Monday, January 22, 2007

3 X R = Boring

My experience with homeschooling so far has led me to strongly doubt that any "Back to Basics" approach is going to educate kids. Granted, teachers have more luck with boring drills than parents do, but pul-eeze, where's the hook? Give kids material that is interesting and relevant, and they'll learn to read, they'll learn history, they'll learn about the world around them, they'll learn science, and they'll learn math. Give them individual letters, words, and math problems, and they'll tune out -- wouldn't you?

I heard a recent NPR report on 12 year-olds who can't read, and I just wonder, how the heck are they stopping those kids from learning to read when they are 5, 6, 7, or 8? My guess is that they don't get to hear quality literature that makes them want to read, and there isn't reading material around that makes them interested in reading. And maybe other aspects of the atmosphere at home and at school don't encourage reading.

Right now (because I know my ideas are subject to change!) I believe in enriching the environment -- in reading quality stories of interest to the child (in our case I pick many, but not all, of them and may drop a reading if it isn't interesting to the student). For math, I'd love to find a project based curriculum, but the chance of any curriculum meshing with my son's particular interests are slight. So I look for opportunities (i.e. how many yous at 50 pounds would it take to equal a 600 pound hippo baby?)

Perhaps I got lucky, but I don't really know how my seven year-old learned to read. He can read though. Lately, I haven't been pushing him, although I did in the fall. Why would I? He reads at grade level. When he's ready, or when the right material appears (and I do work on that), he'll start reading books. Why make him dislike it by pushing it? I see no benefit to that at all. Certainly public education is not succeeding at creating a populace who loves to read, so I won't follow their failing model of reading x number of books a week.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Sick, sick, sick

All three boys are sick. What fun. The oldest has chickenpox. All three were exposed, but he's the only one with spots (he's had them for three days now). The middle son has an earache, a cough, and a fever, and the youngest has a cold-type thing that he's had for about a week. Oh, and my husband has a cold, too.

My mother-in-law is freaking out about chickenpox (I wouldn't have told her, but my husband did). That conversation went to the point of her asking if our oldest had had his other vaccinations. I think my husband may have lied to her, but I haven't seen the email so I take no responsibility for it.

Every so often I'm reminded that the many of the decisions that I've made with relative confidence are not the same ones that other people make. And my paradigm is just so different that it's hard to explain my choices. The possibility of convincing anyone that my choices are correct is small if they don't have a predisposition to agree; my best hope is to persuade them that I've made decisions in a thoughtful way, and that I've done research along the way. At least, I think that's the best I can hope for.

I'm not happy about having sick kids, but I stand fast on vaccinations. I think they are a mistake. They may have limited usefullness in areas with high mortality rates and high disease rates, but in my situation the risks far outweight the benefits. My kids can weather a bug -- brain damage and autoimmune diseases are harder to overcome, and affect quality of life in the long term.