Archive for ‘School Bites’

October 6th, 2007

Columbus Day Confusion

by Venomous Kate

Although we homeschool, I try to keep the Big-Eyed Boy on a schedule similar to his public school friends. That way he’s never stuck “doing school” while his friends are outside playing. Ensuring he has a chance to play with his peers is important to me, since it helps address the whole socialization thing which causes so many people concern over home education.

Sometimes, I wonder if that’s such a wise idea.

Take, for instance, the argument my son and his little friends had this morning while playing together outside. One of the neighborhood kids mentioned they don’t go to school on Monday because the nation will be celebrating how Christopher Columbus discovered the United States.

My son, who’s been learning about this very thing for the past month, pointed out that Columbus in fact landed at the Bahamas, and that Columbus Day itself is really October 12. We just happen to observe it Monday, instead.

His friends, being products of the public school system, basically told my son that he’s an idiot. The Bahamas, their education has told them thus far, are a string of gorgeous beaches where Mommy and Daddy go for a luxury vacation without them.

Bless his heart, my son at least had the wisdom not to point out how Columbus is far from the Great American Hero his little friends seem to think, or that within three years of landing on the islands he’d enslaved 40,000 Lucayans he’d encountered there.

Instead, he left their illusions safely intact and decided to come home to play a few hands of Uno with me. Since I’d assumed he’d want to play outside as long as possible, I was a bit surprised to find him cutting his playtime short. He didn’t want to stay outside with his friends playing, he said, when they clearly needed to be inside convincing their parents to homeschool them so they wouldn’t remain so clueless.

All of which reinforces my belief that any “socialization” which requires my son to dumb himself down to the level of his peers really can’t be all that good for him.

May 23rd, 2007

This Summer: Time For (More) Learning

by Venomous Kate

For the past few weeks I’ve seen a trend among my friends whose kids attend public school. It started right around May 1, when households everywhere flip the calendar to the new month and see — usually scrawled in a child’s big, bold letters — NO MORE SCHOOL!!!

Some of my friends react with sighs and sudden stomach aches, making mental note to refill their antidepressant medications. Others hop online or scan the local news for summer camp listings, swim lessons, festival dates and just about any other activity that will keep the kiddies occupied and off of mom’s last nerves.

It’s not just the longer parenting hours and added expense my friends are dreading. They know full well that Johnny, who just made major strides in reading and math this year, will inevitably go through summer learning loss, reversing his progress by “approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.”

Meanwhile, as a home-schooler, I also suffer the “What do I do with him all day?” crisis right around this time of the year. Sure, we could home-school year round: many families do just that. But I need a break, too, and I’m not even the one whose brain is having to wrap itself around new concepts daily. I just want a few weeks to catch up on my pleasure reading, to maybe learn a bit of CSS and, I admit, to play a few new video games that have been awaiting my attention. But how do I do those things and keep my kid entertained, while protecting against “summer learning loss”?

It dawned on me this morning that I really don’t have to change a thing that I’m doing. I just have to call it “Summer Break.”

See, we’ve been using a program, Time4Learning for the past year. My son adores the interactive, quick lessons and funny cartoonish-games. I love the brief 5-question quizzes that check for comprehension and mastery, and the “Portfolio” that tracks his progress. It’s perfect for homeschooling, but as I’m starting to realize, it’s perfect for summer school, too.

Now, I want to point out that this entry is being filed under the “Sponsored Venom” category for one reason only: Time4Learning credits members who blog about the program. Even without that renumeration, I’d rave about this program, anyway. It’s done that much to make my life — and my son’s schooling — easier. And I tell everyone I know about it. Just ask Chelle.

Or ask my friend, whose son despises the “busy work” his teachers send out: the repetitive worksheets, the copy work and general educational regurgitation that’s a hallmark of an over-extended teacher who can’t take time for one-on-one with each kid. Since his school was having a “half-day,” but my friend couldn’t take off from work to be with him, I offered to watch him for the afternoon. When he arrived, The Big-Eyed Boy was sitting at his computer, clicking away and laughing.

“What’s he playing?” the little boy asked.

“He’s doing school,” I explained.

Five minutes later, the two of them were sitting side-by-side learning about multiplication. Not that they knew it: they were too busy having fun.

When my friend picked her son up, he gushed over how much fun “doing school on the computer” is. His mother pointed out that he really does love computer games. What kid doesn’t these days? But what amazed her was that her son — who just the prior evening had thrown a tantrum while working on a math worksheet his teacher had sent home — could now understand the concept of multiplication. She says he now asks to come over every day after school and “do more school” with my little boy.

I finally told her about Time4Learning, and how it’s perfect for after school, summer school and, yes, even homeschool. With a scope and sequence designed to meet National Standards, it’s perfect for both supplemental, enrichment education as well as primary subjects from preschool through middle school.

Of course, her first concern was the cost. Having spent a small fortune (and I mean that) on homeschool curricula we abandoned mid-semester, I was wary when I first checked out Time4Learning, too. But at $19.95 per month ($14.95 for each additional child), with a 2-week money-back guarantee, I couldn’t find a reason not to try it myself. For less than the cost of a couple of those annoying workbooks, Time4Learning offers:

» Language Arts
» Math
» Science, and
» Social Studies.

I can’t emphasize enough how great a difference the program has made in our homeschooling day. My son looks forward to his computer time, and he consistently makes strides day after day, week after week. Meanwhile, not only can I be confident his core education meets our state’s standards, but I also have more time — and patience! — to work with him in other areas. Together, Time4Learning and I are providing my son with an amazing, year-round education that he actually enjoys!