Friday, May 29, 2015

Ninja Squishy Balls!

I'm not sure how I even came to find this, but it looks super cool. I may just ask my teens if they'd like to make some--and also thinking it could be useful in my French class in the fall:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Montessori High School Schedule

I came across this and thought I would share it:

I found it very interesting that they have 20 minutes of Care for the Environment and Closing time. I'm not entirely sure what the rest of the schedule means exactly, though. Does each grade have their own subject for each time block? Is the time block simply the time they can choose which of the listed subjects they can work on?

I'm not sure that such a schedule would be required at home with a single student. I do like the scheduled 15 minutes of physical activity, but I think I would make it EVERY day.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm mad and disheartened :(

My friend has been trying to raise money to get her and her family moving much sooner than they had anticipated because of an unstable person in their lives--someone who has been unstable enough that it's not unreasonable to think he'd be one of those people you hear about in the news who was never in any real trouble, maybe a few personality issues, but just snaps one day and bad things happen. And they are afraid they could be the target. Having been connected with enough people who have problematic, unstable people in their lives and hearing their stories, my friend and her husband's worries are not unwarranted. There is nothing for them to do legally. There are just warning bells going off that they need to tread lightly with this guy. And ideally, get out of there.

They have, in my opinion, a truly legitimate reason to be raising money. They have in the past couple of months raised $210.

Then you have Nicole and Joe Naugler, whose behaviour (including involving one of the children in threatening the neighbour with a GUN, although he denies it, apparently--somebody is lying and I guess I have to be humble enough to go that I can't know who for sure, but the accusations are there) and words got their children removed from them (after being warned repeatedly that that's what would happen if they wouldn't cooperate). And they, as of this moment, have raised over $40 000.

I'm mad. Disheartened. My friend has a disability that makes it impossible for her to hold down any kind of regular job. She homeschools their kids. She is trying to make a living out of writing. They don't have any run-ins with the law. They have a worrisome person in their lives. And hardly anybody has helped. Then you have the Nauglers, with Nicole clearly lying or not remembering events since she has said that she couldn't be guilty of disorderly conduct when she was in the car (she wasn't in the car) and so much more. It is entirely possible that the cop did not follow things as he was supposed to, as some have alleged; I don't know Kentucky law. But her behaviour, whether she was right or not, was uncalled for in so many ways.

My heart aches for my friend. She's not even looking to get 1/4 of what the Nauglers have made in less than a week. :(

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The Nauglers: Victims? Maybe Not.

If you only read one article online about a situation, you may not be presented with all of the facts.

Popular posts right now are defending Joe and Nicole Naugler in a complicated situation. The two claim that their children were unlawfully removed from them because of their unschooling and living off-grid. And people are getting riled up about it, believing only the one side.

Then you do some searching and find other sides to the story. And holy cow, there is a WHOLE other side. Theft of the neighbour's water, trespassing to get that water, asking a child to go get the gun when the neighbour told him he had to keep off his property, piles of garbage, broken glass and nails (and the children roam freely without shoes or anything), another family living the same way and who knows them saying that the family has been banned from their house for a while and so many other things.

But, interestingly enough, the most compelling information on the other side is actually supported by the Naugler's audios found here:

Should I go into great detail about the issues and concerns these audios bring up? How about a mother telling her child "don't do it, he'll just shoot you because that's what cops do when you don't comply"? About a mother who has police saying the need to investigate the allegations and her resistance is going to lead to her children's removal, who then answers back, when the cop tries to get her to understand by giving an example of her witnessing another woman or a child being attacked, that she wouldn't call the police, she would only intervene if her own children were being attacked.

Nicole is trying to claim the police arrested her for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest when she was just sitting in her car and that if you listen to the audio, you can tell. Listen to the 3rd audio for that--she was not in her car, she was clearly losing it, she was absolutely resisting arrest... I had to admit that upon seeing the photos of her bruised arms, I wondered how poorly the cops had behaved, but then you hear her completely losing it and it was very easy to imagine her physically resisting with all her might and I think the cop said something about her jumping and scuffling. Well, that means the cop has to hold on tighter. He's arresting somebody who is resisting arrest. And if she's resisting strongly enough, he has to hold on tight enough that it will bruise.

The things she said during the conversation with the cop I find truly concerning. I completely understand why the cops had to take the boys and arrest her. She might be all, "Oh, they were going to let me go and then changed their minds without any reason," but enough time passed that I suspected they quickly got approval from somebody higher up to take the boys right then.

She claims all kinds of rights, but doesn't seem to have ANY understanding of what those rights actually mean. She tries to accuse the police officer of trespassing. She, in a strange twist of things, uses US rights and amendments to try to prove her case but then completely rejects the authority of the police and government. It makes no sense whatsoever. Now, this lack of logic doesn't have anything to do with her kids being handed over, but her misunderstanding of and unwillingness to obey the law of the land she's living in is what has led to this situation.

Oh, and when you listen to the audio, you'll hear both her and the cop talk about "the last time"--a year ago, another CPS allegation had been made, but that time, she let somebody talk to the kids. She's not letting somebody this time. Not unless an attorney is present, which has absolutely nothing to do with CPS situations AT ALL from my understanding. But I admit I could be wrong. I've never, however, EVER heard of children demanding a right to an attorney to speak to a cop or caseworker over CPS allegations or even being able to demand that right.

All she did was dig herself into a larger hole, make the police even more convinced she's trying to hide something. She went so far as to tell the cop that she wouldn't call the police if she witnessed a woman being attacked by her husband or someone else's kids being attacked, but she would intervene if someone was attacking her own kids. That is not comforting for a police officer.

The husband can be heard on the third audio, saying something about her being arrested because they weren't around to have the kids talk to them, but he's clearly unaware of his wife's having refused to allow the police to talk them, so at least it wasn't a pre-planned thing on both their parts. She also told the two boys, as they were being taken, to not saying anything under any circumstances. Whether she's just fanatical about her perceived rights or whether she's got something to hide, she clearly has no idea that such behaviour is going to be seen by police as her hiding things.

In a nutshell, this story has nothing to do with homeschooling, unschooling or living off the grid, but about resisting the laws of her country of simply having the kids speak to authorities after her husband's threat with a gun and other allegations led to a CPS complaint. Well, the removal of the kids was the result of not only not letting the kids speak to the cops but the other things she said that the cop clearly found concerning (as did I); her arrest was the pure result of her behaving the way she did when the cops were removing the boys.

Btw, here's a really good page on some of the other side:

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Montessori High School Quote

"The teacher provides order to an adolescent’s learning, not to dictate what should be learned, but to help structure the process by which everything and anything can be learned."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Grammar Time: More healthy or healthier?

If you read the wealth of comments by people online, you will come to the conclusion that "more healthy" means the same thing as "healthier."

No, sorry, it doesn't. And sadly, there are foreign language teachers being told that it's the same thing. If that were the case, dictionaries would indicate that "healthier" is the same as "more healthy," but they don't.

There is a time, however, to use "more healthy"--but not in the sense of "healthier." Take, for example, a case of you serving your kids healthy food. You want to serve them more of it. So, you say you want to serve them more healthy food. You're not saying you want healthier food that what you have chosen as healthy food for them, you just want to serve more of that type of food. Makes sense?

This kind of thing actually affects comprehension, so I don't think it's one of those things where we should just say, "Oh, the language is evolving and it's okay." It's not like my personal preference of sticking with saying "thee" for "the apple"; comprehension and clarity aren't affected in the slightest by people saying "the" instead of "thee". When you don't use comparatives properly, however, it can defintely affect comprehension.

And whatever you do, don't ever, ever, EVER say, "more healthier"! ;)

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Are Your Electronics Rules for Teens?

I'm curious to know what your electronics rules are--both for your teens (homeschooling or not) and parents.

We don't have any set rules--something that bugs my husband because he's more black-and-white in his thinking than I am--but that doesn't mean we don't go at one point, "Hey, you're spending an awful lot of time doing this on this device," or "Hey, you've already spent a ridiculous amount of hours doing this electronic stuff today, so no, you're not allowed to go on the Playstation." When they were younger and didn't really have devices, it was rather easy to set limits for screen time. With them being teenagers and having their own devices--and in their rooms--it's creating some challenges which might not be real issues, but definitely something my husband and I are thinking about. Are they spending too much time? What's a reasonable amount of time? What's a reasonable location?

My husband and I grew up differently, which creates some conflict there: he was in a house where there was a TV in his parents' room, a TV in the living room and a TV in the rec room in the basement--which was really his and his two brothers' area to watch TV and play video games. I grew up in a house where my mom had a TV, there was a TV in the living room (that I never had to ask to watch) and when I was in high school, I got my own TV for my room. I don't recall any rules being put on it, but I was the kind of kid who really needed my sleep, so I wasn't prone to staying up super late anyhow. Granted, we didn't have as many channels and such, so that difference is admitted by me.

So, my husband has his idea of how he grew up is how things should be; I have my idea of how I grew up isn't how things "should" be, but it's fine. My thinking, too, is what's not fine is if they watch things they know we won't approve of or if it gets to be too much. I have, for example, put a limit on our son's watching because it seems to affect his sleep more than his sister--he will literally watch something on his iPad until midnight and be awake at 8:30 or so and tired because he needs more sleep than that. His sister might watch something on her laptop, and until midnight or past, but it doesn't seem to affect her sleep the same way AND she tried on her own for a bit to follow some sleep recommendations and not watch anything for half an hour before she tried to fall asleep and it took her an hour or more longer to actually fall asleep. It's more for the background noise of familiar programs or lately, things like My Little Pony: silly, not too engaging, relaxing.

He didn't really say anything about our daughter watching stuff on her laptop until it had become something she'd been doing for a while. She's 17.5; doesn't seem like a time to be telling her to stop, something he realizes. He has concerns about what she might be watching; I check her browser and Netflix recently watched fairly often. There's never been anything of any concern to me, although he wonders about the horror movies she watches (except he and I both talk about horror movies we saw in junior high and high school). She pretty much watches stuff after everybody else is in bed, and given she has always been a night owl, since birth, she watches a bit before she's ready to fall asleep, usually around midnight or so. Is this a habit we should be discouraging is the question on my mind today.

Another issue in our house is our daughter's use of her phone after a certain hour. My husband said today he thinks she should have a curfew on it; I'm not opposed to that, but his idea of a curfew, I believe, is based on what his students have as curfews--but his students have to get up between 6-7am each day, whereas she can sleep in, and does, often until sometime between 8:30-9:30. If a school student has a phone curfew of 9 or 10, then is it unreasonable for her to be checking things at 10:30 or 11? So many questions to ask oneself as a parent! I do think that if she goes to school next year, as it looks like she will do, and she's on her phone at 11pm every night at that point, yes, it might be time to say something, although I would take more of a position of discuss it with her and work something out and I think my husband would like he and I to figure something out and tell her. (Is that a man vs woman thing? Or maybe it's just the Montessori in me: work with the child!)

My son spends HOURS AND HOURS on his iPad watching YouTube videos about games, mostly, although sometimes he does share cool stuff like Matthew Santoro's videos. (He's got awesome educational videos, btw!) I am starting to feel like it's really too much, but again, do I just determine the limit, or his dad and I determine the limit, or do I figure out a way for him to choose to cut back and regulate himself? Maria Montessori would say we need to set the limits when the kids can't set them themselves. I guess I'd like to see first if he and I can figure out a limit together.

Each teen has their own iPad (well, Mini), my son has an iPod Touch, my daughter has an iPhone (yes, she pays for the monthly bill), we have an iMac, I have my Asus laptop, my husband has an iPad from school, we have a TV in our bedroom, there's a TV in the family room and a TV in the basement, which we had designed to be the "teen cave" and it hasn't really turned out that way... (My husband puts the TV on and the sleep timer every night at bedtime. Every night. I know in high school, I often had to put something on--radio, TV, music, something--to get to sleep. As our daughter is finding is useful and our son thinks is useful, but it's typically just listening to music that gets him to sleep.)

That's just a little picture into what's going on around here. Homeschooling offers the possibility of much more openness and while the Sudbury Valley school might say, "Hey, let them do as they please!",  the Sudbury Valley school also has all kinds of kids and activity opportunities around that change the environment and influences. (I hear the "change the environment, change the child" quote. I suppose it applies to teens just as much to little ones or adults. I'll have to think about this more.)

A long way of giving you some info on my side of things to ask you: What are your electronics rules for your teens? Be it the amount of time, do they have to ask permission to use this or that, is there a curfew for certain things, restrictions on locations...?

And with that, I think I need to go upstairs and check if my son is actually getting ready for the day. He went upstairs about 10 minutes ago, but that's not a guarantee he isn't watching something else on his iPad instead of getting dressed.

Homeschooler Morning Routines

I had a realization today.

I don't remember the schedule my kids used to have. I do have a recollection of my kids having to be up by a certain time because the other homeschooled kids (from another family) were coming at a certain time and I didn't find it a good idea for my kids to still be in bed. I don't remember how long it took for them to get ready in the morning.

Me, now, I like to get up, I'll spend some time in prayer, maybe some spiritual or motivational reading, a bit of exercise and breakfast and then I'm tackling all of my tasks for the day--but that morning routine is part of my tasks for the day.

My daughter might spend a bit of time looking at her phone or iPad while she's walking downstairs, grabbing something to eat, but it's short-lived and upstairs she is getting ready for the day or starting work in her pjs.

My son is: Watch a video maybe before actually getting up, slowly get breakfast going, slowly eat breakfast while watching something on YouTube (it literally takes him at least twice as long as it "should" to finish a bowl of cereal), keep watching stuff on YouTube, and finally getting up, getting dressed (which feels like it takes forever, too) and then probably going to play guitar for an hour or two before doing school work. And then going back to guitar.

I was starting to heckle him a bit this morning about his taking so long to really get moving and get going on school work. But then I realize that his dad spends about 45 minutes or so just reading or looking at stuff on his phone/iPad and now I've realized I've got my own non-work routine that takes an hour or so... Just because I'm up earlier than he is doesn't mean he shouldn't have time to wake up and get ready for the day in his way!

I do still feel like, hey, you're spending too much time watching videos on your iPad. So, I've just told him it's the last video. But he's welcome to have other ways to get himself going in the morning, even if it takes longer than I think it should.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pretending for Education

It's crossed my mind that there's a lot of "pretending" going on in school. Not so much Montessori schools, I don't think, but just thinking about assignments given in local schools here. They don't use the word "pretend," but that's what they mean:

*You have been hired as a summer camp counsellor. This and that were promised to you (blah blah blah) but this is what really happened (blah blah blah). Write a business letter to the director to tell them about the situation and request extra pay be provided due to the extra hours you worked.

*You've been in an accident (and the question provides all kinds of details). Write what you would you to your friends. Now write what you would say to your parents.

For some reason, this pretending bothers me today. It's just so... fake. Yes, they're trying to use real-life potential scenarios, but what about getting the students to write real letters about an issue? To write real things that they've shared with both friends and parents in a different way? And, sort of related, why do they spend so many years trying to get kids to write fiction???? What difference does it make if they can write fiction or not in terms of being educated?? (Answer: None, unless they enjoy writing fiction to the point they become professional fiction writers, but let's just say that's not the most common career and certainly not one of the most encouraged.)

It's somehow different to me if you were asking students to put themselves in the shoes of someone, a real person whose account you've read, and to write what they feel/imagine from that. Like just last night, I was watching The Bourne Identity with my son and I lightly interrupted the movie by saying, "Gosh, can you imagine forgetting who you are, your past and everything?" We both had a moment of, "Woah..." Feeling the fright, maybe even panic.

I think my mind is moving ahead to next year and homeschooling my son in high school and being fully responsible for what he does--and having to check off all kinds of things that he is expected to cover to get credit. I've worked now with my daughter and others who have not responded well to the questions such as the first two above. There is something so dreadly artificial to it, even though the situations are totally plausible. (I can't honestly figure out what it is about them that bugs me.)

I don't know, maybe it's the years of Montessori in me? Give a child real kitchen equipment and food to work with rather than the stuff to pretend with? So, give a child a real situation where s/he has to actually write a letter of complaint--or maybe just complimenting--or something actually meaningful.

Meaningful. That's the kind of education I want for my son, especially for high school. I don't know I've totally succeeded so far, but I see all the meaningless stuff my daughter is doing and it just irks me. All the pretending required. And she hate it, too. She wants to be honest, real, and so often, the questions are just so not connecting with her on any level. Is it truly education if kids are just going through the motions, pretending they care about an issue, because it gets them writing certain types of pieces or on certain topics? "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire." (William Butler Yeats) I fear most students these days are not being truly educated at all. They are robots regurgitating information, invovled in tasks so disconnected from them that their fire is being put out. And what's left is the pretending side of them, which just leaves them lost because it's not who they are.

(I'm Miss Sunshine today, aren't I?)