Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why My Daughter Hates Math

I have known that my daughter's least favorite class was math for some time now. I thought that it was too hard for her and there was too much work involved. After talking to her about it, I have discovered that instead, it is too easy and there is too much work involved.

I thought that the time might come where this would be an issue... school was incredibly easy for me as well, and I had trouble with all the "busywork" that the school gave me (aka homework). I was very bad during middle school... we had one math teacher where you corrected your own paper, so you could erase the date on yesterday's homework and turn it in the next day. If he'd write the grade on the paper in pen, you could draw a picture over the grade and turn it in again that way... I was bad, lol. Anyway, despite my aversion to homwork, I would ace the tests and even did well in a math competition that my school took part in.

I didn't know that school being too easy would be an issue when my dd was 5. I don't remember school becoming too easy until around 4th grade. I'm glad that I started Math K when my daughter was 4, because Math 1 is easy for my 5 year old. And looking ahead, Math 2 has a lot of review to it and will probably be easy too.

I told dd that I was making her repeat handwriting 1 for another year because she wasn't doing very well at it... she got very upset. She told me it was easy and she was bored with it. But she writes on her handwriting pages so sloppily. I told her that I wouldn't let her move on to handwriting 2 unless her writing improved and looked nice. Wouldn't you know, her handwriting pages improved 100% that same day.

So far, reading is not too easy. I don't think that it is a challenge any more... but so far it is not too easy with not too much busywork. But I suspect that at some point reading will get that way with her as well. We've primarily focused on phonics this year, and there's been a smattering of grammar thrown in. She already knows what a homophone is though, thanks to a VeggieTales song on the subject, and I think that once we start introducing grammar topics, she's going to get it quickly. I remember when I was in school, it seems like they introduced nouns and verbs every year... boring...

Now that I have this new revelation, it makes some things easier for me, and some things more challenging. I now know that I can skip parts of certain lessons and not feel bad about it. I don't have to make her do every single problem, every single day. School is going to take up less of the day this way. On the other hand, I have to make sure that she is getting enough work. At some point, I may want to supplement her school work by giving her extra subjects to learn or having her read more books on her own. I want to instill a work ethic in her, but I want her to have something meaningful to do.

I figured that it could come to this point eventually, because not only was I bored in school, but her dad must have been bored in school too because he has told me that he cut class a lot and still managed to get As in his schoolwork... and he was on the Dean's list at ASU last fall despite rarely studying.... but I didn't figure that this would happen at age 5 with us. I guess this is another good reason that we're homeschooling. Not only would dd get into trouble all the time because she'd be talking to her friends all day, she would also be bored with the work... especially considering that we're already one year ahead of what her peers normally would be learning.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Of Millions and Moochers...

I do a lot of sweepstakes. It's been a small help while dh was looking for a job, and it's something I can do to contribute while staying at home and homeschooling. There was a discussion on a sweepstakes bulletin board on whether you would tell people if you won a large, $million+ prize.

A lot of people say they would not. They are afraid both of jealous people that would harrass them with nasty emails and PMs, but also of the myriad of strangers that would come up to them and ask them for money.

I know of 3 people who have won $100,000 or more in the lottery. One person won over a million. I wouldn't dream of asking these people for money. In one case, they set up a trust fund with the money, in another case they spent it on things like a house and a car, and in another case, my friend's dad had won the money and she was complaining that he didn't share (I had only met her dad a couple of times).

Why is it that people feel free to beg "new money" lottery winners for cash, but we wouldn't go up to our friend, who worked hard for their money and as a result ended up with a million or two in the bank, for their money? Is it because of the ease in which they received the money? I don't really get this phenomena all that much.

Most people that win millions in the lottery end up bankrupt and broke later on. Is it because they are constantly being harrassed by people that want some? Is it because by winning the money, they haven't changed their attitudes towards money and still haven't learned to live within their means (only their means have just gotten a whole lot bigger)? I'm not sure.

A couple of years ago, the winner of the HGTV dream house (which is worth millions of dollars) decided that he would live in the dream house (HGTV offers to buy it from you if you wish). He had to take a mortgage out on his dream house to pay for the taxes on it. Not only that, but he kept his old house (what was he thinking?). He partied for a while, then life happened and someone in his family got sick. Now his home is (was) being foreclosed on him and he's broke.

They are announcing the HGTV Dream House winner for this year on Sunday. If I win it, don't come asking for money. I would be selling the dream house, after going out to see it and spending the weekend there, and then here is how the money would go:

Build a dream house of my own (a much less expensive version)
Retirement fund
Emergency fund
Get out of debt
Buy a hybrid car for dh
College funds
If any is left over, give some away to pre-chosen charities

So don't come asking for money ;-). The money has already been spent on paper. Dh does not plan to hang around the house and play video games all day, so we will have an income coming in, but that income will be used to do fun things like provide homeschool scholarships, fun trips, and perhaps we'll be generous with Christmas presents and helping relatives. On our own terms.

The winnings are spent on paper. Fun to dream, even though they'll probably pick someone else. If we did win, I wonder if, after all of our winnings were spent, if people would come up to dh and say "can I have some of your paycheck? I know you're rich and all." You don't do that with your rich friends, why would you do that with people that have good fortune and win it?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wake Up Call

I was talking to my friend last night, who is currently out of work and looking for a job, and she was telling me about some of her job interviews. Some of the people out hiring and looking for a job are primarily looking for people who are reliable and show up on time.

What a difference a shift in the economy will do. I remember reading an article about a year or two ago... it was talking about how business owners are finding themselves having to bend over backwards to cater to the new 20somethings entering the job market. What really stood out to me was what one girl said (I'm paraphrasing):

"If I don't get what I want from this job, I'll just leave and go find another job."

Wonder how that's working for you? The official unemployment figure right now is 4.8% right now. Maybe it's just bad here in Arizona, but I can say anecdotally that things are not as bright as that might seem. My husband just got a job after being unemployed for almost 3 months, a friend of mine is looking for work after about a month of unemployment, and another friend of mine is working, but only 2 days a week, when she would like a full time job.

All 3 of these examples probably wouldn't show up on the unemployment figures. Both my husband and my friend had accepted lower-paying temporary assignments to keep some food on the table while looking for a permanent, better-paying job. My friend working 2 days a week won't show up on the unemployment statistics either, because she is just underemployed, not unemployed.

Who are the people that are going to get (and keep) the jobs when there are fewer of them to go around? The people that are going to work hard and be dependable, or the people who want their employers to bend over backwards to keep them happy?

Perhaps our sluggish economy will serve as a wake-up call to people who want to have it their way on the job. Like... say... the people who can't do math and can't figure out how to make change while working at McDonald's, so you either have to have correct change or pay with a credit/debit card (that's a recent story I heard). Or people who want special hours, or special benefits? While all that stuff might be nice if the boss can swing it, sometimes it's impractical.

If we as a country do not develop a work ethic, how can we expect to achieve the greatness that our country used to have when we did know how to work? I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of people that do know how to work, but if the article that I was reading a year or two ago is any indication, there is a large segment of the population that needs to learn. Perhaps the increased competition for jobs with people that do know how to work will be their wake up call.

One Paycheck Away...

Everyone, it seems, has heard the statistic... many families are just one paycheck away from being homeless. I don't know what the percentage is, but it's a lot.

Of course, if truly desperate, I think that a lot of these families could move in with relatives. My sister-in-law and brother-in-laws did a couple of years ago, and while it wasn't fun, they survived. We could always move in with my family, or my husband's family (maybe, if they weren't too traumatized by taking in my in-laws ;)).

The other thing that this statistic doesn't keep into account is God. If you've been following my blog for a while, you might realize that it's been nearly 3 months now since my husband lost his job. We didn't have savings built up.

But we've managed to survive. In fact, the week after dh lost his job, we took off on an impromtu vacation for three weeks to stay with my family over Christmas in another state. Some people thought we were crazy for doing that, but we used dh's final paycheck to pay for that trip, and we didn't have to buy food for 3 weeks. My grandparents are getting up there, in their 70s and 80s, and had never seen their only great-grandson. We figured that it was a sign to go.

We knew at the time that dh was getting school money a few days after we came back (he's a student at Arizona State University), so we knew we wouldn't be coming back destitute. Also, very few companies are hiring in the last couple of weeks of the year. So for the past 3 months, we've been surviving by visiting family, school money, and then we got a nice large income tax return. Dh has been accepting temporary employment when he can get it, and when he's not working, unemployment has been chipping in with their generous package of $240 a week.

God has been coming through in amazing ways. And while I'm sure that he could come through some more if needed, he chose to finally give my husband a job. Dh actually turned down a temporary job offer last week... he had interviewed for one job that was to pay $35K a year, then the company called back and said that job went to someone else, but they had a temporary one for $29K a year. We knew that he had this second interview with Enterprise Rental Car coming, which will pay a lot more, and we took a gamble that he would get that job instead. Fortunately, the gamble paid off, because he caught the fat bird in the bush after letting the skinny, sickly one go.

He gets to start on Monday, and he worked it out with the temporary job that he's currently working at that he will continue working with them for the rest of the week. So things are looking good. They're hiring him on a temporary basis for now with the plans to take him full time, mainly because Enterprise has to pay a headhunter fee once they do hire him full time and doing so costs a lot of money, so they want to make sure that dh is dependable. He is, so that's not a problem.

So we survived not one paycheck missing, but 3 months of missing paychecks. When you need it, God sometimes comes through with money from unexpected sources. Not that I like tempting fate like that... we're big fans of Dave Ramsey and believe in having an emergency fund. I already have about $30 saved away in our emergency fund, but we'll start building it up to $5000... while a normal "baby" emergency fund is supposed to be about $1000, in this economy we want it a little higher just in case of another job loss. My friend has also lost 3 jobs recently, her job losses have been in the last 2 years.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sex Offender Registry - Who Belongs?

Last night, 20/20 had a special about a guy who went on the sex offender registry because at age 19 he slept with his 15 year old girlfriend. He had some legal issues over this and as a result, was not allowed to see his girlfriend until she was older. As soon as she turned 18 and they could see each other again, they got married.

While I don't really agree with 19 year olds sleeping with 15 year olds and think that it is wrong, I'm not sure if in cases like this, a lifetime sex offender registry sentence is appropriate. I know that I'm not worried about him hanging around the park and trying to pull my daughter into the back of some van for the purposes of molesting her. He's not interested in young children, he's not interested in hanging out in dark alleys waiting to attack the unsuspecting young lady walking by at night, he's just a guy who fell in love with someone who was at the time too young for him.

We had a guy on the sex offender registry that was on our street. I'm not sure if he's still there anymore, he might have died or something. He was a level 2 offender and did something with some preteens. That's all I know about him. Those are the guys that I'm worried about. I'm worried about guys that break into people's houses in the middle of the night. I'm not worried about a guy who had an underage girlfriend when he was 19 years old.

I might not go so far as to say that this guy should not have been punished at all, or that maybe putting him on the sex offender registry for a while wouldn't have been overdoing it, but perhaps we should think about reviewing certain sex offender cases after a certain length of time. Perhaps in cases where the "victim" was a consenting and willing participant, review the case in 5 years and take them off the list if it seems appropriate (like in this case). There probably should be a few more parameters, like if the victim was 12 or under they stay on there, but shouldn't we have a way to take people off the registry in certain cases?

There are other silly reasons that someone might get on the sex offender registry. Such as... a kindergartener kisses another girl in class and she claims sexual harrassment. Or a few 9 year olds are playing a game where everybody is slapping their friends on the butt. Or a teenager accidentally downloads child pornography on the computer without knowing it. I don't want to know about these people. They're not dangerous, and I don't think they belong on the sex offender registry. Review the case after a while and take them off.

Having non-dangerous people like this on the sex offender registry cheapens the whole registry. If you look at a map of sex offenders in my area, there are tons of them. Are they all dangerous criminals? How many of them do I need to worry about, and how many of them just ended up on the registry for being stupid and impulsive? I only want to know about the dangerous ones.

Unless they take him off the list, when he's 90 years old he's still going to be punished, in a way, for sleeping with his wife before they got married and because she was so young. I find that to be a little ridiculous.

Friday, March 7, 2008

It's a Blog Party!

Ultimate Blog Party 2008

Hello! Welcome to my little stop along the party train... the blog party, that is! Part of the rules require me to introduce myself, so here goes!

I'm Brooke, and I'm a homeschooling mom to a 5 year old and a 16 month old. My husband is a currently out-of-work executive assistant, but God has been helping us through this time and we're doing okay. More than okay... this is my first blog announcement of this, but God blessed us with a really exciting trip win on Wednesday! I can't give out the details publicly until I am declared the official winner and I might even wait until I get the tickets, but I'm very excited about it and I'll be sure to post more about in the next couple of months as I can.

So as you can tell I like to win things! I also like to read, and save money! I don't shop much outside of groceries, but I love coming home with a carload of food for a pittance. I'm a big fan of Dave Ramsey too.

I blog about just about everything here. I blog about news stories, homeschooling, great sermons I hear, things I might notice when reading the Bible... whatever I feel like. I also write product reviews, but I do that for Epinions.com (they pay). I wrote my 175th review this month!

What's a party without door prizes? The party hosts, 5 Minutes for Mom, along with several other great sponsoring sites, are giving away some wonderful prizes for the party. They've asked party participating bloggers to list their favorite prizes on their party post, so here are some of the great prizes that I like:

I haven't even had a chance to look at all the prizes yet but there are some really good ones, so I'll add to this post later.

Teaching degree to homeschool?

A recent California decision could make it more difficult to homeschool in the state of California. A judge decided that you had to have a teaching certificate to homeschool.

To an outsider, that might sound pretty good. Doesn't a teaching certificate teach you how to educate? Don't we want our homeschool parents to do the best job possible?

I actually thought about going the teaching certificate route when I considered moving to California. But other than perhaps fulfilling a few legal requirements, a teaching certificate would not prepare anybody to homeschool. In addition, the homeschooling teacher would have to become more prepared than ANY public school teacher out there, because in order to become certified to teach a child from Kindergarten to 12th grade, you would need to receive ALL of these certifications:

Elementary School Teaching Credential
- get a bachelor's degree
- complete a multiple subject teacher preparation program, including student teaching
- pass the Reading Instruction Competence Assessment
- the initial certification lasts for 5 years, within that time period a teacher would have to also need to complete additional requirements for a clear credential, which would allow them to teach their second child

Earn a Single Subject Teaching Credential for all required California high school subjects
* English
* Mathematics
* Social Science
* Biological Sciences
* Physics
* Languages other than English or art
* Physical Education
- get a Bachelor's degree (well, at least you have one from certifying for elementary school)
- complete a single subject teacher preparation program including more student teaching
- achieve a passing score in the subject examinations for all 7 required teaching areas

There are a few other hoops that need to be jumped through, involving English proficiency (perhaps for people that might need to homeschool ESL students?), constitution courses, and computer skills, but you get the idea.

I'm sure that 90% of public school teachers do not have all those credentials, but that's how the state of California is heading. A homeschool teacher would have to spend more time jumping through hoops than she'd have to do in actual teaching time!

What would a teaching certificate get you, anyway? Would it help you learn to teach your own children? Not much. Teaching programs prepare you to teach a large group of children. It helps you manage a classroom. Is all that student teaching that a homeschool mom would have to go through help them at all when they're sitting down at the kitchen table teaching US History to their 7 year old? Probably not, unless perhaps she has 30 children in school. Not even the Duggars are close to that (some of their kids are already grown).

I am not completely opposed to having homeschool families have some sort of... education. Perhaps a child development course in the earlier grades? Maybe a course on how children learn? Perhaps a basic proficiency test. But to require someone to receive 8 different teaching credentials in order to teach 1 child (or maybe a few more) is ridiculous. Teaching credentials designed to teach someone how to manage classrooms and teach multiple children are useless in the homeschooling environment. And it's ridiculous for this judge to make the comparison. I don't need to learn how to become a mechanic to learn how to put gas in my car. Neither do I need to learn how to manage a classroom of unruly high schoolers in order to learn how to teach one (hopefully well-mannered) child of mine English.

HSLDA Needs You! Please sign their petition.

If you are a homeschooler or a friend of homeschooling, please sign this petition at the Homeschool Legal Defense Association web site. Currently, the Supreme Court of California plans to publish the appellate court opinion that I commented on earlier. The ruling basically stated that it was illegal to homeschool without a teaching certification. If that happens, any court in California could use this ruling to prosecute other homeschooling families in the state.

Depublishing the opinion is what HSLDA recommends at this point.

Although I don't live in California and many people do not, the rights of homeschoolers everywhere should concern us at least a little. Please take the time to sign the petition. Thanks!

Monday, March 3, 2008

40,000 People Exposed to HIV and Hepititus C at a Medical Clinic

I saw this link posted by a friend of mine in Nevada... 40,000 people who went to a medical center have been potentially exposed to HIV, Hepititus C, and all the other nasty bugs that can be spread through blood.

Evidently, reusing vials and syringes was a common practice at this clinic. Additionally, the clinic did not thoroughly clean equipment used for procedures like colonoscopies and upper GI tests.

I guess that the business could be subject to sanctions or lose its Medicare contract.

I think that perhaps stronger penalties should be applied in this case. The medical community has known about AIDS for more than 20 years now. Everybody knows that reusing syringes can spread the AIDS virus, and that there is no cure. Most people (in medicine at least, I would assume) know about Hepatitus C, and that it can lead to liver failure and death. This is not rocket science.

Personally, I think that if any of these patients ends up getting AIDS, Hepatitus C, or anything else as a result of this syringe policy, and dies, that the person responsible for giving them this disease and killing them should be charged criminally for involuntary manslaughter.

Reusing syringes in this day and age is just asking for people to die. 30 years ago... fine. People didn't know that it could kill. This is 2008. Almost everybody over the age of 10 can tell you that it is a dangerous practice (sure, they might not be able to find the United States on a map, but they do get sex education).

I only know somebody who knows somebody that may be affected by this, but this really angers me. I just don't get how people can be so careless and neglectful when it comes to something that can kill people, all in the name of saving a buck.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Why We Didn't Move To California

Me and my husband met in California. I went to college in California. My husband grew up in California. But when we were living in Italy, and I was getting out of the Navy, and could move anywhere in the United States that we wanted to, we chose to move anywhere but California. Why? Because they like to harass homeschoolers.

A few years ago, it was in the news every fall. Someone would be told by their school districts that homeschooling was illegal and they were required to send their child to public school, yadda yadda. This happened for two or three years in a row. For the last couple of years it's been quiet. But now, California has a new harassment case in the courts. What a surprise.

Many people who have been keeping an eye on education know about California State Bill 777, which requires public schools to actively portray homosexuality and homosexuals in a positive light. Several family and religious advocacy groups have been encouraging people in California to pull their children out of public schools as a result.

Recently, a California judge has ruled a mother of 8 to put two of her children into public schools.

In this case, the parents were following the laws, which in the state of California require you to either a) establish a private school, b) have your child taught by an accredited teacher, or c) have your child homeschool under an umbrella school. The family in question had been using option c to homeschool. Since no laws were being broken, why are these people being singled out?

The judge says that keeping the children at home deprived them of interaction with people outside of the family, people that could help if something was amiss in the family, and the ability to develop emotionally into a broader world than their parents "cloistered setting."

None of the judge's arguments are a part of the law. He is just legislating from the bench. While it is good for kids to get out and make friends, that's not part of the law.

I like our laws here in Arizona. Tell the people that you're homeschooling when your child is old enough to go to school, teach them, and you're good. I haven't heard of any recent cases where parents are being harassed in this state either. And I do get my kids out to be with other people. This week, my daughter has played with her neighbor friend, played with her friends at church, been to Sunday School, and spent the afternoon playing with some more friends and evidently pouring sand all over her brother's hair in the process (somehow he had bucketloads of sand on his scalp yesterday). We would have been to the library as well, but my car battery needs to be replaced and so it's not working right now.

Hopefully, this case will get overturned on appeal. And hopefully, what happens in California stays in California. If not, I'm already throwing around a few alternatives if things do become hostile to homeschoolers in Arizona.