Pulling Teeth

Last Monday (March 24th) I took our son to the dentist.  His adult teeth were growing in behind his baby teeth in front bottom. The dentist said this occurs in about half the people he sees.  It’s not something to worry about very much but his adult teeth were getting crowded back and I was worried. So, out the baby teeth both came. Normally the adult teeth grow up below and push the baby teeth out. Since the adult teeth for him were behind rather than below, the baby teeth were only a little loose. Unfortunatly, the dentist office will no longer be accepting our insurance so we may need to find another dentist 😦

math-u-see

This time of year homeschool families are thinking about next school year. They want to switch programs if things haven’t worked out and look into higher levels on the ones that have. Math seems to be a subject that has a lot of switching around. I think we must have lucked out because we have been very happy from the start with our math program.

We use Math-U-See and love it. They use blocks but not the regular base 10 type blocks. They have blocks already “glued” together 1-10. Each number rod is a different color. They use the same set of blocks from Primer (kindergarten level math intro) to calculus. No more switching manipulatives every few lessons just when they are getting the hang of them. The pages are black and white without any distracting pictures or drawings. This helps keep my guy focused but some kids/parents can be turned off with how plain the pages are. What does a duck with an umbrella really have to do with math anyway?

There’s a great DVD which introduces every lesson. There’s 30 lessons per book so you can go at your own pace. Each lesson has 3 lesson practice pages and 3 cumulative review pages. You can do as little or as much as you need to. We do math twice a week with the lesson introduction DVD and a practice page on Tuesday then review page Thursday. If he really understood the lesson then we may skip the review and do the next lesson. That’s enough so he gets it. We don’t have to do math every day or worry about doing so many pages per week like with Saxon or Calvert. Yet it’s structured enough so I don’t have to worry about what’s next.

http://www.mathusee.com Has online catalog.

plagiarism

It seems with every new technology comes new ways to try to beat the system. The internet is no exception. Although no longer a new technology, it is one of the most abused today. People use the internet to post porn and lure young children. They plan terrorism via e-mail. The abuses which concerns me the most though, is plagiarism and copyright violations.

3 days after I first opened this blog, I found 2 of my posts had already been plagiarized. Plagiarism is using writing by someone else and claiming it as your own. It’s frequently a copyright infringement or violation, which can be punishable by criminal prosecution of various degrees depending upon amount plagiarized and other factors. I’m not a lawyer so I won’t go into that aspect.

What I am is a writer. As a writer who works hard on her work, it upsets me very much to see how lazy and untruthful people are sometimes about writing. There are various types and degrees of plagiarism. Some are accidental, this I can understand and about which can be more forgiving. Some are deliberate and intentional. This frustrates me to no end.

Occasionally, plagiarism results from inadequately labeled research. If you are doing a lot of research and making your own notes at the same time, it can be easy to jot down a quote without noting the source right away then forgetting. Usually this kind of plagiarism is limited to a few short lines. It is very hard to spot unless you’re the author of the original work. I know of a case where a book was given to another author to review and she found several cases of this type of plagiarism. The author notified the other and the quotes were then properly cited in the final book.

Young children often plagiarize because they don’t know any better. They do a research report and just copy from several sources. While this is teaching them how to do research, they at the same time should be taught how to properly quote and cite sources. The two go hand in hand.

However, the most common reason for plagiarism is laziness. Students are simply too lazy to do their own writing. This is where the internet comes in play. If someone like me writes an article which someone else likes, they simply cut and paste it onto their paper and claim it as their own without doing any of the writing. There are even websites where you can buy a term paper. You don’t even need to research web sites to copy.

Theft in any form is wrong. It is taking something that doesn’t belong to you. It doesn’t matter if it is a car, money, or just words. Its still theft. It’s illegal, immoral, and un-Christian. Deuteronomy 5:19 tell us, “Thou shalt not steal” (KJV) This is the eighth commandment in the Ten Commandments.

In the case of words, those words are intellectual property. You didn’t do any of the work for them so why should you claim them as yours? It isn’t very hard to quote sources. If you don’t want to do that then paraphrase it into your own words. If you truly don’t know who wrote an item quote it as “author unknown”. Just don’t copy them off as your own.

If you want to use any of my posts, please leave me a note in that post’s comments and I will write you. I’m usually very understanding about such things if you just ask first and give me credit. Thanks.

Happy Easter!!!

HAPPY EASTER, HE IS RISEN!!!

If we weren’t sick this week, I was going to have Spring Break last week to teach the kids the importance of this Holy Week. I want them to understand that Easter is more than candy, egg hunts, and pastel colors. We don’t have Easter baskets or believe in the Easter Bunny. For without Easter, we wouldn’t be Christians. In some ways, it is a more significant holiday than Christmas.

Unfortunately, like Christmas, Easter has become commercialized and lost most of its religious meaning in America and returned to its more pagan roots. Both were originally pagan holidays “Christianized” by Constatine. Christmas was celebrating winter solstice and Easter celebrated fertility. Hence trees and lights for Christmas and eggs and bunnies for Easter.

It’s also why the date of Easter changes to always fall on a Sunday; it’s still attached to the lunar calendar. Some churches get caught up in perfecting dates. Perhaps this isn’t the exact date on the ancient calender which He arose. Does the date truly matter or is the act the important thing? I say its the act. We need to have a date which we generally agree upon to celebrate and remember this. If we start over analyzing it, then the date becomes more important than the event. In one of my prior posts, I talked about essential and non-essential. I say the act is the essential thing and the date, while not totally non-essential, is perhaps much less essential. The glorious point is HE AROSE and today we celebrate this! Happy Easter.

keeping your place, routines, games

9/18/07 keeping your place, bedtime routine, games

I don’t know if I mentioned it before or not. I have a good way to keep your place in the curriculum guidebooks. Use a large paper clip attached to the day’s lesson page. At the end of the lesson move it (if necessary) to the next page. Use a separate paperclip for each subject in the book. This keeps the pages neat for use with another child later. It saves time because you already have the page(s) marked and aren’t constantly flipping through to find your place at the start of the lesson or if you drop the book.

Richard was more cheerful in his lessons this morning. We haven’t done “mark the vowels” for 2 days now. It was getting monotonous. I don’t blame him for getting tired of it. Handwriting is still a struggle to get through but we manage. We finished Fun With Pets and started Tiptoes. He said reading from Tiptoes was fun.

 

The workbooks and parts of the readers are in both manuscript and cursive writing. I like that it exposes him to both rather than suddenly switching all to cursive like some curriculums do. Using cursive is optional in the Abeka first grade workbooks. Next year we will begin cursive. I want him to learn manuscript better first.

 

We are also firmly into a sleep/wake schedule. The kids go to bed between 9-930 and he gets up about 8-830. I think part of his school problems were from being tired as he was getting used to the schedule. Over the summer we were a bit relaxed about schedules but now that we are doing school, it is important to have a schedule and not be tired. I wonder how many kids in public schools have trouble learning simply because they are tired from not having a consistent sleep/wake schedule.

 

I have found that lowering the lights in the house about half an hour before bedtime (using a lamp instead of the bright overhead lights) helps the kids calm down and be ready for bed. After a snack and a story read by me in my lap, the kids go to bed. She goes to sleep while he gets an extra few minutes (10-30) of free reading in bed before lights out.

 

Richard chose (with no prodding from me) to play checkers during quiet time when Karen was starting her nap this afternoon. We played one game together then he played with the pieces by himself. He did pretty good. I thought he might win but made one mistake which I was able to take advantage of. I could tell he was thinking about what to move and we discussed some options at times when he was undecided which would be best. I agree with my dad that old fashioned board and card games (checkers, candy land, go fish, old maid, yatzee, monopoly, etc) are good for children and teach them many things. It makes them learn the value of rules, strategy, and fair play. Its pretty hard to cheat in video games but relatively easy with board games so honesty is also learned. These games can be modified for difficulty or silliness, thus teaching creativity. I don’t think by teaching children card games they will later have a gambling problem. If you model that card games are just fun then that will go a long way..

freedoms

10/15/07 freedom

One thing has been on my mind lately is freedoms and the role of the state. How much freedom is too much, how much is protectionism? In education, I think as long as the outcome is the same, what difference does to method make? The main goal of schooling is to prepare young people to be active, productive members of society as adults. I keep hearing about outcome based education and standards. Standards are good since they give a goal to work toward. However, it assumes everyone learns to same and at the same speed, which is totally untrue, especially in elementary children. Also, not every family values the same goals.

What got me started thinking on this was an article last month from Roxton Falls, Canada about a group of Mennonites who ran their own school. They didn’t teach the state mandated curriculum since evolution and sex ed went against their beliefs. Their teachers aren’t state endorsed but came from their church community. However, the province of Quebec told them they had to teach the mandated curriculum in total with licensed teachers or be shut down. This would have put the school in the position of teaching something very against their beliefs. They even threatened to take the kids into foster care if they didn’t comply! So instead these families chose to move to the neighboring province of Ontario. The families weren’t doing anything wrong, just educating their children as they believed. It wasn’t like they were teaching the kids to do something evil. The community supports the school too. The mayor of Roxton Falls is even petitioning to allow them to stay. It is a small town so the loss of these families will make a big impact. The Quebec government says the school, which teaches 11 children between the ages of six and 13, is illegal because it does not have a permit, its teachers are not licensed and it doesn’t follow a standard curriculum.

Does it matter as long as students are learning? According to Radio-Canada (http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2006/10/12/illegal-religious-schools.html) , there are up to 4000 students (K-12) attending illegal schools in Quebec whose diplomas aren’t recognized by the province. The government says they don’t know (read control) what is being taught and by whom in these religious schools. Some school boards are filing petitions to get them shut down and force the students to attend the public schools. These children still learn the basics of reading, writing and math. Considering that according to one report I read which says more kids drop out than graduate in Quebec, I think it is commendable churches and parents want to take over educating their own kids. They aren’t taking government funding so they are saving the government money.

It seems the Mennonites are constantly being forced out for their peaceful, Biblical beliefs. Originally they were forced out of Switzerland. They were given refuge in Russia under Queen Catherine, however, the czar broke her promise about compulsory military service and the Mennonites left for Germany. They left there for Canada and the US at WW1. Mennonites left the Canadian providence of Manitoba in the 1920’s after it passed laws requiring the children to attend public schools which contradicted their beliefs. The Roxton Falls group were the only Mennonites remaining in Quebec. Ontario has 69 Mennonite schools with an enrollment of more than 3,000 children.

Is this an infringement on freedom of religion or a state’s strict insistence upon equal education? Logical arguments can and have been made for both sides. However, it is the children and families that are suffering as this debate goes on. I hope the US doesn’t start to force strict curriculum upon everyone. However, with benchmarks, standards, and penalties for “underachieving” schools under No Child Left Behind (NCLB) I fear we may be moving in that direction.

On a personal level, I met some of the Ontario Mennonites on our vacation this summer. They were very nice families. The children were polite and seemed well educated. My kids enjoyed playing with them. They did not play guns or violence like other children. This was very refreshing since we don’t allow gun play either. It was hard at times to tell the kids not to play (stick) guns with the other kids at some campgrounds. My kids wanted to fit in but the other kids didn’t want to stop so they played apart. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to the women. We shared fresh popped popcorn at one campground.

On another subject. We only have a few chapters left on our current read aloud, Swiss Family Robinson. I have decided the next shall be Surprise in a Boot. This is a collection of 22 short stories from Rod and Staff which I bought with the last Christian Light order.

Pizza Hut “Book It”

10/19/07 Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT!

In the latest packet of stuff from our homeschool program, there were certificates from Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT! Program. For those of you unfamiliar, this program encourages kids to read by rewarding them with a free personal pan pizza for accomplishing a reading goal. In theory this is a good idea. However, if you look closer it is a veiled mass marketing directly targeted to kids (get them hooked while they are young so they will come back when they are older). How likely is a parent going to go to Pizza Hut and only order the reward pizza? Not very. So they loose $5 for a little pizza but when you also order drinks and pizza for everyone else, they come out way ahead. Also if you read the fine print, certificates can’t be combined into a pizza party. So if a kid wants to celebrate with his friends only a few can use their certificates at once. The others must buy a pizza or wait until another visit to use theirs. I’m not sure how many can be redeemed at once before this kicks in so those with large families may have to make multiple visits as well. Plus, it uses fast food as a reward which we don’t think is a good idea either.

Peanut butter

10/28/07 peanut butter

We used the last of the peanut butter in a jar Friday. No big deal. We had more. A lot more, 35 pounds to be exact! Back at the beginning of the month we went bulk shopping including a stop at the local mill feed store where we bought 25 pounds of oatmeal (slow cook, yumm), 50 pounds of wheat (to grind into flour), and the 35 pounds of peanut butter. (That’s right, the peanut butter weighed more than the oatmeal.) The oatmeal and wheat were no big deal. We just scoop a week’s worth into a jar on the counter and close the big bag again with a clothes pin. The peanut butter is a different story.

It came in a big bucket (I think it’s a 3 gallon but Ray thinks it is 5). Anyway it’s in this big bucket. It’s not just any kind of peanut butter, but the old fashioned crunchy kind which needs to be stirred. Hmmm. How do you stir 3-5 gallons of peanut butter? With a 1×2 of course! First we took the handle off the bucket and let the kids roll it around the kitchen for half an hour or so. Then we stood it up and had dinner. After dinner, we took off the lid. We put the bucket on old newspaper in case of spills. Ray and I then took turns with a long plastic spoon to stir the top part. Once we had stirred as deep as we could with the spoon, Ray went in search of “a stick”. He returned a few minutes later with a piece of scrap 1×2 about 3 feet long. Richard held down the bucket. I stirred with the spoon as Ray scraped up peanut butter from the bottom of the bucket with the board. Once it was stirred, Ray spooned it into 4 jars. This used about 1/3 of the bucket. We put one jar in the cupboard and the others went in the freezer along with what was still in the bucket.

The whole operation took about an hour. It was a lot of work but fun. So the next time you spread your Jif or Skippy, think of us stirring our 35 pounds of peanut butter. Plus, we still have to stir it occasionally in the small jars as well.

Halloween

Halloween

Perhaps I’m being overly conservative but I’ve slowly come to the realization that Halloween is not the safe, fun holiday it is portrayed as. Yes, growing up I went trick-or-treating and dressed up as a witch myself, but even then I sometimes wondered (especially as I got older) why we had this strange holiday to begin with. It wasn’t happy or patriotic like other holidays. It was a time for scaring yourself and others; a time when older kids sometimes committed petty vandalism by stringing toilet paper in neighbors’ trees and smashing eggs on cars. Sure, girls can be princesses or cheerleaders and boys can be sports stars but mostly they were witches, goblins, skeletons, devils, and other evil creatures. It is only recently that marketers in an effort to boost sales have tried to morph the holiday into lighter themes for kids while at the same time ghoulish costumes have often gotten more grotesque and gory. It is the most holy day with pagans and satanic cults. It glorifies death and the undead. I did some research. It was originally a Celtic celebration of the dead when it was believed the dead spirits of the past year were freed to roam around before going to their final resting place. Google “Halloween history” to find an unlimited number of pages dealing with all different aspects of it.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to pass out anti-Halloween tracts to trick-or-treaters like I know some people do, I may have the kids help make a cross to put on our door and keep the lights off. One idea I liked was passing out pencils with “Jesus Loves You”. I’m not sure how expensive this would be though compared to the tracts (perhaps a group could get together and share the cost and pass them out in different places/neighborhoods). A tradition here in Fairbanks is to have a fireworks celebration on Halloween since it is too light on July 4. We may go to that depending on when it starts. (We have class until 830.) However, the last few years one of us has had a cold so we didn’t do anything. We don’t feel we are missing out either. I don’t see the true purpose in celebrating this holiday. It has evil roots, celebrates Satan, encourages overeating of candy and greed as children try to outdo each other in the amount of candy they can collect, and has become very materialistic with expensive costumes, decorations, and of course candy. How could I in good conscience endorse or encourage my family and kids participation in such a “holiday”?

A good website giving 22 Biblical reasons to avoid Halloween: http://christiananswers.net/q-eden/halloween.html

Essential and non-essential

3/17/08 Open to interpretation?

I probably shouldn’t be so judgmental but I was browsing a church’s website which says some things that concern me in as much as it shows the state of apostasy. They say they are open to everyone, which is fine. However, they don’t seem to have much of a solid core of beliefs besides a general sort of trinity and loving others. Their beliefs statement fits on half a page with just 3 paragraphs. In fact they contradict themselves if you read on. They say the

“Bible is completely true and teaches about God, ourselves, and how life is to be lived. We are firmly committed to the core of Christian faith as clearly revealed in the Bible. At the same time, we celebrate an atmosphere of freedom in respect to matters of interpretation and practice within Biblical guidelines. As a result, Christians from a variety of church backgrounds and individuals new to the Christian faith are to be found in Covenant Churches. We sense rightness in being a church that is based in the essentials of the Christian life, not the non-essentials.”

I wonder, who decides what are the essentials and non-essentials? They give no guide as to what method should be used to judge this. Is it just what feels right? Is it just what fits in with your lifestyle? How does this affect other Biblical aspects? What about the non-essentials? Why are they non-essential if the Bible is completely true in teaching how life is to be lived? How can they have a deeper understanding of their relationship with God and Jesus if they don’t agree upon what specifically is essential and non-essential as a group?

I’m not saying I agree with all churches’ belief statements, but at least they are usually more specific. This church (as inferred from the brief belief statement) seems to be ala carte, humanistic Christianity with little direction or real focus. There isn’t even one scripture verse or phrase included! I interpret their belief statement as: I’ll do my essentials and you do yours and as long as we agree upon these general, vague ideas about Christianity we can be a church.

This brief, vague sort of beliefs seems to be more prevalent in the world today. Some churches may have long, detailed belief statements, but in practice they are no longer following their statements. I would think it best to periodically review their belief statement and revise it to better show what they do in practice rather than just in theory or revise their practice to match their statements. There should have a set time frame (perhaps every 5 years) when they review how well their practice matches up to their belief statement so they don’t drift away from the basic tenants they were founded upon. If they have changed, the changes should be reviewed for the basis of the change and reflected in an updated belief statement or align current practice to the original beliefs as needed.

It is important for members and attendees (depending upon how membership is defined) to know and understand what are the basic beliefs of their chosen church and the scriptural foundation for them. Some require a class to familiarize applicants in more detail before membership. That is fine but what about casual, regular attendees? They need to understand what basic doctrine the church believes as well. Unfortunately, this isn’t always apparent from the sermons, hence the need for the class. A church’s beliefs should be transparent and apparent from the sermons and other church activities, as well as the daily lives of the congregation. They should be fairly specific rather than vague and totally open to individual interpretation.

Christian congregations are traditionally defined as a group of like-minded believers coming together. How can you have a congregation if you can’t agree specifically upon what is essential and non-essential but leave it open to individual interpretation? But then again, that would be exclusive and our society frowns upon such things. (Don’t even get me started about Bible revisions and versions in churches) Hmmm.