Thursday, July 17, 2014

Priorities in Homeschooling

 [First posted on this date in 2003, meant to be the beginning of a series, but I'm not sure I ever finished it.]

The obvious priority, because it applies to all parents, is to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Since "man's chief end is to glorify God and fully to enjoy him forever," everything we do should be with the ultimate goal of glorifying God. Beyond this obvious priority, I've had quite an *ahem* adventure figuring out how to work academics into the equation.

My first year was an academic disaster. The curriculum I had chosen was so overwhelming! Every day I had to do Bible, reading, math, calendar, penmanship, history, science, health and safety, music, poetry, and physical education. The curriculum said it could be done in two hours a day, but I found out that whoever gave that estimate obviously did not have, in addition to the first-grader, a preschooler, a toddler, and a nursing baby.

The first day, I got through Bible, reading, math, calendar, and history (plus two loads of laundry, cooking and cleaning up after three meals, and countless dirty diapers). On the second day, I did Bible, reading, math, calendar, and science (plus two loads of laundry, cooking and cleaning up after three meals - you know the rest). The third day I did Bible and calendar, and got caught up in history. I was beginning to realize that I might never get to some of the other lessons!

On the fourth day, Hurricane Opal interrupted us, so we did Disaster Preparedness, that is, we went to the BX and bought a camp stove and a lot of bottled water, then came home and taped up the windows – plus two loads of laundry.... That night and the next day we had a family with us that had had to evacuate a military base in Florida because of Opal.

Because of that storm and the chance we had to minister to another military family, I realized that Real Life should be as much a part of homeschooling as learning math.

By the next Monday, I had decided that the two really important things were to read through the Bible with my children so that they would become familiar with God's Word and love it, and to teach my children to read! History lessons were so much fun we did them in the afternoon during our regular story time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesday with words: Isaac Asimov is so funny

The crucial point in man’s mathematical history came when more than patterns were required; when more was needed than to look inside the cave to assure himself that both children were present, or a glance at his rack of stone axes to convince himself that all four spares were in place.

At some point, man found it necessary to communicate numbers. He had to go to a neighbor and say, “Listen, old man, you didn’t lift one of my stone axes last time you were in my cave, did you?” Then, if the neighbor were to say, “Good heavens, what makes you think that?” it would be convenient to be able to say, “You see, friend, I had four spares before you came to visit and only three after you left.”

~ Isaac Asimov, Realm of Numbers, pp. 1-2

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy Independence Day!

[The following is a repost from 2011]

In her post Video Games, Home Education, and the U.S. Supreme Court, Brandy discusses what is being called the third wave of home school persecution, and has encouraging things to say.

In the course of her post she mentions the earlier days when “socialization” was the big issue that home schoolers had to deal with, but then explains that this newer form of persecution is based on the fact that when a parent educates his own children at home, he is passing his own ideas down to his children, and those ideas might be dangerous or unacceptable.

But I’ve come to believe that this is what the whole socialization argument was about – not that home schooled children won’t know how to interact politely with other people on an individual basis, but that they won’t know how to fit into Society at large, meaning, they won’t grow up to be good contributors to the national economy.

The other night we were at Home Depot looking at new flooring for our kitchen and the young woman who was helping us, mentioned the installation fee a couple of times. After a while, when we’d finished picking out what we wanted, she said something about calling to schedule installation, but I said, “Oh, I have a son – he does all my installation.”

She responded with mock horror at the idea of us not paying someone to do our work, and I said, laughing, “I know – our family is so bad for the economy.”

And this is the point: As soon as you figure out that you can raise your own kids from infancy to adulthood without needing a paid professional to do it for you, you figure out that there are scads of things you can do yourself, and those kids grow up assuming that doing things as frugally and as independently as possible is the way Normal people function. They pay for fewer and fewer services, and in a service economy, if everybody did that, where would we be? This, I believe, is what so many fear about parents educating their own children at home.

One of the first times we visited George Washington’s birthplace, one of the blacksmiths was telling visitors about how economically independent from Britain the Virginians strove to be, refining their own iron ore, for example, and forging it into the necessary items, instead of sending the ore the England to be refined and forged there, as Parliament wished. In fact, Parliament wanted all raw materials to be sent to England for processing, and then bought back (as value-added products, in today’s speech) by the colonists. So the colonists were supposed to raise sheep and harvest the wool, but send it straight to England for carding, spinning, and weaving into cloth which would then be purchased by the colonists to make their clothes from. The same with timber, which the colonists were expected to harvest and ship to England, to be turned into the lumber and shingles they would buy to build their houses and barns with.

But at the Pope’s Creek Plantation, where George Washington was born, all of the family’s basic needs were provided by the farm. The plantation functioned like a village, with a blacksmith shop, a spin shop (for spinning, dying, and weaving wool and flax). Cobblers and carpenters had their shops, too. Most of the Virginia plantations worked this way, and allowed their craftsmen, who were nearly all indentured servants and slaves, to hire themselves out to locals who needed their labor. In this way, local communities provided for all of their basic needs. Wealthy families bought luxuries from Britain when they shipped their tobacco harvest to London, but not the daily necessities Parliament wanted them to buy, such as cloth for everyday clothes, lumber, and hardware.

Well, this blacksmith, in giving us this history lesson, remarked that, “When a people have gained economic freedom, political freedom won’t be far behind.”

That’s something to keep in mind this weekend, as we celebrate our political independence from Great Britain.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Maria Comic update -- chapter one is complete

At a page and week and 30-something pages per chapter it's going to take a while for the whole thing to be done, but the girls finished the first chapter last week, and this week published a bonus page -- "In case you ever wondered what our heroine is thinking at any given time."

Read the whole thing here.