Tuesday, July 29, 2008

What is going on?

I have been reading and learning about some political stuff lately and first I was saying no way would that happen here. Apparently I am wrong, and I admit I am getting a little scared by all of the legislation that is attacking the family and the children right now. You can read a copy of SB 1322 here, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/sen/sb_1301-1350/sb_1322_bill_20080714_amended_asm_v95.html. This in effect, removes the ban on using schools to teach communism in California, with the intent to persuade others both in a classroom school and in the community to join procommunist groups and ideas.

Rob Reich is currently working on a piece legislation that would attempt to enforce homeschool students access to opposing worldviews and minimal autonomy and would attempt to limit value systems being passed on from parent to child. He says, "Children are owed as a matter of justice the capacity to choose to lead lives--adopt values and beliefs, pursue an occupation, endorse new traditions--that are different from those of their parents. Because the child cannot him or herself ensure the acquisition of such capacities and the parents may be opposed to such acquisition, the state must ensure it for them. The state must guarantee that children are educated for minimal autonomy." The link is here http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000010/200204230.asp.

In a 1,200 page bill, there is a small paragraph that would require distance education students to be watched in there homes. The link is here, http://chronicle.com/free/v54/i46/46a00103.htm. Big Brother, here we come.

Of course, then there is the bill that is attempting to make preschool mandatory, even though the studies came back showing that most students did better academically if they were home with a caregiver until Kindergartener or later.

Well, we have already passed laws that allow children to have abortions without parents even knowing through the schools and laws that children must be taught sex and alternative lifestyles in school. It appears that many of the special interest groups that run the schools feel, we the parents, can not be trusted to raise our kids to have the ideas they want them to have and so they must take over. Oh, and the University of California just passed a requirement that says they won't count any classes that come from a Christian perspective when students are applying for enrollment. Other religious perspectives still seem to be okay, as long as it is not Christian. And the UN Convention on the rights of the child, has a lot of things in it that should scare parents. More information on that can be found here http://www.parentalrights.org/blog/. Okay, I'll stop with gratitude that my kids aren't in the immediate system controlled by antifamily special interest groups. Yet, I fear for those trying to get into our homes.

"The time will come when only those who believe deeply and actively in the family will be able to preserve their families in the midst of the gathering evil around us." Spencer W. Kimball Ensign, November 1980.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Do Homeschoolers Need a Credential?

I was asked if homeschoolers should be required to get a teaching credential, and replied as follows. No, they should be able to teach their children without a teaching credential. Look at the theory behind homeschooling, which is that one can learn outside of an institution, does this learning outside of an institution stop just because you are an adult. No, adults are also capable of learning the information they need to do what they need to do outside of an institution, so it makes no sense to require them to earn an institutionalized degree if they can get the information they need better elsewhere.

I am currently getting my teaching credential and homeschooling. I can honestly say that I will never use the two classes on English language learners, the class on classroom management, nor the student teaching of a classroom for three months, among other classes, in my homeschool. I did find the Learning and the Brain class interesting, but I also find I already know way more than all of the other students and most of the teachers about learning theory, how to teach multiple ages, and multiple subjects at the same time. I also am much more aware of different curriculum options and how they would work with different types of students, because of my own research. All in all my own research prepared me a whole lot more to homeschool than the teaching credential I am working on-it is almost pointless in a homeschooling environment.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Aubrey's Baptism

Aubrey was ready and very eager to be baptized last Saturday. She couldn't wait to be washed clean and to officially be a member of the church. She very eagerly and from her heart made a commitment to follow God. My older kids have both taken this step very seriously, which I am grateful for. She was very happy to have her daddy baptize and confirm her, as was I. It is one of those moments that make this Mom so happy to be a mother to these wonderful children. Aubrey got her scriptures afterward and was very excited about this. We have a kind of tradition in our family that the children get their first set of scriptures and case at their baptism and then they are invited to take turns with us reading scriptures at night. She took this right of passage very seriously and proudly reads to the family from her scriptures each night. She often stops to ask a question or to give an impromptu narration of what is going on. I encourage this as the conversation is a pearl in itself.

Our Lives as a Ministry

When I heard Sherri Dew speak at women’s conference, she said one thing that struck me, which I have often thought of since. She said to let our lives be a ministry. This idea has come up again and again in the weeks since then. Cindy Rushton did an online homeschool conference, and in one of the talks, she was speaking about how important it is to put our families first, but then also to enlarge the stakes of our tent. In other words, our family and our home is to be the example and we are to invite others into it, to allow them to have the benefit of the ministry we our performing in our own homes. I like the idea of teaching others how a family that loves and learns together works by opening the doors when appropriate and inviting them in. Of course, this presupposes that our homes are running in a fashion that others would want to emulate. This idea also means that our ministry does not ever interfere with our families, rather it is an extension of it.

Later in the week, I was reading Finding God in the Hobbit, by Jim Ware, and the idea came up again, from a slightly different direction. He shares how when he was young he would read books and then want to live them. One night he wanted to be like Tom Sawyer and so snuck out of his room to meet a friend and sneak down to the railroad tracks where several ramshackle old shacks stood, in the hope of getting a glimpse of some of the railroad tramps. He never made it, though, because his friend never showed up. He then relates this to one summer as an older teen he had a young teacher in Sunday School, who would spend his days trying to share the gospel and do God’s work. On Sundays this young teacher would share the scriptures as one long story of God’s love to us and his plan for us. One day it dawned on the teenage boy that his teacher was taking the story from the Bible and doing exactly what he had done with books as a boy. He was acting them out. He was recreating the story in his life by doing what God had done. He was living the story. In other words he was allowing his life to be a ministry.

Sometimes I have a tendency to want to stay in my home because I can create what I want there, but as a follower of Christ I think it is important to go out and share who we are and what He has done for us, and also to invite others in to our home and let them see how we are different from many other families, because we have the good news of Christ-the gospel.

The Pear Tree

Aren't these beautiful fruit?

Our Garden, or Lack Thereof

We didn't really plant a garden this year, since we knew we were moving. But we still had the grape vines, which are doing great. This is what my husband will miss the most about our house. I took pictures and thought I'd share. Also our pear and apple tree are producing fruit for the first time this year. My father-in-law grew a bunch of tomato plants from seeds which he saved from a tomato he liked last year and so he gave us some and I did put them in the ground.

Friday, July 04, 2008

In Praise of Dictation and Shakespeare

When Kamron was in kindergarten we had started one of those fill in the blank spelling workbooks. After having him diligently work through about three pages I scrapped it. To me it was not worth the struggle with me pencil-allergic son to get him to spell the and in and cat and dog. I figured he was sure to pick up these words on his own without figuring out which of the ten choices fit in the specifically shaped blank. Then last year, my slightly less pencil allergic son was writing an essay-his spelling was terrible. What had I done? Now, I still didn't fill bad that he hadn't been doing spelling workbooks, but clearly something had to be done. I thought of getting a high priced spelling program, but before I did that I decided to try what Charlotte Mason said to do, which is dictation. Maybe it would help with his spelling. So I began pulling the most interesting sentences that I could find from the books we were reading and I gave them to Kamron, one at a time. I told him he would have two days to study the sentence and then I would hide the sentence and read it to him and he was to write it down in his best handwriting, getting all of the spelling and punctuation correct. He studied and he wrote out words he thought were tricky. I coached him on looking at a word until he could see it with his eyes closed, and then we hid it and I read it to him. At first I made sure he got each word right by immediately correcting any mistakes. Within two weeks his spelling errors in all of his writing diminished by half. This last week, we did this sentence from The Hobbit -
"He dreamed that a crack in the wall at the back of the cave got bigger and bigger, and opened wider and wider, and he was very afraid but could but could not call out or do anything but lie and look."
his 'd' in dreamed was backward and that was it. I am so happy to have Charlotte Mason as a mentor, her methods are so often right on target.

We are also doing something else she recommends, which is to study Shakespeare from a young age. This term we are studying "Twelfth Night." We are not tackling his actual play, but the version by the Lambs. I begin by giving a little background information and then once a week we read about 3 pages and then act it out. This helps the children to keep all of the characters straight. We got to the point in the play where Orsino asks Viola, who is dressed up like a boy to go and help him woo Olivia. Aubrey broke down in laughter, and sits up and says, "Let me guess Olivia is going to fall in love with Viola, because she thinks Viola is a boy and then everything is going to get mixed up." Of course, this is exactly what does happen. They could not act it out seriously and so turned it into even more of a comedy than it is. Their cousin studies with us 2 to 4 days a week and has been here for the whole play so far. Aubrey is Viola and their cousin was the ship's captain at first and then became Orsino. Kamron on the other hand wanted to stay the long lost twin brother, who, last we heard, is still tied up to the mast of a ship. So he's over in the background, with his hands behind him like he's tied making blub, blub, blub noises. Aubrey began to do both parts of Viola and Olivia amid laughter and they never did get through it, but I'm sure they will remember it so that's okay. Who knew Shakespeare could be so funny? Oh, by the way, "woo" is apparently an absolutely hilarious word if you are between 8 and 10 years old.



It started out wonderfully. Beginning by crossing a footbridge over the little stream. It was gravelly, so we opted not to push strollers and I took the baby on my back, while Kevin carried the water and supplies. We soon realized that we would have to slow our pace to about 1 mile per hour, so that all of the textures of sand could be felt, all of the bugs could be seen, all of the shady spots could be enjoyed and the trickling of the stream could be heard. We went about two-fifths of a mile and turned around. It fell far short of the two and a half miles needed to reach the falls, but we considered it a good attempt for the younger set.

Driving to the Hike

So Kevin and I have heard about a hike at Beale Falls and we have been wanting to do it for some time. We were enticed by descriptions of a meandering brook, varied scenery, easy trail and spectacular waterfall and swimming hole at the end. So we got in the car and drove.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Kamron Will Be Missed

Next Sunday is our last Sunday in our ward. I've been told I will be missed, but for each time someone has said that about me, I have heard ten comments about my children being missed. I have had several people admit to picking a spot to sit in Sunday School based on where my husband is sitting with Baby Seth. They all want to be in the row just behind, so that they can watch his smile light up his face and his eyes brighten at the slightest provocation.

Then there is my oldest. There is something about him that has developed over the last couple of years that I did not quite expect. He is quite innocent in many ways, and sometimes that will make other children be inclined to shun someone. For instance, he will create songs that go with his lessons at church and sing them for his class. I admit I was a little nervous as to how the other children would react as they can often be cruel when a nine year old does something that is percieved to be uncool, and his class has boys from nine to elevan. But this didn't happened, because there is something about Kamron that made whatever he did the cool thing to do. For one, he is so confident in himself and he feels so assured that everyone does and will like him. He has told me, "I don't know why everyone likes me, but they do. I am almost everyone's favorite." Hmmm. Yet, this has made him pretty forgiving of others also, as, if they are rude to him, he is sure they are just having an off day, or perhaps they just don't know how to be friendly. He, also, loves Sunday school, scouts and to sing and learns all of the new primary songs after going through them a very few times, this and the fact that he knows the scripture stories and can participate well in the lessons has made him loved by all of the adults.

Also, there is one thing that quite suprised me over the last six months or so. His class of six to twelve boys was often the most irreverent and hard to contain, then a few months ago their behavior underwent a marked improvement. They all began singing and really trying to learn the songs, participating in the lessons and staying on their chairs. We were all quite baffled as to the cause as neither we, in the Primary Presidency nor their teacher was doing anything different. Then after church one day one of the boys came up to me with a huge grin and said, "I got the pipecleaners today! It's going to be a dragon." I looked at him and said, "Oh, really," not having any idea what he was talking about. I asked Kamron, and he told me that he was trying to get the boys to listen better and behave at church, so he gives them points and whoever gets the most points gets a pipecleaner guy. I taught him last year to make little men out of pipecleaners and since then he has become quite ingeneuos at it, making crowns, dragons, soldiers, full costumes and hundreds of other things. I have even used some of his pipecleaner creations as props for my lessons at church. I didn't know before this that they had become the much sought after reward that was keeping all of the boys in line. Later, I suggested that we do an activity and teach all of the boys how to do pipecleaner sculptures. He looked at me and said, "Mom if all the boys can make them then they won't need to earn them from me." Ahh, point well taken, and I can smile as he stumbles across attributes of friendship, leadership and economics.

My Phases of Motherhood

When I had my first child, there was a learning curve, but for the most part I felt like I was on vacation as I had begun staying home and with the three of us there really wasn’t much to do.

When I had my second child we bought a house and that plus a toddler and a baby kept me busy, but I felt equal to it.

When I had my third child, we were back in a cramped apartment as my husband returned to school. My oldest was now a kindergartener and I did not feel quite equal to teaching him, and having a toddler and baby in 750 square feet of space with no yard. It was then that I realized that if I was going to succeed at this I would have to step up quite a bit and simply work harder. It was also during this time that I went to a women’s enrichment class. The topic was on getting children to do chores. I was astounded by the list she handed out of what children were capable of, broken down by age. I actually raised my hand and said, “Can you honestly expect a three year old to be capable of these things?” She smiled and said hers were, because she had trained them. Well, I decided if it was all about training then I would do it. Fruit was slow in coming and it was a bit bumpy like most of my first endeavors, but I persisted.

When my fourth child was born, we were back in a house and I was working hard and I was training hard. I also began for the first time home schooling two children at two different levels, and I had a baby and a toddler. Sometimes I felt exhausted-I took a lot of naps.

When my fifth child was born, life got easier. A lot easier. Incredibly easier. My oldest two children are such a huge asset that I admit sometimes, I’d rather they didn’t spend the night at relatives quite so often. My third child is beginning to bare fruit, and my fourth is in training. I am still busy and my days are quite full, but I find everyone gets what they need, our house is reasonably clean and the children are reasonably well behaved and I am not doing all of the work. Part of it, I’m sure is that my expectations may be a little more realistic. Also, it is helpful to me that I sincerely delight in my children almost all of the time. Not through conscious training, but by example my older children have learned to delight in the younger and even my husband has been known to copy some of my phrases and tell me cute and funny things that the children have done, if I ever miss any.