Saturday, December 27, 2008

What's the Purpose of Education Anyway?

What's the purpose of education anyway? Have you ever given it a lot of thought?

Here are two quotes worth pondering. Do you agree or disagree?

"Character development is the great, if not the sole, aim of education".
William James O'Shea

"Education is hanging on until you've caught on" Robert Frost

Monday, December 22, 2008

Cattle-call learning???

I'm a firm believer that kids will learn when they are ready to learn and if they are exposed to opportunities to learn.

As adults, we're the same! We usually learn things because:
We want to learn them
We are excited about something
We have a desire to increase our understanding or knowledge
We feel like it
We're motivated to do so etc.

I believe that children are the same. But, if 'forced' or 'coerced' to learn at a pace specified by some remote group of so-called 'experts' --- it seems to take the desire or excitement out of it. We're not cattle, afterall. We all learn to sit up, crawl, walk etc, at different stages. The same is with reading, math, science, music and all subjects. Some are passionate about a particular subject earlier than others. And...all have different talents, interests and God-given gifts. We do them a disservice when we place them into the same mold as everyone else. Life's purpose is not ONLY for getting a job! It's for becoming a good person, citizen, friend, neighbor, worker etc. and in contributing something worthwhile to others on this planet. If we allow that opportunity then each individual can contribute a God-given gift -- not just a regurgitated message that someone else has produced.

If the true purpose of education is to become like God (which I believe it is) -- then all the things that we do should be towards that end. And, I believe that the Spirit will guide us into making those choices which are best for each individual child. And not just what the Jones' are doing.

Joseph Smith said that "not all truth is of equal value". Are we spending our time on the things that are most truthful and matter most or are we the 'fast food' educational generation. Eating much of little value -- and never being nourished or satisfied?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Poem: Be Glad Your Nose is on Your Face

The past few weeks we've been doing some poetry with our studies. It's been very fun. I printed out a copy for each child and we've gone around reading them, discussing them, illustrating a few of them, and acting some of them out.

Youngest daughter won the 'acting' contest yesterday with her dramatic and very funny interpretation of this one:

"Be Glad Your Nose Is on Your Face"
Be glad your nose is on your face,
not pasted on some other place,
for if it were where it is not,
you might dislike your nose a lot.

The children have also started writing some of their own poetry. I was amazed that my 12 yr. old son was able to do it so well. It came easier to him than other types of writing -- and he spent hrs. in his notebook expressing himself, writing verses, etc. It was a real blessing to have a break-through with him in this area as he is able to express himself in ways that he otherwise hasn't been able to.

I love that we can be led to do things that will bless our children's lives. Each child is unique with their own gifts, talents, needs. It's always a blessing to watch them blossom and grow.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Over-Scheduled Child

I recently watched part of episode 408 of Real Moms, Real Stories that talked about the over-scheduled child. Author David Elkind talked about the stress face by kids who have busy schedules. He talked about the importance of PLAY in good child development and later creativity.

He commented that though many of the top universities have 'top students' --- they are no longer as creative as they used to be. Kids NEED time to play -- as it is research to them and vital to their learning and growth and proper brain development.

When overscheduled, they don't have free time to explore and to play in an unstructured and unscheduled way. It's a disservice to them when parents think that they have to fit everything into childhood. By doing so they are taking out the most important thing time to learn, time to think for themselves, discover and explore.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Homeschooling Daily Plan and Einstein Quote

Over the years of homeschooling we've used various daily plans. When the kids were younger we weren't as 'structured' as we are now. We always started with scriptures and prayer but there was more time for them to invent, create, read etc. at their own pace and as they desired. Einstein said "Play is the highest form of research". I love that and felt it was true. Children are like sponges and, when availed, soak-up all the wonderful things around them. A sit-down desk does not really provide that freedom.

We have a more-structured schedule right now. It works well for our current situation and the kids older ages.
We start with daily devotional and scripture study. (It's been very rewarding to mark and discuss scriptural passages together. We've had some powerful and touching discussions, questions asked and answered, and time is not a restraining issue.)

Then, we have sit-down time to do our daily studies which, this year, include:
U.S. History
Vocabulary and Spelling (which we take from the literature guide we are using)

On their own the kids do music, art, P.E., and computers. They also read great literature (we have a monthly homeschool book group that coincides with our study of U.S. History).
We also have a weekly library day and the kids spend a lot of time reading snuggled-up on the couch.
For music we usually have hymns or classical music playing in the background. This really sets a tone for the home and helps establish the peace that we seek. Life is not always peaceful -- but, wholesome music makes a tremendous and real difference.

I LOVE homeschooling. I love the blessing that I have to do so. I wish that more people would do it. There are so many blessings that come from it!

I also know about all the controversy about it and comments from the naysayers! Most of that comes from those who really don't know much about homeschooling and haven't read much about brain development, learning and education, social development, homeschooling benefits and options etc. It really is a valid and wonderful option for those who desire a safe learning environment for their families. There will be plenty of time in the future for the problems of the 'real world' as some like to call it. But, why place vulnerable children in that place before they are ready? These are precious souls -- entrusted to our care --- and so many leave their rearing to others.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why Homeschool?

I've heard all the negative comments about homeschooling. So, why would anyone want to do it?

Well, for starters, there are millions of families across the country who are choosing something different than the status quo. Many families have found that their Christian principals are not allowed in the public school classrooms and are opting for alternatives that better meet their childrens' growing needs.

Do a google search on 'homeschooling' and you'll find hundreds and thousands of voices who support this wonderful option. Many are strong Christians who want more influence in their childrens lives. They want to raise their own children, not have the state do it for them.

I know that there are good teachers who love the students and who make a difference in their lives. I also know that every year there are more and more regulations and the teachers have less and less influence and opportunity to do what they do best and what they were trained to do. We all know of the challenges that face teachers with large class sizes and limited resources. We also know of growing problems in the classrooms and watered-down textbooks coming from liberal federal regulators. There are exceptions but, for the most part, they are exceptions.

Research has shown that in a 6 hr. day kids' get about 20 minutes of real instruction! That is an appauling stastic. The rest of the time is spent in busy work, discipline, class changes, recess, bussing, lunch etc.

I am pro-education. The Lord would have us learn as much as we can and yet, not all truths are of equal value. Where better to learn than in a safe environment where personal talents and abilities are treated and expressed, where scripture study is part of the science and math curriculum and discussion, and where home and family are blessed and relationships strengthened?

Despite the fact that most people use public education -- I have chosen a different path. It's not the 'popular' one -- but, then, not all good things are. No, of course we don't want to be seen as 'weirdos' and yes, of course I want my children to be happy and contributing members of society. It's challenging to homeschool but it's also a blessing. The sacrifice is worth it and the blessings are enduring.

The argument is often 'but don't you worry about socialization?" The answer is 'yes'! That is another good reason to homeschool. Kids in school learn their social skills from others' their age who also have no social skills. There is more disrespect and less ability to discipline than ever before. Where will kids' learn proper behavior if they don't learn it from adults or older, more respectful students?

Perhaps your students are doing great in public school, love it, love their teachers and their classes. Or, maybe you are one of those who feels that they should 'endure' the bad parts so that they will learn to deal with the 'real world' someday. I wonder about that logic. Does enduring pain and misery in a negative situation help kids learn more and enjoy learning? Does it instill a desire for life-long learning or could it, perhaps, be causing lasting harm -emotionally and educationally -that will be difficult to overcome?

I'm not saying that trials and challenges aren't good. They are. Kids' grow amidst opposition and challenge. It's just the quest of 'which types of challenges do we want them to face and experience?"

This site is a resource of homeschooling websites, bloggers, curriculum and resources for any seeking more information. You may never ever consider it -- but, hopefully may come to understand why some of us have chosen this option at some time in our children's education.