Monday, March 31, 2008

Homeschooler Profile in Pictures - My Son

I'm going to show you a bit about my son, Harry because he rarely seems to get a mention here.

Harry is 6 and he has one overriding interest in this world.

I'm serious.

This is a very, very small selection of Harry's trains (the ziploc bag usually contains ripped up toilet paper or, as Harry calls it, "snow"):

This is a sampling of Harry's books:

This is Harry's art:

This is Harry's crafting:

This is Harry's math (or rather, my attempt at it with some pattern blocks):

I should add that Harry has one other love that rivals Thomas. His sister Catherine:

More profiles at Principled Discovery.

Before Homeschooling

I'm a day late on this but here's my first post for Dana's Home Education Week meme.

If there is One Big Moment in my adult life that stands over all others then it really has to be when I finally decided that I would unschool my children. And I do mean unschool. I had been thinking about homeschooling for some time but it was in the decision to radically unschool my kids that I made the first truly independent choice of my adult life. Yes, I'm counting kids and marriage in that. There is absolutely no regret about my family but, and I bet I'm not alone on this, the actions and decisions involved in getting that family weren't well-reasoned, well thought out or mature. Just wonderfully lucky.

I was at home on maternity leave (one year with Harry) when I started to think about school. Catherine was 4 and I kept looking out my kitchen window at the driveway we'd be walking down the next year to put her on the bus each day. Honestly, I can't remember what exactly made me first think of homeschooling but I do remember one of the thoughts that first had me wanting an alternative to school.

That bloody walk down the driveway twice a day was going to be a pain in the ass on cold winter days with a baby on my hip.

Of course, that wasn't the only thing. I also remembered the many struggles my mom had with school regarding her four kids. I also worried about just how we would afford things like school supplies, lunches, fees, and clothes. Most important I watched how Catherine would watch the moths that came in an open window in our bathroom at night and wonder when she'd have time for that if she was in school all the best hours of the day.

I fired up the internet and researched. This is something I simply didn't do. Research is a way of informing yourself so you can make an active choice and as I hinted at before, I was a coaster. I waited for things to happen. Not this time.

I spent six months on the AOL homeschooling forums, on email lists, reading websites and raiding my local library. In the process I learned how to really research something. How to approach people and ask them good questions. How to take a cold, hard look at my own assumptions and abilities and critically examine them. How to stand up for my choices to people close to me. How to direct my life like a grownup.

That's why homeschooling stands so tall. It marks the point where I choose a real direction in life and began to work towards it.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

An Excellent Post on Science

Continuing the much needed discussion on what science is Elisheva at Ragamuffin Studies adds, Don't Call It Science!. Elisheva happens to be an evolutionary biologist so she certainly knows what she's talking about. She's also a great writer and makes her points beautifully. I'll offer one quote but make sure you hop over and read the whole post.

Science is, after all, only one way of human knowing. It is limited to making obervations about the physical world through use of the scientific method. Scientists, when they work as scientists must limit themselves to these objectives as well, although as human beings, they can enjoy a range of human endeavors different than science, and see that they all have value. I enjoy and recognize the value of great art and literature, and I appreciate the usefulness of rational human endeavors such as philosophy and ethics. None of these is science, however, and the world would be poorer if we tried to shoehorn them into being what they are not.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

New Homeschooling Carnival for Canucks!

Jacqueline over at Jacqueline's Jabberings is starting up a blog carnival for Canadian homeschoolers. You can find out more about this over at her blog. She's in Newfoundland so I figure if her, me, Molytail and Andrea all submit a post, we can have all of Atlantic Canada wrapped up! Audrey would make an awesome addition (I'm not sure an About Me sidebar could get more intrigueing!) and Christine needs to submit a post as well. She's married to a mountie. Can't get a whole lot more Canadian then that!

How Embarrassing...

So I was at my sister's today and talking with her roommate and telling him about an ancestor from the 10th century (a bard who split the head of his landlord open over a rent dispute and then wrote a poem about it - I'll have to find and post the poem here) and said:

"He left Ireland in the eleventeenth century..."

There was silence as, at first, I didn't realize what I'd said. And then came the smirks. And then the giggles.

I will not live this one down.

We're Going to Town Today

Please keep me in your thoughts. We have a list of things we need to purchase that aren't availible locally so off we go to the city and the big box retailers. I was hoping we'd simply buy the stuff online but my husband wants a shopping trip. I suspect he wants to look at the big screen TVs and game consoles that we may consider buying in a month when we've got a big portion of our debt paid off (yes, we're doing it. With his new job what seemed impossible to pay off last summer may now be paid off by the end of this summer).

Anyhow, the reason you have to keep me in your thoughts is because I'm going to enforce the rule that we buy no more then we have cash for. I am still worrying that more money means we might just dig ourselves into more debt so I am maintaining that we save up for our purchases, buy them on the credit card (Airmiles!) and then go home and pay the credit card immediatly. I have this fear however that we are going to come home with a Wii. Or an LCD moniter. Or something else that plugs into a wall socket and costs lots of money.

What we need:

High quality 3 hole punch
Filing cabinet
Optical mouse
Dry erase markers

So please, hope that I come home today with just what I went in to get and nothing more.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just a Bit of Food for Thought on Healthcare and Taxes

Awhile back I was in a discussion on a homeschooling board about Universal health care. One of the concerns that came up was the personal cost. Sure, you wouldn't have the enormous insurance payments but you'd be paying extra taxes right? I thought I'd post what I did, way back when, in response because HE&OS has a related discussion happening and so I might as well throw the information out into the blogosphere for any who are interested.

Information on Canadian federal tax rates here.

Information on US federal tax rates here.
From my post:

Our private insurance (through my husband's employer) that covers the things health care doesn't is about $70 a month. That's %80 of drugs, dentist visits (%50 for major stuff like root canals), etc.

Okay, so I just did the math on what a Canadian earning $37, 885 would pay in federal taxes as opposed to an American.
Here's what I found...

Canadian tax - $5682
American tax - $5273

So the American rate is lower...But my gosh, not by much (someone check my math!). What's a monthly insurance premium in the US?? I'm actually a little stunned. I thought Americans paid a lot less then we do.

Now I'm calculating an income for about $75,000 and it looks like a Canadian would pay about $13, 500 and an American just over $15,000? I went higher. At 155,000 dollars a year the two are still very close at about $35,000 each. I must be doing something wrong...Or I've been listening too much to people who claim Canadian rates are very high.

A later post:

Playing with math again. I just added Nova Scotia provincial taxes (they're in the higher half of provincial income tax rates) to my imaginary person (who's not too bright and doesn't deduct a thing) who's earning $37,885 and that brings their total tax load to a whopping $9384. I don't know what kind of state income taxes you guys pay so I'll leave that out. I'll say the person has a comparable health insurance plan to what our family does (it's about average for a family rate and around, I think, what a single person would have to pay if they had to do it themselves, not through an employer) do which would be $840 annually.

Total taxes and health insurance for the Canuck - $10,224

For the American earning the same amount (and who doesn't deduct anything) plus XXXX's coverage (it was sort of in the middle of our sample - $544/month) - $11, 801

I don't really have any further comment. Just thought the figures were revealing and others involved in the health care debate might be interested.

New Book!

I got a new book today! I had a gift certificate for so off I went and for about $5 got a book I've been wanting forever.

It's Joy Hakim's The Story Of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way. I've been wanting a history of science read-aloud so I hope this fits the bill.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

On the California Kerfuffle

I've blogged about Dana's post, Homeschoolers and Certification before but there was a great comment just at the end that sort of cemented something for me.

From Alex:

The media is polarizing this issue when in fact a lot of parents who don’t homeschool have the same view point. I like that I can choose whether or not to homeschool. I always keep homeschooling as a good option in the back of my mind because I could change my mind.

I read this right after one last visit to the blog of Stephen Downes. He seems to operate on the basic premise that parents are not to be trusted.

And all this under the influence of a most excellent CBC Ideas show called The Suspect Society. Episode One has some very interesting things to say about the increasingly suspicious eye with which parents are viewed. Definitely a must listen.

The California ruling is something all parents should be concerned with. It may be a part of a larger view that frames parents as amateurs not interested in or capable of providing the best for their children.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teaching The Odyssey

The Carnival of Education is up at Bellringers and I've been enjoying it but I stopped short at one post.

The post is Odyssey Unit from Epic Adventures Are Often Uncomfortable and it makes me squirm. This is why:

Next up: my unit on The Odyssey. I'm doing the filter a little bit differently, though; for the "why are you teaching this?" I really want to go into more depth, because as far as I'm concerned, The Odyssey is not what I'm trying to teach. I want to use The Odyssey to teach an understanding of character definition and development, the way that setting affects the events of the plot, the push/pull of cause-and-effect tension between actions, results, reactions, and further results... and more.

Let me admit that I don't know anything about what this teacher is actually going to do. I'm going by what I feel the above quote implies and my own experiences with literature in school. This teacher may do wonderful things with The Odyssey, I don't know, but the choice of the word use just sets off more general frustrations with how schools approach literature.

See, to me it implies that The Odyssey is going to get hauled up onto an altar, cut open with a huge knife and then have it's entrails pulled out to be examined by a classroom full of children. What The Odyssey is, in itself, isn't important. The value of it lies simply in what examples of plot and character it's belly can offer up while the work itself lies dying on the table.

I am guessing that the work of reading the epic will fall to the kids ("Because we have enough copies for everyone.") which always seems a tad wrong for a work that was crafted through oral tradition. An in-class reading would be so much more appropriate and a recording of it read by a professional even better. It was an audio book recording of The Illiad and The Odyssey (although adapted for children) that fired up my daughter's (then 8) interest in the epics and ancient Greek. A bunch of grade 9 students ploughing through it in a format that's a poor second to how it's meant to be approached seems destined to create disinterest.

If appreciation of a piece for it's merits alone isn't the goal then simply leave it untouched. Let the kids pick the book up in 10 years with no memories of mundane activities regarding setting or plot development that might make them shy away from it. Keep it off the altar.

Another Evolved Homeschooler!

I was browsing the newest Carnival of Homeschooling today over at PHAT Mommy and found a post called Teaching Creation Science or ID? A Formula For Putting Your Child’s Christian Faith At Risk from Rebecca at The Upside Down World.

Here, in part, is what Rebecca says:
Those who are teaching their children using creationist curriculum are in particular danger of setting their children up for this fall. To see why, I’d like to offer a challenge. Take your child’s creationist materials and look at whatever footnotes and references are provided. Now take an evening and look up the names of the authors cited. Odds are excellent that virtually all of the authors are creationist scientists. Now, take the names of any mainstream scientists who are quoted or whose work is referenced and attempt to track down their work. Specifically, see if you can find the particular quotes used in your child’s materials. Google books can be a great way of doing this. Now, read through whatever you can find with an eye towards evaluating the accuracy of the quotes provided (ie are words changed, relevant sections replaced by “. . .”). Also try and honestly evaluate if the author of your child’s materials has accurately conveyed the substance of what the author is saying.

Now, if you take the time to actually look at the methods used to source creationist materials, you should already be disturbed by the idea that these purportedly Christian groups who produce such materials indulge in such blatant dishonesty to sustain their ideas. An idea which is true should not depend on deception. And if you can bring yourself to this point, perhaps the danger this teaching poses to your child will start to become clearer to you.

This is really what we need. Not simply homeschool bloggers posting on good science. Not just Christian homeschoolers letting it be known that they accept the Theory of Evolution. We need Christians challenging Creationist Christians on the claims they make not only about science but about faith.

I'd like to invite Rebecca and her readers who are of like mind to stick an Evolved Homeschooler graphic on their blog. It's nice to know you're out there!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Difference Between a Law and a Theory

The difference between a law and a theory in science really needs to be cleared up. Its causing, as my Thomas the Tank Engine-obsessed son would say, confusion and delay in my blog comments. Let's explore.

I found this very nice entry at the MadSci Network in which Dan Berger offers this:

The current consensus among philosophers of science seems to be this:

Laws are generalizations about what has happened, from which we can generalize about what we expect to happen. They pertain to observational data. The ability of the ancients to predict eclipses had nothing to do with whether they knew just how they happened; they had a law but not a theory.

Theories are explanations of observations (or of laws). The fact that we have a pretty good understanding of how stars explode doesn't necessarily mean we could predict the next supernova; we have a theory but not a law.

This is not, "a simplistic, hierarchical view of the relationship between theories and laws whereby theories become laws depending on the availibility of supporting evidence." (from the same site)

If you're an auditory learner and need a nice, simple explanation try this page, scroll to the bottom and click on, "To hear this program click here." From the transcript:

D: Well, the definition of a law is easy. It's a description--usually mathematical--of some aspect of the natural world.

Y: Like gravity.

D: Exactly. The law of gravity describes and quantifies the attraction between two objects. But the law of gravity doesn't explain what gravity is or why it might work in this way. That's because that kind of explanation falls into the realm of theory. And the theory that explains gravity is the theory of general relativity.

Y: Right. According to the National Academy of Sciences, a scientific theory is a "well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses." In other words, all scientific theories are supported by evidence, and you can test them, and--most importantly--you can use them to make predictions.

D: So based on that definition, theories never change into laws, no matter how much evidence out there supports them. Formulating theories, in fact, is the end goal of science.

Y: So to say evolution is just a theory is actually an argument for it and not against it. You can't do any better in science than to be a theory.


Here's a fun page from high school chemistry teacher, David Dice - Proof and Science. This page isn't simply valuable for the person who doesn't understand the difference between theory and law but also for those of us who tend to talk of evolution being 'true'.

No scientist will ever claim that a theory is true. What they will do is state that the evidence agrees with the theory.

Maybe those of us who accept the theory of evolution need to tidy up our terms too. The site is an excellent read, generally agrees with the definitions from the MadSci Network and has a quiz. Kudos Mr. Dice!

Let's hear from Ronald Matson, Professor of Biology at Kennesaw State University but instead of his definition of laws and theories (you can guess by now what at least one of his definitions will be), let's hear what he has to stay about what laws and theories most definitely are not:

Regardless of which definitions one uses to distinguish between a law and a theory, scientists would agree that a theory is NOT a "transitory law, a law in waiting". There is NO hierarchy being implied by scientists who use these words. That is, a law is neither "better than" nor "above" a theory.

I hope this clears the matter up somewhat. A theory is not a baby law. A law is not a theory that's been proven. Next time you're discussing the matter with someone defending the theory of evolution you will know that you simply can't, with any honesty, claim evolution is a theory because it's unproven. Next time you're discussing the matter with a creationist you will know that when you insist evolution is the truth, you're using inexcusably sloppy language.

I am the Nameless Blogger in Question

Update: Brian has added a credit and link to the blog post in question.

First, thanks to ImPerceptibility for letting me know the Homeschool Insider Blog was quoting me without credit and thanks to Doc for pointing out that I should be given credit for quotes.

The problem is this post from the Homeschool Insider Blog where portions of my writings are reproduced without a linkback or any credit. Brian said:

We refuse to play the “attack others by name that don’t agree with our viewpoint” game, so we will not mention the name of this particular blog.

I just want to make clear that I have no problem with Brian using my name. If his readers would like to visit my blog to see the posts and comments in question they are more than welcome. They certainly deserve the chance to see the discussion in it's entirety and come to their own conclusion on the matter. Even if they don't agree with me. :)

Brian's blog is fairly new so I'll certainly give him the benefit of the doubt regarding blog etiquette and copyright issues but I have to insist that either I get a linkback and credit or else the quotes get removed. I've let him know my feelings on this and I'm sure he'll respond appropriately.

Note: I've added a nifty creative commons license icon on my right sidebar to clear up any future confusion. If anyone else would like one they can be found at Creative Commons - License Your Work.

More on Credentialing

Dana at Principled Discovery has an excellent post that continues the discussion with Stephen Downes by responding to Half an Hour: Homeschooling, Abuse and Qualifications.

One important point that Dana makes is:

When a parent chooses to send his child to public school, the school (the state, if you will), acts “in loco parentis,” in the place of the parent, in executing those duties which primarily befall the parent.

Stephen, on the other hand, says this:

We need some sort of evaluation, some sort of assessment. Something that would indicate to us, incidentally, that the 'involved' parent can also fill some of the functions of the teachers they are replacing.

And there's the problem because, as Dana points out, it's the teachers who are replacing the parents.

When I choose to homeschool, I do not act “in loco regimenis” (or whatever the Latin would be).

Certainly, if it is discovered that I am manifestly unqualified to teach, the state has some obligation to ensure that proper decisions are being made with respects to the education of my minor children. But the burden of the proof is on the state to show that I am not fulfilling this, it is not on me to prove that I am. Much like the burden of proof rests with the state in proving probable cause to search my home for drugs, rather than on me should an officer knock on my door.

And this, I believe, is the central disagreement between Stephen and me.

I agree and I'd add that Dana's position is the one that's the truer reflection of how society treats the issue. We don't ask parents to provide qualifications when it comes to issues of parenting skills or nutrition. We step in when it becomes evident that there's a question of abuse or neglect. Why hold homeschoolers to a different standard?

I'm basically reiterating Dana's points but they're important points and contrast Stephen's argument with the reality of how society and government views the role of parents.

I'd also like to make a small comment about Stephen's closing comment in his post because it seems awkward to say the least:

The law must be made, not just for you, but for those other people. We need to know that you are not one of those people. 1,460 children died due to child abuse or neglect. Is it too much to ask for some guarantee that your children will not be among those statistics?

A little earlier Stephen says, "But it simply does not follow that the only people who try homeschooling are those who are qualified for it." But wait a minute, If someone is going to point out non sequiturs in others then doesn't it follow that that someone should attempt to avoid them? What sources, studies or information does Stephen have that would rescue that last paragraph from being simply a baseless emotional appeal? I may have missed something so Stephen or anyone else is wwelcome to point it out.

And thanks for continuing the conversation Stephen!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Plutarch Again: We're Back to Dryden.

We finally got around to reading Romulus today but not the Dryden translation from 1683. This was the condensed and easier version available for free at Ambleside Online. It was much easier and shorter and I was enjoying the light flow of it. It also had Catherine scowling at me every time I finished a paragraph.

"He had more ideas of how Rome began then that!"

"Wait! Wasn't there a version where she lived?"

"Mom, I don't like this one."

I finally looked up at that point and asked, "Why Catherine?"

"Because it leaves out too much! Plutarch had more ideas then that!"

"Um. Do you mean you want to go back to the Dryden one?"


"But it's harder."

"Yeah! But it's...It's the truth!"

She meant of course not that it was more factual but that she thought, from our discussions about it, that it was closer to what Plutarch wrote himself. Yes, the ramblings were distracting but they also gave us a bit more of a sense of the man writing.

"I liked how he told a lot of stuff mom. How he had all the different explanations."

Of course we had to read the condensed version before she realized she missed what the more dense translation offered. When I said our next reading was Theseus and asked one last time if she was sure she wanted to read the Dryden translation her answer was a firm, "Yes!"

I just thought that was cool.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I Don't Understand My Children

Easter Morning. 7 am. My son wakes me up. 7 am. 7 am?

If I remember right, when I was a kid, my siblings and I would have been awake for at least two hours by the time 7 am rolled around.

The egg hunt. They hunt, not even bothering to look at the big stash on the kitchen table until they've found most of the eggs.

The big stash, the one with the bulk of chocolate and cheap toys, ignored!!! And get this, the eggs from the hunt went into a communal bowl and Catherine and Harry decided they'd divide them evenly later. Good Lord.

They finally approach the big stash. They each grab their huge Kinder eggs, open them, put aside the chocolate, and put together the toys.

When I was a kid we inhaled chocolate. No putting it aside silliness for us!

They ask for breakfast.

What!?! When I was a kid the chocolate WAS our breakfast! And our lunch. And our supper. And breakfast the next day.

It is now almost 11 am. Most of the chocolate remains untouched. A couple of suckers were consumed (who eats the suckers when there's chocolate around?) but the big bunnies and creme eggs remain.

I went wrong somewhere in the raising of them. They're considerate, reasonable and lacking in the proper helping of greed. And the worst thing is, I have no idea how to fix this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Response to a Response

A little while ago I wrote down my thoughts about a new blog called Homeschool Insider. The author of the blog found me out and left a comment and I thouhgt I'd respond in a post since I really had no idea what I was going to write about today anyway!

I'm not going to address everything raised by Brian but I will remark on a couple of things:

However, I think it's rather tactless to single out a blog with a viewpoint that is in opposition to your own, especially a new one, and begin a very negative attack simply because you don't agree with its viewpoint.

As a home schooling Dad myself, I like to think that we are all in this together regardless of what our viewpoints may be on controversial issues. I don't think we do anyone a service by sniping at each other.

I think the fact that I disagree with your viewpoint is exactly the reason I should single it out. Or rather, that viewpoint in the context of your blog. If your views on evolution had appeared on a blog with a different purpose, say, a record of your family's homeschooling, I wouldn't have said anything. That it appeared on a blog that seems meant to offer advice to the general audience of homeschoolers and new homeschoolers in particular is what troubled me. If you're espousing a very particular worldview then you are in fact, not serving the general homeschooling crowd. Secular homeschoolers, homeschoolers of other religions and non-creationist christian homeschoolers will be excluded by your views. That's not a bad thing. We all have the right to speak to a specific audience. But if that's your intent then let the design and title of your blog reflect that. At the moment, it doesn't.

As for sniping at each other, I don't have a big problem with it. I'm not sure we really are, "all in this together," all the time. Some groups in the homeschooling community for instance support the HSLDA which excludes gays and unschoolers. We do harm to each other and maybe the sniping will at least draw attention to how we do harm.

I also resent the use of "Christian Worldview" to describe things that most definitely are not a universal Christian worldview. Creationism is a belief of specific denominations of the Christian church and quite a few of us, most likely most of us in fact, don't subscribe to that belief. I will snipe when I notice that kind of co-opting of terms going on.

A final thought: Why is it that the vast majority of universities, which are supposed to be schools of free thought, won't even allow DEBATE on the scientific merits of evolution? If the evidence is so overwhelmingly in their favor, they should welcome such a discussion.

If you're going to make a claim about the majority of universities then you need to cite a source to support that. I suspect that if what you said is indeed the case then it's likely for the same reason that they don't debate the veracity of Atomic theory. It's so obvious and basic to science that there's no need. However, it might also be for the reason I generally don't debate the issue anymore. Before the debate can even be had there are generally a slew of mistakes and misunderstandings to clear up. Like what a scientific theory actually is. Like the fact that evolution does not explain the origins of life ("a life form creating itself," is the concern of abiogenisis). Like the fact that both evolution and Natural Selection have clear definitions (not reflected in your comment) that need to be adhered to. Only then can the logical and mathematical stuff be gotten to. But it's a long journey just to get to that point.

There is no need to debate anyway. There are many excellent resources out there that present the evidence in a much better way then some Anglican housewife in rural Canada. Talk Origins is the grand daddy with point-by-point refutations of creationist claims. Understanding Evolution has excellent resources for teaching evolution and great explanations of the process of natural selection. I'm sure every local library has a good selection of science texts and popular science books on the matter. The information is all out there.

Friday, March 21, 2008

On the Plutarch Front

So Dryden's Plutarch was a bust. I had read that Plutarch liked to ramble on and digress a bit but holy cow, I had no idea what an understatement that is. It's not that the language is difficult, that's not the case at all. The language is clear and Catherine and I could follow it quite easily. The problem comes when Plutarch mentions Larentia who may have been the nursemaid of Romulus and Remus and then the Feast of Larentia and then offers several enormous run-on sentences about the Larentia whom the feast was based on but had nothing to do with the Larentia who had something to do with the famous twins. Reading that by one's self with some tea and a quiet house, well, that would be a delight. Reading that aloud to a nine year old who's trying to recreate what she's hearing with pokemon figurines? Unmanageable.

We've retreated to the more condensed and child-friendly Plutarch versions offered up on the Ambleside Online site. We'll try again tomorrow with Romulus. I figure that sometime in the future she'll be able to come back to Dryden's Plutarch on her own terms but with a bit of familiarity that will allow her to loiter in the style and enjoy Plutarch's rambles in way we definitely didn't today.


The Carnival of Education is up at So You Want to Teach?

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Janice Campbell, Taking Time for the Things That Matter.

The submission that caught my eye and has been the most helpful to us this week was How We study Plutarch from Higher Up and Further In. Now, we're not Charlotte Mason homeschoolers and I won't be following and CM outline but the idea of reading Plutarch is neat. I followed the links to this page which gives a bit of an outline of Plutarch, printed it out and read it to Catherine. By the time we'd finished it we were both eager to start. The only decision to make was whether to try the tougher Dryden translation from the 1600's or go to one taylored for children ( Ambleside has links). Our final decision was to give the Dryden translation a shot (we found one here) and if it didn't work out then we'd try the other ones. We start today with Romulus.

The Carnival of Cool Homeschooling is up at Homeschooler Twins. This is a new one and it looks promising!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Do Other People Do this?

In my "8 things" post I said that:

I wear a headscarf (an honest-to-goodness headscarf) most days. It's much easier than doing my hear and I get treated so well by people when I go out.

I meant to write hair. Honest I did. The problem is that I have this glitch where I seem to start writing a word and after the first letter or two my brain goes on autopilot and substitutes another word. I can start writing, "medicine," and will end up with, "mediocre." It seems to happen quite a bit with homophones for some reason but is most embarrassing when it makes it look as if I can't spell or don't know the difference between there and their.

So am I alone in this?

Enough With the Strawmen Already

Note: Apologies to those who subscribe to my feed and got a ridiculously unfinished version of this post labeled 45. I went and hit the publish post button by mistake before I was done. What's even more embarrassing? I'm picked up by where my post is now listed as 45. Oi.

A gentleman, Stephen Downes, down my way (Closer to Andrea actually I think) has made a video to explain why he doesn't think much of the idea of homeschooling. Dana over at Principled Discovery has a detailed response to his video, Half an Hour: On Home Schooling, which is much better then anything I could write. However, I'm still going to take a stab at two points of his that just annoyed the hell out of me.


Stephen, uncritically accepting the stereotype of the isolated school-at-homer, tells us that:

...I have never envisioned a society in which we simply replace the classroom with a mini classroom in the garage. If we are going to develop personal, deschooled learning we don't want to create miniature instances of that all over society. Homeschooling can be supported, I agree, but homeschooling should not simply be in the home.

He then goes on to detail his vision of community based learning which, funnily enough, looks exactly like what actual, real-life homeschoolers are doing. Forming clubs, sharing resources, searching out mentors, sharing expertise, volunteering and providing community service, building networks in the community to further the education of our children and ourselves...His vision is our reality. True, what we do doesn't happen because of government initiative or funding and isn't subject to oversight by that government but frankly, if we waited for that to happen, it never would.


According to Stephen it's the well off who homeschool. Somehow that threatens to create a two-tiered education system by leaving the children of single moms and the working poor to the public school ghetto. Except Stephen is so wrong about this that he's not even wrong. We started homeschooling when we qualified as working poor. Why? Because we didn't want to deal with the public school system and our only affordable option (cheaper then the local public school it turned out) was homeschooling. Time and time again I've met with people, in real life and online, who are poor are/and who are single parents for whom homeschooling was a blessing because it offered them an educational option that they could afford. Taking away that option would hurt those who Stephen is concerned about the most.

I think this is a man with good intentions who's clearly thought about the issue of homeschooling. The problem is that the image in his head of what homeschooling isdoesn't match what's actually going on in homeschooling families and communities. He needs to contact local homeschoolers and see how it really happens rather than argue against a strawman because we've read Ivan Illich too and while there are lots of people discussing the man's ideas it's the homeschoolers who are out there making them come alive.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

New Homeschooling Blog. Blech.

I found Homeschool Insider Blog today. I don't know what it is. At first glance it looks like one of those tip blogs for the newbies but from what I read in that vein it's not offering anything that the vastly superior old timers A to Z Home's Cool and Jon's Homeschool Resources don't do much, much better. A blog always struck me as a weird format for that kind of thing anyway. Why would I, as a newbie, wait patiently for blog posts to dribble in through my rss feed when I could just visit the wonderful sites mentioned above or start asking questions on an email list or message board?

Wait a minute. I have to admit something. This blog annoyed me and that's probably why I'm dishing out the snark now. See, there's a Christian Worldview section. Uh huh. That's where the blog authors like to post stuff like this:

Both claim to be based on “science”, yet neither one is observable, repeatable, nor testable. They are both presented as fact in spite of this. And even though evolution is still the theory of evolution last time I checked, when you see it presented in the media, the word theory is seldom used.

First off, there are a freakin' pile of Christians for whom this stuff is NOT part of their Christian worldview. Be specific. Label the section "Evangelical Literalist Christian Worldview," and leave me and the majority of Christians, who have no problem with evolution, out of your issues. Okay?

Second, don't go on about what's science and what isn't if you don't even understand what the word theory means in relation to science. For future reference:

In science, a theory is a mathematical or logical explanation, or a testable model of the manner of interaction of a set of natural phenomena, capable of predicting future occurrences or observations of the same kind, and capable of being tested through experiment or otherwise falsified through empirical observation. It follows from this that for scientists "theory" and "fact" do not necessarily stand in opposition.

Honestly, that's basic science. Calling something a theory in relation to science has real weight. Think of Atomic Theory for instance. Is someone going to seriously argue that because the word theory is used we're not really splitting atoms or electrons don't exist?

Ugh. People.

That 8 Things Meme

For some reason I manage not to get tagged for memes and that's something I'm quite happy about. Molytail tagged me for the " 8 things you don't know about me"meme however and so my lucky streak is broken. I like this one though.

1. I take Ritalin. I haven't had a prescription for it in years but started taking it again recently (as well as working at exercise, routine and a good diet) to lay down a good calm foundation for myself and the family rather then subjecting us all the unfocused, impulsive and constantly frustrated terror I can quite often be.

2. I used to work for a right-wing political party! Now keep in mind that this was a Canadian right-wing party so we where still what a Republican would call, "bleeding heart liberals."

3. I don't have a dishwasher or a clothes dryer. This is not because I like it that way.

4. I've got my high school degree and nothing else.

5. I'm a homebody.

6. I like cleaning the toilet. There's no other job in the house that's so fast and makes a bigger difference.

7. I wear a headscarf (an honest-to-goodness headscarf) most days. It's much easier than doing my hear and I get treated so well by people when I go out.

8. I love black licorice but only because I made myself develop a taste for it when I was a kid. Prior to that I couldn't stand it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

She's a Reader - More Proof

Today Catherine requested some geometry. I went off in search of Key to Geometry book 2 and tossed her a high school geometry text (Modern Basic Geometry- I got it for 25 cents. It's ridiculously expensive online) I'd picked up at my local thrift store to look at until I came back. The first couple of pages contained stuff on points and lines and planes that was basically review for her. I fully expected her to just look at the pictures and beg me to read the text when I got back.


Instead I heard, "We use capital letters to name, or identify, points. Two distinct points are shown in the figure. In this book the phrase two points will mean two distinct, or different points..."

What the...?

She was reading with complete confidence. Not stumbling or pausing and conquering unfamiliar words with ease.

Fast forward an hour. I suggested she pick out a book to read herself. She was reading Owls in the Family by Farley Mowatt some time ago but it never really seemed to grab her and was forgotten. We went into her room and looked over the bookshelves, picking out books that looked promising. I pulled out a bunch that I thought might fit into her previous standard of, "not too long or difficult," but it was when I mistakenly pulled out Dragon Winter by Neil Hancock that her eyes lit up. The cover may shed some light on why:

For a kid who's just coming out of Narnia, you can of course understand why a standing bear in gorgeous surroundings may capture her interest.

Thing is, is was the biggest book in the pile. I pointed out that it might be challenging but she answered with, "Isn't that just what I need?"

I was speechless.

So some time in this past month she's changed how she defines herself in relation to reading. No longer does she think of herself as unable to read. Now she thinks of herself as a reader and now what seemed to be obstacles before no longer even exist.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Last Battle

*Spoiler Alert! If you aren't familiar with how the Narnia series ends and don't want to know then don't read any further!*

We finished the Narnia books tonight. We started The Last Battle last night, read half of it and couldn't stop tonight.

This was the first time I've ever seen a book make Catherine cry. Near the end when, bit by bit, Aslan is taking Narnia apart I glanced over at her and saw that her face was red and her chin was quivering just a bit. I put the book down and we hugged so that she could have a good cry before we continued.

I felt a bit like Lucy and the Pevensies in Prince Caspian when they first got back to Narnia and were remembering their time there before and how it felt to be back. Although The Magician's Nephew had drawn me in completely, the rest of the books had only half had me and I wasn't getting the same feeling I'd had as a child. But reading about the end of Narnia and holding Catherine while she mourned it...I was right back to the time when I was eight or nine and going through just the same feelings. Completely in love with Narnia (I'd forgotten how real and possible it had all felt when I was a child)and yet having to watch as it tumbled.

The next couple of chapters were magic for both of us. We went further up and further in and met favourite characters from past books. Catherine cheered when Reepicheep the mouse showed up and I grinned when Fledge the winged horse made his appearance. Then the end and Aslan told the children what Catherine had already guessed (and hear I had to pause so that I didn't start crying), that the children had died in the train accident and they were now with Aslan forever.

I envy Catherine because although she's had her first visit she hasn't yet gone alone and still has that ahead of her when she first picks the book up to read herself.

Now, I just have to wait until Harry's interested in the journey.

Note:I should say that the next book will like be The Golden Compass in audio format. :) Catherine listened to some of it before we started up with the Narnia books and she loved it.

Wouldn't it be funny to see Lewis' books and Pullman's trilogy being sold as a box set? It would have Pullman foaming at the mouth and Lewis spinning in his grave but still...:D

The Questions of Credentials

A post from Synapostasy called The Littlest Godwin and Other Education Stories. In it he says the following:

A week or so ago, a panel of three judges of a California appellate court ruled unanimously over a child welfare case that parents in California needed teaching or tutoring credentials in order to homeschool their children. Now, I don't know much about this specific case or homeschooling in general, but on the face of it this seems perfectly rational to me.

I suppose I object to the use of rational. Rational is not the right word, especially when you're using a phrase like, "on the face of it." Rational implies reasoning and a more involved thought process then what you'd get by simply taking a glance at the surface of an issue.

The use of "rational" aside, Aaron got me wondering what would be the questions you'd have about to ask to determine if credentials would be the proper thing to demand of homeschooling parents. I came up with three;

What do credentials offer?

What concerns do we have about homeschoolers?

Does credentialing answer those concerns?

I'm going to leave that open for the moment. Maybe Aaron will come over and over his thoughts and anyone reading this is certainly welcome to offer their answers to the question.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Blog Ad Scam?

Just a note to fellow bloggers out there. I got this email today:


We have reviewed your blog on behalf of one of our clients that would
be interested in placing advertising with you.

Client profile :

DoingFine (

New project (<1 month old)

Theme A forum dedicated to those things that came out right

and worked out fine.

We'd like either a 150x150 button, 160x600 skyscraper or 468x60 full
banner (or footer). Alternatively, we may be interested in text-only

This would be a weekly, monthly or yearly arrangement. In either case
we will require a one time, one day (24 hours) free placement in order
to test the quality and quantity of traffic your website can actually
provide*. Within this interval, we will make a final determination,
based on the traffic volume, quality, and your asking price. Should
we find your terms acceptable, this trial day will count towards the
agreed interval.

Kindly let us know if you would be interested, which arrangement best
suits your editorial needs, and what rates you would like to charge.
We prefer using PayPal but may be able to accommodate alternative
payment methods.

Thank you.

*Please note that we employ software that reliably detects autoclick
and autosurf bots, pay per click and paid to surf type traffic, and
other such non-human traffic. This may be a concern for you,
especially if you are buying "bulk traffic", or employing the
services of dubious "SEO experts".

A little research revealed these no-so-glowing blog posts about Polmedia, the company sending out these emails (I'm not the only one getting this apparently):

Scamming By Spamming – They Just Won’t Quit!

The Right Way, The Wrong Way

Conclusion: This is either a scam or a very clumsy and inept marketer. Either way, who wants a piece of that?

No thanks Polmedia.

My Husband is Happy

The man my husband has been training apprenticing with went on vacation this past week. That means my husband got to bring home the high-railer. This is a high railer:

(That is not the railroad my husband works for)

It's a one tonne pickup truck that goes on railroad tracks. The one my husband has also has a big box on the back full of equipment, roars when it's started and beeps when it backs up. This is a manly truck. Needless to say, the first day he brought it home he had a goofy grin on his face.

It's nice not to have him doing unpredictable shiftwork. It's nice not to be scraping by in low income territory. But the best part of this new job has been Shannon not coming home empty of energy and interest.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Last Nights Reading

Through a whole series of unfortunate events Catherine and I didn't have a chance to read until about 8 pm last night. That's a half hour before her bedtime and not enough time to spend with The Elements: A Short Introduction or to start The Last Battle (we finished The Silver Chair last night).

Instead I picked up this book (Quantum Leaps by John Balchin):

I bought it a couple of weeks ago at the local used bookstore and have been wanting to read it ever since. It's the perfect book for short reads, containing two-pages on each scientist, philosopher or natural philosopher and goes from Anaximander to Tim Berners-Lee.

This was definitely a good read. The entries are really well written and offer just enough information to whet your appetite for more. It reinforced things Catherine had already touched on and I watched as she lit up with a smile when we were reading about Democritus and his atoms and when there was a reference to the periodic tab and Mendeleev in the Plato entry. There's nothing like wandering through what you think is foreign territory and suddenly seeing something familiar. That experience also reflects what seems to be an emerging theme of the book, not only who these people were and what they did but how their ideas and discoveries continue to shape how we think about things.

Definitely a great find and a fun resource.

NOTE: I'm sort of thinking about Origin of the Species for our next science read. I haven't read it, want to and now prefer reading out loud to reading silently (Maybe I'm an ancient Roman at heart). Has anyone out there read it to their kids (between say ages 8 and 11)? Did they enjoy it or was it just a lot of eyerolling on their part?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Chuck Norris and Homeschooling

Chuck Norris homeschools. Really, he does. From Kitchen Table Math:

Our twins are homeschooled. That is the present educational option we have chosen for them and us.


It got me wondering just how he homeschooled. I decided it was time to plunder Chuck Norris Facts for a clue.

Language Arts:

-Chuck Norris doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.
-Chuck Norris doesn't actually write books, the words assemble themselves out of fear.


-If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more money than you.
-Chuck Norris counted to infinity - twice.


-Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table, because he only recognizes the element of surprise.


-When Chuck Norris does a pushup, he isn’t lifting himself up, he’s pushing the Earth down.


-There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of creatures Chuck Norris has allowed to live.


-Chuck Norris did in fact, build Rome in a day.

-Archeologists unearthed an old english dictionary dating back to the year 1236. It defined "victim" as "one who has encountered Chuck Norris"


-Chuck Norris paints in shades of black and blue. With his fist.

Phys Ed:

-Chuck Norris is expected to win gold in every swimming competition at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, even though Chuck Norris does not swim. This is because when Chuck Norris enters the water, the water gets out of his way and Chuck Norris simply walks across the pool floor.


-There is endless debate about the existence of the human soul. Well it does exist, and Chuck Norris finds it delicious.


-The Bible was originally titled "Chuck Norris and Friends"

Consider yourself educated, Chuck Norris style!

PS: I made up one of those facts. Which one?

You Might be More of a Handyman Than Your Husband If...

So my husband finally got the bathroom sink working. Hallelujah! I mean, I know it's only been about two years since he ripped out the old sink so it's only been two years of hiking to the kitchen sink to wash hands while that charming pedestal sink sat gleaming but unusable in the bathroom but hey, it's working now right?

In celebration I decided to hang up some nice shelves and towel racks that I''d bought two years ago when he decided to renovate. Yes, the walls still need to be sanded, primed and painted but heck, when he gets around to that, if he ever does, I'll take down the shelves, fill the damn holes and rehang them. Not a big deal.

I took out the shelves, made sure I had the screws and anchors and then went rummaging in my husband's tool bag for the tools I needed. The tools I needed were an awl or punch, a level, a hammer, a tape measure and a Philips screwdriver (sadly, not every manufacturer has recognized the inherent superiority of the Canadian-invented Robertson). I found the Philips and nothing else. My husband does not have a level. He does not have a tape measure. He does not have an awl. I'm sure the hammer is somewhere but since that somewhere is likely in a basement corner under a three foot pile of junk, I ain't looking for it.

Okay, so the awl isn't a big deal. I was only punching through drywall so the Philips subbed. But a level? I had to resort to eyeballing it and testing the shelves with a marble. Certainly my father would raise his eyebrows at my methods (if there's one thing he insists on it's that things be straight, plumb and level) but they don't look unlevel and it's only temporary anyhow as I'm sure we'll be taking them down to finish the bathroom any day now. Yeah, Right.

The line penciled on the wall I then marked on the shelves where the hanging holes were and used the shelves to mark the wall. I used the Philips to punch the hole and, lacking a hammer, flipped it around and used the handle to hammer the anchor into the hole. The screws went in next and then I hung the shelves. Voila!

I should mention that it didn't go quite so smoothly on the first thing I hung. I'll just say that it was a good thing that I knew where an extra pack of anchors and screws was. But the next thing was easy and now, I have places on the walls to store things. Wow.

Now the question is, do I buy him the tools he needs for his toolbag or simply confiscate it and take on the role of household handyman?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Elements

We've covered the classical elements, oxygen and gold. Next in The Elements: A Short Introduction (cue clickable ad)... the development of the periodic table. I don't know how this one is going to go. It may be a little heavier and might bog Catherine down a bit. However, she's enjoying it so far, not as much as the Narnia books which we're also reading, but enough to ask questions ("What's alluvial Mom?") and to take great delight in knowing who Antoine Lavoisier is ("I bet there aren't too many kids who know how he died!").

I have discovered that this read-out-loud method seems to work brilliantly for us. Catherine is definitely an auditory learner and gets a whole lot out listening to me read and asking questions as she plays with her pokemon figures. And I'm finding it positively addictive. I picked up Sarum by Ernest Rutherford the other day and my first thought was whether it would be suitible for the kids to listen to (any opinions?). I couldn't imagine reading it quietly and still enjoying it.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Magic Moment

It happened today. What happened? Well...

The kids and I are at my parents' house for the weekend. It's a two and a half hour drive so before we left the kids gathered up some stuff to take with them for the ride. We got on the way and about 20 minutes into the trip Catherine asked if I could turn off the radio.


"I'm trying to read"

I glanced back and sure enough she was reading a Pokemon comic book.

Fireworks went off in my brain. My heart exploded. Chubby naked angels were doing touchdown dances in my head. She's reading on her own initiative and for her own enjoyment! Whoo hoo!

It's been so strange because I read before I went to school and books were my constant companion in childhood. But both my kids have been pretty slow in that department. Not because of any innate problems but simply because the skill of reading is something I can wait for and they've either had other interests to explore (Harry and trains) or there were alternate ways to interact with books (me reading and a good collection of audio books). Certainly not reading hasn't hampered Catherine's literacy skills (if we can think of that as something wider than just reading). Not many 9 year olds know who Hector was and just how many times his poor corpse was dragged around the walls of Troy.

But she's reading now. Really reading to feed her own interest. And I'm so happy.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Albatross

Tonight we finished up The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which Catherine decided was the best book in the series so far. Last night when we were back a few chapters I read a bit about an albatross that flew around the Dawn Treader and mentioned that there was a National Geographic with an article on Albatrosses in the living room and that we should read it the next day.

Today we read it and were more then a little stunned by what we learned. I won't write about it all here but I will mention that we now think Albatrosses are absolutely amazing creatures. In the article was a mention of Rime of the Ancient Mariner. I happen to have an absolutely beautiful Folio edition (seriously, they make gorgeous books) and so we read that. Or rather I read while Catherine swooped and turned and dove around the living room (Harry listened from his bed).

It was such a great homeschooling experience. A reference in a piece of fiction took us to a science article and then to a celebrated poem. 

My voice is dead and my writing sucks because I'm dead tired but I had to post about it.
 Three hours of reading in a day is the kind of thing we can only do because the kids are home. I love it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Comic Books in School

Since I was talking about comic books in our homeschooling I thought I should mention what sparked the post. Newsarama has a post on a middle school that offers a class on graphic novels. Click through to the comments on the story at The St. Paul Pioneer Press and you'll find a bunch of people who know not one damn thing about comic books but yet feel they can comment.

The only one who should use a graphic novel in school might be K-2, to ensure competence and retention of the new language. Anyone beyond that grade should be reading progressively higher forms of English text. What will they all do when they have to read Legal and Medical journals; convert them into Graphic Novels; oh I forgot, we won't be producing any Doctors or Lawyers or Engineers, because THEY CAN'T READ!

Him I want to hit.

Regardless, I think I agree with the ignorant naysayers for this reason - Put comic books in school and you'll squash any interest in them. There's a reason most people seem to think classic literature, history, science and math are boring.

Comic Book Education

I recently brought my comic book collection up from my basement. I noticed Catherine reading some online Neopet comics so I thought it was time. Catherine was delighted.

We opened up one of the boxes and took a comic book out of it's mylar sleeve. I should note that just because the vast majority are in sleeves does not mean I collected with dollar signs in my eyes. I made a decision long ago that the majority of my comic books were reading stock only and not to worry about creases and tears. Anyway, we opened up the book. Catherine tried reading it but seemed a little puzzled. I asked her what was wrong and she said she wasn't sure what to read first.

I''ve read comic books for as long as I could read so it never occured to me that reading comics demanded a certain skill. It was a shocking moment. Suddenly I could see the books as my daughter did and it was a little confusing. How to determine what bit of text was the narrative? Which speech bubble needed to be read first? What did the use of italics and bold mean? How do you move through the panels?

The comic book is a medium absolutely filled with symbolism and code and you need a basic understanding of those if you're going to decipher the story. I've taught my kids none of that which seems almost negligent considering how important comic books been in my life. I have talked before about how comic books were a part of our family life but in actuality it was more in respect to my drawing as well as movies and video games that draw on comic book themes. The shame of it.

This is something we'll work on. Comic book literacy skills are important in my world and something I definitely want the kids to have.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I'm Great!

I have never heard of but apparently they've checked me out. Maybe I submitted something to them at one point? Anyhow, they gave me an 8.4 out of 10 (Whoohoo!) and I now show up in their listing of K-12 education links. It's weird but cool.

Rate this Blog at Blogged itself looks like a neat tool. It seems you can organize your favourite blogs and even review them. I'll try it out for a bit. There, now I've put their rating in my sidebar, blogged about them and joined up myself. Which may all have been part of their plan...

National Grammar Day

It's National Grammar Day and I have a couple of links. Disclosure: My blog is listed on both sites which is how I found them. I think it has something to do with that Encarta review I did and I've been getting hits. Regardless, they still offer some neat stuff.

SPOGG is the blog fo the Society for the Promotion of Godo Grammar and it's a really good read with lots of great examples of bad grammar. I may stick that one in my sidebar.

Here is the site for National Grammar Day and if you look through it you can find lots of useful links and even a download or two to help with grammar.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Plato Again

I sat down with book today and read to Catherine and Harry while they had a tea party and the living room floor. I was guest lecturer at the Adams Family Tea Room I suppose. This was the book:

The Elements: A Very Short Introduction by Philip Ball. It's a neat book and though not beyond Catherine certainly has some challenging words and phrasing for a 9 year old. Ah well, I figured that if she caught even a quarter of what it was talking about we were in goo shape.

The book starts with a discussion of the classical elements, fire, earth, water and air. Plato, Aristotle, Anaximander and some folks I'd never heard of like Empedocles and Thales all made appearances. We learned more than I can summarize here but there were a couple of things that stood out.

One, for me, was the hold Aristotle held on the Christian church. Think it was scripture that lay at the base of Galileo's persecution? Ha! It was Aristotle. It highlighted again how you simply can't frame medieval issues of church and natural philosophy in context of modern ideas about science and religion or the perceived conflicts between them.

What Catherine really enjoyed was Plato. Not in the sense that, "Mom! Plato's Republic is soooo kewl!" but that those platonic solids she built a couple of months ago suddenly became relevant again. It turns out that those shapes are the shape Plato assigned to the elements! Well, except for the dodecahedron which apparently was consigned tothe heavens as part of the fifth element, the aether. Cool, eh?

She also noticed the name of a tract by Roman poet Lucretius, De rerum natura which in English is On the Nature of Things. this got a big smile because one of her favourite shows is a Canadian science show called The Nature of Things which we watch mostly in reruns. We decided the tract made a likely source for the title of the show.

This all sounds so highbrow and geeky. Rest assured there was a running joke on goose poop that continued through the whole reading.

How do you do it?

Beth over at Momformation has a few questions for homeschoolers. I tried to leave a comment on her blog but a popup saying something about Java script effectively told me to screw off.

So I'll comment here and hope she notices the link.

"What made you decide to homeschool?"

Just watching my daughter learn when she was 4. She liked to go into our bathroom and study all the moths that had flown in the open window the previous night. It got me thinking that just maybe sending her to school would get in the way of things like that and I started researching homeschooling and it took off from there.

"How does your child feel about it?"

She, and her brother, are quite happy with it. Like with Amanda's kids, it's simply what they know. I've let my daughter (9) know she has the option of visiting school as a guest if she'd like but she doesn't seem interested. What she's heard from her friends who mostly go to school seems to be partly responsible for that disinterest.

"Do you ever worry that he or she is missing out by not having a traditional classroom experience?"

Not really. There are things they get to experience simply because they are not in that traditional classroom and those things they get to experience are generally of greater importance in our family then the school things they miss.

"I cannot imagine spending all day with him every day."

It's not that big a deal. I've done it from the time they were babies but I know lots of homeschooling moms who brought their kids home from school. Moms are flexible people and can generally adjust pretty well.

"The amount of legwork it would take for me to try to make sure he was socializing enough if he didn’t have school seems astronomical."

If you're trying to imagine making up all the time your child spends with kids in school as a homeschooling mom, I agree. But there's certainly an argument and a lot of experience from homeschoolers that would point out that perhaps kids today spend if not too much time in the company of other kids, certainly a lot more than they really need. My kids have activities and neighbourhood friends that keep them socialized with other kids but it's likely nothing near the amount of time you're imagining. They're well adjusted kids who are popular in their circle of friends and seem to make friends much easier then I (with 13 years of public schooling) ever did.

One last thing...Homeschooling has taught me one important lesson. Don't imagine you can't do something. Don't imagine there are hurdles that would prevent homeschooling from working for you. That's not to say you need to consider it as it certainly sounds like schooling works well for your family just don't even bother with creating obstacles to possible choices. You don't homeschool simply because you don't want to and that's a perfectly solid and valid reason, as good as any of mine for homeschooling. Just don't start assigning yourself failures of the imagination. :D