The Arts Community Gets It Half Right

In today's edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal, Arts Reporter Andrew Adler writes about a few missed educational opportunities in the local arts community. The ballet, opera and orchestra groups all recently conducted shows which included interesting themes. For example, the orchestra played pieces that were connected to each other in some way. Yet all three groups apparently did nothing to help educate the audience on the theme.

Mr. Adler is right. These groups could have done much more to educate the attendees and given them more information to learn. It wouldn't even have to be that extensive because those interested would then be able to take that information and do more research and investigating of their own.

This method of doing something interesting and making connections is what learning is all about.

It's a prime example of how education can just simply be a part of an individual's daily life. Many people who have not had their curiosity sucked out of them through ineffective schooling experiences are hungry for educational opportunities such as these.

My husband and I perodically subscribe to Actors Theater and I am usually disappointed in the programs they hand out. I want to know much, much more than they tell me in the program. It's often just page after page of advertisements. Certainly I understand they need to create the revenue needed to maintain their programs, but a bit of extra value would be great. I would even be willing to pay a dollar or two for a separate program hand-out created to give interesting information about the presentation.

People are hungry for information on topics they are interested in, so why not find a way to feed that hunger?

Attending a wide variety of local events and activities was a huge part of our homeschooling 'curriculum.' The more the organizers of these events and activities can do to educate attendees the better.

Peanuts Are Not Only For Eating

On Thanksgiving day my family played a game called Peanuts. This is a card game that has elements of solitaire, but there is also a speed element to it. It is also known by other names such as Pounce and Nerts.

There are several places online where you can learn how to play Peanuts. Here's one. Here's another.

Each player needs a deck of cards to play so the first thing we had to do was find grandma's stash of cards. We ended up with new slick decks, old decks that were so sticky you had to wonder where they had been, and two decks that had the same design on the back so someone differentiated between them by putting a big black slash mark on each card of one deck. This was called the Slash deck. We had one set of Scooby Doo cards which no one could read very well because they had huge pictures of the cartoon characters and tiny pictures of the suits.

Our next problem was finding a place to play. We put together two large rectangle tables to form a larger, almost square, table. This makeshift table was so large we didn't have room left for chairs, but that didn't matter anyway because everyone had to stand up in order to reach all the cards they needed to play the game.

Our family has added new rules to the game to make it more fair, since most of us like to complain that the winner must be cheating. One of the rules is that after each hand is played, everyone moves over one spot. This means that throughout a game everyone has to put up with bad table positions and also less-than-ideal decks. Before we change places, we all make sure to shuffle the deck for the next person too. None of this ever makes any difference for me. I always lose badly.

I read some of the rules online and noticed that one site says that if you get more than 5 people playing, it begins to get out of hand.

So of course my family played with 11 people.

The Folks That Created Guitar Hero

were obviously thinking of me when the idea for this game hit them. It is the perfect video game for me. I always wanted to be able to play the classic rock songs I listened to while growing up and I tried learning guitar several times. I always gave up though, because I didn't have the patience to practice as much as I would need to in order to be able to play my favorite songs.

But with Guitar Hero, I can just pick up the guitar and feel like I'm playing those songs immediately. I love it. Our whole family, from grandma on down, has played with this game. Players can improve quickly, people of different abilities can play together, with each player playing at his individual level.

You won't get a blister on your little finger; you won't get a blister on your thumb.

However, I do have one word of WARNING: If you are unable to do the splits before playing this game, you will not be able to do them while playing.

Now, please excuse me, I need to go find my ice pack.

Should homeschoolers limit video game time?

My son always loved to play video games. So of course I let him because I'm committed to child-led learning. But I have to admit I had a hard time getting enthused about these games. Are they really good for anything and should we limit how much he played them?

In order to figure out how useful they might be as a learning tool, I started to play with him. Or should I say I tried to play with him. It soon became apparent that my brain couldn't send messages to my fingers fast enough to keep Super Mario from dying an early death. A very early death. I would pick up the controller and before I knew it, the poor little Italian man would be free falling to oblivion. Whenever I was playing the game, the little plumber boy spent a lot of time in a horrible pixel purgatory.

With this lack of ability, my son always beat me. Badly.

This is when I decided we needed to limit video game time. Yes, if I was ever going to have the chance to beat him, I would have to take charge as a parent and lay down some rules. Rules are important if parents want to be able to beat their kids. And I love beating my kids.

However, my plan did not work. He continued beating me at every video game I tried. Super Mario Brothers, Monster Truck Madness, Warcraft. Oh, and that stupid game where you had to quickly recall your multiplication facts. Seven times eight always messes me up. But now I'm quick to know it's 57.

So if you're like me, and you enjoy beating your children, then you should definitely limit video game time.

Did Curiosity Really Kill The Cat?

Everyone seems to have no problem noticing the natural curiosity in babies and toddlers. They need this curiosity because it's how they learn about the world. It's also how they get in trouble, but that's what makes a parent's job interesting, isn't it?

Watching a young child discover something for the first time is an experience all parents find amazing. Parents usually do everything they can to promote this curiosity and help their toddler learn and, in most cases, it happens naturally and easily.

But then suddenly, at a certain age, the parent's confidence in this approach can change. It can be sucked right out of them, quicker than a vacuum cleaner can suck up last year's Milk Duds your child stored inside the heating vent.

Parents are told, either outright or by implication, that just relaxing and helping your child learn what they are interested in is not good enough. No, no, the child needs to go to a formal institution and learn the 'right' way, the way educational experts have decided is best. Other people now know exactly how and what your child should be taught, in what order, how long it should take (or else they are labeled in some way), etc.

What a bunch of bunk. You don't need to send your child to an institutional school to learn. Learning happens naturally. Homeschooling is a great way to keep it natural, relaxed and fun.

Hey, by the way, as I wrote this post, I was curious about the word bunk and looked it up. Did you know that the word bunk comes from a congressman from Buncombe County in North Carolina, who, in the 1820s gave a long nonsensical speech that did not relate to the matter at hand? Apparently he wanted to make a speech 'for Buncombe' and thereafter when someone spoke nonsense it was called Buncombe and was shortened to bunk. We currently have so much bunk flying around Congress now that I think OSHA is going to start requiring safety helmets and...

Oh, sorry, I just went off the track of my post. Or did I?

Joy Behar, Homeschooling and Obama's Kids

Apparently lots of homeschoolers are in an uproar over something Joy Behar said on The View about homeschoolers. In the conversation, she used the word demented.

I saw the video and now I say, so what? Why all the fuss when in fact there is a bigger point here and Joy Behar was the one who made it:

Barack and Michelle should homeschool their kids!

And all homeschoolers out here should be spreading the word to other homeschoolers to support and encourage these parents to take charge of their children's education.

The Obama family should have as much right to have fun homeschooling as my family did. The Obama family should have as much freedom to direct their own children's education as my family did.

And I'll be glad to support them and I'll do all I can to show them how to have fun with it.

Can you imagine how much more fun this whole family will have if they just decide to homeschool those cute little girls? Those kids will have the most amazing education ever. Think of the activities they can do, the people they can meet, the things they can learn hands-on. It's such a great idea I'm getting jealous.

Just imagine. Your dad is President of the United States and you are homeschooled. That would rock!

Think of all Barack and Michelle could do with their kids if they weren't trapped in ANY institutional school, private or government.

So come on, Mr. and Mrs. Obama, you can do it! I know you can. Don't be afraid or feel like you don't have what it takes to do it as many parents are when they first consider the idea. You'll have a lot of support as homeschoolers everywhere will be there for you.

Why not give two of the best gifts you could ever give to your entire family: freedom and fun through homeschooling.

Homeschooling Laws

In the United States, each state makes its own laws concerning homeschooling and they can vary widely. If you want to see a short synopsis of the laws in each state, I recommend checking out this page at the National Home Education Network (NHEN).

When I hear about other states, I feel fortunate that I live in Indiana and did so the entire time I homeschooled my kids through highschool. Indiana is known as one of the most free states for homeschoolers. In Indiana, homeschools are simply non-accredited private schools and do not have to follow laws and regulations set up for accredited or government schools.

This is a big reason I think our family was so successful. We had the freedom and flexibility to do what made sense for our family. We could change things quickly and there was no bureaucracy or heavy-handed regulation.

Well, unless you count the forms my kids made me fill out when I wanted permission for 5 minutes of privacy in the bathroom.

Why Another Homeschooling Blog?

Because there are not enough people having fun!

I know from experience that homeschooling parents often get so mired up in the details that they sometimes can't see how well it's really working and how much fun homeschooling can be.

If you want to homeschool, you can. One of the very best things about homeschooling is the freedom you and your children gain from the experience.

You are in charge. You get the freedom to make the best decision that fits your family.

You get the flexibility you need to find options that best fit your family's needs and situation.

With this freedom and flexibility, you also get to have lots of fun with your children.

What could be better than that?