mind of his mother, Joan Hammond, the effect of exposing Harrison to musical experiences can’t be overstated. She credits constant musical stimulation with having done everything from helping Harrison’s speech development to improving his social skills. “Some of his first vocalizations were in class,” she said, “where they do repetitive music sounds, rhythms, and tonal patterns. All of a sudden one day, when he was two-and-ahalf, Harrison was able to do that.” Music therapists, in fact, have long drawn on the power of music to aid in language development. A common example is the way they work with stroke victims who have lost function in the brain’s language areas but not in the areas which control music. “People who have strokes can often remember lullabies and early childhood melodies, so what you do in working with them is to pull the words out through rhythm and melody,” explained Janet Campbell, a Music Together teacher in New Jersey and a certified music therapist. “You
teach them to sing, ‘I want my razor’ or ‘I want a drink of water.’ They can’t say it, but they can sing it.” The same theories are often applied by music therapists when they work with young children. A standard music therapy practice, she said, is to couple lyrics about everyday needs and home life with familiar tunes. Singing “this is the way we tie our shoe, tie our shoe, tie our shoe” often helps teach children to accomplish tasks that they are unable to do otherwise, Janet said. Another common technique of professional music therapists is improvisation, which is important for children’s growth. “It develops the child’s sense of self, sense of control,” explained Ashley Scott, a certified music therapist and a Music Together teacher in Virginia. In Music Together classes, she said, improvisation happens often during the play-alongs. “I can play the way they play. If they are banging their cymbals on the floor, I can bang my tambourine on the floor.” In this way she meets each child at his level and affirms his contribution by mirroring it. “My goals are to develop children’s fine and gross motor skills, to work on their speech and language development, to develop socialization, and to work on cognition, as in counting.” Nor should the playfulness of music and its ability to energize be overlooked as powerful developmental tools. “Music facilitates movement, which is so important to young children,” Janet Campbell said. “Tapping a tambourine requires eye-hand coordination
continued on page 81
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The Five-to-Seven Year Shift
By Dr. Marcie Zinn,
Attainment Center for Neuroeducation
hat is Cognitive Development and how does it help us educate our children? It is really obvious that children at different ages have capabilities that are commensurate with their age. 6-month-olds cannot walk, toddlers do not present their ideas in the same manner as a 10-year-old, and teenagers are closer to adults than children. So, how does developmental science help a parent when they have a “case study” right there, in front of them, every day? How can developmental science give a parent, who is constructing a curriculum, real help? There are developmental differences that may not be readily apparent to a child’s parent. However, if one thinks about the differences between a child who is nearly 5 and a child who is about 7, the differences are really marked. The time between 5 and 7 is the time when children are in Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, as well as being able to participate in several other outside activities that were not available to the child at age 4. The child, between the ages of 5 and 7 is very “educable,” and the more we know how to approach that child, the more effective we can be, and the more interested the child will be. Piaget tells us that children’s intelligence develops over time, with each stage building on prior, successful stages. As children consolidate earlier processes, they grow, but this happens across many domains. Children do not
change their thinking across all domains and competencies all at once. During the time period between 5 and 7, these processes change quickly and drastically. T h e o r y o f M i n d ( To M ) How do we all understand one other? We are rarely aware of ou r ow n ToM. We all utilize intentions, desires, beliefs, and knowledge to make the behavior of others understandable and predictable. With autistic individuals, one of the most salient components of their problem is the lack of a ToM. Theory of Mind is the ability to mentally represent and interpret cognition and emotion, regardless of reality. The development of children’s ToM focuses on mental states, such as beliefs, knowledge, desires, emotions, and intentions. Your children have their theories of mind, which will be apparent to you in their descriptions of everyday events involving other people. As their theories of mind grow, integrate this into reading comprehension. Ask them about what the characters in the stories are thinking, feeling, etc. Be interested in these stories yourself. Talk about the books they are reading at the dinner table and in the car. As their abilities come “on line,” you will know it via how their conceptions change and become richer. Children’s Reasoning About Attentional Focus Attentional focus is an oftendiscussed topic. Many parents are worried that their child does not have adequate “focus” to do well in school. Around age 4-5, children have no idea that at-
tention must be focused, while 6 -7-yea r- olds u nderst a nd t he concept of focus and know how distractions disrupt the focus. At t e nt ional focu s is med iated by the child’s neurological abilities. The brain takes nearly 30 years to develop, so what is not developed at age 5? Age 7? The answer is, a lot. Attentional “focus” takes a lot of time, and involves many sub-processes in the brain. The two brain sites that mediate “focus” are not working at age 5. One of them begins to work about age 7, and the other about age 10 or 11. However, they are not fully developed for many more years. Therefore, your child will have a limited “attention span.” Most parents have a hard time accepting this fact, probably because they fear the child has “ADHD” or a related disorder. If you want to help your child increase his or her span to the limits of her physical ability, use effective reward systems. Rewards and incentives work and, if used correctly, result in a natural love of the thing the child is being rewarded for. The younger the child, the less ability that child has to filter out environmental happenings. Immature brains do not filter out irrelevant stimuli. This takes time, and is not fully operational until the late 20’s. Attentional focus is affected greatly by other children in the environment, the T.V. going, extraneous noise, etc. Create a noise-free work environment for your child, and give your child multiple breaks. Attention and focus is the final
continued on page 44
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common result of several processes all working in concert. Visual attention requires excellent lighting; a comfortable work environment evokes positive emo tions. All of these things are important. M e m o r y i n 5 -7 Ye a r O l d Children Pa rent s a re of ten in awe of their young child’s memory. However, they are not looking at all aspects of the c h i l d’s m e m o r y, b u t only the por tion that t hey w it ne ss whe n a child recalls something that happened long ago. Memor y is many different processes, de velopmental in nature. Generally, preschoolers overestimate their own and other people’s m e n t a l a bi l it ie s a n d fail t o ident if y t hei r and others’ limitations. Preschoolers regularly overestimate their memory span. Re s e a r ch i nd ic a t e s that young children do not engage in memory strategies, such as mnemonics. 7-year-olds recognize and use categories. Young children’s knowledge base is largely made up of scripts for familiar events, especially when memories are about scenes or
events. Children through age 5 do not know that t h e y k n ow. M e m o r y exemplifies a new level of thinking present in 7-year-olds that was not present in 5- year-olds. Knowing how memory functions is crucial for parents. As an example, piano instruction is largely done by rote (rote memorization of notes), which children, starting about age 6, are quite adept at doing. By age 7, their rote memory skills are superior. However, when taught by rote, the child does not develop understanding. T he child will either never develop it or will have to figure it out on his own and teach himself, or f ind someone who can teach him. Rote me mor i z at ion , wh i le t empt i ng, is a real ly bad idea. Beginning at age 5, children are able to recognize categories (concepts) and organize their thinking in these categories. By learning “how to” as much as possible, children then c a n go b e yo n d w h a t their lessons have taught t he m , ap ply i ng wh at t hey k now to related problems and instances. Sel f- Under st and ing in the 5-7-year-shift There are differences in terms of viewing the “self” between children
before age 5 and older than 7. Children before 5, have concre te de scriptions of behaviors; they define themselves by what they do (“I can climb to the top of the monkey bars!” or “I can count to 100!” In addition, young children define themselves in terms of preferences (I like peanut butter), and possessions (I have a green bicycle). These representations of the self are all about behavior, not higher order concepts as in older children. Begin ning around age 7, children describe themselves in terms of higher concepts -- bei ng sma r t w it h some things, dumb with others, popular at school: “I am smart in math and reading, but dumb in social studies.” The older the children, the more they can generalize over many experiences. Age 4-5: The child observes others but is not aware that the others are observing the child. Age 5-6: The child is aware that others are watching and inhibits behavior in response to anticipated criticism. Ages 7-8: The child internalizes opinions of others & self-evaluates. Du r ing the f ive-to seven year shift, development is fragmented and uneven; one day a child may demonstrate
an advanced ToM, while the next day the ver y same child may have abandoned that viewpoint and retur ned to earlier years. Around age 7 the attributes of an older child appear to be more set and less amenable to stress and environmental influences. K n ow i n g “ w h a t t o do when” is the key to education of children i n t he late preschool and early school years. Parents can learn to spot the differences in their ow n ch ild ren if t hey understand what to look for. M.Z. Pl e a s e v i s i t w w w. pianoweb.net for more information.
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Do Your Children Know What They Believe?
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Our children are bombarded daily with competing messages. Every song, movie, book, TV show, blog, and game is full of ideas—ideas about God, people, truth, beauty, and right and wrong. Not all of these ideas are true. Some are deceptive and even destructive. The What We Believe series helps children learn to discern the truth by using God’s Word as a lens through which to view the world around them—to see everything the way God sees it. Easy to use at home or in the classroom, this multi-part study of biblical worldview introduces young people, ages 6–14, to the basic truths of the Christian faith. Through engaging stories, creative discussion topics, and fun activities, they will come to know what they believe and why they believe it while building an unshakable faith to last a lifetime.
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Christian Classical Education – Is It for You?
By Marlin Detweiler
’ve written and spoken frequently on classical Christian education and I never tire of doing so—it’s that important. However, it’s a bit tricky to address both folks who are new to the idea and those who are veterans in the same effort. Let’s give it a try. I was first introduced to this educational model when R.C. Sproul recommended I read Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning by Douglas Wilson. This book impresses the reader with both the superiority of the classical model and the necessity of a Christian education for children of Christian parents. It was both convicting and motivating. Calling something superior today is both bold and politically incorrect so an explanation is in order.
The term classical when used in education has become quite popular. When an idea becomes popular, many seek to use and even redefine the term to various ends. Consequently, defining the strain of classical education promoted here is necessary. The definition pertains to both method and content in education. Classical educational method (pedagogy) makes use of the first three of the seven liberal arts -- grammar, dialectic (or logic), and rhetoric. In times past it was understood that the learning of every discipline or subject involved first getting the basic facts (grammar). As an example, the Who, What, Where, and When of history would be the “grammar” of history. Notably absent, for now, are the How and Why. The second stage, the dialectic stage, takes the mastery
of the facts in the grammar stage and seeks to help the learner understand how and why they relate. Just how was the War for Independence related to the War Between the States? Or, what was the connection between Alexander and Socrates? The rhetoric stage builds on the factual mastery of the grammar stage and the logical connections made in the dialectic stage. It is characterized by taking this mastery and teaching the learner to be winsomely articulate and persuasive when discussing a topic. Listeners are more easily persuaded when material is presented to them in an enjoyable way. Classical education should also be understood to include certain content. Today, as was common in classical education of the past, learning Latin is
continued on page 70
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Weapons of Mass Instruction
continued from page 35
and longtime president of Harvard, who announced in 1959 that education is “whatever a school delivers.” Dr. Conant was annoyed that any mere citizen might think he had the right to question decisions made by experts like himself. What he demanded for himself, in essence, was the right to say, “Education is whatever I say it is.” But a public definition of the goals of mental and character training can’t be avoided. If we, the people, don’t agree on ends, there is no way on earth to make beginnings – would you set out by car on a 12-year journey whose destination was “out there somewhere”? The principal target of school time at present, a target many self-satisfied men and women congratulate themselves upon knowing, is the production of high standardized test scores – which correlate with almost nothing of value. Every president of the United States, since such testing was launched, has had a mediocre to poor standardized test score; the same is more true than not among corporate executives. If the scores had any meaning, wouldn’t they be a common piece of data demanded by consumers? Would you bet on a
horse without consulting its past performance charts, reduced to mathematical data? Yet you are compelled to bet on schoolteachers, principals, superintendents, college professors, etc., every day without being given access to this “valuable” information. What kind of lunacy is that? High standards and standardization are two very different things, but you have been deliberately led by the rules of Newspeak to regard them as the same, just as you’ve been conditioned to think of education and schooling in the same breath. The long, loud, angry national debate I’m calling for, Senator, would settle school’s side of the bargain by producing a list of valuable human competencies schools would guarantee to enhance – or lose their ability to command attendance with the police power of the state. That said, let me give you my own list: • Educated people are seldom at a loss what to do with time; being alone is often a blessing to the educated because they like their own company. Time doesn’t hang heavily on their hands. • Educated people can form healthy attachments anywhere because they understand the dynamics
of relationships. • Educated people are aware of, accept and understand the significance of their own mortality and each of its seasons. They learn from each moment, they gain insight all their ages, even to their last minutes on earth. • Educated people possess a hard-won personal blueprint of value. They accept no prepackaged marching orders without passing them through the test of critical review. But they are also aware of a larger, human community and its values; are knowledgeable about values in different cultures. • Educated men and women enjoy power to create new things, new ideas and new experiences; the educated discover truth for themselves through the rules of evidence, not by memorizing opinions of others. • Educated people detect other people’s needs and in moving to meet those needs, earn a living. But unlike the ignorant, the educated never become overly dependent on material wealth for happiness, recognizing that the most valuable goods – love, curiosity, reverence and empathy – can be had without cost. • Educated people actively seek variety and know how to master it suf-
ficiently for pleasure and enlightenment. Yet, they are aware, too, that without a home of their own and home responsibilities, variety is hollow; experience, superficial. • The curriculum to become educated is drawn from great life passages which have united generations from the beginning of time. First is the mystery of birth and the mysterious emergence of self. To explore self requires intimate knowledge of one’s parents and ancestors – and of the specific cultures which helped form them. The local cultures, that is, much more than the abstract entities we call political states. Who am I? Where are my limits? What are my possibilities? What range do the strange selves about me display? Exploring these things are like crucial appointments an educated person must keep; without honoring these, only incomplete adulthood results. • The physical world near and far must be thoroughly examined, analyzed, tested. This is work which can’t adequately be done in confinement or through blackboard abstractions. When compulsion-schooling steals time needed for this work, the damage is great. There is a time and place in life’s sequence when these appointments
must be kept; too-long delayed and opportunity is lost forever. • The complex possibilities of association must be encountered and wrestled with – it won’t work to merely talk about these, or see T.V. shows. They include family relationships, friendships, companionships, comradeship, love, hate, community, networking and more. Each has strengths and dangers inherent in the form. Not to practice each early on is to risk becoming emotionally crippled. But confinement schooling is designed to socialize children into networks – the very weakest and least reliable of all human associations. Networks are certain to betray your trust if relied upon excessively. • Another major theme which takes attention in the educated mind is a thoughtful approach to vocation – how does one contribute to the common good and at the same time, earn a living? Then we meet the theme of “growing up” as a vocation of its own. How is that distinct from being a child? What complex of obligations accepted does growing up entail, acceptance of which brings maturity and independence? • And we can’t leave out a very close study of Death, the last act of the dramatic cycle begun by the mystery of Birth. Without clear
awareness of the short arc of a life, nothing means very much. If we lived forever, no choice would ever be significant because endless time would be available to choose again and again. Time is strictly finite. Every choice precludes another, that’s the reality which vests existence with meaning. We need to realize that the dying owe the oncoming generations a world at least as good as the one they experienced while fully alive; if possible, a better one. Give Up the Cathedral Any school which hopes to educate must surrender the safety of the walled compound; must surrender the security of employing a priesthood certified for docility and political correctness; must give up the papacy of the political state and its economic partners. In the short run, this conveys advantage (to the controlling parties), but over time it bleeds the commonwealth of its vitality – as it bled the once-powerful Soviet Union – and leaches from the economy its ability to adapt to changing circumstances. In grabbing for short term economic advantage, schools are being charged with preventing education – the signs of decay because of that proscription are everywhere. (Copyright, by John Taylor Gatto, all rights reserved.)
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omeschooling affords children a tremendous opportunity to succeed at the arts, with plenty of time to study and practice, and the arts present an excellent way to develop a broad range of skills that aid in other academic pursuits and life skills development. The Theatre Arts offer some of the most interesting ways to develop a broad range of skills and enjoy it at the same time! Chambers Stevens, a very successful and experienced Hollywood actor, theatre actor and acting coach, has written seven books in his series, covering Magnificent Monologues for Kids, Magnificent Monologues for Teens, Sensational Scenes and The Ultimate Commercial Book. This book, the second of Monologues for Kids and the seventh in the series, provides continuing serious guidance to young actors in choosing, practicing and perfecting the art of monologues for auditions. Acting provides an excellent way to develop one’s memory, literary awareness and verbal communication skills while also learning a skilled trade. Mr. Stevens offers 13 Rules to improve one’s monologue auditions and 8 Rules to avoid. They form an excellent outline (with some re-shaping) for practice in a number of other endeavors as well. These 13 Positive Rules include many on how to memorize (Rule 5 is especially ingenious) and how to characterize. The 8 “Never” Tips include things like do not storm off if you blow your lines; finish as best you can -- and demonstrate your professionalism. That is great practice advice in most undertakings in life. Next, Magnificent Monologues 2 gets down to providing 30-second monologues, 5 for boys and 5 for girls; then 15 Magnificent Comedic Monologues for boys and 17 for girls and finally, 10 Dramatic Monologues for both boys and girls. After the monologue section, Mr. Stevens’ book offers a four-page Glossary of Industry Terms, both theatrical and film, and a four-page Bibliography of Mr. Stevens’ favorite T.V. performances by children. Magnificent Monologues 2 is an excellent book for serious acting students to focus their attention on these important pieces for auditions or for those who want a perfect supplement to their “fun” acting endeavors. The entire set of Chambers Stevens’ books are available from Sandcastle Publishing and belong in the library of every serious acting student. Please visit the website for complete information. E.S.
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Explore Evolution – a Scientific Critique of Neo-Darwinism
A Scientific High School Biology Curriculum That Addresses Darwin’s Theory with Intelligent Design Possibilities www.exploreevolution.com Three components: 160-page Textbook, supplementary 6-part, 33-minute DVD containing short chapters focusing on specific topics and 3-part web-based ancillary materials By Michael Leppert
xplore Evolution is a high school science curriculum that presents a scientific response to the holes in Neo-Darwinism, which is Darwin’s Theory plus some information that has been added since the scientist wrote his Origin of Species in the mid 1800s. There are a number of scientific discoveries and developments since Darwin’s time that have demonstrated that some of his basic premises are wanting for accuracy and/ or scientific truth in this age of DNA and observations and experiments that were not possible 150
years ago. Explore Evolution provides those who do not accept Darwin’s work, an entire book full of conclusive intelligent, scientif ic infor mation and observations. The curriculum provides for intelligent design as a viable possibility and maybe even more importantly, shows how many of Darwin’s assumptions were completely erroneous and not borne out by archeological, genetic and geologic evidence of the 20th century. Therefore, the most unique and important value of Explore Evolution is that in the process of teaching science, it calls for intelligent, objective
exploration and debate on the development of life on earth and challenges the dogmatic adherence to the Darwinian model of such development, suggesting: “We can see that much of Darwin was in error; now let’s go find the truth.” Explore Evolution is a three-component curriculum, consisting of an attractive textbook that contains interesting and thought-provoking information on this entire field of thought; a DVD in 6 parts that features interviews with a number of scientists, discussing exactly the points covered in the entire curriculum – where Darwin’s theory fails to prove itself and what to do/think about it in the alternative; and downloadable Ancillary material in 3 levels
Explore Evolution: AP/ College E x plore Evolu t ion: General Biology (9th/10th grade) Explore Evolution: Lite (A simplified version for 9th/10th grade General Biology or Middle School) Special pricing is available to homeschoolers and if a support group, ISP or char ter school wishes to purchase multilicenses, those are available as well. If you are concerned that your child receive the most intelligent and truthseeking science course dealing with the sciences covered in the discussion of Darwin and neo-Darwinism, this curriculum is exciting and perfect for the job! Please visit www. exploreevolution.com for complete information. MjL
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10 Subjects You Can Teach While Creating a Yearbook
By Angla Plattner s a home educator, you have the option to teach your children through unique experiences. Why not utilize a yearbook as a way to introduce new subjects into your curriculum? Creating a yearbook will give your children or homeschool group a chance to learn about photography, computer skills, graphic design, journalism, time management, sales, business, advertising, budgeting, and teamwork. First, you need to select a yearbook company. You can count on Memory Book Company (www.memorybook. com/homeschool), a homeschool yearbook specialist with more than 20 years of experience, for quality, value, and performance. Plus, they offer an easy online design program that allows you to create yearbooks from your home computer. And they’ll provide help and tips to guide you every step of the way. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate new subjects your children can use while creating a yearbook. 1. Photography Pictures are an essential element of a yearbook. Your yearbook pages should be filled with individual pictures and group activity pictures. Have children practice their photography skills by taking the pictures. They should learn how to take a quality picture with either a traditional or digital camera by considering the subject matter, lighting, shadows, background and composition to ensure they all work together. 2. Computer Skills Creating a yearbook also requires computer skills. After the pictures have been taken, children can learn how to transfer the images to the computer or how to scan images. Then, teach children how to upload pictures, re-name files, locate files on the hard drive, and more. 3. Graphic Design Designing a yearbook gives children the opportunity to express their creativity. And they’ll learn important design elements such as page layout techniques, bleed requirements, background and image placement, and the organization of pages with the yearbook ladder. And don’t forget the yearbook cover – have your children create a cover design and hold a contest to pick the winner! 4. Journalism Aspiring writers can showcase their talent by creating stories and captions for activity pages. You can also have your children write an introduction or dedication for the
beginning of the yearbook. 5. Time Management Meeting deadlines to get the yearbook produced on time is important. This can also spark a conversation about time management with your children. To ensure that yearbooks are delivered by the date you set, forms and materials need to be turned in by predetermined deadlines. 6. Sales Once you decide to produce a yearbook, your children will need to sell all the copies you’ve ordered. They can practice sales techniques by selling yearbook copies to other homeschool children in the group, family members, or clubs that will be featured in the yearbook. 7. Business The yearbook can be treated as a business project, and children can manage the operation from start to finish. 8. Marketing/Advertising A great way to offset costs is to sell advertising space in your yearbook. Children can visit local businesses to sell ads, or approach homeschool families and ask them to purchase space to publish words of encouragement for their children. Overall, it is a great way to learn how to sell, create, and produce advertising materials. 9. Budgeting/Economics Teach children how to manage a budget. Start by analyzing all yearbook costs, and determine how to create revenue while remaining profitable. Have them monitor expenditures and report periodically on their progress. 10. Teamwork The yearbook is a team effort, and your children will learn to work with others to accomplish a goal. They can also learn effective management techniques to engage and motivate their teammates. What can a yearbook mean to your family? For some, it can serve as a way to look back on childhood memories and friends. For others, it is a chance to show relatives achievements and accomplishments. Regardless of whether you pull out a yearbook twenty years from now or if you proudly present it this year so grandparents can see what their grandchildren have done, a yearbook is a tradition that brings people together. Your children should have a yearbook to remember their homeschool experience. What yearbook company can you trust? Memory Book Company is the most dependable yearbook publishing team. With experience preserving memories for schools and homeschool groups like yours, they know what it takes to get the job done. Call 1-800247-1526 or visit www.memorybook.com/homeschool.
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Teton Science Schools
By Staff eton Science Schools turns the wo r d ‘s c ie n c e’ into a verb by Actively Engaging Students in the Process of Learning. “Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand.” -- Chinese Proverb Located near the wildly-beautiful environment of Grand Teton National Park in nor thwester n Wyoming, Teton Science Schools offers groups of homeschoolers (and their families) an almost indescribable opportunity to participate in the study of geology, plant and animal habitation and ecology. Since 1967, Teton Science Schools have educated and inspired thousands of children, youth and adults about the natural and cultural history of the area through place-based, field science experiences. S c h o o l & Yo u t h Groups Throughout the year, Teton Science Schools not only offer a variety of outdoor educational programs for children of all ages, but they also custom-design three-toseven day “hands-on/ minds-on” programs to meet the needs, interests and objectives of any group, whether the goal is to foster leadership skills
or create and build awareness of place-based education using the Greater Yellowstone Geo-ecosystem as a classroom. “Whether studying elk migration, sage grouse populations, wolf and bear behavior, wetlands habitat or wildf lower production, this area is a laboratory rich with wildlife and wildland variety.” Using this area and its vast, natural wealth as its “classroom”, Teton Science Schools are able to provide an unforgettable, educational, handson learning experience for youth groups of all ages and ability levels! “The level of instruction at Teton Science Schools is phenomenal,” said, Martha Daltoso, a homeschool mom who has organized groups of homeschoolers to attend Teton Science Schools. “Yet, they are able to customize the program to handle not only kids of all ages, but also different ability levels,” she continued. “It is real-life learning. These kids return home ready to share their knowledge because they are so ecstatic about what they’ve learned and how they learned it.” With a wide array of existing programs and t he c u st om - de sig ne d programs, the students
may participate in a magnitude of activities, such as: • Ecological field research with plant transects, water quality testing, or snow science • Exploration of the effects of fire, glaciers and earthquakes on the land • Wildlife tracking and animal adaptation studies • Witnessing the effects of regional geologic forces. • S e r v i c e -l e a r n i n g stewardship projects • Hi k i ng, sk ii ng or snowshoei ng i n t he Tetons Accordi ng to Joe Petrick, Educational Programs Coordinator, Teton Science Schools has a strong focus on field research. He continued by describing one ongoing f ield research project where the students are using GPS units (Global Positioning Systems) to track and document the distribution of pica, a small rabbit-like animal. The students are then encouraged to develop questions and a hypothesis, collect data, synthesize the data, create and share their presentation, which encourages asking additional questions. The information gathered is actually used by researchers in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems and beyond. Summer Youth Ad-
ventures Teton Science Schools of fer nea rly 40 su mmer adventure sessions, which provide a huge variety of educational activities for individual kids of all ages. Six to seven-years-old kids can spend five days learning about amazing animals and their habitats, using the tools of a naturalist and their own senses as they safari across this incredible valley -- Jackson Hole. One of the many summer programs for older kids (12-15 years of age) offers a spectacular opportunity for future adventure/nature writers by attending the five-day Adventuring Authors. By observing and absorbing outdoor life, these students will interpret, express and record their visions as poems, short stories or research papers. As Nick Delmolino, Marketing Coordinator, points out, “Your child may not have graduated from high school yet, but this summer they can join a university . . . the University of Nature at Teton Science Schools. With over 100 courses and multiple disciplines for st udents enter i ng Kindergar ten through 12th grade, Teton Science Schools offers some serious fun!”
continued on page 81
Dig It! Games’ Interactive Archeology Computer Game – Roman Town
By Michael Leppert
o m a n To w n by D ig It! G a m e s is a fun, unique and interesting computer game developed by professional archeologist, Suzi Wilczynski to bring awareness of archeology (the study of ancient people, their artifacts and culture) to any child via the computer. Roman Town is set in the town of Fossura, Italy, that was abandoned in 79 AD after the eruption of Vesuvius that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum. Roman Town is guided by an animated archeologist through whom is explained the essentials of the “dig” that compr ise s t he ga me. The professor provides the player with a set of archeologist’s tools, an explanation of what they are used for and “digger” figures who use the tools in excavating a section the professor marks off. Whenever a digger finds something, he signals with a speech balloon, the player clicks on it and is taken to a screen consisting of a background of earth, slightly hiding an artifact – a piece of pottery, glass or the like – and the player then “scrapes” away the earth with the computer
mouse until the artifact is completely revealed. Then the professor explains what the artifact was u sed for, how it was made, etc., and the player ret u r ns to t he “dig” screen to continue excavating. A Roman boy and girl enter the pict u re and help explain some of the pieces found as well as their daily life in Fossura. The game continues through the finding of a number of artifacts and then concludes with the player completing quizzes or games, identifying artifacts when they are placed in a Roman room, piecing together a broken pottery bottle and matching Roman items with their modern counterparts – two perfume bottles, for instance. Roman Town can make an excellent beginning for a unit study of Rom a n t i m e s . S o m e of the artifacts are coins, wh ich ca n prov ide a de e pe r d iscu ssion of basic math and ancient coins; the professor explains that the Romans were very adept at glassblowing and even had glass window panes. The professor also explains that the furniture found in these ancient sites is marble or stone matecontinued on page 83
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y now, Roset ta Stone’s language learning products are known as the benchmark of foreign-language programs. Their “dynamic immersion” approach has won kudos from users of all ages and for all languages. Obviously, the company knows how to successfully teach foreign languages. More good news is that they also are aware of homeschoolers
and have developed a special, value-packed, multiuser module to accommodate those of us who teach our own children at home. The RS Homeschool Version goes far beyond any other course available for a full and sophisticated grasp of a language. Rosetta Stone has solved the problem of “immersion” distance learning, where the student can hear the language spoken all around him/her and pick up pronunciation and imprint vocabulary quickly. RS offers what it calls “dynamic” immersion, using five elements
of sensory intake of information: Images, instruction, intuition, interaction and immersion itself. The program provides pictures and spoken pronunciation of vocabulary words, offering the user the opportunity to intuitively tell at what some of the meanings are – just as one learns his/her native tongue. The more one practices this skill consciously with an additional language, the easier it becomes and this represents a large part of immersion in the language. The interaction takes place in pronouncing back words (through the microphone/headset that is provided), as well as clicking on the appro-
priate picture of a word or phrase pronounced by the program. The program enhances the total immersion atmosphere by not having any translation during the lessons. Just for Homeschooling families, RS offers the Homeschool Dashboard, which allows the parents to set up the users and choose from a wide variety of variations of the program. To begin with, there are four Placement Tests (General, Listening, Reading and Reading & Writing) for students who may already possess some knowledge and need to pick up at their own knowledge level. The cuscontinued on page 75
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f we want our children to one day find truly satisfying and s e c u r e e m p l oy m e n t , they’ll need to be savvy in more than just the three R’s … they’ll need lots of computer knowhow! That’s why QuickCert – a leading eLearning provider – offers easyto-understand, online training for Microsoft Off ice’s everyday use applications (i.e., Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and Outlook), as well as for CompTIA’s
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ployability Skills (ES) training – ideal for any profession (IT or otherwise) – covers these topics and more, to give your child the advant age he or she needs when entering the job market. The ES program can be packaged with other c o u r s e s o r t a ke n b y itself. It was developed (and is facilitated) by a 30-year Human Res ou r c e s p r ofe s sio n a l and includes interactive exercises that encourage parent-student participation. I n addition to the aforementioned, QuickCer t offers a laundr y list of other eLearning solutions for Microsoft and CompTIA, as well as for Cisco, Oracle, IT I L a nd more. T h is means it’s perfect for all ages and experience levels, f rom nov ice school-aged children, to experts of the industry. (There’s also a moneyback guarantee!) To e x p l o r e Q u i c kCert’s tremendous sele ct ion of eL ea r n i ng offerings – from basic Microsoft Office applications, to game design, to IT mastery – please visit www.QuickCert. com/ HomeSchool for details and a free demo lesson. MjL
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Why Teach Laura Ingalls Wilder to Boys and Girls
By Amy Ankrum, curator of the Wilder Museum aura’s how-to chap- forth images, thoughts and ters on molding bul- feelings. The Ingalls hoped lets, making cheese, for a better life for their digging a well, decorating friends and their children. shelves, making homemade They sacrificed and worked butter, drying plums, fram- hard to make that dream ing a house, and smoking come true. We are all, when a ham, among dozens of we are at our best, drawn to daily activities fulfill the give of ourselves to make “Little House” book series’ life better for others. purpose to entertain and to It was an oasis in the tall educate. The books also grass prairie. Walnut trees instill wholesome values grew and thrived on a little that are easy to agree with stream that was home to a and conform to. few trappers and a resting The advent ures and place for travelers. This hands-on experiences small dot on the plains throughout Laura Ingalls would eventually become Wilder’s “Little House” Walnut Grove with the meseries can be used to teach andering Plum Creek imchildren of all ages history, mortalized in the writings science, home economics of Laura Ingalls Wilder and how hard work can some sixty years after her bring forth happiness and family worked the land and survival in the harshest cir- made friends with many cumstances. On the Banks other pioneers. of Plum Creek, comes to life The story of the Charles off the pages while visiting Ingalls’ family began long Walnut Grove. Visit the before they arrived in Walmuseum, walk the banks of nut Grove in the Spring of Plum Creek and remember 1874. Charles was born on Laura’s past. January 10, 1836 in Cuba Laura’s stories parallel Township, New York. the obstacles and triumphs Caroline Quiner was born that every family faces at December 12, 1839 in some point in their lives. Brookfield, Wisconsin. The The train whistle beckoned United States was growing Pa westward. That distant rapidly. The territories to whistle resonated with a the west were rich in game, mix of excitement, memo- furs, farmland, and open ries, a few regrets, and a range. strong hope for a better toCharles and Caroline morrow. Laura’s books can were married February 1st, also resonate in us, bringing 1860 by Reverend Lyman
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in Concord Township, Wisconsin. Civil War erupted the following April. The Homestead Act of 1862 sent thousands westward with hopes of free land and more opportunity. The Civil War raged through 1865. Mary and Laura were born near Pepin, Wisconsin in the Ingalls’ log cabin. Mary Amelia arrived on January 10, 1865 and Laura Elizabeth on February 7, 1867. In the fall of 1868 the Ingalls family moved to Montgomery County, Kansas, just 13 miles outside of Independence, where their daughter, Caroline Celestial “Carrie” was born on August 3, 1870. Hearing a rumor that the government planned on returning the land they were living on to the Native Americans, Charles moved back to Wisconsin. Charles had unknowingly settled three miles into what was called the Osage Diminished Reserve. The man who bought their log cabin could not pay for it, and the Ingalls moved home to Wisconsin. In October of 1873, Charles once again sold the family’s Wisconsin home and land to a Swedish farmer named Anderson for $1000. The family moved in with Uncle Peter and Aunt Polly Ingalls. On February 7, 1874, Laura’s 7th birthday, the two families crossed frozen Lake Pepin. They stayed at the Lake City Hotel until Charles and Peter located an abandoned
cabin. The families waited until spring to continue by wagon. Peter chose a farm on the Zumbro River but Charles continued west. Laura heard her first train whistle on this journey. Charles brought the family to a new pioneer town called Walnut Station. This town had a railroad and several businesses and residences. Charles learned that a Norwegian settler, Anders Haroldson (Laura’s Mr. Hanson), who lived about a mile north of town, wanted to sell his land. Charles bought the 172 acres of fertile land along with the dugout on Plum Creek. Charles’ plans were solid. Charles began working his plow and ox team, turning up the sod for wheat fields. With a large crop, their future was assured. Caroline kept house in the dugout with Mary and Laura’s help. During the summer of 1874, Charles and Caroline helped organize the Union Congregational Church with the help of Reverend Edwin Alden, a traveling Home Missionary, who was in charge of bringing new churches to various pioneer towns including Walnut Grove. On December 20, 1874, a new bell rang out over the prairie, announcing the dedication of the newly-built church. In Spring of 1875, Charles moved the family into a new house that was built of
continued on page 69
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Our government isn’t the first to suggest it. Political regimes (the Nazis and Communists, for example), have come and gone knowing the mea n i ng of P roverbs 22:6: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The absorbent minds of young children are highly susceptible to government control. Indoctrinate babies with the state pablum of social and political philosophy wrapped up in standardized curriculum, and they will be loyal to their Government Nanny forever. So, why are you minding the gap? What is it exactly that you are afraid your child will miss? Reading? Writing? Arithmetic? Building Missions with sugar cubes? Face your fear. Give it a name. Make a list. Then really look at that list and determine what is most important in order to give your child the educational foundation that will allow him or her to become an autonomous, self-directed learner. If that is your goal, following a curriculum and agenda created by the state (or anyone else) is counter-intuitive. Learning to Read We’d probably all agree
that learning to read is i mpor t ant. Joh n Taylor Gatto, the author of “Dumbing Us Down,” who taught in New York schools for 30 years, reports that it only takes 100 contact hours to teach a child to read. If that’s true, is it necessary to have “reading” as a required subject for an hour a day, for 180 school days each year, for fourteen years, from preschool through high school? If not, why would you insist upon it in your homeschool? We’d also concur that writing is an important skill to learn. In our society you must have the skill to communicate your thoughts legibly to someone else, in writing. The debate rages about what to teach first — printing or cursive. In 2003, I contacted Dr. Steve Graham of the University of Maryland, who has conducted research studies on handwriting, and he said there isn’t any conclusive evidence that shows one style is preferable over the other in terms of legibility and speed. If that’s true, why do some homeschoolers -- who can opt out of the school agenda -- insist on teaching both? Rather than learning two ways to write, it may be more productive to learn one way to write along
with typing. Keyboarding will be a more useful secondary skill, overall. Your child is more likely to learn it quickly if you don’t turn the activity into drudgery with compulsory, schoolish lessons. In fact, take a page from Nicholas Negroponte’s book. A former director of the MIT Media Library, he founded the non-profit organization, One Laptop Per Child. Their goal is to provide every child in the third world with the XO Laptop computer for free. Acknowledging that traditional schooling is too slow and ineffective, their mission statement includes this: “Any nation’s most precious natural resource is its children. We believe the emerging world must leverage this resource by tapping into the children’s innate capacities to learn, share, and create on their own. Our answer to that challenge is the XO laptop, a children’s machine designed for ‘ learning learning.’” In a recent interview on the 20/20 television prog ram, Neg roponte reported that children in emerging nations learn to use the computer with very little instruction. They aren’t required to take endless lessons in computer classes. They are simply provided with a computer (the XO Laptop) and intuitively figure
it out, or are mentored by friends who quickly show them how to use it. Negroponte claims it opens their world to unlimited knowledge while expanding their creative and problem-solving potential. The reporter who interviewed him doublechecked with a professor who insisted hours of instruction and supervision should be given. I guess he’s afraid of the potential this project has for informational gaps among the laptop learners. Nevertheless, Negroponte says that children in the most remote regions of the world are being “given the opportunity to tap into their own potential, to be exposed to a whole world of ideas, and to contribute to a more productive and saner world community.” If this free-style method of learning works so well for third-world children, perhaps more homeschoolers should try it. Abandon the school model. Quit worrying about gaps and get on with the joy and adventure of learning. Learning Math As for arithmetic, the majority of people need to understand enough consumer math not to be cheated, fooled, or kept perpetually impoverished in a credit-card world. In a consumer culture, it’s interesting that we don’t think kids need lessons in how to spend money. It’s
mystifying (and oh-sotelling) that we don’t give them lessons in how to manage money, either. Once your child understands elementary math processes, then teach your kids to review and balance bank statements. Show them how to decipher financial statements and learn to calculate compounded interest on credit card balances and loans. Show them how to invest their money. Take Robert Kiyosaki’s advice. He’s the author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and encourages parents to give their children a financial education. Help them understand that it is far better to have your money work for you, than to have to work forever for money. Next up, what would happen if your son or daughter never built a sugar-cube Mission or anything at all from sugar cubes? Would their lives and ability to learn be stunted? Of course not; that’s ridiculous. Let go of your fear and quit minding the gap. Homeschoolers have embraced the idea that school is not the only place where one can learn socialization skills. Perhaps more should question whether following schoolish curriculum is the only way to get a “complete” education. As you disembark the
linear school train, don’t spend all of your time minding the gap. You may miss the wonderful sights, sounds, and learning opportunities that abound in the liberated and abundant landscape of your homeschool destination. D.F.K. About the Author: Diane Flynn Keith homeschooled her two sons for 14 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. She produces Homef ires. com an online journal and resource center for homeschool families. She offers support and encouragement to thousands of homeschool fa m ilies through her numerous free e-lists at Yahoo Groups. (To join the lists visit: www.homefires. com/support.asp.) Diane is the author of the book, “Carschooling: Over 350 Entertaining Games & Activities To Turn Travel Time Into Learning Time,” published by Random House. (www.carschooling.com) She is also the publisher of ClickSchooling (www. homefires.com/free.asp) - a FREE daily e-service t hat prov ides recommend at ions for g reat educational websites on the Net. Copyright, 2007, by Diane Flynn Keith. All rights reserved.
GOOD BEGINNINGS TO GOOD ENDINGS FOR HANDWRITING
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comes easier and more efficient. Of cou rse, st udents should sit up in a comfortable position. The non-dominant hand should steady the paper. Handwriting may be legible with a tight and poor hold, but it will never at t a i n t he s p e e d one needs for automatically committing thoughts or messages to paper. WHY TEACH HANDWRITING? Do child ren need handwriting instruction when computers can be used for com mu nication? For several years, ma ny believed ha ndwriting was becoming obsolete. Now, it seems that attitudes towards handwriting are shifting. In a recent article in “American Educator” Dr. Stephen G raham, a professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt Universit y w rote, “... researchers... have found that, done right, early handwriting instruction improves student’s writing. Not just its legibility, but its quantity and quality.” Those are Graham’s italics. We communicate more lucidly and eloquently with pen in hand. It is simple logic. If handwriting f lows well
for students, they will enjoy writing. Too many students with great ideas are reluctant to put pen to paper. I n p r a c t ica l t e r m s , math problems are hard to solve if characters are illegible. Notes that one needs to refer to later are useless unless they can be read. Also, note-taking must be fast enough to cover the essence of a lecture. Technologies are out there to cover these problems, but they are not always available and up and running. As adults, our need to write cont i nue s. T he re a re notes, forms to fill out, letters of congratulation, sympathy and more that are not appropriate for e-mail. Most of us are careless when texting and sending e-mails, and we lose the subtleties of expression that work so much better by hand. WHAT METHOD TO USE? Liter ate per son s i n the 19th century spent many hours practicing penmanship with copperplate styles, keeping jou r nals a nd w r it i ng letters. In the latter part of the 19th century, Austin Palmer simplif ied handwriting, and that is essentially the method used today for conven-
tional cursive writing. Ba rchowsk y Flue nt Handwriting complies with the way we hold our hands now, especially if it’s the tripod hold. Movement is principally in the fingers, and somewhat in the hand and wrist. I d e velo p e d B a rchowsky Fluent Handwriting with elementary school children, always searching for the easiest a nd most nat u r al movements for them. The method has proved s u c c e s sf u l fo r t h o s e adults who learned it as children. T here is no t r a n sition from print-script to conventional cursive because letter formations never change. Children can learn all the basic letters and join them up by the end of first grade. They have learned BFH italic cursive writing. T hey a re happy with their progress and are well on the way to being eager writers. All that is needed is practice until handw r iting becomes automatic. OLDER STUDENTS AND ADULTS Many learn a form of pr int-scr ipt or manuscript first. Formations are top-to-bottom. Then they are introduced to conve nt ion al cu r sive whe re lowe rca se letters start at the baseline and some letters change
shape. This transition means unlearning a fine motor habit of movement and relearning another. This is the sou rce of most handwriting issues. Some st udents rever t back to the print-script and acquire a reasonable hand. Others have handwriting problems. However, it is not difficult to take the print-script letters, and develop the f low of BFH into them. The characters are not that different. Rhythm exercises are a big help, and adults, as well as children benefit from occasionally writing patterns and letters with their eyes closed. N.J.B.
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I Thought I’d be Taller... Letting Go of Picture-Perfect
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cult. Being responsible for every aspect of your child’s care and education is a daunting task. There will always be days when nothing goes right. The days when you wake up late, the children are cranky, and the dog throws up on the rug. Clearly, the routine of a homeschooling mother is often a far cry from the glamorous life most women envision for themselves. It is far from picture perfect. Too of ten as homeschoolers, we allow ourselves to falsely believe that others are achieving an ideal that we can only dream of. We know their houses are clean; their children gifted and well behaved at all times. We look at our neighbors with children in school and cannot help but wonder what this life of leisure would be like. Even the most dedicated homeschooling veterans will occasionally question God’s wisdom. As the saying goes, “I k now the Lord would never give me more than I can handle, I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.” But, before you run off to put your children in school, take a moment to examine the results of your efforts. Look closely at the product, not just the process of homeschooling.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t like grading papers, hunting for workbooks, or cleaning up projects, but I love what homeschooling has done for my children. I love my relationship with them, and their relationships with each other. When I see my children stop to help, to teach, or to console each other, I love homeschooling. When I see them reading or diving into a project, I know that my efforts have been worthwhile. As mothers -- and particularly homeschooling mothers -- we tend to put our children first. Let’s face it: Homeschooling requires sacrifice. We give up our time, our freedom, and, to a large extent, our own career desires. While our peers are off working, shopping, or meeting for lunch, we are home, taking care of our children. They attend aerobics; we chase toddlers. They hunt for the perfect outfit; we hunt for lost shoes. In many ways, such sacrifice simply goes with the territory. Remember, it is the product, not the process that counts. Let go of the television fantasy of marriage and motherhood. Let go of the perfect picture, because, try as we might, none of us will ever be taller. A.L.
Why Teach Laura Ingalls Wilder to Boys and Girls
continued from page 63
yellow pine lumber brought in by the railroad and purchased on credit. The wheat crop was lush and green, and Charles thought a house would be a wise investment. Eleck Nelson assisted Charles in building the new home. Because they were close neighbors, Caroline and Olena Nelson also spent a lot of time together with their children. A new school was built in the spring of 1875. Mary and Laura would have attended this school. Swarms of grasshoppers (locusts) devoured all the area crops and gardens in 1875. “I have lived among uncounted millions of grasshoppers,” Laura later wrote. “I saw their bodies choke Plum Creek. I saw them destroy every green thing on the face of the earth.” Charles walked 200 miles east to find work. His crops had been destroyed and the family needed money. This would be the first of several grasshopper plagues. On return to Walnut Grove, Charles moved his family into town to avoid the harsh blizzard weather and to allow the girls to still attend school. On November 1, 1875, the Ingalls family grew. Charles Frederick was born. Laura and Mary fondly called him Freddie. In the spring of 1876,
the Ingalls moved back to their frame house by Plum Creek. Charles planted a small field of wheat. He was unsure what nature would bring. The grasshoppers once again covered the area, destroying vegetation and the clothes off the line. William Steadman, a friend from church, purchased a hotel from William Masters in Burr Oak, Iowa. He asked Charles to bring his family back east to work at the hotel in the Fall. On July 10, 1876, Charles sold the 172-acre farmstead to a new settler named Keller. The Ingalls family once again loaded up the covered wagon and traveled east to live the rest of the summer with Charles’ brother, Peter Ingalls. Baby Frederick was very ill. On August 27, 1876, the “awful day” as Laura Ingalls Wilder later wrote, baby Freddie died. It is said he is buried near South Troy, on land Peter Ingalls owned. The family moved to Iowa. Burr Oak was an older town that was a crossroads for travelers. The family lived on the first floor of the Burr Oak House (now known as the Masters Hotel). Caroline cooked, cleaned and laundered with Mrs. Steadman and a hired girl. Charles worked odd jobs at the hotel. During the winter of 1877, Mary, Laura and Carrie continued their schooling. Grace Pearl, the
last Ingalls child, was born on May 23, 1877. No matter how hard they worked, they were not able to make ends meet. In the Fall of 1877, the Ingalls returned to Walnut Grove. They lived with the Ensign family until Charles could build a new home. Charles continued to work at various carpentry jobs and manual labor to support his family. On November 4, 1877, Reverend Leonard Moses was ordained minister of the Congregational Church. Laura earned the treasured reference Bible by participating in the afternoon ministry at the Methodist. Later that spring, Charles opened a butcher shop. Charles became a trustee in the congregation. Mary, Laura and Carrie enrolled for both the spring and summer terms of school in 1878. Still, for many, each day was a challenge for survival. The people of Walnut Grove were a hardy lot. They had survived raging prairie fires, frigid winters, hard births, plagues of grasshoppers and the loneliness of isolation and separation from their families. In March, 1879, Charles helped organize the village of Walnut Grove and was elected Justice of the Peace. Mary fell ill with scarlet fever in the spring of 1879. By July, 1879, Mary was entirely blind. Laura became Mary’s eyes and described the world to her
sister. Charles loved to play the fiddle. Laura’s books are filled with references to religious, patriotic and children’s songs. It provided a release and a way to express joy and share time together. Charles was restless and wanted to move further west. His sister, Docia, arrived and told Charles of a job working for the railroad. The pay was good, at fifty dollars a month. He left Caroline and the girls in Walnut Grove while he earned enough money to bring them to Dakota Territory. In September of 1879, Caroline and the girls said goodbye to their friends. They took the train from Walnut Grove to the end of the line in Tracy. They traveled to Dakota Territory where more adventures awaited. They did not return to Walnut Grove. Milking cows, schoolyard games, vanity cakes and lemonade are but a few of the activities Laura describes in her book On the Banks of Plum Creek. Historical events such as the Homestead Act, the building of the railroad west and the start of new pioneer towns allows children to research new subjects. What is a badger? How do you make homemade butter? What else can you use a coffee grinder for? These are all questions answered within the pages of Laura’s “Little House” series. Her books are timeless and can be read by all ages. A.A.
Christian Classical Education – Is It for You?
continued from page 47
very important. Here we must understand that we are not primarily learning Latin as a foreign language instead of Spanish or French. A large majority of our English vocabulary comes from Latin. So, knowing Latin helps us master English vocabulary. Additionally, Latin helps master English Grammar, Latin is logical and teaches us how to think, Latin is the key to many modern languages, and, pragmatically speaking, Latin students perform exceptionally well on standardized tests for college entrance. Summarily, Latin is a tool of leverage for mastering our own language -- a key to the grammar stage. In addition to making connections, the dialectic stage should include the study of logic as a subject. Studying formal and informal logic results in the student’s learning to think clearly and error-free. You’ve no doubt heard it said, “We just don’t teach children to think anymore.” Teaching logic is the most important aspect of teaching clear thinking. Some examples might help. Formal logic is fairly mathematical. “‘A’ cannot be ‘A’ and ‘not A’ at the same time and in the same relationship” is a basic axiom of formal logic. Informal logic is the study of logical fallacies. One popular fallacy is the “ad hominem” fallacy. Ad hom-
inem is Latin for “to the person. “You can’t believe him, he’s a cat-lover” would be an ad hominem fallacy. Rhetoric becomes the capstone discipline in classical education, and it is taught, naturally, during the rhetoric stage. This discipline focuses on teaching the learner to communicate so as to move the listener to action. Much, much more than public speaking, an expert in rhetoric will find he is able to assume positions of power and influence because he can exert power and influence. Finally, classical education should include reading the “Great Books.” Mortimer Adler popularized the idea of “participating in the Great Conversation.” Learning from and building on the past, enjoying the time-proven works, and identifying good and bad ideas in the present, are all results one can expect from this kind of study. It’s quite a shame that much of education today fails to learn from those who went before us, dooming us to repeat their mistakes. What’s even more amazing in classical education is that it neatly coincides with child development, making it the perfect tool for teaching our children. Grammar school age children (kindergarten – 6th grade) are naturally inquisi-
tive and need little reason why they should learn something. Make it fun and interesting, and they will devour enormous quantities of data. At this age, they’re naturally geared to memorizing, and classical education hits them at their strength. As they get older, say the junior high years of 7th – 9th grade, they become more pert or argumentative. That is the natural, albeit a dangerous, time to teach them to argue well through the mastery of logic. Thankfully, they continue to mature and become more image conscious in the high school years, say 10th – 12th grade. They are then ripe for the learning of rhetoric. Thus far, I’ve sought to make the case for continuing the recovery of a very rigorous and time-proven approach to education. Yet the most important part of this great educational model is still missing. Imagine a person with an extraordinary grasp of the facts in many fields, an ability to argue flawlessly with regard to his logic, and a winsome, highly-developed sense of rhetoric, all-the-while having no moral scruples nor being willing to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What a disaster. That is why the purposes we promote at Veritas Press are classical Christian education. Furthermore, it’s important to see education as one of the most religious things we do. The popular myth that education is morally neutral is a lie. It matters who tells the story of history, who writes the science book, and who describes how things came to be. By what standard do we determine what ought to be? This “oughtness,” as C.S. Lewis calls it in Mere Christianity, is a God-given sense that needs to be accompanied by knowing the God of the Bible. Anything else is less than the complete truth. We cannot honestly expect our children to be educated by the godless and then to turn out godly. Christian children need a Christian education. One last concern. It’s the idea that classical Christian education can be easy or rigorous and good, but not both. I must admit that some time ago this was a tradeoff one needed to consider. Not anymore. Along with many other purveyors of tools to educate your children classically, we have made it our mission at Veritas Press to help you give your children the best education available without compromise. Online education, planning tools, curricular options, and consulting all contribute to making classical Christian education not only the best option but a very easily executed one. M.D. Mr. Detweiler is the president and founder of Veritas Press (www.veritaspress.com). He and his wife, Laurie, have four boys (ages 19 – 24) and a border collie. They live in Lancaster County, PA.
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Rosetta Stone continued from page 57
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material. Succeeding on UExcel exams can continued from page 27 credit. actually do much more for your stuself study.” “Excelsior’s decades of experi- dent than validate his or her education. The Power of the Transcript ence and reputation in examination It can help to demonstrate their motiOne of the biggest challenges with development and online education, vation and dedication to higher edutraditional credit-by-examination pro- combined with ACE evaluation, procation and become an extra point in grams is that once students have taken vides colleges and universities with their favor in the admissions process, a test, they just get a score. It’s up to assurance that the credit awarded is an putting them ahead of students with individual institutions to review that accurate measure of expected collegesimilar profiles. Better yet, once the score and interpret it as college credit level learning,” said Dr. Patrick Jones, UExcel exams help a student get into or a substitute for a college-level class. dean of assessment at Excelsior Colcollege, it will put them ahead of the But when students pass a UExcel lege. “The cost benefit to students game by saving both time and money exam, they receive a letter grade and taking UExcel examinations can be on their college education. credit from Excelsior College, a re- significant.” Encourage Effort, Reward gionally-accredited institution, on an Getting ahead of the Game in Achievement official Excelsior College transcript. College You’ve chosen homeschooling for a With this transcript in hand, homeFor homeschooled children, getting reason: You want what’s best for your school students can submit it for trans- into a good college can sometimes be child. As you evaluate the next steps fer credit to their desired institution. challenging. These students have the in higher education planning, consider Thousands of colleges and universi- intelligence and knowledge to do well the colleges and universities that will ties accept credit-by-examination, but in college, but some universities have reward your homeschooler for all of credit is always awarded on a case-by- difficulty determining just how much her or his hard work. The credit-bycase basis. Having letter grades on a students have learned. Let’s face it, examination option may be just what transcript may smooth you need to the way for receiving Source of Credit Cost Per Credit acceler ate transfer credit from your hometheir preferred univerUExcel Exam ($85 flat fee) $14 - $28 depending on exam taken schoole r’s sity. Students will need Community College $80 average post-secondto ask their college if Public University $220 average ary educathey can receive transPrivate University $820 average tion and save fer credit, waive lowermoney in the level courses or fulfill admission many schools of higher education lack process. requirements using their transcript. confidence in the transcripts provided Learn More Now Credit Recognition Promotes by homeschooled families, causing Websites for credit-by-examination Excellence students to be waitlisted or denied programs offer guidance on which Like other credit-by-examination admission. That’s where the UExcel college and universities accept creditprograms, UExcel exams have been exams can help because they provide by-examination. They also offer evaluated by the American Council a measurable and credible way for hocomplete information on registeron Education’s College Credit Recom- meschooled students to demonstrate ing for tests, plus practice test links, mendation Service (ACE CREDIT) their learning. Having real college downloadable content guides and lists for the award of college credit. To credit on an official transcript from an of recommended textbooks to help receive formal recognition by ACE, accredited institution, like Excelsior students prepare for exams. the UExcel program had to undergo a College, proves your student is ready UExcel www.UExcelTest.com rigorous evaluation of test methodolo- for college-level coursework. A tranCLEP www.collegeboard.com/ gies. The ACE CREDIT approval is script provides the college admissions student/testing/clep/about.html assurance that these exams evaluate a officer an objective point of reference DSST www.getcollegecredit.com thorough understanding of the subject for what the student has studied and Excelsior College Examinations matter that is worthy of college-level how well he or she understood the www.excelsior.edu/exams
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College Experience for Homeschooling High-School Students.
continued from page 29
scribed and analyzed according to themes, both affective and cognitive, that arose out of a comparative data analysis process. The themes of affective development identified through the students’ comments were: Expanded personal vision; sense of legitimacy and reflections on identity and perception by others; perspective on individual choice and personal responsibility; engagement with the college environment, students and faculty; recognition of ability to negotiate for better learning opportunities; adaptability to age-diversity in the academic setting (range of ages in UHH college classes can be from 16 to 80+ years); and a recognition of the differing roles of college instructor versus high school teacher. The comments of my focus group students correlated very closely with the affective benefits of college attendance by young adults (post-high-school) documented in the academic literature, leading me to conclude that high school students should be offered and should take advantage of opportunities for enrollment in courses on college campuses during their high school years. Homeschoolers are ideally situated to participate in such opportunities if they live within commuting range of a tertiary institution. On-line college courses, while valuable, do not offer the extensive affective development possibilities which I believe are the most helpful to students taking early college courses. One of my students commented: “At college you’re actually doing stuff worth doing . . . People will like discuss what’s going on. You can actually talk to them about stuff in your class and they’ll have interesting things to say – they’re not just, like, bored.” Other students agreed, noting: “It’s more of a choice learning environment than a forced one, you know.” “Yeah, if you want to choose to do a lot of work, then it’s there for you.” Coming to a recognition that the student himself or herself had to take responsibility to seek help if studies weren’t going well, seemed to be an epiphany that all of the students I interviewed had experienced. Perhaps the need to take the initiative on one’s learning path is more likely to be a surprise to students from a school background, but learning to speak up and take steps to seek help from professors and college resource centers is not a guaranteed early achievement of those from the homeschool setting. Homeschooled students are, by definition, likely to be independent learners who might take longer to realize the benefits of co-operative study and office hours. One of my Running Start study participants summed it up well: “It feels like the teachers, the professors – they support you being there and stuff, but it’s not the same as, like, if you’re in high school and,
like, you’re failing or something, or you’re getting a bad grade, the teacher will come and talk to you and tell you, like, you’re getting a bad grade; . . . you have to keep track of that for yourself at the college. If you need help and you go to the teacher [professor], they’re, like, totally willing to help you. From my experience, they’re not going to tell you that you need help, so you have to have the initiative for yourself to go talk to them, go to their office, whatever you have to do. It’s like a little bit of a different dynamic.” And, because it’s a different dynamic from the relaxed and inherently supportive environment of the home or unschooling setting, that’s exactly why I recommend it as an option for homeschooled high school students. Disjunctive experiences such as these are well documented by educational academics as very important because development is often stimulated when a person’s experiences do not match his or her expectations; the individual is forced to seek new ways to understand and function within the experience and grows in the process. Epistemology is the study of the nature of knowledge. One researcher, Kroll, sees the process of intellectual maturation as a movement from a belief in what he terms “ignorant certainty” towards what he calls “intelligent confusion.” A student’s experience of college, both affective and cognitive, parallels this change in world-view rather well. For most, the sense of confusion eases over time through the process of increasing maturity, as the individual learns the skills of evaluating evidence rationally in order to come to an independent point of view in which the individual feels confident in confronting the issues of the world, issues that s/he discovers to be far more complex than they at first may have appeared. It is my contention that students, homeschoolers particularly, stand to gain a huge advantage from early participation in college courses offered on the college campus, interacting as though with their peers of regular age. To me, taking college courses (either full or part-time) during high school represents for homeschooled students the option to begin the process of self-authorship. College classes provide them with the chance to “leave the shade of the family tree”, enjoy some sunshine and plan for that “place in the sun”, without getting sunburnt in the process. Early college attendance offers homeschoolers the best of both worlds, including the option to go in and out of the shade of the family tree. “Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something moulded.” Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Wind, Sand and Stars (1939, p.29) J.R.
The Developmental Potential of Music
continued from page 38
and enhances small, fine motor development,” she explained. “Swinging in beat to the music and waving scarves improves rhythmic coordination and other gross motor skills. Even simple rocking sends incredible amounts of information to the brain. When you shift your weight, you are actually falling and recovering.” An important developmental byproduct of the Music Together curriculum, Janet said, is that learning to enjoy and make music, often gives a special-needs child “appropriate leisure skills” that can help her function more fully in society. “The music experience is often a special-needs child’s first opportunity to be able to participate fully as a member of a group in a recreational way,” she said. “After all, a function of music is to enrich life, which is developmental in and of itself.” As Joan Hammond explains it, music is vital not only because it promotes Harrison’s development directly, but also because it makes her son happy. When he is upset, playing a cassette tape calms him down. When he listens to a song, his attention span increases notice-
ably, thereby facilitating further development. “I can’t say enough about how important it is with a developmentally impaired child to find what makes him tick,” Joan said. And with Harrison, the spark that lights him up is music. “When you find whatever makes him tick, then you find the child,” she explained, “and you bring out things in him that you never thought possible.” Music Together is an internationally-recognized early childhood music and movement curriculum for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kindergarteners, and the adults who love them. Originally offered to the public in 1987, it pioneered the concept of a research-based, developmentally appropriate early childhood music curriculum that strongly emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement. Music Together classes are now offered in more than 2,000 communities in over 30 countries around the world. Teacher trainings are also available as are our award-winning CDs and “Music Together® Family Favorites® Songbook for Teachers.” For more information, visit www.musictogether.com/TheLink. cabins located inside Grand Teton National Park. All of the buildings located on the Jackson campus were designed and built with high performance design standards. Regarding meals, Ms. Daltoso noted that Teton Science Schools provide a wonderful assortment of healthy options at each meal. By taking great advantage of the lands of Grand Teton Yellowstone National Park, National Elk Refuge and Bridger-Teton National Forest, Teton Science Schools offer every student an enriching and unique educational experience that fosters a great respect and deep understanding of outdoor life. For more information, visit www.tetonscience.org or call 307.733.1313. “Must we always teach our children with books? Let them look at the mountains and the stars above. Let them look at the beauty of the waters and the trees and flowers on earth. They will then begin to think and to think is the beginning of a real education.” -- David Polis
Teton Science Schools
continued from page 54
Professional Staff Whether students enroll in one of the school and youth group programs or one of the summer programs, it is the mission of Teton Science Schools’ staff to ensure that all students -- kids and parents -- leave with a profound understanding and appreciation for this area’s unique eco-system and how to apply those lessons to their own local environment. With over 25 years of experience in environmental, outdoor and science education, Jack Shea, Executive Director since 1988, selects staff and faculty that not only have college degrees and often advance degrees but have extensive experience teaching ecology, geology, and other subjects, in the great outdoors to students of all ages. Campuses and Accommodations All programs take place on one of two campuses -- Jackson Campus, where the students live in modern dormitory-style buildings or Kelly Campus, the historic original campus, where they sleep in rustic
Dig It! Games’ Interactive Archeology Computer Game – Roman Town continued from page 55 behind, but archeologists rial and that pieces of know from writings and wooden furniture are not pictures that the Romans found in these digs be- used wooden furniture. cause wood biodegrades With a bit of thought and no signs are ever left and creativity, an entire
year of unit study could be developed using Roman Town as the starting point. Roman Town is very reasonably priced and offers hours of quiet, valuable enjoyment and
lear ning to any child who can read and comprehend of age 7 to 10. Visit the website http:// d i g- itgame s .com for complete infor mation a n d a s a m ple of t h e game.
Homeschooled Entrepreneur Connor Bernstein and Kits for Kids at a local community continued from page 23 time to do that if I home- college, which I loved. schooled. My mom and I I completed the class decided to take the jump. with three college credit At the end of 8th grade, hours. Thanks to a hoI had to decide what to do meschool connection, I with 9th grade. It seemed was able to take a class as though I had two op- called “Launch the Ventions: I could go back to ture” at the University of public high school full North Carolina’s Kenantime, or I could home- Flagler business school school full time. How- and received 4.5 college ever, I knew I would not credits. This course rehave enough time to work ally gave me the knowlon Kits for Kids if I went edge I needed to get my to a regular high school. business off the ground. I liked homeschooling, The workload was inbut needed more time tense and fast paced -- I with kids my own age. had to learn to work at My mom and I decided a much higher academic to think outside the box, level. If I hadn’t been hoand I ended up attend- meschooled, there is no ing a charter high school way I would have been in the morning and ho- able to take this class. meschooling the rest of Homeschooling has been the day. This is a great an inspiration to my mom schedule because I have and me. I’m so glad I have had time to be with other kids the opportunity to share my age in the morning, but I come home and I my experiences and goals have time to focus on with you all through The Kits for Kids and other Link, and I hope you educational activities that have enjoyed my story! I I would not normally be love to hear from people! able to do. For example, Please feel free to visit one outstanding oppor- me website (www.kitstunity I had was taking forkids.com) to connect a General Biology class with me. C.B.
Homeschooling, Pop Culture and Creative Expression
continued from page 11
acceptable. Instead, we experimented. We had something to write about and we did our best to set it down on paper. We searched for chords and rhythms that felt right to us. In the beginning we were almost too focused on avoiding anything we deemed “normal”, and perhaps we neglected to appreciate that some recognizable elements add to the universal appeal of music. But we were working from our own palette, oblivious to the standard paint box known to school rock bands immortal. It has been two years since the birth of Washer, our art/folk/experimental duo, and we are currently recording our first EP. These days we are experimenting with a few of the basic conventions that we passed by in the beginning (think 1-4-5 chord progressions), because we are curious what will happen when we try to do things the standard way, but we are so steeped in our own way of doing things that we can’t help sounding like ourselves. It continues to be an
interesting journey as we work with other musicians in the recording studio and begin to blend our artistic vision with that of others. We are learning to decide where conventional wisdom is effective and can enhance and balance our personal creative habits, now that we know what those habits are. Working off the secure foundation of lifelong homeschooling, we know we won’t lose sight of who we are and what we want to express. I wasn’t born musical, and music hasn’t even come very easily to me at certain points. Given a conventional education and learning environment, I don’t know how my life would have looked. Instead, I was allowed and expected to discover what I was most passionate about through many years of trial and exploration. Given this freedom, and uninitiated into the world of what was “in” and what wasn’t, I had to develop my own framework, and outgrow my love of imitation and repetition to find my creative voice. E.M.
Enjoying the Process
continued from page 31
my body, and reduce the number of times a year I go on white sugar-baking sprees. I am gradually learning to enjoy the process of thinking through what I am eating, and relishing the days when my blood sugar level helps me to concentrate instead of bouncing off the ceiling. Thinking through deeper issues, including religion, philosophy, and the ultimate meaning of life and death, is also a process. We should all try to recognize that everyone needs to go through these processes on their own. Once we believe that we have discovered the truth for ourselves, there is a huge tendency to want to take that product and hand it on a platter, pre-formed and suitable for framing, to everyone we meet. While it is always fine to share, it is much
better to enjoy the process of listening to others, while helping them to think through their own ideas on the subject. I figure that if I am correct in my own view of the truth, then that truth will be able to stand up to analysis and criticism from others. If there are areas where I am still in error, I may also benefit from listening carefully to the ideas of others. No matter what, each individual will need to process this information on their own, and arrive at their own conclusions. Other than planting seeds for thought, there is little I can do to speed up the process for them anyway. There is an old saying that “God doesn’t have any grandchildren.” And speaking of grandchildren, I am looking forward to the days when I will be able to put my newfound wisdom to work once again. My mother used to say, “You get so soon old, and so late smart.” For
you younger moms, or moms-to-be, I hope you will make an effort to enjoy the processes you are sharing with your children today. Don’t waste potentially joyful moments worrying about products which will almost certainly develop in due time, when the children are ready. In my favorite musical, “Fiddler on the Roof”, there is a song that called, “Sunrise-Sunset”, which says, “Sunrise, sunset; Sunrise, sunset; Swiftly fly the years; One season following another; laden with happiness and tears.” Learn to focus on and to savor the processes you are going through each day, whether you are in the midst of joy or sorrow, and concentrate less on products, especially those that are rooted in the expectations of others, and I believe you will have discovered one of the most important secrets of all. M.H.
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