homeschool

More on the CPSIA

When I started seeing the “Save the Handmade” signs pop up on the internet, I thought, “how cute” – let’s all save handmade. I had no idea that there was an actual law that had passed placing a ban on items created for children under the age of twelve. I am not sure exactly when I became aware of the law, but I do wish that I had known sooner.

If you stuck me in a court of law, I don’t think enough evidence could be found to ever convict me of being any kind of activist – not because I don’t care, but I’m usually silent on controversial matters. However, I feel so passionately about this because the law is so far reaching and affect so many different aspects of how we will be allowed to raise our children.

As I’ve researched this new law out, I have grown increasingly concerned about a number of things. Shannon from Rocks in My Dryer has posted an informative interview with Heather from Blessed Nest as to how the laws will affect the cottage industry – head over and read that.

Dana, from Principled Discovery has discussed how it will affect homeschoolers as well.

I also discovered a blog written by an environmental attorney, called The Smart Mama and she has been deluged with questions regarding the CPSIA. She interprets the laws in a clear, precise way , and she’s keeping an eye on the everyday happenings – so be sure to bookmark her and check back with her.

Does anyone else besides me view this as a direct attack on our children and family unit?

Let me explain, lest you think I’ve gone off the deep end. For instance, we purchase almost all of our homeschool supplies and clothing second hand. If this law passes, it means that we will be forced to either purchase brand new curriculum every year for each child to the tune of about $1000, or send them to public school. We will also be required to purchase every piece of their clothing from retail stores, instead of buying from ebay, goodwill, or children’s thrift shops. Our friends couldn’t pass down their children’s clothing to my children to wear anymore. Even the ability to sew our kids clothes will be hindered as fabric retailers will be struggling to comply with the new laws – yes, even fabric the retailers purchase after the new law is passed is included, not existing inventory. (Guess I should go buy up some fabric, huh?)

I don’t know about you, but we have been frugally minded for so long that I wouldn’t even know how to shop retail exclusively. It’s not as much fun, honestly. But even more so, it’s not really cost-effective when you have three kids that are constantly growing and changing tastes in clothes.

While some of you might consider me a conspiracy theorist, I really see this as a good law intended to protect our children gone bad in the hands of people who want more control.

Please help get the word out – let’s bring some attention to this law – post about it – tweet it using the hashtag #CSPIA every time you talk about it – link to others who are writing about it. Call your local representatives.

Do something.

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My Homeschool Rant for the Year 2008-2009

As a homeschooling parent, as well as a Christian, I am very careful to be respectful of other people’s choices for thier children’s education. I do not believe that homeschooling is for everyone, and though I have many friends IRL who homeschool their children, I have just as many whose children attend public or Christian schools. I would never in a million years, dream of telling them they are making a mistake having their child in a public school. I believe that the public schools need Christian teachers and students – the worst thing we ever did as Christians was to pull our kids out of public schools when we lost the right to pray in school. We are supposed to live in the world, without partaking of it. But that’s another rant altogether.

I am constantly amazed by the attitudes of certain public school educators in our area who believe that we homeschoolers are lazy and that we only allow our children to be homeschooled because we don’t want to teach them. Such is the case for one public school official from just across our city’s border who deems that the decline in their public school numbers is due to “the tragedy” that is called “homeschooling”.

His exact words were: “We are looking into the problems that we see. We know
that homeschooling is an issue, he said. We have about 120 kids that are
currently being homeschooled. I think personally that’s a tragedy. I think most
of those kids are not truly being taught.”

What he’s really saying is that it’s a tragedy that his school doesn’t have higher numbers so he can receive more money for his school district. He went on to say,

“While they do that, it gives them a way of avoiding mandatory requirements,” hesaid, referring to parents and students involved in homeschooling.

I take great exception to this kind of attitude. If you study the Stanford 9 test scores of homeschooled children versus public schooled children, you’ll find that the homeschoolers in the state of Arkansas (where this man’s school district is) ranked higher than kids in public schools in every area except for math.

Y’all. I often joke about being a “lazy homeschooler”…but that’s all it is. A joke. Anyone who homeschools knows that amount of time and money that a homeschooling parent puts into their kid’s education is an investment in their future – I want to see my investments grow and reap bountiful rewards for years to come. But I feel my highest calling as a mother is to instill godly principles and character in my children that will be passed down to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren and their children, and so on.

I know that there are families who homeschool who do not take the time with their kids necessary to ensure they are really learning the material. I don’t understand it, but I know they exist. I can think of a family right now whose daughter is a teenager and can barely read. While I think that’s extremely unfortunate, I submit this – who’s to say that she would have been any better off in a public school? I also know several teens who have graduated locally and can’t even spell or read. Which is worse? I don’t know.

Please don’t misunderstand me – I am not against public schooling. I think there are some incredible and talented, God-called teachers in our public schools. I think there are also some real louses – and as with anything in life, you get the bad with the good.

But I don’t want someone else forming my children’s opinions for them. Call it “brainwashing” if you like, but I want them to understand why we believe what we believe and I want it based on the Bible, not on some silly notion that the world began with a big bang and we all came from primordial soup. I believe that God created the earth in a literal six day span, that each day consisted of 24 hour periods, and that he rested on the seventh day. And I want my kids to believe that too.

But it’s not just because of my spiritual beliefs. I believe that the country’s future depends on our children today. In case you’ve not noticed, we’re not exactly leaving them with something great to work with. I don’t want to raise kids that are dependent on other “educated” people to explain current events to them, or tell them who to vote for. It is imperative that they decide for themselves after reading all the facts presented. I want them to be able to make good choices for their futures based on solid, godly principles. Have I said that before? Do you see a theme here?

I guess all I’m saying is that I think there are quite enough “educated fools” out there. I’d personally like to raise some without the latter part of the equation in their name.

/rant.

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“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree” – Emily Bronte

Oh how I love the changing of the seasons from Summer to Autumn, where every leaf becomes a flower, issuing a gentle reminder to slow down from the hectic pace of summer and just enjoy being.

We spent a homeschool day at the Fair last month and I’m just now getting around to post about it. It was a free day and there were lots of activities especially for the kids. The weather was cool and crisp in the early morning, but as the afternoon wore on, we all shed our jackets and sweaters, because the temperatures climbed into the low 80’s.

This year’s theme was “Thank a Farmer”, since almost everything we eat and wear comes from a farm. The kids learned that corn is in practically everything they come into contact with and were especially interested in the fact that even the root beer they love so much has a derivative of corn in it (corn syrup).

The kids loved the cow-milking demonstration – even I learned something, and I grew up on a farm. Did you know it’s illegal for milk farmers to sell unpasteurized milk? I didn’t. We have the federal government to thank for that…standards and regulations and all. I suppose it’s a good thing, because there’s less chance for disease, but it’s so sad to me. I grew up drinking milk right out of the cow. Literally. We’d milk Bossy (yes, that was really her name and she lived up to it) and once we’d carried the pail to the house, the milk and cream would already be separating and mom would scoop a big cup out for me to drink before school. I loved it…sigh.

My favorite was Elsie the cow and Beauregard, as evidenced by the number of photos of the two of them that ended up on my camera. I was saddened to learn that Elsie’s entire life consists of laying around at fairs such as ours. She will never be bred or know the true joy of being a cow in an open field. She lives her life behind those four little metal gates. And Beauregard is not even her calf – as she has never been bred…he’s just some cute calf they threw in for oohs and aahs.

We watched a rodeo demonstration – bull riding, calf roping, barrel racing…it all made me remember my childhood and our farm in South Texas. We did that for fun – there was never a crowd, but we’d hop on the pigs and pretend we were riding bulls. That in and of itself was probably way more dangerous than riding on a bull, since pigs are fiercely mean and would have probably killed us if they’d have known any better. The kids loved the rodeo clown – he came into the audience and shook hands and high-fived the kids. And yes, he walked like a cowboy…as bowlegged as all “git-out”. That’s Texas-speak for “to an extreme degree”, just so ya know.

And now it’s nearing the end of October, the leaves are falling, the air is cool and crisp and we’ve already been on our first hayride of the year. Sigh. I love Fall. It’s my absolute favorite.

What’s your favorite season? Why?

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Monday Morning Wrap Up

I’m not really here and you aren’t really reading this. I’m trapped in a swirling vortex of homeschooling goodness and mayhem even as you read (well, more than likely…unless you’re reading this at 6 am…in which case I’m still snoozing under the covers).

Happy Labor Day, everyone – hope you’re all fortunate enough to be able to take the day off from work – you’ve earned it. I will not be taking the day off, as I still have 3 loads of laundry to finish from this weekend…but that’s another story for another day.

A couple of quick notes before I start the day:

1. And we have a winner for Saturday’s Mystery Photo Contest! Bummer. Oh, I totally kid – I’m not bummed. Amber from Bringing Good Home – email me so I can get your “n”eat gift that I may or may not have in the mail for you.

Also — I’m revising my photo selecting process and I will not be blurring the photo next week…so be ready for something that doesn’t hurt your eyes, but that you still probably won’t guess. Bwuahahaahahaha. {that was supposed to sound maniacal, not evil…why did it sound evil?} Here’s last Saturday’s photo:

2. I am doubly excited about tomorrow’s Behind the Blog radio broadcast – we will have TWO guests on. Rick Calvert from Blog World Expo will be on first discussing THE blogging event of the year – Melanie is attending this year and I’m so jealous hacked off excited for her that I can hardly stand it. :)I know she’ll be bringing a lot of good information back to the table with her – but before she goes, why not join us and hear from the founder himself as to why he started the expo and what he expects from it.

Also joining us is Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch. Kelly is an accomplished blogger and writer who has been published in Boy’s Life, Budget Travel, All You, Chesapeake Family Magazine, Wisconsin West, or Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Mothers and Daughters. Her new book, “Empowering Youth” is now out and she’ll be telling us how she went from blogging to mainstream media. I encourage you to check out her highly informative 8-part series “Becoming an Author” on her blog.

That’s it for now. Working on about six designs simultaneously…going crazy in between times. So if I’m silent on your blogs, or I’m not answering my emails…please don’t hate me. Understand that I’m human and this is a season in my life. I’m trying to be better, but all I can do is all I can do right now.

I’ll be running leftovers this week because I want to be able to focus solely on my kid’s first week of school. The first week is always the toughest for new adjustments, etc…so I want to be free to be “free”.

What’s happening with you this week? Anything exciting planned?

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The Countdown Begins

For most mom bloggers, having your kids in school means having a period of 6-8 hours to yourself a day — oh to have that luxury on some days. 🙂

Homeschooling is a choice my husband and I made five years ago when we went from a dual income down to one. I had been working full time since I was seventeen without any real break and for the first time, I was feeling stressed between caring for our 8 month old son (whom I was fortunate enough to be able to take to my office with me every day), keeping my eldest daughter from feeling left out because she wasn’t with us all day, meeting my husband’s physical and emotional needs, and trying to keep work and home balanced.

My hat is off to any woman who works outside of the home – it is a constant struggle to maintain balance between home and work, and much like having three full time jobs – your work, child-rearing, and housecleaner/maid. I truly admire women who can do it. I just couldn’t.

Of course, I say I “couldn’t”, but only because we were willing to make some other types of sacrifices in order for me to stay at home. No cell phones, no cable or satellite, no dinners out, no movies, nothing extra for the first year until we became acclimated to our “new lifestyle”. I know some people who would rather juggle all three jobs than sacrifice what I’ve found so easy to give up. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in my opinion.

In addition to that, Katie had been enrolled in a private Christian school and we simply could not continue to pay for it and still meet our other financial obligations with only one income. We had two options: send her to public school or homeschool her. I have nothing against public schools, honestly. I think there are some find schools out there. But above that, there are some truly incredible teachers.

However, the school district we live in is one of the worst in the state of Texas and it doesn’t matter how good the teachers are when you overcrowd the class rooms, there is only so much attention your child is going to get. If I know anything at all about Katie, it’s that she’s a kinesthetic learner. She has to have hands-on activitites to retain things. So I felt like homeschooling was really our only option.

Last week, I mentioned my concerns about homeschooling three this year. So many of you left sweet words of encouragment and I just want you to know how much I appreciate it. I tried to reply back to everyone, however some of you do not have your email address enabled in Blogger (please do that!!!) so I was unable to reply in person, hence the “public” thanks.

It struck me today that I have never taught Kindergarten or 1st Grade Abeka (we started in 2nd grade) and now I am positively hyperventilating every time I think about developing lesson plans (I am using used curriculum and there were no lesson plans included, only teacher’s keys) for Aj and Abby.

My question is for all you seasoned homeschoolers – what should I focus on first?

My son can already read (thanks to last year’s book we read “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons), but he has no idea about phonics or writing, because we didn’t cover that. My youngest daughter has no clue except for what she’s picked up from her brother, so I’d like for them to both learn together, even though she’s 2 years younger. I really think she’s smart enough that she’ll pick up a lot and whatever she doesn’t, we’ll just cover next year.

Do any of you have any resources you could point me to? Any ideas or thoughts for making it run more smoothly? If you don’t feel like leaving it in a comment, you can also email me at simplyamusingblog{at}gmail{dot}com.

And so the countdown begins…T-minus 7 days.

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2008 Class Photo for our Homeschool Academy

Is it just me or has the summer flown by this year?

I’m probably one of the very few moms you’ll hear say that I’m just not ready for school to start. This is the first year out of five that I’ve homeschooled my kids that I am having doubts as to whether or not I can do it. I have actually lost some sleep over it the last few days as the date of Sept 1st draws nearer.

One of the bittersweet things about being a homeschooling family is that I don’t get to experience the same emotions as other moms when it comes time for the kids to start back to school. In some ways, I am almost jealous of these women who will soon have more free time during the day while I will still have my kids at home with me, attempting to do even more than I’ve been doing this summer. Having a schedule should help, but I’m still wondering how I’m going to do it all, especially having a third separate grade to teach this year.

Abby is starting Kindergarten. I’ve lamented all summer over the fact that I’ll not have a sweet story to tell my friends about how I dropped her off on her first day and promptly cried my eyes out because she was just fine when I left. Nor will I get to hear her tell any stories about her classmates and teachers and how they all sat in a circle and sang Kumbaya. Oh, I kid. Sort of. She’s the baby, my last. I’d sort of like to have that memory…does that make me a homeschool traitor? We’ll be using Abeka Kindergarten curriculum because I honestly think their phonics program is the best of all I’ve seen. I will probably pick and choose through her daily subjects, because there’s really no need for her to be “in class” for six hours a day – we’ll more than likely pare it down to just two hours daily.

AJ is a first grader this year. He flew through Kindergarten with flying colors. The thing I worry most about him this year is being able to teach both him and his baby sister simultaneously. Anyone ever done that? I must admit, I’m a tad bit concerned about my ability in that area. I want each of my kids to come away from school every day feeling a little bit better about themselves and their abilities. He is quite the energetic/rambunctious/raucous that I stay worried I won’t be able to keep him occupied while I’m teaching his little sister. We are also going to be using the Abeka program for him this year – again with the phonics – he’s still learning to read and after this year, he’ll have a solid foundation. This year I’m focusing on teaching him to write in something other than capital letters.

Katie. She is the old pro at homeschooling. This is her fifth year and she will approach it pretty much the same as she has every year for the last four. With an eager and willing attitude and showing much grace to her mother for not being the “perfect homeschool mom”. I have myself a middle schooler this year and it’s not lost on me. We are using Landmark Freedom Baptist curriculum with her. She has used this curriculum for the last three year and loves it. English, Math, History, Geography, Science and Literature. We’ll try to sprinkle in some craft time somewhere – and yes, there will be some experiments.

So what was the point of this post? I just needed to share my angst with someone.

If you homeschool, there is an unspoken pressure to be a “perfect” homeschool family with the best-behaved and smartest kids on the block. People expect your kids to know three languages and have the ability to work college-level calculus problems before they leave Kindergarten. You must have daily crafts, weekly science experiments, and monthly field trips.

The beautiful side of homeschooling (yes, there really is one) is that I get to have my three beautiful kids at home with me. I love learning alongside them and finding out what makes the world go round. I love seeing the light bulbs switch on when they finally “get” something they’ve been struggling with, and I absolutely adore watching the creative juices flow while they are working on a project. Most of all, I just love spending time with three of the smartest, funniest, most insightful, and most curious kids I know.

Maybe this year won’t be so bad, after all. I just needed a reminder of why I do this. Now all we need is a name for our homeschool academy. What should it be? Any thoughts?

Oh, and if you’re a homeschooling family, or you have ever homeschooled, I’d love to hear your thoughts as to how you taught more than one grade at a time.

If you’re not a homeschooling family, I’d like to hear from you – what is your first reaction when you hear someone is homeschooled? Do you expect them to be smarter? Artsier? Better behaved?

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