Make learning come alive for your children November 13, 2011Posted by sonyahaskins in Homeschool.
Tags: history, home education, Homeschool, homeschooling, living books, living history
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“My childhood was filled with warm and wonderful memories. None of these memories, however, took place inside a schoolhouse.” Mark Twain
Samuel Clemens really didn’t like school. When he was 12, his parents finally allowed him to quit and he began work in a printing shop.
One day as he was leaving the office, a piece of paper from a book about Joan of Arc wrapped around his leg. He enjoyed it so much that he began reading every history book he could find.
This is called Living History. Regardless of their school setting, make learning REAL for your kids. Don’t rely on paragraphs here and there in textbooks to get them interested in various subjects. Introduce your children to the real people, places and events of history!
Sonya : )
Tags: Constitution, freedoms, Homeschool, homeschooling, viewpoint discrimination
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Here is another example of our disappearing freedoms…
On Cinco de Mayo (May 5, 2010), a principal told three students that they had either had to turn their American flag t-shirts inside out or go home. He said he did this to prevent violence from Mexican American students who were celebrating the Mexican holiday.
Last week, a judge ruled that Mexican American students are allowed to wear Mexican flags and colors on the Mexican holiday, but school officials CAN prohibit students from wearing the American flag or colors as they might entice violence. This is simply wrong. Why not honor the First Amendment by allowing freedom of expression and punish those who start or participate in violence rather than showing minorities that they are allowed to celebrate THEIR heritage while American patriotism is disallowed?
The problem with this ruling is that it IS discrimination. If the principal was truly afraid of violence, he should have either canceled the celebrations altogether or kept an eye out for problems and punished the specific students who were causing problems. The wearing of the American flag is NOT the problem. The fact that some students would cause problems over it IS. As part of freedom of speech, you can’t discriminate against some parties and not others. If they prohibited all flags from being worn, that would be different, but they didn’t. The judge specifically said the American flag couldn’t be worn on this date.
A few years ago, when The Homeschooler’s Book of Lists (Bethany House, 2007) was released, our local county library scheduled a book signing with me (the author). When the superintendent heard of this, he discussed the “issue” with the county mayor who then told the librarians (under his jurisdiction) that they could NOT have a book signing at the library that involved a homeschool book. His reason was that homeschoolers “take money away from” public schools. (While this is not true, I won’t go into that discussion right now.) There are frequently book signings at the public library. These events are not held to sell books or make money for the author. The events are held for the benefit of the public. It allows readers to meet authors and discuss book content in a setting that interests most avid readers – the library. Book signings also inform readers by providing a forum where they can learn about various subjects that might interest them. Because the mayor said he would allow other authors to do book signings there, but not a “homeschool author” about a “homeschool book,” this was considered viewpoint discrimination. It is constitutional to say something like “all t-shirts are banned” or “students must wear uniforms,” but you can’t say some students can wear flag shirts and others can’t. This is discrimination against a particular group and it is unconstitutional.
These cases are so frustrating because it’s scary that any judge would ever rule that viewpoint discrimination is acceptable. It is the first step toward another Civil War or another Holocaust.
Here is a link to one of the articles about this issue:
Sarah’s very first writing assignment November 6, 2011Posted by sonyahaskins in Uncategorized.
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I’ve told people for many years that we teach a little differently than most. I tend to have a more traditional way of teaching and when I say traditional, I mean TRADITIONAL – as in following the practices common in the 1700 and 1800s before government schooling was common in the United States.
What does this mean? Basically we spend the first five or six years simply focusing on discipline, character development and spending time together. This is what parents did before the advent of public schooling. They spent TIME with their children, taught them right from wrong, and read aloud – a lot. Without constant interruptions of televisions, computers, i-pods, etc., children worked, studied, and tried to better themselves. Rather than zoning out and killing brain cells in their free time, they learned languages, practiced musical instruments and read great books.
Then, when they were old enough to take on adult responsibilities (around age 12), they were allowed to pursue academic interests of their own. They found ways to borrow the books they needed and they begged for apprenticeships that would help them pursue their dreams.
Children didn’t start school when they were two or three years old, reciting poems, multiplication tables and state capitals until they’re blue in the face – and bored to death! They didn’t begin writing essays until they had a sufficient knowledge of GREAT writing rather than simply writing a few lines about their summer vacation in third grade.
Anyway, I’ve had so many people tell me over the years that they would be interested to see if my theories about teaching would really work. I was really trying something that hasn’t been commonly done for a couple hundred years. In the early years, we focus more on giving a child the skills he or she needs to succeed. And we read aloud a LOT. Gradually we introduce age appropriate academic material. And read aloud – a LOT. Throughout this time, we encourage the child to find ways to study the subject matter that interests him or her the most. (If a child wants to be a doctor, let him study the Merck manual or ask questions about the latest ways to cure disease. If a child wants to be an engineer, let him build bridges on the kitchen table and see which designs work best.) Then, when the child is around age 13 or 14, it’s time to start focusing on academics. The benefit to this is that the child isn’t bored to death from nine years of school. (And I’m not saying that all school is bad or that all kids will be bored, but it has been my experience that way too many are!) With this method, the kids actually BEG to do schoolwork!
So we really started doing academics with Sarah about two years ago, when she entered ninth grade. (This really translates to when people in the 1800s would have entered “university.”) We worked with her at home for the first year (ninth grade) and then last year (tenth grade), she began taking a class at Milligan College through dual enrollment. She missed having the highest average in the class for the year by hundredths of a point. This year she is working hard to achieve that coveted honor!
I told Sarah that this year we would begin working on her essay writing skills. Yesterday I gave her first assignment. She was instructed to write an essay on one topic, with only three points to support the topic and it could only be one page long. I wanted to see how she did with this before going to the next assignments. I’m going to have her write a persuasive essay, argumentative essay, descriptive essay, compare and contrast essay, and critical essay. I want her to have the basic ideas of each TYPE of essay in a short format (about one page). This is November. We’ll have all the essays covered before the end of November, then we’ll move on to longer essays and then a research paper.
I have no doubt that by next summer, Sarah will be able to write EXCELLENT research papers because we have gradually given her the skills necessary to do so. She developed her vocabulary skills by listening to great books being read aloud to her and then reading those books herself. As she grew older, she began to pay more attention to the form and content of writing. She noticed it and absorbed GOOD writing without even knowing she was doing so. But we haven’t asked her to do this herself until now. This is literally the FIRST writing assignment I have EVER given her – EVER. Seriously. No kidding.
So let’s see what you think. And please remember – this is not only the first assignment, but it’s the first draft as well. I didn’t think she really had anything that needed to be changed so I didn’t have her rewrite it. Plus, keep in mind that I did tell her to keep it to only one page so that’s why it’s so short. She really wanted to make it longer, but I think it’s important for a person to write well with fewer words before moving on to longer assignments.
A few things I should let you know… First off, I did not help Sarah with this at all. I gave her the assignment last night and she just sent it to me a little while ago. I was so impressed that I wanted to share the results of her first assignment with the WORLD! Second, she was supposed to write about something that interested her and then support her ideas. I did tell her that she would need to have an introductory paragraph, supporting ideas and a conclusion. The third thing she had to do was put her thesis in bold.
Feel free to share your thoughts. I realize many people are going to completely disagree with our philosophy of education and that’s ok. It works for us and the children are all very bright so that’s all that matters. I respect other people’s right to educate their children in their chosen manner and only ask the same. But I do enjoy hearing your thoughts anyway.
(Below is the essay)
One of the most important decisions most students make during high school is which language to study. Not only for personal benefit (knowing another language can be very helpful and rewarding in today’s society), but also because most colleges consider foreign language experience during the admissions process. Most (more than 50%) of students choose Spanish, 13% choose French and 6% choose German. I chose German for many reasons, including grammar, popularity of the language, and historical importance.
Modern English has its roots in German and thus, many words and also the grammatical rules and sentence structures of both languages have remained mostly the same. Because of this, German (especially written German) is very easy for the English-speaker to understand.
German is one of the ten most spoken languages around the globe with over 100 million speakers; that is the equivalent of about one- third of the current population of the United States. Germany also has the largest economy in the European Union and the third largest in the world, making its language an important tool in the hands (or rather mouths) of endeavoring businessmen and women.
German is the native language of many of the greatest scholars and intellectuals this world has seen. Learning German can give you a great insight into their minds and lives and a unique opportunity to explore the world through their eyes. To read great works of literature and poetry in their original form is a very rewarding experience. Although many people say that German is a “harsh” language, only those who can read and speak it know its true beauty and flow.
Although I can understand why most people choose Spanish or French as a second language, I am infinitely pleased with my choice to learn German instead of following in the footsteps of so many others. I am lucky enough to have a teacher who is passionate about his subject and encourages his students to get the most out of their learning experience, but I know that that is not always the case.
The importance of choosing a foreign language is emphasized in one of my favorite quotes by Frank Smith: “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.” I think that is a very accurate representation of the opportunities in life that come from study and determination of a language. Any person can study a second language, but it takes that rare individual to really learn it.
Expert Advice: Encouraging or Discouraging? November 14, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Devotional Thoughts, Homeschool.
Tags: advice, encouragement, family, home education, Homeschool, homeschooling, Parenting
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This is a very short excerpt from my newest book, Homeschooling for the Rest of Us (Bethany House, 2010). This topic was on my mind today and I thought perhaps it would bring encouragement to some of you. Sonya
side of all of this. At times moms comment to me, “I would never be able to take care of the household, teach my children, cook, do all the other things I need to do, and write books like you do!” The fact is I can’t do all these things either. When I’m finishing a big project like a book, other things have to wait—including a clean house and fresh-cooked meals.
If you’re still feeling pressure because experts or others tell you to “do it this way” or “if you’d only follow my plan, your life will be perfect, your children will obey, and they will love learning” or any other “just do it my way” kinds of statements, my advice is simple: Find different experts!
Fantastic resources regarding National Parks November 9, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Homeschool, homeschool life.
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Some of you know about our trip out west a few years ago. It was the BEST time of my entire life. I think the children concur (about their own lives of course!). It was such an amazing, special time. We would like to do this again before Sarah graduates.
Anyway, we’re trying to plan ahead and prepare for some wonderful activities as we would want to make the most of our trip if we get to go again. I think Sarah is particularly excited now that she is old enough to do most of the planning. I think it will be a great skill for her to help with the itinerary, navigation, activities, etc. Last time we also took an activity book with us that we made just for the trip. It highlighted locations we would visit, had information about historic sites along our route, etc. This time we’re planning to do more advance planning – with Sarah’s help. Last time we wanted to do that, but everyone was just too young and I was overwhelmed with planning it all, much less trying to do everything before the trip. This time, since the children will be helping a lot more, we will be able to do more advance work – studying about the places we plan to go, etc. I can’t wait!
This past week, Sarah has been looking through the National Park Service website and other related websites. We already knew that the National Park Service had great activities for children, but we didn’t realize how neat their internet activities were. The in-park activities are called “The Junior Ranger Program.” On the internet, they basically have it set up so that you can do TONS of activities online to prepare for visits to national parks, learn more about what rangers do, learn about park and animal safety, etc. It’s really neat.
I would encourage anyone to consider integrating this really neat website into your child’s educational time. We always try to make “computer time” at least somewhat educational and this definitely meets the requirements! There are over 50 games ranging from easy to difficult and all of them are educational in some manner.
Here’s the link: http://www.webrangers.us/index.cfm
I hope you find it as fun as we have!
If you haven’t read about our trip out west, you can read about it on my website. There are a lots of interesting stories, tons of photos, etc. It’s fun to read for anyone, but if you’re planning to travel out west, we have lots of great tips on what we really enjoyed and what didn’t work so well – for our family at least. Here’s the link: http://www.sonyahaskins.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=95:our-trip-out-west-part-1&catid=60:traveling-with-children&Itemid=50
Bad Luck October 20, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Uncategorized.
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I told you guys I have bad luck. Yesterday I went to Kingsport (takes a lot of gasoline) and I DOUBLE checked the time on the business door. Hours – 7:30 to 4:30 Mon – Thurs. I drove home, realized my product needed slight tweaking, and quickly drove back.
I arrived at 4:03 and the doors were locked, with a different sign that said, “New Hours – 7:30 to 4:00.” @!LK#*!!!!
Anyone interested in trading places with me so I can try to shake the bad luck we’ve been having… for several YEARS?!?
thoughts about sharing social networking posts May 13, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Uncategorized.
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Last week I posted something on one of my sites and I saw basically my exact thoughts on someone else’s page later that day. I was thinking about how (a) perhaps it was coincidence, (b) they were trying to reword my thoughts into their own or (c) they blatantly stole what I was saying and just shared it on their own site.
I know one day a friend of mine mentioned that I had posted something from her Facebook page on my own and I had NO idea what she was talking about because I didn’t get it off her page; it came from my aunt’s page. It was one of those things that’s just spread around over and over… most likely no one will ever know the original source and it’s more of just a fun thing rather than anything important and it certainly has completely lost any connection with the original author. (But I also thought that if people had left the original attribution there from whoever wrote it in the first place, we WOULD know who said it originally.) One thing I did learn from that, however… no matter how innocent the post, I will ALWAYS say where I got it from if they aren’t my own original thoughts. This was the only time I recall forwarding something without saying where it came from and I regretted that afterward.
So anyway, based on that conversation w/ my friend, I do know that sometimes it can seem like something came off your own page when it really didn’t. We all have access to a LOT of information – “dangerous diversions,” I suppose Obama would say – and so obviously some of us are going to share the same things.
If it were the second option, that my friend was simply trying to take my thoughts and reword them into their own thoughts, that’s something else people frequently do. There’s nothing really “wrong” with this, but generally I think it’s polite to at least mention that you got the idea from “so and so” (whoever so and so is…). After all, it wasn’t really YOUR original thought – it was someone else’s. The least you could do is give them credit.
If their intention was truly just to “steal” what I wrote and post it on their own page, well, all of us could probably (maybe???) agree that this is wrong. In today’s world, I wouldn’t be shocked if there were those out there who still said this was OK. I had students in my college English class who told me quite frankly that their high school English teachers didn’t care when they bought papers off the Internet or copied them from another student, so why should I?!? Well, let me give you alllll the reasons… Just kidding. I’ll save that for another day. : )
Anyway, when I write things, you may have noticed that I frequently share LINKS with my comments – often to the original news source. I always try to use the original news source when possible. One reason for this is that typically when you go to the original source, you’re more likely to have a more accurate version of the story. Second, I think the person or news outlet who went through the trouble of sharing the story initially should get the credit for covering it. They DO keep track of hits and they monitor these things to see which stories receive ratings. I would like for them to see higher ratings on things that interest me so they would continue to cover those topics.
If another social networking friend or homeschooler or whoever sends me a link, I ALWAYS say that the link was sent to me from someone else and post the person’s name out of courtesy. I love it when people share links with me or send me information that I might not have seen. While I do try to stay on top of political issues – especially as they relate to homeschooling, general education issues and other “ridiculous” news of our day – sometimes I miss things. If you send me news of this nature, I’ll share it! If you don’t want me to mention that the link came from you, however, then just let me know and I’ll leave off your name. I do realize that sometimes people don’t want to be associated with something, but they still would like to let others know about it.
Finally, if you really enjoy the things I post and you share them with others, please just do a “share,” post a link to my original blog post, or let others know where your material came from. I had someone write me earlier this week and say that they couldn’t believe I wrote something myself!! Well, you know… there are days when that’s about all I CAN do. And one thing I can do is write. Even if you don’t believe it, yep, sometimes I can actually write pretty well and say something intelligent. : ) Tonight I have a horrible headache (at the base of my skull – it feels like another of what I call “blood thinner” headaches and they’re AWFUL!!) and my legs are feeling like they need to be chopped off again. It’s after midnight and despite two hours in bed, I couldn’t sleep because I feel too bad! So… yep, here I am – writing. It seems that the Lord has given me the ability to write even when I’m accomplishing much of nothing else. Perhaps it’s good that He has given me this ability. It serves as a diversion from the pain and sometimes I can’t tell you how badly I need that!!!
Also, writing is how I make my living. It would be nice to sell books. I am not physically able to get out there as much as I would like and promote the books all across the US. I would love to speak at conferences, but it’s very difficult to find an opening. I’d very much enjoy traveling and speaking while promoting the books at the same time as I’ve done in the past, but right now finances don’t make this possible. So basically my means of communication with the outside world is through blogs and other things I post.
Of course I don’t make much money writing and I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea. When people have wanted to share my articles and such in the past in publications, I’ve always allowed them to do this, for free. The Lord frequently places something on my heart that I feel needs to be shared and if that’s the case, then who am I to say how it should be used. If I saved it in a file and never shared it with anyone else, I wouldn’t be obeying the Lord very well to share what he has given me! On the other hand, it is a general courtesy of others to at least mention where they obtained the material, especially since I do not ask for compensation. : ) I think credit should be given simply because it’s GOOD MANNERS.
I realize that there are going to be many times when there are hundreds of people talking about the same thing at the same time, but I just think if someone is going to use someone else’s post (whether it’s one line or several paragraphs), people should have the decency to provide credit to their source. We do live in an age where this “politeness” has largely been overlooked due to the rapid advancement of technology and people honestly don’t think twice about plagiarism these days, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. And it boils down to this… plagiarism isn’t just a direct quoting of someone without citation. Plagiarism also includes changing someone else’s words slightly or copying someone’s thoughts or ideas and pass them as your own.
Chris and I were talking about this tonight as he told me about a report (that I haven’t read yet) about how we are wasting billions of tax dollars each year educating students AGAIN in remedial classes in college after we’ve already put them through twelve years of government school before college. While lack of high academic standards is a problem, when you take character or morals out of the picture (as we largely have in most government schools), the outlook will REMAIN bleak and most likely GET WORSE. If a student knows he can cheat (copy, lie, etc.) without it being a problem, then why should he bother to “waste” his time studying. For some students, it’s more of a challenge to spend their time finding ways to beat the system.
If you’re a parent, be an example for your children on social networking sites and blogs: DON’T copy someone else’s work!
If you’re a student, be original. I’d much rather hear what YOU have to say than a regurgitation of someone else’s thoughts. : )
back in contest – please vote May 12, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Uncategorized.
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Since there were people cheating in the Pigeon Forge contest, we weren’t sure we were going to continue participating. They postponed voting for a few days and fixed the issue so that people can only vote once. Now we really need MORE people to vote once each day. Could you please bookmark the page and just go on each day, sort by votes, and click on our family (listed as “Sonya H – Jonesborough, TN, 4/14/2010″). It’s easiest to find us if you sort by vote. Hopefully we’ll stay on the first page!
We MUST be in the top ten to win for the month of May. Could you please vote and ask your friends and family to vote for us as well? We’d really appreciate it.
Here is the link: http://www.mypigeonforge.com/savingvacations/Story/Page1
Thanks so much!!
P.S. If you’d like to find more about our family, please visit my website – www.thehomeschooladvocate.com
more children slaughtered in China May 12, 2010Posted by sonyahaskins in Uncategorized.
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Do you all remember my post a couple of weeks ago about all the attacks against children in China? I wrote that post on April 29. The next day, a farmer in Shandong attacked children w/ a hammer – injuring five children.
And earlier today, Wednesday, May 12, a man in Hanzhong killed seven kindergartners and injured 20 others.
Again, I ask… how can this possibly be a coincidence??? And if it isn’t – they’re claiming “copycat” killers are doing this due to “social inequality” – do they really have that many people who would be willing to MURDER children as young as four years old for no apparent reason whatsoever … or because they aren’t receiving “social justice”?!? After all, that’s what they’re claiming – that people are so upset about social inequality that they’re murdering kindergartners. And if we had social justice, as we’re trying to achieve in the United States (gag there), all these poor little children wouldn’t be dying. Doesn’t this sound like a HUGE conspiracy to anyone other than myself ???? As I asked before, “What is going on in China?!?” Even if one incident was linked to “social inequality,” I find it difficult to believe that this many unrelated men in unrelated situations and locations would just suddenly decide to hack some little children to death because they think life’s not fair! Especially in a country where children are held so dear.
The link I’m posting below has a Beijing Associated Press article about the latest attack.
Here was my original blog post from April 29 about all the attacks:
How incredibly sad…